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Everything posted by MRR

  1. Having not seen this, it sounds very tacky. I should've remembered: Stanton Welch's production for Houston Ballet used to end with a swan exiting while a maiden entered in her place, with the maidens slowly realizing their newfound freedom during the apotheosis. Beforehand, Siegfried intends to shoot Rothbart but misses and hits Odette instead (!), so the spell is broken. I don't even remember what Siegfried did after that point. Alas, in the most recent revival we now have the classic double suicide ending, but occurring later in the music. The swans stay in tutus and bourree in formation until the curtain falls.
  2. Hmmmm, I thought Swan Odette during the apotheosis was not a spirit, but rather a figment of Siegfried's imagination, or memory. So when he is walking downstage, he is thinking of Odette and the promise he couldn't keep to break the spell, which explains the projection of Odette in the tutu. He carries maiden Odette because now that she is deceased, the spell is broken and she can never be transformed back into a swan. If we literally apply the story, the audience never sees the ballerinas as swans at any point in the ballet except for Odette's transformation at the end of Act II. However, Odette, Big Swans, Cygnets, and the corps are still in swan tutus, which represent the spell they are under even while they're in human form. So Odette in her maiden nightie in the apotheosis made sense to me because while she is dead, effectively so is the spell. It is an awkward juxtaposition, however, against the corps who are still in swan tutus even though they are freed. But there is no practical way to have all the corps women quick changing while Siegfried retrieves Odette's body to show all of them in maiden form, so I accepted the ending for what it was. Of course I prefer the double death ending, and for an alternative ending I enjoyed the RDB's which had Siegfried marrying Odile in the closing seconds. The political plot got out of hand though. It never made sense to me how, for all of Rothbart's presence in the court, nobody noticed he had a daughter! And his curse for Odette almost seemed independent of his plot to take over the kingdom. During the closing of Act I, Rothbart wants Siegfried to go back to the palace, while Siegfried refuses. It's as though Rothbart doesn't want Siegfried to go shooting for swans, or find Odette, much less fall in love with her. But then, if Siegfried doesn't meet Odette, how does Rothbart know he will fall in love with the "real" Odile at the ball? The whole point of him of his infatuation with Odile is that she is transformed to resemble Odette.
  3. MRR

    Odile Variation Hops on Pointe

    Very interesting to read this as I saw Valdes twice on the recent DC tour, and was surprised to see her at all (I thought she had already retired). I was rather disappointed in her Kitri and her dancing really showed her age. Arabesques penchees went barely above 90 degrees, she stumbled on her fabled fouettes, there were steps with the corps she marked to pace herself, and overall from the first act she looked tired, nervous, uninterested, or some combination of the three. Not to say it was completely a waste....she had some great instances of comedic timing and also attempted numerous balances--including one spectacular arabesque held at least 15 seconds where she was practically a statue--but those were isolated moments throughout a three-hour evening. However, much to my shock I loved her Giselle. It wasn't exceptionally acted, but it was like in the span of three days she became a decade younger. Her variations were so free and generous....the Spesivtseva was a master class in control, and her stage presence was unforgettable. Act I was quite a bit better than Act II, but even in Act II you believed the generosity of her spirit saving Albrecht. She didn't indulge in any balances or pyrotechnics and didn't need to. I was shocked that in such a lyrical role, she could be so captivating even if not in the traditional mold for a Giselle. The Kennedy Center roared for her in that performance in a way they didn't for the opening night (with Sadaise Arencibia in the title-role).
  4. MRR

    Royal Ballet Winter 2018-19 Casting Posted

    According to People Magazine (admittedly not the best source), Balanchine offered to take her into NYCB if Paris Opera didn't want her. Surely, given her talent he probably thought the chances of that happening were slim to none. Guillem is interesting because while she had a quintessential Balanchine body, she was not, to my eyes, a Balanchine dancer in the least. She did perform some (not a lot) of his work at POB and Royal, but I sense his choreography didn't appeal to her.
  5. MRR

    Royal Ballet Winter 2018-19 Casting Posted

    Fascinating....I had no idea Balanchine was even aware of Sylvie Guillem much less tried to invite her into his company. At the time of his death she would have been a coryphee. While he might have enjoyed her dancing, that is not to say he would have definitively enjoyed her in 2nd movement of Bizet.
  6. I didn't see the cinemacast but saw it live in London four times when it premiered. Macfarlane's design for the Act III ballroom is one of my favorites: rich, opulent, and slightly macabre. Video does not do it justice. I was less enthused about Act I: the gates and backdrop are fine, but the trees are indeed distracting and even the benches looked cheap. There is a very sterile, cold feel to Act I which I thought both Scarlett and Macfarlane accomplished in their choreography/designs; it's just not how I envision a prince's birthday party. The lakeside scenes are VERY darkly lit. The return to the corps in swan tutus is welcome, but the long skirts were the least of the previous production's problems. It cannot be overstated how hideous the Sonnabend designs were....as a 7-year-old I hated them. Marianela Nunez I previously saw in the Dowell production in 2011, and she is still one of my favorite dancers. At 36 her extension and back flexibility is declining, so the exposed adagio in Act II was not her strong point. But her Odile was wonderfully glamorous--a true Belle of the Ball as she seduced her Prince--and Act IV poignant and tragic. Sarah Lamb did not have the strength or security technically of a Nunez, but she had incredible detail in the mime, with her entrance scene performed about as well as I've ever seen it. Her Odile wasn't sensuous but rather sinister, calculating, and manipulative, and Act IV, like Nunez, was her stronger of the two white acts. There was something truly grave about her predicament in those final moments before her suicide. Akane Takada received much praise on the balletcoforum, but her O/O left me stone cold. Perhaps as a result of her Bolshoi training, she had some unmistakable Russian qualities in the ballet: sinuous rippling port de bras, high extensions, and even the Russian "non-whip" technique to her fouettes. But she didn't have the pathos, grandeur, or distinction the dual role deserves, though I found much to appreciate in her technique. Her performance in the pas de trois was dynamic, but while she has nice feet her there is something awkward about her right shoe (I believe to accomodate an injury), and in spite of a great jump she didn't even attempt entrechat six. Anyway, the production is no masterpiece, but I did enjoy it more than most on this forum. Rarely (ever?) does Swan Lake get every aspect of the music/designs/choreography/dancers right, and in comparison to Houston Ballet's production which I saw recently that got just about every aspect wrong (despite some fine performances), with the Royal's I felt like I was seeing Swan Lake. Given the vast number of unwatchable Swan Lakes out there, I'm just glad I don't have to add this one to the list.
  7. MRR

    2017/2018 season

    Drew, I believe it was Ramze's Act II variation with the four children that was restored from the notations, which Canbelto linked to above.
  8. MRR

    Don Quixote Spring 2018

    The hops en pointe are in Dulcinea's variation, not Queen of the Dryads. I remember her Italian fouettes being fine as Gamzatti a few years ago, but don't know if those have since diminished.
  9. MRR

    ABT 2018 Swan Lake

    Leslie Browne once said that the Don Q fouettes are physically harder than those in SL, because Kitri has two whole acts before the Grand PDD where O/O only has one.
  10. Khoreva is a jewel, with all the qualities to become a major ballerina.
  11. MRR

    Alina Cojocaru

    Yes, that was the D.C. tour in 2006, with Kobborg as Prince, Nunez as Lilac, and Lamb as Florine. Tough cast to beat.
  12. MRR

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    Just saw Osipova minutes ago outside the ROH (!), unless my jetlagged eyes were really fooling me.
  13. MRR

    Watching the Olympics

    You are referring to the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, where Orser lost to Hamilton. Orser won the 1987 Cincinnati Worlds, beating Brian Boitano.
  14. MRR

    Mariinsky in London 2017

    I would promote both Olesya Novikova and Ekaterina Osmolkina to principal.
  15. MRR

    Mariinsky in London 2017

    Being programmed "often enough" doesn't make Swan Lake one of his most successful works. It's not been that frequently performed, even at NYCB (at least recently), and I can't think of any major companies besides NYCB and MCB who have done it. I'd be hard-pressed to find people who call it one of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, though perhaps many have not seen it. The ballet was basically choreographed as a moneymaker for the Company and for City Center, and while that in of itself doesn't mean it lacks merit, the ballet is so abridged that the narrative fades. I didn't see the work as distilling the essence of the ballet, if the essence of the ballet is indeed the White Swan pas.
  16. MRR

    Mariinsky in London 2017

    And a one-act "Swan Lake" was not one of Mr. B's most successful works.
  17. MRR

    Sara Murawski

    Has anyone here seen Sara Michelle dance, with PA Ballet or elsewhere? I have been curious about her after seeing several pictures and clips of her on Instagram. She is extremely tall and looks technically strong with endless pirouettes, but her contortionist flexibility borders on rhythmic gymnastics. That is just my impression based on short clips and photos, so I don't necessarily know how this would translate to live performance. It is very unfortunate how she was let go from PA Ballet, but I'm not surprised Angel Corella did not see a future for her in his company.
  18. Marchenkova was the raunchiest Tall Girl I have ever seen. Subtlety? Nyet! I'm not really sure what I thought about it, except that it wasn't boring. Her legs were like pistols, and she looked the audience straight in the eye: never letting them out of her grasp. She did make an effort at the style and certainly should be credited with dancing extremely big. Not even a particularly tall dancer, she certainly did everything to look like one. Krysanova/Lopatin looked like they had walked onstage in the wrong ballet. There were no technical disasters, and Krysanova in particular is very strong, but there was no sense of dare, verve, jazz....everything was very turned out, prim and proper. There wasn't the integrity of the off-balance partnering nor the turned in emphasis on many of the steps. The speed was better maintained than I was expecting though. Lopatin was perhaps an improvement over Ovcharenko in that he wasn't a prince (this is my guess, I didn't see Friday), but he was visibly pushing just to get through the ballet. The saut de basque in the men's dance were under rotated and effortful, and the consecutive traveling jumps from stage left to right had no force. Krysanova was slightly better, but overall didn't look sure of herself and phrased everything in a kind of metronomic manner. Diamonds is fascinating because for whatever reason it is the most consistently staged of the three gems. Now this is not to say that each company's rendition isn't unique. The NYCB and Bolshoi approaches to Diamonds could not be more different: if Diamonds is considered "After Petipa," NYCB emphasizes the "After" and Bolshoi the "Petipa." There is nothing in-between, but the steps are basically the same. In Emeralds there are often different port de bras, and the original (gorgeous) promenade section in the first pas created on Verdy/Ludlow has since been cut in most (all?) subsequent stagings. There are also two movements today which weren't in the premiere, and the Mariinsky doesn't even dance the Death movement. The Sandra Jennings/Patricia Neary staging for Bolshoi Rubies was so altered from NYCB's it looked like a different ballet. I assume Neary's would be closest to the original, while NYCB dances the most recent version of Balanchine's before he died? However, Diamonds is very consistent from company to company, and presumably to the original. The principal solos in the Scherzo do tend to have variations, but they are mostly the same steps. I will write more about Mearns/Angle and NYCB later.
  19. Smirnova/Chudin's take on Diamonds is quite a lot more impactful in the theater. Video doesn't do it justice at all.
  20. Agree with Nanushka and fondoffouettes 1000% on POB Emeralds. Will update more later. Fairchild was better today but Reichlen slightly diminished from Thursday. De Luz fantastic as usual.
  21. Reichlen says she is usually jealous when watching other dancers in Rubies, so perhaps that was her reaction: http://www.pointemagazine.com/nycbs-teresa-reichlen-on-the-challenges-of-dancing-rubies-2463097530.html I look forward to seeing the alternate POB cast (especially Gilbert) tonight as well as NYCB Diamonds tomorrow. At least Bolshoi Rubies will have two different dancers in the leads on Sunday: Vyacheslav Lopatin in the Villella role and Olga Marchenkova as the Tall Girl. The grass isn't always greener with a different cast, but Marchenkova did stand out to me as one of the demis in Diamonds. Krysanova I can at least picture, but Ovcharenko is so wrong for Rubies. He is a beautiful dancer who doesn't seem to project much of anything: an issue not isolated to his miscasting in Rubies. I wish all three companies got a chance to perform each gem throughout the Festival. It's a shame especially that Emeralds only has one company performing, and I would be interested in seeing POB Diamonds. Of course logistically it would be much more complicated, but the contrasts would be fascinating across multiple shows. Also can't speak enough about the genius of Balanchine. No one work of "Jewels" is my favorite, but the evening becomes something greater than the sum of its parts.
  22. Does anyone remember who replaced Alena Kovaleva last night in Diamonds? They announced it at the top of show but there was no slip of the program (same with Marc Moreau replacing Francois Alu in Emeralds). I assume they are resting her for her NY debut as the principal ballerina on Saturday matinee. The quartet of women in Diamonds (especially Ana Turazashvili) were impeccable, as were the corps, except I wanted more sweep in the waltz. I could hear Balanchine telling the ballerinas to bend more. However, the corps and demi men were comparatively disappointing. The demi men in the sequence of tour jetes had little elevation, and the finale with the synchronous pirouettes went haywire, though that is hardly ever well done. I'm glad everyone cleared up the lack of staccato changes in the arabesque during the Emeralds "walking" pas de deux. I thought I had dosed off and missed it.
  23. Moreau actually replaced Alu in yesterday evening's performance. Is Revillion doing pas de trois second cast?
  24. Paris Opera's Emeralds was more satisfying than Royal's in the cinemacast or NYCB when I saw them three years ago, where Ashley Bouder almost turned the ballet into Swan Lake. I do disagree with Balanchinette on Pujol. While, yes, she was a bit mannered for my taste, she had luscious port de bras--her hands particularly gorgeous--and she and Ganio were wonderfully responsive to one another. She integrated her upper body into the iconic hand movements of the Violette solo to an extent that I had not seen before, and overall I found her performance more rich and detailed here than in the DVD version. Ould-Braham was in stark contrast to Pujol, very stately and reserved. The solo which can sometimes go on for ages was masterfully controlled in her hands, with Braham almost letting the music push her. She had a slight problem during the running bourrees toward the end but otherwise gorgeous. Ganio is the epitome of a cavalier with fantastic presence and line; my only quibble is that he should've traveled the diagonal lifts more. Pas de trois was fine, not sensational. Marc Moreau replaced Francois Alu and was a bit underwhelming though certainly far from the worst I have seen. The diagonal of jumps was played at such a brisk tempo that he struggled to keep up, finishing the double tour with his weight back. Of the pas de trois, I appreciated Sae Eun Park most for her serene presence, though Hannah O'Neill was lovely. Rubies was the same cast I saw of NYCB in 2014. I have seen Reichlen's stage devouring Tall Girl about five times and I am constantly reminded that she has no equal in the role. Especially after watching Melissa Hamilton in the ROH cinemacast who danced like a corps girl that just happened to be center stage, Reichlen's dancing actually overshadows the principal couple whenever she is onstage. This is perhaps a rare cast where the Tall Girl is far more interesting and memorable than the principal ballerina, but with Reichlen's presence (and legs!) it would be almost impossible for anyone to match her. It's not that Fairchild's Rubies is substandard, but I did see a stronger effort from her in 2014 and overall she is not that interesting a dancer. Very competent and musical, but not unique. Joaquin De Luz at 41(!) is still pretty hard to beat in the Villella role. His Rubies is decidedly unballetic with audible stomping, turned in plie, a sort of Devil-may-care attitude, but in doing so brings out the very intention of the work with the technical chomps to match. Those traveling jumps going from stage left the right practically accelerated into a tornado. One of the corps girls slipped and nearly fell with both hands on the ground during the two lines of diagonals when Tall Girl is with the men. Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky were front row center shouting and waving during the curtain calls when Fairchild and De Luz came out. Diamonds: Olga was majestic and I think it will take a second time of seeing her (I go again Saturday) to fully comprehend and articulate her presence. For 10 minutes during the pas de deux I could have sworn I was not in the Koch, but rather the Palace of the Czars, feasting in the decadence of The Ballerina. It should be said that she was not perfect: she got very luxuriant in the bourrees at the end, so the pirouette ended late and Semyon had to scramble to kiss her hand in time. Her solo in the scherzo was majestic, but she suffered a hiccup in the first of the supported pirouettes at the very end of the finale. She does struggle to maintain her turnout in particular during developpe a la seconde. But such quibbles were inconsequential in what was a masterful performance. She began as a ballerina of Imperial Russia before slowly melting into a woman who was both vulnerable and regal. She perfectly modulated the transition between her mysterious, cool aura in the pas de deux and the growing, triumphant jubilation she achieved by the finale, creating an arc even within a plotless ballet. Make no mistake that this was not Diamonds, but rather a Russian Diamonds, where Smirnova transported you through every step. Semyon Chudin was very fine technically and should be commended for performing so well after a recent injury. As always, he has wonderful elevation and extension in the manege as well as a squeaky clean set of a la seconde turns pulling for a quadruple. I sensed he was a touch cautious in the solos and will gain more confidence on Saturday. He partnered Olga well, but more importantly the two created a relationship onstage that was more complex than just Danseur escorting Ballerina. The Russian Soul from both was certainly evident. Dancers from all three gems (including the corps) came out for bows after Diamonds. This was followed by the three directors--Dupont, Martins, and Vaziev--coming out for a bow and turning to applaud the dancers. Kevin McKenzie, Skylar Brandt, Paul Boos, Katrina Killian, Vanessa Zahorian, Davit Karapetyan, along with Irina and Max were among numerous luminaries in attendance for what was a sold out house. Certainly this was one of the most satisfying performances I've seen in some time, and I look forward to seeing casts of all three gems in the upcoming shows (I attend Saturday where NYCB Rubies/Bolshoi Diamonds will repeat, and Sunday matinee where this cast of Paris Opera repeats).