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MRR

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  1. Semionova is scheduled to dance Juliet November 6th and 8th at the Mikhailovsky, right after the Koch Season ends. But I don't know if she has any other guesting engagements that conflict with the Koch Season as it is going on. http://www.mikhailovsky.ru/en/theatre/company/principals_f/polina_semionova/
  2. She did something beyond that, though, too. She did fouettes without the fouette -- where the working leg wasn't even working (whipping). What was that?! The propulsion was coming completely from the standing leg. I don't know that I've ever seen anything like that. You mean her turns similar to the a la seconde turns the men do?
  3. I don't care much for the sets of the 1994(?) Dowell production, but Durante is a superb Aurora.
  4. I agree about the Semionova-Gomes SL in 2011, Colleen.
  5. Might the La Scala version feature two intermissions? Three hours seems very long for just one intermission. Even with the old McKenzie version lasting 2 1/2 hours, reinstating Little Red Riding Hood and Puss-in-Boots wouldn't take up that much time. Personally I would also love to see Cinderella (the divertissement) reinstated: very few versions do it. I can't recall what else the production cuts.
  6. Yes, it's unfortunate that Semionova's second Giselle this week (the only repeat performance of the week) couldn't have been given to Stella. Veronika Part also dances Giselle now -- might she ever get the chance to bring this role Semionova doesn't repeat Giselle, but she does get two Swan Lakes. I agree with Abatt and Colleen that Semionova is wonderful in the right role. I've seen her do beautiful work as O/O. Personally I don't think she is suited to Juliet or Giselle and would need a Bolle or Gomes to partner her if she essays them again.
  7. I thought exactly this when I saw Semionova/Hallberg Swan Lake in 2012. They are perhaps a good match in theory with their height and beautiful lines, but emotionally they are both introverted and don't really draw much from one another. I actually loved Semionova's Swan Lake with Gomes the year before, as did many on this forum. But perhaps I was too bowled over by her incredibly strong technique to focus on her shortcomings, or Gomes worked his magic and was able to pull something out of her that no other danseur could. I have only seen her in those two Swan Lakes, so I can't comment on her other performances, but I can't picture her as Giselle at all.
  8. I strongly disagree that Manon is an "awful" ballet, but to each his own. Of course the ballet does need excellent leads. At the very least, Murphy would be better suited to the title role than Reyes.
  9. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the Kitris. I have seen Alexandrova before in Don Q, and also Kretova and Krysanova as O/O on the London tour. I liked both ballerinas and preferred them as Odile. While Odile and Kitri are not the same roles, I could easily see either Kretova or Krysanova having the temperament for Kitri. Both certainly have the technical chomps for it. Among the Basilios Lantratov should be excellent. Chudin seems woefully miscast: he has technique for days but as volcanohunter said has no real acting ability. Even in Sleeping Beauty this was a problem, and while the London audience enjoyed Chudin I felt Krysanova carried the performance. Lobukhin I'm not familiar with. Would others see him as a good Basilio?
  10. My review of the Friday Bayadere. Forgive me for writing a novel about the show, but being concise is not my strong suit! It's no secret that as a leading international ballet company ABT it at a crossroads. Many have complained about ABT not showing inspired performances as of late, but for an organization criticized for having insufficient coaching, endless guest artists, and overlooked dancers, American Ballet Theatre came together as a company tonight in front a packed house at the MET. This performance was in most respects a triumph. La Bayadere, a ballet with its hokey plot and shallow characters, is often as good or bad as its dancers. And on Friday, the ballet received rich characterizations by three memorable leads. As Nikiya, Diana Vishneva gives one of those rare performances which has the audience riveted within the first ten seconds. As the veil was lifted to reveal Nikiya in the opening scene, Vishneva had this intensity and mystery in her eyes that was unlike anything I had seen before. Part of Vishneva's mastery of Nikiya is that she takes the character to different extremes than one would expect: her emotions are never presented as stereotypes of the character. Beginning as a modest temple dancer Act I, Vishneva gradually peels off the layers of her character throughout the act, revealing a certain eroticism in her first pas with Solor, a strong will in rejecting the advances of the High Brahmin, and a killer instinct in fighting with Gamzatti. Even as the audience knows the plot, Vishneva as Nikiya seems not to; rather she creates the story, Nikiya's story, right before our eyes. The harem pant solo showcased lush cambres and a palpable despair for a life without Solor, and Vishneva's expressive arms and hands were used to full effect here. As human as Vishneva is in the first act, she becomes an ethereal, ghostly spirit in the second act. Where Vishneva began the ballet with a human connection to the dancers, she enters the Shades scene detached from everything around her, hardly ever looking at Solor. I had never thought of Shades as being eerie, but Vishneva's aura in this scene was haunting. She suddenly becomes something out of a dark dream, a spirit with no relation to anything. Vishneva was perhaps faced with her biggest test technically in Shades, as she has dropped several of her major classical roles in the past few years. Where Vishneva's technique may have degraded in certain respects due to age--loss of extension in her arabesque, a lower jump--she is always able to take your eyes away from her shortcomings. Even in the first promenade to the arabesque balance, she didn't have a high arabesque, but the way she elongated the balance to enhance her ghostliness was thrilling. Both the first pas and the scarf pas were taken at extremely slow tempi, but Vishneva had the presence and technique to pull it off. For those who want to know about the pirouettes in the scarf pas: the first double to the right was shaky, but the other two were strong; in fact, her double to the left appeared the most comfortable. She finished the coda off with an aggressive, if not especially high, manege of tour jetes and a thrilling series of soutenus with tremendous speed. Marcelo Gomes is a Solor for the ages. In this ballet he has it all: technical strength, exemplary partnering, and a masculine, imposing presence. As with Vishneva, he knows how to captivate an audience right from the entrance. His love for Nikiya could not have been more evident, but Gomes's relationship to Murphy's Gamzatti was just as fascinating. As opposed to many Solors who have a very black-and-white relationship with Gamzatti and Nikiya, Gomes fully acknowledged Gamzatti's beauty, while maintaining the sense that he could never love Gamzatti like he loves Nikiya. The sheer desperation evoked when the Rajah informs him that he must marry Gamzatti was riveting, and this came full circle after the Shades scene when Solor sees Gamzatti again. As Muprhy walked closer to Gomes, it was as if the energy of his entire body drew away from her. Technically he showed an excellent, if not especially ambitious, variation in act one. There could have been more delineated beats in the double cabrioles, but the turns in second were finely executed as was the manege. Somehow, Gomes's dancing grew even stronger through to the second act. He had this frenetic energy in the opium scene which made the audience believe him to be in a drug-induced state. In Shades, his gorgeous sprawling grand jetes made the MET stage appear too small. The ending coda featured an even stronger set of a la seconde turns than in the first act, following with a manege of five double saut de basques, preferring those to the double assembles done by most Solors. Evident in this performance is that Gomes, a dancer who has shown tremendous work throughout the years, is in the prime of his career. Technically the goods are still there, his partnering is exemplary, but into his thirties his artistry and interpretations have become so rich: every gesture, every arm, every entrance and exit is worth more than ever before. Gillian Murphy was the least remarkable of the three leads, but nonetheless her performance was great by any standard. Her fight scene with Nikiya was spectacular: Vishneva and Murphy had a fascinating dynamic because Gamzatti showed how clearly she was above Nikiya. But in spite of her initial haughtiness, Murphys Gamzatti becomes desperate very quickly, practically flinging herself onto Nikiya when begging her to give up Solor. In the wedding scene Murphy was overshadowed somewhat by Gomes's star power and Vishneva's solo; there was a bit of tension in her shoulders and neck during the variation and not the glamor that she could have exuded. However, Murphy was very strong in the third act solo, showing tremendous turns and a clear dramatic sense of losing Solor. Shades corps was a mixed bag. A special shout out should be given to Gemma Bond for leading the shades so professionally. The ABT shades have rather low arabesques, with the exception of the third shade who had a gorgeous arabesque you might see out of the Mariinsky shades, but a poor sense of timing when it came to following the arabesques of the first two ladies. Overall in spite of some bobbles throughout the adagio, it was quite a decent effort for 24 dancers of different training backgrounds. The three soloist shades (Sarah Lane, Devon Teuscher, Misty Copeland) also showed this lack of uniformity in style, hugely apparent during the waltz. The variations went from best to worst. Lane was gorgeous, with her pirouettes finishing with smooth developpes right on the music. Devon Teuscher was a bit tentative in the opening of the second variation, with a couple pirouettes not finishing on top, but she has a wonderfully straight back and a certain serenity in this scene. Copeland fumbled an arabesque and her opening cabrioles lacked amplitude. Craig Salstein was a decent Bronze Idol, but quite diminished in quality relative to an Angel Corella in the role (of what I have seen on youtube, anyway).
  11. My thoughts on Saturday eve and Sunday mat Jewels: Emeralds--The two leading couples for both performances were the same. Ashley Bouder in the Verdy role was partnered by Amar Ramasar. Bouder's approach to the ballet, particularly in the Saturday night show, was not to my taste. She dances beautifully with tremendous control, but she was excessively emotional and almost vulnerable in a way that she might be if she were interpreting Odette, but this didn't work in Emeralds. Amar Ramasar has polished technique; however, he had a very saccharine presence which clashed with Bouder's dramatic aura. Abi Stafford didn't have the necessary mystery for the second ballerina role, but she and Jonathan Stafford (performing his last show in Diamonds today) danced an elegant walking pas de deux. The pas de trois yesterday was really poor. Not Lauren King, who was radiant. But Megan LeCrone, in spite of her beautiful extensions, simply doesn't have the presence to be a major dancer in this company. Sean Suozzi was dreadful with fudged double tours and a total absence of turn-out, stretch, clarity of position and line, etc. Antonio Carmena in the pas de trois on Sunday was dour but at least technically assured, and Ashley Laracey and Erica Pereira were elegant. Rubies---Saturday night: Joaquin De Luz as the lead male was a force of nature, spectacular from start to finish with ballon and charisma in spades. His jumps in the air would float up and down with plush landings. In such a difficult ballet he had barely a care in a world. While Megan Fairchild may have lacked fire, she held her own and danced a technically and musically sharp performance. All of her turns were right on point. Teresa Reichlin as the tall girl was spectacular both shows, giving a master class in how the role should be danced: musical, tremendous lines, and best of all, BIG dancing. Sterling Hyltin was stellar in the lead ballerina role this afternoon, the best I've seen her. Andrew Veyette was sadly not to her level, as he seems more the cavalier type. He was technically strong, and he did have a certain showmanship in the section with the men, but otherwise his performance wasn't to the level of De Luz's. Diamonds--Saturday eve: The corps in the first movement experienced shaky spots, but the finale was beautiful. Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle were an ideal match as the lead couple, and Angle is a great partner for Maria in that his strong support lets her have the freedom to unfurl those long, everlasting limbs. Kowroski had a certain iciness throughout the ballet, but in the pas de deux it worked. Her extensions are remarkable, if even too high at times. In the scherzo, Kowroski suffered a fall on a soutenu, a step she has probably done since she was six years old: no doubt there was a slippery spot on the stage. She took awhile to get back up and pick up the choreography; it even looked for a second she might be injured. However, after showing some nerves during the rest of the scherzo, she had the confidence to pull herself together and finish with a beautiful finale. Sunday--This performance marked the end of Jonathan Stafford's career with his farewell. He was paired with Sara Mearns, and you couldn't find two more different interpretations of this ballet between her and Kowroski. Mearns had a certain serenity in this ballet, a radiance, a warmth, that was gorgeous to watch. She clearly enjoys dancing with Stafford as he is a giving, serious partner, if not nearly the strongest technician. There was just a certain generosity evoked in the pas de deux and in the entirety of Diamonds (by all the dancers) that was special for Stafford's farewell. Perhaps the most special moment of the matinee was at the end of the pas de deux when Stafford kisses Mearns's hand, she was already looking at him and smiling. There was just something just so beautiful in that moment that will stick with me forever. The scherzo was cut from the matinee performance, was this due to time because of Stafford's curtain calls?
  12. Agreed with Ceeszi--Vishneva and Gomes as the leads were superb.
  13. I wouldn't actually. I am sure they would be beautiful but I think they would have the same icy coldness he does with semionova. I find him much more interesting with Osipova. She brings out his emotions, and he's a good stylistic influence on her. I actually like Semionova a great deal, but agree that Hallberg is not an ideal partner for her and wouldn't be for Smirnova either. I would be curious to see Smirnova pair with Ruslan Skvortsov: I loved his Siegfried in London and think that he could be the dancer to draw more emotion out of her.
  14. I’m way behind on my reviews, especially after having flown 10 ½ hours from London to Houston yesterday, but I will post about the August 10th Swan Lake later on (although Volcanohunter's excellent review already sums up most of my impressions of the performance). But here is my report on the Friday, August 9th Sleeping Beauty: The role of Princess Aurora was taken by Svetlana Zakharova in this performance, and already there was an air of excitement and intensity in the theater which went quite unfounded during the Thursday Beauty with Krsyanova. Zakharova certainly has her fans, and for many younger dancers she is marveled at for her seemingly God-given ballet physique: tall, rail-thin and hyper-flexible. Zakharova steps onto the stage as if in her own bubble—a glamorous, imperious, prima ballerina not making any particuar attempt to interpret a 16-year-old princess. She is cool, some describe her as icy, and yet in this role she is forced to be warm and youthful to a degree not necessary in other ballets. Her entrance at the beginning of Act I shows real promise in this regard, but when the Rose Adage starts she becomes, quite understandably, preoccupied with the balances. To her credit, she did hold two fairy long balances at the end of each sequence (the first one she remained in attitude; the second she completed the allonge to arabesque). Supported pirouettes with the princes also cause her tension; her face subtly but visibly panics as none of the men make it out of the adage alive with keeping her on her leg. Ultimately, however, she finishes the Rose Adage unscathed and finishes a lovely, if ossified, Act I. The Vision Scene of Act II is predictably where Zakharova’s performance peaks, as the elusive, almost untouchable quality to her dancing is used well to its advantage here. Her final pas de deux in Act III shows off basically everything we have come to know, like, or dislike about Sveta: long, elastic, ear-whacking extensions (which haven’t gone down with age), polished technique, and an austere demeanor. There is hardly another ballerina I can think of who fully compares to Zakharova—other ballerinas have certain qualities of hers but not all—which thus makes her a ballerina unlike any you will see in another cast. Her aloof demeanor contrasted spectacularly with Krysanova’s humility in the Thursday performance, and indeed while Zakharova is always interesting to watch, she ultimately proves unmoving as Aurora. Alexander Volchkov as Prince Desire showed more dramatic fortitude than Semyon Chudin of the night before—though this is not saying much—but Volchkov lacks the latter’s technical gifts. He is not blessed with great lines or a buoyant jump, and actually seems to flail his body a bit when he is executing big traveling jumps. Perhaps least forgivable, however, is Volchkov’s ports de bras: his arms are not well supported from his back in first position and are shaped quite like airplane wings in first arabesque. He partnered Zakharova very well, though he too doesn’t escape the Zakharova supported pirouette curse when she got stuck facing him during one turn in Act III. In the brief and simplistic role of the Prince, Volchkov proved much more successful in conveying his infatuation with Aurora’s vision that Aurora herself, as the Act III pas showcased a couple with no real love, feeling, or any emotion at all for one another. Ekaterina Shipulina was one of the night’s standouts as a Lilac Fairy of maturity, class, technical strength, and musicality. There is great confidence in Shipulina’s dancing, something not always seen in Olga Smirnova’s performance of the same role, and her pirouettes in the variation were completed without incident. Unlike Smirnova, Shipulina did not attempt full arabesque and attitude turns during the coda with the faeries, preferring instead to complete ½ or ¾ arabesque and attitude turns. This was probably a smart decision, as she did not travel during the sequence in the least and did well to save what was a very off-axis double en dedans pirouette to finish. Shipulina lacks the expressive upper body of Smirnova, but still infuses the role with a warmth and strength which is seen all too briefly under Grigorovich’s production. Artem Ovcharenko repeated as the Bluebird and proved himself a dancer of admirable line and posture while successfully dancing a role typically reserved for shorter men. Daria Khokhlova as Princess Florine is far below his level, showing a coy demeanor and choppy phrasing during her variation. Anna Tikhomirova was predictably vivacious as the Diamond Fairy, if just a tad bit hurried by the fast footwork required by her second variation. Chiara Alizade also caught my eye as Sapphire: her face reminds me a little bit of Altynai Asylmuratova’s. The faeries in the prologue were very lovely--Anastasia Stashkevich an absolute delight in the songbird variation--and then we had Ivor Tsvirko’s campy, psychotic rendition of Caraboose. He had this crazy look in his eye and a great ability to engage with the cast around him, though never for a moment did I believe him as a woman (and his makeup didn’t help matters). Despite the uninspired performances from the lead couple, this performance conclusively proved superior to Thusday’s—strong performances from Shipulina, Ovcharenko, and Tikhmoriova (among others in minor roles), good corps and demi-soloist work throughout, and a passionate (if not perfect) handling of the score by the Bolshoi orchestra.
  15. My review of the August 8th Sleeping Beauty: Having not seen the Bolshoi perform live since I was little, I was greatly anticipating this performance of the Sleeping Beauty, particularly after viewing the DVD of the production with Zakharova/Hallberg. The Yuri Grigorovich production itself is impeccably dressed—the massive, adorning columns make for a decadent, imposing set, and the costumes are every bit as ornate. Unfortunately, the visual splendor of the production cannot in any make up for its weaknesses: mashed up music arrangements, the absence of any real mime, and the frequently abbreviated or eliminated parts of the ballet. Even the dividing up of the acts with one intermission is awkward: the audience is supposed to adjust to Aurora maturing 16 years of age in the blink of an eye. I’m not asking for a four-hour long Mariinsky reconstruction here, just a nice, coherent, complete production, but Grigorovich’s new Sleeping Beauty is far from that. Unfortunately, the choppiness of the production starts almost right away with the pas de six for faeries, where two parts of the score are cut. The mime at the beginning of Act I is likewise shaved to its bare minimum, and the mime of the King telling off Catalabutte look rather like a game of cat-and-mouse. In the second act, the Lilac Fairy seems almost in a world apart from Prince and Aurora, executing arabesque promenades on one side of the stage by herself while Aurora and the Prince dance on stage right. The third act is perhaps the most complete act, but even here the Bluebird solo is shortened, the opening absolutely truncated, and the apotheosis gone. Cutting some parts of the score could be forgivable, but all of these instances make for a muddled, fill-in-the-blanks production which resembles more the “Best of Sleeping Beauty” than “The Sleeping Beauty” itself. The production needs an excellent cast of dancers to make up for its wishy washy nature, and here we had an admirable, if not entirely riveting, cast. Ekaterina Krysanova is a finely assured Aurora, lacking bit of the innate delicacy seen in the great present-day Auroras (Cojocaru, Obraztsova, among others), but nonetheless presents herself as a technically strong and sensitive dancer. This was a performance without flash: no rhythmic gymnast extensions, sky-high jumps, or attempted balances in the Rose Adage (akin to most of the Russian Auroras), but the relative modesty of the performance won me over. Here was an Aurora who seemed very much a young princess—bubbly, effervescent, and enchanted by the prospect of finding a suitor. While Krysanova danced well in Act I, it was her Act II variation where she seemed best suited with finely sustained balances, a beautiful triple step-over pirouette to finish, and an elusive, almost untouchable aura. If anything, her 3rd act, although danced well, is perhaps where she is least interesting: one didn't sense that she had matured from Act I and that she delineated any kind of relationship with her Prince, which seemed more the fault of Semyon Chudin than Krysanova. Although not the most riveting or delicate performer in the role, Krysanova presents the audience with clean, classical dancing with a touch of bravura thrown in. Interested I am to see her Odette/Odile on Saturday, although I sense she is better suited to Aurora. Krysanova’s prince, Semyon Chudin, is perhaps in terms of technique one of the finest male dancers in ballet today. Here is a dancer with few physical deficiencies to speak of: his feet are divinely shaped, his legs stretched so as to be capable of handling any balance. There are beautiful pirouettes, a gorgeous manege without even a hint of the back leg drooping (as so many dancers do), and not a moment of insecurity in any step. Indeed, his technique seems practically infallible. He simply cannot put a foot wrong, which was much to the delight of a tepid audience that seemed to liven only when Chudin was onstage. However, at the expense of this flawless dancing is a very blank, remote presence: the Prince in Sleeping Beauty is hardly a two-dimensional character, but Chudin doesn’t breathe the necessary life into the role. Even sitting in row F of orchestra stalls, I sensed no sensitivity, no emotion at all. Marcelo Gomes can make a role even as short as this a memorable one; David Hallberg, while certainly not the greatest actor, has innate regality which brings more color to the role than Chudin can muster. This is not to deny that visually Chudin is exceptional, but his performance was often detached from everyone and everything around him. As the Lilac Fairy, Olga Smirnova reveals much potential. Here is a dancer who at only 21 years of age has a regal authority which belies her years. While some have criticized Smirnova for being too “cool” of a performer, this was not the case in this performance, where she radiated perhaps more warmth than seen in other ballets. A commanding, elegant presence, Smirnova has qualities of greatness, but as is with a dancer of her relative lack of experience, there is fine-tuning to be done. She tends to lean back on her supporting leg during her pirouettes—I noticed this particularly during her pirouettes from fifth-- and at times she oscillates in and out of character. Some shakiness in the pirouettes might be forgiven since the conductor gave her a funeral tempo. Still, there was much to admire about Smirnova: beautiful ports de bras, great epaulement, and luminous in her demeanor. With a few more years of seasoning, Smirnova should deserve a chance at Aurora. The Bolshoi, obviously a company with tremendous depth, showcases some other standout performers in smaller roles. Anna Tikomirova as the Fairy of Audacity was fabulous: here was a ballerina with complete confidence, technical assurance, and fire. Already said to be an excellent Gamzatti, she could also essay Kitri with great success. Anastasia Stashkevich as Princess Florine is on the opposite spectrum of Tikhomirova—delicate, sunny, a definite Aurora in the making. Artem Ovcharenko as the Bluebird is blessed with an excepetionally lean physique, finely tapered limbs, and an extremely juicy plié. Anna Leonova as the Diamond Fairy is elegant, although she struggled with the ending of step-over turns during her variation, falling out of her double. Maria Vinogradova also deserves praise for her dynamic Carelessness Fairy, featuring strong ballon and a vivacious quality. Sadly, as Carraboose, Alexei Loparevich is unmemorable: his minions actually appear scarier!
  16. I have often wondered if Marianela Nunez will ever guest with ABT, and now may be the time if Osipova's appearances with the company become more limited. She is a beautiful dancer and suited to a lot of ABT's rep.
  17. It's pretty much magic with Gomes and practically anyone he partners. He is such a gift to ABT, and I am glad that he hasn't run off to too many guest roles outside of ABT so he can lead as a model example for the other male dancers in the company. Absolutely. It seems like every ballerina dances her best when partnered by Gomes.
  18. I would argue that ABT not dancing Mayerling IS a loss, even for the sole reason that Marcelo Gomes would be fascinating in the Crown Prince Rudolf role. And even though the ballet is dominated by Rudolf, it does have several interesting parts for ballerinas--namely Mary Vetsera, Marie Larisch, Empress Elisabeth, and Princess Stephanie, which I feel could be danced well by several of ABT's dancers (Vishneva for Vetsera and Part for Larisch immediately come to mind).
  19. The ROH website now indicates that David Hallberg is dancing the prince in the August 6th Sleeping Beauty alongside Zakharova as Aurora and Smirnova as Lilac. And another casting change: Alexander Volchkov will replace Ruslan Skvortsov as prince for the August 9th Beauty (also partnering Zakharova).
  20. And with such an obvious mistake where is her editor?!
  21. Of course bringing in Nunez for the Friday SL wouldn't be practical--she's too tall for Cornejo--but I am perplexed as to why she hasn't guested with ABT. She is beautiful and versatile and could give strong performances in a lot of the company's repertory. I can't recall instances where she has performed in the U.S. beyond RB tours and the odd YAGP gala.
  22. I would recommend Semionova if you absolutely wanted to switch, but Kochetkova is an interesting alternative to Cojocaru and you would get to see her debut performance with ABT no less.
  23. Puppytreats--Yes, Seo and Bolle danced R&J together during the Hong Kong tour.
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