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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. I agree with laurel: I've never seen Williams as Myrtha, but her pointwork and attack as Moyna/Zulma is notable...and she's a real stage animal in most roles. She's a great bet, whether you're looking for technical or dramatic artistry. I think the Boylston/Whiteside performance is a very safe bet. At the very least, it will be the most professional performance on the docket: they're both good technicians and stage artists in their prime with plenty of experience in the role. Will there be chemistry? Because they're so technically assured, they bear the brunt of introducing less-experienced dancers to major roles during most seasons: so, when they dance together, it can sometimes feel a bit too comfortable (presumably because they can actually relax in the hands of another pro). However, this is the first time I recall them dancing without that other pressure on them: if they're going to have a dramatically sizzling performance together, this will be it. Frankly, there's a reason to see every single cast on the schedule. Even the two new casts will reward watching: Trenary is on her way to being ABT's most dramatically-complex artist since Ferri and Fang in a Romantic ballet is always an event. Bell is ABT's next major male dancer and Shevchenko received coaching on Giselle at the Mariinsky, as I recall.
  2. The Cornejo performance is also interesting to speculate over: can you imagine what would happen if management cast Trenary as Myrtha to get her onstage during a Cornejo/Brandt performance? (She'd totally play her as a coquette: New Yorkers would hate it, Europeans would love it...and it would probably be the most historically-accurate interpretation seen onstage in years.) Could they even cast Trenary as Giselle to ensure that she experienced one full-length opposite Cornejo, as Brandt has already had a few?
  3. I do wonder if COVID's effects on retirement timelines and the Koch Theater's film facilities played it into ABT's decision to perform the full-length Giselle during the Fall season. Has management done this to hedge against possible COVID variants arising and killing the Spring/Summer season (and another season of full-length ballets for its most-senior principals)? If ever an artist has earned 1-2 valedictory seasons (even if she were to return at 50% of her past abilities), Gillian Murphy is that artist. But two full years would be a long time remain in a holding pattern of physical conditioning (and physical pain) without payoff for her, Cornejo, and Stearns if next year's Spring season were killed. I'd totally expect ABT to film Murphy, Cornejo, and Stearns' Fall performances as a safeguard in case it's their last chance at a full-length...and as a bank-making financial investment. (And to perhaps even rustle up a guest appearance from some lady named Abrera while they were at it.) So, it will be interesting to see how they leverage Murphy, Cornejo, and Stearns: Does Murphy perform both an opening night Myrtha (as it's her most famous role that hasn't been filmed) AND a closing night Giselle (just in case it becomes her last opportunity to do a full-length)? And which of the less-established principals do they cast in the principal roles as a way to let their stardom rub off on them in a final--potentially filmed--performance? Could Murphy even be cast opposite Bell? I expect Myrtha and even Peasant Pas to be power-cast throughout the run anyway just as a way to help the other principals rebuild their stamina...but if a soloist or corps member performs those roles in any performance led by Murphy/Cornejo/Stearns, then they're being deliberately pushed into the spotlight.
  4. I attended the 6pm Rockefeller Center show. The three new pieces of choreography were not masterworks, but they showed off the dancers very effectively. (The Seven Sonatas excerpt couldn't be expected to create a spell in broad daylight at rush hour, but Shevchenko and Forster were solid.) So, how do folks look after a year off? Everyone was physically fighting trim, as assured as if they hadn't been offstage for over a year, and some have even grown artistically since their last outing. My read is that ABT treated this tour like a Fall season: as a way to pressure-test new principals in a low-stakes environment and a way to give young soloists and older corps a chance to shine. Royal and Ahn (gorgeous stylists who are still finding their way dramatically) were given a bit of romantic partnering with Brandt...and both are moving closer to more realistic dramatic interaction. Forster and Bell (the more experienced partners) were given exposed pas de deux with unfamiliar partners and both looked in command. Unless I'm mistaken, Brandt was in all three new pieces with unfamiliar (Bell) or relatively inexperienced (Maloney) partners. If she was being tested for stamina and more realistic dramatic interaction under pressure, she passed with flying colors (with especially lovely arms in La Follia Variations). Jacob Clerico is a new name who looked good in Indestructible Light. Katherine Williams looked great (after a slip in the first ballet): in the last Met season, she'd been technically solid, but I missed the way she interacted with other dancers as a corps member. Here, she gave a stylish, expressive performance...and looked like she was having fun in the spotlight. Jose Sebastian gave the sort of fully-articulated and shaped performance that makes OK choreography look great. He's looked world-class for the past few seasons, and I'm so glad that we'll see more of it.
  5. Gorak, Hoven, Shayer, Royal, and Ahn have all proved their ability to command a stage in soloist variations, and their technical abilities as partners don’t seem to have been severely tested this season. I think their ability to manufacture stage chemistry with partners is what was under the microscope this season. Did any of the men have a major breakthrough in terms of dramatic chemistry? (Gorak and Hoven were both paired with stage animal Olgas for Onegin.) Assuming no one had a break-out season, I'd expect to see Shayer and Royal promoted for their seniority/technique/promise. As far as the women are concerned, I suspect the artistic staff would prefer to simultaneously promote Teuscher and Shevchenko at the end of next year, followed by Trenary and Brandt the following year. (With the order less about merit than building audience familiarity and avoiding comparisons.) But I think what will really decide matters is the existing principal women’s retirement, injury, and maternity prospects for the next 1-2 years...if so, stage experience will be the main decider: If anything is afoot with a taller principal woman, Teuscher will be fast-tracked this year. If anything is afoot with a shorter principal woman, Lane (and possibly Trenary) will get a nod this year. And I agree with the members who wish ABT had a demi-soloist position so that Fang, Post, Hamrick, and DeGrofft would be properly recognized. But one joy of all these in-house promotions is that corps members may now have a shot at roles formerly assigned exclusively to soloists/principals. (Fang in anything involving a slyph! Post in Monotones!)
  6. Hard to say, given the blurriness, but based on the physique and hairline, I'd guess Russell Janzen. (If not, I'd guess that Jonathan Stafford stepped in to demonstrate something.)
  7. So, we can expect to see Theme and Variations and Black Swan appearing regularly on retirement programs from here on out, right? #CPYB
  8. I attended on Saturday night (6/10), too, intending to catch Imler live one last time. Pictures at an Exhibition was an unexpected delight. (I'd avoided it in NYC because even the Ratmansko-philic reviews made it sound like a total grab bag...which it is, but a wonderful one.) La Source didn't totally gel for me, partly because it isn't my favorite Balanchine choreography. That said, it was interesting to watch the leads stretching themselves in unexpected ways (Biasucci trading attack for a lovely serene port de bras, Griffiths pushing the tempo in one section). I'll also now be keeping an eye on Nicole Rizzitano in the corps. But the main question: why is James Moore not better-known?!! I can't imagine how his Opus 19/The Dreamer performance could have been better: more articulate and theatrically nuanced than any I've seen at NYCB (and I've seen some very good ones). I've never watched Moore in a 19th-century classic, but on the back of the repertory I have watched, he's absolutely world-class.
  9. Thanks, everyone, for the reports on Shevchenko's Kitri debut: I'm so happy that it went well!
  10. NYC saw Scheller too little before injury took her offstage: she was always technically solid, but had begun to show real musicality and intelligence once she gained confidence as a principal. I'm glad she's continuing to dance as well.
  11. [Begin marketing geek rave] The lead image in the most recent PNB "Director's Choice" program e-mail promo may be the best fine arts marketing image that I've seen in two years. (PNB's marketing is consistently better than other US dance companies, but all US dance marketing usually fades in comparison to opera companies or European dance companies.) This image, though, succeeds on so many levels: it's beautiful; its technically well-composed; and I can't think of another image that has so effectively conveyed an abstract ballet's meaning with such artistic economy. (The fact that it didn't cost the earth in set design probably didn't hurt either.) Anyway, whoever art directed this (whether Lindsay Thomas herself or someone else) needs a pat on the back: this is the sort of image that would push an art or design lover to click something. [End marketing geek rave]
  12. If anyone can do it, I think that Bolle can: after all, he handled both Kent and Herrera's last ABT Giselles with only a day's break in-between and looked world-class. (In comparison to that 2015 gig, the partnering for this engagement seems easier from a physical, mental, and prep time standpoint.) I think his light schedule with ABT this season is actually more happenstance: the two classics that he always dances--Giselle and Swan Lake--are actually a bit oversubscribed with debuts this year (the men cast all need an appearance to keep their rep in tune; the debuting women need an in-house partner to work out kinks). Otherwise, the spring rep is dominated by unfamiliar Ratmansky pieces that he'd have to spend time acquiring. (It feels weird to find myself defending Bolle...but the respect he showed during those 2015 ABT retirement gigs made me view him in a new light.)
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