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Caesariatus

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About Caesariatus

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  • Birthday 05/02/1954

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan
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    Vernon
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    Connecticut

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  1. On Saturday evening I saw the ABT Studio Company performance at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. ABTSC is "the highest level of the ABT training ladder". The program was five pieces, Tarantella (Gottschalk/Balanchine), On the First Star of the Night (Bosso/Cong), Overture, (Beethoven/Stiefel), Untitled (Glass/Bond) and Don Quixote Suite (Minkus/Petipa&Gorsky). There were, I think 12 dancers in all, some of whom were featured a lot more than others. (Leah Baylin danced in all but one piece, for instance). This was On the First Star of the Night's U.S. premiere (or, I guess, Friday's performance was). Its choreography is a very modern, and I was surprisingly very impressed, considering that it's a style I'm usually not especially fond of. The dancers all did well. To my eye, at least, they're ready for the ABT corps. Most impressive of all, I think, was Melvin Lawovi, who showed seemingly effortless athleticism in Don Quixote without sacrificing anything artistically. I heard another audience member say, "he's a future ABT prinicipal", and I won't be surprised if he turns out to be right. Also standing out were Leah Baylin and Grace Anne Pierce. This was kind of like going to a minor league baseball game; you get to see a solid if not top-notch performance, you get to see some future stars, and you get to spend a lot less money than you would at the topmost level. -- Caesariatus "Put your head here. Hear the ocean roar." - Heather Nova
  2. I saw the matinee of Here/Now 5 on Saturday. Here are some quick impressions. (Note: Unity Phelan danced instead of Sara Mearns in Odessa. When this was announced there were very audible expressions of disappointment from the audience.) Jeu de Cartes This was my least favorite. It was cutesy. After the Rain, Part Two I really liked this. It kicked my appreciation of Maria Kowroski up several notches. I had seen her as O/O in SL in 2010 and at that time was underwhelmed, mostly because I thought she and her prince, Shephen Hanna, had no chemistry. This time, though, she and Ask la Cour had chemistry in spades, I thought. For Clara This was my favorite piece. I loved the choreography. It was one of the best ballets I've ever seen in terms of using the dance to illustrate and enhance the music. Not only in how the specific steps corresponded to the music, but in how the style of dancing changed with the style of the musical passage being performed. ten in seven When I saw this was going to be jazzy dancing to a jazz band I expected to be unimpressed, but it was good. It wasn't great, but it was energetic, and had a lovely pdd in the middle of it. Odessa This was a bit disturbing. Perhaps that was the intent. It was basically about unhappy women in bad relationships. It was well choreographed, though, and very well danced. Also, seeing Odessa confirmed my status as a huge fan of Sterling Hyltin. I think she might be my favorite dancer.
  3. I saw Le Corsaire today (Sat. 5 Nov. matinee). It was great. It's one of those fun, lively ballets, without any moments of transcendental feeling, but a lot of lively action and beauty. I thought all of the major roles were done very well, but most especially Junxiong Zhao as Conrad, the male lead. He combined athleticism and energy with elegance and precision in a way that's seldom seen. I rarely come away from a ballet thinking about the male dancers, but he was an exception. He's now my favorite male dancer. The female lead, Medora, was danced very well by Ashley Ellis. She's one of those dancers who makes it look like dancing ballet steps is the most natural thing to do. She and Zhao had good chemistry between them as well; the pdd when they first get to the pirates' cave was a joy to watch. When I wrote about the Mahler ballet I saw at BB last year I mentioned that Dusty Button was "incredibly graceful". She was again today dancing Gulnara. However, I don't feel that that's the best role for her. I would love to see her in a more romantic role some day. The costumes and sets were well done as well. One thing they did which might come across as gimmicky but actually worked well was to put a curtain with a large oval scrim set in it in front of the scene to start each act. You would see part of the set through the scrim for a short while and then it would rise revealing the scene. All in all, I had a great time. And so did a lot of other people, apparently; the house was full, and very appreciative.
  4. I saw the matinee All Balanchine performance today. This was my compensation for my ticket to the canceled 23 Jan. performance. The ballets were: Walpurgisnacht Ballet featuring Teresa Reichlen & Adrian Danchig-Waring Sonatine with Megan Failchild & Gonzalo Garcia Mozartiana featuring Sterling Hyltin, Anthony Huxley, and Troy Schumacher Symphony in C featuring Ana Sphia Scheller & Andrew Veyette, Sara Mearns & Jared Angle, Ashly Isaacs & Joseph Gordon, and Lauren King & Andrew Scordato. Some observations: Walpugisnacht Ballet: Teresa Reichlen & Adrian Danchig-Waring seemed well matched. They both give the impression of being very precise without being calculating, if that makes sense. The surprise of the night was a solo by Alexa Maxwell. It wasn't (as far as I could tell) intrinsically notable or difficult choreography, but she's a very expressive dancer. It was one of those moments where afterwards I said to myself, "Wow, that was great!" I was surprised to look her up online later and find out she's listed in the corps, not even a soloist. This ballet made me wonder why more ballets don't have the female corps dance with loose hair. It's a great effect. Sonatine: I was not particularly impressed by this. The choreography seemed weak. Mozartiana: I was not really impressed by this either, but I couldn't really tell you why. The choreography was fine, the dancing was fine, but nothing about it made me sit up and take notice. Symphony in C: This is one of Balanchine's big spectacle ballets, with the women in sparkling white tutus and the men in sparkling black body suits. I think the ability to choreograph the corps well is a sometimes overlooked skill, but one which Balanchine excelled at, and it showed here. Three of the movements are allegro and one is adagio (i.e. slow). The closing PDD in the adagio movement, with Sara Mearns and Jared Angle, was one of those transcendentally beautiful dances which has made me a ballet fan. I think Mearns is better at some aspects of dance than others, but when it comes to elegantly expressing emotion there are few better. I was also impressed with Ashly Isaacs & Joseph Gordon. This was a much livelier movement, and Gordon especially seemed to be able to make it look effortless. At the end of the fourth movement all four couples are on stage dancing the same steps, and my eyes kept wanting to watch Isaacs and Gordon.
  5. I drove down to NYC yesterday because I had a ticket for the matinée and I knew I might not make it through the snow today. However, when I got to Lincoln Center I found the performance had been cancelled. There were a lot of disappointed balletomanes milling about in that covered area in front of the theater. The NYCB website says they will issue refunds.
  6. Today I saw Boston Ballet dance the Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, choreographed by John Neumeier. My seat was in the mezzanine way over to the side. It was on the aisle, which meant that there was nobody in front of me, given the angle of the aisle, but there was a section of stage upstage left I couldn't see at all. This only mattered a few times, though, when a pdd ranged over the whole stage. Before the performance they announced several cast changes over the intercom for which we had no written notice. I don't know how they expect us to remember those. Because of that there were some roles where I'm not sure who the dancers were. This ballet did not particularly make me a fan of John Neumeier. He uses a lot of slow walking, a lot of staring, both one person into space and a couple into each others' eyes, and a lot of slow walking while staring. There was quite a bit of variety beyond that, though, and much of it was interesting, so there was a lot to like in there as well. He does a lot of bodily entaglement, for instance, and some of that was very well done. I think the dance is supposed to be programmatic, but if so it went over my head. There's a dancer who is either dancing in or observing (or dreaming) pretty much each scene, whom I thought of as the Main Guy. He was danced by Lasha Khozashvili. I have to confess I wasn't particularly impressed, but not particularly unimpressed either. The dancers who did impress me were, first, the one I thought of as the Second Guy. I'm not sure who he was, though. Looking at the BB website it seems to be Irlan Silva, but he's not listed on the program, so maybe he was one of the substitutions? Secondly I was very impressed by a dancer I'm almost positive is Dusty Button, who didn't have a big role, but danced in a joyful series of pdds. She was incredibly graceful. I mean, all ballerinas are graceful, but she was exceptionally so. Thirdly Erica Cornejo, who had a major role, with both a long solo and a long pdd with Khozashvili. I wasn't as blown away by her performance as I had been the first time I saw her dance (as Hermia in MSND) but she was still pretty impressive. So I wouldn't say it was a great piece, but it had some good parts and some good dancing, and the seat was cheap. I should go to Boston more often. It's easier to get to (from central Conn.) than New York. I can visit my parents when I'm in Manhattan, but for a quick ballet fix this works out well.
  7. I saw La Bayadère last night, with Kochetkova, Sarafanov, and Boylston dancing Nikiya, Solor, and Gamzatti, respectively. I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as many posters here about technique and history, but hopefully a different type of viewpoint can be of some interest. Act I One thing which struck me about this cast was the differences between Kochetkova and Boylston (especially in the first act -- but see below). Boylston seemed, to my eye, technically very precise and in control, whereas Kochetkova was much more expressive. Kochetkova's upper body movement (port de bras and epaulement, I guess?) was especially well done, showing us a woman swept up by events and emotions. I thought the two styles matched the characters very well. Gamzatti is the king's daughter, used to getting her way and being in control. Nikiya is negotiating a dangerous path between the wills of people much more powerful than her. I don't know how much of the difference is due to the intrinsic styles of the dancers and how much is due to the dancers' interpreting the roles. To the extent it's the former; it's good casting (even though Kochetkova was a last minute replacement). To the extent it's the latter; it's good dancing, on both dancers' parts. Watching Sarafanov I was reminded of the discussion earlier in this thread about line. It seemed to me Sarafanov had good line in spades. He always seemed to be very elegantly posed, even while in motion. Act II I have a DVD of the POB doing La Bayadère, with a different choreography. The entrance of the shades in what is Act III there (Act II here) is one of my favorite dances in ballet. I was therefore looking forward to it a lot here. I was disappointed, though. It was sloppy. I don't know why; other dances by the shades weren't, but, for instance, there were serious timing differences among the dancers in lifting the leg. Most of the Kingdom of the Shades was great, though. Kochetkova seemed to dance it with a lot of sadness. You get the impression that she still loves Solor, but is very aware that things have all worked out wrong due to his failure of courage. It seemed to me she barely looked at him during that act. Act III The high point of the whole ballet, to me, was Boylston's solo early in Act III. Boylston here combines precision and control she'd previously shown with real sensuality, as she tries to convince Solor to accept the choice he's made and realize all she has to offer him. It was one of those transcendent dances I always hope to see in a ballet. Odds and Ends This is the second time I've bought a ticket to a performance specifically because Natalia Osipova was performing, only to see a substitute. I'm a big fan of Osipova (whom I have seen live), but I may not do this again. There's a dance with eight(?) women in Act I in turquoise with scarves. It seemed to be poorly choreographed and poorly executed. It just kind of stuck out as simply not working. Kochetkova is tiny. Like 5'0". It didn't bother me, and I didn't see the problems with partnering others have, but you can't help but notice it. I think in another role it might make a difference, but I can't know that for sure without seeing it. I actually think that, as long as it does work, it's a good thing to have a little more variety in body types than what you usually see. There's way too much pantomime in this ballet.
  8. I attended the Mariinsky's performance of Chopin: Dances for Piano at BAM on Sunday. This is three separate pieces, whose choreography is separated by more than a century, each to a single piano playing works by Chopin. Venue, program, etc. This was my first time seeing anything at BAM. I drove down and back from eastern Connecticut. There was a lot of traffic in Queens and Brooklyn, but nothing really bad. I was happy to see that there was lots of free parking in the side streets nearby. The stage, and the house, at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House are smaller than the Lincoln Center stages, but even with Chopiniana (which was the only piece with a corps) I didn't think it was too crowded. And the smaller space meant that I had a better view in the balcony than I usually get in balconies. That stage is loud, though. As in hearing every footfall. When the corps moved on point together it sounded like a heavy rain on the roof. The program listed the pieces as Chopiniana, In the Night, and Without, in that order. The actual order (noted on an insert to the program) was Chopiniana, Without, and In the Night. It didn't make much difference, but I think I would have preferred the printed order, which would have been chronological (1908 to 1970 to 2011). The main problem with the program, however, is that it didn't list roles, just dancers. And not even all dancers; the corps didn't get any mention at all. I'm grateful for Amour on this forum for filling me in. Chopiniana Choreographed by Michel Fokine in 1908 This was a man and a couple dozen or so women in a classical style. (I don't know if that's the right term, but that's how I think of it.) The man was Timur Askerov and the leading woman was Oxana Skorik. There were also several women who were featured at one time or another. This was a beautiful piece. It was a piece where being in the balcony was an advantage, as I could see the geometry of the corps's moves better. I thought Fokine did an excellent job of choreographing the corps in this piece, not only their featured moves, but even how when standing at the sides they would mimic the leads' attitudes. I thought Skorik was great as well. I realize I don't have the eye for technical details as many on this forum, but she looked very, I don't know the right term, in command of the role. I can't say the same for Asherov, though. The word which came to mind while watching him was "adequate". Without Choreographed by Benjamin Millepied in 2011 This was a modern piece with five couples in color coded costumes, exploring the varieties of romantic encounters (as I interpreted it), some passionate, some joyful, some tentative, some humorous. Most of the dances were PDDs, but there were other combinations of dancers as well. I enjoyed this a lot as well; although there was nothing which really grabbed me, there was a lot of interesting dancing. One thing I noticed is that Millepied seemed to give the men a more active participation in the PDDs than other choreographers. Margarita Frolova (the green woman) stood out for me here, although I'm not sure I can articulate why. She just seemed to be one of those dancers who makes everything look like natural obvious motion. In the Night Choreographed by Jerome Robbins in 1970 This consisted of three couples. Although they all danced together at the end, the bulk of the piece is three successive PDDs. The first was by Anastasia Matvienko and Vladimir Shklyarov in a very romantic and sensual dance. This was my favorite part of the entire evening, one of those trancendent experiences which I always hope to find when I go to a ballet. I don't know how much was due to the choreography and how much to the dancers' skills, but I'm sure they were both necessary components. The second PDD was a more elegant one, danced by Yekaterina Kondaurova and Yevgeny Ivanchenko. Kondaurova was impressive here. Amour in a previous post to this thread described her as "a very imposing presence", and I totally agree. The third PDD was a more modern one with Ulyana Lopatkina and Andrey Yermakov. This did not work as well for me as the others, although there was nothing wrong with it as such. Conclusion I had a wonderful time. I enjoyed the choreography of all three pieces, even though they were so different. In fact, seeing three very different interpretations of similar works by a single composer made it especially interesting. And, while not everything was perfect, there was a lot of beautiful dancing, especially the first PDD of In the Night, which reminded me of why I've come to love ballet so much.
  9. I saw today's (Sunday's) Chopin program at BAM. My short review: I loved it. I'll write up a longer one, but one problem I have is that the program only lists the dancers (less the corps) but not the roles. Can I assume that the first two dancers listed for Chopiniana were the leads? And that the dancers are listed for In the Night in the order they appeared? And what about Without? If anyone knows who danced what, or where I can find that information online, I'd appreciate it.
  10. Thanks! Any word on why Smirnova couldn't do it?
  11. What a lively ballet! I saw the Bolshoi dance Don Quixote at Saratoga on Thursday (31 July) and it was a lot of fun. The first act especially was full of energy; I don't think I've ever seen a more exuberant act in any ballet. The leads were Kristina Kretova as Kitri and Mikhail Lobukhin as Basilio. I can also supply the names of the other dancers, if anyone's interested, except for the Queen of the Dryads. That role had a last minute replacement announced over the PA just before the curtain rose, and I didn't catch the name. I think Kretova and Lobukhin were well cast for the roles, in that they both had the energy and playfulness necessary to sell the characters of flirtatious lovers. Where they were weak was in the more technical moves in the third act -- Lobukhin's jumps weren't very impressive and Kretova was a bit unsteady in her balance -- but that wasn't as important as it would have been in some other ballets. Although Don Q's mostly about festive Spain, as envisioned by Russians, there's a scene in the second act where Quixote has a dream which is used as an excuse to insert an entirely different style of ballet into the middle of it. That worked, though; it was more refined and elegant form of joy, but surprisingly appropriate. Although no single dancer stood out for me, the whole company did a good job. The Bolshoi obviously has a lot of depth. Chinara Alizade and Daria Khokhlova, as Juanita and Piccilia (or vice-versa) were especially delightful. (These were the "friends of the lead character" roles you often see in ballets who do occasional interludes and accompany the leads.) I also really enjoyed the fan and tambourine dance the corps did in the first act. There were several comic roles in the ballet. Denis Medvedev stood out as Gamache, the foppish nobleman. Although I gave myself extra time to get there, I ended up arriving after the scheduled start, although thankfully before the actual start. This was because heavy traffic meant that it took a half hour to drive the final mile and a half to the theater. So be forewarned if you ever go to Saratoga. There was a full house, very appreciative. They even gave the orchestra a standing ovation just before the start of Act 3. Having seen the Bolshoi on DVD and in the movies I've come to expect excellent costumes and sets. The costumes were up to expectations. I especially loved the dryads'. The sets, however, were a disappointment. I know that a touring show can't be expected to have as good sets as a house production, but these were just lame, especially in Act 3. On the whole, though, this was a very enjoyable experience. Not a lot of passion, or transcendence, but a lot of fun.
  12. It was a short blonde. The hair might not have been really hers, but she was certainly quite short.
  13. Does anybody know who danced the Queen of the Dryads in today's performance (Thu. 31 July) at Saratoga? The program lists Olga Smirnova, but just before the curtain rose there was a PA announcement of a change in that role. However, I didn't catch the name.
  14. What is the pronunciation of Polina Semionova (Полина Семионова)? I found a N.Y. Times article where it says her surname is pronounced "sem-YOHN-o-va", but of course it doesn't say how to pronounce that. I thinks it's supposed to be something like IPA /sεm 'jon o və/. Is that right?
  15. So I had tickets to see Polina Semionova in Saturday night's performance of Manon, and I kept reading on Ballet Alert how amazing Diana Vishneva is in the role, and I thought, "Oh well, it's the luck of the draw when you buy tickets that far in advance." As things turned out, I thought Semionova was absolutely amazing in the role. I can't speak to Vishneva's performance, of course, not having seen it, but I have no regrets whatsoever that I was fortunate enough to see Semionova in the role. It wasn't that she was technically impressive, although there was certainly no fault to be found there, as far as I could see. It was rather that I have rarely seen a dancer who is as incredibly effective in expressing the emotions and the thoughts of the character through movement, especially in the Act I pas de deux and especially especially during Act II when she's dancing in between Des Grieux and G.M. (both alone and with the male corps). Watching the latter was one of those transcendent times which made me fall in love with ballet. Cory Stearns danced Des Grieux. He was fine, if a little unsteady at times. James Whiteside and Veronika Part were also fine as Lescaut and his Mistress. Lescaut's drunk dance worked well; I literally laughed out loud at one point. There were a lot of empty seats. If I had to guess I'd say the Met was 80% full. The sets and costumes were OK, except that I thought Manon's and Lescaut's Mistress's costumes in the second act were too similar. I understand that final bows are always in the last costume, but I thought it was a shame that whoever dances Manon has to take her final bows in her one-foot-in-the-grave costume and makeup. So, anyway, Polina Semionova is now one of my favorite dancers. Discovering her was especially wonderful since when I went to the Met Saturday night I was expecting just a nice evening and not one of my best ballet experiences yet, which is what I got instead, thanks to Ms. Semionova.
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