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Everything posted by MarzipanShepherdess

  1. Ok, yes, Hallberg/Abrera would have been my dream pairing—but I agree with BalletFan and ClassicBallet that Hallberg and Boylston were great together! I saw the Wednesday night performance but haven’t had time to post until now. I haven’t been a huge fan of Isabella historically, but I was impressed by this performance and it gave me a new appreciation of her as an artist. I have always admired her technique, but had not seen her ever create a character so fully as she did with Juliet (I may be late to the party because I don’t see her perform often). Her acting was very, very strong all throughout and she managed to capture emotional nuances while still projecting on a grand enough scale to be readable at the enormous Met. She did this magic for both comic moments (like when she bounds into the ball scene full of girlish excitement which suddenly shifts to girlish anxiety about being at her first ball) and tragic ones (like the final act, where her Juliet startled after stumbling into a tomb and then discovered Romeo—upon which she wrung her hands and “screamed”—completely heartbreaking). She looked really secure with Hallberg and the lifts were very impressive. In the balcony scene and the “morning after” scene especially, I was sometimes bothered by her port de bras (sometimes awkward/less than fluid), but overall her dancing was lovely. Great jumps and bourées . This was my first time seeing Hallberg “really” dance this season (Pierrot not counting IMO as it’s almost all mime). He was wonderful. Great acting, so much ardor and passion and heart. Beautiful, elegant lines as always. Rock-solid lifts. Great in the fight scenes—both with the sword-fighting and evoking the Act II inner conflict that accompanied the fighting. He and Isabella really have chemistry, which is sadly lacking at ABT these days. It was so great to see actual spark between principals. I thought cirio was an excellent Mercutio. I can often find Act II muddied and less than engaging, but he really drew me in. Amazing jumps and turns that got a lot of much deserved applause. Overall, the supporting players looked great—I feel like Romeo and Juliet is really one of the ballets ABT does best.
  2. During the summer, if you sit in Boulud Sud’s outdoor seating, you can order a la carte! I’ve done so multiple times this season. I alternate between Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud—enjoy both but Boulud Sud is my favorite. my sole meal at Fierello’s was AWFUL, would never go back.
  3. Seeing it tonight, I actually thought I would have enjoyed it more with simkin! Aside from the lifts, it definitely plays to his strengths.
  4. Just saw the lane/cirio abrera/Hallberg cast. TL;DR—charming but slight. Would not see it again. Audience reaction was tepid. My partner compared this ballet to a cream puff—enjoyable but insubstantial, and not satiating. I left feeling underwhelmed. Abrera really stole the show, despite not having the “wow” choreography (those devilishly difficult hops on pointe that columbine does in both acts). She was just so sparkling, charming, and pitch-perfect, and all her interplay with Hallberg was great. I enjoyed him as Pierrot—he doesn’t have a lot to do dance-wise, but he was funny, especially playing off Stella. I thought their partnership had more spark than Cirio and Lane’s. Cirio was very good in his mimes, but his lifts were unsteady and his solos didn’t quite have the oomph and bravura quality I was hoping to see. Because the ballet has so much mime and light dancing, you really want those solos to wow and Cirio’s just fell a bit short of the mark for me. Lane was cute and acquitted herself admirably with some VERY difficult choreography, but didn’t quite nail it like Stella did. Like with Cirio, I was left wanting a bit more. audience response seemed pretty tepid. Lane’s hops didn’t get any applause, which surprised me, and there was just one front-of-curtain bow with light applause. People seemed very ready to be out of the theater—it’s a short ballet, but it feels longer than it is I as there are some sections like the kids’ dances in Act II that drag. I left feeling that this was a ballet that must have been much more engaging to make then it is to watch. The whole history of the piece and learning about the reconstruction process was more interesting to me than the ultimate result. I don’t think this is a winner for ABT—I think the appeal is pretty limited to people who have a significant amount of interest in ballet history and in Ratmansky as a choreographer. I’m not a parent, but it didn’t seem child-friendly to me (it’s totally G-rated but I think most kids would be bored). curious to hear more of what others thought!
  5. A little late, but adding to the chorus of praise for Kimin Kim and Hee Seo's Friday night performance. I attended with my partner, who doesn't see much ballet and is not usually effusive about it, and he was raving about how "even he" could tell that their dancing was really extraordinary after just the first act. This was my first time seeing Kim and I was absolutely blown away by both his technique and artistry. So princely! His jumps made me literally gasp with delight. He really brought out the best in Seo--this was the loveliest performance I've ever seen her give. Some of her Act II variations felt under-powered and a bit less than compelling to me as well, but overall Nikiya is a role that really plays to her strengths (lyricism, fluidity, lovely use of her arms and hands). It was not as dramatically rich an interpretation as my favorite Nikiya (Veronika Part), but it was a great performance nonetheless. Seeing Kim and Seo's wonderful chemistry made it quite stark, by comparison, how so many of the current ABT partnerships lack the same excitement. I saw Giselle with Stella Abrera and Cory Stearns earlier this season and despite my enjoyment of Stella's dancing, the performance overall fell flat for me because Stearns is so inert. I fully support the current tack management is taking to be less dependent on guest stars and to develop their talent pipeline from within the company, but at the same time I feel starved for the kind of breath-taking dancing that Kim delivered, and that ABT used to offer in the days of Diana, Marcelo, Veronika, Nina, Malakhov, Carreno, pre-injury Hallberg and co. I think there is an argument to be made for bringing in guest stars judiciously but more frequently than this current season--especially ones like Kim who can help an ABT dancer develop via partnership. I really hope he'll be back next season. With everyone reporting that the Shades were much better Friday than earlier in the week, I can't imagine how awful they must have looked earlier because to me they still looked pretty ragged on Friday. I found the wobbles and lack of synchronicity to be distracting. I do agree with those who mentioned Zimmi was a standout despite being one of the least experienced dancers on the stage. I noticed her in a rehearsal I attended earlier this season and have been following her since then. If ABT doesn't give her an offer to join the corps, they're crazy! It was noticeable to me too that Gillian was not as steely in her technique as in the past (it seemed like she skipped balances I used to remember her doing--she is after all human and 20 years into her career), but I'd still rather see her as Gamzatti than anyone else at ABT. Her fouettés were impressive and her acting was impeccable. She brings a nuance and depth to Gamzatti, especially in Act III where we saw her experience guilt and uncertainty. Even in side-stage moments, like when she and Kim were watching Seo's Act II solo, she was compelling to watch. It's easy to play Gamzatti as a one-note villain, but Gillian gives her humanity while still preserving her hauteur.
  6. Thanks for your reply NinaFan! That makes sense that they are using that specific performance as a carrot to get people to just buy the Friday night series rather than mixing and matching as I like to do.
  7. I purchased a subscription today and was distressed to see that despite the fact that the Osipova/Hallberg Giselle is still listed on the performance calendar, it was the only ballet you couldn't purchase as part of a subscription. Is this something they've done in the past with performances they anticipate selling very well, or is this an indicator they don't think the Osipova/Hallberg performance is likely to happen and don't want to deal with a lot of subscribers who are angry about a cast switch?
  8. I saw last night's performance with Simkin, Boylston, Lendorf and Lane and came away totally charmed. Whipped Cream is, IMO, a great addition to ABT's rep because it offers treats for devoted ballet fans and those who are new to ballet alike. The sets, costumes, and choreography are visually delightful and clever in a way that even a child can immediately grasp, but the production is also rich enough to reward the more knowledgeable eye. This is definitely a ballet I will see again next season as a night out with friends who aren't regular ballet goers. ABT doesn't have many productions that are well-suited to that, so I'm pleased with the addition of Whipped Cream to the roster on that count alone. Another thing I like about this production is that it's really an ensemble piece: there are a lot of great chances to see newer dancers at their best, the focus isn't just on two or three stars as with, say, Giselle. Standouts to me last night were Catherine Hurlin as Madame Chartreuse, and Blaine Hoven as Don Zucchero, in addition to the principal cast. The Boy is a perfect role for Daniil Simkin--I can't really imagine anyone doing it better. Stunning leaps, turns, and jumps, and he captured the spirit of the character well. Isabella was lovely as tea flower, and I really enjoyed her partnership with Alban. If you're on the fence about whether to see this during the run later in the season, go for it! It's a really enjoyable ballet.
  9. Attended last night's Don Quixote with Herman and Maria. I agree with the earlier poster who felt Maria was under-powered in the first act. Her lack of brio and energy was noticeable in comparison to Herman and Blaine, who both were firing on all cylinders right out of the gate, and especially next to Devon who was dancing Mercedes. Devon seemed to be having so much fun with the role, and brought all of the flair that seemed missing from Maria's Kitri. She might be a great Kitri someday herself. Maria was better in Act II and III, with super-impressive fouettes, but I never really felt like she had the spirit of the role. It was a wonderful night overall, though-- other standouts for me were Zhiyao as lead gypsy, with his glorious leaps, Skylar Brandt as a twinkling, nimble Amour, Craig Salstein as an actually, surprisingly entertaining Gamache, and of course Blaine who was fantastic as Espada. What happened in Act III with Herman's injury was truly unsettling. After completing the part of the pas de deux with the 2 lifts, he never returned to stage. He seemed to struggle with the first lift but complete the second without trouble. Maria seemed rattled though she finished the final bit of the Act with Blaine smoothly. It seemed like many in the audience did not initially realize Blaine wasn't supposed to be partnering Maria ( credit to both), but then when Herman didn't appear for what was clearly the final moment of the ballet everyone seemed to get it. Subdued and rushed curtain calls, with a burst of applause for Blaine and Devon. Really hope Herman will make a speedy recovery and return to the stage soon!
  10. Stella was enthusiastically and deservedly applauded during her 2 before the curtain bows, but I don't think most in the audience were there to see Stella specifically or were aware it was her first performance as a principal. From what I observed the audience was mostly parents and grandparents treating their kids to an afternoon at the ballet.
  11. I am often very critical of ABT's management, but hats off to them for really nailing it with this set of promotions. I'm over the moon about Stella. Yes, it's overdue, but better late than never! I can't wait to see her be given the chance to expand her repertoire and to see her again in Giselle. Considering it purely from a dance standpoint, IMO Misty's been promoted too soon. She is a charismatic dancer who can bring a really delightful brio and individuality to some of her roles, but I don't think she has yet acquired the depth and polish that should define principal ballerinas. But of course with Misty to consider it from a dance perspective only is to miss the point. She is not just a dancer; she's also an inspiration to many, a symbol of black American achievement, and a major box office draw. Taking those factors into account I think ABT was right to promote Misty this season. It would have been a news story if she was NOT promoted this year, coming off the Time 100 cover, and a very ugly one at that. Hopefully Misty will bloom further as an artist and a dancer in years to come.
  12. It was really lovely! It felt a bit poignant for Stella to dance this role for her first performance as an ABT principal. I think she has had a bit of a Cinderella story with ABT: a modest, gracious hard worker who was overlooked and denied opportunities to shine for many years, but who has now FINALLY gotten to step into the spotlight. Stella brought a lot of dramatic expressiveness to the role, and her mimes were particularly vivid. She was especially good in Act III where she really showed the full range of Cinderella's emotions after the ball: elation as she relived her memories of the ball, sadness that it's over, uncertainty over whether it was really a dream or not, and then joyful relief when she finds her glass slipper. She also really nailed that tricky Act II variation, where she did the most dazzling, high speed sequence of turns and leaps in a manege around the stage. I also loved way she so beautifully conveyed how Cinderella is both happy and grateful through her gracious Act III port de bras. Gorak was good but didn't particularly shine for me. But in fairness, I was very focused on Stella. Gabe Stone Shayer was a nice surprise as the jester. He needs to acquire some more polish and authority (there were points were he seemed a bit uncertain, he comes across as very young), but some of his jumps and kicks were pretty stunning and he has good stage presence. Sarah Lane was the standout amongst the fairies, as Spring. April G also very good as Winter.
  13. I feel the same! I don't think I've missed an SL week at ABT once in the decade I've been attending their performances. I was tempted to see Veronika tomorrow, but I've seen her do SL with Corey before and been deeply disappointed. I'd rather cherish my memories of her dancing O/O with Marcelo and David, so I'll be seeing the RB tomorrow instead.
  14. How deeply, deeply sad. I have treasured memories of Albert onstage (especially as Puck and in the Four Temperaments). But my most indelible memory of him is an off stage one. Many seasons ago I had the privilege to go backstage at City Ballet, where I saw Albert in the wings. He had the most amazing, distinctive walk: purposeful and confident but at the same time slinky and sensual. I'm not evoking it well, but I was so struck by how much charisma and grace he radiated, even when he was off stage. He caught your attention without calling attention to himself--a star even amongst all the stars that were there that night. Such a terrible, tragic loss.
  15. Mazurka, I would really encourage you to see Stella. She is an extraordinary dancer but, unfortunately, she is not frequently given the opportunity to dance principal roles. Seize the chance to see her, especially when she is firing on all cylinders this season and coming off a triumphant NY debut in Giselle. I've seen Ashton's Cinderella at ABT and think the lead role should suit Stella perfectly. That being said, I've never seen Nunez so I can't speak to how she compares to Stella. But, I can assure you Stella is wonderful!
  16. Hee Seo is certainly not Vishneva but the level of vitriol directed at her seems quite unwarranted. From reading some of the comments here, one would think she was a total hack---but she actually can be quite lovely (as she was last night). I was VERY disappointed to learn of the substitution via my program last night, as I'd bought tickets specifically to see Vishneva with Gomes and would have purchased tickets to see Obraztsova instead had I known Diana wouldn't dance. But, I still enjoyed the performance and agree with those who say this is Hee's best role. To get the obvious and uncontroversial out of the way--Marcelo was wonderful as always. His performance was ardent and tender, and his interactions with even minor characters like the harlots were richly nuanced. He really brings out the best in all his partners, and certainly deserves some of the credit for what Seo was able to do on stage. He didn't have that extra dazzle and passion that he has when he dances with Vishneva, but seeing him dance with a crash test dummy would still be a treat. The other standout man last night was Craig Salstein, who was a very compelling Mercutio. Okay, now here it comes--I liked Hee last night [runs for cover]. No, she is "Not Vishneva". But she was lovely. I disagree with those who say she mechanically toggled from happy to sad. I thought she convincingly conveyed Juliet's emotional journey from being a playful child in Act I to being a passionate wife in Act III. I loved how she blossomed in the balcony scene, throwing herself with abandon into the pas de deux (very much enabled, no doubt, by trust in Marcelo as a partner). She has a very beautiful lightness and quickness and delicacy to her dancing, which is perfectly suited to the Act I choreography and which contrasted wonderfully with the fierce love she showed in the "morning after" scene. She conveyed that her Juliet had a premonition something terrible was about to happen and that she wouldn't see Romeo again and I found that very affecting. She was weakest, unfortunately, at the end. Her poison scene was muddled and didn't pack the emotional punch it should have. She made it seem as though Juliet was afraid of some ghostly presence rather than wrestling with her own thoughts. It wasn't a performance that sent me into raptures (as Ferri's Juliet did) but I enjoyed it very much. I very much agree with the consensus here that ABT needs to better develop, promote, and support the home team and I think it's a shame that KM has burned so much of the audience on Hee Seo by leaning on her so heavily. Don't write her off--she is a dancer worth watching.
  17. "I think it is a bit of both. Those ballets are probably technically challenging for her now (or rather, it is challenging for her to perform the classics up to her standard, as I can't imagine her ever omitting the hard stuff or marking the steps a la Kent/Cojocaru), but also that she doesn't like the ABT productions, so it's not worth the effort. I think there's a possibility she might do Ratmansky's SB, since they seem to have a good relationship, and she seems to like to do his ballets (she's dancing his "Psyche" this weekend at POB, then his "Cinderella" in London, and she did "Lost Illusions" at Bolshoi earlier this year). I guess it will depend how much he changes the traditional choreography. Also, I think she'd only do it if she can dance with Gomes. Ratmanksy has used Gomes as the male lead in the premiere of all his ballets for ABT ("On the Dnieper," "The Bright Stream," "Firebird," "Tempest," and arguably "Nutcracker" too). Would Ratmansky cast Vishneva & Gomes as the opening cast? My feeling is that Ratmansky might go for a "home-team" ballerina or an up-and-comer instead..." You've given me hope, thank you Batuschan!
  18. I thought perhaps Diana just disdained the current ABT productions of these works as much as I do. ;) But what you say makes sense, sadly!
  19. Next season wishes: I echo the calls for more evening performances for Veronika, and for appearances by Tereshkina, Shklyarov, and Kondaurova. I'd love to see Vishneva dance O/O again, and to see her in Ratmansky's new SB. And I fervently pray we get to see Stella as Giselle or Odette (though I know, to my chagrin, that this is unlikely). I hope to see more opportunities given to some of the corps dancers who have shone this season: Skylar Brandt, Calvin Royal, Zhiyao Zang, and Joseph Gorak especially. As for ballets, would be thrilled to see more Ashton: Cinderella again, and an all-Ashton mixed bill (A Month in the Country!). Would like Manon back just to see Diana and Marcelo dance it again. I'd love to see ABT do a kind of Russian-themed Ratmansky double bill with On the Dnieper and Russian Seasons, too.
  20. Attended Saturday night’s performance with Seo and Bolle. All in all, a lovely evening. Seo’s Odette was absolutely gorgeous. This is a wonderful role for her particular gifts as a ballerina, and she made glorious use of her fluid, expressive back and arms. Exquisite penchees and balances. Though her dramatic interpretation of the role was not as individual or nuanced as that of other ABT O/O’s I’ve loved (Nina A, Veronika Part, Diana Vishneva), I think that will come in time. Nothing out-of-the-box or especially unique in her portrayal as yet: Odette is tremulous at first, then achingly tender and loving. But those aspects of Odette were articulated very vividly and with great artistry. Seo’s Odile was weak. She traveled like crazy during the fouettes, but for me that’s forgivable if other aspects of the performance are strong. Not so here. Though her dancing was beautiful, there was not enough distinction between how she performed Odile and how she performed Odette. Her Odile wasn’t seductive, or wicked, or incestuously cozy with Von Rothbart, or anything in particular, really. Disappointing, but she was immediately back to peak form as soon as she appeared on stage in Act IV. She was so exquisite it seemed especially cruel that this act is so short! Though I’ve written at length about Seo, I have no doubt that Bolle deserves some of the credit for her strong performance. He was an exceptional partner and a wonderful Siegfried in all respects. I really like his partnership with Seo. They played off of each other very well, and seemed to bring out the best in each other. And such lifts! The corps deserves some laurels, too: I thought they looked really strong Saturday night. Some impressive work from the soloists as well, with Misty and Isabella giving particularly stand-out performances in the ppdd. Thanks to fellow posters for their remarks; I wasn’t planning on attending a Swan Lake this season, but the favorable comments on Seo’s impromptu Monday night performance convinced me to grab a ticket for Saturday night. Very glad I did!
  21. Agree with abatt that last night’s Cinderella was a truly enchanting evening! This was my first time seeing Ashton’s Cinderella and I really enjoyed it.While there were aspects of the Kudelka production I liked (the lovely sets and costumes, the clever way the choreography incorporated Cinderella’s shoeless and then one-shoe plight, the fun sequence of the Prince searching the world for Cinderella), I’m very glad ABT has adopted this one. I found the choreography to be really unique and engaging: all the dynamic changes in the dancing, the pointing, stabbing fingers and feet, the extensive use of props, all the hops.It really held my attention all throughout.None of the choreography felt like filler in between the “big” dances for the principals (as is the case in too many of ABT’s productions!).Some of the choreography was evidently extremely difficult, but I also appreciated that some of it was very under-stated.Particularly the final pas de deux. It was really (and appropriately!) all about the partnership and tender rapport between the two leads, rather than splashy pyrotechnics showing off their individual dancing. This production is nothing special in terms of sets and costumes, but it does use a really simple stage effect I found quite beautiful: at the beginning of the final scene, the stage is dark and then one by one little lights come on and form a circle.When the stage lights come up you see that the lights are the tips of the Stars’ wands.Lovely! I didn’t feel like all the dancers really “got” the Ashton style, but those who did (fortunately including the lead dancers) shone.Gillian and David were both wonderful; especially Gillian, who executed all the tricky footwork with aplomb.Veronika (as the Fairy Godmother) could have handled some of the tempo changes in her first act solo better, I think, but had some beautiful jumps and of course did all the sweeping arm movements to absolutely gorgeous effect.No one waves a wand like Veronika!;)I love how she uses her arms when she is doing choreography that signals her character is conjuring something (as in the Lilac Fairy role at the end of Act I of Sleeping Beauty): she gives the impression that the air has weight and that she’s shaping it, like she’s building the spell in a way that appears both effortful and completely graceful. Two corps dancers who really stood out to me were Skylar Brandt and Luis Rigoborda.Skylar’s Spring fairy solo was just stunning. She really got the Ashton style (as the other three season soloists who followed definitely did not).Luis, who I can’t recall ever noticing in a featured role before, was excellent in the very tricky Jester role. From a drama perspective, there are certain aspects of this production that aren’t well-done.I (and my companion) both found the bit in Act II where the Prince shares an orange with Cinderella to be confusing.It seems like it’s set up as a significant event, but instead I guess it’s just to provide the stepsisters with a prop to toss around?I also disliked Cinderella’s Act II entrance with a massive cape, which really distracts the focus from the ballerina. One of the aspects of the fairytale that I think is so charming is the transformation of ordinary things like mice and pumpkins and lizards and the ragged dress into extraordinary ones, and this production doesn’t really make much of that at all.Since the transformation scene takes place in some kind of heavenly realm, the pumpkin’s appearance at the end of the scene feels pretty random.I think it was also an odd choice to have the third act open with the Prince and his guests leaving the ball; that part of the story feels like it’s over by that point. Despite some of the dramatic aspects of the production not working so well, I really enjoyed the performance and definitely look forward to seeing this ballet again in future seasons.Very happy this is now part of ABT’s rep.
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