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Royal Blue

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  1. Thank you, jsmu for enlightening me about this. I thought that I might have been viewing things a certain way because --as I am well aware-- I find myself very much under Ms. Peck's spell. Liebeslieder Walzer is obviously a work which begs for greater familiarity, and I hope that NYCB never leaves it long out of its repertory regardless of whether it is popular or not. I most definitely need to read Arlene Croce's essay. This time around I did not even prepare myself by reading the poems Brahms set to music! There are some moments in this ballet, like the duet of the Verdy/Nichols/Peck role at the conclusion of part one, which are incredibly haunting.
  2. Since I have come to love Balanchine's works by following closely NYCB during the past few years, and since I am someone who by disposition is rather inclined to look back to the past (though I have no illusions about it and do not idealize it), I was very much looking forward last fall to finally seeing Liebeslieder Walzer. To my surprise I did not like it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it was because of the need to become a little more familiar with this ballet, or the vantage point from which I was watching it in the theater. But after seeing it last evening for the third time this season from a far more advantageous spot in the auditorium I realize now what a gorgeous work this is. I overheard someone say during the intermission that they liked the second part of Liebeslieder better than the first. I am not sure about this, because both seemed --each in its own way-- splendid to me. I do think, however, that the performance of the second part was better last evening. The gentlemen --Jared Angle, Chase Finlay, Amar Ramasar and (perhaps most of all) Russell Janzen-- actually all looked pretty good throughout the work. I would say much the same about one of the ladies --Megan Fairchild. Rebecca Krohn and Sterling Hyltin, on the other hand, seemed to be more in their element in the latter half of the ballet --each of them having some very beautiful moments there indeed. This is one of those works that requires all the dancers --eight of them in this case-- to concentrate on what is happening on stage and avoid as much as possible giving the impression that they are playing to an audience. Even if they are facing toward the auditorium at any given moment they should not seem to be looking at the audience. One thing that I found regrettable during the performance of the first part last night was the way Ms. Krohn --unlike any of her seven colleagues-- seemed to be doing exactly that (in at least one of her duets). Frankly, I failed to grasp during the first couple of times I saw her exactly how exquisite Tiler Peck is in Liebeslieder Walzer. She seemed to be portraying some character (not simply dancing --and how sublimely she dances!) far, far more convincingly than any of the other three ladies. I was made to feel --through her performance-- that hers was the most fascinating of the four female "characters" we were watching on stage; and she became therefore the one whose mysteries of the mind and heart I would most have liked to unravel. I don't know this ballet that well. I wonder, would I feel the same way (that her role is the key one in Liebeslieder) if I were to somehow magically see every cast which has ever performed this work, especially the first? Once again I felt that Rebecca Krohn was outstanding in Glass Pieces. I enjoyed this performance of Robbins' work immensely. All the members of the corps --male and female-- were terrific. So was Amar Ramasar. Unity Phelan also impressed me again in Glass Pieces. I hope that she dances her part in Who Cares? on Saturday afternoon with plenty of confidence, because it seems to me that she has a lot going for her.
  3. A program made up of Liebeslieder Walzer followed after intermission by Glass Pieces --two works of such contrasting music, choreography and overall atmosphere (including lighting, scenery and costumes)-- is actually a very neat idea. It makes you reflect about where we have been, where we are and where we are going --a journey through time (past, present, future) in one evening. I presume it was unintentional, but having two of the dancers (Krohn and Ramasar) appearing in Balanchine's imagined nineteenth century ballroom scene also cast in the second movement of Robbins' modernistic work made the entire thing more moving to me. Rebecca Krohn is one of the most frustrating NYCB principals for me, because I like her so much to begin with and want to like her even more ...but her performances sometimes come across (to me) as overly studied. On Wednesday she was fine in Walzer, but I thought that she was simply superb in Glass Pieces. Unity Phelan and Laine Habony also looked really good in the first movement of Robbins' work. Tiler Peck was also in the cast of Liebeslieder Walzer and was the primary reason why I enjoyed that ballet this particular evening so much. My appreciation of all of Ms. Peck's work verges on the stratospheric, so I second enthusiastically every observation abatt has made above about all her performances this season.
  4. Last evening NYCB presented the third and final "All Robbins" program of the spring season, comprised of The Goldberg Variations and West Side Story Suite. I find the former work mind-bogglingly beautiful, and not a single minute too long! Despite several slight mishaps, this was a soul-stirring performance by the wonderful dancers of NYCB. The Goldberg Variations is filled with so many riches that it can easily absorb, in my view, a few such mishaps. Everyone from the beautiful Faye Arthurs to every corps de ballet member to Susan Walters (the pianist) deserves praise. All the leading men --Daniel Applebaum, Anthony Huxley, Joseph Gordon and Taylor Stanley in Part I; Tyler Angle, Jared Angle and Gonzalo Garcia in Part II-- were impressive, even allowing for some imperfect moments two or three of them had. But the leading women! Once again that lady in the light green costume --Emilie Gerrity-- mesmerized me with the beauty and elegance of her dancing. Ashley Laracey, a particularly graceful and poetic ballerina, made a most welcome return to NYCB in the part I saw Lauren Lovette dance equally splendidly a couple of weeks ago. Likewise, I was elated by the marvelous performance of Rebecca Krohn in Part II of the ballet (so far I had seen only Sterling Hyltin in this role). As I was watching her last night, and being aware of her condition thanks to reports by others in this forum, I thought that Maria Kowroski was understandably cautious --but still glorious! And on top of all this there was a perfect performance --so, what's new?-- from a perfect ballerina: Tiler Peck. Perhaps Jerome Robbins, since I understand he was very demanding with dancers, would have been infuriated with some mistakes made during last night's rendition of the Variations. But he couldn't have found anything to fault T. Peck with. Those bewildering, utterly amazing spins perfectly timed to the notes emanating from the piano, for one thing, were particularly awesome last evening. After experiencing The Goldberg Variations for the first time this year I am amused (and bemused) by the mixed reception this ballet has always received from professional critics and regular balletomanes alike, as evidenced by the fact that not a single poster here has yet commented about this spring's performances. Amused, that is, as long as we continue to be offered the opportunity to once in a while see it in its entirety, in all its magnificence and glory. When I saw this program two weeks ago I felt that the programming choice was woefully misguided. In the first place West Side Story Suite is a different type of work, even though it's by the same choreographer. Secondly, my feeling was that even as concise, as peerless, as impeccable a ballet as Concerto Barocco should precede, not follow The Goldberg Variations. (They got the order right during the winter season.) As I was watching the Suite that night --Georgina Pazcoguin as Anita was especially superb-- I constantly found myself thinking of the Variations. Despite being profoundly moved by the first work on the program yet again, I somehow relaxed during intermission this time and was able to fully enjoy the fantastic performance of the Suite by the NYCB dancers afterwards. Brittany Pollack, I should point out, made a notable debut as Anita. A terrific evening at NYCB!
  5. Last evening's program --Symphonic Dances; 'Rode,o: Four Dance Episodes; Mercurial Manoeuvres-- was also presented last Thursday. I attended both nights. Largely because I enjoyed 'Rode,o more the second time I saw it (much like in the winter season), last night proved to be the more enjoyable one. However unoriginal it may be, Martins' ballet contains --interspersed with a few silly ones-- some very lovely moments. Because of this and the fact that I really like this musical composition, I don't find this work long at all. Its ending though is unquestionably awful! The choreography in no way does justice to the glorious coda of Rachmaninoff's opus. Teresa Reichlen was positively ravishing on both evenings, but the partnering with Zachary Catazaro was smoother last night. On the previous performance, for instance, some supported turns Reichlen did at the back of the stage during the latter half of the work were rather shaky, whereas yesterday they were exquisite. After last week's performance of 'Rode,o I was somewhat irritated with this work. I simply saw no real value or beauty in it. Sara Mearns is a great dancer and a lovely woman (hopefully the injury to her calf heals soon), but she does not look particularly good (during movement) in this costume. Additionally, neither she nor Daniel Ulbricht were at their best last week --both doing some very unsteady turns. Brittany Pollack looks much better in this role and with some further preparation would be able to dance it with more authority than she even did last night. Adrian Danchig-Waring, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrew Veyette, Taylor Stanley, Ulbricht --all were superb by her side. Carried along by the exuberance displayed on stage and the beauty of Copland's music I went with the flow and enjoyed myself very much. I'll always prefer a great deal more all that flowing hair and those streaming garments in Walpurgisnacht though! There was not the slightest difference or variation in quality that I could detect between the two performances of Manoeuvres that I saw. Each was phenomenal! All the elements that make up a ballet performance --the music and those who performed it, the choreography and those who made it come alive, the backdrops on stage, the lighting, the costumes, the color scheme-- came together to a powerful and hauntingly beautiful effect. Tyler Angle, Anthony Huxley, and the corps de ballet were splendid! As for Tiler Peck --may she always remain grounded, take all high praise and criticism in stride and continue honoring us with great performances for many years to come!
  6. It is a bit unfair to compare the performances of the Danes at the Joyce this past January with those at NYCB, for obvious reasons. They brought to New York City about a dozen or so dancers from their soloist or principal ranks --every single one of whom proved to be extremely impressive-- to appear in works requiring knowledge of a style they have learned from early on. One of their two Madges was a former star ballerina who gave a virtually inimitable performance in the scene from La Sylphide shown there. Overall, the Bournonville programs at NYCB this past week have been delightful. The single exception was Sunday afternoon's Divertissements. The repeated incoordination of the four ladies (one a principal, three soloists, no less) whenever they were dancing together during the Pas de Six was --at least retrospectively, to me-- hilarious! It brings to mind Robbins' The Concert. Perhaps it was because of this turn of events that the Tarantella, which I think is an amazing joie de vivre piece, for the first time ever failed to move me --notwithstanding the especially fine efforts in it by Ashly Isaacs (even though she is not mentioned on the program) and Lauren Lovette. All three previous performances of the Divertissements though were generally very pleasing. La Sylphide is actually a very interesting ballet, whose plot is worth thinking about. Who is the Sylph and what does she represent? Who is Madge and what does she represent? NYCB's version of this work is very, very good. The scenery in Act I is somewhat plain, but that in the colorful Act II is arresting, if too modernistic. Compared to that of the 2nd Act of Giselle Bournonville's choreography in the forest scene may seem a bit simplistic, but it is nevertheless quite lovely. And the NYCB female corps de ballet performed it beautifully. Individually, I liked Joseph Gordon as Gurn, and Faye Arthurs as Effie best; but all the others were fine too and were well paired. Gwyneth Muller's portrayal of Madge struck me as extravagant, even by the standards of this production. Marika Anderson was a lot better; but Georgina Pazcoguin was absolutely riveting. The opening scene of Act II with the bubbling cauldron was most effective in the Sunday afternoon performance. After arranging Effie's marriage to Gurn, Pazcoquin made a dismissive gesture --as much as to say "you can all go to hell now"-- at both of them and James' mother, as all three were leaving the forest. This elicited some laughter from the audience. But this hardly amounts to this production having turned Madge into a comedic figure! After all, if this was the case that would make the this version of La Sylphide a complete travesty, no? (Is the Sylph's death supposed to be a joke?) Could this role have been done differently and more persuasively? Absolutely! Does it harm this production irreparably? I think not. Andrew Veyette, Joaquin de Luz and Gonzalo Garcia were all fine as James. The first two are stronger dancers, but Garcia managed a decent overall effort here too, attaining nice elevation in several instances. Speaking of which, one of the most remarkable moments during this run occurred during the Saturday afternoon performance. After Bouder's exceptional grand jetes diagonally across the stage, Veyette ran after her and made a truly breathtaking leap into the wings! Most importantly, the three Sylphs that I saw --Ashley Bouder (twice), Tiler Peck and Sterling Hyltin-- were all quite simply superb, both in terms of their dancing and acting. They all gave valid, interesting and moving interpretations. What these interpretations are depends as much on what is going on inside each spectator's head as on what is happening up on the stage. I ask again: who (or what) is the Sylph? Can viewers logically pass judgement on what Bouder, T. Peck and Hyltin are each supposedly trying to express during their respective performance without having a clear answer to this question themselves? Once more, I enjoyed very much watching all three. That said, Bouder's upper body is muscular, and she has very strong legs (that's what makes her for one thing such a great jumper). The primary characteristic she exudes in this as well as in all her other performances is that of strength. Hyltin, on the other hand, is very thin and consequently her body type is naturally best suited to convey airiness and lightness. Tiler Peck stands somewhere between them and represents the golden mean. Nobody can perform the incredibly fast turns she so often does without having great strength and endurance. And yet the leading characteristics she exudes are gracefulness and femininity. Tiler Peck has repeatedly demonstrated her extraordinary ability to perform rapid movements ever so... cleanly! But her real art and beauty are shown when she moves slowly. In particular she has a way of decelerating her motion which is truly magical to behold. Each sequence becomes like the blooming of a special flower right in front of your eyes. Or, if you will, like a line of a sonnet written in the air. Quite frankly this is especially effective because her arms, her upper body, her legs and, indeed, entire figure are so attractive. But since the goal of ballet, at least according to my understanding, is the creation of beautiful movement what exactly is wrong with that? A story ballet must somehow --by definition-- manage to convey its drama and meaning in large part through such movement. I for one witnessed plenty of that Saturday night. And Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon. And Sunday afternoon.
  7. I have attended every performance of NYCB this week and perhaps in a day or two I'll make a few observations about each. But right now being under the strong spell cast over me by this evening's presentation of La Sylphide I simply have to say: Tiler Peck is ineffably graceful!
  8. After one becomes familiar with MacMillan's version of Romeo and Juliet, the choreography for the balcony scene --one of the greatest in all of ballet-- becomes so intertwined in one's mind with the powerful music that one starts wondering whether Prokofiev also did the choreography for this or MacMillan also composed the music. Martins' treatment of the same material is incomparably poorer.
  9. Eileen and cobweb, both of you are very generous and kind. Had I seen sz's excellent review of the 2/17/2015 performance (which somehow was posted after mine) beforehand, I would not have written my own. As a complete outsider to the world of ballet who has trouble describing clearly what he sees taking place onstage, I realize as soon as I try to write anything in this forum that I'm getting way in over my head. However, an outsider's perspective can sometimes be very significant, as well as amusing. I cite as a case in point Jerome Robbins' "The Goldberg Variations". Given the differing opinions about that ballet, I felt that it was important for me to express my appreciation of the work and the way NYCB performed it. So whenever I feel that something needs to be said I'll chime in.
  10. Great ballerinas are not just surpassingly graceful. They are also exceptionally strong. Perhaps it is this juxtaposition of the tremendous strength next to the pronounced beauty they display whenever they are on stage that accounts for the special fascination some female dancers exert over us. They appear somehow to have mastered the confines of time and space. They move --while maintaining a beautiful posture-- from one point to another with the greatest ease and facility during a specified time period. They can speed things up or slow them down as necessary, and apparently with the slightest effort. And their clear, precise, yet fancy footwork is always perfectly attuned to the sounds emanating from the orchestra pit. Extra steps are never needed by them to reach the wings of the stage. In short, everything --their entire body and its movement through space-- seems harmonious, essential, inevitable ...perfect! I reflected about all of this after I watched Claire Von Enck's fine but premature debut in Tarantella last evening. Von Enck is a charming young dancer who needs a bit of time to develop her strength and endurance (the Koch theater stage was a little too big for her). This ballet was not scheduled for this season so preparations for its performance must have been understandably hasty. Anyway I am glad I saw it and felt the audience's warm response towards Von Enck and her partner (Sparta Hoxha) during the curtain calls was appropriate. Also on the program were Martins' Hallelujah Junction, ably led by Lovette, Garcia and Ulbricht, and Robbins' Interplay, which afforded an opportunity for some dancers who are not principals to get a little more stage time. Whatever mistakes were made during the later piece were amply compensated for me by the pleasure of watching the likes of Brittany Pollack and Lydia Wellington dance. Yet even on a quiet night such as this (both in terms of repertoire and performers appearing) one is likely to see something marvelous at NYCB nowadays. The classiest, most professional performance came last. Both the soloists and the corps made Robbins' Glass Pieces --with a splendid Maria Kowroski in Facades-- seem appropriately glorious.
  11. Things turned out much better Wednesday evening than I anticipated. Pictures at an Exhibition received a far from perfect performance by the nine dancers, but they all had some exquisite moments; and I found myself anyhow luxuriating in the sheer inventiveness of Ratmansky's choreography. I love the entire work, but the "Bydlo" segment particularly. Cameron Grant played the wondrous score beautifully. Mr. Grant is having an outstanding season of his own with his performances of Bach and Mussorgsky. Rodeo is filler and was wisely placed in the middle of the program. I enjoyed watching it Wednesday for three reasons. First, the initial disappointment from seeing it last week had worn off; and at the same time I approached this viewing with lower expectations. That always helps, I say. Secondly, the men of NYCB really make a nice effort here, and in one part it certainly pays off. Having resigned myself to the fact that no woman would appear during the playing of some of Copland's loveliest music, I found this time around that I actually liked the choreography for the 2nd Episode. (It reminded me of the effective way Lar Lubovitch used men in a work of his I had seen once at the Joyce.) The last and most important reason was, of course, Tiler Peck. This was a routine performance from her; but in her case that means one of unparalleled excellence and beauty. Tiler Peck makes every ballet she appears in look better. One advantage of having placed Rodeo between the other two works was that it made the initial appearance of the female corps in Mercurial Manoeuvres even more impressive. Manoeuvres is a very fine piece that was superbly performed Wednesday evening. It was especially gladdening to see Russell Jansen display such strong partnering skills, because this made possible yet another magnificent debut by Sara Mearns. So there seemed to be an interesting progression in what took place on stage at the Koch theater that night. Pictures amounted to an instance where the choreography prevailed over any deficiencies in the dancing. Rodeo served as an example of a dancer triumphing over any shortcomings in the choreography. Manoeuvres was what you hope to see whenever you go to the ballet: an occasion of the quality of the choreography being matched by that of the dancing.
  12. It didn't work very well for me at all either. Some of the people in the orchestra section actually gave it a standing ovation, something which almost never happens at NYCB --even for the most amazing of performances! But I don't mind being in the minority whenever I have to be. In general, I have liked Justin Peck's work --with the exception of the piece at the Joyce and now Rodeo. But with all due respect to the gentlemen who performed in Rodeo the best segment of that ballet was --the portion Sara Mearns danced in! I confess to being a strong adherent of the "ballet is woman" school of philosophy. Of particular curiosity to me --a cause for head-scratching actually-- was that a beautiful, slow section of Copland's score was choreographed for several men only. Interestingly, I have a ticket for the program next week in which Tiler Peck is scheduled to perform in Rodeo. I wonder whether I will be singing a different tune after I see her in it, but I doubt it because the problem here was hardly Mearns at all! I liked Pictures at an Exhibition very much but the highlight Wednesday for me was Tiler Peck's gorgeous performance in Mercurial Manoeuvres.
  13. Having seen "The Goldberg Variations" three times in a week with two different casts (my first experience with this work), I can safely say that not only do I like this ballet but I am deeply moved by it. Last night's cast proved to be every bit as good as the first one. Everyone who participated in these presentations --from Faye Arthurs to Peter Walker (and, of course, Cameron Grant)-- is to be highly commended for their efforts. I agree with all of the positive remarks about specific dancers made by posters above. So I'll just add a few personal observations. No one mentioned Lauren Lovette's performance last week, but I felt she did very well indeed. Last night Ashley Laracey was excellent in the same part as well. I find Laracey to be an enchanting ballerina and wholeheartedly concur with someone above who wished she was given more opportunities. Since I expect so much from Sara Mearns anyway, I consider Sterling Hyltin to be the one who is having an outstanding season. She has been dancing in a lot of works (besides the Goldberg) and doing so --for the most part-- superbly. In my opinion (a strongly held one), Tiler Peck is one very, very special ballerina. I too thought that she (to borrow cobweb's exact words) "was just astonishing" in the first two "The Goldberg Variations". Ashley Bouder, however, is a remarkable artist in her own right, as she showed yet again last evening. I think we are indeed very fortunate to have these two exceptionally talented women dancing at NYCB in the same time period. NYCB has a lot to boast about right now. Finally, I thought that Emilie Gerrity looked splendid up on the stage last night. It was a great call by the powers that be to give her this chance. She danced her part with a sprightliness and confidence that were thoroughly endearing.
  14. Wonderful to learn this--she certainly can dance as if "on the edge of a volcano" ... Indeed! Mearns is a thrilling artist. Her love for ballet, music, the theatre --art in general-- informs all her performances. In the same interview she explains how Makarova (her role model) in a 1975 performance of Swan Lake "wanted everyone in the audience to go into the story." Mearns wants everyone in the audience to go into every ballet she dances in.
  15. According to an interview she gave to The Dance Enthusiast, Mearns is learning La Valse.
  16. . It's difficult to disagree with anything in your well-thought-out post, California, but I would submit that the reason why "it's easy to tangle separate and distinct issues" is because they are profoundly difficult. My understanding is that Triumph of the Will and The Birth of a Nation are considered highly effective and/or groundbreaking works. The fact that we find their content appalling does not prevent some individual of generally sound mind (Spielberg for example) from appreciating their merits and even --I daresay-- admiring their sheer craft. Sadly, the reality is that others will view such works and draw all sorts of dangerous and wrongful conclusions from them. How does a free/open society like ours handle this dilemma? I, of course, entirely agree with you that they should be carefully studied. But the key point is that different people will derive something entirely different from the exact same thing. Wagner's case is mind-boggling because of his character and the anti-Semitism you mention. But his operas simply cannot be lumped with the above works. Wagner has a reputation --justly from all I know-- of being a sophisticated thinker and a great musician. This is why so many Jewish musicians have no problem performing his works. To put it differently, your race, creed, gender, religion, nationality, class --these need hardly matter with Wagner. Many simply cannot stand the man and his works, but these same works can potentially appeal to a wide variety of people because they explore profoundly "human" issues. To this I hasten to add that many persons love his great music who don't care about or bother to understand the messages in his operas. And also, of course, that some may derive certain crazy and harmful ideas from them. But again: we are affected differently by the same thing. Here is the deal with Spartacus. I am not convinced that it really belongs with any of the works we are discussing here. It's certainly not great the way Wagner's operas are. But I don't believe that an artwork's being bombastic and over-the-top is sufficient grounds for considering it repulsive. I'm also unsure about the strength of its militaristic message. Some will view it this way, yes; but others will either belittle this aspect or ignore it altogether. In fact I don't quite understand what both its detractors and its proponents think this ballet is about. Does everybody derive the same message from watching it? And, I would argue, it's important that we in the West are not perceived as having ulterior motives for attacking it. To get back for a moment to the Bolshoi's Lincoln Center performances. The bottom line is that the Company did a fantastic job of presenting Spartacus. I attended two performances. One was very impressive, and the other was downright powerful. All the members of the troupe and the orchestra deserve to be applauded for their wonderful work. Happily, I'm not one iota more militaristic today than I was a few days ago. You're absolutely right about the importance of trying to understand the historical and cultural context surrounding a work of art. At the same time that must come after first becoming acquainted with it. That Spartacus reflects the Soviet Union's "glory days" should be a secondary consideration for a viewer in 2014. That it reminds Putin and his countrymen of the "good old days" should not be the primary concern of a ticket buyer in New York. An artwork should firstly be judged on its own merits. An examination of the societal context it sprang forth from (and exists in) should be tackled afterwards.
  17. "Try to please everyone and you please no one." The lament of artistic directors of ballet companies everywhere, I presume. You raise a lot of significant issues in your post, danc1988. A character in an old classic movie declares: "Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." I agree on your take of smartphones, among other things. What I would like to know, though, is whether all those people who despise Grigorovich's Spartacus, and who are dance enthusiasts and (perhaps) well-versed in the art of choreography themselves think Spartacus' story a suitable subject for a ballet.
  18. Some people would argue that "this new World" referred to above looks suspiciously a lot like the old one, if you look closely enough. As California's post makes clear it is impossible to discuss Spartacus without bringing "politics" into it. Those who criticize it seem to be objecting not just to the choreography but to its subject matter and its putative political outlook. Any implications about the views or tastes of someone just because they happen to enjoy a work of "art" (even if accurate and therefore depressing) are highly problematic though. It would be interesting to know, but should it really matter to us whether Putin loves Spartacus? Do all people who like a work of "art", a person, a nation, or anything else like it (or him/her) for the same reasons? Would Spartacus love Putin or Hitler --or Spartacus? Should we loathe Wagner's music because the Nazis loved it? Should we burn all the copies of Leni Riefenstahl's movies because they glorify a hideous, dangerous political movement and philosophy? And while we are at it all copies of The Birth of a Nation because of its blatant racism? On and on. Classical ballet represents an eminently worthy and civilized attempt to escape from all the ugly, brutal realities of the world --or at best deal with them only very subtly. I myself greatly prefer to see Willis, swans and Shades populate the stage, but that cannot happen when you are trying to portray soldiers, slaves, courtesans, shepherds and gladiators. What you see then is not supposed to be conventionally pretty. Should a choreographer stick his nose into stuff like this? That's a different issue. Is Grigorovich's attempt silly and preposterous? Fine. Has anyone done so successfully? (I am waiting to see Flames of Paris.) And there is something else worth pointing out. Some people express frustration with having to see Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet etc. all the time. Exactly how many full-length (or story) ballets are widely considered masterpieces? Not many, it would seem. "I think Herman Cornejo ... can out dance every man on the Bolshoi stage." Cornejo is a wonderful dancer but I doubt that he himself believes this. There is also something inherently questionable about this kind of assertion, even if we only consider that we're dealing with a different training, style, repertoire. "And to watch Gomes do ANY role is surely the best thing since sliced bread." You cannot ask more of a dancer than what Mikhail Lobukhin and Svetlana Zakharova offered us Sunday afternoon. We may not like the characters they portrayed and the ballet itself, but those are different issues. By any reasonable standard these were great performances.
  19. I agree with the previous posts. I especially was fond of Kretova's "go for it attitude". Her extraordinary balances aside (and they were pretty amazing!), I found her to be the sunniest, just happy to be dancing for you gal in this role. possibly a comer. This is a joyous production of this war horse! Speaking of which, I see "Spartacus " on Sunday! I wanted to be the one to get the credit for drawing you out about Spartacus, mimsyb! I thought that Kristina Kretova's balances in Don Quixote were "extraordinary" and "pretty amazing" too, although one was indeed "wobbly". But we cannot all agree about even a number of balances during a performance! That reminds me, I have to check out Rashomon again.
  20. This afternoon the Bolshoi Ballet's marvelous artists made Spartacus look like a great masterpiece. What a way to end the NYC tour!
  21. I wholly subscribe to this opinion. I attended Saturday's matinee with apprehension - and was surprised at the beauty of the choreography.This is a dark and grown up, non sentimental interpretation - I found the narrative more cohesive and streamlined, (though I do prefer the original score). I wonder if the experience of Evil in the last century in that neck of the woods, (continued even as I write-Ukraine) is the source of Grigorevich making this a parable of good and evil. All this is very interesting and sheds light on the Grigorovich production. However, it also underestimates the power and beauty of fairy tales, and comes across as a bit condescending towards the artists who originally created Swan Lake. This was always a parable about good and evil. Having the same person portray Odette and Odile speaks volumes by itself. To relegate this great dual role to a figment of Prince Siegfried's imagination is both unnecessary and understandably upsetting to a lot of viewers. Siegfried is, after all, a young man and the sort of sophisticated reflections he is credited with in this interpretation can only arrive with time and experience. Personally, I have no problem watching this version of Swan Lake; but I am a little surprised about how well it is apparently liked in Russia. It is somewhat ironic that Don Quixote is to be performed next. Hopefully, no one's enjoyment of the Bolshoi's production will be lessened by the wholesale differences between the ballet and the novel.
  22. Ekaterina, not everyone here in New York agrees with the views of the posters you have been reading. I have seen all but one of the performances this past week, and it seems to me that you Muscovites are both very fortunate and have a lot to be proud of as far as ballet is concerned. Based on what I've seen I think that the Bolshoi is a truly wonderful company. I find the female corps de ballet in particular to be simply magnificent. Their work in the "lakeside" scenes --which after all account for much of the fame and beauty of this ballet--was stellar. The same can be said of the soloists. Virtually everyone of the ladies who danced as one of the brides in this production, as well as one of the three swans or four swans made an excellent impression. And as far as the principals are concerned, I think that Svetlana Zakharova and Ekaterina Krysanova are extremely accomplished ballerinas who gave virtuoso performances as Odette/Odile; Olga Smirnova and Anna Nikulina, I believe, are well on their way to becoming such. Obviously there are differences in the way each performer dances this great and difficult role (that's what makes watching them all so interesting), and quite frankly not everyone can do everything equally well --to say nothing about all the things that never go quite as planned during a live perfomance. But what I can say is that I certainly enjoyed watching all four of them. One more thing about all the women of the Bolshoi: they are incredibly comfortable en pointe --they make the viewer feel that they could remain there forever! It's always more difficult for me to judge the performances of the men when I go to the ballet. Having said that, I thought that Ovcharenko, Chudin and Hallberg (whom, of course, we know very well over here because he has been a member of ABT for many years) did very well as Prince Siegfried --but none of them was flawless. Pretty much the same can be said about all the gentlemen who danced the roles of the Evil Genius and the Fool, roles which seem to me to include some difficult choreography. I believe that Spartacus is a ballet which will better showcase the talents of the Bolshoi's male dancers, so I'm looking forward to watching that. Many people who post on this forum, Ekaterina, are very experienced balletgoers and are therefore quite demanding. You can tell from what they write that they've thought a lot about specific ballets, and have strong opinions regarding interpretations and dancers. Some of them perhaps are (or have been) dancers themselves; some may have taught ballet. None of this makes whatever they state necessarily right, and they often sharply disagree with one another. I also think that we Americans feel freer when we criticize. This has nothing to do with Muscovites understanding nothing or being blind. Although people over there surely have different opinions about ballets, productions and dancers too, no? In New York during the past several years we have been seeing a lot two productions of Swan Lake: one offered by NYCB, and the other by ABT. Both are very much despised. So the reaction to the Grigorovich Swan Lake is hardly unique in this respect. As a matter of fact I think one critic in New York has stated that there is no satisfactory production of this ballet anywhere in the world right now. As you can see, we have very, very high standards. But the bottom line is that you should be extremely proud of those compatriots of yours --Tchaikovsky, Ivanov, and whoever else-- who created this splendid masterpiece.
  23. Last night's performance of SL was the third one I have seen this week. Monday was a peculiar evening for me, because I felt simultaneously weary and intrigued by what was happening. I really like Gillian Murphy, but I simply could not get into Act II --the heart of the work for me-- at all that night. I had mixed feelings when it was announced at intermission that Hee Seo would be replacing her. Having seen Murphy last year in this work I knew that she would have been wonderful in Act III. On the other hand, I wanted to take a look at Seo, whom I haven't seen much of at all. In general I was disappointed, although this had partly to do with my strong dislike of such a major casting change in the middle of a performance --because it makes the necessary suspension of disbelief required of the viewer even more difficult. Several posters have heaped lavish praise on Veronika Part for her performance at the Wednesday matinee. I couldn't possibly agree more with them! She was utterly ravishing! Watching her closely the entire time she was onstage I appreciated anew how many things the ballerina who plays O/O has to do. In fact some things could have been done better; and yet her performance on the whole could only be characterized as exquisite. It's hard to imagine a more gorgeous Odette (she is truly great at all the adagio sections of the work -- the most beautiful ones, in my view); but we're (some of us anyway) used to this by now. So what is especially impressive nowadays is how good of an Odile she is too. I simply don't understand the logic of giving her only these matinee performances! One more thing that needs to be said about the Wednesday matinee. While I certainly can understand some of the criticism directed at Cory Stearns, I must say that I also enjoyed his performance. He dances much, much better than in previous years, and it seems to me that his partnering is now more accomplished too. His ability in the acting area may perhaps improve with time. Like so many others I was looking forward to Alina Cojocaru's SL, although I found myself necessarily lowering my expectations a bit after Veronika Part's great performance. I was very disappointed and somewhat irritated to hear that she was cancelling her appearance this year too. The entire situation seems a bit odd to me. I feel like I'm going through some kind of Pavlovian conditioning which will end --I fear-- in my associating the words "Alina Cojocaru" and "Swan Lake" with the word "cancellation". Some of us cannot afford to keep dishing out amounts like $160.00 for a "good" seat in the expectation of seeing her. So taking into account my reaction to Monday's SL and my frustration with Cojocaru, I found myself in a poor mood for Friday night's performance. To my surprise, things turned out a great deal better than I expected. In point of fact I found Hee Seo way more enchanting than the posters above. I felt that her dancing and acting in the Lakeside Acts were both quite marvelous. To me all her movements were connected and made me lose myself in the story, as well as appreciate the timeless music Tchaikovsky wrote. From where I was seated her interaction with Roberto Bolle seemed quite superb. As far as Bolle himself is concerned --not having seen much of him so far-- I realize now why he is considered such a star. He is simply magnificent, and has everything you could ask for in a male ballet dancer. He is tall and handsome, and along with his great dancing and acting abilities has wonderful partnering skills. During the entire length of the wondrous Act II there was in the orchestra section I was seating in some kind of appalling feedback (?) noise. Typically I have an extremely low tolerance for any kind of distraction during a performance. It is a tribute to the work of both Seo and Bolle that I nevertheless kept my entire focus on what was going on onstage. It's true that in Act III Seo did not hold that balance she held on Monday night. And her fouettes were --if anything-- somewhat worse, because she ran out of steam and ended that sequence badly. This is an area she clearly has work to do. But to me these flaws by no means substantially detract from the overall impression made by her performance. In every other way --most importantly her solo-- she was as good or better an Odile as she was the former night. There was much fine work from other members of the company too. I find Acts I and III a bit tedious if they are watched several times over the period of a few days; but the performances from the leads helped me enjoy them a lot last night. I particularly enjoyed The Great Hall sequence with Siegfried (and later Rothbart) and the Princesses. As far as Acts II and IV go, they were utterly gorgeous! Each and every swan deserved to be given a bouquet of flowers of her own. I realize how much this production is disliked (or should I say despised?), but I have sort of accepted its limitations and try to enjoy the beautiful moments it contains. I must be just about the only person who likes the opening of Act IV, for instance. And I really like the moment when Odette runs to the edge of the precipice when she first appears. Seo handled this, as well as her fall a few minutes later (Act IV here is way too short) beautifully! For me the casting "fiasco" turned out okay after all! My apologies for the long post. It's high time I learned how to express myself when discussing ballet. I have been attending performances for years, but I'm a complete outsider to this world. Its movements and vocabulary are alien to me. My love and appreciation of its great beauty is visceral. I guess one can say that every ballet performance I attend makes me feel a bit like Prince Siegfried when he first encounters Swan Lake.
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