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Belka

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    former dancer, avid fan
  • City**
    Washington
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    DC

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  1. I attended opening night for program 1 (Tues March 27) in order to see Tiler Peck in Tchaikovsky Pas, Bouder and Laracey in Diverimento, Fairchild and deLuz in Zakouski, and Mearns in Pulcinella. It was a great night, even though Fairchild did not dance. One thing I notice others remakring upon, and something that has perplexed me for years: the (over?)use of Erica Pereira in recent years, at least in Kennedy Center tours. To me her movements look thrown, harsh, not grounded, and unfinished. Every year I try to give it a fresh go. Each year I come away from a performance feeling like a terrible person for disliking her dancing. Anyhow, this year wasn't too different. I didn't mind her Divertimento performance as much, but by the time she appeared in Symphony in Three Mvmts, I was done. It was a long show, and maybe I was getting a bit cranky towards the end. But on to the other dancers! Bouder never disappoints, and she was oh so crisp and controlled in Divertimento! I also really enjoyed seeing Lauren King and Ashley Laracey. Abi Stafford is almost never featured in KC tours, so I was really curious to see her dance, but several days later, I have almost no impression or memory of her dancing. I had never seen Zakouski, so was very enthused to see the originally cast couple, but Indiana Woodward did as well as she could for being thrown in with a different partner at the last minute! I did really like the music as well. Possibly my unexpected favorite of the evening was Pulcinella Variations--everyone did a bang up job, just fantastic on all fronts. I was especially excited to see Lydia Wellington replacing Woodward, whose lovely lines and shapes and graceful, powerful dancing has left an impression on me in years past. It was thrilling to see her featured in a technically demanding piece! Perhaps she is a bit reminiscent of Sara Mearns, who for me is the ultimate ballerina. I wish Mearns had been featured more in this performance, but I am looking forward to seeing her in Sunday's works. All the ladies were most impressive in this piece. THe audience loved it as well, especially the Tarantella danced by Anthony Huxley. Tiler Peck in Tchaikovsky PDD--what can I say that hasn't already been said? She absolutely owns the stage and the piece. The fish dives took everyone's breath away, the fouettes were 100% on point, and wow! It was just incredible. One of those performances I'll always remember seeing. For me the most impressive part of Symphony in Three Movement was the corps men and women. I suppose I haven't had enough exposure to the PDD danced by Hyltin and Danchig-Waring to appreciate its subtleties, so I won't comment. I did not especially enjoy the other two soloists, Pereria and LeCrone. The corps was in fine form! This is a piece I'd like to see many more times for full appreciation. It was a long night, but what a night! THe most ballet bang for your buck in all of Ken Cen, I imagine! A nearly-three hour show with 5 fantastic pieces, with a fairly decent side seat in row X of the orchestra cost me only $59! Hard to compare it with the $150-$200+ tickets ABT charges when its comes to Ken Cen these days. If I hadn't had to work so much, I'd have gone back Wednesday night for sure. Very much looking forward to Sunday!
  2. I saw Saturday afternoon’s Giselle, danced by Ayano Kimura (filling in for Venus Villa) and Jonathan Jordan. I thought Ms. Kimura did a commendable job for what must have been a fairly last minute replacement (the programs already having been printed). A few years ago I saw the Maki Onuki/Broooklyn Mack “Giselle” by TWB, and while I am not sure anyone can match Onuki technically in the company (she is my favorite dancer at TWB), I really did enjoy Kimura’s winsome, girlish, shy Giselle in the first act. Her acting was great, and my heart really did break for her when Albrecht’s betrayal was revealed, because I believed she *was* Giselle. Peasant PDD was danced excellently by Nicole Graniero and Corey Landolt. The Eisenhower Theatre’s stage is a bit too small for this production, yet these two danced right up to the scenery and almost on top of standing dancers and didn’t seem phased by it one bit. Graniero did a fantastic sequence of chaines into a double pirouette almost right on top of the sitting Duke, and landed perfectly into a kneeling position. I was amazed!! There were a few moments when I likewise thought Landolt might kick the scenery, but it could have been my angle (very close to stage on the right side). The stage really is too small for the men, but they made the best of it. I wish I could remember more details of their dancing, but they were both excellent, and Graniero was especially sharp. One of Giselle’s “friends” really impressed me with her winning stage presence and joyful dancing. She had one of the yellow (golden?) dresses on, was a bit shorter than the others with dark hair. I wish I knew who it was, but I’m sure she’ll stand out in whatever role she performs next. I couldn’t take me eyes off her. The second act was also lovely, and it made me like Kimura even more: here is still the shy, likeable girl from Act I, yet now forgiving and intensely sad. Her easy arabesques just melted like butter, and astonished me again and again. I enjoyed her dancing very much in the second act, and while it may not be as strictly sharp as Onuki’s is, it was still wonderful, and her petit allegro work was astonishingly excellent. Most of all I loved her acting and her arabesques. I also enjoyed Francesca Dugarte’s Myrta, as I did all the Wilis, who danced very well as a corps. Very haunting. Dugarte had exceptional command of the role, and owned the stage when she was on it. It was also lovely to have the live music. Kudos to all!
  3. I'm a little late to the game, but happy to report that if you watch these performances via Roku or another streaming service, the clarity and the ratio seem to be completely fixed! I was dismayed at the pixelated quality and weird ratio when I watched them live, but it's been worth another view (or FIVE of Sara Mearns)! Question: I've only seen NYCB perform Symphony in C twice before this broadcast, when they were touring the Kennedy Center (2 years ago now?) and was wondering if that--due to the nature of the choreography--the third movement female lead always tends to look like a baby fawn who's just found her legs? I actually thought Alston Macgill did a pretty good job though some of the difficult technical parts, for only being an apprentice at the time, but I found the performance jarring and thrown about. I suspect she'll develop more maturity in time, and don't wish to judge her now at all (I loved her smile through it all!), but it did bring back another memory of the two DC performances I saw. Imagine, if you will, the second movement just having been sublimely performed by Maria Kowroski, just to be followed by Erica Pereira, limbs thrown about, rushed-looking, etc. I had never seen her dance before, and was not impressed. To me it seemed incredibly ridiculous looking to have her and Kowroski side by side in the fourth movement, and I found this height and quality-of-movement difference to be distracting. Not wanting to be a terrible person, I tried to go into the second performance with her in the same role with fresh eyes, but came away wondering why she was a soloist. I just wonder what joy the third movement could be in the hands of a dancer with more control and maturity (say, Peck, Bouder, Fairchild) yet incredibly speedy all the same. I'm not as familiar with the newer crop of soloists and principals, but I'd be interested to hear others' tales: can it be done better? Am I being too harsh? Is this a role that Peter Martins routinely throws dancers into to see if they sink or swim (as he has put it)?
  4. Thanks for posting the casting, I could not get a hold of it on The Washington Ballet's website, nor at Kennedy Center's. I decided to see Maki Onuki dance Theme and Variations on Friday evening--and I was NOT disappointed! I always love watching her confident, technical, brilliantly sharp dancing and thought she was definitely the one to tackle Theme and Variations. Having seen both ABT (Michele Wiles, about five years ago) dance it not very well, and Ashley Bouder dance it amazingly it at KC two (or so?) years ago, I am pretty picky about who I want to see try their hand at the ridiculously hard choreography. I was SO pleasantly surprised! Not only did Onuki nail it (I suspected she could), but the corps did really well! It was a great show and had me thinking I'd like to go again during the weekend...until Carmina Burana started. Not my cup of tea, I'll say that up front. I saw just the symphony/choir performance of it last year at the Concert Hall, and it was astounding, blow-you-away forceful! Really brilliant! Unfortunately, I'll have to agree with YouOverThere's comments on the music sounding kind of anemic, as if the singers might have been struggling to project. The effect of having them stand onstage was pretty moving, though. I couldn't get over how much I disliked the black garbage-bag pants costumes that the men and women wore in the first part of the ballet. For me, simpler costuming is ALWAYS better, no matter what! The costumes were, for the most part, extremely distracting for me for the entire show. I did enjoy the nude costumes that simply let the dancers be seen for themselves. I thought Brooklyn Mack was very forceful and brilliant during his solos (the audience loved him too!), but don't have a great concept of who else was dancing that evening. I found the playbill casting list be fairly confusing, but I recognized Venus Villa and really enjoyed her sharp technique, lovely lines, and quick movement. Maki Onuki (I think? According to the casting, it was Tamako Miyazaki, but I'm not familiar with her at all. It *looked* like Onuki) really tore it up for her quick solo, Ego Sum Abbas (again, I guess this is the right piece--the dancer was in a ridiculous costume with a brown wig, kind of looked late 1700s era?). Incredible dancing though!! I enjoyed a lot of the dancing in Carmina Burana, and even most of the choreography, but the music and costumes distracted me so much that I couldn't really enjoy it. The audience was very into it, eager to clap, and managed to stay for a few extra bows, which was refreshing (how many times have I seen incredible dancing at KC, only to have the audience not even seem to notice?!?), and that made it a good night.
  5. I, too, really enjoyed the Mack/Villa cast of Hamlet. I went in not knowing anything about the ballet, except expecting to like the Philip Glass score (which was excellent!). I had never seen a Mills ballet, and really enjoyed this one. The music, for me, really evoked the ever-worsening emotional states of the characters, and I did not think it felt rushed, as the Kaufman review mentioned. I also thought the 3 additional Hamlets were a really interesting move, and really signified again, the mental anguish of Hamlet. Great dancing by Villa and Mack! I enjoyed Hamlet a lot more than Carmina Burana, which I'll discuss in the proper thread.
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