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  1. Good for Lovette... kind of a surprise since she isn't much of a technical virtuoso. I was hoping Phelan or Gerrity would get a shot at O/O but probably won't happen given the number of performances compared to the number of veteran principals. I'm sure Ball will be excellent. Guessing that Gordon and maybe Huxley will get a Siegfried debut too?
  2. If Gorak could lift Copeland in R&J then he should be able to lift Lane, who's around the same size if not smaller. On another note, the "New Romantics" program today was not great. (I wasn't really expecting it to be, but hey, the tickets were on sale.) There were things to like about Whiteside's piece but it felt like something that belongs in, well, a dance festival. There was an amateurish, choppy quality to it, although there were some nice moments with Hurlin/Bell and Teuscher/Royal/Ahn. Garden Blue did not need to make a comeback, and it definitely does not need to make another comeback in the spring(!). It's pretty, kind of like a Joan Miro painting, but so, soooo boring as a moving piece of art. The color palette is distracting and the music is really unexciting as dance music. I actually liked Bond's piece despite its imperfections. It had the most energy, drama, and the dancers were really "on" ... it's the kind of fast-paced piece that looks great on Whiteside and Boylston. I think it could have been really great if maybe Bond had more time to fine-tune it and work with the choreographic equivalent of an "editor" to trim some of the excess. That said, it still made for a good closer after an otherwise lackluster program.
  3. Don't weekend matinees tend to sell very well? They may not feel as "glamorous" to attend but I've never thought of them as less appealing. But if anything, Copeland should be getting all of the matinees because her fanbase consists of so many children. Given that Simkin's only show is a matinee, I wouldn't see it as a slight. The fact that Lane only gets three principal-roles shows (so far) is another story. Gorak looked not-great the past few times I've seen him but I don't think he's irredeemable. Romeo isn't as technically difficult as Theme and Variations. And upper-body strength is something that can be acquired in seven months. (Just trying to be optimistic here... I really want the show to be great!). Hoven was excellent as Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty this past spring; he should be taking one of those open Desiré spots. He jumps high, has very clean feet, and can partner and act... pretty much everything the role requires. I'm not surprised they're bringing back Tharp's "Gathering of Ghosts" to get their money's worth on the commission, but I don't know why anyone would want to see that again. Overall I'm also looking forward to the season though, especially to the Shevchenko/Forster Swan Lake, as well as the guest appearances in La Bayadere and Gisele. There seems to be more casting variety than the past two years. It's a season full of "blockbuster" events, which I'm sure the company needs for their bottom line right now.
  4. I tried to watch last night's T&V without comparisons to NYCB and just judge it on its own terms and find different things to appreciate, but it was still pretty bad, even with lovely moments from Lane, the demisoloists, and the in-sync corps. (Also noticed Trenary -- I've always thought she could be good Balanchine material, by ABT standards at least). The casting for the T&V performances was announced months ago, so you'd think the company would have ample time to coach the dancers properly and/or come to the realization that Gorak should not be dancing this. I saw a less-than-fabulous performance of T&V with Gonzalo Garcia and Megan Fairchild in the spring, but even that show put last night's to shame. You really learn to appreciate what makes NYCB dancers exceptional in Balanchine choreography when seeing ABT attempt it. But, I imagine Teuscher is decent in T&V because she's excellent with fast footwork and difficult turns. And she has the benefit of a solid partner.
  5. The partnering in T&V was uncomfortable to watch. I kept waiting for something awful to happen. Poor Lane... she is not a natural Balanchine dancer but she looked very good; she deserves a much better partner. Gorak looked so weak and low-impact. And then to watch Whiteside effortlessly lift Boylston way over his head with one hand in the Seasons, and also carry Coker and Brandt around the stage at the same time! I thought the Tharp piece was awful. Not much to add here. The dancers were strong (Hurlin stood out the most other than Cornejo) but what a mess of a dance. String quartets generally do not make great dance music; this was no exception. Costumes were unfortunately timely with Halloween. Despite its sometimes-bad color palette the Seasons was fantastic. Ratmansky brings out the best in these dancers and I wonder what he would have made for Cornejo if given the 20th-anniversary commission. (I generally like Tharp's work but this was just bad.)
  6. I was blown away by yesterday's matinee. Phelan and Gerrity were particularly fantastic in Kammermusik no. 2, which looked ridiculously hard to dance due to the high speed and complicated timing of the piece. The two women also look alike in height, body type, and hair, so there was an interesting, mirror-like effect when they danced opposite one another. Their long limbs really brought out the jagged lines and inherent geometry in the choreography. Union Jack was such a crowd-pleasing spectacle, so it's unfortunate that it doesn't draw huge crowds, although I can see why it might be difficult to market a piece like this. I loved it. Mearns was fierce and on fire as always, and Reichlen was a perfect leader for the leggy WRENS number.
  7. Beautiful Jewels tonight. Emeralds had some wobbles -- partnering as well as solo dancing -- but was strong overall. I found Gerrity (female soloist) more musical and compelling than King, who danced the lead, especially her pas de deux with Scordato. Gerrity seemed to have more moments of otherworldly "depth" than King. Applebaum looked great (long, elegant lines), as did Hoxha, despite a sloppy pirouette finish at the end of his solo. McKinnon and Hutsell were high-energy and in sync. Kikta and Hyltin were absolutely brilliant in Rubies, as everyone has described of their past performances this week. Veyette isn't the most elegant dancer at this point in his career but he danced with verve and had strong chemistry with Hyltin. He looked like he was having fun, and he made Hyltin look totally at ease in the complex partnering. Kikta has such clean technique (perfect pirouettes) and truly dominated the stage every time she was on it. I've always appreciated Hyltin's dancing but she's never WOWed me to the extent she did last night. Every movement she made looked inevitably paired to the music, especially her sharp turns. What to say of Diamonds? Mearns and Janzen were mesmerizing and flawless to my eyes. A perfect showcase for Mearns' big, brilliant dancing and stellar technique, and another reminder of why she's one of my favorite dancers. When he bent down to kiss her hand at the end of the pas de deux you could have cried.
  8. And fees aside, I also find their programming choices for the fall truly shocking if they're trying to fill the house. Remember how terribly the season sold last fall???? The T&V/ New Tharp/ Ratmansky Seasons program sounds great... probably the only one I'll attend... but WHY bring back the poorly received Lang and Dorrance works and slap them onto the same program as the premiere by Gemma Bond, who is a very new choreographer and can't possibly have built up a huge following yet. Shouldn't she have the benefit of sharing a program with something well established and popular? (like what NYCB does for Lauren Lovette's work, for example). I don't understand the reasoning here. The fact that it's an "all-women program" isn't on its own a huge selling point, but maybe management is that tone-deaf? And while T&V and Apollo are great, people in NYC don't need flock en masse to ABT for Balanchine when we have NYCB performing year-round.
  9. JuliaJ

    Maria Kochetkova

    I saw the show too and found it mostly really lacking, but there were some enjoyable sections. The solo piece described in the Speaking in Dance post was one of the most interesting parts of the program IMO; it showed off Kochevkova's versatility and "avant-garde" side. As Seibert says in the NYT article she looked like a "broken marionette," but I don't see that as a negative... the angular, isolated movements were impressive! The two pas de deux she danced were lovely and brought out her classical technique. Sofiane Sylve ate up the stage in the Swan Lake excerpt, although I found the "updated" choreography somewhat boring and unmusical (hard to re-choreograph such an iconic ballet moment unless you're going to do something radically different with it). The "Rachel, Nevada" piece by Drew Jacoby was just ridiculous. The wacky costumes and trippy visuals were fun gimmicks but the choreography was amateurish. Jerome Bel's "Masha Machine" had the audience read text messages projected onto a screen for around 15 minutes... it went on forever and came off as kind of narcissistic on Kochetkova's part. In the texts she talks about how she's "sick of dealing with stupid people" in company life and "doesn't have the patience to teach" after she retires, but she says she wants to run a company??? I didn't get it. In the text conversation we had to watch grainy YouTube videos of some of her performances, including one where she's a kid dancing at the Bolshoi Ballet school, and in the texts she talks about how all of the parents of other kids hated her because she was so much better. The whole piece read as "look how brilliant and talented I am / I'm too good for this life though."
  10. I had a similar take on last night's performance to what's described above. Trenary was undeniably the centerpiece of the evening; her Aurora was excellent and as good as Lane's was. I found Lane more graceful and elegant overall but enjoyed the way that Trenary punctuated her movements. She had a bright, youthful energy that made her entirely convincing as Aurora. Also, she was able to hold her last few Rose Adagio balances impressively long. Brisé volés are unfortunately one of the only steps that allow men (Desiré and Bluebird) to show off bravura dancing in this production, and neither Gorak nor Shayer did them with much height or finesse. Cornejo (duh) and Hoven were much better at the other show I attended. I thought Abrera looked fine in the Lilac Fairy solo if not 100% in control. Her miming and acting were strong throughout. Other dancers of note: the "Jewels" fairies were good, with Paris subbing for Shevchanko. The other three, Giangaruso, Waski, and Stephanie Williams, were very much in sync, more so than the dancers on Tuesday. Catherine Hurlin looked great as the "pointing" fairy in the prologue. I do like this production but I hope that overtime Ratmansky will be open to revising some of the less palatable elements -- remove some of the drawn-out miming scenes and cut some fairy-tale characters, and maybe add another solo for Desiré? (Wishful thinking, for sure). I don't mind the 19th-century stylized dancing so much; the show just needs to be condensed. NYCB's production may be less sophisticated in some ways but at least it's action-packed and under 3 hours.
  11. I don't have anything to add about Lane and Cornejo other than to say they were a dream, with stellar technique, artistry, and character embodiment. The cast of secondary roles was excellent last night as well, with standouts including Shevchanko, Devon Teuscher as the Diamond Fairy (so crisp and musical!), Skyler Brandt as the canary fairy in yellow in the prologue (perfect match of dancer to choreography), and Katherine Williams as Princess Florine. This was my first time seeing the Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty and I went in expecting it to be a lot less conventional than it was. Overall I really enjoyed it, both as entertainment and as a unique look into dance history. Other than the stylistic differences in the choreography it isn't radically different from NYCB's. I loved the fast, musical footwork -- faster than you usually see at ABT -- and the repeated motif of legs in attitude. There were plenty of legs above 90 degrees. The one thing I really didn't like was the chainé turns on demi-pointe -- didn't add anything to the aesthetic and just looked awkward. I liked the knee-length dresses and thought they "breathed" well on the dancers; I just wish there was a more cohesive color palette overall in Acts I and III. I would also trim a few things for length... notably the mime-centric spinning-wheel scene, the peasants in the beginning of Act II, and probably a couple fairy-tale characters (Cinderella, the guy with the giant head with all of the kids...). Having sooo many wedding guests made the bows at the end of the show go on forever, when all you wanted to see was Lane and Cornejo come out with the audience still there.
  12. Tonight's performance (Teuscher / Bell) was a bit of a mixed bag. Having seen the absolutely mind-blowing Shevchanko show on Tuesday and knowing that couldn't possibly be beat, I still tried to go in with an open mind. First off, Bell was excellent, especially considering he's such a young and inexperienced corps member!!! His jumps were high, his dancing was expansive, and he was a very good partner. He landed his double tours in perfect 5th in the Act III coda. Towards the end of Act I he seemed to lose his center a little in the sequence where Siegfried does a series of attitude-to-pirouettes around the stage (some minor stumbling), but that was the only flaw I noticed in his dancing. His dramatic acting needs work, but I think he has the potential to be a great dance-actor with time and practice. He certainly brought out the naive boyishness in the character whereas Whiteside, on Tuesday, seemed to channel his drag-queen alter-ego at times (and I mean that in the best of ways). As for Teuscher, I didn't care for her Odette. Her presentation felt flat and, as many have said, her lower torso and legs don't have the right flexibility for this role. Part of it is really just her anatomy and nothing that she's doing wrong. She had some truly beautiful moments though -- she's at her best when turning, and I thought her phrasing with the diagonal with piqué and chainé turns was lovely. But overall, whereas Shevchenko completely lit up the stage by articulating absolutely every motion down to the smallest wrist movement, Teuscher just kind of did the steps at times. That said, she was MUCH better as the black swan with strong, stable fouettés (so many triples and doubles thrown in) and was convincingly seductive and coquettish. She is a fantastic technician and I think she does have charisma in the right roles, just not so much as Odette. Jose Sebastian was OK as Rothbart -- not nearly as good as Royal the other night in the acting department (nor the dancing for that matter). He did the arabesque, and his first few jumps were really good, but the evil and "sliminess" didn't really come across after his initial entrance. While Royal was funny throughout and looked like a total sleaze seducing the princesses, Sebastian didn't have that effect at all. Then he seemed to tire out at the end of his solo. The PDT tonight was Melanie Hamrick, Stephanie Williams, and Royal. I thought Hamrick was much better than Williams, who did fine but looked a little sloppy and didn't have even close to the pinprick precision of Brandt the other night. Royal's leaps were beautiful as always but he had some problematic landings to his pirouettes and especially the double tours.
  13. I thought Shevchenko was perfection tonight, down to the tiniest little gestures. Her white swan was breathtaking. Her fouettes in Le Corsaire two weeks ago may have been cleaner (flawless, in fact), but the turns a la seconde she threw in tonight were shockingly impressive. Personally I've never seen a better swan than what I saw tonight. Whiteside was a superb partner and solo dancer, with very high jumps. I didn't notice any mishaps at all. Brandt/Trenary/Gorak were fantastic in the pas de trois, especially Brandt. I'm not sure if Swan Lake always gets this much applause but this audience was ecstatic throughout the whole show. Shevchenko got three bouquets of flowers, including one that someone threw onto the stage during curtain calls. It's a mystery why she only gets this Tuesday night show. This was my first time seeing this production as an attentive ballet goer and my god are parts of it bad. Why does every woman who isn't a swan (or in the PDT) have to wear a big heavy dress that hides her legs? Where is the bravura jester that's supposed to be in Act I????? Why are the "guest" dances in the beginning of Act III so forgettable? What's with the maypole (that inevitably gets tangled)?
  14. Lane and Cornejo tore the house down last night, especially Lane, who danced immaculately and fully embodied Manon's transformations from act 1, to 2, to the finale. She also looked gorgeous, with her very dark hair bringing out the "femme fatale" in the character. As many have said, Lane and Cornejo have great chemistry and their pas de deuxs were genuinely steamy. I've seen bigger dancing from Cornejo before -- you can tell he may not be 100% after his injury, as his jumps were quite low, and arabesque balances didn't always seem totally secure -- but thank god he was able to be up there with Lane this week. He brought a real sense of innocence and romance to the role; you could buy how he would be easily swept away by Manon, then heartbroken in act 2, and ultimately ruined by infatuation. Hoven was hilarious in the drunk scene. Trenary did not particularly stand out as the mistress, although her comic acting in the drunk pas de deux was strong. The audience was very enthusiastic last night, especially at the end, with a big standing ovation.
  15. I thought the show was close to perfect last night, even without Simkin. This was my first time seeing the show and I absolutely LOVED it despite expectations. Yes, it's all spectacle over substance but that's clearly the point, isn't it? I appreciated just how much pure dancing there was vs. in a mime-heavy ballet. IMO the orientalism (and romanticization of harems and slavery) is so obviously rooted in fantasy -- and a very historic genre of fantasy -- that it's barely "offensive" in context. There's also some beautiful choreography here despite the showiness of it all, and the music, while not Tschaikovsky, is nonetheless danceable and catchy. Shevchenko was so, so beautiful and technically flawless as Medora -- her long, willowy limbs and port de bras have a real Russian ballerina quality to them. Her fouttés -- lots of doubles and triples(?) thrown in, and so much speed! -- were maybe the best I've ever seen, in person or on YouTube. She is an exceptional turner -- she kept adding extra rotations, even to the turns à la seconde en dedans, and landing them seamlessly. Trenary, who is another one of my favorite dancers, was superb as Gulnare... she has a sharp, speedy quality to her dancing that makes me wonder how she'd look in Balanchine choreography. As for the men, Mack is a strong, athletic jumper with lots of acrobatic-looking tricks up his sleeve and has a wonderful stage presence (makes you not really care about his unrefined feet). His partnering was so solid -- I couldn't believe how fast he turned Shevchenko around in the supported pirouettes. Ahn did a very fine job as Ali. He has high, gorgeous leaps and got lots of applause for pulling off the hard jumps. The only place where I think he fumbled (and barely noticeable if you haven't watched other dancers do it) was in the turns à la seconde with the pirouettes in plié in between (I don't recall him bending the supporting leg at all). The only thing I felt was lacking in his performance was a better sense of characterization, but he can work on that. He certainly has the bravura technique to be a male asset to the company. Special shoutouts to Strayer, as Birbanto, and Bell, as Lankendem, for their excellent dancing, acting, and energy. Bell is so technically strong -- he got so much applause for his center-split jumps (not sure what they're called); I'm excited to see him in Swan Lake in two weeks. Anyway, for those who wanted to attend on Saturday just for Simkin, I assure you the rest of this cast is worth seeing!
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