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  1. Thank goodness for Daniil who injected some much-needed energy into last night’s performance. Skylar Brandt’s performance was pristine - practically perfect.
  2. As we know from other book-to-ballets, an epic book would require the condensing of many events into fewer, larger scenes and it is possible that Adele, Mrs Fairfax, Grace, Bertha, Blanche, among others appear at the wedding. We also have no idea at this point the choreographic weight the choreographer has prescribed to anyone in the novel. It seems quite strange to assume that a principal could only be doing a corps role based on the little information we have about the ballet.
  3. Yet in the program they are referred to as “Suitors” and then subsequently “Asia”, “Africa” etc. Nothing to indicate as in other productions that they are princes or have “high stature”. Regardless, the point I was trying to make was that their costumes are fairly nondescript and choreographically there is no difference between any of them (most royal Ballet productions have the French Prince do most of the “extra” partner work as Aurora would already probably be familiar with him - but at City Ballet they all take turns doing the extra stuff). They could easily be referred to as “Four Princes” (to convey their high stature).
  4. This, combined with the news that ABT’s presence at the Met is being diminished would indicate to me that ABT may be in a pretty precarious position. I would also assume that this will be quite damaging for ABT’s brand. Do prestigious ballet companies perform on cruise ships?
  5. Is the Death Knell tolling? http://www.seatrade-cruise.com/news/news-headlines/celebrity-cruises-partnership-is-bringing-american-ballet-theatre-to-sea.html
  6. Last night was my first time seeing City Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty. First of all the dancing last night was pretty lacklustre and really not very clean. After so enjoying Sterling Hyltin in Mozartiana a few weeks ago, I went last night specifically to see her as Aurora, but it was a bit disappointing. Not sure whether she was having an off night or if it’s just not her role but she seemed to be struggling through most of the ballet. The strongest part for her was the coda of the grand pas which I thoroughly enjoyed. Russell Janzen did a good partnering job, but I really can’t say much for his dancing. He seemed to struggle also. One always hears how agile City Ballet dancers are, but I can’t say that I felt that way last night. Everyone really seemed to be struggling to keep up and many movements felt incomplete to fit them in. The Prologue Fairies fared especially poorly. So many of these variations rely on port de bras and it seemed as though no care was given to the coaching of the port de bras - just a “do it quick and it will be exciting” feeling. The whole production was very amateurish. The projections at the beginning of each scene (still images which fade into another) and projections for the backdrops were particularly irksome. While I appreciated that the designs actually shot forward 100 years for Act III (which Richard Hudson’s for ABT don’t), I found the decision to dress the third act in the 18th century but give only half of the characters powdered wigs (and not the King and Queen!) to be jarring. The details just really aren’t there. The King physically assaulting Catalabutte for a cheap slapstick comedy moment. The King not being horrified with embarrassment at the begging Queen dropping to her knees. The Queen touching the baby. The Queen greeting Aurora like a best friend with a kiss on each cheek. The King and Queen actually running in front of Carabosse to try and block her. Several characters putting their hands on their hips in frustration. The Countess having a tantrum at the Prince. The hunting party sitting on the floor. Peter Martins’ additional choreography is also quite awful. He “jazzes up” a lot of things that don’t need to be. I particularly disliked the jewels pas de quatre and the cat pas de deux (which usually has sexual undertones, but in Martins’ version these become blatant over tones with some… rapey undertones?). I also found Martins’ choreography for the nymphs overdone, unmusical and distasteful. I was extremely shocked to see Ashton’s Act II variation for Aurora show up in this production despite being credited to Martins after Petipa. I’m sure nobody in this company is even aware that this variation is by Ashton and not Petipa. But I wonder if anyone from the Ashton Foundation is aware? Perhaps most problematic for me was Taylor Stanley appearing as a character called “Africa” in Act I. Not the “African Prince” but “Africa”. The suitors are all pretty nondescript anyway, but why on earth are they each representing an entire continent (Europe, America, Asia, Africa)? It comes across instead as representing a race. They could easily just be “Four Suitors”.
  7. Completely disagree. Scott, Klein, Pogossian, Maloney, Whitely, Han, Frenette and McCune are all perfectly capable of Ali given what they’ve shown either on stage or on Instagram. I think a huge disadvantage that ABT has is their lack of a substantial Nutcracker season, with a substantial Nutcracker (one where there are lots of small but meaty roles that need to be filled) where dancers get the chance to really develop and evolve in the management’s eye, and get noticed by the audience. It is difficult to give an untested dancer, or a dancer without a big fan base a big chance for the Met which is really ABT’s only substantial season.
  8. It sounds to me like they’ve accidentally put Smirnova’s name where Abrera’s should be. I don’t know how these things work... but Mistress, Tea Flower, Pierette and Gulnare are all Abrera roles. Perhaps she is replacing Abrera in a performance of Corsaire and the Met accidentally replaced many more of Abrera’s shows?
  9. I think because over the years the role of Manon has become a vehicle for mature ballerinas, we forget that Manon is a 16-18 year old girl who gets sidetracked on her way to live in a convent. And we should also not forget that Antoinette Sibley always had a youthful exuberance to her dancing. While I’m not saying whether or not Boylston would be a good Manon, I actually believe that a lack of maturity is what the role requires.
  10. Last night overall was not a bad show. Songs of Bukovina: I didn’t really connect with this ballet when I saw it last fall and still feel that it doesn’t fully work for me, but I enjoyed it more this time around. I’m never sure what it’s trying to depict. The music has some lovely moments as does the choreography. But the choreography never seems “big” enough. Maybe a smaller venue would help this ballet out. Royal and Shevchenko replaced Hoven and Boylston. The whole cast danced fantastically with a lot of energy. Garden Blue: I can understand how some people might like this, but I really didn’t. This ballet is very passive... dull from beginning to end with very little variety and nothing propelling it forward. I don’t think Lang quite understands structure and how essential it is to a ballet. Listlessly moving from group to pas de deux to group to pas de deux in a predictable and unchanging cycle. The group sections in particular showed a lack of ideas and craft: the group either skips in a circle or they’re each doing completely unrelated and uncomplimentary movement at the same time. No variety. There are sets “integrated” into the choreography which seems to be becoming a staple of Lang’s: two large wooden shapes are moved around by the dancers throughout the piece. Strangely enough this gimmick seemed underused... the wood often remains where it is for an extended period of time and while the dancers DO touch it / dance on it, it always feels like an afterthought and not actually vital to the choreography. Except for one moment with James Whiteside and Katherine Williams where the couple uses one of the wooden shapes as a see-saw, the ballet could be done completely without them. Last but not least: the design. Everyone was dressed in unitards in a color palette straight out of the Teletubbies (purple, red, yellow and green against a bright blue backdrop). Luckily the dancers, bodies looked fantastic, so that’s where the comparison to the Teletubbies ends. I really wish this opportunity had gone to someone else. “Her Notes” was pleasant but not exactly a smash-hit. This is a poor sequel in the same vain. Upper Room: I decided to stay for Upper Room despite the cast change and I’m glad I did. The performance was much better last night than it was on Wednesday night, everyone seeming more comfortable. This cast of Stompers are still problematic for me - one tall woman and two short women, with two tall men and one very short man. Bell/Brandt partnered together looks silly and Bell standing next to Cornejo looks equally silly. Also interesting to note that the removal of the other cast clearly has nothing to do with injury: Royal, Hurlin, Williams, Lyle, Forster and Copeland were all performing last night.
  11. The second cast of stompers was observed in rehearsal by Dance Magazine just over a week ago. The footage (albeit brief) seems to show a relaxed and fairly prepared second cast. https://www.dancemagazine.com/tharps-upper-room-abt-2611523700.html
  12. Wow... I didn’t know. I have tickets for tonight to see the other cast but now I guess I’ll be leaving after the new Lang. What the hell happened? And no word from ABT? Was the whole cast just not good enough? Or were they using Misty’s name to sell tickets with no intention actually having a second cast?
  13. Ms Dorrance’s work is entirely about dancers making percussive sounds. If you don’t like that, then you’re obviously not going to like the work. I believe this was well-advertised and Ms Dorrance delivered what was promised. On the flip side, had she choreographed a ballet people would complain that that isn’t what they were expecting from her. I very much liked that she paid tribute to various “lost” dance styles that were once hugely popular forms of entertainment and which we don’t see ballet dancers do. The banging of the poles was merely background for the Abrera/Lyle/Sebastian trio and the three women with the wooden floors barely went for more than two minutes. But each to their own! Vive la difference!
  14. I have to disagree with abatt’s assessment of the Dorrance. The “ballet dancers clomping around the stage” was only the last few minutes of the piece. The rest of the piece has elements of ballroom, jazz, Lindy-hop, swing dance and ballet. Also, as I mentioned the Whiteside/Lyle part has a tap solo with tap shoes which most definitely WAS tap. The audience loved it and continued to applaud long after the curtain came down.
  15. I was there for the gala and for the show last night. My thoughts: Le Jeune: Pleasant and forgettable. Design-wise it looked like every other modern piece at City Ballet. Leotards (these being in a particularly ugly shade of coral) with contrasting belts and the typical City Ballet hairdo. The kids in the Studio Company danced well (no real standouts) but this really shouldn’t have been in an ABT gala. Dream Within a Dream: At the gala I also thought this was pleasant but forgettable. But the second cast last night completely changed my mind - what a hoot! The ballet transports us to the 40s with period-appropriate dance vocabulary mixed in with moments of ballet set to a great score by Duke Ellington. First cast performed the piece well but didn’t connect with each other the way the second cast did. Their collective energy flooded the house and everyone in the audience responded. The narrative elements came through much clearer with the second cast. James Whiteside in the first cast and Duncan Lyle in the second cast are the “leaders” of the piece. Both have tap solos which was a nice surprise and both executed them excellently. If you get a chance to see the second cast perform this piece, I highly suggest it! In the Upper Room: I have conflicting feelings about this one. It was good and yet it didn’t have nearly the impact on me that it has in the past. Maybe I’ve seen it too many times now? Maybe it was also the cast substitutions. I felt that the ballet dancers looked generally really sloppy. It didn’t have that tautness that really makes the piece sparkle which meant that the long sections with the ballet dancers REALLY dragged. The stompers were generally good, but strangely enough it seemed as though Herman Cornejo didn’t really know the piece very well. He made a few mistakes and often seemed to be just behind the other men waiting for their cues (not to mention he looked ridiculous as the leader of the stomper men with tall Aran Bell and Blaine Hoven flanking him). Who cast this? It was disappointing that Upper Room felt so disappointing... but I’m looking forward to seeing the other cast perform it tonight. Symphonie Concertante: Shevchenko replaced Seo last minute. Other than that, not much else to say. Not a great ballet and the company performed it without any sense of style at all. I’ll be skipping this in future performances I have tickets for. Fancy Free: The same fun it always is with a generally good cast. But after seeing this just days ago in the same theater I didn’t feel like I needed to see this again.
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