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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Dance student
  • City**
    Washington DC
  1. ABT's website has announced the casting for the company's upcoming appearance at the Kennedy Center. Is there any way to find out who's cast in Gong or in some of the smaller roles for the other ballets? The more I see of ABT, the more I develop favorites among the soloists and corps de ballet, and I'd love to know ahead of time if/when they will be dancing. Can I call their press or PR office, or is that rude? January-31, 7:30 PM Repertory Gong Company Afternoon of a Faun J. Kent M. Beloserkovsky Swan Lake Act III pas de deux P. Herrera J. Carreño The Green Table D. Hallberg Company February-1, 7:30 PM Repertory Gong Company Afternoon of a Faun S. Abrera D. Hallberg Swan Lake Act III pas de deux G. Murphy M. Gomes The Green Table I. Stappas Company February-2, 7:30 PM Repertory Gong Company Afternoon of a Faun M. Riccetto J. Carreño Swan Lake Act III pas de deux I. Dvorovenko M. Beloserkovsky The Green Table I. Stappas Company February-3, 7:30 PM Romeo and Juliet J. Kent M. Gomes February-4, 1:30 PM Romeo and Juliet X. Reyes J. Carreño February-4, 7:30 PM Romeo and Juliet I. Dvorovenko M. Beloserkovsky February-5, 1:30 PM Romeo and Juliet P. Herrera D. Hallberg
  2. Hi every one, As I mentioned earlier, I saw the opening night performance (Dec. 7). Those of you who have seen ABT's Nutrcacker are right to be wary; I’m sure that it has not improved very much since it first premiered. The unicorn that randomly parades through the act II divertissements was annoying at best – whoever thought that it would be a fun and interesting addition to the production should be shot (or at least given a severe reprimand)! Anyway, in order to present my thoughts in a somewhat coherent manner, here’s my somewhat organized review: ACT I The ballet opens with Drosselmeyer (behind a rather pretty scrim) packing away toys in a large chest to give to children at the party. He is surrounded by five fairies – they seem to have no real role in the production but reappear periodically throughout it (esp. in act II). The next scene shows Clara playing with her dolls right before the party begins. She is alone on stage until her brother appears and then they make shadow puppets (I thought that was very cute). Clara was danced rather convincingly by Xiomara Reyes, who is not much taller than most of the actual children who appeared in the party scene! Her brother was played by a young dancer, probably from a local ballet school (the program lists the children but does not mention their affiliation). There were about 15 children all together in the first act (plus the mice – or rats? I didn’t read the program carefully enough to determine exactly what kind of rodents they were). They were decent enough, but they were given almost no choreography! There was a lot of running around and greeting each other, but that’s about it – for both the children and the adults. Even Clara hardly danced (she had a small solo when Drosselmeyer handed her the Nutcracker) – despite the fact that ABT casts perfectly capable adults (as opposed to young dance students) in the role! In general, a lot of good music in the first act was left unused. There were only about 5-6 adult couples, which made the stage feel very empty, even when they were dancing. The children’s dancing was limited to the march (is there a more specific name for that piece of music?), but it was quite underwhelming. The girls and boys formed two separate lines facing each other. The girls had their backs to the audience, so they completely blocked my view (I was sitting in quite close), and I didn’t even see much of the choreography. Drosselmeyer (Victor Barbee) presented three mechanical toys: a doll of some sort, a soldier, and a unicorn (no – not the same unicorn that runs around in act II!). Craig Salstein danced the soldier solo amazingly well; he combined the mechanical movements with beautiful jumps and received the night’s first round of enthusiastic applause (as opposed to polite applause). The unicorn and the doll danced decently but certainly not memorably. I forget who danced the former, but Misty Copeland danced the latter. The girl has great technique, but – forgive me for what I am about to write – a chest as large as hers just does not look good on a dancer! It certainly distracted me from her dancing (and I’m female). Moving on to the soldiers-mice/rats showdown. I don’t have much to say about it because no parts of it were particularly exciting. The soldiers just bumbled about while the mice/rats seemed well positioned to defeat them – at one point a mouse/rat single-handedly held back the entire toy soldier army! And then, inexplicably, all of the soldiers and mice/rats fled (along with the toys from under the Christmas tree). The Nutcracker (who had appeared earlier) stabbed the mouse/rat king, and that was that. The ballet did start to get interesting at this point. Herman Cornejo (who danced the Nutcracker) did all that he could with the role; he performed his trademark jumps and leaps even while wearing the Nutcracker head (I assume it’s a difficult to dance with it on!). After the battle was over, Clara and the Nutcracker were left alone on stage; a few minutes into a pas de deux of sorts she removed the Nutcracker head. I though the entire dance was lovely but it did leave me puzzled as to what it was trying to accomplish. It seemed too romantic for the Nutcracker-Clara relationship! Or am I just too used to watching Nutcrackers in which Clara is danced by an actual child enamored with the Nutcracker in a far less romantic sort of way? The snow scene followed the Clara-Nut pdd. The costumes in it were absolutely gorgeous; they were white with a touch of silver sparkles, and the skirts were wonderfully fluffy and reached a little bit past the knees. The choreography wasn’t super creative (none of it in this ballet was!) but it worked very well. The snowflakes did indeed look like actual snowflakes twirling in the air, which is a feeling I hardly ever get from the Nutcracker. Veronika Part made an appearance as the snow queen but was on stage for a far too short period of time! I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen her, but I know how much BalletAlert loves her, and I can understand why. She is regal and elegant, even imposing (it helped that she is about a head taller than Xiomara Reyes). I hope to get a chance to see her in some meatier roles. Well, that’s act I, and I unfortunately have to turn my attention to other matters for the moment. In general, act I didn’t succeed in conveying the magic that I associate with the Nutcracker, but all of the dancers who mattered – Reyes, Cornejo, Part – were well worth watching. To be continued… (I enjoyed act II quite a bit more than act I, prancing unicorn and all)
  3. I'm going opening night (Dec. 7) with a friend. I doubt I'll be very critical of the performance -- I've always thought of Nutcracker as a ballet just to enjoy rather than critique -- but we'll see...
  4. Is any one (besides me ) going? Or is it really not worth seeing? I'm going more for the dancers than the ballet, but I'd love to hear a bit about what people think. How does it measure up against other Nutcrackers? I just looked at the Kennedy Center website, and every single performance (7 total) is sold out. So DC audiences must be excited!
  5. My second veiwing of RENT was actually on December 1 -- World AIDS Day. The date reminded me that the film is still very much relevant in some respects. I applaud all efforts to raise awareness about a disease that still claims too many victims every year. I love the music, which is a bit strange because in general I prefer the more "operatic" musicals -- or just opera in general. But I think the sheer exuberance (to use canbelto's word) just really carries both the movie and the musical (I assume) along. Although if I had to listen to the soundtrack or cast recording 800 times a day, I'm sure my ears would react against it! Anyway, I feel like I should get back to posting about ballet, but I can't help it -- I enjoyed RENT (the movie) much more than anything else I've seen -- on stage or screen -- in quite some time.
  6. Yes, I saw the movie as well (in fact, I've seen it twice and I'm going again this weekend). I'm a casual musical fan -- I catch them when I can, but I much prefer ballet and opera so I definitely choose the Met or City Center over Broadway when I make it to NYC. But I do like to see musicals, and my favorite films are all musicals. I haven't seen RENT on stage, so I can not comment on how faithful the film is to the original. But after reading interviews with the cast members and the family of Jonathan Larson (creator of RENT), I get the feeling that the movie is as faithful as it can possibly be. More importantly, however, it stands on its own very well -- I think it will create a whole new group of RENT fans who have yet to see it on stage (like me). I do have the original Broadway cast recording, and although I'm sad about some of the ommissions, I understand that musicals on stage and on screen are different creatures. So in general I was very, very happy with the film, and it touched me in more ways than I thought possible. I apologize for posting a review so vague, but I can add some details later. I'm running late but wanted to add my two cents
  7. Moderators -- please move or remove this topic if you feel that it is inappopriate. I read BalletAlert religiously but almost never post. That said, I do want to raise an issue that has been bothering me for some time now. We were discussing questions surrounding the legalization of drugs a few weeks ago in my advanced Russian class (here in the US) when my professor casually mentioned that almost every one he knows in the performing arts community uses some sort of illegal (in the US) drugs. He directed this comment specifically at me, as I never hide my passion for ballet and opera in class. I proceded to argue with him, saying that there have been famous and not-so-famous cases, but by and large dancers and singers are drug-free (refering to the illegal kind, of course). I would not have been bothered by this remark had he not proceded to bring it up in class again and again. He is from St. Petersburg and, due to his academic and literary pursuits, he knows quite a few people from the dance community in that city (he is friends with Chemyakin, for example). He keeps telling me that I cannot close my eyes to the fact that the dancers he knows use a number of drugs, saying they can't get through a performance without them. I bring this up because I am bothered by these comments -- but perhaps I am being too sensitive? I know there are dancers out there who use drugs -- Gelsey Kirkland is only the most famous case -- but I doubt that many do. Or am I indeed closing my eyes to "the truth"? I have gotten to know a few dancers over the years, but I admit that I really have no details about the personal lives of, for example, ABT's stars -- nor do I wish to. I simply turn to all of you because I would like to know (a) is drug use indeed more common in the dance world than I would like to acknowledge and (b) what should I tell my professor? The latter is indeed just a personal problem, but I do wish he would drop the subject...
  8. I went to the Opera Insights lecture last night at the Kennedy Center and am sad to report that most of the ballet has indeed been cut from the Wash. National Opera's production of "I Vespri Siciliani." Mr. Wayne Conner gave a great lecture outlining the history and the story of the opera -- the only part of his speech that I disliked (wrong word?) was the part about ballet. He made some remarks that sounded like the ballets in Verdi's operas were completely extraneous and the only purpose they served was to entretain the audience, who expected a little dancing in their stage spectacles. I don't want to misquote Mr. Conner, but his implications truly offended me a bit. I would have liked to ask him some questions (esp. about the need for a choreographer if the ballet has been cut) but unfortunately there was no time for that. Still, the production should be quite exciting and I'm attending opening night this Saturday.
  9. The press release for "I Vespri Siciliani" mentions nothing about dance in the opera, but Vladimir Angelov (who has recently choreographed for the Washington Ballet among other companies) is listed as the choreographer. That's promising!
  10. Thank you, carbro! I've only seen Ethan dance a few times over the past couple of years during ABT's appearances at the Kennedy Center, but I'm certainly a huge fan (as huge as I can be from a distance). I'll miss him terribly if his engagements at Ballet Pacifica keep him too busy to dance with ABT during the company's annual stints in DC. And he might even take Gillian with him to CA (in the most recent issue of Pointe, she says something about how much she'd love to dance with Ethan's company). *sniff*
  11. July 5 -- Tereshkina(Med.), Kuznetsov (Con.), Osmolkina (Gul.), Fadeyev (Lan.), Sarafanov (slave) Opening night performance looks the most promising (as it should, I suppose). I haven't seen Tereshkina in the role but she never fails to amaze me. The Kuznetsov casting seems more of a hit-or-miss, but I predict a hit. He and Tereshkina tend to dance together especially well, and it's a partnership that the Mariinsky has been really pushing as of late. July 6 -- Somova, Shishov, Novikova, Korsakov, Semionov I've never seen Somova in anything (well, not that I recall, anyway) so no comment there. Shishov is a powerful up-and-coming dancer -- a real crowd pleaser. He was the highlight of a lackluster Don Q I saw a while back. Korsakov seems promising as Lankendem -- I've only seen him a few times, but his beautiful, light, and energetic jumps always stand out for me. I saw Novikova's debut as Gulnare and she danced it better than I expected (not that I had much upon which to base my expections...) She stumbled here and there, but hopefully she's taken care of that by now, and she outshone Irma Nioradze's Medora (for whom I cared very little). July 7 -- Gumerova, Ivanchenko, Golub, Sarafanov, Fadeyev I am very biased against Ms. Gumerova -- I have yet to see her dance anything even halfway decently -- so she ruins the cast for me. But maybe I'm being unfair? I saw Ivanchenko dance Conrad about two weeks ago while I was still in Russia and he was quite good in the role. Not amazing, but there was nothing about which I could complain. He outshone Igor Zelensky's slave in that particular performance so I was sad to see that he didn't get all of the applause he deserved. July 8 -- same as July 5, except for Korsakov as slave July 9 (mat) -- Tkachenko/Vostrotina, Ivanchenko, Novikova, Korsakov, Semionov This seems like a strong cast. I've never seen Vostrotina in anything, but from Natalia's post it seems like Tkachenko would be the better Medora. July 9 (eve) -- combo of July 6 and 7 casts July 10 -- Gumerova, Kuznetsov, Osmolkina, Korsakov, Sarafanov I won't be anywhere near DC, but if I were, I'd see opening night or July 8. Otherwise, July 9 (mat) or July 6.
  12. I also have no experience with Royal Ballet dancers, but I'll put in my two cents. I've waited for dancers at the Kennedy Center (Washington DC) and they have always been most obliging when it comes to signing programs and posing for pictures. I've also waited for dancers at the stage door in St. Petersburg (Mariinsky and Mussorgsky theaters) -- although I'm often the only one to do that (not counting the poor friend who accompanied me to the ballet and is now forced to stay until I collect some autographs). These dancers are always pleasantly surprised by my requests -- I guess it's not a tradition among Russians to wait for dancers after a performance -- and I've only had positive experiences with them to date. So go for it, I say! I certainly will if I'm ever in London (or elsewhere) at a Royal Ballet performance.
  13. The always amazing Margot Fonteyn.
  14. WOW!!! Those are some expensive seats! I hope the ballets turn out to be worth it -- I'm leaving St. Petersburg a few days before the festival starts, so I won't be able to catch any of them, but I guess I really wouldn't be able to afford good seats anyway (although I pay the regular, non-foreigner price).
  15. Who danced the Moussorgsky Giselle, DancingGiselle? I've seen Lomachenkova & Khabilulina in the title role, both ethereal, light, tender. In other words, easy-to-lift and very effective in Act II! Unlike Gumerova, who is rather big-boned and earthy. <{POST_SNAPBACK}> Irina Perren danced Giselle -- she was also very ethereal, light, and tender in Act II, and she had a rather good mad scene in Act I. One of my main problems with Gumerova was that her mad scene involved some painfully bad and muddled acting. I had explained the plot of the ballet to friends who had never seen it before, but during intermission they told me that I must have remembered it wrong -- there was no way that the end of Act I was supposed to be a mad scene. It was THAT unconvincing!
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