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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
  • City**
    Washington, DC
  1. she is very special- great breadth and passion and essence. When will she be made a soloist, already?
  2. Can we talk about Sarah Kaufman's Washington Post “Othello” review? Of course, the odds of two successive glowing ABT reviews from her would be astronomical. Yes, she is accurate that the biggest fault of Othello is the lack of character development. But, I am bothered by the fact that about 70% of Ms. Kaufman's review is devoted to that lack of character development, and not other important elements of the ballet, like the exceptional corps work and overall choreography. Rather, Ms. Kaufman uses significance space to point out examples of ballets that did have character development and were the better for it. Fine material for a dance magazine article, but she's supposed to be reviewing Othello. She makes a good point, but does she have to beat us over the head with it? That standing ovation tonight did not reflect the audience's concern with character development; it reflected a deep admiration for the extraordinary artistry on display. So, maybe it was not perfect- but it was something special. Comparing ABT to a bad karaoke singer? Would Ms. K compare the Kirov, Royal, Bolshoi, or Paris Opera Ballet in such a manner? I suggest not. Ms. K's review does contain these nuggets: As for the marvelous Marcelo, her entire comment about him is: "Marcelo Gomes was a stern and hot-headed Othello, though he seemed incidental to the drama until it was halfway through." Tell me what you thought of his dancing, characterization, and chemistry, not that you got that Othello was stern and hard-headed. As for one of the world's greatest and most under-appreciated dancers, Herman Cornejo, she said: "The ever-youthful Herman Cornejo was a believably pure Cassio." Is that good, or just mediocre, or what? And Sascha's Iago was "a villain through and through." What the heck does that mean? Is that good? Ms. K indicates we have no insight into why Othello is so “gobsmacked [great word] by his wife, Desdemona.” Well, how about she is stunningly beautiful and adores him? Some men are like that. And, maybe Iago is jealous that Othello is a general, is his boss, and has a gorgeous wife, even though he is darker. Enough potential motivation for me, but not for Ms. Kaufman. The review has an overall negative feel when she actually says she thought all the dancers were pretty good, (it seems) and she liked the sets/ projections and the music, at least some of the time. There was so much good in this ballet that to condemn it for lack of character development is unfair. Lubovitch obviously pared Othello down, arguably too much. But, this is a modern ballet not a classical ballet, which happens to have a classic theme and styling. Who says Lubovitch has to fully develop the characters? He can do what he wants, and he chose to pare it down. And, despite the lack of character development, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and important contribution to ballet. As I have overheard so many times these last few days in DC, it is a refreshing change from the pure classics. It is full-length, with the type of costumes expected of a classical ballet, but with choreography that is far more modern than classical- nicely combining the old and new. These are not your typical passes de deux (or however you pluralize that) and pas de trois. For example, the second act was a thrilling series of dances by the corps, the principals, in varying combinations, the corps again, etc. It was a great scene when the corps were flat on their backs, their legs raising up and down simulating the sea. Very sexy and not your typical ballet. Maybe it could have been better. But, it was very, very good with superb performances.
  3. Yes, I mean the ushers. While I am sure they are under strict orders from the Met, I am not so sure ABT has such orders. And, actually roping them in? Please. We are not cattle. If ABT felt that way and had that control of a house, then standees would not have been able to sit at the Kennedy Center, which they were always able to do when the house was not full. The Met is the landlord; ABT is a tenant. The Met makes the rules, I would think.
  4. Saw Othello again tonight, this time from the first row. I must retract my earlier comment about Carreno being ABT's best actor- he's very good but Marcelo really is in another league. He was remarkable. His intensity is just riveting - like his incredilbly nuanced and strong von Rothbart in the third act of Swan Lake (thankfully recorded for all time on DVD). Reyes was interesting as Desdemona today. Certainly not Julie, but a strong performance nonetheless. Rasta Thomas was fine, but I much prefer Gomes in this. Why did they need to bring in Thomas? Who did it last decade when Desmond Richardson was not doing it? Didn't Jose do it? Why can't Herman Cornejo be given the lead in a full-length ballet? Still not full tonight- for a truly A cast and on a Saturday night- simply amazing. That second act is a marvel. If it was a little girls' ballet, it would have been full. Doesn't the Met have standing room in more than just the orchestra? A few years ago a friendly usher at the Met let me sit several times during one season (with my SRO ticket). Just one more ABT peformance in DC. So sad. What do you think they will do in DC next year? Sleeping Beauty would seem logical.
  5. To the Hallberg-Gomes acting contingent- do you not think Jose is a good actor? To ZB1, welcome- you have some very astute comments and I look forward to your opinions on Othello. I was not aware of the student ticket situation but was aware that last year the Kennedy Center stopped selling standing room tickets unless the performance was sold out. Significant numbers of teens (mostly female) used the standing room tickets- and, what was so nice, unlike the Nazis at the Met who literally rope standees in, the Kennedy Center ushers would allow those standing to sit in available seats. New policies seem most counter-productive to me. If there are seats available, give them to schools or universities. But, fill the seats. Expose as many as possible to this wonderful art form. I agree with ZB1 that ABT's shades a few years agon was dreadful and that ABT has shown a remarkable improvement since then. Maybe, as with Kaufman's review, they will start getting the credit they deserve. As for Friday night's Othello, OK, Hallberg is a pretty good actor (but Gomes better and stronger). As for Gillian Murphy, I agree with the earlier posters that her strength is in more modern works, but, as she proved tonight, she is becoming a better actress, albeit slowly. Her Juliet this year will, of course, be the real test. (By the way, Xiomara is a wonderful Juliet). Max was very good, but I preferred Sascha. Marian Butler as Emilia was fine but Stella Abrera was far superior in all respects, and especially her chemistry with Iago, which, in Stella's case, was probably easier with Sascha being her real-life hubby. Love that second act. Also, Mathews fine as Cassio but one of the world's great male dancers, Herman Cornejo, was, of course, far better. As for the production itself, does anyone know what is with the cracked throne and other set pieces? Did it crack in transit or was it intentional, and if so, what the heck does it mean? Costumes just OK. Music and choreography work extraordinarily well together. I ask the more knowledgable: has there been a better full-length ballet since MacMillan?
  6. Stella was focused, dramatic, passionate, gorgeous, and her scenes worked wonderfully.
  7. OK, it's the middle of ABT week in DC and here are my humble oberversations: WOW, a glowing Sarah Kaufman ABT review. She is often far more critical of ABT than other companies. Maybe she is coming around. KINGDOM OF THE SHADES I don't know what problem that letter-writer to Dance magazine this month has with the ABT corps. Since Swan Lake, they are the best they have ever been, and are now, me thinks, on par with the Kirov, Royal and Paris Opera. First night just a little rough around the edges, but Carreno superb. Maybe not as high as before. But, there is no better actor at ABT. Second night corps almost flawless but for unfortunate very first step and the one shade who kept lowering her arms just a tad behind the others. Solo shades all fine but I agree that Abrea and Kajiya stood out. Not sure what all the fuss over Sarah Lane is, she seems fine and pleasant and young. DARK ELEGIES Yes, it's an important ballet and very well done, but I just don't need to see this again this decade. All finely done, especially Wiles and Kent. In answer to Kanawa's question- Washington Ballet did it in DC in 2002 or so, with the wonderful Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner. RODEO I agree with all the positive comments made about Xiomara. But, not best actress at ABT, at least not until June when Ferri retires from the company. Just for a moment ,she made me forget Kathy Moore in this role. Excellent actess and comedian. Radetsky very good as the tap danicing cowboy but Salstein even better on the second night. He controlled his tendency to be too hammy- using just the right amount of flair to be endearing and not annoying. A far cry from his rocky Neopolitan in Swan Lake. Marian Butler on night two was fine, although, I agree, too feminine to start with. The real treasure of the second night, other than Salstein, was Kelley Boyd as the daughter. She looked beautiful, danced wonderfully and acted expertly. There was not a move, a facial expression, a touch that was not perfect. You totally believed you were watching the rich daughter. Unlike Jennifer Alexander the first night, who brought a haughtiness to the role, Boyd was charming and sweet. I cannot imagine this role better performed. OTHELLO I had never seen this before. Color me impressed. Very interesting ballet. The strength of Marcelo and the fragility of Julie made for a wonderful combination. Radetsky at his best ever as Iago, and then there was Herman Cornejo, always a treasure. As for attendance, it seemed way up for Othello. Although, just this morining they still had those special price seats of 20.07 for 100 seats in the orchestra for all weekend performances. Wed. night I bought one of these tickets, Row K, in the center, on the aisle. I, for one, am worn out by the Green Table, the Taylor Bush piece and Dark Elegies. Maybe others are too. Maybe better publicity would help. Need to attract a younger crowd. And now for Gillian and Hallberg and Max tonight. Who is Rasta Thomas? (Sat. mat).
  8. It was Marian Butler last night as the cowgirl. Her sister, Martha Butler, was with the company about five years, retired a few years ago and did a wonderful cowgirl herself.
  9. I grew up on NYCB in the early 60s in New York but am not a terribly big Balanchine fan. I have seen NYCB only when they are in DC but for a dreadful afternoon a few years ago in NY. I attended the Wed. and Thursday night performances in DC. Wednesday night was mind-numbingly boring. Allegro Brillante - I just don't get Miranda Weese. Hubbe good in Duo Concertant. The first four pieces were, to my mind's eye, far too similar, the dancing uninspired and ordinary. What was the point of the R & J balcony scene? No connection at all between the dancers and no dancing for Romeo really. Firebird is an interesting piece, especially with all the Chagall, but I agree with earlier poster regarding Ms. Sylve. She is obviously a very gifted and riveting dancer but it seems she approaches every role as Odile or Myrta, even when warmth or effervescence or lightness are called for. However, on Thursday evening, they shined. Ballo della Regina was inspired and energetic. Klavier featured the extraordinary Wendy Whelan and I must ask, is this woman ever less than perfection? Union Jack was fun and Ringer and Reichlen were especially pleasing. Sylve was very good but too cold. While her presence and skill command your attention, the coldness is not appropriate for all roles. Wished I had gone tonight.....
  10. Alexandra had perhaps the best ballet quote in ages when she said in her review of Romeo and Juliet: "Franklin can greet the dawn, celebrate life, be at peace with his God and plot the politics of an entire city in three steps and a look." So very, very true....
  11. Back to the labor issue. Jason Palmquist was quoted in mid-December as saying that Washington Ballet could not negotiate with the union because their attorney was not available! Are you kidding me? Then get another attorney. What BS. And to cancel Nutcracker, rather than hammering out an interim agreement, is just stupid. It's an INTERIM agreement. Can't Kennedy Cener sue them of something for cancelling their Feb. na dmRach performances. This is just the latest in the series of actions reflecting the absolute inability of WB to deal with the union. There was the cancelled trip to Italy because of the inability to reach agreement with the union over the per diem, causing internatiional embarassment. And, if they are cancelling the JOyce appearnce, they are just idiots. It's now almost two months later and still no agreement. Sit down and work out a damned agreement! Compromise. There are some very good dancers at WB and they are being screwed. Webre has indeed raised the level of subscribers but I hope he is booed off the stage when he does his egotistical pronouncements before any future performances. There is something very wrong at WB. This needs to be fixed and that obviously involves people sitting down and really working out a contract and probably involves the depatures of one or more of Webre, Palmquist and/or Kendall. Or, how about Suzanne Farrell takes over, or Susan Jaffe?
  12. I attended the mixed bills and the four Romeo and Juliet performances. I agree with LAC that Hallberg was very good as Death in Green Table, as was Kelley Boyd as the Young Girl (keep an eye on this one). That R & J is one gorgeous ballet. Gong has grown on me a great deal. The costumes, lighting, non-stop action- never a dull moment. I love the music-less pieces and the shadows. Gillian Murphy, in the first music-less piece, was extraordinary. Regretfully, her partner Radetsky does not have her balance (but then, who does?). As for Afternoon of a Faun, Kent and Abrera were very nice, Riccetto maybe less so. Abrera, as she has shown in The Nutcracker, has this unbelievable ability of being held horizontally and looking just exquisite. Maxim was fine, but Hallberg and Carreno emoted and posed better. I agree that the Paloma/ Carreno Swan Lake PDD was lovely, until that unfortunate ending of Paloma's fouettes. Her arms are so much softer now. While I am admittedlly a Gillian Murphy fan, I realize she has room to improve dramatically. But, all that technique and that perfect physique are there. She may not be that lyrical at this point, and may never be, but the lady can dance. Irina was probably the most solid, and interacted well with Max, but I'm not seeing the passion. God, I love how Odile throws her head back at the end of the coda. Stappas in Green Table was fine, but clearly less than Hallberg and he seemed very thick in that costume. Romeo and Juliet- Highlights- The Sat. afternoon performances of Xiomara Reyes and Jose Carreno; Herman Cornejo as Mercutio on Fri. night, Julie Kent, Frederic Franklin (he's like 91 years old), Susan Jones as the nurse, Simone Messmer's debut as a harlot; Radetsky as Tybalt, Gomes as Romeo. Casting concept- If Paris is blonde (as is usual, but not always), Romeo should not be blonde also. So good to have ABT back in DC. I think they are next here in December.
  13. Arthurs has a long, ballet-ideal physique but a rather uncharismatic face in what I've seen thus far. To me, she's the Gillian Murphy of NYCB...which isn't really an insult, after all! [Arthurs was perfect in one of the 'Theme couples' in Four TTs.] Natalia- To compare Ms. Arthurs to Gillian Murphy is actually quite an insult. Gillian may have an "uncharismatic face" and certainly has an extraordinary physique but she is far more interesting and a spectacular technician, while Arthurs is, well, average on both accounts. Her Maria could not have been more lifeless.
  14. Them's fighting words, Paolo!! Sorry you didn't like much of what you saw. Try catching Ashley Bouder in Stars and Stripes and any of the performances of Polyphonia. I remember some of the posters thought the company looked a little sluggish at last year Kennedy Center's performances. But this is after The Nutcracker and 8 weeks of repetory in NY. <{POST_SNAPBACK}> While I did not get to see Stars and Stripes this time, I did see Polyphonia and must say I was most impressed. Wendy Whelan and Janie Taylor and Ansanelli and Soto were extraordinary- what ballet should be all about. Spectacular, really. But for Weese. Still don't get her. Divert 15 was ordinary, esp. Weese. Maybe it's the Balanchine tutu ballets I have a problem with. West Side Story Suite- cute, but why the heck are dancers singing?- certainly was not needed and obviously uneven throughout. Woetzel is not a singer. But, Ringer right on, as usual. Nice energy though.
  15. paolo

    Best Jumpers

    Baryshnikov Cornejo Patrick DuPond Gillian Murphy Igor Zelensky Angel Corella Saveliev
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