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Everything posted by Talespinner

  1. I saw the May 2 performance with Molly Smolen as Kitri and Tiit Helimets as Basilio. Both were a bit off. Smolen, who I'd only seen briefly once this season, seemed to have trouble maintaining her center. She was off kilter frequently, and a bit shaky in the watch-me-balance-on-one-foot poses. She wasn't bad, though, and shows potential. She just didn't have much sparkle. And to be fair, Helimets was not an ideal partner for her. Some of those off-center turns could have been a matter of him not properly supporting her. One of his one-arm lifts was frighteningly precarious. I could almost hear her thinking, "Don't drop me! Don't drop me!" from behind her stiff smile. He's a good, solid dancer, for the most part, but has zero charisma on stage, and zero chemistry with Smolen. I was much more impressed with Elena Altman and Moises Martin as Mercedes and Espada. There were a much more fiery pair and much more fun to watch. Unlike BalletNut, I did not find Martin dull. He was actually pretty cocky. It was as if he was going to show that pale Nordic Basilio how a true Spaniard moves. Overall, though, I think this production should be put in mothballs. I've never been a huge fan of Don Quixote, and this production is less coherent than others. It often had the feeling of a cobbled-together mess. I won't miss it if they retire it. They can trot out the grand pas de deux as a flashy party piece now and then, but the whole production should be shelved. IMO, of course. Oh, and I have to mention one terribly annoying thing about the performance for me. I'm a season ticket holder way down in front on the center aisle. In the 15 years I have sat in the same seat, I have never been so distracted by a conductor. David LeMarche was beyond annoying. Not only did he stand on a box or platform that made him taller than most conductors so that his head was smack in my line of sight, he also constantly bounced up and down like a rubber ball and waved his hands high above his head. He totally screwed up my view, causing me to miss a lot of what I usually see with ease. Someone should tell him to tone it down a notch.
  2. I saw both Garcia and Hohenstein in Elemental Brubeck, and even though I know the part was more or less created for Garcia, I thought Hohenstein danced circles around him. He has the ability to do that sort of loosey-goosey Fred Astaire kind of movement that so many ballet dancers just can't do. Hohenstein is definitely on a star path. I'm watching him with interest.
  3. I saw Program 4 on Wednesday night. Briefly: Spring Rounds should be retired. Dull, dull, dull. Chi Lin still holds up, and though they dispensed with the fireworks at the end, I don't think they were missed. There was already about one too many things going on up there. Yuan Yuan was lovely. Mesmerizing. And Davit Karapatyen as the Dragon ... WOW. We Wednesday nighters haven't seen much of him. He is delicious! Eden/Eden was interresting because it was something different, and the dancers were really pushing themselves. But it became boring after a while, with much the same thing going on and on and on. It's message was very unsubtle and repeated endlessly. It was sort of fun to watch, but I think it was way too long. Here's hoping that next week's program includes pieces where the dancers actually wear tights. I'm sick to death of bare legs.
  4. Has anyone heard who's dancing Sleeping Beauty?
  5. I saw Yuan Yuan Tan in last Wednesday's performance and was hoping someone would comment. Since no one has yet done so, I guess I'll say a few words. I'm a notoriously sentimental sap, but Act 2 moved me to tears. Tan was simply ethereal. I kept wondering what she had done with the bones in her arms! (How does someone who's little more than skin and bones achieve that fluid effect?) I've seen a zillion Swan Lakes in my day, and I have to say that Tan was as good as any Odette I've ever seen. And I was pleasantly surprised by her Odile, all crystalline edges and "look-at-me" arrogance. I expect technical brilliance from Tan, but like many of you, I have been disappointed in her acting skills. I thought she brought it all together, finally and beautifully, in Odette/Odile. In my very humble and not terribly educated opinion, Tan's performance was a triumph. Oh, and her prince was the new guy, Tiit Helimets. He was actually quite good, but Tan had me so spellbound that I almost didn't notice him.
  6. Interesting casts. My season tickets will get me Yuan Yuan and the new guy Tiit Helimets. I saw him in the Nutcracker and he seemed quite good (and nice to look at, too). I may try to see one of the other casts as well, if I can get decent tickets. I'd love to see Lorena Feijoo. But I do wish they had used someone other than Kristin Long as the 4th Odette-Odile. I just can't warm up to her. She was dreadful in Giselle. I was very pleasantly surprised by Vanessa Zahorian's Juliet last year, so she might have been a better choice. Muriel Maffre would have been lovely to watch in Act 2, though I guess she is too darned tall.
  7. Has anyone heard who will be dancing Odette/Odile this season? I presume Yuan Yuan Tan and Tina LeBlanc. I hope for Loreno Feijoo as well. But does anyone know for sure? I have Wednesday night season tickets and we often get 3rd and 4th string casts. (Like Kristin Long in Giselle ... ugh!) Any news appreciated. TIA!
  8. I just checked out the casting for R&J and once again I feel like we Wednesday night season ticket holders are getting the 4th string cast, just as we did for Giselle. Perhaps the Powers That Be do not consider Vanessa Zahorian and Stephen Legate 4th string, but I cannot imagine a less exciting pair. Good dancers, both, but without any passion. I may try to switch my tickets. The pair that most interests me is Sarah Van Patten and Pierre Fran├žois Vilanoba. I have not been a huge fan of Van Patten's until she blew me away in Rush (in Program 6). I'm thinking she might have the right vulnerability for Juliet. And Vilanoba is generally very dramatic in story ballets, so he might make a passionate Romeo. I've seen Yuan Yuan Tan and Yuri Possokhov and liked them together, but would prefer to see a different cast this year. Tina LeBlanc and Joan Boada will probably make a lovely R&J so perhaps I'll try to see them. My biggest problem with R&J is that, for me, no coreography I've seen approaches the passion and sensuality of Kenneth McMillan's. I realize every artistic director of every company wants to put his stamp on these classics. I just wish the entire ballet world would agree that McMillan got it right, and retire everyone else's coreography.
  9. Well, I already mentioned how she lost her footing a couple of times and had to be quickly caught and steadied by her partner, and the general heaviness of her movements in Act 2. In Act 1, I simply thought she moved through it all in a very pedestrian way, with no spark or joy in her dancing, and nothing in her technique beyond the ordinary. She only barely let go of Nedviguine for the merest instant in those unsupported arabesques. I also had serious trouble with her acting. It's funny, but the mad scene was the only part I thought she did well. During the rest, she kept a goofy look on her face and just seemed awkward and uncomfortable. But this is all my opinion and very subjective. We all look for and admire different things in dancers, as in every category of art. I am glad, though, to hear your confirmation of that 1976 performance, Paul. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who still remembers it so vividly.
  10. Oh, I remember their partnership, too. It was lovely. (Whatever happened to him?) Another favorite, in 1999, was Lucia Lacarra (sp?) with Yuri Possokhov. I hated to see her leave the company. She had amazing feet. The most memorable Giselle I ever saw was back in 1976 -- American Ballet Theatre with Natalia Makharova and Baryshnikov, and Cynthia Gregory as Myrtha. Tickets were cheaper in those days, and when ABT came to town (back then they performed for 8-10 days in Berkeley at Zellerbach, and then 8-10 days in SF at the Opera House) I went to every performance. I saw all the casts of Giselle, and this cast more than once. But there was one night when everyone was so "on" -- I was so moved I could barely speak. All these years later and I still remember it vividly. That has ever after been my yardstick for judging Giselles.
  11. ===== Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. I still think Kristin Long was all wrong for the part, and so did most of the people sitting around me. The man seated in front of me (I'm in the 4th row) said he was going to fire off a letter to Helgi begging him never to use her for Giselle ever again. I will admit that her mad scene was well done. But up until that moment, she made me cringe. She was slightly better in the second act, but overall there was a heaviness to her movements that struck a wrong chord for me. She also missed her footing twice and had to be caught quickly by her partner, and her balance was off-center in several variations. I just don't think she was up to the role. That same evening Vanessa Zahorian played Myrtha. I was sceptical, since she is so tiny and I always think of Myrtha as stately and grand. But she was surprisingly good. She had a boatload of "wicked" makeup on that made her look very different. Seeing Muriel Maffre the next night, though, was a pleasure. This role was made for her.
  12. I have seen two different casts, and it was like night and day. As a Wednesday night subscriber, I saw Kristin Long in her first Giselle. Quite frankly, she was dreadful. I cannot imagine why she was cast in this role. She is so completely wrong for it. I was so disappointed in the performance that during intermission I went to the box office and got a ticket for Thursday night, when Yuna Yuan Tan was dancing. I just returned from that performance, and it was spectacular. I was not struck so much by the lack of chemisty between Tan and Vilanoba, as someone else mentioned. I think she has come a long way as an actress and did a very good job with the mime and such. But it was her dancing that made the evening memorable. Absolutely ethereal. Long was partnered by Guenaddi Nedviguine. His dancing was much stronger than Vilanoba's, but Vilanoba was a better actor. I hope to get a last-minute ticket to see Lorena Feijoo as Giselle. I've seen her dance the role twice before and thought it was the perfect role for her. I won't have a chance to see Tina LeBlanc, though I did enjoy her performance as Giselle two years ago. I would like to have seen Gonzolo Garcia, though. I've heard great things about his Albrecht.
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