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Everything posted by PeggyR

  1. More casts. Good to see Pascal Molat back on stage; he should be a good Drosselmeyer. I'm hoping to get to either 12/15 evening to see Park/Greco, and Froustey/Wei Wang (which sounds like an interesting pairing), or 12/16 matinee for everybody, but particularly Frantziskonis/Cauthorn. Terez, enjoy opening night and be sure to let us know what you think of the new flower costumes. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2018, 2 PM Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Pascal Molat Queen and King of the Snow: Frances Chung, Tiit Helmits Sugar Plum Fairy: Sasha De Sola Grand Pas de Deux: WanTing Zhao, Carlo Di Lanno SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2018, 7 PM Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Pascal Molat Queen and King of the Snow: Mathilde Froustey, Wei Wang Sugar Plum Fairy: Frances Chung Grand Pas de Deux: Wona Park, Angelo Greco SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2018, 2 PM Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Ricardo Bustamente Queen and King of the Snow: Jahna Frantziskonis, Max Cauthorn Sugar Plum Fairy: Koto Ishihara Grand Pas de Deux: Dores Andre, Wei Wang SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2018, 7 PM Conductor: Tara Simoncic Drosselmeyer: Alexander Reneff-Olson Queen and King of the Snow: WanTing Zhao, Mingxuan Wang Sugar Plum Fairy: Mathilde Froustey Grand Pas de Deux: Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helmets
  2. First few days of casting : Nutcracker Choreography: Helgi Tomasson Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 7 pm Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Val Caniparoli Queen and King of the Snow: Mathilde Froustey, Carlo Di Lanno Sugar Plum Fairy: Sofiane Sylve Grand Pas de Deux: Sasha De Sola, Aaron Robison Thursday, December 13, 2018, 2 pm Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Alexander Reneff-Olson Queen and King of the Snow: Dores Andre, Luke Ingham Sugar Plum Fairy: Julia Rowe Grand Pas de Deux: Ana Sophia Scheller, Vitor Luiz Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7 pm Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Tiit Helimets Queen and King of the Snow: Norika Matsuyama, Hansuke Yamamoto Sugar Plum Fairy: Sasha De Sola Grand Pas de Deux: Frances Chung, Joseph Walsh Friday, December 14, 2018, 2 pm Conductor: Tara Simoncic Drosselmeyer: Val Caniparoli Queen and King of the Snow: Isabella DeVivo, Max Cauthorn Sugar Plum Fairy: Ana Sophia Scheller Grand Pas de Deux: Jennifer Stahl, Tiit Helimets Friday, December 14, 2018, 7 pm Conductor: Ming Luke Drosselmeyer: Ricardo Bustamente Queen and King of the Snow: Yuan Yuan Tan, Carlo Di Lanno Sugar Plum Fairy: Dores Andre Grand Pas de Deux: Mathilde Froustey, Luke Ingham
  3. Can’t dispute you there. I only saw Fonteyn during the Nureyev years, so she was past her prime, but her knees probably had more artistry than some ‘stars’ have these days in their entire bodies.
  4. I disliked them too: unflattering design and muddy colors - they kind of look like flowers grown in toxic waste, to be brutally honest. The sketches for the new designs look good, especially the longer skirt. The shorter length put too much attention on the knees, and even dancers' knees aren't particularly glamorous.
  5. My mother studied voice when she was young, and had her own unfulfilled aspirations to be an opera singer. She was very critical of most singers (Callas absolutely drove her up a wall), but there were two sopranos about whom she refused to hear a word of criticism: Tebaldi and Caballé. I never heard Caballé live, but even in recordings the purity of her voice was astonishing. Rest in peace.
  6. I’ll second that! I only saw him a few times, but Robison was always very impressive, and he was one of the few saving graces of Frankenstein. I hope this is a permanent return and not just for 2019. SFB is lucky to have such a strong roster of male dancers at all levels.
  7. Good promotions, particularly Park; I've only seen her twice, but she makes an impression, especially for one so apparently young. I agree (hope) that Hummel may be next; she's very musical. Bizalion only showed up on my radar from her Lilac Fairy performance - mature, polished, beautiful port de bras - and I look forward to seeing her development. I'm curious why you think there's pressure to hire from outside, and pressure from whom? I can't imagine that anyone (audience, hiring committee, whatever) who knows enough about ballet to recognize genuine talent, as opposed to performers of stupid pet tricks, wouldn't acknowledge the talent in the soloist and corps ranks and prefer to see promotions from within whenever possible. Strongin would seem likely to take over Kochetkova's spot; very different type of dancer but Kochetkova is unique anyway - no point trying to 'replace' her. Of course, when the inevitable retirements of Tan and Sylve happen, then I can see bringing in from outside if the soloist women haven't developed enough to take on principal. In any case, interesting to see what happens down the road.
  8. I’ve been Googling for reviews for a few days and nothing at all, not even the SJ Mercury, which seems to post reviews fairly promptly, and nothing from SFGate so far. Very curious. The best news in Macaulay’s review is that Joseph Walsh is back on stage, although Franziskonis’ partner is listed in the on-line Casting as corps dancer Joseph Warton. Given that later in the review, Alonzo King’s ballet 'The Collective Agreement' is referred to in shortened form as ‘Argument’ (“As in Mr. King’s ‘Argument’, these duets…”), it’s a little hard to know what, if anything, is correct. Anyway, it sounds like the first three each had various merits; I look forward to hearing other opinions from BTers.
  9. Just got the email myself. Surprised and sorry to see her leave. I wonder if there will be a place for her at ABT, or maybe she's just going to freelance for a while. She will be missed, and it will be interesting to see where she ends up next. Lucky company that gets her. The question has to be asked, will this leave room for another promotion? The female principal group is a strong one, but with Tan and Sylve approaching retirement age, and Kochetkova leaving, I hope that leaves an opening for Lauren Strongin.
  10. For my money, Keesler is no more than competent; there’s none of the technical proficiency and especially the movement flow and beauty that I look for. Although she’s certainly photogenic, she’s just never stood out in any other way. I’d certainly prefer any of the dancers Pherank mentions, particularly Hummel, always watchable, and Park, who was simply lovely in Serenade (I’m really interested to see if/how newcomer Park will develop over the next few seasons).
  11. And she still dances that way; plus, she can act. One of the best all-around dancers in the company.
  12. Perliminary take on 2019: Shostakovich Trilogy – A genuine masterpiece. I can easily see attending every performance, if the budget holds out (I guess that’s what standing room is for). Taras Domitro will be much missed in Symphony No. 9, but with luck Sarah Van Patten and Luke Ingham will reprise their roles. Hoping Joseph Walsh will be back to replace Davit Karapetyan in Chamber Symphony. Divertimento No. 15 – SFB danced it well last time it was performed. Can only hope enough good work will come out of the new works festival to justify only one Balanchine. Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes - Maybe not a masterpiece but fun, and it’s always great to see the sterling men of the company showcased. Etudes – I remember seeing this about a million years ago with Toni Lander; don’t remember loving it, but as I recall it works if the dancers can pour on the flash; SFB should be able do that. The Little Mermaid – Flawed (Neumeier throws in everything but the kitchen sink) and too long, but nevertheless a riveting piece of dance theater. Tan's sinuous Mermaid - beyond beautiful; Van Patten's ultra dramatic Mermaid-well, ultra dramatic as only she can do it. Interesting to see who else might take on the role this time. The Fifth Season: The only Tomasson ballet I can watch without yawning prodigiously. Sleeping Beauty: One of my favorite scores, an interesting production, and it's a good showcase for the dancers. Plus, I suppose it makes sense to do a big production like this two years in a row, since presumably that minimizes rehearsal time. But I can't help wishing we could bring in a La Sylphide, or a full length Bayadere, or SOMETHING else for a change. Yes, Virginia, another Don Q: See Sleeping Beauty. To be fair, this is a good production and the dancers do it justice. I hope the unexpectedly funny (Fancy Free, 2nd sailor) Ulrik Birkkjaer gets a crack at Basilio. Good to know a fairly large selection of the new works will be showcased, although, of course, the audience may not agree with Tomasson what's worth repeating.
  13. More than agree about that. Actually, I haven't seen her since her stunning Prayer in Coppelia a couple of years ago. Has she been out for some reason, or have I just been unlucky with casting?
  14. Very good news on all accounts, especially Weeks, who I understand was injured, which seemed to delay this very well-deserved promotion. He can have an intensity that’s almost scary; he’s definitely someone I’ll go out of my way to see. As to Wei Wang, to be honest, as much as I like him, I have to wonder if he would benefit from another year or two at the soloist level, mainly to increase his stage presence. He joined as apprentice 2012, corp 2013, soloist 2016, principal 2018, so he seems to be very young. Having said that, it’s great to see an SFB male soloist being promoted instead of bringing in another male principal from outside, excellent as those imports have been. Speaking of promotions, when is Lauren Strongin going to be made principal?
  15. A couple of weeks ago on another thread (which I can’t find at the moment), there was a discussion about promotional clips of various ballets set to a single piece of music, regardless of how appropriate it is to the video clips. Aside from about a nano-second of The Red Shoes, this sticks to dance routines from movie musicals (which maybe fits TRS a bit), and it’s pretty well done.
  16. OT, but "...newsroom undergoing major changes." isn't filling me with confidence either.
  17. I don't have time to watch right now; plan to see it this weekend. But I'm curious about the timing: 2 hours 34 minutes. Has anyone seen this yet? Does it really last that long?
  18. Three performances of Program 3 in a week. Serenade was the attraction for buying extra tickets, but this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable triple bills I’ve seen in years – the masterpiece, the likable (plus a bit of a mystery), and the fun. SERENADE Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Choreographer: George Balanchine Conductor: Martin West February 18 Waltz Couple: Wona Park, Wei Wang* Russian Girl: Frances Chung Angel: Dores André Dark Angel: Ulrik Birkkjaer February 24 2:00 pm Waltz Couple: Yuan Yuan Tan, Carlo Di Lanno Russian Girl: Sasha De Sola Angel: Jennifer Stahl Dark Angel: Luke Ingham February 24 8:00 pm Waltz Couple: Maria Kochetkova, Vitor Luiz Russian Girl: Sasha De Sola Angel: WanTing Zhao Dark Angel: Luke Ingham Casts for Serenade were all good, but newcomer Wona Park caught my attention. To be sure, probably any female member of the corp could perform the steps competently. But aside from strong technique and intense musicality, Park’s dancing had an unexpected size and sweep. In contrast to Tan’s languid, remote beauty, and Kochetkova’s airy lightness, Park brought a rather earthy, vibrant energy to the Waltz couple, well partnered by Wei Wang. It’s going to be interesting to see how she develops. THE CHAIRMAN DANCES—QUARTET FOR TWO Composer: John Adams Choreographer: Benjamin Millepied Conductor: Martin West February 18 Maria Kochetkova, Carlo Di Lanno Yuan Yuan Tan, Ulrik Birkkjaer Jennifer Stahl, Benjamin Freemantle February 24 2:00 pm Frances Chung, Vitor Luiz Koto Ishihara, Tiit Helimets Elizabeth Powell, John-Paul Simoens February 24 8:00 pm Frances Chung, Vitor Luiz Koto Ishihara, Tiit Helimets Elizabeth Powell, John-Paul Simoens The surprise was the Millepied. I’d seen ‘The Chairman Dances’ (without the ‘Quartet for Two’ section) at the 2017 Gala. There are so many negative comments about Millepied’s choreography on this board, I felt a little guilty about liking it. Still like it. Not particularly original (lots of ‘walking’ a la Robbins' Glass Pieces), not something I’d go out of my way or spend extra money to see, but perfectly happy if it’s programmed. Part 1 has a vaguely military look with athletic solos and pas de deux. Toward the end, and for no particular reason, everyone dances a foxtrot. Good humored and lively. A seemingly unrelated second section has been added: ‘Quartet for Two’. I loathe cute titles for ballets (or ballet programs), but this actually made sense. Four dancers – two male, two female – dance three short, intense pas de deux: male/female; male/male; female/female. Among the three versions of the PdD, similar, sometimes identical, choreography, but interesting with the various pairings. In contrast to the bright blue/red uniforms of The Chairman Dances section, all wore plain white costumes, and the music further emphasized the disconnect from the first part. It seems like Millepied has the makings of two interesting, short ballets that don’t make any particular sense as one ballet. I’d be grateful if anyone could explain what the point of combining them might be, aside from filling up a 20-minute slot. As for the casts: Chung/Luiz best captured the fox-trot humor in the first part; and Tan/Stahl were particularly beautiful in the female/female pairing in Quartet for Two. RODEO: FOUR DANCE EPISODES Composer: Aaron Copland Choreographer: Justin Peck Conductor: Martin West February 18 Sarah Van Patten, Luke Ingham Max Cauthorn, Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, James Sofranko February 24 2:00 pm Sofiane Sylve, Carlo Di Lanno Max Cauthorn, Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, James Sofranko February 24 8:00 pm Dores André, Ulrik Birkkjaer Esteban Hernandez, Hansuke Yamamoto, Wei Wang I commented about this on the Gala thread and three more viewings haven’t diminished my enjoyment. Great fun. The men of the company outdid themselves, with Esteban Hernandez standing out.
  19. re Scheller, She seemed a little cool and just a bit grand for a 16 year old. I’d be interested to see her as Myrta, which I don’t think she has danced. Re Lonnie Weeks I was surprised he didn’t make soloist during the last round of promotions butI didn’t know he’d been injured. He’s looking very good, though. Fingers crossed for his promotion soon. they just posted casting for the rest of the run (I’m on an iPad and donT thing I’m up to copy paste with this awful keyboard). I had bought a ticket for 2/3matinee without knowing the cast, but lucked out with Chung/Luiz. Hernandez and Sheehan will be dancing BB at that performance, and I’m looking forward to it. He did dance as an Act III cavalier on Saturday and was very good. I’m sorry to miss out on De Sola.
  20. Sorry, it's hard to explain what I'm trying to describe; I'll try to find some video. I didn't mean to imply that the balancing issue has anything to do with her injury; she's been pulling the same stunt since she came to SFB. It's very admirable that she can balance that long, but she's too good a dancer to need to milk it. That wavering back and forth to hold on to the balance completely ruins the moment, especially in the middle of a story ballet. I've seen a few other dancers do the same thing, and it's just as annoying.
  21. Yes, I saw both performances yesterday (1/27). I've been trying to gather my thoughts - there was a lot to like and a few things that made me gnash my teeth in frustration. January 27, 2 pm Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco Lilac Fairy: Ludmila Bizalion Carabosse: WanTing Zhao* Bluebird: Wei Wang Enchanted Princess: Dores André Scheller: - Perfect ballet physique, gorgeous lines, strong technique, excellent turns. - Definitely more of an adagio than allegro dancer. Opening variation in Act 1 lacked joyous spontaneity and crispness; had a distinct coolness – got a vibe: “Hello. I’m a Princess and you’re not.” - Hard to explain, but there seems to be a lack of nuance in her dancing, at least in this role. Little phrasing, no ‘here’s a moment’ inflection. Made the evening rather flat, despite her excellent technical skills. - Rose Adagio went well, although the balances were brief, which is perfectly fine as long as they are comfortable and relaxed, which these were not. Given the flatness of the rest of her performance, there seemed to be an understandable but unexpectedly visible tension during the balances: let go, get that arm up, grab the next suitor’s hand, whew, made it that time. - Much more suited to the Vision scene and wedding PdD, although, again, little or no phrasing – beautiful but slightly dull. Greco: - As expected, strong, secure, sometimes thrilling. - Desiré doesn’t provide the acting opportunities of other male leads, but Greco brought enough personality to the character to at least keep him watchable. I’d like to see him partner someone who brings a little more to the relationship. Bizalion (Lilac Fairy): I haven’t noticed her before in the corps de ballet. Beautiful arms and upper body, although she doesn’t yet have the sweep and presence needed, but still she held her own well. André/Wang (Blue Bird Pas de Deux) – This was a bit of a disappointment. André was lovely and delicate, but Wang, who I’ve always liked, was underpowered and earthbound, not at all as I remember him. He was the same at the Gala; I thought he just needed time to settle in, but no improvement at all. I’ve seen him enough before to know he has a big jump and good ballon, but none of that was on display here. Zhao (Carabosse, called The Dark Fairy in the program): Zhao is rapidly becoming a favorite soloist. She can dance and she can act: Very clear mime and a very vivid character. And a word for The White Cat and Puss in Boots (Kamryn Baldwin and Sean Bennett). Played broadly for laughs without going overboard; very funny and endearing. January 27, 8 pm Aurora: Mathilde Froustey*† Prince Desiré: Luke Ingham*† Lilac Fairy: WanTing Zhao* Carabosse: Anita Paciotti Bluebird: Lonnie Weeks* Enchanted Princess: Wona Park* Froustey: - I was worried about her too, but she got through just fine. I wonder if it’s her left foot that was injured: I thought it looked a little wobbly at times, although she held her pointe with no apparent problems, and no obvious sign of favoring one side. - She isn’t a flawless dancer, and she doesn’t ‘dance big’, but more than makes up for it with personality and that glorious musicality and phrasing, both fully on display last night. - Act I opening variation a delight, all the sparkle you could want. - The Rose Adagio, no problems, but this brings me to my main beef with Froustey: she milks her balances shamelessly (she milks bows after a variation too, but that’s a different issue). Yes, she can balance, but she does it by finding her ‘spot’ and then visibly wavering back and forth while holding that balance; nothing serene or relaxed about it. Absolutely drives me up a wall. It’s probably OK in a showpiece, but the Rose Adagio is a crucial part of the ballet, it’s part of telling Aurora’s story, and Aurora isn’t a showoff. Naturally, the teenagers in the audience when ballistic. I just rolled my eyes. - She’s a very good, if sometimes unconventional, actress, so it's not surprising that she created a rounded character: lively, youthful in Act I, ethereal, slightly mysterious in Act II, matured and regal in Act III. - I’ve got a ticket for 2/3, but don’t yet know casting. If it’s not De Sola, I’ll probably trade to 2/2 just to see Froustey again. Ingham: I’ve tried hard to like Ingham in these danseur roles. He’s excellent in contemporary ballets, e.g., Ratmansky’s Symphony No. 9, Pita's Salome. But I suppose because he’s tallish and good looking, and a competent actor, that makes him ideal for this type of traditional ballet. He has a big, airy jump – not beautiful but definitely big – but other than that, he can be very sloppy, and last night he visibly tired during the GPdD. Having said that, he and Froustey seem to be cast together frequently, and they do have good chemistry and are physically well suited. But I really wish they’d stop casting him in ballets that don’t play to his considerable strengths. Park/Weeks (Blue Bird Pas de Deux): This was the kind of showpiece performance Blue Bird should be. Weeks’ ballon and batterie more than fulfilled expectations. And keep an eye on Ms. Park: a wonderfully charming performance with solid technique and sterling balances. Zhao (Lilac Fairy): I wonder how many dancers have performed Carabosse in the afternoon and the Lilac Fairy in the evening. A very good Lilac with the needed dignity and presence and lovely dancing.
  22. I really enjoyed that one. It was a little surprising there were only three boys, but all the kids were terrific. Your son is lucky to be there. Best of luck to him.
  23. Entertaining gala, notable largely for splendid dancing from the men: Ulrik Birkkjaer’s glittering batterie in the La Sylphide PdD; Vitor Luiz and his cheeky likability coupled with reliably impeccable dancing in Stars and Stripes; Angelo Greco’s dazzling (and I mean DAZZLING) Le Corsaire; and, best of all, the company of men in Justin Peck’s hugely enjoyable Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. Not to neglect the women: As Josette predicted, a delightful Blue Bird PdD from Dores André; Yuan Yuan Tan, her usual exquisitely bendy self in Liang’s otherwise unmemorable Letting Go; Sasha de Sola more than holding her own (fouettés, fouettés, fouettés, not all beautiful but lots of them) in Le Corsaire; and especially Sofiane Sylve (partnered by Carlo di Lanno) in Rodeo. In fact, I knew nothing about Peck’s take on this ballet beforehand, and was little disconcerted at the prospect of the statuesque, magnificent Sylve kitted out as a cowgirl packing a couple of six-shooters, but not to worry: Peck uses the music, but not really the story, so she was able to be her own gorgeous self. I was also interested to see the newest hire, Ana Sofia Sheller, in Stars and Stripes. She’s a lovely dancer – beautiful lines, excellent turns – but somehow she didn’t strike me as particularly comfortable being coyly flirtatious. I’m looking forward to seeing her Aurora (if the casting doesn’t change again), which seems like a better fit. Overall, good show.
  24. Sleeping Beauty casts for first three performances. I’m curious to see André in the Bluebird PdD: I don’t really think of her as a ‘tutu’ dancer and she’s certainly not the fluttery type. On the other hand, she’s never, ever boring. Wei Wang should be good. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 7:30 pm Conductor: Martin West Aurora: Maria Kochetkova†‡ Prince Desiré: Joseph Walsh†‡ Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten Carabosse: Anita Paciotti Bluebird: Wei Wang‡ Enchanted Princess: Dores André† Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:30 pm Conductor: Martin West Aurora: Sasha De Sola† Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno†‡ Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:30 pm Conductor: Martin West Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller†‡ Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco†‡ LEGEND †Denotes premiere in role in Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty. ‡Denotes premiere in Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty.
  25. I doubt if this would work for anyone else as a single program, but it’s my island. Artifact Suite Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 Kingdom of the Shades
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