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FauxPas

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  1. In the 1970's, ABT played its Spring/Summer season at the New York State Theater (now the K*ch). In fact, the videos of Makarova in "Giselle" (with Misha) and "Swan Lake" (with Nagy) are filmed at the NY State Theater. They could open their season after NYCB closes in late May and play until July. Most of their productions are designed to tour different theaters so the sets are flexible, so why not move their Spring season to another house? One problem about extending their Met season into July is that the Metropolitan Opera starts prepping productions on the Met stage in July and starts rehearsing in August for their late September opening.
  2. What makes Sarah Lane's IG post even more problematic is that if it is aimed at Skylar Brandt, we have a principal bashing a soloist for using money to get roles. Within the company hierarchy, Lane is higher in rank than Brandt. So it looks like someone who is privileged and powerful bashing someone who is trying to rise within the company. Maybe Lane feels that she is not privileged or powerful at all at ABT and that could be the problem. Of course, Lane must be very aware of the fact that she is not being cast as much as several of her colleagues. Even Ratmansky who has been very much a Lane supporter has not cast her in his new ballet and her role of The Rose in his "The Seasons" is TBA this Spring despite the fact that Lane created the role. Another issue is that Skylar Brandt is a very petite dancer as is Lane - Brandt is younger and a more consistent technician. Definitely there is the factor of competition for roles. Also, it is very evident from all the extra coaching sessions that Brandt posts on Instagram that she is working very hard indeed.
  3. Sadly, NYSusan did not opt to go to Kolesnikova and the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, instead attending NYCB's "Swan Lake". I did go on the Saturday opening night (I did a double header "Swan Lake" weekend with NYCB "Swan Lake" on the Sunday matinee with Mearns and Côté.) First of all, it is a nice traditional and conservative production - basically a cut down bus and truck version of the 1950 Konstantin Sergeyev "Swan Lake" from the Kirov-Mariinsky Theater. The sets are almost identical designs. If you remember, the Mariinsky brought the actual Sergeyev "Swan Lake" to the BAM Opera House five years ago. Though it was thrilling to see the dancers, the sets looked like they were pushed too far forward on the shallow BAM stage and the dancers looked cramped. This smaller scale copy fits ideally on the BAM stage. There are 22 swans in Act II, with 16 usually onstage and the Act III national dancers usually have four to six dancers in toto. It works fine. The company looks like a pickup group - the corps and soloist women were better than the men. The corps lack the unity of style and precision of the Mariinsky or Bolshoi corps but looked well-drilled. Denis Rodkin of the Bolshoi was borrowed to dance Prince Siegfried on the SPBT tour which proved a definite asset. It would impossible to identify the other dancers in the Act I pas de trois, cygnets or national dancers since there was no program distributed for the performance - not even a digital e-program one could access on your mobile device. There was a deluxe souvenir program you could purchase from the gift shop but I passed on it. Irina Kolesnikova who is in her late thirties is an elegant old-school dancer of the Kirov school. She has long arms and a pliable back but very strong legs and feet. Her extensions are strictly textbook and there are no 6:00 developpes out there. Her Odette is very slow, liquid and stately in the old school with languid adagio phrasing. Kolesnikova manages to work in some variety and emotional nuances into this slow phrasing and has a certain straightforward vigor that keeps her White Swan from lapsing into mannerism. Her Act IV Odette was particularly moving. (There is the mandated Soviet happy ending.) Her Odile is well danced without being as individual. Again, she has strong pointes and is a solid turner and hit 32 (or thereabouts) single fouettés in the side kick Russian style ending on a multiple with the music. I will not criticize the Odile solo (the traditional Kirov one) since the orchestra at that point totally fell part leaving Kolesnikova stranded at times not knowing where to come in. Kolesnikova was a total professional: she posed and waited until a recognizable phrase emerged she could dance to and kept it together. Rodkin was a handsome, noble and attentive partner who didn't get an Act I reflective solo - was it dropped or does this production not have one? He was a great partner to Kolesnikova in each act and really put emotion on the stage. A certain Chamber Orchestra of New York was in the BAM pit, they started out well in Acts I and II. I suspect that was all they had rehearsed. But by Act III there were whole orchestral parts being left out or coming in at different times. I started to hear shouts, loud shushing and singing emerging from the pit and thought a madman had wandered in there. Well it was the conductor Timur Gorkovenko going insane attempting to restore musical sanity and get something resembling Tchaikovsky out of this band. I thought that Kolesnikova was lovely and preferable to many Odette/Odile interpreters in major companies, a friend felt she was the prima ballerina of a second tier company, no more, no less. I found the company, the ballerina and the production charming and refreshingly unpretentious and satisfying. I was glad I went. A largely local Russian audience were very enthusiastic at the final curtain calls. Hopefully the production will continue to cohere and that orchestra will get their act together.
  4. Lane is the other small ballerina who has danced Giselle with Herman but she danced it the night before. Brandt and Cornejo have been rehearsing I am sure for the past few days. Also, Brandt wants to make principal badly, this was evident in the NY Times interview/profile. This is her test for which she has been preparing for months. Giselle was also the role that broke through for Abrera and Lane to make principal rank. Brandt will seize the opportunity and nail it, Mark my words.
  5. I was there too last night. I cannot like a ballet if I don't like the music - and I definitely didn't like Peter Ablinger's score for "Voices". The text was hard to decipher - when it was in English - and the piano just sounded like random, dissonant plonking on the 88's. Ratmansky's choreography is definitely accomplished and the dancers - especially Georgina Pazcoguin and Lauren Lovette - were stunning. Sara Mearns seemed to be very tense and actually fell during her solo - she had been in good form earlier in "Polyphonia". The men had no real roles - just marching the ballerinas on or off stage and then one of them peels away from the quartet to whip off some virtuoso steps - brisés, jetés, turns a la seconde, etc. it was very accomplished in construction and design, but this one definitely seemed like a miss to me. Loved the rest of the program - "Bright" is slight but lovely to see and hear. "Polyphonia" would look better performed in a smaller, more intimate space - like the Joyce. Dancers were wonderful - including Mearns, Lovette, Andie Veyette (in good form last night), Seth Farley, Megan Fairchild, Jovani Furlan, Roman Mejia and the young Alston McGill who danced with radiant élan and attack. A friend told me that the color of the prima ballerina's shift was changed from blue to dark purple in "Opus 19/The Dreamer". I thought Unity Phelan was wonderful and Gonzalo Garcia danced with great focus and clarity.
  6. Hello everyone, I found online this Cambridge Scholars introduction to reprints of the scores of Giselle, La Sylphide and Le Corsaire. There is a long explanatory introduction about the changes to the score over the years with music added by Bergmuller, Minkus and in the case of the Act II finale - Boris Asafiev. The notes are by Robert Ignatius Letellier and reflect his research: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/download/sample/58856 "No. 16 In connection with the changes to the end of the ballet (the removal of the appearance of Bathilde, the hunters and the courtiers after Giselle’s disappearance), in 1913-14 a new variation of the music of the finale was composed by B. Afanasiev, which is performed in the theatres of our country to this day. Because of the major difference in the number of bars the composer’s finale is printed separately (Appendix I)." "3) Boris Vladimirovich Asafiev (1884-1949) Asafiev provided a variant of the final bars of the ballet for Russian productions in 1913-14. This allows the ballet to end quietly, instead of the vigorous closing bars that follow on Albrecht’s collapse in the original score. The Asafiev version is now included as an alternative in published versions of the score (as in the arrangement by Henri Busser and the Pas de Deux edited by Daniel Stirn). In the Russian version it is given as the preferred ending, with the original conclusion somewhat incongruously provided as the first appendix. The Asafiev conclusion is by no means typically used in most productions."
  7. The video clips used in this discussion have been removed from Youtube. Here is a performance of a "Minkus Pas de Deux" to the "Giselle Pas de Deux" music as choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky. It was a Bolshoi Tokyo tour in 1986 with students or graduates from the Bolshoi School. The dancers include Vladimir Malakhov who was a student at the time and Viktoria someone who is less impressive (though she definitel has her moments). Here is the Zhuraitis recording of the adagio section of the pas de deux only, the solos sound a bit circusy/Don Qish to me. Not Romantic at all. Here is another Bolshoi young student, Ksenia Andreenko performing the solo on a too small stage:
  8. We have been talking about the mime that was added - what about the traditional mime that wasn't there? The first is in the Giselle/Albrecht/Hilarion aka Hans confrontation in Act I: When Hilarion/Hans takes out his knife to attack Albrecht, Belyakov did not do the traditional business of reaching for his sword (which he isn't wearing because he is disguised as the peasant Loys). Belyakov just kind of waved Hans off while stopping Giselle from interposing herself between them. This gesture of reaching for the sword hilt tips off Hilarion/Hans that Loys is not what he seems. Of course, Hans/Hilarion has already overheard Albrecht's discussion with Wilfred at the beginning of the act, so he is already on to him, so in this staging that bit of reaching for the nonexistent sword is superfluous. I guess that bit of business was not notated in the early French sources - the Antoine Titus and Justamant notations? However after the village girls leave, Hilarion/Hans breaks into the hut to steal the sword to unmask Loys as Albrecht. I think it could remain since it could give Hans the idea that the sword is probably there in the hut and could be useful. Anyway, I miss it and it would still give Hilarion/Hans motivation to find the sword. It should go back. The second bit is Giselle's fainting spell during the village girl dance with Albrecht. About half of the dance is there but the music that seems to suggest dizziness or sudden weakness is there but the fainting spell is not. I think the music suggests it and it is excellent dramatic foreshadowing and should be retained. That also isn't in the French sources? It is there in the music. Also the character usually known as the Duke of Courland (here Bathilde's father) bows to the dressed down Albrecht when he is exposed to everyone - the whole group of courtiers bow to him as if he is their sovereign lord. Usually they seem to be equals or Albrecht is junior to the Duke. Also in Act II, I noticed a change in Giselle's choreography as executed by Smirnova. Usually in the Act II grand pas, the initial Giselle solo has Giselle executing a developpé with the right leg and shifting to a slow arabesque en tournant and after a little sauté then executing a developpé on the left leg and dropping into arabesque penchée. It is very exposed and the ballerina has to be equally strong and flexible on both sides of the body. Here is Makarova doing that combination in 1976: Smirnova only did what looked like one developpé very high on the right leg and then did only another very brief one on the same right leg. Did the other Bolshoi ballerinas do that change in this production or is it exclusive to Smirnova? Maybe a problem with her left hip? Weird.
  9. Here is Olga Spessivtseva - not pigtail but a kind of ponytail. I see little or no resemblance to Smirnova, who I like very much but prefer as Raymonda or Odette to Giselle. Great Giselles are kind of a ballerina breed apart. I would be fascinated to hear from Seattle_Dancer or others who can compare the PNB new/old "Giselle" to the Bolshoi Ratmansky reconstruction. Differences, weaknesses, strengths, etc.
  10. The Ratmansky ending looked very rushed and slightly confused to me. Ratmansky decided to have Giselle disappear into the ground before Bathilde returns. Wilfred comes on first leading the rescue party and then Bathilde follows (as directed by Wilfred). Wilfred seems perturbed to see Giselle's ghost. The original notations have Bathilde returning with the courtiers and Wilfred and Albrecht is told by Giselle to marry Bathilde and then she sinks into the earth. Also Bathilde actively consoles and forgives Albrecht. So it is a more dramatic scene with Bathilde taking an active part with the women on each side (the Albrecht "sandwich" as Helene called it). Ratmansky has Bathilde come on later after Giselle is gone and Wilfred seems to be holding up an exhausted, devastated Albrecht who seems to barely look at Bathilde who reaches out to him. Albrecht weakly returns the extended arm. He seems way too far gone to go back with her and is half slumped. It looks as if though Bathilde is willing to take him back, Albrecht is spiritually still with Giselle and order is not restored, really. Like Ratmansky wants it both ways - the double forgiveness and the devastated, alone Albrecht sorrowing at the end. According to the reviews, the PNB version works well dramatically and is moving.
  11. By the way, this program note from the Pacific Northwest Ballet website will clarify a lot of questions we are having: https://www.pnb.org/repertory/giselle/ It seems there were two sets of human interlopers - gamekeepers sent packing by Hans/Hilarion and then later a group of peasants returning from a festival who were saved from the Wilis by an old man. Some interesting points in the article by Marian Smith: "The French manuscripts give us a marvelous opportunity to discover ways in which this ballet was performed in the first two decades of its existence, that is, before Petipa created his now-famous version of Giselle in St. Petersburg in 1884—the version that today’s productions are based on. They reveal, quite surprisingly, that Petipa’s version of the choreography was not nearly as different from that of Coralli/Perrot as dance historians have long averred. Passages in the Justamant manuscript that are choreographically similar to those in the Stepanov manuscript include many elements in the Act One Scène d’amour, sequences of steps in the Peasant pas de deux, Giselle’s first entrance in Act Two, as well as the opening of that act’s adagio for Giselle and Albrecht, and the well-known diagonal formation of the Wilis It seems that Petipa liked much of what he saw in the original choreography and kept it." "...Third, these sources show us characters whose personalities are not quite the same as the ones we are accustomed to—for instance, this Giselle is more high-spirited and feistier. Indeed, in Act One scene iv when Loys fails to appear on time she says (in the Justamant manuscript) “Loys should have come; but he isn’t here; he’s badly behaved and I’m leaving.” When he arrives shortly thereafter, she turns her back on him, saying to herself, “There he is. He will pay me back.” This is a far cry from the emotionally delicate girl we sometimes encounter today in this scene, a girl who seems dependent on Loys’ affection for her sense of well-being and even weeps a few minutes later when the daisy-petal prognostication comes out badly. (This weeping is not mentioned in either of the French manuscripts.) Giselle also openly defies her mother in Act One scene vi and even tries to dance away with Loys at the end of the scene, and in the finale of the same act (in the Justamant manuscript) actually curses Loys. The strength of Giselle’s spirit in the first act helps explain how she is able to defy in Act Two of the most formidable character of all: Myrtha." "Finally, it must be pointed out that both the Justamant and Stepanov manuscripts confirm, rather unsurprisingly, that the dance vocabulary of the time was primarily petit allegro—small, fast steps, primarily jumps and beats—for both men and women, soloists and corps de ballet. Moreover, in the Stepanov manuscript, all women in dancing roles wear pointe shoes."
  12. I saw this streamed live from the Bolshoi this afternoon. Some corrections to the casting above: the beloved Lyudmila Semenyaka performed the role of Berthe this afternoon and was very moving in the role. I have to say that the added and corrected mime adds many layers to the dramatic structure of "Giselle", particularly in Act I. There are several bits that frankly, now I cannot live without. Even the Act I initial tableau has surprises. We see aristocrats walking to the hunt on the upstage higher path while a moment later, peasants walk by in the opposite direction on stage level. We see the class distinctions creating separate worlds that divide Giselle and Count Albrecht in the first few minutes. Hans (Hilarion in most productions) comes onstage and starts to poke around Loys' hut stage right. Albrecht/Loys and Wilfred enter and Hans hides behind a tree upstage and is a witness to their entire conversation. He realizes from the first that Loys in an imposter and his actions are to protect Giselle, not just jealousy. Stealing the sword is to obtain evidence proving his story. Little bits of mime are restored that seem integral: During Berthe's warning pantomime to Giselle about dancing herself to death and becoming a Wili, there is an admonishing finger gesture that is timed exactly to the chords in the orchestra. Bathilde is a kind, modest noblewoman who is sympathetic to Giselle and bewildered, not angered by Albrecht's betrayal. The music is different and longer in some places and the dancing is majorly rearranged. The little dance sequence early in Act I where Giselle and Albrecht dance with the village girls is mostly excised - they enter and dance but briefly. All that dance material is pushed to the sequence late in the act where Giselle is crowned queen of the harvest festival. That is redesigned by Ratmansky as a major "Harvest Festival Grand Pas" with the village girls Act I choreography moved there. It starts with Giselle's diagonal "Spessivtzeva" solo, then comes the peasant pas de deux (traditional but with the steps refined and made more musical and surprising and gorgeously danced by Khokhlova and cutie Alexei Putintsev). After that comes an expanded version of the solo that Albrecht dances earlier in the act in the standard Russian version. This turns into an expanded pas de deux for Giselle and Albrecht. Then we get the group corps dances from both the village girls from earlier in Act I and the harvest revelers combined for a big finish. It is the Duke of Courland, not Bathilde who interrogates Albrecht as to why he is dressed as a peasant.A touching mad scene from Smirnova and curtain. Giselle's actual choreography is completely identical to the standard Russian version - very little changes. Her mime is similar but expanded with subtle and expressive dramatic details. Albrecht's solo is expanded and slightly enlarged from the standard one usually performed earlier in the act. Act II starts with some reveling country bumpkins who are drinking in the forest late at night to music either shortened or cut in the standard version. The Pacific Northwest Ballet had a wise old man come on and tell the revelers to get home as it is Wili witching hour but oddly Ratmansky has Hans/Hilarion push them offstage. He then ignores his own advice by praying over Giselle's grave. This bit frankly can either be cut down or omitted as it is in the standard text. Ratmansky wanted to restore many magical theatrical trick effects to Act II that Perrot and Coralli wanted but were limited by 19th century stage machinery and technology. So both Myrtha and Giselle entered from beneath the stage via a stage elevator through a trap door. Myrtha seems to fly across the rear of the stage left to right via a kind of scooter. Vlashinets is a really strong Myrtha with a huge jump and great control. She seems to fly and float without technical assistance. Giselle initially appears to Albrecht via an alcove covered with a scrim which is lit and she magically materializes by her grave. Giselle (or a Giselle stand-in) later floats on wires above the stage and there is a high tree with a lever contraption for her to drop lilies on Albrecht during that initial encounter. Those bench press lifts with Giselle horizontal have been changed to Albrecht lifting her from the waist overhead with Giselle remaining vertical - it actually looks more authentic and early 19th century that way. The bit where the Wilis form a cross comes after Giselle's wild circle dance when she comes to life - they all circle around her and it ends with them forming a crucifix formation kneeling. This does not make sense since the Wilis are later shown to be repelled by the cross on Giselle's grave - why would they form a cross? The "Fugue des Wilis" comes during the Wilis capture of Albrecht (both that and the killing of Hans/Hilarion is totally restaged). They form a circle around Albrecht and he and Giselle escape the circle and take refuge by the stone cross over her grave. It is a brief but striking moment and Ratmansky's original choreography is imaginative and inventive. Olga Smirnova is technically strong in Act II with excellent entrechats. The pas de deux is mostly exactly the same but Albrecht's solo has a bit where he changes legs that exactly follows the musical structure that I now need to see performed in every production. Smirnova got cheers for her solos, particularly her entrechats but the series en derriere didn't get off the ground very high to give that flying look. The final coda with Albrecht doing a series of high entrechats or brisés has been changed to him dancing around the stage - I think the standard choreography gives one a stronger sense of being forced to dance oneself to death. 99% of Giselle's steps and staging are the same, Albrecht's choreography is majorly retooled. The final scene has Giselle not returning to her own grave but to a bower stage right. She gestures to Albrecht to remain faithful to Bathilde and then she sinks into some enveloping greenery and disappears into the ground. I think she needs to return to her own grave at that point. Evidently, Gauthier and Perrot wanted the covered with grass effect and delayed the premiere back in 1841 Paris. At that point Bathilde enters and Wilfred is supporting Albrecht who reaches towards her in distress and she gazes to him with forgiveness. The final bars of music was originally major key and triumphant rather than those sad sweet minor key phrases we hear in the standard version with Albrecht alone and stumbling around clutching the lilies. Dramatically, this is a very effective version. The choreographic changes will divide some people. I mostly liked them and loved the added subtle details. The Bolshoi performers were uniformly excellent. There were minor technical problems with the transmission at Empire 25 Times Square. Some regular audio dropouts in Act I, some pixelization in Act II and also red lights that randomly appeared that may have been on the Bolshoi technical crew's end.
  13. I also attended the Thursday night Stravinsky & Balanchine program. "Danses Concertantes" is indeed a minor curiosity in the Balanchine oeuvre. The slightness of the ballet combined with the grandeur of the slightly kitsch Eugene Berman sets and costumes are a mismatch. As for Pereira, I agree with the comments above - she dances small, she projects small, she is very sweet but low impact. It was very evident when the various color coordinated soloists made their initial entrance before the front drop that when Erica came on, we saw a corps ballerina not a prima ballerina. A flagship soloist but not principal material - and management is giving her shot after shot. Pereira is not a kid any more despite looking like one - she has had over a decade and many opportunities to "pop" on that stage. She doesn't pop and she never will. Give those roles to Indiana Woodward, Mr. Stafford. Harrison Ball was a fine (and handsome) partner. The other problem is that the principal pas de deux is less interesting than the other trios for the demi-soloists. The trio in red were really fascinating, There are no solos that make an impression - I don't think the prima ballerina has one? In "Monumentum/Movements for Piano and Orchestra", Teresa Reichlen looked sleek, in shape, in control like a prima ballerina. I read here that Suzanne Farrell coached this and it showed in Tess' subtle detail and musical phrasing in her execution of the choreography. Also, Ask La Cour was incredibly focused, sharp and precise as her partner - it is not a showy part but a crucial one and he was incredibly present and musical. I am starting to get Ask these days just as he is about to retire. I love his work as "Phlegmatic" in "The Four Temperaments" and he is a delightful Dr. Stahlbaum in the Nut (luckily preserved on video). I was not as crazy about Lauren Lovette in "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" - I felt she also danced small without attack. Her limbs seemed small and didn't fill out the music. Claire Kretzchmar had the attack and a good deal of the style and is promising - she needs to gain authority. The men, Taylor Stanley and Joseph Gordon were terrific as usual. I think this one might need some extra coaching.
  14. Sean Stewart also left the ABT corps and returned. Frankly, I am still pining for Danny Tidwell, who at last sighting was dancing in Oslo for the Norwegian National Ballet but is no longer there.
  15. Hello everyone, I just checked the Washington DC tour schedule. The master calendar now shows that Skylar Brandt is dancing Giselle with Joo Won Ahn and Katherine Williams on Sunday matinee February 16th. I am very happy for all of them! Not sure if this was discussed before. https://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/BUBSE
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