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FauxPas

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  1. 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
  2. Gardner and McKerrow created the roles in "Some Assembly Required" (and evidently both casts did beautifully under their direction last week), Natalia Makarova coaches the "La Bayadère" production she staged and choreographed for ABT, Eddie Villella was invited by Ratmansky to coach the mime in "Harlequinade". Gardner and McKerrow are working with the Tudor Trust as well as licensed stagers/regisseurs. Ferri I believe coaches the MacMillan repertory having worked closely with him during her career. I believe that both Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky are headed in the same direction as coaches and regisseurs. I hope ABT makes greater use of them. Radetsky is currently leading the studio company and is a company teacher. I think the steep decline in the level of male dancing in the company is indicative of the lack of training and coaching available in the company. For example, in this last run of "Theme and Variations" neither Cory Stearns nor Joseph Gorak could dance the male solo acceptably. We will see how Joo Won Ahn does this weekend. Since the generation of Hallberg, Gomes and Cornejo, no male dancer of that calibre has emerged from within the company. Daniil Simkin was already an international prodigy when he joined ABT over a decade ago. BTW: this discussion has made me think of some ballets I wish would return to the ABT mixed repertory. One is the "Bruch Violin Concerto" by Clark Tippet that hasn't been done in over a decade. https://www.abt.org/ballet/bruch-violin-concerto-no-1/ Also Makarova staged the "Paquita" Grand Pas for ABT back in the eighties. It was last done in the early nineties when I saw Julie Kent dance the lead ballerina role in it. It would be nice if that came back either restaged by Makarova or have Ratmansky do his a new staging of his authentic version from the Harvard Sergeyev notes. I also would love to see Ashton's "Birthday Offering" come back.
  3. My impression of a lot of Ballet Company AD's like McKenzie and Peter Martins is that they hire ballet masters who will not be a threat to their authority. That is why Martins refused to bring back star dancers like Farrell, Villella, Patricia McBride, Allegra Kent or Melissa Hayden as ballet masters. They had worked longer with Balanchine and could challenge his authority. Someone like Clinton Luckett or Carlos Lopez cannot claim authority over Kevin McKenzie. And they did not dance leading principal roles and therefore cannot teach them to someone like Aran Bell or Joseph Gorak. Aran Bell had to go to Max Beloserkovsky to learn Romeo in the MacMillan R&J. He had never done a lead in a dramatic ballet before. Carlos Lopez was at best a Benvolio or Mandolin Player and couldn't coach him as Romeo. Max evidently got the job done since Aran Bell got excellent notices for his Romeo debut including in the New York Times.
  4. Weird thing - Boylston at age 14 did have lovely port de bras. Here she is at age 14 at the 2001 YAGP: BTW: Boylston herself has been one of the most outspoken critics of the lack of coaching for the ABT dancers. She mentioned that she was working with Susan Jaffe but when Jaffe left to take another position that it left only the octogenarian Irina Kolpakova in charge "and Kolpakova can't coach everyone". The other two female coaches are Nancy Raffa and Susan Jones who mainly handle the corps. The male coaches are Keith Roberts and Carlos Lopez. Lopez was only a soloist at ABT and not a great one.
  5. I attended the "Masters" program on Thursday, October 17th and last night the 22nd. Theme and Variations: Frankly the slow tempos could be seen as adding grandeur and lyricism to the work if the dancing has enough amplitude and strength. Devon Teuscher and Cory Stearns who are taller and longer-limbed than the other cast filled out the broader phrases better. Stearns is also an excellent partner and carried himself well except for his solo in which he struggled through the multiple turns traveling a lot around the stage. Teuscher really shone in the ballerina role - she actually has a Balanchine ballerina body - very elongated. Also she is an excellent turner as the late Alicia Alonso was. She looked like a queen on that stage. I was sitting quite close to the stage last Thursday and Sarah did not look nervous or tight to me. Her problems were her conductor and her partner - not small ones which can seriously derail a dancer's performance. Otherwise, she looked lovely. Her problem is that she is small and those slow tempos make her dancing look small and brittle because she lacks the amplitude to fill them out. Faster tempos and a strong partner and she would sparkle in T&V like Tiler Peck and Ashley Bouder do at NYCB. Gorak was exactly as described by the previous posters and his lack of development is disappointing in the extreme. His coach is Keith Roberts and Gorak mentioned in an interview that upper body strength is a problem with him and that he was training to correct that. Frankly, nothing has come of that and he is exactly in the same place he was when he started at ABT. A Gathering of Ghosts: I agree that this is no masterpiece. I found it enjoyable because of Herman and a few of the supporting dancers like Christine Schevchenko and Skylar Brandt. Herman's solos are the best thing in it and reminded me of how well Tharp worked with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the 1970's and early 1980's. There was that same creativity and sense of fun and she released something in both Misha and Herman that was not seen with other choreographers. When the costumes weren't pretty, they were humorous. My advice is to totally ignore any suggestion of plot or individual characters - you can ignore "Greased Lightning" and "Madame de Stael" and "Murasaki" as they don't really show up in the choreography. It's just Catherine Hurlin in silver shorts, Joo Won Ahn and Aran Bell up there. And that isn't a bad thing. The Seasons: A choreographic masterpiece. The weird color palette and discordant designs of the costumes and the lack of scenic designs are a problem. I agree with the poster above who said that it looks better on the Koch/State Theater stage. Aran Bell is just out of his teens and had a huge growth spurt less than five years ago - I think he is still growing into his new 6 foot plus body. Hence his odd posture, etc. He will blossom into a tall, handsome man with maturation. The casting changes last night were Zimmi Coker replacing Cassandra Trenary as Rose, Cassandra Trenary replacing Catherine Hurlin as Autumn Bacchante. So Hurlin was the odd woman out but she danced earlier that evening in the Tharp and is scheduled to dance in the "New Romantics" program tonight. I suspect fatigue from a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals is the culprit. Stella Abrera looked so gorgeous as the Spirit of the Corn - her port de bras really looked creamy and magical and Tom Forster was an excellent partner. He is ready for Siegfried and Albrecht.
  6. Agree with all that is said above. One less reason to attend performances at ABT. I was suspicious that perhaps Stella was pressured to retire but this public-facing Instagram post suggests otherwise:
  7. I will be attending Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Hope to see some of you. Sad to hear that this is not a good production. Makes me angry all over again that ABT didn't buy the sets to Ratmansky's Munich Ballet "Paquita" when the company discarded the production. That one followed the original libretto and the Harvard Library Sergeyev notations.
  8. Casting Asian dancers gets rid of the yellowface problem. No white dancers putting on black wigs and trying to look Asian. Also the ABT dancers I suggested are mostly principals who certainly have merit and the corps dancers merit dancing corps roles.
  9. Discussing non-white dancers, there is also a lack of Asian dancers in NYCB. I fell into a conversation with Wendy Whelan during the intermission of a recent performance. I was interested in Balanchine ballets that have been out of the repertoire: "Tzigane", "Gounod Symphony" and also "Bugaku". Wendy replied that "Bugaku" is problematic right now with the yellowface and cultural appropriation issues. I mentioned that "Bugaku" might fly if cast with Asian dancers and Wendy replied that they don't have that many in the company right now. So there's that. ABT actually has more Asian dancers and could cast Stella Abrera and Hee Seo in "Bugaku" (Hee is not ideal but she is Asian) and Joo Won Ahn as the partner - maybe Kimin Kim could guest. Plus there are two other Asian men and two girls in the corps de ballet and Zhong Jing Fang, a soloist. The piece requires a soloist couple and four corps couples - so five women and five men. Allegra Kent and Edward Villella are still around to coach it.
  10. I am still missing Danny Tidwell and Eric Tamm who also languished in the shadow of the "Born to Be Wild" generation. Though in the case of Tidwell he got some roles like the Spectre of the Rose and mainly left because he didn't like dancing in a big company. In the current crop, Catherine Hurlin also is being fast tracked and that is a good thing. I will also miss Kaho Ogawa who retired due to career-ending injury, not neglect. Among those who waited over a decade too long for big roles add the name of soloist Zhong-Jing Fang but she also had an injury but like Abrera was allowed to languish too long before opportunities and promotion. Ahn who I saw as Solor has a very clean elegant technique but I have yet to see personality from him. But I am glad he is getting chances. Bell is very young and very promising - we will see if he turns into a Marcelo or into a Cory with time and experience.
  11. No I misremembered it. But the big problem is that McKenzie would nominate just one dancer or maybe two dancers to be the next big star - Hee Seo, Cory Stearns, Isabella Boylston etc. When you have a whole generation of principal dancers who are all about the same age you can't just have one new dancer being groomed. And when a generation retires suddenly you have dancers who have been waiting around for a decade like Misty Copeland, Deven Teuscher and Christine Schevchenko learning all the principal roles all at once in their thirties. Everywhere else dancers are given "Swan Lake" or "Don Quixote" debuts in their twenties. Now it seems from the Fall casting that Ahn and Bell are on the fast track being groomed to do principal roles. Calvin Royal definitely could do more - I like the idea of Apollo. Give Gorak some more chances? It wouldn't hurt to give something to someone else besides Ahn and Bell - Gonzalez, maybe Patrick Frenette, Marshall Whiteley, Cameron McCune or Luigi Crispino? Ratmansky uses Tyler Maloney, Jonathan Klein, Gabe Stone Shayer and others - he always utilizes young talent from the corps and ABT has benefited from it. And there are dancers like Scout Forsythe who I haven't even seen in anything because they have never been given a solo - from what I have heard Forsythe is extremely qualified.
  12. I truly love Gillian Murphy and Stella Abrera but time is against them and they will at some point need to start dropping roles. Abrera is already doing so or is being made to do so. Murphy I suspect, after some post-pregnancy retraining, will bounce back quickly and reclaim 90% of her former repertoire. However, ABT under McKenzie had a bad policy of not teaching and giving performance opportunities to younger dancers to replace the established principals. This process of putting aside performances to cultivate up and coming young talent needs to be done before the retirement of the older generation. In the 20th century, there usually was a Wednesday matinee where two soloists would debut in principal roles. In the aughts, McKenzie started coasting on his star power and guests and stopped building up young dancers. Or he centered his attention on just one dancer like Cory Stearns, Hee Seo or Isabella Boylston and let others idle on the sidelines. These new "stars" were not always the most interesting performers and didn't match up to the dancers they were being groomed to replace. (I like Boylston who is a strong dancer and is growing as an artist especially with good coaching) This was really a crisis around 2012 when the ABT male "dream team" all retired within a few years of each other, Hallberg became perennially injured and Gomes was dismissed for reasons not released to the public. Suddenly there was just Cory, Whiteside and the increasingly fragile Cornejo to take up the slack. There also was a mass retirement of older female principals two years ago which saw the last of Diana, Xiomara, Veronika, Paloma and Julie Kent. I say bring in Skylar Brandt as Kitri and Giselle earlier rather than later in preparation for another wave of retirements in the next five years which will include Abrera, Murphy and probably Copeland further off. Skylar is a good jumper and light and can do difficult terre-a-terre footwork unlike say Copeland or the diminished Abrera (who I love but who came to Giselle at least a decade too late).
  13. I got tickets for all three casts on the weekend of October 12-13. Never have seen a full-length "Paquita". I was curious about this production and it seems that it is by Yuri Smekalov and includes a new libretto and some of his choreography to added music to the Delvadez. From the Mariinsky website: https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/2017/4/6/1_1900 "Continuing to revive titles that are significant for the playbill of St Petersburg ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre is presenting a new version of Paquita. This is not a revival of the 19th century production, created in Paris by the ballet-master Joseph Mazilier and which was performed in St Petersburg from 1847 with choreography by Marius Petipa. Choreographer Yuri Smekalov is working on a new three-act ballet using his own libretto based on the plot of the novella La gitanilla by Cervantes. The basis of the score of the new ballet comprises music by Édouard Deldevez that was composed for the Paris premiere of Paquita in 1846. Yet today this one-and-a-half-century-old opus will sound different: the order of the numbers has changed, several of them have been re-orchestrated and, moreover, Deldevez' score has been added to by excerpts from works by Minkus and Drigo. The famous wedding Grand pas staged by Marius Petipa to music by Minkus, which triumphantly crowned the plot of the St Petersburg production, will occupy its place of honour in the new ballet, too. This parade of classical dance that demonstrates the skill of the corps de ballet and the virtuoso qualities of the ballerina and the soloists appeared in the 1881 production, and as an independent piece, unconnected with the ballet's plot, it has survived to this day. It is true that over the decades Petipa's choreographic text has undergone many changes. In the contemporary Paquita, the Grand pas will be included in a version brought close to the historic original – Yuri Burlaka is reviving Petipa's choreography using surviving records of the production from the early 20th century. The new ballet, which combines dances and scenes created by Yuri Smekalov, together with historic rarities, will be a hommage to the golden age of classical ballet, a mark of respect and gratitude of the new ballet generation to the aesthetics of the unsurpassed master of classicism – Marius Petipa." Premiere: 30 March 2017, Mariinsky Theatre Running time 3 hours The performance has two intervals
  14. If I remember correctly, Part was coming off of a back injury the first year of the Ratmansky "Beauty" and did the simpler "Marie Petipa II" variation that first year. The second year she was recovered and did a variation similar to what the other Lilacs were dancing.
  15. Sorry, but I distinctly remember Veronika Part doing a different variation the second time I saw her the Ratmansky production - but it was a later year. It had unsupported pirouettes which the Marie Petipa II variation did not have.
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