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FauxPas

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  1. One camp classic with a few ballet sequences is "Salome, Where She Danced" with Yvonne De Carlo and David Bruce from 1945. IMDB entry for Salome, Where she Danced There is an "under the sea" nymph ballet with Yvonne de Carlo dancing on pointe. Quite a sight! Faux Pas
  2. And I thought this was all about me! When I was in college I had a creepy roommate (one of four or five) who always rented porn and watched it with his girlfriend on the one TV in the common living room. One he rented was about a ballet company and starred porn veteran Paul Thomas. A google search showed that the title of the movie was "Let's get Physical" from way back in 1984 with Hypatia Lee as the head of a ballet company and Paul Thomas was her bitter husband, an injured danseur noble who ruined his legs in a car crash after she caught him in flagrante with another woman (and we get to see how in flagrante that was). All I remember was Paul Thomas in a horrible homemade flouncy collar and tights pretending to be the Prince in "Swan Lake" in a flashback. I also remember a ballerina doing it in a tutu and nothing else! Is that too much of a faux pas for this site! Faux Pas
  3. I don't know if this merits a separate thread but what "Swan Lake" 4th acts have you seen that really worked for you? I remember really liking the fourth act that Antony Dowell did for the Royal Ballet production that toured to NYC ten years ago. I think someone told me it was staged from the Sergeyev notations and was the original Ivanov choreography. Someone told me that the best fourth act they ever saw was one that Nureyev did for the Berlin Ballet with Cynthia Gregory as Odette. Of course then there is the whole question of tragic ending vs. happy ending, does Siegfried die and Odette live?, does Odette jump first or do they jump in the lake together? do Siegfried and Von Rothbart fight it out and the whole ripped off wing writhing on the floor bit or does Von Rothbart just observe? Does Siegfried kill Von Rothbart? Does Von Rothbart kill Siegfried? Do the swans kill Von Rothbart? does Wolfgang come back and kill Von Rothbart? Does Von Rothbart live on stripped of his powers? This act changes the most from production to production. Back to ABT, Sascha Radetsky did some of the best dancing I have seen him do as the Handsome Von Rothbart but he reads very young and a little callow on stage. Marcelo has more maturity and weight onstage. [Edited by Helene: I've opened up a new thread to discuss Swan Lake Act IV, which can be found here.]
  4. First of all there were many changes on Tuesday night - Saveliev replacing Belotserkovsky as Siegfried, Cornejo replacing Saveliev as Benno, Kakija and Reyes replacing Riccetto and Liceica in the PdT, Parkinson replacing Meunier as the Queen Mother, Marian Butler replacing Misty Copeland as the Hungarian Princess and Arron Scott replacing Carlos Lopez in the Neapolitan duo. Saveliev I respect for his professionalism and adaptability. He knew what the traditions were and was credible and supportive of his partner. He had a few shaky landings and some jerky phrasing in the first act solos (all new to him since it is McKenzie choreography) but did much better in the canonical and familiar Act II and Act III choreography. He wasn't as strong a presence as Vishneva and his acting was a touch wooden. Since he was thrown in at the last minute I give him great credit. The audience was warm to him at the end. I like Saveliev better in flashy character roles and prefer Malakhov, Belotserkovsky and Carreno as the danseur noble Princes but he kept to a good standard. I was impressed by the flexible upper body phrasing that Vishneva brought to Odette as early as her appearance in the Prologue staged behind the scrim show curtain during the overture. Her arms were those of a big swan - broad soaring wings and she did wing movements with her arms and not rippling waves at her exit at the end of Act II. Her arabesques were deep and gorgeous and her face expressive of pain and desolation. This kind of creamy legato phrasing was not as natural to her as to someone like Part. But her characterization was impressively detailed as was her sharp and glittering footwork. I wasn't as moved as I have been by other Odettes in the past but this was a major artist at work with impressive results. The Odile is a better fit for Vishneva's attack and physicality and she didn't disappoint but she seemed a little girlish to me - not enough hauteur or mystery. She has a tendency towards brittleness in these big parts that doesn't show up in "Rubies" or "Don Quixote". Her fouettes were very fast, high and tight with just a few doubles but ran out of steam a little at the end (no bobbles). The fourth act kind of fizzled for me... maybe it is the choreography but I didn't feel any catharsis or release. I think that an established rapport between the Prince and Odette is crucial here and that is where this pairing (understandably) fell short. I miss the touch where the Swans are huddled in groups of four on the floor and the Prince lifts them up looking for Odette. But I do appreciate the one intermission, so I guess you have to lose something since that staging can't be done in front of the shifting forest scrim. A lot of people said that Monday with Part was more moving (I am going on Thursday). I enjoyed many aspects of the evening immensely but I didn't feel it jelled into a moving whole at the end.
  5. Nina's picture has been gone since the beginning of the season - ditto her name on the roster. She has been dancing in Russia a bit but has taken the time to spend as the new artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia and to spend more time with her family. This comes from interviews on her website. I saw "Le Corsaire" last night too. A friend compared Acosta to Nureyev citing the elegance mixed with animal magnetism. He did leaps with his leg bent and the feet touching creating a diamond shape and did the revoltade leap multiple times. Michele Wiles did look radiant as Medora and the pristine elegance and proportion (with sparkle and speed as well) of her dancing is very right for Petipa style. Her steps always look very finished and complete. She certainly radiated gracious charm and held her own with some high powered men. Marcelo Gomes as Conrad was the best-acted impersonation I have seen of this part so far (with a nod to Julio). He just brought out the piratical, dangerous side of the character. He really wupped some pirate butt when he fought his mutinous crew - throwing those corps boys around. Max is very much a gentleman and Ethan is kind of breezy and laid-back onstage. Marcelo brought a little touch of Byronic sex appeal and danger to the part and it needed it. He also didn't fade out dancewise beside Acosta and had great energy onstage. He has a way of shaping leaps that is very exciting. Sascha Radetsky danced very well as Lankendem but wasn't particularly sleazy or dangerous - he read too young and essentially good-humored. Maria Riccetto again impressed as Gulnare. Jesus Pastor acted well but didn't have the dance dynamism that Cornejo, Lopez and previously Joaquin de Luz have brought to Birbanto. Karin Ellis-Wentz (crisp and clear), Kristi Boone (really strong and dynamic) and Anna Liceica (excellent multiple pirouettes and fine control) were the Odalisques. Flavio Salazar was hilarious and convincing as the Pasha - more weight and maturity than Roman Zhurbin the night before who reads too young and lightweight. "Le Corsaire" really shows off the strength of the company even with injuries and absences.
  6. Le Corsaire Wednesday June 29th - Ethan is back! The audience was having a really good time last night though the house was about 75% full (better sold in the orchestra than upstairs). Gillian was a marvel of joyous virtuosity - in the pas de trois she did some quadruple and probably quintuple fouettes. Moreover, she gave a very joyous and varied dramatic interpretation. Concern, passion, mischief, contempt, joy, defiance - all were very clearly delineated in her face and she had charm. A friend I spoke with felt that her Gaynor Minden shoes inhibit the flexibility through the foot - her feet kind of pop up into pointe with no working through the foot. However, once she gets up there she can do anything and for a very long time! I also love the fact that Gillian has a very womanly body - a noticeable bust and normal slim fit figure with some curves - not anorexic and yet is such a dynamo. Really a rebuke to the idea that you have to be flat-chested and 90 lbs to be able to achieve anything as a dancer. Maxim Belotserkovsky was a bit more passionate and involved than he can be as Conrad. He seemed to be pushing for a virtuosity and attack that is not natural to his inherently lyrical and smooth long line. He is a true danseur noble in a company of virtuosos - I like it when people stress their unique qualities rather than compete with the herd. Ethan Stiefel as Ali came back from injury in fine form with a very giving and well-controlled performance. His hair is quite long now - almost shoulder length. His jumps were not as high as they were in the past but his turns and foot work were strong. He is definitely back. He did the little hop up on one leg during the turns a la seconde in the pas de trois and attempted Gennadi Saveliev's one leg over the other barrel turn with partial success. He threw in some extra jetés in exits and curtain calls to the audience's audible pleasure. Gennadi was a huge hit with the audience as Lankendem. His demi-caractere flashiness really suited the part and he reveled in the wily sleaziness of the character. Gasps at his trick jumps in the "Pas D'Esclave" and a big hand at the final curtain call. Carlos Lopez as Birbanto had more weight and maturity than I am used to seeing from him (he is usually cast in boyish roles). Very quick footwork and light darting attacks but with force. He was surprisingly effective as a villain. Maria Riccetto replaced Stella Abrera (injured?) as Gulnare. Her solo in the "Pas D'Esclave" was ravishing - beautifully phrased and poetic but with strong technique behind it. Riccetto is a good turner and her traveling series of alternating pirouettes with fouettes in the coda were successful. She is maturing beautifully. The Odalisques were Melanie Hamrick (sweet but a little green and shaky in places), Carmen Corella (the turning role - well-done but pushing for power and control) and Maria Bystrova (enchanting - lovely smile, total control, clean steps and crisp footwork, joy in dancing - more please!). The audience was in a very good mood during the intermissions - this certainly is a crowd pleaser! BTW: Diana Vishneva has a new picture in the program (one that doesn't make her look 13 years old) and is no longer listed as a Guest Principal 2005. It now says she joined ABT as a principal in 2005. Will she be a regular member of the company from now on with yearly visits? Very good news for her fans! Faux Pas
  7. I thought the handsomest dancer I saw was John Markovsky the husband of Alla Osipenko. I never saw him live just in the Swan Lake movie with Evseeva. Anyone ever seen him live? I forgot to mention two other beautiful men: 1) Ivan Cavallari former principal of the Stuttgart Ballet and now a freelance choreographer. Here is his website: Ivan Cavallari's homepage 2) The other is Ivan Liska who danced with Marcia Haydée in the film of John Neumeier's "The Lady of the Camellias". He now heads the Bavarian State Opera Ballet. His bio in German
  8. "It was Ms. Murphy's first time as Medora and Mr. Lopez's first Birbanto. Both dancers had great performances but I will say it's not my favorite role for Ms. Murphy. It's hard for me to imagine any young woman with that much power to ever be enslaved." Actually, PAMom, this interpretation might be right in character for this character in this ballet. Medora is a free spirit and a born survivor - she can never really be held in slavery. The whole ballet is about her escapes from her captors and her choice to love a pirate. Takes a tough woman to love a pirate. Altynai Asylmuratova in the Kirov video (available now on Kultur DVD) is very forceful in her first act solo letting every man in that slave market know that she may be captured but her soul isn't broken. No man will possess her by force! Of course this has nothing to do with Byron's original narrative poem - where Medora dies of a broken heart believing herself abandoned by her Corsair.
  9. I am sure this has been discussed elsewhere before but I thought that the Suzanne Farrell "Midsummers Night" film was complete and a commercial release - there was an entry for it in an old Leonard Maltin "Movies on TV" review book. IMDB entry Of course who knows who has the rights to these films (the Don Quixote was filmed too) and why they aren't being reissued on DVD with the great need for new material to be released on this very popular medium. VAI puts out a lot of this archival ballet stuff and if the rights were cleared and the source negative found it would be a great addition to any dance lover's library. I saw the Saturday night performance "Mdsummers Night Dream". I hadn't seen it since I saw Valentina Kozlova's last NYCB performance as Titania more than seven or eight years ago. Darci Kistler had a delicately sweet and gracious presence as Titania though I could see she was placing steps carefully (but with success). She bobbled slightly trying to hold a balance after a supported turn in arabesque (Charles Askegard was her Cavalier) but otherwise she looked lovely and had lyrical charm. Antonio Carmena was a revelation to me. Incredible forward momentum in his dancing - each step kind of pouring into the next one with such energy that the combinations kind of built into fireworks. Fantastic leg beats and jumps. His only problems were in spins on one leg where he lost balance (this happened twice). He needs to work on this problem but otherwise he has arrived. He had presence, authority, excellent mime - definitely a premier danseur. The other revelation was Teresa Reichlen as Titania - incredible multiple fouettes and soaring jumps. She also has a beautifully proportioned long-limbed body. Even more impressive was her prima ballerina presence in the final wedding ensemble. She caught your eye as the star ballerina in the center even flanked by the superb Alexandra Ansanelli and the charismatic Rachel Rutherford. She had that presence and authority that made her the one dancer you looked at in the group. Her promotion is richly deserved and bodes well for the future. Albert Evans was a scene-stealing joyous Puck with mischief and a way of getting the audience on his side. Lively but not overdone. Alexandra Ansanelli as Helena acted with real pathos and the shapes her body makes in all positions are a joy to behold. Miranda Weese had some soft backbends and made one hold one's breath in wonder with her phrasing in a few places in the Divertissement PDD - Nilas Martins is a good partner and you felt she was in good if somewhat stolid hands. The score sounded lovely, the orchestra played well and the vocal soloists were quite good.
  10. I returned for the "Fokine Celebration" this past Tuesday. "Les Sylphides" - first of all the tempos are quite slow and the dancing can seem quite studied in effect. A friend said she was bored. She was also disappointed that Julie Kent didn't dance. However my companion said she could watch "Les Sylphides" every night and not get tired of it. Maria Riccetto is a strong technician and just needs a little more musicality and authority to become a prima ballerina. She was on the right path to this in the lead Sylph role. David Hallberg was back in top form from what I could see and his sense of line and inhabiting space is very poetic in effect. Wonderful arms and smooth leaps - no jerking movements. Marian Butler and Melanie Hamrick were very fine as the supporting Sylphs. Hamrick had very smooth jumps and turns and Butler looked quite secure. "Petrouchka" - Pretty much the same cast as the opening except Stella Abrera as the Ballerina Doll. She was more lacquered and openly seductive playing off Marcelo well. Didn't bring that touch of fake modesty that Karsavina reportedly brought to the love scene with the Moor but was funny in her avid pursuit of him. Bocca was better as Petrouchka - less manic and more pathos. He was more the way I would have imagined him to be. "Spectre de la Rose" - Corella was more a young man in a rose costume sweeping a girl off her feet with his ardor than an idea, a dream, a thing. Cornejo has an almost supernatural lightness and a faun-like delicacy (with strength underneath it) that made him seem more unreal and ethereal. Corella danced well enough but you were aware of steps, preparation and effort. Riccetto was again lovely and brought an erotic quality to the girl's dreaming. "Polovetsian Dances" - Sascha Radetsky had more elan and energy as the Warrior than Saveliev did on opening night. Though he doesn't have all the trick jumps that Acosta or Saveliev have, he was pretty impressive with his turns and spins. Very high and fast. You really have to sell this piece very hard with lots of energy or it just doesn't work. Carmen Corella was the Polovetsian Maiden - she looked softer and more voluptuous and less race-horsey than she usually does. She has a flexible long and supple torso and her arms were gorgeous. The piece was more fun the second time for me too. Despite the ups and downs of casting, I think this program is very fine. Should they replace "Polovetsian Dances" with a revival of their "Firebird" or maybe they should get someone at the Joffrey to set a revival of "Apres-midi d'un Faune" for Cornejo (or Stiefel)?
  11. I dubbed him "The Creature from the Swan Lagoon" "And I'm probably deranged for saying this but I find The Swamp Thing oddly compelling!"
  12. Question: I was watching this on a fuzzy portable black and white TV/Radio - in Act III when they cut from Odile and Rothbart to the real Odette beating her wings in a vision in the back did they use a double as they do in stage performances? It looked to me that they cut in a close up of Gillian Murphy in her Odette costume. Am I correct? (If so a very good idea...) I think McKenzie's version follows contemporary trends of cutting down mime and processions to get to the dances and streamlining the evening so that you cut out intermissions. Also Western stagings have less patience for character and folk dances which were almost equal in stage time to the classical dances in the Petipa era. Also with all those great men in the company, McKenzie needs to create multiple male leads with virtouso solos (no miming Rothbart but a dancing one too). Obviously the 50 something Pavel Gerdt in the original production wasn't doing what Angel did on TV last night (and he had help from Benno lifting Odette in Act II). This has been the trend for the last fifty years. When the Kirov brought the reconstructed 1900 "La Bayadere" that was as long as a Wagner Opera (over three hours) with long scenes of pure mime to balance the dance suites you got an idea of what the 19th century expected of dance theater which is very different from what we expect today. We have less patience for mime (if you see the film "Les Enfants du Paradis" you will see that Europeans had a taste for mime theater without dancing - a lost art form) and now we want more dancing and less waiting. This didn't start recently - the standard "Bayadere" that the Kirov did in 1940 that became the template for worldwide productions until the recent reconstruction also cut mime scenes and cut the score to speed up the storytelling and added male bravura numbers (the Golden Idol). At least McKenzie didn't give us the capering hyperactive Jester that haunts most Russian stagings and Peter Martins NYCB version. I thought that Gillian Murphy was one of the finest Odette/Odiles I had seen live when I saw her dance it at the Met last season with Carreno (I have also seen Asylmuratova, Ananiashvili, Susan Jaffe, Sylvie Guillem, Zhanna Ayupova, Uliana Lopatkina, Svetlana Zakharova and I have seen Cynthia Gregory do the second act at her farewell and many others). It is interesting to see that we now have a taste for subtle Odiles - I think the older Russian ballerinas were very happy to vamp away. I think that preserving a role that you have only been dancing a few years for the cameras is a great pressure. She seemed more self-conscious on the camera and a little less in control than what I remembered from last Spring. Also I think that the first five years a dancer does a classic role, the dancer is giving the performance the coaches want from them. Later on they find themselves and their own interpretation. I think Murphy has amazing maturity and is very giving emotionally for someone who has only been dancing this role three or four years.
  13. Went last night to the Fokine program. First of all, the reconstructions were very good and authentic looking. "Les Sylphides" had Gillian and Max supported by Yuko Kakija and Maria Riccetto. Gillian had so much technical strength that she could disguise it and make the highest jumps and fastest pirouettes look as light as a feather. Max was cast perfectly in style and manner. Kakija was kind of small scale but Riccetto is very good if a little strong in attack. Having seen very tired versions of "Chopiniana" by the Kirov this looked fresh and strong. The corps had rather stiff arms that were not very Romantic but that might have been the coaching. Alexandre Benois and Leon Bakst have program credits for the sets and costumes for the various ballets which I find a thrill. "Petrouchka" had a very strong cast. Amanda McKerrow looked in marvelous shape as the ballerina and her work had wit and style (not always her strong points - the acting is a recent development). Shame that this is her last season but it is a long career. (Amanda and Veronika Part should be doing "Les Sylphides" too) Julio Bocca replaced Ethan as Petrouchka and though he danced well I think that Angel and Herman might have a better take on the pathos of the character. He seemed a mischievous and unhappy but not truly tragic figure. Not a failure as his acting is detailed and energetic and he is funny but I felt something missing. A kind of hangdog wistfulness was missing. Marcelo as the politically incorrect Moor was a paragon of strength and style as always. Veronika Part in flat shoes was a dancing nursemaid in the second crowd scene. The big thrill was a very spry and authoritative Frederic Franklin as the Old Charlatan. He really held the stage and moved well at 91. I don't think the lighting was particularly evocative in "Petrouchka" - I think more shadows are needed or something - it looked too flat and bright. The lighting for the other three ballets was fine. Herman Cornejo and Xiomara repeated their thrilling "Spectre de la Rose" with Herman executing some very light jumps and perfect airborne assemblé(?) turns. The "Polovetsian Dances" started with a so-so vocal soloist but then the dancing got started. It was a fun, kitschy ending with better choreography than what I remember from Soviet films and Kirov tours. Gennadi Saveliev was very much in his element as the leaping, demi-caractere Warrior but he is not always a favorite of mine (though effective as a type) and wasn't all that exciting compared to some flashy work I have seen him do in the past (Diana and Acteon PDD). Carlos Acosta will be better. Stella Abrera was a vision of seductive beauty as the Polovetsian Maiden. Not a great work of art but a fun diversion. The staging teams came out for the final bows for "Petrouchka" (Gary Chryst) and "Polovetsian Dances" (a radiantly beaming Frederic Franklin) which are new productions for ABT. (A woman who I cannot place came out with them - is she Fokine's granddaughter?) I think it is a very good program and will be a big success for them. Soviet companies had specialized character dancers and mimes who can liven up crowd and folk dancing scenes and these kids have to do everything in everything. They did quite well. Made me wonder why the corps work in "Sylvia" looked so bad... Faux Pas (just registered)
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