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Everything posted by FauxPas

  1. [Edited since now I have the program] This weekend the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet is presenting a program entitled "Eternal Spring- The Arrows and Errors of Eros" which opened last night and will be playing through Sunday. I thoroughly enjoyed this program which was a fascinating look at 20th Century Soviet choreography - kind of like your Russian grandma's attic trunk filled with ballet transported from Russia and unpacked in DUMBO. Choreography by Leonid Yakobson, Kasyan Goleizovsky, Leonid Lavrovsky, Arthur St. Leon and Rostislav Zakharov! These are all gems that were brought over here by Vera Solovyeva and Nikolai Levitsky who were members of Leonid Yakobson's State Ballet Theatre and directed the company after his death in 1975. Trailer for show: 1) "Vivandière Pas de Six" (St. Leon) The "La Vivandière" pas de six is the restaging from the notations of Arthur St. Léon by Ann Hutchinson-Guest and Pierre Lacotte set on the company by Liudmila Polonskaya. It was very charmingly danced by Nerea Barrondo and Koki Yamaguchi. This choreography manages to give you a kind of moving silhouette of how Fanny Cerrito actually danced - lots of old-fashioned "taqueté" quick petit allegro steps. Cerrito was petite and short-waisted (much like Barrondo is) with somewhat shorter legs that were very strong and quick and suited for turning. You see a different kind of épaulement - very much opening from the center and swaying the torso with the arms curved and low like in Bournonville. Barrondo seems to be working from the feet up whereas you get the sense that the choreography requires the dancer to open from the torso. Yamaguchi did some wonderful assemblé turns and pirouettes which got the audience excited. "Vivandière" pas de six - Kirov with Elena Pankova and Sergei Vikharev: 2) "Gopak" (Choreo Rotislav Zakharov, Music Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi) A crowd pleasing Moiseyev style Ukrainian acrobatic peasant dance mixed with Soviet ballet bravura for solo male. Kaito Yamamoto had the bravura split jumps and revoltades to put this showpiece over. 3) "A Village Don Juan" (Yakobson) Thin and dated comedic character dance for a couple impersonating Russian bumpkins. He sports the peasant shirt, cap and baggy pants and is a bravado low-life lothario, she has braids that stand up on her head and a mini-skirted peasant ensemble and character shoes. They stumble around, kiss, fight, she socks him and walks off all to balalaika music. The large numbers of older Russians in the audience enjoyed the kitsch. I wanted it over. Chieh-hung Hsueh and Georgia Brinkman were very well coached and high energy as the rambunctious pair. Some taped Rodion Schedrin music provided a set change interlude and then we got: 4) "Melodiya" (Goleizovsky) Music by Dvorak ("Songs my Mother Taught Me" in an orchestral transcription) This is a lovely pas de deux that I wouldn't mind seeing Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes add to their repertory if they ever wanted to do an evening of ballet. Haruka Yamada had lovely long lines and a flexible back and Johnny Almeida was a very romantic partner. Nice lighting and scenic arrangement. [Here is Bessmertnova & Aleksandr Lavrenyuk in this ballet] 5) "Eternal Spring" (choreo Yakobson from his "Rodin Collection of Miniatures" music Debussy) Somewhat silly and cliched piece evoking the old trope of sculpture coming to life. A male-female couple in white leotards evoke the famous pose of Rodin's "Eternal Spring" then they come to life. They skip and run about embracing and doing some kissy face coy stuff. The girl is on pointe. Then they run back and freeze back into statuary. Very silly and precious but Nina Yoshida and Koki Yamaguchi threw themselves into it like it was a masterpiece with convincing innocence and ardor. Like the other pieces in the first part of the program it is blessedly short, so if you don't like it - it is over quickly. 6) "Jewish Wedding" (Yakobson) Music by Shostakovich. This is really quite an interesting though somewhat odd piece. It is character dancing with strong folk inflections but also kind of eccentric with grotesque movements with bent knees and elbows and comedic exaggerations. I was reminded of Jerome Robbins - specifically "Les Noces" and also his Fruma Sarah dream ballet and wedding dances in "Fiddler on the Roof". Basically poor Jewish girl (well danced by Katerina Schweizer) loves poor Jewish boy (Johnny Almeida) but the girl's mother wants her to marry Rich Boy (strutting, clueless Miguel Solano). The community and family encircle the lovers who keep running away into each other's arms and divide them. The wedding takes place and the poor boy in despair drinks poison or something and ends up in a contorted position on the floor with his head resting on his lifted bent leg (is he dead in that position?). The tone is kind of confusing - the girl seems deadly serious and the parents, rabbi and townspeople seem sort of comic cartoon types. The Poor Boy keeps flailing around with bent arms and hands to the forehead gestures like a romantic ninny that you want to laugh at but the finale suggests a tragic figure. Probably this was clearer when the original company did it. I heard several audience members praising this as they left. This ballet got Yakobson in a lot of trouble with the Soviet censors. Trailer here: Intermission 7) "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" (Leonid Lavrovsky, music by Gounod). Fairly elaborate neo-classical cum diabolical scenery and fun Greco-Roman costumes. Nina Yoshida danced very well as the lead Nymph until some pirouette variations at the end nearly got away from her. Cristian Laverde-Koenig as her Bacchanal partner did a fine job and rocked the toga. Koki Yamaguchi as the lead Satyr stopped the show again and again with his high jumps and revolving turns in the best old Russian bravura style. Nicely drilled corps de ballet. The whole program showed a loving attention to detail and careful coaching and rehearsing that are a trademark of the Gelsey Kirkland Academy Ballet. Whatever the level of basic talent everyone was on the same page, had been given the style and knew what they were supposed to be doing every moment. A lot of this choreography is from another culture, another time and another aesthetic but these dancers threw themselves into it with total commitment. Lots of discounts can be found for this program but here is the official ticket seller: http://gelseykirklandballeteternalspring.brownpapertickets.com/ I know there are some Soviet ballet aficionados on here who have never seen these ballets except on video as I had. Here is a lovely chance to see them live in an intimate space. Here are some video treasures from the past: Yakobson documentary in Russian with clips: Nadezhda Pavlova and Vyacheslav Gordeev perform "Melodiya" in 1977: "A Village Don Juan" by Yakobson Incomplete "Jewish Wedding" "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" with Maximova, Yagudin and Vlasov, Bolshoi 1974 Alla Sizova and Boris Blankov in "La Vivandière" ("Markitenka") Pas de Six (1982)
  2. Ahem.... She is an excellent Balanchine ballerina. Are you reading this Mr. Martins and especially Mssrs. Ratmansky and McKenzie? Right in our own backyard...
  3. FauxPas

    David Hallberg

    Someone is happy to have David Hallberg back in New York:
  4. Here is a photo of the new Jagger offspring Deveraux from Melanie Hamrick's instagram:
  5. Last night I went to the opening performance of the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet production of "The Nutcracker". Some explanatory stuff: The permanent space for the Gelsey Kirkland Academy is on 29 Jay Street way downtown in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn right by the East River. From the outside it is an entirely nondescript commercial warehouse space but it has been renovated inside with studios, offices and a theater. The Academy performs "The Nutcracker" in their theater which is a large space with a corrugated metal roof that has been sectioned off from the rest of the space with heavy black fabric panels such as are used for leggings in regular theaters. The stage is low to the floor and there are high risers set up with seating in folding chairs - sight lines are good. The music is recorded and played over speakers. The staging of the ballet is credited to Michael Chernov with Gelsey Kirkland, co-directors of the Academy assisted by ballet mistress Alexandra Lawler. However the major classical set pieces are cherry picked from classic 19th and 20th century St. Petersburg Kirov-Mariinsky versions. The Snow Flakes and Waltz of the Flowers is credited to Vassili Vainonen who choreographed the work for the Kirov in 1934 and that version remained in their repertory for over 60 years. The Grand Pas de Deux (here danced by Marie and the Nutcracker Prince and not the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier who are MIA) is credited to Petipa though Lev Ivanov was the original "Nutcracker" choreographer. This choreography for the pas de deux is similar to versions danced by the Royal Ballet and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. These sections are credited as being staged by Vera Solovyeva and Nikolai Levitsky who also contributed excellent versions of the second act national dances - the Chinese Dance is not racially condescending and without clichés as are the rest. Ms, Kirkland contributed a charming "Dance of the Flutes" (Marzipan) pas de trois for three female soloists. The scenery is modest painted drops and the flies and technical capacities of this adapted theater are pretty basic. The first act party scene looks kind of pasteboard and faded but the second act "Above the Clouds" is a very pretty blue skies and clouds drop with a small inset proscenium that is lovely. Costumes are generally very nice with no real clunkers. Michael Chernov provided the concept for the whole show and the overall blocking into which the various choreographic gems were inserted - despite the patchwork choreography it holds together pretty seamlessly. There are a lot of lovely details. A lot is gotten right: The battle of the Mice and Toy Soldiers is clearly blocked and a real battle with lots of funny details. The Russian Dolls tempt the mice into the line of cannon fire with hunks of cheese suspended on poles dangled in front of their noses. The battle plan is clearly worked out with sallies and retreats. However it seems that the Nutcracker Prince is killed by the Mouse King but is magically brought to life - however this wasn't clear and it seemed to me that he fainted and the Nutcracker spell was broken when Marie kills the Mouse King with her shoe. The second act is set "Above the Clouds" and Marie is given a key to the Nutcracker Prince's Kingdom. There she is ushered into the "Theater of Life" which is just a pretty stage within a stage where dancers from all over the world entertain her with national dances. No "Land of Sweets" and Sugarplum Fairy is sprinkling her sugar elsewhere - that Cavalier she picked up in some candy shop is probably running around with some twinkie. Drosselmeyer (Johnny Almeida) is a dashing young blade in a red cummerbund and necktie and multicolored silk cape to swish around in. His relationship with Marie is strictly avuncular and he is present throughout the fight scene and appear in Act II and presides over the finale when Marie is whisked back home. (I always really insist that Marie come home and not remain in Candyland - even in the Balanchine I hate that we see her fly off in that aerial sleigh not knowing where she is going. Those parents don't deserve that after that nice Christmas party - it really celebrates kidnapping and giving children candy so that they can be lured away from their homes. That element is not in this version - Marie is seen in her parlor in front of the tree but she still has the huge silk scarf from the Nutcracker Prince so she knows it was not a dream.) It is a rather grown up "Nutcracker" but the lack of saccharine kiddie stuff is refreshing and it isn't weighted down with dark or psychological elements as Chernov is wont to do. The intimacy of the space allows one to take in all these little details and increases the charm. Not a lot of kids in the audience but those who were there enjoyed it - probably mostly friends and parents of cast members. The dancers were clearly very carefully and precisely coached with lots of attention to small details and style. The role of Marie was the petite Nerea Barrondo who has very good balance and pointe work in the adagio of the grand pas though all the quick batterie in the celesta solo taxed her technique. Barrondo is small enough with a wide face and big eyes that she could play a child but is quite a good classical ballerina. She is Basque and was trained at the Bolshoi Academy and also participated at the Prix de Lausanne in 2015. Her Prince was Keisuke Nishigawa who has been trained at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg - his technique is quite impressive with powerful tours a la seconde and barrel turns and clean landings. His jump is high and controlled. His partnering looked tentative but will improve with experience. Several talented men - there were a lot of Asian dancers and many of them were physically tiny. There were several children who were all well-drilled and charming. This version can be recommended for its taste, imagination, clear storytelling and intimacy. More performances are schedules tonight the 9th and with matinees and evening shows on the 10th and 11th. Next weekend they are performing on the 15th through the 18th. Company Website: http://gelseykirklandballet.org/ Purchase Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2666504
  6. Here if you are hardcore are some clips with Sascha. Show premieres this coming Saturday night December 10th: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/a-nutcracker-christmas
  7. It is a season of enormous potential and new risks but also one with hidden disappointments. The one salient thing that stands out is the one "guest" artist is former ABT principal Alessandra Ferri for two shows. Even guests we would love to see return like Shklyarov, Smirnova, Tereshkina or Marianela Nunez are not there. There is a ton of promoting from within: Schevchenko as Kitri, Devon Teuscher as Odette/Odile, Sarah Lane as Giselle, etc. Lots of role debuts for principals: Stella as Tatiana in "Onegin", Misty as Kitri and Giselle, Gillian as Giselle, Alban Lendorf in most of his assignments, Kochetkova as Giselle, Simkin as Albrecht, et al. I am thrilled that Gillian is getting a Giselle and think she might also do well in "Mozartiana" in the TBA slot. Veronika Part has a dull season returning in roles she has danced before - including "Mozartiana" which I remember her being quite good in though stylistically different from the NYCB dancers at the time i.e. Wendy Whelan. Oddly Part is not dancing the Queen of Shemakhan in "Cockerel" though she was one of the best things about it and danced the opening night cast. (Hee Seo also is not dancing in "Cockerel" this season.) Part also would probably not be considered for Tatiana in "Onegin" because of all the overhead lifting and partnering but I would still like to see her in it - bring in Fabrice Calmels as her Onegin! Interestingly, the "Hee Seo Ballet Theatre" phenomenon seems to have passed. Seo is dancing most of the repertory but no longer has a disproportionate number of opening nights, multiple shows in a run or major new assignments. She is in one of the casts of "Whipped Cream" but that is her only new assignment and it is not the opening night cast either. It is likely in the event that a female principal is injured (please let that not happen), Kevin will spread the wealth around to all these soloists getting new roles. Most of the disappointments have been articulated elsewhere: Joseph Gorak seems stalled, Skyler Brandt not getting a Kitri, Stella Abrera not getting a "Swan Lake" (Stella would be very good in "Mozartiana" though which still has a TBA slot), Part's dull season, Cassandra Trenary not getting a Giselle though she is very busy in the Tchaikovsky Gala programs. Ratmansky has cast her in his new "Whipped Cream" and "Souvenir d'un lieu cher". Some of the glamorous old stars of the company are just dancing in "Onegin" and then over and out: Diana Vishneva for her farewell, guest Alessandra Ferri in her ongoing return and Roberto Bolle. No Hallberg and no word from him about his plans. My only big complaint is that I am going to be taking a lot of Wednesday afternoons off of work with all these matinee debuts.
  8. Yes Luciana Paris was made soloist after FOURTEEN years. She joined ABT as a corps dancer in 2001 and was promoted to soloist in 2015.
  9. Melanie is corps de ballet - ABT didn't announce Polina Semionova's pregnancy and she is a prima ballerina. Usually you find that out through social media or public interviews with colleagues - Malakhov broke the news of Polina's bun in the oven. Frankly, I think this will impede Melanie's progress at ABT where I think she had some potential to make soloist. She had some weakness in the footwork/ankles in the past but they were giving her solos nonetheless. She was looking stronger recently. Maybe this pregnancy signals a change of focus in her life and career. BTW: check out this video of Melanie and Thomas Forster in the Act II "Swan Lake" pas de deux. What do you think? I think she has fine technique but no lyricism or musicality - the movements lack legato phrasing.
  10. Wow, just wow... BTW: Melanie Hamrick was scheduled in late June/early July to dance several roles in "The Sleeping Beauty" including the Sapphire Fairy and one of the Act I fairies. She was replaced by Paulina Waski as Sapphire and I forget who in the Act I variation. I had wondered if she was injured...
  11. Well another short male principal, just what ABT needs... Cirio did well as Colas in "Fille Mal Gardée" and Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" where he was clearly an audience favorite. Gorak will get his turn, hopefully soon. It is good news that Gorak is returning to Romeo later this summer on tour. Two things that may be holding Gorak back a bit - partnering and acting. Cirio is rather experienced at both - Gorak looks like a work in progress. In the big story ballets you need some stage presence and Gorak can come off as an elegant dancer but recessive, boyish, sexless and tentative actor. He will only get better with experience though. Hoven is good news and overdue. I would have been upset if he wasn't promoted Meanwhile, I promise I will do my run down of the company next week. However, there is a real dichotomy in age and quality between the senior principals - Gomes, Murphy, Cornejo, Abrera, Vishneva, Bolle, Part (and the long absent Hallberg and Semionova) and the younger division. The younger division would include dancers around the age of 30 who should be carrying the company which would include Stearns, Boylston, Simkin, Seo and Copeland. Then there are experienced outside acquisitions like Kochetkova, Whiteside and Lendorf also thirtyish (Lendorf is mid to late twenties born in 1989). Cirio at least is still in his mid-twenties and has years of good service ahead of him. Cirio could take over Herman Cornejo's track but Cirio is not yet as refined a classicist as Cornejo. That could come with time. There is a lack of younger dancers in their early twenties who are being groomed to take over Giselle, Swan Lake and Don Quixote. Cassandra Trenary, Devon Teuscher and Skyler Brandt (and Catherine Hurlin and a few others) are looking promising. But ABT needs to start grooming them now. And not just one dancer - like the Seo or Stearns ascensions - but a whole group of at least four or five dancers need to be given major roles. Meanwhile those principal dancers in their late thirties or early forties will be retiring in the next five years. (I hope Stella dances many more years since she has been held back so long.) I am wondering if Hallberg and Semionova will be coming back at all. That is two more principal spots opening up right there. In five years ABT will be a very different company.
  12. Well the Tatianas still on the roster are Hee Seo and Diana Vishneva (Kent and Dvorovenko are retired). Polina Semionova danced it too but she may not be back from maternity leave. Actually, Gillian could be an interesting choice since she is a fine Juliet. Part would have partnering problems and Kochetkova seems like an overqualified Olga in the Osipova tradition. The best choice for Tatiana: Stella Abrera - perfection. However one former ABT Tatiana has reemerged from retirement - Alessandra Ferri. As for Giselle there is Abrera, Boylston, Seo. I think that Kochetkova definitely will add Giselle as per Abatt and also Misty Copeland. However, that might be the season Gillian Murphy finally gets a Giselle. (Martine Van Hamel danced Giselle at ABT though she was the perfect Myrtha). Also Diana Vishneva I suspect might drop Giselle from her repertory next season. Semionova is also a dicey proposition - she may not even rejoin ABT if she wants to keep her family in Europe in the child's first years.
  13. I was there last night too for Hammoudi/Murphy. What I will say is that though this wasn't a great Romeo, it was better than usual Hammoudi. However, when he danced with Blaine Hoven and Jeffrey Cirio, Hammoudi was just a half beat behind them (he is much taller and longer-limbed). Cirio seemed to be the dancer whose technique and performance energy forced you to watch. As for Hammoudi's partnering, I think in the balcony scene duet there were some places where he had to lift Juliet over his head and he just lifted her to his shoulder. In some lifts Gillian kept one hand on his shoulder just in case. Otherwise, no mishaps. His acting wasn't that terrible - he has gotten some good coaching. Hammoudi was convincing breaking down in tears after Romeo has killed Tybalt. However, Gillian is on a whole other level. I have avoided Gillian as Juliet in the past - I avoid this ballet too. However, she owns the role both in dance and dramatic terms - each moment was fully realized and captured. There was no hardness, no remoteness - every step had an emotional through line. Of course she has strong feet and a high extension but that was used for musical and expressive means, not technical display. There was a sense of emotional abandon and headstrong passion that was blandly responded to by Hammoudi but she made him better and pulled him up to her level. Jeffrey Cirio was the male dancing star of the evening with incredible precision and speed in his turns and beats. However, as an actor he is still a little callow and you really didn't get a good sense of how Mercutio is different from Benvolio until the later scenes. That will come - Herman didn't have it initially either. Blaine Hoven danced with wit and style as Benvolio - his technique is looking sharp these days and he really should be promoted this season. Also nice to see Daniel Mantei out of the corps and dancing Paris - beautiful partnering and elegant presence in the little he had to do. More please. Roman Zhurbin and Devon Teuscher were the Capulet Mr. and Mrs. and Martine Van Hamel the Nurse - all good. Cassandra Trenary, Skyler Brandt and Catherine Hurlin were the Harlots - nothing to say there except that the fright wig-white face hooker drag actually makes Skyler Brandt look exquisitely pretty. I don't know how that works but it does - much prettier than she is on or offstage. Gillian was really carrying the whole performance even in scenes like the Tomb Scene where she has little real dancing. She also made Hammoudi look better in their scenes despite some timorous partnering. There was real passion there and real acting. I would love to see her dance this with Marcelo just once. House full and enthusiastic - maybe ABT needs to move their season until after NYCB leaves for Saratoga. They are currently the only big show at Lincoln Center with the tourist crowd all to themselves. BTW: report (not from me) from the Weds. matinee: Isabella Boylston had a very successful debut as Juliet - lots of passion and very good interpretation with many details. James Whiteside is a fine technical dancer but not a Romeo - poker-faced and cold. He didn't give back what she gave him.
  14. Several corps ballerinas came into their own dancing for Ratmansky - especially in his "Sleeping Beauty" as various fairies. I think we all noticed Paulina Waski, Cassandra Trenary and Skyler Brandt as the Fairies in the prologue. (Nicole Graniero stood out too but she left the company). Skyler Brandt and Christine Schevchenko came in to their own taking over the leads in the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 from Murphy, Osipova and Vishneva. So the Ratmansky effect has been a boon to the female dancers in ABT as well. Waski, like Hurlin, needs to be developed and moved forward and Lavine as well. Gemma Bond IMO should be a soloist. Melanie Hamrick has gotten stronger and could be given bigger roles. Calvin Royal III is an obvious contender as is Gabe Stone Shayer (both Ratmansky favorites who danced with Schevchenko and Brandt in the Piano Concerto No. 1). Daniel Mantei and Marshall Whiteley would be good choices to take over Sterling Baca's slots.
  15. Another note: the dream team "Born to Be Wild" contingent all joined ABT from other companies circa 1995. Stiefel joined a little later and Bocca was inherited from the earlier Baryshnikov and Hermann regimes. Marcelo Gomes joined ABT corps in 1997, made soloist in 2000 and principal in 2002. Hallberg joined the company in 2001 and made soloist in 2004 and principal in 2006. Cornejo joined the corps at age 18 in 1999, made soloist in 2000 and principal dancer in 2003. However Cornejo kept on dancing pas de trois and peasant pas de deux's for years after making principal. Certain male leads in classical ballets that would seem like naturals for him like Basilio in "Don Quixote" took years for him to be cast in. Stearns joined the corps in 2006, promoted to soloist 2009 and principal 2011. The other male principals are either international stars like Bolle, Simkin and Lendorf who were developed elsewhere or dancers poached from other American companies like Whiteside (and potentially Cirio) from Boston Ballet. Bolle is over 40. Gomes and Cornejo 35 or over, Hallberg is 34 and has been out for two seasons with no indication of a return. Stearns is 30 or 31 years old and Whiteside is about the same age. Daniil Simkin is the only principal in his twenties at age 28 along with the injured and absent new acquisition Alban Lendorf who was born in 1989. Both Simkin and Lendorf were trained in Europe and developed abroad. Alexandre Hammoudi was born in 1983 and will turn 33 in late July. Thomas Forster was born in 1986 and has/will turn 30 this year. Arron Scott was born in 1985 and Craig Salstein is about the same age. Only Joey Gorak (born in 1990, joined ABT in 2009 and was promoted to soloist in 2014) and Jeffrey Cirio (about 24 and joined from Boston Ballet) are still in their 20's. So Gorak, Cirio, Lendorf and Simkin are the only twenty something principal and soloist males. All four are on the medium to short side in height. Cirio got a big push this year with a lot of prominent castings. Gorak seems to be on a plateau right now. I think a lack of acting experience and theatrical presence may be the culprit - the Romeo last year didn't set the world on fire though the Frantz in "Coppelia" was a home run. So where are the guys in the corps under 30 besides Gorak who have been developed by McKenzie over the last five to ten years? Now we have a problem - it has been in the making for at least half a decade. History shows that you need to keep new dancers coming every five years or so. So for every experienced thirty year old principal, there is a freshly promoted twenty five year old debuting in leading roles and a twenty year old in the corps getting solos.
  16. NYCB has the advantage of SAB which funnels excellent dancers into the company. What I noticed about NYCB is that in the last five or six years there has been a big turnover in the principal roster at NYCB. Unlike ABT, everyone loves the new dancers especially the ballerinas Sarah Mearns, Tiler Peck, Tess Reichlen, Lauren Lovette et al. There is also a huge number of young ballerinas like Ashley Isaacs, Ashley Hod, Sara Adams etc. that people are excited about. Thanks to the nature of the repertory with lots of casting opportunities, these young women are getting major breaks. The male roster at NYCB is much weaker with less promising male talent coming up. Chase Finlay's injuries stalled him after a quick progress to the top. When I came to NY circa 1990, NYCB had a stronger male roster than ABT with young prime time Boal, Woetzel, Evans, Adam Luders, Soto et al. The problem with the male roster at ABT is that Kevin kept hanging on to that "Born to Be Wild" contingent for too long. Gomes, Cornejo and Hallberg started to be developed in the early aughts. But since then only Cory has been developed and brought forward from within to replace them. Meanwhile lots of defections over the years. The problem with ABT is that the JKO School hasn't yet delivered the same results that SAB has in recent years. There are talented dancers out there like Catherine Hurlin but thanks to the hierarchical nature of the casting and repertory, they don't get enough chances. Ratmansky always gives corps dancers breaks, also dancers who are being neglected by McKenzie. But there is a lot of stagnation going on and the rash of retirements that occurred over the last few years hasn't brought new dancers the public has taken to their hearts except for Misty Copeland. Copeland's rise is due to her own self-promotion and I don't hate her for it. Not only she benefits but so does the company as a whole. The African-American community's representation in the arts gets a boost as does the whole genre of classical ballet which is getting more visibility. Boylston shows little progress in artistry and style, Seo is bland and technically weak despite all the push she has received. Stella Abrera has shown the qualities of a great ballerina and expressive artist but still isn't being used to her fullest extent and only has about five more years at the most. I've mentioned this before but ABT never really replaced the late Georgina Parkinson and Irina Kolpakova cannot work with everyone and doesn't from what I have heard. Susan Jaffe is no longer in the picture. That leaves the likes of Susan Jones, Nancy Raffa, Clinton Luckett and Keith Roberts - not exactly legendary ballet names like Kolpakova though probably very competent dance professionals. Golden age ABT dancers like Cynthia Gregory and Eleanor D'Antuono are around (D'Antuono has been working with the New Jersey Ballet) but aren't being tapped by McKenzie. The reasons may not lie with Kevin but these former ABT dancers themselves - Gregory lives and works on the west coast. To return to the topic at hand: I didn't see any "Swan Lake" performances this year but Veronika Part is recovering from an injury from last Winter. I was told that it was a back injury according to someone who spoke to Part. So the stiffness in her upper body may be due to this injury - back injuries take a long time to heal and often continue to plague one over time.
  17. I doubt Kevin will get rid of his "Swan Lake" staging and I also think that the "Don Quixote" is his staging as well? He gets residuals every time they stage his productions, am I correct? The MacMillan "Romeo and Juliet" is so iconic and I would prefer a staging of the Cranko over a new Ratmansky version. Also, the current ABT "R&J" is indeed a solid production that is in good shape. "Raymonda" is a good idea and a Ratmansky reconstruction is a great idea, though I love the Vikharev from La Scala. Frankly I don't think you can get enough reconstructions. ABT's "La Bayadere" production is over 35 years old now - they spent a lot of money refurbishing the costumes recently. However, Doug Fullington has discovered that there are major sections that deviate from the 1900 Mariinsky production - the Sergeyev notes show a very different coda to the "KIngdom of the Shades" with Kschessinkaya as Nikiya executing the notorious "four corners" that Merrill Ashley was famous for in "Ballo alla Regina". As for a tall male partner - let me again suggest hiring (as a regular guest or splitting his time if he doesn't want to leave the Joffrey) Fabrice Calmels. Lendorf and Hallberg coming back full time would be an incredible boost to the male roster. Remember that Roberto Bolle is also likely to retire sooner rather than later - he is older than Marcelo though currently he is in great shape. Johann Strauss also wrote a ballet "Aschenbrödel" which I once saw the Ballet Nacional de Cuba perform at City Center. The score is schmaltzy but fun. Maybe not a Ratmansky project - maybe Wheeldon?
  18. Let me jump into this topic. I saw the Thursday night "Golden Cockerel" last week with the opening night cast: Part, Chryst, Brandt (fabulous) and Stearns. Reading the program notes in the ABT program, I learned there were TWO Fokine-Ballets Russes "Le Coq D'Or" ballets. The first 1914 version with Karsavina was an opera-ballet - they performed the two-act opera with the singers on the side and dancers performing the protagonists onstage. The shorter ballet version came much later after Diaghilev: In 1937 Fokine revised the piece as a pure dance ballet: http://www.russianballethistory.com/ballethistories.htm "In 1937, Fokine revised the work for the Ballets Russes company of Colonel W de Basil, creating a single-act ballet in three scenes which premiered at Covent Garden on September 23, 1937. For this straight-dance version, the Rimsky-Korsakov score was adapted and arranged by Nicolas Tcherepnin, and Fokine condensed the original opera libretto, which Vladimir Bielsky had adapted from a Pushkin poem. Artist Natalia Gontcharova based her neo-primitive set and costume designs on those she had made for the 1914 version, recreating the original curtain and modifying other elements to produce a brilliantly colourful tableau. Her costume for the Cockerel, using real gold thread, was introduced in the 1937 production, the 1914 version having used a prop to represent this character." IMHO: I agree totally with those who felt there was a sensational one-act ballet buried in this overstuffed bore. The first act really could only be 15 or at the most 20 minutes of exposition. There is both too little plot and too much plot in the first act since very little that is central to the main story occurs yet it is complex and not easily related in mime. The real story begins when Tsar Dodon meets the Queen of Shemakha. I think that the choice of making Tsar Dodon purely a character mime role also limited the dance opportunities. Imagine if it was given to a demi-caractère male dancer - a character dancer who could actually execute classical choreography and really dance with the Queen rather than just clumsily partner her and mime. Imagine Herman Cornejo or Daniil Simkin as King Dodon or maybe even Marcelo Gomes after his sensational Widow Simone turn. If it is going to be a two act full-evening work then the opera-ballet version is preferable - maybe in collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera or a special festival presentation under the auspices of the Lincoln Center Festival. Mark Morris has done a lot of these dance opera hybrids and oddball or oratorio type operas benefit from that kind of treatment/presentation.
  19. There also was a "Swan Lake" a few years ago that Julie Kent was scheduled to dance. She ended up splitting it with Irina Dvorovenko - but oddly Irina Dvorovenko danced the white acts and Julie Kent danced the Odile black act. Don't know what happened behind the scenes with that one... Marcelo and the girls: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFWKjNBiuRt/?taken-by=marcelua https://www.instagram.com/p/BFVE1NlEUe3/?taken-by=balletrusse The one thing is that in Act I, Sylvia isn't partnered extensively by either Aminta or Orion, the ballerina has mostly solos with corps and pantomime. Both Aminta and Orion have brief tussles with her which are mostly action staging with her but little dancing. So that is why they could switch up the partnering in Act I with dancers from different casts. In Act II scenes 1 and 2 the ballerina is partnered by Orion in the first scene (hence Simkin, Kochetkova's scheduled partner) and in the final tableau Bolle took over to partner Seo. It was indeed a fun evening and having seen the ballet on Tuesday it was fun to check out the other two girls and revisit Seo in her best moments. Boylston was technically very strong with lightning fast chainés, pirouettes and bold attack on phrases. The upper body was less elegant than Seo or other ballerinas I have seen. The martial Amazon Sylvia in Act I brings out her best qualities. Gomes looked in very strong form and danced with passion. Craig Salstein relished both the comedy demi-caractère and classical aspects of Eros. Daniil Simkin's acrobatic showy Russian style and strong personality fit Orion quite well. Kochetkova I liked a lot in the Act II seduction scene. Kochetkova is tiny but she dances big and has quick, precise footwork and turns. She is very much a petite allegro dancer and the solos were fast and precise. Also she has those flowing Russian arms and understands the "oriental odalisque" style with the supple torso and bent back very well. She was a treat and well-matched with Simkin. Hee Seo again seemed a little cramped by the pizzicato solo - too many little steps at too great a speed. A little more speed and strength and amplitude and she would be fully convincing. But Seo was ravishing in the pas de deux - creamy and silky. She was helped and inspired by Roberto Bolle who really is dancing like someone ten years younger - I see no diminution of energy, speed, flexibility or technical control. Everyone seemed to be throwing themselves into it and the show had great energy and élan. Fun night.
  20. So I went last night for Seo/Bolle/Stearns/Cirio and was pleasantly surprised. First of all, the orchestra sounded okay, not like they were sight reading. The horns were in tune and the ensemble was fine so you could enjoy the lovely Delibes score. Also, the ABT corps work in the first act which was always from the premiere season so sloppy in comparison with the stylish and precise Royal Ballet corps in the video, had better formations and ensemble except for an out of sync quartet of nymphs, Bolle was truly beautiful and age defying from start to finish - he looks like some sort of classical deity and the body is so perfectly proportioned. But he had amazing assemblé turns and great speed in his solos and was a perfect partner. Hee Seo was not perfect but she was lovely. Her entrée with the Amazon huntresses had a pirouette that almost got out of control but otherwise I was surprised by her confidence and technical solidity. Her dancing was not exciting but it was musical and her port de bras is creamy and fluent. She also has a lovely, demure stage face. I saw a few impressive jumps and all those pirouettes were mostly solid. Though there was one that was sort of en dedans up to an arabesque finish where oddly she seemed to turning and supporting herself on the side of the foot rather than the pointe. Her second act scene in Orion's grotto was also well-danced but lacked abandon and sensuality. Diana Vishneva better understood the "oriental" odalisque style of dancing here and the dramatic motivation that Sylvia is turning into a kind of bacchante to get Orion drunk and unconscious so she can flee. I also felt that in her solos she was dancing at full strength and she had just enough without having anything extra. The pizzicato solo in the last scene was beautifully phrased but the quick footwork taxed her though she doesn't lose her poise. There was one section that had a series of hops where she would rise on pointe - kind of like the "Happy Shade" solo in "La Bayadère" Kingdom of the Shades pas de trois. Anyway, her foot tired and she just hopped flat footed with no rise to point on the third set. Again she didn't lose her poise and it seemed planned - the audience applauded. But for all the three of four little flaws, there were many, many lovely and polished phrases including a nicely held balance in the final pas de deux with Bolle. With his help there, Seo really looked like a ballerina and was coolly lush and serenely classical. She doesn't dance as big as Gillian Murphy or Semionova but is truly a good, not great ballerina in the right role. I consider this a step forward and though I hadn't really desired to see her in this role, I was glad I did. Cory Stearns is looking very technically strong these days and his dancing was exciting. The beard and makeup gave him more stage face - again he could have made more of Orion's drunkenness and lust for Sylvia in Act II. Jeffrey Cirio as Eros is a small but well-proportioned dancer with strong jumps and classical form - I look forward to seeing him in several roles this season. He looked very ready for prime time. Sarah Lane and Craig Salstein were vivacious and sprightly as the two goats. Zhong-Jing Fang looked lovely as Ceres in the last act grand pas. Daniel Mantei (partnering Devon Teuscher as Apollo) always catches my eye - with Sterling Baca poised to leave how about some solo work for him? I noticed many new faces in the corps - looks like some major turnover there. There was one very handsome tall new dancer that caught my eye - I looked through the website photos and identified him as Marshall Whitely who is new this year. He wasn't listed in the program: http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=360 If ABT is searching for a tall, strong premier danseur they might avoid going shopping around internationally and just develop this guy. He is very tall and has stage presence and from these videos has solid technique that could be developed. NOTE TO ADMINISTRATOR: If you want to start individual threads on each ballet please move this message to that thread. Thanks.
  21. Well I wish Stella had gotten one of Semionova's "Swan Lake" performances or the Juliet. Ratmansky would have had a voice in who replaced Semionova in 9th Symphony - hence the new soloist Devon Teuscher is tapped. Notice that Kochetkova is now dancing the show that Seo was originally scheduled for with Blaine Hoven. I must also mention that Gorak has not only been pulled from Romeo but he is not dancing Colas in "Fille" or Aminta in "Sylvia" - two roles one would think would be naturals for him.
  22. Why was it an impossibility to replace Semionova in "Sylvia" with Veronika Part? She was superb in the one Wednesday matinee she danced three seasons ago. She was scheduled to dance with Cory but his injury reunited her with Marcelo. Is the "Hee Seo to the rescue" ploy really working for ABT?
  23. Hammoudi has partnered Veronika in mixed program ballets - contemporary stuff if I remember. I remember they danced together in one of those opening night gala occasions. "Swan Lake" is a whole other level of course. I think it is a shame that Whiteside isn't dancing with Veronika since I think he handles her well. Also, Boylston's usual partner as Siegfried Daniil Simkin couldn't dance two shows because he would be dancing on Tuesday night and then the Wednesday matinee back to back. I think the best move would have been to revert to last year's casting and schedule Boylston/Simkin and Copeland/Whiteside. Or Boylston/Simkin and let Hammoudi partner Misty as he did in Australia and keep Whiteside with Part. There was a big TimeOut interview with Hammoudi: http://www.timeout.com/newyork/dance/alexandre-hammoudi-talks-about-his-career-at-american-ballet-theatre Two things stand out - one was that he was trained privately in Paris with a POB-trained teacher but never worked at the POB: "I actually never went there. All of my teachers did. Max Bozzoni was a big principal; he did all the [serge] Lifar ballets in the Paris Opera, and he is the teacher who made Patrick Dupond, basically; if we have a mentor, somebody we learn from, I pretty much learned from him. And it wasn’t that much about technique. It was a very old-school way of going about ballet and steps and movement, because I had zero discipline at that age. I was wild and full of energy and he was like, “Dance, dance, dance.”" The other is that reading between the lines you sense a certain lack of drive and discipline. Hammoudi doesn't come off as someone who is pushing himself past pain and exhaustion to polish his technique to dance on the highest classical level. There is a certain lackadaisical attitude to him and a touch of passivity. Neither trait would have gone over well at the POB school. Alex was accepted there but dissuaded from going by his teachers and family - partly because of the commute and having to board, schooling etc. Best leading role I saw Hammoudi dance was the title role in the Lubovitch "Othello" which is contemporary ballet choreography. That I think is his best fit - he had the charisma and the dramatic projection and his level of classical technique was a perfect match for a role designed on Desmond Richardson.
  24. Note: the first week of the season devoted to Ashton's "Sylvia" is discounted on Goldstar: https://www.goldstar.com/events/new-york-ny/american-ballet-theatres-sylvia-tickets?mal=1 Goldstar tacks on a processing fee that is not negligible but it is free to join.
  25. Ratmansky has a great deal of say into who dances Aurora in this ABT production. For example: Veronika Part danced Aurora on the opening night of the McKenzie/Kirkland/Chernov production. Part danced Aurora again in the few revival seasons that production had - she was actually much improved and technically fine the last time I saw her dance it. Since the Ratmansky staging opened, Part has only danced Lilac Fairy (with a simplified variation) in the Ratmansky. Clearly, Ratmansky or Part no longer feel she is appropriate as Aurora. Part is an experienced principal ballerina and a favorite of Ratmansky's. I will not say whether or not Copeland can or cannot dance Aurora, since I have never seen her dance the role. I won't even opine if she should or shouldn't dance the role. In fact I haven't seen enough of Copeland dancing prima ballerina roles in full-length Petipa classics other than Gamzatti that I can confidently predict her success or failure. (I didn't go to her "Swan Lake" matinee) If Copeland is filling the theater and large numbers of new ballet fans see her, "Sleeping Beauty" and excellent ABT dancers like Sarah Lane, Cassandra Trenary or Isabella Boylston then that is a good thing. Win-Win.
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