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  1. Radetsky's departure is being reported in the LA Times online edition. Undoubtedly, we will also soon lose Abrera, as we lost Erica Cornejo when Molina was pushed aside. Best of luck to Sascha. Hope to see him return some day.
  2. The 2008 Princess Grace Foundation Awards were announced today. I found them on MarketWatch News (?!?) but they are also listed on the foundation's website. Congratulations to Blaine, Lucien and to all of the recipients. DANCE AND CHOREOGRAPHY Thang Dao, Montclair, CA Choreography Fellowship, Ballet Austin Blaine Hoven, Mobile, AL Chris Hellman Dance Award Ballet Fellowship, American Ballet Theatre Jermel Johnson, Baltimore, MD Ballet Fellowship, Pennsylvania Ballet Alexander Peters, State College, PA Ballet Scholarship, School of American Ballet Lucien Postlewaite, Santa Cruz, CA Ballet Fellowship, Pacific Northwest Ballet Spenser Theberge, Vancouver, WA Ballet Scholarship, The Juilliard School-Dance Division Dominic Walsh, Elgin, IL Choreography Fellowship, Sarasota Ballet of Florida Nelja Y. Yatkin, Berlin, Germany Choreography Fellowship, Cleo Parker Robertson Dance Theater Elisa Clark, St. Louis, MO Modern Dance Honoraria, Mark Morris Dance Group Leah Morrison, Bethesda, MD Modern Dance Honoraria, Trisha Brown Dance Company
  3. I’m just grateful that the collective artistic direction of the Royal Danish Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London Festival Ballet-English National Ballet, Kirov, ABT and the other companies who take on the challenge of producing Etudes don’t share Macaulay’s views. There is no doubt that he employs vitriolic bullying to try to drive audiences away from the ballet and companies that perform it. He wants desperately to be an important voice in ballet, but he’s just a loud one. As for prefering critics who hand out artificial flowers all around, let's not forget the decades that Anna Kisselgoff spent pandering to and writing press for NYCB. More often than not, when writing a review about another company's performance she would reach far for an opening to invoke a reference to Balanchine regardless of its complete lack of connection to the performance being reviewed. The New York Times has for years had a problem filling its chief dance critic position with someone with knowledge, experience, balance, and eloquence. Or perhaps it's been their choice not to do so. But the current slash, flash and dash of Macaulay makes me embarrassed to have ever worked at the Times.
  4. But you have to look at who the "pros" are and be careful not to lump a Macaulay in with someone like Clive Barnes. There are people who get paid to write and then there are the "pros". Macaulay is the former, and Barnes is the latter. Macaulay subscribes to the Judith Miller/Jayson Blair scripture that you write whatever you need to write in order to get attention. Insight and accuracy and level mind have nothing to do with the work at hand. Macaulay went to and reviewed very few of the ABT performances this year and even managed to review one he may not have attended. On the other hand, Barnes didn't just come to the first performance of a production for his review; he kept coming back night after night to see different casts who he knew he would not be reviewing. This is a man who loves ballet. Macaulay doesn't love ballet. It's a job. Just look at him the next time you see him in a theatre. Body language and flushed red face tell it all. That Macaulay would say that ABT does not have major artistic value is little more than butt-inine, arrogant, ego-vomit from someone who is drunk on power, or whatever. I have no ambivilence toward ABT's productions. We're lucky to have them. If people don't agree, don't go to them. It says something when people just keep going to productions they claim to hate and then can't wait to launch into a tirade about them.
  5. Just back from the City Center Box Office. I didn’t buy anything because I need some time to recover from the sticker shock. The brochure is a nice one with quite a lot devoted to Antony Tudor. It promises special guest appearances on October 31 for the official celebratory evening. Pictures include Tudor with Lynn Seymour and Gelsey, and a picture of Pillar of Fire with Carlos Molina just to remind us of Management’s past stupid decisions that cost the company two beloved soloists. If anybody doubts whether ABT is inclined to repeat its stupid mistakes of the past, just wait. What’s missing: principal dancers Corella, Carreno, Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky. Ticket prices are $110 for orchestra or $100 if you buy three or more performances “Create your own series”. Grand tier $95/85 and mid mezz $65/55. No exchange privilege. Also noted that there is no major corporate sponsor for the season, but a lot of little sponsors who funded specific pieces of rep.
  6. Given the fact that he reviewed so few performances, you wonder how he could consider himself qualified to do a wrap up. I recall that he wrote a somewhat kindly review of the opening night of Giselle but I have some doubts as to whether he even attended the performance. He certainly was not sitting in the NYT's assigned seat that night. He writes like he wants out of his job or else into an employee assistance program.
  7. In a revealing piece in the Globe & Mail about Kudelka's breakup with the National Ballet of Canada, it mentions that he will be setting either a new or extant work on ABT in the new year.
  8. I combed through all of my brochures today during my breaks while writing an angry letter regarding another dancer's departure, but could find no reference to anybody's last Giselle. It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to plan to bring up a bunch of new players in this production (Cornejo, Hallberg, Abrera), tour it all over the United States, and then not utilize it in the 2009 season. My guess is that we will see it next spring, but that's more of a hope- and faith-based speculation than anything else. Oh, I am so angry. I cannot wait for us to be able to open a thread for our anger.
  9. Two interesting things happened tonight at the final Giselle: At the beginning of Act II when Hilarion was roping the cross together to plant it at Giselle's grave, they changed the lighting to give Hilarion (tonight it was Radetsky) a very bright spot for his whole scene. I know there were complaints about the lighting being too dark, but this seemed a bit overboard. Maybe they could shoot for something in between. The second interesting thing that happened was during the 3rd or so full company bow, Stiefel walked clear across the stage to take Radetsky's left arm and raise it into the air - as if he were the winner in a boxing ring. Now what do you suppose that was about? Please let it be . . . . The final performance was okay. I was a bit underwhelmed with some of Julie Kent's technical choices, such as leaving out the penche arabesques in her Act II variation, and substituting some simple changement for the wild entrechat, quatres. However, as a whole, Kent was a classical dream of a Giselle. The entrechat quatre that she did choose to do going backwards on the diagonal were textbook-perfectly formed with the toes ever so slightly bent back. The coming together of her feet in her Act II assembles were heavenly. Her line in her (intentional) 45 degree arabesques was exquisite. Some aspiring Degas should capture that arabesque in bronze. Stiefel looked 120% of everything he's ever been. He caught the most beautiful pirouette and intended to end it in attitude but just kept slowly rotating all the way around in attitude. He gave a lot to Julie tonight, who perhaps could have given a bit more in return. The corps was superb again tonight. Michele Wiles' Myrta actually was better than on a previous outing this week. There was a lot more bend to the upper body the way Murphy does. I'm still bothered by the organization of her fingers, especially those thumbs. They distract from her line and do nothing for her. Moyna and Zulma were Thomas and Boone, respectively. Both were beautiful. Boone truly commands the stage and I cannot wait to see her as Myrta. Radetsky's Hilarion was sincere and well thought out, but it did not resonate to the extent that Saveliev's or Stappas' did. The Peasant Pas had no mishaps tonight - but still it was not what we are accustomed to seeing. Kayjia and Salstein were much better than earlier in the week and far more coordinated.
  10. Count me among the most appreciative of Dvorovenko's Giselle today at the matinee. A very strong, nuanced performance from a complete artist who obviously has thought out the details. Dvorovenko's Act I Giselle was sparkling and full of the joy of life and a new love. Her mad scene was excellent, enhanced by teary eyes and a quivering lip. The overall dancing of Act I was superb with soaring grand jetes, fast hopping ronde de jambe, chaines that were so fast that Giselle's hands turned red. The Act II awakening spin was supersonic with the final rotations just off balance enough to elicit gasps from the audience. A totally convincing spirit from note one. I almost never understand the Irina bashing. She's a beautiful woman who happens to have perfect teeth, a perfect smile and huge theatrical eyes. I found nothing fake or mannered about her today. She didn't overact or over-anything as far as I'm concerned. Maybe ABT should mess up her face a little, so people can emphathize with her. Beloserkovsky was more than fine. He reads Prince no matter what role he is playing so there was no challenge for him in that respect. The lines were elegant, the elevation not much less than in years past, the pirouettes were serviceable but did not distinguish his Albrecht in any way. It was a standard Beloserkovsky performance: everything was pretty good, but nothing was spectacular. But it was all pleasing to watch and of course he took expert care of Irina. Isaac Stappas was so strong as Hilarion that it could almost be said that he carried Act I. He was a menacing, in-your-face suitor who was not going to take no for an answer. His Act II confrontation with the Wilis was thrilling, but frankly, I was glad that they pushed him in the lake. There were problems with the Peasant Pas again. Misty Copeland was very light and cheery with beautiful and extremely articulate footwork. Carlos Lopez did better than in previous outings, but then muffed the landings of a few tours in a particularly bad way. His feet never look fully pointed. They are of course pointed, but the top of his foot and the front of the ankle aren't flexible and don't bend. There were also a couple of wardrobe malfunctions. One of the Wilis walked out dragging her veil behind her, and then it mysteriously began moving along the floor as it returned to the wings. Moyna's top kept dipping down thereby exposing her during her solo. But she maintained her composure and managed to dance very well.
  11. I nearly missed that NYTimes slide show attached to the review of Nina's Giselle. It is one of the best collections of dance photography that the NY Times has managed to put together. The photographer is former ABT corps member Erin Baiano.
  12. The City Center schedule is up on the ABT website calendar. It includes an addition of a new work by Lauri Stallings on those nights that include Baker's Dozen. They term it a new work, so I guess we can assume it's not going to be a ballet. Her latest work for the Atlanta Ballet was to rapper Boi something or other music. Lord, please don't test me with something like that.
  13. I've objected to Sarah's pasted on smile and ceiling staring in the past, but in the performances at both the Wed matinee and evening, I thought the smile worked wonderfully. She danced the Peasant pas like she was Giselle, and it made many of us think of her as such. She seems very intent on differentiating herself in her solo work from others who have come before her and is trying new things. Some things work; others don't. I think she's curbed the ceiling glances significantly. I thought her overall Peasant pas had the perfect combination of sparkle and charm. The men in the Peasant pas were somewhat disappointing - in their variations and partnering. I wish ABT would have allowed Sean Stewart an opportunity to dance it with Kajyia.
  14. I totally forgot to mention how exquisite Maria was as Moyna. I was blown away by her ethereal quality. She truly floated from one place to the next. What a beautiful Act II Giselle she will be someday. I also thought Melissa Thomas was perfect as Bathilda and had just the right amount of "B" in her.
  15. What a spectacular evening! Given the difference between what we saw at Wednesday's matinee and last night, I cannot even imagine what a year of touring Giselle is going to do to Herman's Albrecht. One of the memorable aspects of last night was at curtain when Herman seemed almost overwhelmed with gratitude of being able to finally dance this role. Xiomara seemed pretty thrilled to be able to share that with him. I loved Reyes' portrayal last night. Her variations in Act II were at times danced by a spirit unhinged. Wildly fast entrechat quatres that barely left the floor. I so love seeing all of these debuts with their little blemishes and awkward moments and then the follow up performances where the artists come into their own and begin blasting their way into ballet history. If ABT is in fact touring this production next year, try to see every cast. It is truly a gift. I wasn't happy with the Peasant Pas last night or generally this season. The women had more success with it than the men. Last night, Craig Salstein faced a lot of challenges from a technique standpoint, and wasn't helpful to Yuriko Kayjia in the least. Hopefully, a year of touring will pull this PdD together.
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