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tutu

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
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    New York
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  1. Got to see a nice T&V tonight. Teuscher is lyrical and soft in the role, Stearns bobbled the tours/pirouettes from fifth sequence but was otherwise adept, the demi men (Sebastian, Forster, Frenette, Royal) looked strong, and Williams sparkled among the demi women. This isn’t necessarily a T&V on par with City Ballet’s, but it’s quite good nonetheless, and ABT brings something new and different to the ballet. I had to leave after the first act due to some work surprises, but they also announced a number of cast changes in Seasons — maybe another BA poster will be able to report back.
  2. Well, it is Kim — given how high he flies in his variations, he may be able to skip the airport 😂 Should be an awe-inspiring performance. I’m jealous of everyone in Costa Mesa!
  3. Love to see all these reports on Shakirova. I’ve been watching videos of her for a couple years now, and in those short clips, she’s struck me as a really charismatic performer with killer technique. Glad to hear that she delivers in live performance! I’m now all the more eager to see her onstage someday...
  4. If he is who I think he is (I’m not totally familiar with him), he had an absolutely princely demeanor and seemed like a sure and stable partner. Spartak Hoxha also was good.
  5. MacKinnon was great tonight — she’s got more than enough technique to handle the role, with lovely amplitude in her jumps, wonderful articulation in the quick sections (something that you don’t always see with tall dancers), and those long, long limbs. She projected joy throughout. Gordon did end up performing in TCP2 tonight. While he’s not quite tall enough to work with this cast, and he’s not quite up to Angle’s level in partnering (I mean, who is?), he acquitted himself well and had thrilling solos. Bouder, meanwhile, was incredible, and clearly seasoned in the role. Sarah Villwock was a shining star in one of the demi spots, and I rued, again, that she’ll be leaving us before we get to see her in a major role. Here’s hoping she gets many, many opportunities at PNB. I get the impression that Villwock may be a pretty special dancer, and that we in NYC may have only seen a fraction of what she’s capable of. As for the rest of the program: Serenade looked fantastic. It’s always great to see City Ballet dancers so at home in the ballet, and Lauren Lovette, Emilie Gerrity, and Erica Peirera just keep getting better and better. All three seem happier and more relaxed onstage this season. The corps also looked excellent, and I was struck, as always, by the level of talent among the more experienced corps women. Summerspace was ... fine. I’m not a huge fan of Cunningham, and while ballet dancers are capable of performing the steps, they’re still ballet dancers, not modern dancers. It’s like they’re working in another physical language without fluency. Andrew Veyette and Lydia Wellington seemed closest to “getting it.” All in all, a nice night at the ballet. (I do have to note, though, that Alec Knight’s hair is truly distracting. I really thought it couldn’t be that bad, and then I saw it onstage and couldn’t look away. The man’s got talent and presence to spare — if only he could get a new dye job?)
  6. Yeah, per Wikipedia, Copeland’s 37 now, and was 33 when she was promoted. Isn’t late 30s when most start to give up the most challenging roles (with some exceptions like the ageless Gillian Murphy)? Especially when they’ve had injuries on the level that Copeland has? As to age, Susan Jaffe retired at 40; Irina Dvorovenko at 40; Xiomara Reyes at 42. Julie Kent retired at 46, but I’m not sure that everyone has the fondest memories of the last years of her career. As for injuries, Tiler Peck is around 30 years old, one of the greatest technicians in ballet, and has been out with a herniated disc for months now, though she seems to be on track to return. David Hallberg had horrific injuries. Ballet is, unfortunately, what it is — catastrophic injuries are not uncommon and not necessarily attributable to one’s commercial opportunities. Ballet is a brief and brutal career.
  7. Texting or talking on the phone? (Both would make me want to scream!)
  8. w/r/t Brandt, I'm wondering if she and Bell are also preparing for a gala appearance or a guest debut at another company? I can think of more than a few dancers who tried out some of the classic roles guesting in smaller companies or abroad. Some of them went on to perform the roles with their home companies, others not.
  9. Really excited for this. Farley’s so, so good at these kinds of discussions — extremely knowledgeable, does his research, and has a great voice and presence.
  10. Surprised and a bit disappointed that Stanley’s not yet cast in Opus 19/The Dreamer (especially since he was recently featured in a promo video for the ballet). Maybe later in the season?
  11. I was thinking it too, just not posting! It was a good reminder for me. I’ve experienced the same thing (and also the flip side — meeting dancers who are larger onstage but near-skeletal in person). Bone structure and muscle distribution really determine a lot about the way somebody appears on the stage, and there’s a limit to how much diet or cross-training can alter that.
  12. So, one may note that the Mariinsky has dancers like Renata Shakirova and Maria Bulanova, and the US has dancers like Bouder and Copeland, as you’ve noted, and generally, in all of those companies, those dancers are more the exception than the rule. But if you’ve ever seen the dancers that you’ve mentioned above up close in real life, you’ll realize that they’re also very, very lean — when you see a difference in aesthetics, it’s more often about the way their muscles are distributed and their individual bone structures than any particular body fat percentage. So it doesn’t, necessarily, make complete sense to think about it in terms of “healthy” and “skinny”; it might make more sense to think about it in terms of “body type” (that is, the way they came out of the womb, rather than the way they condition their instruments today). So why, then, might someone see more of a variety of body types in American stages? One factor is the difference in the dance education systems. In Russia, and also in China, the ballet schools are connected to the state, with significant government funding, and many students are selected for intense training at an early age, based on an evaluation of the physical potential and “lines” they possess as children, before they receive significant training. But the process by which the elite US ballet schools take in and produce students is fundamentally different, and that leads to some changes in the dancers they produce. Many of the company-connected schools (such as those connected to New York City Ballet or San Francisco Ballet) take their star students only for the last two or so years of training, after students have completed the majority of their training at local schools. There’s generally a shift in the selection process for the elite schools for those last two to three years — pure physical potential is less heavily emphasized, while already developed skills (i.e., technique, musicality) start to become more and more important. (Side note: There is an enormously influential American ballet school that trains children intensely at an earlier age (on a schedule that likely more closely approximates that of the state-run schools), Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, but it also takes all comers, without requiring that prospective students pass an audition process like the Russian schools’. Many dancers who trained at this school, including Bouder, became stars in American ballet companies—and many of them have more “athletic” bodies.) All of this is to say that you may not be witnessing the results of a particular pressure or aesthetic preference (or a particular difference in the diets of individual dancers), but rather, a difference in the “body types” of the dancers who reach the top. All the same, most major American companies have many, many, many more dancers who look like what you’ve identified as the “Russian” look than the Bouders, Copelands, or Morgans of the ballet world. P.S. I know that I am not in a position to evaluate the healthiness of a particular individual from photographs or videos alone, and I’d sound a word of caution. Just recently, posters on this forum were quite concerned about an American dancer at a major US company looking shockingly thin, only for the news to come out that at the time of the performances where she looked particularly slender, she was in the early stages of her pregnancy!)
  13. Me too. A number of the homegrown dancers really seem to have blossomed. Off the top of my head, Boylston, Shevchenko, Hurlin, and Brandt are examples of ABT dancers who have had the technical chops for a long time, but are now developing presence in a new way, at their own speeds—maybe because they’re getting more stage time, maybe because they’re getting more time working with Ratmansky, maybe something else? Whatever it is, there’s something more to a lot of these artists lately, and it’s inspired me to buy more tickets.
  14. tutu

    Maria Kochetkova

    I was debating using the word “artifice” instead of “art” above, but wanted to avoid many of the connotations. I think that might have made my meaning unclear. I don’t want to say that Bel makes up the themes of isolation, dance as identity, and the struggle to self-identify apart from dance out of wholecloth. Those are sentiments that I’ve heard expressed over and over by dancers and former dancers in public media and private conversations. (Indeed, the brutal brevity of the ballet career makes these issues all the more apparent, because the cutting-off of the pursuit occurs so early! In contrast, to, say, a member of the New York Philharmonic who must also dedicate herself to her craft from an early age and devote herself to her art form, but who retires from the workforce at the same age as most of society, a ballet dancer usually reforms herself and her art form when she’s got at least another 25+ years where she’s got to find another day job and pursuit—another way to pass the majority of her waking hours!) What I refer to as “art” and perhaps should have called “artifice” above is the amplification and exaggeration of that theme — the editing work to make something (troubling or not) apparent. I mean to say that I don’t know how much the amplification of what seem to be very real, constant themes in the lives of ballet dancers I know (and in chronicles by those I don’t) reflects day-to-day existence, or Kochetkova’s own thoughts and feelings. Maybe “character creation” would be a better way of describing this. I don’t know how much Bel used the “Masha Machine” and the idea of Kochetkova the performer/Facebook conversant as a vessel for ideas about art and identity and ephemerality and loneliness, and how much reflects Kochetkova herself. Now that I think about this, Bel is likely doing this on purpose! “Masha Machine” looks at once like authentic accounts of their conversation, but we see moments of Bel saying he doesn’t have to include one of her responses (and we don’t know which). We see grainy rendering of YouTube videos, but not all of those that are sent in the thread. Bel doesn’t pretend that what we see is unedited — he shows us selections and snippets and makes it clear we don’t see the whole. We’re grappling with whether we’re seeing a version of Kochetkova’s self or her created character or her image and physicality as vessel for another’s voice, but she’s fundamentally unknown, and Bel makes us see all of that at once. Kochetkova describes learning that her key to the second act of Giselle is to never make eye contact with anyone on stage, and I think of the way that a performer usually can’t see the audience beyond the lights—here is the artist, whom we only know in images. Sorry for the rambling — I’m still working through what was so affecting (maybe not troubling) about “Masha Machine.” If I hadn’t seen the work and read a description of it, I’d think the whole thing was pretension hanging on preciousness. Something about it is still in my head, though!
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