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Everything posted by fondoffouettes

  1. Tonight was the most I've ever enjoyed Whiteside in a full-length classical role. His acting was understated but effective, and his dancing was gorgeous -- big lofty jumps with soft landings, excellent turns, and rock-solid partnering with the exception of the few little issues mentioned by @ABT Fan (yes, those super fast supported pirouettes were beautiful AND musical). The overhead lifts in Act II haven't looked so exciting in a long time. In some ways, his dancing reminded me of Gomes at his very best in this role (in terms of dancing, not characterization), though Whiteside probably has a bit more facility with jumps and fast turns. I had big expectations for Shevchenko going into tonight, and for the most part, she delivered. Her Act II had lots of gorgeous moments -- she struck some great arabesques, had a flexible back and lovely port de bras (and even threw a couple ripples into her swan arms as she departed at the end of the act, something I haven't seen much of since Ananiashvili and Wiles toward the end of her ABT career). But overall, I wasn't very moved by her Odette; my feeling was that she still has a little ways to go in figuring out who her Odette is, beyond the gorgeous dancing. I guess I'm looking for deepened characterization; granted, this was only her second outing in the role at the Met, so she has time to develop the role. Her Odile was pretty fabulous, and, I felt, was more fully realized character-wise than her Odette. The adagio was drop-dead gorgeous, as were both principals' variations. Shevchenko's fouette sequence was really solid, but I agree with @ABT Fan that I don't care much for the a la seconde turns. Maybe they'd work in a fouette sequence in another ballet, but given Shevchenko's facility with turning, I think it would have been more effective to go with multiple (musical) revolutions followed by singles. Wow -- Calvin Royal's Purple Rothbart is light years ahead of where he was when he debuted the role; so much more impactful, commanding and fun. It's a shame about the arabesque balance (I thought he actually lifted his leg three separate times), because otherwise it was a pretty superb performance. I'm curious as to what makes that balance so difficult; I wonder if it's the type of thing that doesn't look difficult to audience members, but is actually very challenging. It seems to cause problems for so many Rothbarts. I suppose when men usually do an arabesque on demi-point, it's often a fleeting step that immediately transitions into something else. And I guess you don't usually start with both of your feet together. It was a superb Act I pas de trois -- so light, graceful, and executed with such apparent ease. Gorak doesn't turn Benno into a bravura role, the way Cornejo used to do, but his dancing is so elegant that I almost prefer his approach. Their little pas de trois toward the beginning of Act III was perhaps executed better than I've ever seen before. What luxury casting. I loved all three of them. The orchestra is sounding so much better than it did a few years ago. No funky violin moments during the Act II PDD; no wonky horns for the fanfares announcing entrances in Act III. You used to be guaranteed at least one or two cringe-worthy moments in every performance back in the day.
  2. I'll be very curious to learn who conducted the Lane Swan Lake. As much as it pains me to watch these two dancers who are no longer with the company, I went back to this video of Part and Gomes to see how quickly Part, who certainly wasn't a naturally strong turner, took the fouettes. The music still sounds brisk, but it's definitely not breakneck fast, and she's pretty much able to stay on the music. (I realize it's probably recorded music, but I imagine she would have elected a recording that worked for her.) It's hard for me to imagine a conductor wanting to express his artistic control in that particular part of the score, but who knows. God, Part is just gorgeous here... (sorry, couldn't help myself). I so miss seeing her do those arabesque hops. And she makes a strong case for doing solid singles if you aren't someone who can easily toss off multiple revolutions.
  3. Yikes. That's a shame about the tempo. I feel like, in general, ABT conductors are very responsive to each ballerina's needs, particularly in Swan Lake, where tempi are often slowed down so they can luxuriate in some of the adagio passages. I would have assumed LaMarche and Seo would have worked out some sort of agreement about the tempo, especially if it's a passage that they know is not her strong suite. I can only recall her somewhat shaky fouettes from when she filled in mid-performance for Murphy; I recall her traveling a lot but since it was such a last-minute substitution, and she must have been exhausted from her own scheduled performances, I wasn't sure if it was indicative of her normal ability to execute fouettes.
  4. I really hope Hallberg retires from ABT. Yes, he's only dancing three times, but those are spots that could have gone to actual company members. For me, he has ceased to be a compelling dancer since his comeback, and yet his danseur noble affectations have only grown stronger. I'm not surprised to hear that Des Grieux was a good fit for him, though.
  5. I haven't see Seo's O/O in a long time (I believe not since that season when she filled in like crazy and ABT was dubbed "Seo Ballet Theatre" here on these forums). However, I've seen Teuscher's Swan Lake for the past two years at the Met, and while I'd say her debut was promising, there wasn't much development in the second year, and as has been noted, she wasn't able to pull off the iconic arabesques and her portrayal was overall a bit bland. I hope this year she may find more success with the role, but I have no interest in seeing her a third time. I think what Teuscher mostly has going for her is that she's a strong turner. I was often critical of Murphy's O/O for lacking lyricism and pathos, but she brings so much more to the role than Teuscher. I was hoping Teuscher could be an O/O in the mold of Murphy, but that hasn't been the case (yet). I'm only seeing Shevchenko, and I can't wait! She's the most interesting Swan Queen to me now that Part has left the company. I'd also relish the opportunity to see a more well-rehearsed O/O from Lane.
  6. I'm so glad to hear they rented a good production! I'd just been watching this video of Aurelie Dupont in the variation that I think you are referencing. Here it seems like she's mostly interacting with Des Grieux and her older benefactor (I forget the character's name). From past ABT viewings, I do remember the freeze-frame device in which everyone but those three characters are still throughout the center portion of her variation.
  7. Wow! He’ll be great. And in this particular production, I prefer Carabosse as a drag role. The diminutive Raffa has never made any sense to me.
  8. Right. I think it will be a miracle if Hallberg dances his one Swan Lake. If ABT really finds itself in a pinch, Hammoudi does know the role. I know this is an option that very few of us would be enthused about, but it would be easier than teaching the role to someone who has never danced it before. Assuming Simkin pulls out of Swan Lake, I agree that Whiteside is the most likely sub. I think the rule of thumb is that ABT goes with what is the most expedient, safest option when someone needs to be replaced. Cases like Sarah Lane debuting O/O with just a few days notice seem like a rare exception to that rule.
  9. The amounts listed above would only supplement the cost of a dancer’s salary, not fully cover it. What I remember Part saying was that a donor had stepped up to pay her salary and ABT still said no to renewing her contract. She said it in the comments section of something. I’ll try to go back and find it. I still read these “sponsorships” as simply donor perks for large gifts. I don’t think an unsponsored dancer would have a worse chance of being renewed or promoted, unless ABT is truly unethical.
  10. I’ve always assumed that those donors aren’t actually funding a particular dancer’s salary, but rather, giving at a certain level allows one to attach one’s name to a corps, soloist or principal dancer, depending on how much you give. The alternative scenario would seem to give the donor too much agency in determining a dancer’s fate, but who knows... I kind of figured it’s like when donors give a lot of money to name a space after themselves, except in this instance the name is being attached to a dancer rather than to a section of the theater. I think the problem is that ABT’s operating budget is a fraction of NYCB’s, isn’t it? Yes, there aren’t as many principal role opportunities at ABT, but ABT could also expand the notion of what a principal role is (to include peasant pas, etc.). Certainly NYCB principals take on roles that would be considered soloist-level at ABT. NYCB even had principal men doing the Rose Adagio. Not a bad idea, really, when you think of the support the ballerina requires...
  11. I knew it was a debut for Bell but wasn't sure about Trenary. Wow -- her performance was so light and sparkling, not to mention technically rock solid. She had mentioned in an Instagram story, in which she was rehearsing the role, that hops on pointe aren't easy for her, but you would have never known when she did them last night. She has such a special quality about her that's really hard for me to put into words. I'd really love to see her as Queen of the Dryads in Don Q, among many other roles...
  12. I hear you, but I would not hesitate to buy a ticket — rush or splurge — to Saturday evening’s performance. Shevchenko and Trenary gave two of this most extraordinary performances of Medora and Gulnare I’ve ever seen. Their artistry and technical mastery only seem to have reached new heights. And Mack seems to have gotten over any debut jitters. His Conrad was much more compelling than what I’ve seen from Whiteside and Stearns, and he was able to throw in more bravura steps than I’m used to, holding his own against Ali. His partnering was impeccable. Ahn is a beautiful dancer, but no one can hold a candle to Simkin, so it’s hard for me to judge Ahn’s performance fairly, having gone in hoping for a Simkin’s Ali. And kudos to Bell for his fantastic partnering and gorgeous deep knee bends in his variation.
  13. I'm not sure how Corsaire ties into Pride at all, but if you're looking to get discounted tickets for the Saturday matinee: https://mailchi.mp/798262b42eeb/dont-miss-abts-special-events-and-exclusive-offers-782565?e=137cd89e12
  14. I was sure that the caption would provide some information, but no...
  15. If he has been, it's been a real rarity during his ABT years. I can't recall offhand any time he's been replaced. I'm so disappointed I won't get to see his Ali. If he has to withdraw from Manon or Swan Lake, I hope there may be a silver lining of Forster or another dancer getting a debut. Ahn certainly has a busy few days ahead of him.
  16. Thanks, California. And I didn’t realize it was a debut.
  17. Has there been any visual evidence that Hallberg has been rehearsing Manon in New York? A few days ago he was in London for the Fonteyn tribute performance. Has he been dancing Des Grieux recently enough that he can just swoop in and perform it with Boylston? The last image I can remember of him rehearsing with ABT is a video (on Instagram) from months ago in which he was rehearsing Swan Lake with Copeland. I really hope Forster might in fact be dancing Des Grieux with Boylston.
  18. I don’t disagree with this statement, but it seems crazy to me that it only addresses subject matter, not the distorted Orientalist lens through which that subject matter is presented. Slavery is offensive as subject matter, yes, but presenting slavery as sexy, exotic fun for the delectation of European audiences is also problematic. This statement from ABT only goes halfway in addressing the ballet’s issues. I say this as someone who thinks Orientalist works shouldn’t be discarded, but rather appreciated with an understanding of what they truly represent. I commend ABT for addressing this but I don’t think they’ve done the work to represent the complexity of these issues. The statement is a self-preserving copout. The fact that they omitted the prayer scene shows that the company knows that part of the problem is how European artists chose to depict the Arab world, not just subject matter.
  19. I’ll need to read the statement in full, but I hope “those times” refers to 19th-century Europe, not whatever era is supposedly depicted in the ballet. An Orientalist ballet is more a reflection of European values and fantasies, not those of the actual Middle East. I really hope the statement makes that distinction. The portly, bumbling Sultan figure (or whatever he is supposed to be) is probably one of the most racist caricatures you can find on the ballet stage. I’m curious to see whether they alter anything relating to him; the part where he and others kneel in prayer feels particularly cringe-worthy.
  20. Yeah, my gut feeling is that it will be a short list this year. I think Brandt is very deserving of a promotion, but I'm doubtful it will happen until there is a retirement. I do really hope Forster is promoted, though, as you say, it would be unprecedented (at least in recent memory) for a male dancer to be promoted to that rank without having danced the lead in one of the full-length warhorses. I agree that Bell and Shayer seem to be the most likely candidates. And perhaps Mack's guest appearances are an audition. However, I didn't realize until recently that he is 32 or 33 years old (according to Wikipedia), and when ABT has hired from the outside (Cirio, Whiteside, Simkin), they've tended to go with dancers who are younger. But who knows?
  21. Last year it was on June 29, or at least that's when the press release is dated. The previous year it was July 7.
  22. And apparently 540s are still on the agenda, too. I can't believe how light and easy he makes them look...
  23. Really glad to hear these reports that he hopes to go on in Manon. I'd be sorry to miss the special connection he and Lane share as partners. Slightly off topic, but does anyone know if they are using those muddy sets from last time or reverting to the much more attractive (in my opinion) production they'd previously used?
  24. In case you aren't following Simkin on Instagram, this is what he may attempt for his manege in the pas de trois:
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