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laurel

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About laurel

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan/avid balletgoer
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    New York
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  1. laurel

    Winter 2019

    I enjoyed the performance last night - I thought Sterling Hyltin was rather wonderful - but Russell Janzen appeared near collapse by Act II. He was visibly tiring through his manege around stage during the Grand Pas; he somehow dragged himself through the rest of it, but it was a distressing sight. The tempo was speedy throughout the performance but at the end of Act II, like a crazy comedy show, it suddenly picks up from double time to triple or quadruple time. I found it rather nutty; it made zero sense. It reminded me of a scene in the film version of the musical Bye Bye Birdie. The "Russian Ballet" is appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, but their lugubrious performance runs too long and the rock star's appearance is cut from the show. Someone spikes the Russian orchestra conductor's drink with an amphetamine; his eyes begin to roll, he speeds the music's tempo to a ridiculous pace; the Russian ballet onstage begins to race around like the silent movie Keystone Kops; they speed through the ballet so quickly there's now time left for the rock star to appear on the show. That's what the NYC Ballet production seemed like to me, a ballet on benzedrine.
  2. laurel

    ABT 2019 Met Season

    I agree with California's choices. I especially recommend the powerhouse cast of Le Corsaire on June 11 and 15, with Brandt, Cornejo, Lane, Gonzalez, and Simkin on the 11th. I happen love Ratmansky's gorgeous production of The Sleeping Beauty, though many people do not. Lane and Cornejo have been outstanding in this ballet the past. To help you decide, you can go to Youtube, google "Sarah Lane ballet" and some of her rehearsal videos from the 2016 tour to Paris will pop up. Including this:
  3. laurel

    Opening Night 1/22/19

    Well, if Tyler Angle were not available, who would have partnered Maria Kowroski so beautifully in Mozartiana tonight, the performance I’d been waiting to see? The last time I saw this ballet was Veronika Part’s farewell performance at ABT, and though both she and her partner, Blaine Hoven, danced it wonderfully, I knew Veronika’s lyrical style could not have been what Balanchine had in mind. Maria Kowroski’s speed, her attack, her clean movement and precise phrasing (and those long legs whipping around like the wind!) allowed me to see this ballet in a very different and far more modern way. She and Angle moved together in the Theme & Variations with the smoothness and experience of long time partners, without hesitation or errors, and sometimes that's more important than a good looking but terrified novice who can't properly support an arabesque. I’m so grateful I was able to attend this performance tonight, because I feel that these dancers have given me enormous insight into this ballet. The rest of the program was not too shabby, either (!), especially the spectacular Piano Concerto No. 2 with Bouder and Gordon, but I enjoyed Mozartiana the most. Also, spotted in the audience tonight, Skylar Brandt, along with Herman Cornejo’s girlfriend Maria, chatting at the front of the orchestra during intermission with Devon Teuscher. Both Teuscher and Brandt looked like they’d just come from ABT rehearsal downtown. Preparing for next week in DC, no doubt!
  4. laurel

    2018 Nutcracker - Costa Mesa

    I saw only one online review of ABT’s Nutcracker at the Segerstrom Center before I left for my vacation travels, and that was the OC Register’s review of opening night. The critic was unhappy with the performance, saying the professional dancers looked jet lagged while the student dancers looked like pros. He didn’t even bother identifying the leads that night (Hee Seo and Cory Stearns). He would have been far more entertained if he’d returned to see the two marvelous performances I attended, the debuts of Christine Shevchenko and Thomas Forster on Thursday, and the Lane-Gorak performance on Friday. As remarked by others, and as seen on the Instagram clip, the Shevchenko-Forster performance was pure ballet heaven. These two dancers have it all: speed, agility, and technique, and they gave their characters an emotional link which bound them together and allowed them to move with confidence through the pas de deux. Christine’s dancing has improved so much since her promotion last year that I can only describe her as dazzling. She moves with electrifying speed, but unlike a certain other speedy company principal, does not lose control of her upper body, and completes every movement of her port de bras with flowing lyricism. And she danced in character, too. Her Princess Clara was a bubbly young woman, brimming with joy at the moment of first love. This is the first time I’ve seen Tom Forster dance a traditional leading role as a “prince,” and his noble demeanor and great partnering make it clear he should have been dancing these roles for years. They performed the entire pas de deux with zero problems – zero – including the torch lift, which they executed with great skill. They were superb in every way, and I can’t say enough good things about them. If by some miracle they are teamed again this coming spring in New York, I would say you should not hesitate to buy tickets to their performances. They are enthralling! The entire cast of Thursday’s show was top-notch and danced with great liveliness and enthusiasm. They appeared to have been coached to perfection and had plenty of rehearsal and rest time. The students from the school were uniformly excellent, and included Isabella Martino as Clara, the wonderful Chase Rogers as the Nutcracker Boy (these two repeated their performances on Friday), and the very funny Andrew Dove as the Little Mouse. Duncan Lyle as Drosselmeyer raced across the stage with great speed, adding extra little flourishes here and there to his character. Arron Scott performed Harlequin opposite Rachel Richardson’s Columbine, and though both were good, I feel he was better last year opposite Cassandra Trenary, when both danced more in character, as wind-up dolls. Cameron McCune and Breanne Granlund were fine as Recruit and Canteen Keeper, but like most in these roles, were overwhelmed by the speed and unable to finish with the music. The big reveal of the party scene (for me) was Aran Bell. As he seems to be the AD’s Chosen One for the Future, I was delighted to see him finally perform in character (mime), as a party guest, smiling (!), laughing (!), and playing tipsy for his wife. Hope he extends this skill building exercise into the spring. The women of the corps seemed buoyed by the presence of the Studio Company dancers and older students from the school. As others remarked, their dancing was amazingly uniform, and seemed determined to perform in character. There was far more glaring menace to the snowflakes this last year than last, and the flowers were overjoyed at the sight of the bees! In Act 2, I noted the presence of Melanie Hamrick in the Spanish Dance, retiree Kenneth Easter as Mother Ginger (Grandfather in Act 1), and Jonathan Klein as a bee. All three were great. Klein appeared fully recovered from his injury, and I would love to see him get another chance as the Boy in Whipped Cream. Happily, Friday night’s show was just as wonderful as Thursday’s. Whatever problems Lane and Gorak may have experienced earlier in the week had vanished by the time they stepped on stage, because their performances were near flawless. Doubtless, the extra rehearsal time was crucial to them. With the glaring exception of the torch lift, which they didn’t even attempt, they performed every other part of the pas de deux, and did so with the beautiful lyricism for which they’re both known. Gorak had no trouble with the other lifts. It was wonderful to see these two dancing together again. The last time I saw Gorak perform a leading role was in 2015’s Cinderella with Stella Abrera, right after her promotion. While his dancing was fine, I recall his demeanor as wooden and somewhat bland. On Friday night, all that had changed. Here, the Prince and Princess gazed at one another with great romantic intensity, and their ardor seemed almost palpable. The beauty of their complementary styles, their flowing, flexible arms, the perfect, supported pirouettes, Gorak’s cabrioles with his gorgeous feet (he nailed every landing), blended together to create a lovely, dreamy, romantic haze, which would have been even better if capped by that torch lift. I think their personal friendship and Lane’s ability to draw her partner into the performance helped to make this nearly-complete pas de deux a success. If Gorak were able to improve his partnering skills I think he could soar to the clouds! Both Thursday’s and Friday’s shows appeared to be nearly sold out. The audiences were very, very vocal in their appreciation of the upbeat, joyful performances, especially on Friday, when there were roars of laughter for the comic antics of the Little Mouse (a young woman named Logan Cooper), the Grandmother (Gemma Bond) and her giddy dance, and even the three Russians (Duncan Lyle, Nathan Vendt and Roman Zhurbin). The Nutcracker’s Sisters (Alex Basmagy, Katie Boren, Skylar Brandt, April Giangeruso and Betsy McBride) were amazingly clean and uniform; I don’t think I’ve seen their dance performed better. Drosselmeyer was Alexei Agoudine, in a near repeat of Duncan Lyle’s performance, but with more mystery and reserve. Columbine and Harlequin were Luciana Paris and Garegin Pogossian, Recruit and Canteen Keeper were Patrick Frenette and Cate Hurlin. Frenette is tall, with long legs and an elegant, princely line. I wonder if he’ll ever be given an opportunity to show what else he can do. I also love the way Ratmansky staged the large corps numbers; the party scene, the battle with the mice, the snowstorm, and the waltz of the flowers. Action happens downstage, mid-stage and upstage; no mater where you look, there is always something interesting occurring. I loved seeing the company so engaged this year, and performing so skillfully! It allows me to hope that performances in the spring will be just as good. Happy New Year to all!
  5. laurel

    2018 Nutcracker - Costa Mesa

    Boy, do I remember that performance. I can actually remember catching sight of Lane in the wings after she'd exited the stage following the partnering mishap (the black curtains used to cover the wings at BAM don't really do a good job of blocking performer's entrances and exits), and as she waited for her cue to return. She looked so downcast and unhappy, I really wondered how she would muster the energy to finish the pas. But she danced out on stage again as if nothing had happened. Totally a pro. I'm flying out to Costa Mesa in the morning to see the Shevchenko-Forster evening performance, and will also be there on Friday evening for Lane & Gorak. I'm extremely disappointed that Blaine Hoven will not be partnering Lane. He is one of my very favorite dancers, with great skills, energy, and enough charisma to make even Copeland look good. I'm hoping that Lane & Gorak will have had some extra rehearsal time so that their pdd will work the second time around. I'll try to post about the performances when I return to New York around Christmas eve.
  6. Nice review of Hong Kong Ballet's gala with Lane, Cornejo, and Brooklyn Mack, as well as Lane's performance in Giselle: http://www.atimes.com/article/hong-kong-ballet-in-top-form/
  7. laurel

    ABT 2018 Fall season

    Lane and Cornejo were outstanding in Other Dances last night, giving virtuosic performances and improving on what I thought was perfection when I saw them perform this at the Kennedy Center in January. They have deepened and shaded their artistic interpretations and emotional responses to the choreography, and to one another, and it struck me that this is the closest I might ever come to seeing Baryshnikov and Makarova in this piece. I was awestruck. This is why I've always loved ballet, and in particular these two dancers, together. They are the main reason I keep coming back to ABT. Hoping to see Lane's added performance with Stearns on Sunday. Did anyone see the woman seated at the back of the orchestra, holding the dog on her lap? That was not a seeing eye dog. Is there some sort of rule regarding comfort animals at Lincoln Center which I've missed??
  8. It is locked to non-subscribers. I can only read the first paragraph and a half unfortunately. Typical of WSJ. Sorry about that. For some reason, the article is available to me, and I'm definitely not a subscriber. Consequently, I've paraphrased it below for anyone who may be interested. The article is entitled "Hungarian Opera and Ballet Take Their Show on the Road," dated Oct. 22, 2018, and the author is Charles Passy. Both the State Opera and the National Ballet will be making their U.S. debuts starting October 30, with what is described as a 13-day residency at Lincoln Center. They will be bringing 367 people to New York, including 20 opera singers, 83 ballet dancers, 10 child dancers, 87 orchestra musicians and 3 conductors. The general director of the opera, Szilveszter Ókovács, notes New York trip will cost $4 million, an expensive venture for a country whose GDP ($139 billion) is less than the net worth of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. However, Mr. Ókovács argues that the financial cost of the trip will be offset by the nation’s strong artistic values; despite its small size, Hungary’s cultural power is enormous. In addition, Budapest’s opera house, where both companies perform, has been undergoing renovation since last year, possibly continuing for up to three years. Accordingly, the opera and ballet companies stay active by touring, and have visited Japan and Estonia in addition to New York said Mr. Ókovács. Yet some wonder if the companies’ New York visit is merely cultural propaganda for nationalist right wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his anti-immigration views, as his government tries to use these two great cultural institutions to present itself in a more positive light. Hungarian writer and theater critic Andrea Tompa feels the money spent on the tour should be used to support smaller artistic institutions at home, particularly ones that produce more adventurous programming. Referring to the ballet’s choice of Swan Lake for its Lincoln Center visit, she stated, “I’m very skeptical if this is the best way to represent Hungarian culture.” Mr. Ókovács said it was strictly the companies’ own choice to visit New York and the government had no input into the decision. Máté Vincze, head of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York, an organization overseen by Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the visit to the city has no political agenda. “The visit of the Hungarian State Opera and the Hungarian National Ballet is what it seems—a cultural program,” he said via email.
  9. Short article in the Wall Street Journal focusing on the motivations behind the Hungarian State Opera and National Ballet's expensive visit to New York. (Article is not locked and should be free to all non-subscribers.) https://www.wsj.com/articles/hungarian-opera-and-ballet-take-their-show-on-the-road-1540248626?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1
  10. laurel

    ABT 2018 Fall season

    Lucky audience tonight! She is wonderful in this piece. Go Sarah Lane!
  11. laurel

    ABT 2018 Fall season

    I was there tonight, and yes, Hee Seo did dance in the premier of Garden Blue. She appeared to be fine, so if she'd been experiencing some kind of pain earlier, she may have seen a doctor for assistance. I can understand her wanting to work through the pain so as not to miss the premier performance. Personally, I found Garden Blue an attractive-looking but dull ballet. Part of my dislike certainly had to do with the fact that three of the four most objectionable principals in the company appeared in this performance. The cast consists of three couples, each dressed in different solid-colored bodysuits (very California), as well as a solo woman. The choreography seemed repetitive and full of acrobatics. For example, Copeland, dancing with Cornejo in fuchsia, would do a backbend, lifting her legs high in the air, then drop them backward at the knees, so that Cornejo could catch her legs and proceed to drag her across the stage. There was far too much dragging of women across the stage for me. James Whiteside dragging Katie Williams (red bodysuits), and Tom Forster dragging Stella Abrera, though less than the others (yellow bodysuits). The set appeared to represent a bright blue sky (which changed color as the different colored bodysuits performed), and a far-off horizon, which gave me the impression of a beach on a desert island. Large wooden props were placed on the beach, one hanging in the air, and I thought they were shaped like the stabilizers from the tail end of airplanes. Which got me thinking, is this an island where planes have crashed? Was Hee Seo, the solo woman, dressed in a parti-colored bodysuit of white with green, an Amelia Earhart doppelgänger? Well, healthy or otherwise, Hee Seo did nothing to change my opinion of her. She remains ABT's most soporific dancer, twirling bland pirouettes, forcing my mind to wander. Possibly tomorrow's cast will present the ballet in a better light. I was there to see the Tharp ballet, not the Lang, and it was worth the wait. The dynamic cast gave us one spectacular performance! Standouts included Teuscher, Brandt, Trenary, Hoven, Cornejo, Erica Lall, Anabel Katsnelson, and - yes! - Joey Gorak!!! I was so happy to see him I thought I would cry. I haven't seen him dance in a very long time, and he offered us the kind of gorgeous, exuberant dancing we've all known he is capable of, but hasn't been allowed to perform for whatever reason. His partnering of Boylston (fourth most objectionable principal; a full house tonight) put her sloppy dancing to shame. Even flying across the stage at full speed his lyrical beauty and perfect upper body placement (gorgeous port de bras) never failed. Never. Why isn't he dancing more? Get him off the bench and put him on stage!! I must mention Blaine Hoven as well. His natural vibrancy was perfect for this piece, and like Gorak, he soared through every movement with technical prowess on full display. Bravo, Blaine! This was the only ballet of the evening which brought the entire audience to its feet, in a roaring, well-deserved standing ovation. My thanks to the entire cast of In the Upper Room!
  12. laurel

    New York City Ballet Fall Season

    What a marvelous afternoon at the De Luz farewell. I enjoyed every bit of it, but most especially Theme and Variations, which was beautifully danced by De Luz and Peck. They sailed through the choreography smoothly and easily, with big smiles, making it seem as if T&V were the easiest of ballets to perform. Also enjoyed the corps women who performed with the kind of near-uniformity I always miss at ABT. I even liked Todo Buenos Aires, which employs a kind of theatricality i felt appropriate for the event, allowing De Luz to go out in the spotlight, as the center of attention.
  13. laurel

    promotions 2018

    I am elated by this fantastic news. They are all marvelous dancers, and I look forward to seeing each of them continue to grow. Sincere congratulations to all!
  14. laurel

    ABT in D.C. - Jan 2019

    Lane was promoted July 2017, a little over one year ago. She'd had such an amazing spring season, with her two spectacular Giselles and unplanned debt in Swan Lake. I think management felt pressured to promote her to principal. Back in 2006-2007 it seemed she was being fast tracked for promotion, with her debut in the old Sleeping Beauty occurring just prior to her promotion to soloist. With the introduction of the "guest artist" policy, I think the AD lost interest in her and abandoned her to soloist purgatory for a decade. Her promotion to principal last year offered management the opportunity to build on the excitement she'd created in the spring by offering her that long-awaited debut in R&J and a proper Swan Lake performance with more than a couple of days' rehearsal. As we know, these things never happened and just contributed to the loss of inertia and public interest in the company as a whole. This isn't a new low for Lane; it's a new low for the AD and company management. They are doing to her just what they did to Veronika Part; one show a season, if that much, and ultimately no renewal of contract. I really hope Lane utilizes all this free time to begin lining up more guest appearances around the U.S. and especially in Europe, where everyone can see how good she is and experience her on-stage magic, and ultimately finding a new home. She just turned 34; she still has time left to make a great impression in a new place and continue to dance at the top of her game.
  15. "I learned that discipline is not negotiable, grace is a consequence of humility, devotion to something greater than oneself is salvation and impossible beauty exists." When Mr. Kirstein was asked what ballet was about, he explained: “Ballet is about how to behave.”
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