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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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  1. laurel

    ABT 2018 Whipped Cream

    The entire cast of last night's "Whipped Cream" simply soared with energy, precision and personality. Maybe Saturday afternoon's "Don Quixote" propelled the them into a new level of vigor and liveliness, but they moved together like a big, buoyant, well-oiled machine. Some of the ballet's choreography has definitely changed, because the action moves swiftly and easily now, and awkward moments have been eliminated. For example, the three liquor bottles no longer stand shivering together in center stage, pointing towards stage left, as they see the doctor approaching. Last year, that shivering-in-place went on far too long; it stopped the action cold and was tiresome. Instead, the three bottles now spot the doctor, point, and depart quickly. It's moments like this that have been tightened and improved. In addition, every single dancer now has become an identifiable character, with a personality played as broadly as possible. This includes the formerly stoic cookie soldiers, who glare and sneer and silently roar at one another through their attack, as well as the whipped cream dancers, most of whom looked delighted and overjoyed at their swirly, frothy existence, and one of whom - Courtney Lavine - had a look of demonic delight in her eyes, like a magical imp lost in the bowl. I've never laughed at Boris Wutki before, but last night, Roman Zhurbin really propelled his character into new territory with perfectly timed tumbles and a face that stretched like rubber between the masks of comedy and tragedy. His agility with character is awe-inspiring. Even the supernumeraries were excited and lively. Last night's candy worm was Justin Souriau-Levine, the former "little mouse" from the Nutcracker. He knows how to shake that worm's tail! All the leading dancers were perfection, every one of them. They know the choreography well and flew through those tricky steps with ease. Tom Forster and Stella Abrera were a fantastic Prince Coffee and Princess Tea Flower. They are a smashing team and I think they would be great as Albrecht and Giselle next year! The rapport between Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin has grown even stronger since the season began. Simkin really pays attention now to expressing his character's changing emotions, and how the Boy reacts to each situation, each scary or charming creature he meets. He watched Princess Praline closely and played off her reactions. Lane's Princess Praline is more vivacious and delirious with joy, and performs her little "happy dance" with enormous zest and speed. Flying feet! And speaking of flying, Blaine Hoven as Don Zucchero threw himself and his crazy costume around the stage as if he were soaring on a sugar high, and Joseph Gorak performed his Prince Cocoa solo with supreme speed and grace. If the company continues to perform "Whipped Cream" with such exuberance all this week, they will end a mostly dull season on a great high. Maybe, like the rest of us, they're just eager for vacation!
  2. laurel

    Don Quixote Spring 2018

    An absolutely spectacular performance this afternoon by Lane and Cornejo, and the entire company as well. Everyone was completely "on" from the moment the curtain rose in Act I, and at this performance, the entire audience was alive and excited and invested in what was happening on stage. There was rousing applause for every single choreographic moment, every piece of business, every solo, duet, trio, etc. The energy in the theater was electric, and it bounced back and forth between the performers and the audience. These are the kind of shows you hope for and wait to experience. This was by far Lane's finest debut since both of her Giselles, last year. In Act I, as Kitri pirouttes past a line of toreadors, Lane began to turn before the musical cue, actually adding an extra turn at the start, and she continued to whirl her way down the line so quickly she seemed to fly into the wings. Her Act II hops on point were perfection, performed with lightness and ease. Her Act III fouettes were her usual mix of a single followed by doubles through the first musical phrase, then all singles through the second. She traveled a little downstage, but it seemed clear to me she was in control of herself and the fouettes were gorgeous. Her port de bras is still killer! Cornejo and Lane have such an easy rapport, and it was a pleasure to watch them play off one another. And did I mention those fish dives – wow! I really have nothing negative to say about this performance or anyone in it. As you may have heard, Skylar Brandt, as a flower girl, performed triple pirouttes, followed by pirouettes en dedans – she is clearly pushing herself technically and becomes more astonishing each time I see her. I loved Stella Abrera and Tom Forster as Mercedes and Espada; they were sparkling team and I hope that we see them together again next season. Forster will be a wonderful Albrecht or Siegfried! It was great to see this company finally looking alive and vibrant and on the same wavelength. May it continue into next week!
  3. laurel

    Don Quixote Spring 2018

    Today's Gia Kourlas interview in the New York Times features a conversation with Hee Seo and Sarah Lane on their debuts this week in Don Quixote. Lane is amazingly honest about allowing her nerves to get the best of her and her struggles during this, her first season as a principal. Both she and Hee Seo have positive feelings about the company now that the old "guest artist" policy has ended: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/arts/dance/abt-don-quixote-sarah-lane-hee-seo.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fdance&action=click&contentCollection=dance&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront
  4. laurel

    ABT 2018 Swan Lake

    How lucky I was to have experienced Gillian Murphy’s emotional powerhouse of a performance in “Swan Lake” last night (Friday). I was astonished at this unexpected gift from such an amazing dancer, because even at the end of a long and successful career, Murphy showed that there is always much more that can be discovered. Murphy is no longer dancing “full out,” but she has danced this ballet longer than any other woman currently at ABT, and has Odette and Odile in her soul, and instead was able to channel everything into emotional interpretation, filling every move with meaning and complexity. Murphy knows exactly when to move, how much to move, and whether to move with the music or to anticipate it. Everything melded together to create a kind of emotional volcano, which had me in tears three times – and that was just Act I. Her Odile, of course, is peerless, and though her 32 fouettes did travel downstage somewhat, they were brilliant and mesmerizing nevertheless; a perfect manifestation of the character. Her Siegfried, sadly, was Whiteside, capable but plodding, and though he provided her with good support throughout, he was never on her level throughout the performance. He was like a tall telephone pole, whose only job is to hold up the wires which sizzle with electricity above him. His attempt at “acting” in Act IV, as Siegfried frantically runs to the lake to find Odette, consisted of his usual hammy vaudeville-style eye-rolling and head tossing. I’m really very tired of his constant presence on stage. After all the great reports last week about Aran Bell, including a NY Times puff piece as well as a brief review, I anticipated seeing a kind of young Rudolf Nureyev performing as last night’s Purple Rothbart. Alas, it was not to be. What I saw instead was the same blank-faced boy who couldn’t handle the Ratmansky choreography in last year’s “Whipped Cream.” He appeared to have been very carefully coached as Rothbart, and performed the choreography well, with energy and a high jump. However, his dancing was emotionless, and the only sign of a facial expression came from the heavy makeup painted on his face. He was more like a cute boy at frat party, rather than a dangerous sorcerer at a royal ball. Perhaps he understood and was able to identify more easily with Romeo, but he didn’t have a clue about Rothbart or how to portray him. He was also unfortunate in having to dance alongside Gillian Murphy. Her sly, seductive Odile was the focal point of Act III, and it was quite clear that this sophisticated woman was the stronger, scarier of the two characters and the real manipulator of events, not Rothbart. Which turned the entire action of the scene upside down. I'm not looking forward to seeing Aran Bell in any principal roles in the near future, but I'm certain management has other ideas. He is no prodigy, and was way out of his depth as Rothbart. There are currently four and possibly five men in the soloist level who are capable of dancing this role and, more importantly, principal roles, and should have been cast in them this season. It would have added some excitement to the spring and more variety on stage. This has been the dullest season in some time and it's almost a relief that the end is near.
  5. laurel

    Sarah Lane

    I was at the Bryant Park event as well. For me, the real killer was when Cynthia Harvey asked each dancer to name their dream role. Lane wistfully admitted her dream role was Juliet . . . it was just heartbreaking.
  6. laurel

    2018 Romeo & Juliet

    Gorgeous, emotionally fluid performance by Stella Abrera tonight in R&J. Her golden dancing lit up the stage to the extent that her partner, competent but charisma-free James Whiteside, completely vanished from view every time they shared a scene. And I think he realized it, too. Three years ago, after sitting through a ghastly, amateurish performance of Juliet by Misty Copeland just prior to her promotion, I swore I would never attend this wonderful ballet again, but tonight, what Copeland had destroyed in my eyes was rescued and reborn for me by Stella's dancing. So glad I decided to see it! I'm not sure she'll ever be "permitted" to dance Juliet again. Spotted tonight in the audience: **Marcelo Gomes** (!!), seated orchestra right with his partner, Nick, along with Gennadi Saveliev. All three appeared happy, relaxed and glad to be there. And I fantasized: ten years ago, in another reality, another time, it would have been Marcelo on stage with Stella in this ballet, and everyone of us would have been happier and better off for it.
  7. laurel

    Seating Advice at the Met

    If you like sushi, I highly recommend the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at Columbus Circle. It's located on the ground floor of 308 West 58th Street, the 6 Columbus Hotel (opposite the Time Warner Center). There's no signage out front, but it's easy to spot by the giant number "6" on the hotel's front marquee. It's not inexpensive, but the food is top quality and ultra-fresh. It's as if the fish jumped out of the ocean and onto your plate. My family, friends and I often stop in there for a bite before heading over to a Lincoln Center event, a quick 15 minute walk away. https://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com/restaurants/blue-ribbon-sushi-bar-grill-ny/
  8. laurel

    Don Quixote Spring 2018

    In addition, I remember that years ago (2007 or 2008), Lane used her Lenore Annenberg Grant to travel to Spain to study flamenco. I'm hoping that some of the flavor of that training will come through during her performance as Kitri. With Cornejo as her partner, this may prove to be the most "Spanish" of the week's Don Q performances.
  9. laurel

    "Harlequinade" 2018.

    I loved it. I loved everything about it. If I could see this ballet every night this week, I would, but I can't, so I'm only going again on Friday and I can't wait. I cannot understand being bored by this. It's wonderfully different from the Balanchine version. There was so much going on, so much to watch, to see, to follow! So much gorgeousness! I didn't know where to look next! Lane was wonderful, picking herself up after that flopperoo behind the parasol and executing all the intricate footwork, the hops on point, the arabesques; and Cirio, with his marvelous panache for character posturing and clear mime. Lane doesn't have the same relationship with Cirio that she does with Cornejo or Simkin; this may be only the second or third time they've performed together in something like three (or more) years, and never for such an extended length of time, nor featuring intricate lifts. They performed admirably, and at least they get a second show this week! Abrera looked beautiful, but her role was so small, and Hallberg was adorable. They barely seemed to break a sweat. Once again, sadly, the audience appeared to be full of people who wished they were home, watching TV. The people behind us were actually complaining at intermission about how boring they thought it was. A world of beautiful, live fantasy on stage in front of you, and you're bored??!! I don't understand why they would spend so much money to be bored in public, when they could stay home and be bored there. For free. There are too many people at ballets such as this, who show up, and look, but do not see. Or think.
  10. laurel

    ABT 2018 La Bayadere

    I agree with everyone about tonight's performance. It wasn't perfect, but I'll take it. Who knows when Lane will be permitted to dance this role again - if ever? And with Cornejo? They're paired together in New York so rarely, and she has so few performances as it is. His partnering has been wasted on Copeland, and Lane's talent has just been . . . wasted. I thought she gave a gorgeous performance tonight, soulful and lyrical and deeply felt. And Cornejo really gives his all when he's teamed with her. If only they'd been given a second performance - like all the other casts have been given - many of their technical issues could have been worked out. The women in the corps de ballet were a mess tonight, as were some of the men in the first act. In addition to the problems during Kingdom of the Shades, the two circular groups of women performing the third act candle dance were completely out of sync with one another. What is going on? I think the fire gods of La Bayadere are angered by ABT's management issues - lack of rehearsal for the dancers, minimal coaching, a 35 year old production which is looking shabby, a large theater with many, many empty seats - and will send the roof crashing down on everyone for allowing things to have deteriorated to this extent. I sure hope Harlequinade will be good.
  11. laurel

    2018 Met Season

    At Monday's Gala, the Hunt of the Larks pas de deux from Harlequinade included a series of fast backwards hops on pointe for Columbine, repeated three or four times, for which Boylston received a well-deserved round of applause. It's exactly the sort of movement Copeland would find difficult to execute. Copland is not injured. Prior to tonight's performance of Firebird, Connor Holloway hosted an Instagram live-stream story featuring Copeland having her Firebird makeup and hair prepared for the show, in which she mentioned her double-performance day today.
  12. laurel

    2018 Met Season

    Tweet from Marina Harss earlier today briefly notes the upcoming retirement of Craig Salstein: <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The tap innovator Michelle Dorrance prepares the dancers of <a href="https://twitter.com/ABTBallet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ABTBallet</a> to make a joyful noise (also, Craig Salstein is retiring!) <a href="https://t.co/wd0ccvVGN0">https://t.co/wd0ccvVGN0</a></p>&mdash; Marina harss (@MarinaHarss) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarinaHarss/status/997548641857531904?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 18, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> More info. from The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/making-noise-at-the-ballet
  13. laurel

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    At least Lane will get another chance to perform. Because it looks like she will be off all of next week. Hoping Trenary will be back in time for the debut of the McGregor piece on Monday. Not to mention her upcoming Gamzatti in Bayadere.
  14. laurel

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    A Wednesday matinee, nonstop rain, many empty seats at the Met, an audience that did not know when to applaud, and didn't seem to care about applauding, either . . . Multiple elements combined to prevent today's Lane-Simkin Giselle from reaching the top-drawer level of last year. That breathless, edge-of-the-seat astonishment which was palpable at Lane's debut performance was missing today. And while a rainy day can put a damper on anything, an electric performance on stage should be able jolt a sleepy, apathetic audience utterly awake. Even during Lane's stunning Act I performance, response from the audience was so muted, it was as if they were home watching TV. I was greatly relieved to hear, finally, some applause coming from other parts of the theater. Both Lane and Simkin gave deeper, more complex emotional performances than last year in Act I, making Giselle's mad scene more climactic and frightening. Unfortunately, with Act II, Lane's energy seemed diminished. Did anyone else notice Lane nearly lost her balance with the first of her two long, penchee arabesques? She moved so very slowly, held on, and kept going, but that was the first indication to me that something was no longer the same. Then there was Simkin's trouble with the lifts - after all these years, he's still having trouble with lifts! I also noticed Lane's odd head and neck movements, but it struck me that this was part of her performance, as if she were experimenting with character nuance. Her Act II Giselle was far less of a blank-faced ghost than last year. Maybe that's not the usual classical interpretation, but Christine Shevchenko's Myrta was also very vividly emotional, a far cry from last year's much milder performance. Her astonishment at her inability to separate Albrecht and Giselle, her triumphant pleasure at forcing Albrecht to continue dancing - it was great to see how much she has grown into the role. Gabe Stone Shayer in the peasant pas de deux was a real revelation for me. His wonderful, classical lines, with movement stretching through his limbs completely, all the way out to hands and feet, his supreme musicality - this was the first time I've seen him dance this way. He landed his jumps perfectly. With the music. Perfectly. His only problem seemed to be the big toothy grin which never left his face. He and Catherine Hurlin danced very well together, but it seemed an odd pairing - on pointe, she is at least two inches taller than he is. But both appear to be well on the way to much better things. In addition, MAJOR props to the audience members upstairs and in the rear orchestra, who kept applauding and cheering for at least two minutes after Lane and Simkin's front-of-curtain call ended, forcing the stage manager to bring them back out for a second call. Whatever problems each experienced during the ballet, they deserved every second of that cheering, and the look of gratitude and happiness on Lane's face was worth it. The performance remained a remarkable display of their technical skills and ever-growing dramatic ability, and another wonderful Wednesday matinee for me. I hope Simkin will return next spring as a "guest artist" in order to continue his Giselle partnership with Lane.
  15. laurel

    ABT 2018 Giselle

    Eduardo, thanks for your excellent review! I'm glad you were able to see the great Cornejo as Albrecht, giving one of his superb performances. It's always worth the price of a ticket just to see him dance. Because Misty Copeland is so famous, you can now tell people that you've seen her dance, and give an honest explanation of why you didn't enjoy her. It's so important to view performances first-hand, for yourself, rather than rely on the opinions of others. I'm also happy to hear you enjoyed the dancing of Skylar Brandt. She is one of the most promising of the soloists, and we expect great things from her. Hope you will be able to return soon to New York to experience more of our local ballet companies - next time, better weather, without a rainstorm!