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  1. Did anyone catch the final round on Tuesday? I went to the YAGP Gala and just LOVED this kids! I am surprised no one has mentioned them yet, as there were so many good kids on the program as well...I don't really know which kids performed...If someone has a list, I have many notes! As nice as it is to have these stars come back and dance, I am curious about who the future players will be
  2. After seeing "Sleeping Beauty" and "Bayadere" at ABT, it was nice to see something very light. I must say that the costumes and sets for "Merry Widow" were beautiful, probably one of the most visually interesting productions that ABT has to offer. While over the top, it fits with the mood of the ballet. The music was so lavish and fun, you couldn't help but want to sway a little bit in your seat. I went on Monday night, with Julie and Jose dancing the leads. For me, this comedy hinges on the fact that both the leads, Hanna and Danilo, have a duality to their characters. Hanna is a cold-hearted rich woman with a humble past and a soft spot for the man she loves, and Danilo is a hot-blooded drunk with a love he has never gotten over. It is in playing with these two sides of the characters that leads to some of the best moments in the ballet. Julie exploits the two side of Hanna's character; she held me throughout the entire performance. Her timing is great, and she has great chemistry with Jose. She kept the ballet light for me, I love that she can do this convincingly, and still pull of a stunning "Juliet" as well - it really does speak to her abilities as an actress. Jose was great as well a charming Danilo, constantly second guessing his feelings. Xiomara as Valencienne was flirtatious, but I felt could have exaggerated the role a bit more - there is nothing subtle about her character, and I wish she had run with it a bit more. Gennadi Saveliev as Camille was fantastic - he was such a great partner for Xiomara, lifting her throughout the difficult pas de deux, and making her float through the choreography. He was also very funny, playing up the pomp as the French Attache, but also as a softer, lovesick suitor to Valencienne. He was definitely one of my favorites of the evening. Some deserved praise - new corps dancer Joseph Phillips was leading the national dance in second act. He was so clean, high jumps, perfect turns, so full of bravura, I couldn't watch anyone else. He has a very promising future with the company. Victor Barbee was also great at the Baron - I have enjoyed seeing him do character roles this season. All in all, it was a dream cast - I thought that they were wonderful, and I am excited to see a different cast put their unique spin on the production!
  3. I thought Sarah Lane's Rose Adagio was excellent. She WAS 16. You could also tell that she was so excited and happy and passionate and, finally DOING IT. She was giving so much in the first act, and I think that is what made it one of the best Rose Adagios I have seen. She really was Aurora for me. I didn't find her size to be a problem until the vision scene, where she would run in and out of the corps, and I would completely lose her. Unfortunately, she was still 16 in the third act - to me at least. I didn't see a radical change in the way she approached the role. She did command a lion's share of my attention though; her act I performance alone was worth the price of the ticket. Herman was technically brilliant, as usual, but again, he was just a hair short to be the prince, especially when parading around in the hunt scene. Him and the "girlfriend" looked a little Napoleon and Josephine. The grand ppd was excellent though - no one can fault their pure classicism and superb pairing. When they were dancing alone, they were divine, but I felt that they often got lost in the crowd. I would love to see these two do something contemporary together as well - would be very interesting to see how they handle something more modern.
  4. I saw Joseph dancing Diana and Acteon a few years ago with Sarah Lane at the YAGP gala, maybe 2005 or 2006. I know that he did "Stars and Stripes" last year with Ashley Bouder in their gala. I thought he did really well, looking very polished, and a good partner for her. He kept up with her high energy and bounce. I would love to see him partner Sarah Lane again...
  5. So I just got out of ABT's "Sleeping Beauty" - with a completely different attitude than when I went in; I overheard one person muttering to a friend, "Less Disney, More ABT." I think he was correct on that note. The costumes were toned down (except for the King and Queen, who still looked like they had popped out of a deck of cards), I would even go so far as to call the 4 prince's outfits tasteful. With many of the saccharine details removed, I found the production quite palatable. Let's start with the dancing - the corps was excellent tonight, much more rehearsed that last season. The fairies were all great as well - I think each dancer was well cast, and pulled of the lyricism or lightning each role required. I was slightly disappointed by Veronika Part, who I found a little guilty of posing through the movement. The Lilac Fairy is a very difficult role, and she did command the stage when she was dancing. Paloma was wonderful as Aurora, smiling through her balances, and playing with the transformation between cheeky teenager and mature woman. Angel was great, as usual, though probably still recovering from dancing alongside Nina's Kitri on Saturday. Nancy Raffa did an excellent interpretation of Carbosse, with less reference to Martha Graham (last season, every contraction was felt like a slap in the face to the mother of modern dance - the performer I saw do it escapes me). Sascha was a great bluebird, fast beats and even a smile at the end of his variation. I wish he got off the ground a bit more in the adagio, but a solid bluebird. Stella did not perform - has anyone seen her this season yet? I didn't remember there being a Jewel section in Act III last year - was this new to this production? I thought the choreography derived itself in a odd way from the more traditional version I am used to, many of the small details were eliminated, and danced by the Prologue fairies instead of "Jewels". I still miss Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots - even though I always thought they were the least exciting divertissments, I still appreciated the break in the ballet. I can appreciate why they were cut to make the production shorter and more to the point. Can we trust a modern audience be able to sit through the full 4 hour ballet? Maybe not. This production finally stood on it's own legs, still a bit wobbly, but I actually had a good time. I missed many of the drug references this time around - I distinctly remember last season a bit about the needle, and the deer that the prince caught, and how the deer was supposed to symbolize Aurora, and then the prince drinking the water and hallucinating - was I just reading into it a bit much? These small changes greatly improved the flow of the performance, in my opinion. I can't wait to see Sarah Lane as Aurora.
  6. Don Q. is a shameless flirt of a ballet, and I was not disappointed last night. Paloma was amazing, holding balances and then rushing through the music to get back on track. She would look at the audience and just smile - she was excellent. She embodied a jealous, fiery, yet soft and lyrical Kitri. She owns this role through her ability to play with the texture and quality of her movement, which I think is one of her biggest strengths as a dancer. Angel was also amazing, very cheeky and playful, and also technically stunning - how he can do 8 pirouettes off-balance and then land smoothly defies the laws of physics. He also held Paloma aloft in that big one-arm lift, and held it so long that the conductor stopped the music and had to wait until he was ready to bring her down. Fireworks! Marcelo was strong and solid in his performance, had great flare and masculine energy - I am excited to see him dancing again. Renata Pavam as Cupid was excellent, technically brilliant and polished, and had the speed required for the role. The corps looked VERY good too, very together and exciting to watch. I had never seen ABT do Don Q, but this is one of the best ABT performances I have been to. Every dancer was flirting with the audience, and everyone looked like the were having so much fun - It was so light and easy and joyful. The costumes and sets were exquisite. I might even say that I liked this better than Corsaire!
  7. The program opened with Harald Lander's Etudes - a bravura "classroom" ballet demonstrating the work and effort that a student puts into the classroom, which culminates into a virtuosic firework spectacle. The curtains parted to reveal 5 little dancers, demonstrating the 5 positions of classical ballet. The next section was a series of synchronized barre exercises - this was a disaster. This section is supposed to be about the corps moving uniformly, and instead, some dancer's legs were higher than others, stress on the exercises was different for each dancer, and the dancers differed on HOW they approached the movement. I missed the Kirov do this while they were in town, but I imagine that a ballet company with a strict pedagogical structure feeding into the company would have tackled this a lot better - ABT has diversity, which I think is FANTASTIC, as it reflects the make-up of our country and movement style, but for a piece like this, they should also be able to move together when the choreography demands it. An ill Angel Corella meant that Jared Matthews was thrown in with Xiomara Reyes and Sascha Radetsky. He did very well, considering the substitution, but was not as clean as the role demanded, perhaps nerves? I would love to see David Hallberg in the role. Xiomara was the glittering jewel of the ballet, performing fast chaines, and attacking the movement with a huge smile. Sascha was excellent as well. The best section was definitely the jumps, where the company hurled themselves across the stage, and whipped their legs through beats that would make City Ballet drool. The finale was the most uniform I have seen ABT dance all season, crisp and precise and spectacular. Bravo! The program continued with Twyla's premiere, "Rabbit and Rogue." Separated into 5 sections, Ethan Stiefel and Herman Cornejo bounced off of each other in the title roles (in black leotards with a silver stripe spiraling down their bodies, sparkling with every turn) with a fierce yet soft attack of the movement. Ethan is great to watch in Tharp, and I can tell that he really enjoys performing her work. I couldn't help but be reminded of their Oberon and Puck in Ashton's "Midsummer," performed by Ethan and Herman respectively. The Rag Couple was performed brilliantly by Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg with a tango/jazzy flair, and the Gamelan Couple was performed by Paloma Herrera and Gennadi Saveliev in silver tights and pointe shoes. I thought that overall, the partnering was interesting, and there were some great moments between the two dancers in each couple. Overall, the piece was too busy for my taste, and I would not call this the next Tharp masterpiece. There were some wonderful images in the piece, but overall was too long and had too much squeezed into one piece. The movement was great, but the structure of the piece was too saturated. The score, by Danny Elfman, was excellent, dark yet playful - and the play between the music and the choreography was also superb (it was no Stravinsky/Balanchine though). The program is worth seeing, a break in the full-lengths of the ABT spring season is definitely welcome and appreciated.
  8. I went on Sat. I thought Jose was very good, he is always a very classy dancer, so smooth. I am glad to see him back in his form. I thought that Gillian's black swan is fantastic, she is such a spit-fire! She is cold, sexy, and very solid. Her white still should be softer, and that is the real challenge of the role. Maria was WONDERFUL in the pas de trois in act one, and Gennadi was good as well.
  9. Here are my two cents, I have been really sick, so this is getting up a bit late - I thought Gillian was unusually soft, especially in the second act bedroom scene. Her "pas de trois" was still a little wooden for my taste, but no one can argue with solid technique and her fierce fouettes. Gennadi started out a little slow, but warmed up in the second and third acts. I love it when he does that trick where he flips his leg around himself in the air, anyone know what those are called? His acting was light and playful too. Xiomara had her usual charm and humor. Jose felt a little more reserved than I have seen him in other performances, but still managed to stop the show after his variation, especially by extending his juicy pirouettes just a moment longer. Carlos Lopez, while clean in his character dancing technique, did not have the same villainy as I have seen others project in this role. I was also very impressed by Herman as Lankendem, who threw himself into his modified variation with a cheeky smile. Misty Copeland attacked the second Odalisque variation with her usual gusto, but needs to work on her projection - this will surely come as she matures as an artist. I was slightly disappointed with the Jardin Animee in Act III. After having just seen the Kirov at City Center in April in this same piece, I was disappointed to see their American counterparts perform the same work; ABT's corps looked under-rehearsed and messy, and the overall scene lacked the 19th century grandeur that the Kirov was able to bring. At least ABT decided not to put them all in blonde wigs.
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