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Posts posted by DeCoster

  1. Royal is a no-brainer, considering Plato's Symposium, After You (the Mark Morris piece), Espada in Don Q, and Purple Von Roth in Swan Lake.  He dances more featured roles than Arron Scott, and maybe a couple other soloists.


    I too think this is Lane's year, particularly with her debuts in Giselle and Whipped Cream, in addition to the need for short lady principals due to the shorter men in principal slots (not to mention Gorak, who I think will make it there some day).


    Salstein is already a soloist (a fine one, I agree), but I highly doubt he'll ever make principal.  Hurlin is certainly an attention grabber (and I think a great partner for Royal), but she needs a season to develop and take on new roles.  My pick for new female soloist would be Zhong-Jing Fang.


    The biggest question mark for me is Alexandre Hammoudi.  At this point he has danced principal roles in Giselle (though maybe not since '14), Swan Lake, Sylvia, R & J, Ashton's Cinderella, Bright Stream, Othello, the Nutcracker, and probably some others I've forgotten.  I personally am a fan (never saw his Albrecht admittedly), but I know that others on here have been disappointed.  What will it take for him to reach the next level?



  2. 51 minutes ago, angelica said:

    Although she's short, IMO she dances TALL. Her extensions are high, her jump is big, and when she's balancing on one leg, say in a developpe a la seconde, she draws it out with the music before melting down onto flat.


    Yes, yes, yes.  Although she's not my absolute favorite Giselle right now, I can't see how she is perceived as dancing small.  I would argue quite the opposite. Her arms and port de bras are so expansive, and when she steps onto pointe for a pique arabesque she propels her body forward such that she actually catches air for a moment.  


    Paloma Herrera is a dancer who unfortunately danced small, with her arms often collapsing at the elbows, not forcing herself out onto pointe beyond where her leg reached.  Xiomara Reyes is another example of a tiny Giselle who danced big for her frame and captivated me with her portrayal.  Amanda McKerrow is probably the pinnacle for me, but that could be because she was the first ABT Giselle I witnessed.


    As for critiques of Lane's facial expressions, I am less inclined to dispute these critiques as I general sit in the dress circle and sometimes the grand tier, often in standing room.  Therefore, I sometimes can't read the facial expressions of dancers with smaller eyes and perhaps more subtle characterizations (Seo, Stearns, and Boylston fall into this category for me) without opera glasses, whereas Lane's expressions actually reach me.  Reading others reviews I'm wondering if some of how perceive dancers is influenced by where we sit.  For instance, those who sit close in the orchestra might view Lane's expression as fake or overdone, whereas it really works for those of us in the balconies.  Just a suggestion . . .

  3. 5 hours ago, canbelto said:

    One thing that I noticed: many of the women in the ABT corps have feet that are sickled. This was the most obvious in the traveling arabesques across the stage. 


    Glad someone else noticed this.  (I was afraid that seeing Paris Opera Ballet's Giselle a few years back had unfairly raised my expectations for the ABT corps.)  Not to mention one or two dancers whose arabesques bobbed up and down noticeably, or one, on Tuesday, who just couldn't keep up.  

    The other moment that sticks in my mind is when the willis turn downstage (in groups of 4) and do a glissade jete (r), glissade jete (l), grand jete in attitude (twice), combination.    This was part was sloppy and lacked buoyancy in all three performances I viewed.  ABT actually uses an image from this moment in their marketing.  (I could be wrong, but I think that's Stella and Michelle Wiles on the right)  But it doesn't look like this anymore.



  4. 1 hour ago, hyacinthhippo said:

    Out of all the principal dancers in this role at ABT, she has the best qualities to portray Giselle.


    I totally agree, hyacinthhippo, although I will admit to having never seen Hee Seo's Giselle.  (I'd love to hear thoughts from others.)


    What's exciting to me is that there are a few ABT dancers with the chance to grow and develop in the role.  Although Abrerra is ideal both physically and temperamentally, I think Lane and Boylston are fantastic and still have room to expand and deepen the role.


    What bums me out is the corps.  Am I becoming super picky or does the corps look sloppy these days?  Are there perhaps more new dancers at the moment?


    A few thoughts on last night, mostly on Stella’s performance.
    I love Stella’s Giselle, and the message of love and redemption she conveys on the stage.  It’s so pure and beautiful.  I do, however, agree that her mad scene can read a bit kooky/ mad as opposed to the sense of heartbreak and pain Lane conveyed.  Technically Act I was fairly secure.  There was a small bobble at the beginning of the hop sequence: she stayed on pointe but went on to her right pointe for a moment near the beginning to regain her balance.  I think that Stella may have had a little more spontaneity and romance with Shklyarov in the first act, but Marcelo’s partnering in the second act enabled her to reach a higher level of performance and illusion.  Along those lines, Stella's second act is just the best right now, comparable with Vishneva's who I also loved.  I admire the lightness she achieves in both her own jumps and the supported lifts.  Her jumps from fifth (entrechat quatre and changement in coupe) are soaring and effortless.  Her grand jetes cover space wonderfully, gliding across the floor.  Those strange jumps discussed above with the arched back and legs crossed behind appeared graceful, not awkward.  I think she achieves the romantic lines beautiful.  I also found the struggle between her and Myrta a little clearer and more powerful than on Saturday afternoon.  (Shevchenko was even better than on Saturday, but I couldn't help but wish that Part replaced Murphy instead.  I do like a taller Myrta, particularly when Giselle is tall.)  My only real critique of Stella's 2nd act is that she didn't achieve much speed in those initial weird spins in attitude plie, but this is probably also due to having seen Lane just a few days ago (she spun so rapidly so truly looked possessed).  Marcelo was the ideal partner.  Those overhead lifts!  How he let her down so gradually and gently.  I can still picture it.  
    Stella also wins my prize (along with ZJ Fang) for quiet pointes.  They were almost soundless in Act I and although I think she may have worn different (harder) shoes in Act II, she was still much softer than Lane, despite jumping higher and likely weighing more.  (I believe someone commented in a previous post that ABT should buy quieter shoes for their dancers.  This is not possible, as dancers have preferred brands [and preferred makers within those brands] depending greatly on their feet or even the ballet they are dancing.)  
    Overall it was a great night at the ballet.  I went with my colleague who had interviewed Stella for CUNY's Asian American Life last year, and it was her first time seeing both Stella and Marcelo.  She enjoyed it immensely.  The only unfortunate event was a woman in the front row of the Grand Tier, sitting directly in front of me, who not only who sat at the front of her seat at times forcing me to peek around her to see the front of the stage and must have taken her camera out during the very end of the second act, prompting the usher to shine a flashlight down the row, disturbing that powerful moment for many of us.  I almost wonder if the video above was taken by her.  I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but please have some manners people.  Your need to capture a curtain call for YouTube should not be a reason to disrupt the theatrical experience for the rest of us.  So rude.
    Nice to read all of the reviews this season.  Thanks everyone.

  6. 15 hours ago, LadyBubbles said:


    I believe she got 3, actually. Two big ones and a smaller one. It's not that unusual for ballerinas to get more than one bouquet on stage, although it doesn't happen that often anymore. All the big stars who guest with ABT usually get 2.


    Ahh thanks.  I didn't notice 3!  I have been attending performances for 20 years, and I guess I never took much note of the flowers, except for the piles of bouquets at retirements.  Sarah Lane seemed surprised.  She was probably just really happy and overwhelmed after such a huge performance.

  7. I most enjoyed le petite Giselle cast, as I kept calling them, at today's matinee.  Here are some scattered thoughts.  Excuse the typos.


    It was wonderful to see Melanie Hamrick back on the stage.  She makes that quick footwork for Giselle's friends look so light and effortless.  (Others don't.  Ahem.)  Blaine Hoven wasn't quite at his best in the peasant pas.  He had a noticeably shaky landing to his knee at the end, but I felt it was little lackluster throughout.  Cassandra Trenary, his partner, dance well.


    I was impressed with the physical partnering between Lane and Simkin.  He has improved as a partner immensely, and everything felt secure and easy.  Their courtship was an especially youthful and playful one, their chemistry more fleeting and perhaps less deeply passionate than some other pairs, but I thought they danced well together, and I think they'd make a perfect Romeo and Juliet.  Sarah tackled the first act choreography with no difficulties.  I was proud of her today.  Her grand jetes seemed to soar a bit higher than normal, and her extensions, not something she is known for, seemed higher, particularly in the adagio section in act 2.  The hops on pointe were easy-breezy, with her elegant, relaxed port de bras riding on top.  But I was most impressed with her characterization.  Her mad scene was wonderfully moving.  More on the understated side, I suppose, if compared to say Vishneva, but really well done.  I was less impressed with Simkin's characterization.  Perhaps its unfair, but it is still hard for him to overcome his impish appearance.  Thus I think it's tricky for him to move from a flirty youth to a remorseful prince.  (It didn't help that the ACT 2 cape dwarfed his small frame.)


    But his technique!  His batterie is without compare (maybe Herman?), brises that glide horizontally as if by magic, whisking the floor, showing off his gorgeous arched feet and tight fifth position.  When he hit that first big tour jete in Act 2 he got such air and made an amazing picture as his legs scissored.  Each tour landed in a perfect pillowy plie in tight fifth.  There are maybe 2 or 3 regular priouettes in Albrecht's choreography, but Simkin milked them for all they were worth, spinning to infinity.  His Act 2 was just a show of technical perfection, wonderfully on the music, nothing overdone or wasted.


    Sarah's act 2 was impressive, if not as technically perfect.  She started the act with immense energy, spinning in arabesque at great speed.  I felt that she struggled a bit in the section with the repeated jumps in fifth (entrachat quatres?), not getting much height.  I also thought her body position in the overhead lifts seemed weird.  Is it me, or are Giselle's ankles supposed to be crossed there?  It looked like her legs were too spread and her torso wasn't raised enough.  Her balances and penches were all secure though.  And overall I was so happy to see her dance so confidently that she was able to bring an abundance of passion and drama to the stage.


    Christine Schevenko was a formidable, strong, ice-cold Myrta, another great debut.  (For what it's worth, my husband disagrees, but I think he is just obsessed with Gillian in this particular role.)  I saw Schevenko's Kitri the other day, and what a season she is having!


    Craig Salstein danced the heck out of Hiarion.  (I almost didn't recognize him in the fake beard.)  His chaine turns are so incredibly fast.  Respect.


    Moyna and Zulma were Paulina Waski and Zhong-Zing Fang respectively.  Fang is such as lush dancer, and she milked every phrase beautifully.  She made Waski look a bit robotic and stiff in contrast.  Also, how does Fang land every jump completely soundlessly?  This is so impressive and truly adds to the illusion.  My guess is that her feet are so strong she is able to wear very soft pointe shoes.  I adore her dancing, and wish I could see her in more featured roles.


    The corps wasn't their best today, and I was disappointed to see some sagging arabesques as the lines criss-crossed, and that beautiful part where they turn in groups of four and do the grand jetes in attitude upstage was totally sloppy.  


    But I was moved to tears watching Sarah Lane in her long overdue NY Giselle debut.  What a star!  Anyone know why she received two bouquets at the curtain call?


    One pet peeve: both Lane and Schevenko wing their feet too much in my opinion, especially in arabesque penche.  It causes them to appear almost flexed, particularly from a side angle (I was a bit on the side of the dress circle).  (Simkin doesn't do this at all, thus his arabesque is so pure and beautiful, from any angle.)  They both have excellent turnout, and it is unnecessary.



  8. 4 hours ago, California said:


    I've been very interested in the praise for Shevchenko and wish I were in NYC to see this. Others have noted Ratmansky's talent for identifying potential and he seems to have picked out another winner four years ago. She was a replacement for Gillian Murphy in second cast in 2013 in Piano Concerto #1 in his Trilogy (presumably a decision made by Ratmansky).


    Scroll down and you can see Acocella's praise for her: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/ratmansky-and-shostakovich-together-again


    And I believe he cast her in Seven Sonatas several years prior (2010 or 2011?) when she had only been in the corps a few years.


    I feel like I may have the chance to see Shevchenko's Kitri tonight.  Gillian announced she is out with a sore hip: 


  9. I agree with chicagoballetomane on this one.  The diziness and problems with traveling are much less of a factor with the Italian fouettes.  Easier for me, anyway.  The challenge with the Italians is adjusting your weight: forward in attitude position and upright in the a la seconde.  I think having very flexible arches, which both Seo and Copeland have, can make your base less stable so you are more prone to falling off pointe.  (Also why I think Ferri and Part have had their struggles executing certain tricks)  But there are ways to stregnthen your ankles and overcome this.  Boylston, for instance, has hyperextension and very flexible feet, yet she doesn't have these problems (her more subtle difficulties are in her upper body).


    Thanks for your review Abatt.  Good to hear about Shayer; he seems to relish any role assigned, and I hope he is cast when I go on Friday.



  10. I was there Sunday afternoon.  (I got a TDF ticket at the last minute, so I don’t think this sold too well.)


    I’m not the best equipped to review NYCB, as I sadly only see this company a few times a year, but I’ll post some thoughts.


    I didn’t find Jeu de Cartes very interesting or appealing.  Was it inspired by Balanchine’s Rubies?  I don’t know.  I love Rubies, but here the turned-in tendu ala seconde with the jazzy hip and lunges with outstreatched arms and flexed wrists just got so repetitive; it almost felt dance competition cheesy. Erica Pereira danced with a ton of energy, speed, and precision.  Sebastian Villarini-Velez was on the same level.  I was unimpressed with Harrison Col who just seemed to muddle through with some really sloppy pirouettes and seemingly unstretched feet.  The audience seemed to love this one, however.


    After the Rain was beautiful.  I love the music and how the choreography mirrors the simplicity and the emotions.  La Cour and Kowroski are so well-matched physically.  I thought they were perfect.


    For Clara was also beautiful.  Andrew Veyvette looked a little clunky and unprepared, but otherwise the performances were great and the choreography interesting, musical, and powerful.  The way Lovette used canons (surprising and illuminating) really contrasted with Martin’s predictable canons in Jeu de Cartes.  I hope to see this or more works by Lovette going forward.  What an asset to the company she is!


    The music for ten in seven was distractingly cheesy for me.  It sounded like elevator music jazz.  I’m certainly no jazz aficionado, but I could not believe the music was commissioned.  (I’m sort of amazed by some NYCB’s musical commissions, and not in a good way.  I thought the Sufjan Stevens score for the first Peck/Stevens collaboration was pretty ghastly, and I like Stevens' pop/folk records a lot.  Are there no proven composers they can commission?  Are they trying to be trendy?  I don’t get it.)  The choreography wasn’t much better.  I cringed when one dancer climbed on the scaffolding to nudge the keyboard player, milking some cheeky dancer/ musician interaction for laughs.  Blech.  (To be fair, I always hate it when audiences laugh at the ballet when dancers do something pedestrian.  One of my pet-peeves, I suppose.)

    Odessa was the reward at the end of the program and well worth the wait.  I’m an admitted Ratmansky fan-girl, but I am constantly and consistently amazed with how he can make seemingly undancey music seem danceable.  I especially loved Fairchild and Ulbricht in this piece, as I haven’t seen either in anything this serious or dramatic.  Both are such fine dancers; I was in awe.  Bouder looked sloppy in moments, yet I wonder whether this was actually choreographed.  Her sections were the weakest amongst the principals, yet her character seemed the most out-of-sorts/ disconnected, so there may have been some intention in her slumpiness.  The highlight of this piece for me was definitely the corps!  I love how Ratmansky choreographs for groups, as well as the performances he gets from all the dancers involved.  In this piece I felt the corps had a definite greek chorus kind of function.  In that regard, and in the portrayal of heartache and difficult relationships, this piece actually reminded me a bit of On The Dniepier, the first thing Ratmansky choreographed for ABT, although the narrative in Odessa is much less definitive.  

    I felt the immediate need to see Odessa again.  I hope NYPL films it, at least.  The costumes and the lighting worked great for me.  The audience received it well, but it was hard to tell, as so many people seem intent on leaving during the applause, usually older people.  I wonder if they really have somewhere to get to fast or if they just want to beat the bathroom line.  :dry:

  11. I was there on Friday evening.  I had high hopes for Daphnis and Chloe, because I am drawn to ballets with some narrative, but I agree with foundofffouettes assessment of the choreography as pleasant, yet repetitive.  Stella was beautiful, but I took away very little from this piece.  When I watch Ratmansky works, even those that aren't my favorite, I always leave with strong images of formations or series of steps, particularly from the corps.  I found Millepied's steps for the corps dull and predictable: Serenade light.


    On the contrary, the new Lang piece "Her Notes" left me with several images still embedded in my mind.  I need to see it again, and I hope I have the opportunity, but I was really impressed with the choreography.  I thought the use of the setpiece was weird and striking, without distracting terribly from the dance.  The use of floorwork was subtle and beautiful.  I get the sense that Lang is choreographing ballet with some modern elements, versus setting modern dance on classical trained dancers with turnout and pointe work.


    Gillian stood out in the Tharp and Lang pieces, and it was a treat to see her and Marcelo paired together in both.  My husband is such a fan and being intrigued by the perspective of non-dancers, I asked him why Gillian stands out.  His response was simply "the way she carries herself and the ease in which she moves."  I truly couldn't take my eyes off of her.  Her landings from jumps are virtually soundless.  Her shoulders always open and relaxed no matter how difficult the choreography. 


    Devon Teuscher and Stephanie Williams stood out to me in the Lang piece too for their perfect side-by-side unison.  Both are beautiful dancers I would like to see more of.


    In contrast with Gillian's relaxed shoulders, Isabella Boylston can't seem to control her wrists or her shoulders.  It's so frustrating.  From the waist down she is wonderful, and she has speed possessed by few at ABT, but whenever she does anything really technically difficult, her shoulders go up to her ears.  Oftentimes too, her wrists flop and bend, destroying the line that is meant to stretch to the fingertips, and beyond.  It's tragic.


    I really enjoyed Joseph Gorak and Christine Schevenko partnered together in Brahms-Hayden.  I would have thought she was too tall for him, yet they danced well together, including some tricky partnering.


    All in all, I had a pleasant evening, although it was a struggle to stay awake for the Millepied.  I hope to hear more folks react to the Lang piece.  I'm lousy at describing or critiquing choreography, but I found it memorable, interesting, and inventive in patterns, staging, and steps.

  12. ABT hasn't done Prodigal in a very long time. You may be thinking of PNB, which did Prodigal on their visit to NYC last season. I can't recall if Herman did Prodigal during the last run. However, I recall that Simkin was one of the Prodigal's during the last run. All of the previous ABT Sirens have retired.

    Interesting that NYCB will also be doing Prodigal during the Winter season after an absence from the NYCB rep of several years.

    I think Cornejo danced Prodigal back in '09 with Michelle Wiles. Simkin had his debut that year too, with Dvorenko. I believe the other Siren that year was Kristi Boone (memorable).

    Out of the current ABT roster, I'd most like to see Veronika Part in this role. No way I can see Copeland or Boylston there.

  13. One thing I do recall about those ABT days was that everyone had strong favorites among the ballerinas - Makanrova, Fracci), Gregory, Van Hamel, Kirkland even Eleanor D'Antuono had a following. Feelings ran high among ABT fans in this regard. It was an interesting time.

    Thanks for this recollection! I wish I could transport myself back in time for a week or two and attend the ABT (and NYCB) of yesteryear.

    I've always wondered whether Eleanor D'Antuono had a following like the other stars. (She was my teacher at NJ Ballet many years ago.) I've often thought that Sarah Lane is a bit of a D'Antuono--as she is a consistent technician that lacks spectacular extensions and highly arched feet, but is so musical and adept with petit allegro--but I never saw D'Antuono dance onstage beyond YouTube. I ran into Ms. D'Antuono on the subway when I was working uptown (2008 or 2009?), and she immediately started talking to me, very emotionally, about Fernando Bujones. It was as though she was still reeling from his death and just wanted to make sure I knew how remarkably special and dear to her he was. I hope someone at the Dance Library has brought her in for an oral history.

    There are still cohorts of fans who have their favorites, though perhaps the followings aren't as strong. Macaulay is clearly on team Boylston, but he is not alone. It seemed that there were hordes of teenage girls at her Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake this season. This season, however, he finally had some good words about Veronika Part. Several people here have commented about the possibility of a Murphy Giselle, as she danced it in NZ. But how about Part who danced Giselle at Marinsky? I mean, if she's good enough to dance Giselle there, why not at her home company?

  14. My recent post got me thinking, or I should say hoping. Wouldn't it be grand if ABT ditched its current Swan Lake and brought Ratmansky's in. The Met should be large enough to do the full scale La Scala production -- making good use of the cavernous Met stage. Additionally, it would be great for the dancers. One of the noticeable aspects of Ratmansky is that he gets great performances out of his dancers. I think it would be very helpful for them to be coached by him in that role.

    Yes to this, Olga! You can't read an interview with an ABT dancer without their mentioning how exacting and detailed Ratmansky is in rehearsals, or how they are so motivated to achieve his high standards. I always envied those who were around to attend NYCB during the Balanchine years, and I feel fortunate to be witnessing this.

    It's really illogical to blame low ticket sales on Ratmansky. The Firebird and Shostakovich performances I attended sold quite well, in contrast with the Ashtons, and Sleeping Beauty seemed mostly sold-out, even in standing-room. Ratmansky is the most sought-after choreographer in ballet currently (despite what Vogue magazine said recently), and I think the most historically important. It's quite the coup that ABT landed him, considering the offers he likely had. It's almost hilarious to me that folks are complaining about him. Perhaps they have short memories, or maybe they'd prefer a revival of Snow Maiden.

    Ratmansky premieres actually feel like happenings, and you see not only big-money types but many dancers from other companies in attendance. I hope he stays with us for the remainder of the career.

    So I agree with Mr. Macaulay's season review. (I too skipped Corsaire) And I can't wait to see what is in store for the Fall.

  15. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think if Joseph Gorak can partner Misty Copeland effectively in Romeo and Juliet, he could handle Sarah Lane with no problem (as he did in The Tempest). Ratmansky's Nutcracker pas de deux has a few tricky lifts, and one of those overhead press lifts, if I remember correctly. I recall even magical Marcelo struggling with Veronika Part the first season they performed it.

  16. I agree about Sarah but I think the decision to bring Kochetkova in was at least partially driven by Cornejo. Just conjecture here, but she is the only ballerina I have ever seen him partner comfortably. Both Reyes and Lane were actually a bit too big for him. Reyes was very good at compensating for his partnering deficiencies but I have seen some very bad partnering from him when he's been paired with Lane. Kochetkova is shorter than either of then and considerably smaller (lighter) than either of them.

    Despite my dislike of her dancing, Cornejo has never looked better than when partnered with Kochetkova, and he lifts her with ease.

    I think NYSusan is correct here, although it makes me a bit sad. As a great admirer of Sarah Lane (also my favorite Aurora last season and my favorite petit-allegro woman currently at ABT), I'm hoping she starts to develop a partnership with Joseph Gorak. They were partnered in Ratmansky's Tempest, and they were dynamite together in that pas de deux. I'm afraid Misty's ascension may have hurt Lane's chances as much as Kochetkova's appearance. If Lane and Gorak were cast together in Romeo and Juliet, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

  17. Calvin Royal III and Gabe Stone Shayer have been dancing principal and soloist roles for years now, significantly in Ratmansky's ballets.

    I'm so very impressed with Calvin Royal's improvement since last Spring. He is truly taking off. I can't really think of a renowned male dancer in all of ballet history who had limbs that long. Can anyone else? I've seen him partner both Stella Abrerra and Catherine Hurlin, and he worked beautifully with both.

    I have significantly less hope for Forester, but I may just need to forget one especially lackluster Les Sylphides, and give him another chance.

    In terms of Ratmansky, it's interesting to read the divergent opinions here. I see about twice the ballets I used to see since he came to ABT. I used to attend at least 4 performances with my mother. Now I find myself doing standing-room a couple times a week for a Ratmansky premiere, and buying tickets to 2 or 3 additional evenings with my husband (also a fan), all in addition to my matinees with mom. His choreography has rejuvenated the company, in my opinion. Shostakovich Trio was critical and audience success, underwritten by a billionaire. (ticket sales aren't everything, and Ratmanksy seems to bring in the philanthropists.) Although Sleeping Beauty gets panned here, I found my fellow audience goers to be very appreciative, and it seemed to sell well too.

    As for Swan Lake, I can see the complaints that ABT doesn't have a strong stable of ballerinas to pull off this role. I only saw Veronika this year, and I agree with many on here that she is the best O/O ABT has to offer these days. There is a certain kind of ballerina-gravitas required to knock this ballet out of the park. Still, I wonder if we romanticize the past a bit. Yes, Nina Ananashivili was remarkable to her retiring day (her Giselle was also my favorite), but I avoided Kent, Dvorovenko, and Herrera in the final years of their careers. Perhaps it's cruel, but I'd much rather see Boylston and Seo struggling and growing into the role, than to watch dancers decline. (I'm really glad to read about Hee Seo's improvement!) I'm not up on the international dance scene, but it seems there are other international stars beyond Seminova and Vishneva that could be recruited for a Swan Lake visit. Sara Mearns has ballerina gravitas. I'd love for her to pay a visit too (and she has danced with Gomes in other things), but I doubt that would work since NYCB has their own Swan Lake.

  18. Yes to Raymonda! Please!

    In my opinion the return of Golden Cockerel is highly unlikely. Remember, the costumes and sets belong to the Royal Danish Ballet, and except for Misty's showings, it sold horribly.

    Will ABT ever perform Ratmansky's reconstruction of Swan Lake? That's something I'd like to see, but I'm not sure of the politics there.

    Less of a prediction, and more of a wild, premature wish, but I'd like to see a Hurlin/ Royal Giselle.

    And I know I'm in the minority here, and it might fit better at the Koch, but insofar as Ratmanksy works, I'd love to see "On the Dnieper" revived (with better lighting). It would fit nicely with some Tudor. (I missed "Judgement of Paris" when they revived it, so that's high on my Tudor list.) I'd also like to see Ashton's "Les Patineurs" someday.

  19. FauxPas, I appreciate your analysis, especially your suggestion about the Tsar Dodon role. The clumsy partnering got incredibly tedious! A collaboration with the Met Opera for a restaging of the Ballets Russes version is a fascinating and wonderful idea for the Lincoln Center festival. I wonder how those familiar with opera found the fully orchestrated version of the score? I also agree with your comments on the nature of the first act, although there were some moments that really stuck with me, in particular the side by side pas de deux with two brothers (played by Gorak and Crio in both casts I saw) and their ladies.

    That being said, I had a lot of fun watching this ballet. I have been a fan of Goncharova's designs since I discovered her work while cataloging some designs of saints she did for a ballet that never came to be ("La Liturgie") when I worked at the Performing Arts Library. I even have a tiny print of the banquet scrim you see at the beginning of Golden Cockerel framed in my apartment! I never expected to see it onstage, and it was quite a delight to see both the costumes and the scenery recreated. (In some cases the reproductions looked exact--much more faithful copies than "inspired by" implies.)

    I saw two performances, Thursday evening and Saturday matinee. I must comment on the wonderful interpretation of the role by Veronika Part. Her queen carried the tone of the ballet (satirical and absurd), and you knew what her character was about from the minute she stepped on stage. In contrast, although I sat closer on Saturday, I felt as though Misty Copeland wasn't acting at all until the part where she starts fake crying in the second act. She was just an almost expressionless cool queen up to that point, conveying no sense of cunning or power. So when she started with the manipulative crying, it just seemed weird and incongruous. I'm not a Misty hater by any means. I really enjoyed her Coppelia. But I was very disappointed after seeing Part’s interpretation. It’s as though she forgot to act--so strange. Nonetheless, Copeland received significantly greater applause (the house looked fully sold), and there was standing ovation in the orchestra on Saturday afternoon. So it goes.

    Both “cockerals” I saw, Brandt and Kotchetkova, had their moments. I haven’t been sold on Kotchetkova in the past, but she nailed the mechanicalness of the sorcerer’s creation perfectly. (I think it may be because her dancing is a little mechanical to begin with!) And she’s so feather light, and soundless on her pointes. Brandt has more power to her jump, however.

    All in all, I’m happy I saw it twice, as I guess it will not return to the Met stage. I didn’t find the corps work repetitive or boring at all. The Persian maidens were a highlight for me. And Ratmansky’s choreography for the character dances of the corps women in the first act is anything but cliche. I wish I had a recording or the ability to describe the steps better; nonetheless, I found his “character dance” choreography incredibly interesting and refreshing, particularly so many years of (enjoying) the very similar mazurka-type peasant dances in Coppelia, Swan Lake, Giselle etc.

  20. I got so busy and didn't post on the Ratmansky programs (or La Fille for that matter), but I thought I ought to, as I enjoyed them so much, and I wanted to note some great performances.

    I thought Firebird was compelling and interesting. The costumes and set somehow fit Stravinsky's modernist music to me better than the classical tutu. (And the very classical Firebird tutu worn by Marinsky and other companies actually bears little resemblance to the costume for the original Fokine production anyway.) Similarly I like Ratmansky's very animalistic, earthy characterization of the firebird. She is not human at all, but a unknoweable, instinctual creature. Fokine's Firebird, at least how she is danced today, reads a bit like White Swan on speed to me. The arm and body movements and even certain choreographic passages seem right out of Petipa, thus Fokine's Firebird seems more human, less unique. Now I do agree that the Firebird choreography is less classical than most Ratmansky--and there are a lot of turned in pirouettes and jazz-type lunges, but there are still classical steps. I haven't confirmed this, but I don't think there's a Ratmanksy ballet without a pas de chat. He brought petit allegro back in big way, and it's there in Firebird too.

    Stella was a compelling wacky maiden, conveying the absurdity with the right level of drama. She is definitely radiating confidence this season. (​ I wouldn't describe Ratmansky's tone as much as humorous, but absurd, and I think that absurdity is very much in Stravinsky's score.) But I enjoyed her even more in Seven Sonatas with Calvin Royal. I noticed how well paired they were in the Mark Morris thing in the Fall, and I was so happy to see them together again. Their long arms, moving gracefully in unison, are pure poetry to me. Royal is just looking phenomenal this season -- so strong and fluid. I think he had some special training in Europe, and it appears to have paid off handsomely.

    I'm reserving judgment on the Plato thing for now. For my husband and I the jazz-tinged Berstein music with the Grecian costumes felt incongruous. (We overheard a woman behind us comment on the Japanese-inspired costumes. I guess it was hard to read the Greek from the dress circle.) Ratmansky does interesting things with groups, and a few of those formations and supported lifts are what stuck with me. I have to see it again.

    The Shostakovich Trio was wonderful to see again too. Unlike others here, I wasn't crazy about Teuscher in Symphony #9. As I have seen both Part and Seminova in the role, I just thought Teuscher lacked the extensions and gorgeous lines, particularly in the early sections. I thought her characterization was lacking too, or at least different. The raised shoulders and frantic movements that read as anxiety and terror when Seminova danced it, just looked fearful and frightened in Teusher's rendition. I did think she redeemed herself in the later allegro section. (She has a very nice pas de chat;) My favorite part of Symphony #9 is the corps anyway. So many interesting, awesome phrases of choreography, that I am ill-equipped to describe. Royal looked great again, partnering Catherine Hurlin, who I’m sure was there, although she was not in the program. (I noticed several other subsitutions in the corps throughout the evening as well.) They are well-matched physically too, and I couldn’t help but envision a Royal/ Hurlin Giselle down the road.

    Chamber Symphony was the surprise of the evening for me. I remembered the psycho-drama aspects (some nods to Tudor, in the way specific hand gestures repeat, like phrases), but I did not remember the gorgeous tableaus and cannons throughout, and I did not remember how the choreography enhanced and revealed the music so imaginatively. There is this one moment where a group of men lifted Boylston through the air in a sweeping arc, that just made me gasp with awe at the beauty of the moment. This seemed to me the perfect role for Whiteside (like he would actually wear that costume in real life or something), though it’s hard to not miss David Hallberg. And I enjoyed Seo, Boylston, and Lane much more than the original cast. (I hate to admit this, but Kent was hard for me to watch in the last year or two. Her dancing just looked brittle and truncated, particularly alongside someone who dances big and lush, like Boylston. I had the same problem watching them together in Bright Stream.) I’m not sure, but I think Boylston switched and danced Paloma Herrera’s part this season. Does anyone know? She wore the strapless dress this time. Sarah Lane wore the halter style dress, that Boylston wore in the premiere. I’ll admit the costumes are pretty atrocious for this one. Is crushed velvet ever a good choice?

    I thought Piano Concerto was well danced too. I might be committing some kind of Balanchine sacrilege, but in this viewing I sensed little nods to Rubies in this ballet: the hip thrusts, in particular. I admire Shevenko’s dancing. She has a strong port de bras and sharp legs and feet. Her strong articulate feet, in clearly soft, quiet pointe shoes, actually reminds me of Osipova. Cory Stearns knocked the socks out of this piece. He caught some serious air in his jumps, and danced with more abandon than I have ever seen. I sometimes think, begrudgingly, that he would shine brighter at a company like NYCB with more neoclassical ballets in the rep. But the corps parts are what I enjoy most in this one as well. Those dual-colored unitards create a cool effect when the dancers change direction or orientation in unison. Paulina Waski stood out for me (some people just look right in a unitard), and she was given a little featured corps role. Keep your eyes on that one.

    All in all, I’m glad ABT did Ratmanksy week this year, and I wish I could have attended more evenings. The best part of seeing his ballets is the performances he gets out of the dancers. Their effort and commitment is palatable. I felt the same way seeing Pictures at an Exhibition across the plaza last month. I'm sitting Corsaire out this season. Looking forward to Golden Cockerel and more Ratmansky!

  21. I was at both Saturday performances, and I agree with Kaysta that the evening crew was discernibly better, almost across the board.

    Hee Seo was actually a little stronger than I expected, and seemed to be really going for it in moments, but although I think she can dance Ashton beautifully (I quite liked her Cinderella) I think she is miscast here. I actually find her performance very similar to Paloma Herrera's who I eventually avoided in Sylvia, as she lacked the attack for the 1st act, and tended to be visibly outdanced and outleaped by her Hunt Attendants. Still, like Herrera, Seo milked the musicality and the seductive footwork in the second act beautifully.

    I also think Bolle and Seo have perhaps developed a special partnership, as he invited her to take part in one of his gala things, and there is a special warmth between them online. Why no Part as Sylvia this season? (She was favorably reviewed in the role.) Perhaps they couldn't find her a partner :-( *apologies for rampant speculation*

    Boylston is a fine Sylvia, in my opinion. I love her intensity, and she can leap for sure! Yes, port de bras is her kryptonite, and her arms and hands can appear unrefined at times. I hope she (with the great coach Irina Kolpakova) can address this going forward, because she is a truly lovely dancer, who is improving as an actress. I also preferred Hammoudi's Orion over Stearns. They seemed evenly matched technically, but Hammoudi does sinister, mayhem much more convincingly. (I also enjoy his VonRothbart)

    I look forward to the 1st act Hunt Attendants, as this is such difficult and fabulous choreo. I remember this part being so crisp and dynamic in years past, anchored by some dynamite soloists (Messmer, Boylston, and Ricetto come to mind). The matinee crew looked weak and inexperienced, the evening crew was better, but I wanted more.

    ZhongjingFang was radiant in both performances, as Ceres in the matinee and Diana in the evening. (I much preferred her to Melanie Hamrick in the later role.) She and Blaine Hoven are corps members extraordinaire. Their faces radiate to the balconies. I don’t know how one teaches this, or if it just comes with experience, but some of the newer corps members seem to be dancing to the first few rows. One exception is Catherine Hurlin who I can’t help but notice every time she is on stage. I’m not sure if it’s her ballerina presence, her red hair or her beautifully elegant limbs. Either way, I think she’s going to be a big star.

    The house wasn’t near full, as others have reported, but those around me seemed delighted, even at the matinee. (The man sitting next to me was overawed by Seo/Bolle’s 3rd act pas.) I always notice a lot of Asian ballet-goers, particularly stylish, youngish women, at Seo’s performances, so I disagree with the comment above that this community does not support the ballet. I’m not sure if they are tourists, immigrants, international students, or Asian-Americans, but they are a visible contingency.

    The Russian accents were also noticeable at the matinee. I spoke to a very lovely Russian woman who brought her 7 year old granddaughter to the performance. She said she chose to attend this ballet because of Delibes score and seemed unaware of Seminova’s replacement.

    I agree that ABT could market Sylvia better. Their advertisements, which I hear on NPR and PBS, don’t really inspire new audiences. I love the choices of ballets this season, with the exception of Corsaire, and I’m hoping it’s a big success.

    Thanks to all of you who corrected my erroneous recollections of the 2008 season. My mom (the 75 year old with a better memory than me) suggested perhaps it was the 2011 season that there were several injuries and Cory kept showing up on our white slips. But I don’t think he was an understudy then, so it’s really irrelevant.

  22. I recall that Corsaire as well, DeCoster. However, this interview with Gia Kourlas seems to suggest that Cory was already slated to perform Conrad during that 2008 run. (I'm fairly certain that the performance in which he danced with Irina was not the Saturday matinee that's referred to there. And I only happen to know that 2008 was the year of the Cory/Irina Corsaire substitution, because that was my first year regularly attending ABT performances.)

    2008 -- that makes sense. A Saturday matinee makes absolute sense to me because those are they days I take my mom, and I know she was there for that Corsaire (funny the things you remember). The interview is in May, so it may have been an early season casting change when Maxim pulled out. Notice that he mentions he *might* dance Espada that very season. this implies to me that he wasn't originally cast, although I guess it's not quite the same as an understudy.

    Another story that comes to mind is Susan Jaffe's last-minute debut in Push Comes to Shove, that came as a result of Gelsey Kirkland's cocaine habit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1980/12/12/susan-jaffes-dream-debut/fa16a829-c923-4761-a089-cb793e4b1de6/

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