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Posts posted by DeCoster

  1. However, I think Seo's dancing is much, much closer to early Part than Misty's is. I remember Part falling off pointe and struggling to get back up when Gomes was holding her in an arabesque in Swan Lake (sometime in the mid 2000s?). Seo also seems to fall off pointe at random moments that don't seem particularly difficult. Early Part and current Seo aren't exactly spinning tops, and Seo's fouettes can be a hold-your-breath moment for the audience, just as early Part's were. Seo and Part both have lovely lines and beautiful faces that are perfectly suited for the stage. If Seo were more expressive in classical roles, then I think people might be more forgiving of her, as they were of early Part.

    I agree with this entirely, and I also remember some shaky performances from Part early on. Seo's wobbles in Bayadere bothered me this season, but would have less so were she more expressive in the role. (I found Misty's Odette/Odile to be much less shaky than Hee's Nikiya) But her lines and face are beautiful, and I'm glad to hear her O/O and Juliet were well received by some on here.

  2. Phillips could do the math and see that the best he could hope for was a diet of Bluebirds and Golden Idols and second bananas in Romeo&Juliet. He wanted to dance principal roles so he made the smart decision and went to Russia. I can't fault McKenzie for that.

    Nor can I.

    As for ABT no longer being a destination company (discussed earlier): When a taller principal, David Hallberg, went to Bolshoi , ABT became a destination for James Whiteside, already a principal at SFB. I think there's an ebb and flow to this sort of thing.

  3. Kevin McKenzie has been artistic director of ABT for quite some time, and Misty has been a soloist there for quite some time. It's not like there has been a change in administration at the top of ABT's artistic direction recently. So one has to ask why McKenzie pretty much ignored her for lead roles up until very recently. I'm talking about roles where she had to carry the evening on her shoulders, like O/O and Juliet. Helene posts that perhaps the veil of racism was lifted from McKenzie's eyes. (Not a direct quote, but a paraphrase of the idea mentioned in Helene's post.) Another explanation is that Misty's relentless assertions in the media that she has been the victim of racism, combined with the fact that ABT has been her only artisitc home, meant that in effect she was claiming discrimination at ABT. When faced with these assertions, McKenzie had no choice but to give her lead roles and ultimately promote her. Otherwise certain members of the public would conclude that ABT is a racist employer.

    Stella Abrerra (who was made soloist in 2001, I believe) is only recently taking on the roles you speak of as well. How do you explain this?

    I think it's a bit much to suggest that just because Misty is only now being cast in as Odette and Juliet, it is due to her rising publicity. Her publicity swelled with Firebird, a principal role for which she was selected by Ratmansky and received critical acclaim. Unfortunately, she was injured badly during that season.

    It's often hard for soloists to get that first chance at ABT, particularly in the Spring season with the guest stars. I give credit to both Copeland and Abrerra for dancing leads (Odette/Odile and Giselle respectively) with other companies while they waited.

    With the three retirements this season, I think both Copeland and Abrerra will dance more leading roles in the future. And I predict they will be promoted together, with Hammoudi, very soon.

  4. Going back to Copeland's matinee, can someone who was there say if there was an announcement of any kind regarding Anderson and Wilkinson coming out at the bows? Or was there anything in the program (am guessing no)? I remember Anderson quite well from her dancing days, but if I was there I might not have recognized her and I'm sure I wouldn't have known that was Wilkinson. It would have been really nice for them to have been identified for the audience.

    There was no announcement. You wouldn't have heard anything over the applause anyway. Wilkinson and Anderson brought Misty flowers before she received the conductor. Anderson gave her a big hug and lifted her in the air. There seemed to be genuine, deep affection between them. I wonder if anyone has posted video of Raven Wilkinson's pantomime. I didn't gather what she was saying -- it all happened so fast.

    A few more comments on Wednesday . . .

    I was excited but nervous for Misty’s debut. First, let me say I have watched this company closely over the years, so I have seen Misty dance a lot. I think she excels in the Tharp choreography, and I’ve also admired her theatrical spunk in comedic roles, such as Coppelia (with Herman last season) and as the Milkmaid in Bright Stream. Although I like her dancing, I have found her a bit clunky (for lack of a better term) at times. I missed her Firebird due to injury. I was nervous, in particular how she would take on the adagio sections and balances in act II.

    But Misty pleasantly surprised me with her Odette. I really felt as though she transformed and inhabited the character. She has learned to control and articulate her long, highly arched feet, both on pointe and in the air. Her developes seem more lush. Her promenades were perfectly secure. And she had a really lingering arabesque, which she didn’t even milk for applause, but stayed entirely musical and in character.

    Perhaps Whiteside and Copeland could have had more of a connection (I was in the dress circle, and even with opera glasses, I don’t see every nuance of facial expressions). But their partnership was secure and they expressed great connection and yearning though their bodies. Their supported pirouettes were delightful (I’ve seen Misty look wobbly with other partners, such as Cornejo). And I can not say enough about Whiteside. I would love to see him perform Swan Lake with Part. I prefer him to Bolle any day. His grand jetes pause in the air. His chaine turns are so fast and pretty. And he is exceedingly handsome. Looking forward to his Cinderella with Nunez.

    Misty’s Odile was less impressive, mostly because the characterization wasn’t as strong. I feel she lacked either the vampiness or flirtatiousness this role requires. She instead took on a steely, cold approach. As for these fouettes, I am a bit perplexed by her strategy. She started with a double, and was throwing in doubles ever other turn for a while, until she started to tire (or dizzy) and went to the pirouettes. It would make more sense to me to attempt 30 or so respectable singles, like Veronika Part. But as others have said, I have seen other ballerinas, including Kent struggle here.

    As I watched yesterday, I was remembering Misty in the pas de quatre (cyngettes) variation and as the Hungarian Princess. It’s a special treat to see a debut from someone who has worked their way through the roles and matured as an artist before your very eyes. (I felt the same way watching Stella dance Giselle this season.) I was moved.

    Yes the crowd cheered like crazy for Misty, but nothing crazier than you would have heard if you were at say Osipova’s ABT Don Quixote debut or a Vishneva Giselle. The Russians (and russeomanes) get just as loud as the Copeland fans. The only difference I perceive is a higher pitch to the “woooooooo”s of Misty’s fans-- more women and girls--and fewer gruff, low-pitched “bravas.” Also, the Copeland crowd gave more love to the soloists. For example, they also cheered like crazy for the cygnettes and the Neopolitan Dancers. (Who performed that tricky duet well, and for once, quite well matched in size and technique). The crowd did chuckle a little during the segment where Von Rothbart enchants the princesses, but I think that was more in part due to Hammoudi’s very caddish characterization than Misty Copeland’s uncouth fan base. The way the princesses swooning goes with the music; it is a bit funny. I’d also like to point out that people were laughing inappropriately during Othello, with no Misty Copeland onstage. (Please stop blaming her for everything. It is preposterous.)

    The corps was an absolute mess in the first act. Couples nearly collided, and at one point a dancer was so behind the music she appeared to be marking steps. If anything was lacking in professional execution Wednesday afternoon, that was it, for me.

  5. Misty did not do pique turns in the coda. She did about 16 fouettes, with quite a few doubles thrown in, then about 16 single pirouettes from 5th position in place.

    The pirouettes were not her grandest moment; however, I thought Misty was a divine Odette, and performed really really well today. Her characterization is in no way bland. She is very, very birdlike in her movements, her portrayal perhaps influenced by her Firebird. I have never seen her dance so well. Where her long feet could sometimes look clunky in the past, she has learned to articulate them so beautifully, and this was so evident today. Lovely fluttering bourees . .

    I don't have time to write more now, but overall, it was a phenomenal debut. And Whiteside was so strong in the 2nd act. What an asset to the company he is. That tricky turn that ends in the promenade . . . he was flawless!

  6. ABT will be performing Firebird in their LA tour next year. I think it will probably be included in their Spring season as well.

    Firebird is only one act, if I remember correctly, so this would mean a mixed bill.

    I had tickets to see Misty Copeland in Firebird and due to her very bad injury saw Natalia Osipova instead. (The reverse of the recent casting switch for R&J) Osipova was other worldly.

  7. K.M. Sergeyev and Grigorovich tinkered quite a bit with the original choreography, mostly not to a good effect. Unfortunately, neither one of them is nearly as talented a choreographer as Petipa who can stand very well on his own. In those parts where the surviving choreographic notation is incomplete, Petipa’s ballets require a choreographer who both can be his equal partner and has a deep understanding and respect for the style---requirements which Ratmansky fits, and, unfortunately, K.M. Sergeyev and Grigorovich do not. I for one am thankful to Ratmansky for bringing to us a version which is much closer to what Petipa’s choreography looked like.

    I find Grigorovich’s Sleeping Beauty especially awful. It does differ vastly from Ratmansky’s production. Just in the adagio of the wedding PDD as performed by Zakharova and Hallberg, there are dozens of differences that coarsen this piece. The Ratmansky reconstruction looks warm, delicate, refined, full of texture and detail. The Grigorovich version—which is just a coarsened K.M. Sergeyev version—is detached, repetitive, and stylistically bizarre. This PDD is one of the pieces where the choreographic notation does not seem to be very detailed, but Grigorovich trashes what little of it does exist. Where is the mime at the beginning of the adagio? (She is supposed to mime “I will dance with him”, as he is miming “I love her and I will marry her”---I'm quoting here from Wiley's "Tchaikovsky's Ballets".) Where is the warm embrace and why has it been replaced with an awkward supported arabesque penchée where they are at an arm’s length from each other? Where is Aurora's mime just after the diagonal of supported pirouettes, and where are the beautiful lifts just before this diagonal? Why does the whole piece move at a glacial pace and why is there so much walking and standing? Why is the music slowed down to accommodate the choreography? Why does the ballerina hardly ever look at her partner? Why is their manner cool and distant? Why are the King, the Queen, the guests, the Prince, and the spectators repeatedly subjected to the sight of Princess Aurora's undergarments flanked by her legs split at a 180-degree angle? This might be appropriate in a piece by Forsyth but looks jarring at Aurora’s wedding. I am not sure if the mutual bows between Aurora and Désiré in the Ratmansky version are in the choreographic notation, but they look elegant and appropriate, as all the intricate footwork that he included. None of the Grigorovich additions/alterations look elegant or stylistically justified.

    The origin of the Désiré variation in the K.M. Sergeyev and Grigorovich versions is somewhat unclear, but I have seen it attributed to K.M. Sergeyev. The notated variation, reconstructed by Ratmansky, is very different, quite a bit more technically challenging for contemporary dancers, and, to my taste, vastly superior.

    Thank you for your historical insight. I am also grateful that we have this reconstructed Sleeping Beauty at ABT. I get a feeling (from their personal posts) that many company members feel grateful and inspired and know they still have work to do to execute the style fully. (I believe Boylston used the hashtag #workinprogress on one of her posts)

    Do you think Ratmansky restored the original tempos? I read somewhere that the Marinsky restoration was particularly sluggish.

  8. Wish List: In addition to Paquita, bring back On the Dnieper, Citizen (for the fall season, even though I think I'm the only person who liked this ballet), La Fille Mal Gardee, Nine Sinatra Songs. Please retire Fancy Free for awhile. Promote Abrera to principal and cast her as Giselle at the Met again (I know she'll never be promoted, but this is a wish list); promote Forster, Royall III, Scott, Brandt to soloist.

    ABT Fan, just read this. I thought I was the only one who liked "On the Dnieper"! I'd love to see that again, with better lighting, on the City Center stage. It almost reminds me of a Tudor work. Maybe it would pair well with one.

    I was not a fan of "Citizen" but I did like "Rabbit and Rogue," a ballet I'll probably never seen again because it was panned by the critics.

  9. I'd love to see Sylvia back with Boylston in the lead. And Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty with Osipova as Aurora.

    I agree with those who suggest the mixed bills, including a Classical pas de deux here and there. (I remember Vishneva and Corella dancing the Tchaikovsky Pas during a matinee a few years back. WOW.) Perhaps they'll do this during the Fall Season.

    I hope to see more new Ratmanksy. He seems to revel in dusting off old librettos. Perhaps Fokine's Carnaval?

    Promotions are due for Hammoudi, (who really took on a principal load this Spring) and Stella Abrera.

  10. To be fair to the hometown dancers (and to the good press that this production has been getting), a lot of tickets sold after the switch was announced. I bought my orchestra seat after Osipova/Sarafanov withdrew, and there were a lot more available when I purchased than there were empty seats last night. There were big blocks of orchestra seats along the sides that sold in recent weeks -- and those are seats that, for many performances, don't sell at all.

    True. I'm pretty sure standing room sold out too. And those tickets aren't sold until the day of.

  11. Yes, I do recall. I guess I should have said I preferred the alternate choreography, as executed by Lane and Cornejo, (which I believe may be the original choreography) to the messy, wobbly fish dives. The alternate choreography is definitely easier for the male dancer. (I think this more an issue with Cornejo's partnering than anything.) I liked it though. A very similar sequence of steps is actually performed somewhere else in the ballet (I can't remember exactly where), although only once. I'm interested to read reviews from tonight.

    Thanks for the clarification on what was going on in the vision scene. It didn't look right at all.

    Hi DeCoster. If you recall, Lane and Cornejo did not do fish dives. They did simplified, alternative choreography instead of fish dives that was much easier than the fish dives.

    Also, no Boylston should not have had her eyes looking downward when she stepped on the pedestal in the Vishion Scene. She should have been looking out at the audience. She spent too long looking down at the pedestal, as though she feared she might slip off it.

  12. Yes, Marcelo's Cabrosse was magnificent! I loved how he mocked the fairies in ACT I and warns the King in Act 3. So many little details to his performance.

    I'm a big fan of this production too, particularly how the dancing and pantomime illuminates the music. I also think Ratmanksy brings out the best in the company.

    There were aspects of Boylston's performance I preferred to Lane's and vice versa. (Such is the pleasure of seeing multiple casts!) Isabella has the exuberance of a teenager, and her jumps soar. But I thought her performance on the slow variation after the balances (the one that follows the violin solo where she curtsies to all of the suitors) was less luscious and secure than Sarah. I love how Lane did the diagonal hops in that variation, with deep plie and beautiful relaxed arms. Sometimes Boylston raises her shoulders or breaks her wrists and looses her lovely carriage. But only sometimes. I agree her dancing is very musical. Also hops seem to be difficult to perform gracefully when one has very high arches.

    I love it when the Act I fairies dance in unison. Veronika Part is probably incomparable as Lilac Fairy in terms of the pantomime and characterization. Insofar as her dancing part in Act I, I thought it looked a bit labored at times.

    Skylar Brandt was a magical fairy of joy -- she just flies across the stage. (I also preferred her Diamond Fairy to Shevchenko's.) Misty danced beautifully in the Wheat Flower Fairy variation, and I think she pulls of the demi-pointe chaines really well -- fast with a high demi-pointe.

    They closed the curtain to soon before the musical interlude, so the audience missed the beautiful tableau from the first part of Act I.

    I observed the shell that holds Aurora's foot during the Act II balance. That part looked weird to me in general last night. Was she supposed to be looking straight down at the ground?

    Zhong-Jing Fang stood out as sapphire fairy. I think this style suits her too. Her arms and feet are so well placed.

    Stella was gorgeous again. The crowd loves her too.

    The fish dives were wobbly and weird. I gasped, but not in a good way. Preferred Lane and Cornejo here too.

    It looked like Boylston's Sleeping Beauty sold very well, and the crowd cheered her loudly. I felt like she was the hometown hero. She deserves it too; I think she's really working hard and improving.

    I wish I could see every cast in this production. It's so beautiful and highlights the company well. If you don't like the Garland scene, you might be sitting too close. ;)

    Also, thanks to these Gifs reproduced in Vanity Fair, I remembered one place I saw Ratmansky use the demi-pointe chaines before: Seven Sonatas. [scroll down -- Julie Kent w/ David Hallberg]


  13. Haven't had time to report, but I went to Bayadere Monday night.

    I was disappointed with Hee Seo's performance. I felt she lacked in both her technique and her characterization. Gillian acted well and threw in some astounding pirouettes, but her grand jetes seemed so labored.

    It was my first time seeing Kimin Kim, and he did dazzle technically, especially with those running assemble tours (once again, I lack the proper terminology -- sorry). Each time he spins through the air and lands softly in a perfect fifth position.

    I can't comment as to why the partnering looked so labored at times, but it certainly did, especially the overhead lift in the Shades scene. He really had to build momentum before he got her up there, rocking her back and forth. Then he looked like he might fall over as he set her down. I'm interested as to how he would have done partnering Seminova. She seems bigger than Seo, although I can't say for sure.

    Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane, and Luciana Paris stood out as crisp, musical, and lovely in the Pas d'Action. I thought Christine Shevchenko and Devon Teuscher looked weak and wobbly at moments in their shades variations. Stella was perfect. She seems so comfortable in the technique; she is able to give another layer of expression and flourish. (Whereas others at times look like they're thinking about the steps) Does anyone know if she has learned Nikiya?

    The corps was as good as I've every seen them, but overall I thought it was a bit of a blah performance, even with Kim's jumps.

    I'm afraid Hee Seo, despite her beauty and lovely lines, is going to be a dancer I avoid in most leading roles. Just watched this video of her at Marinsky, and you can see the problems:

  14. My second fantasy is to see some company perform an approximation of SB's steps and sequence of dances (including Three Ivans and other Nijinska emendations) as per 1921-Diaghilev...to see the 1921 version danced with ABT's lovely 1921-inspired costumes.

    Natalia, this is an intriguing fantasy. I'm curious if Ratmanksy considered it. Do you know if any notation from the Diaghilev production even exists? Ironically, I read online that Diaghilev employed Nicholas Sergeyev (who saved the original Petipa notations, eventually used by Ratmansky) to help stage Sleeping Princess but Sergeyev left because Diaghilev insisted on so many changes to the Petipa choreography. It appears there are "choreographic notes" by Nijinska at the Library of Congress (one page), but this doesn't seem like actual notation of steps.

    There seem to be many different characters in the 1921 staging, including the Mountain Ash Fairy and the Carnation Fairy: http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/thumbnail/135282/1/Costume-Design-For-The-Fairy-Carnation,-From-Sleeping-Beauty,-1921.jpg

  15. I think this production actually is the one production where it'd be very hard to fly in guests. Ratmansky demands (and gets) a tremendous amount of rehearsal time for his productions, and I'm not sure I can picture, say, Natalia Osipova performing pirouettes in demi-pointe.

    I don't think any pirouettes were performed in demi-pointe, just chaine turns. The pirouettes have a lower passe position, however.

    Perhaps I'm weird, but I would love to see Osipova perform the restrained choreography of Ratmansky's Beauty. She has very strong footwork and wears very soft shoes (so much so, that it appears as if she is standing on the strength of her toes a la Pavlova). And others have commented that her time at the Royal Ballet has strengthened her classical technique.

    Seminova doesn't seem right, but perhaps this will be an opportunity for some up-and-comers like Christine Shevchenko or Skylar Brandt. Aurora is a youngster after all.

  16. Hmmm, did George Washington wear a red coat? I don't know, but Ratmansky clearly has a fondness for the Ballets Russes. Two other examples of Diaghliev inspired productions are ABT's Firebird and the Golden Cockerel which he did for the Royal Danish Ballet in 2012 and utilized the original Natalia Goncharova designs for Ballets Russes.

    As explained in the program, the costumes designed by Richard Hudson were directly inspired by Leon Bakst’s very famous designs for the Diaghilev's 1921 production of The Sleeping Princess. Sure, we can reject this artistic decision, but I think we need to understand the costumes within this context. The colors are bold (Hudson even lowered the tones a few shades, I read somewhere) and there are a lot of patterns in the textiles (something typical of Ballet Russes costumes, from what I’ve seen. Check out Bakst’s designs for Scheherazade for instance). I really don’t think Bakst cared about historical accuracy in designing costumes for a Ballets Russes production of a fairy tale. He cared, no doubt, about beauty, drama, and fabulousness.

    Why does the Prince wear a red coat and a darker wig during the hunt scene? Because that’s how Bakst designed it: http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/thumbnail/135263/1/Costume-Design-For-Prince-Charming-Hunting,-From-Sleeping-Beauty,-1921.jpg

    The French may have worn this or that during the Baroque period; however, Hudson adhered to Bakst’s vision, not a historical one.

    Personally, I found it pretty glorious to see these designs come to life, and, as many have said, they are a massive improvement over the costumes in the previous ABT production. The wonderful, whimsical details are too numerous to mention, but I especially loved the fairy costumes in the first act and their matching cavaliers' costumes. I understand that some aren’t fond of the wigs or the lavishness of the design, but if they cherry-picked a few elements of the Bakst look and toned it down even more, people would be complaining about that too.

    Aurora has two act III wedding dresses. The first one is a longer wedding gown, with a cape and dropped sleeves and a massive feather headdress, as shown here on Gillian Murphy: https://instagram.com/p/3T966VnVS6/?taken-by=gillianemurphy

    Then when she returns to stage for the pas de deux she is in the pared down tutu and no plumes, as she appears photographed in most reviews. (This was also true to Bakst’s design: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4b/a9/6d/4ba96d1d99da8c9ba32519e677121e2c.jpg)
    This kind of reminded me of today’s trend in wedding excess, where a bride has a wedding gown and a usually more revealing “reception dress” she wears after the ceremony.

    Now to the dancing . . .

    I thought Sarah Lane’s debut was admirable and in moments remarkable. She is a small dancer who dances big, with beautiful expansive port-de-bras and perfectly relaxed shoulders. Her feet, although lacking the tremendous arches that attract attention, are so incredibly articulate, they seem to hum all the way to the dress circle as she executes the small beats and ronde-de-jams required in this understated choreography. I think this role and production suit her well.

    She did struggle at a few points in the Rose Adagio and seemed nervous and perhaps over-excited (although isn’t this just how you’d be at your sweet 16?) Yes, the suitors dwarfed her. She’s a small dancer, like Kotchekova. If you don’t like petite ballerinas, I would avoid any ballet cast with Herman Cornejo. But then you would miss perhaps the most technical male dancer at ABT. His footwork is the finest, to my eye at least. A charming prince, indeed.

    The demi-pointe chaine turns have a different whipping quality altogether. I thought Sarah did them well. Interestingly I think some contemporary choreographers, including Ratmansky himself and Twyla Tharp, occasionally have dancers come off pointe, to complete chaine turns but maintaining the plie the whole time, for a different, low-down effect. (In this case their knees are pretty straight, they just aren’t on pointe.)

    Another use of demi-pointe that struck me was how the back foot was held when the dancers stood still with their leg bent behind them (typical pose for which I lack the ballet terminology). Here is Paulina Waski, as sapphire fairy, illustrating what I mean: https://instagram.com/p/3UQa6sSJaI/?taken-by=abtofficial

    This was completely consistent throughout the performance. I never once saw a dancer turn his or her toes under (now the standard pose) until the curtain calls.

    Overall, I was somewhat disappointed with the corps in different moments on Saturday. I hope Ratmansky whips them into shape before next weeks performances. The Lilac Fairy attendants, in Act 1 were distressingly sloppy, so much so that before I lifted my binoculars I thought they might be older JKO students. Their formations were crooked, and their heads were often angled in different directions, some facing forward some diagonally. Courtney Lavine stumbled badly and was also noticeably late completing a phrase. Perhaps the tempo challenged some dancers. It looks like they need rehearsal.

    The rats were great. Who/ what were Carabosse’s two creepy little minions? They didn’t seem to be credited in the program.

    Generally I’m not to big of a fan of children in or at the ballet, but I must say the kids in the audience behaved very nicely on Saturday (at least around where I sat), and I must give a shout-out to those violin pages (really little girls playing little boys). They executed some really difficult footwork, including that little pas-de-chat with the ronde-de-jam at the end (no idea what that is called), while pretending to strum miniature violins the whole time. I was honestly impressed.

    In Act III, Sarah executed the unsupported backbend perfectly. Her balance was finally on. Wow! The alternate choreography for the fish dives was interesting. It starts with an inside pirouette (from attitude?) and ends with her sort of collapsing sideways, her torso almost perpendicular to the floor, arms in fifth, leg a la seconde. As she “dives” and Herman catches her, his head turns away from her, to the side.

    The third act fairies were delightful in their unison. They were a petite squad, perhaps to mirror Lane and Cornejo, including Nicole Graniero, Luciano Paris, and Gemma Bond. They all danced well, but Skylar Brandt, as several of you observed, was captivating as the Diamond fairy. The tempo was so fast. This may seem dumb, but somehow they seemed more like fairies to me than in other productions, and I think the speed had something to do with it.

    It was great to see Stella back on stage after missing her as Myrta last week. She was a perfect Princess Florine. Blaine Hoven was a mixed bag: his tours not the best but his brises were lovely.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a ballet with so much pantomime. I think this will challenge 21st century American audiences much more than the costumes, demi-pointe, or lack of bravura dancing. I was impressed with Devon Teuscher’s comfort and maturity executing the pantomime as Lilac Fairy, but I’ll admit I did sometimes long to see her dance more.

    Did anyone else perceive a coldness between Herman and Sarah during the curtain calls? Perhaps my barometer is off after several very emotional Giselles (not just the retirements but Stella and Diana’s as well), but I just don’t detect much affection or comradery between them at all.

  17. I have enjoyed watching Misty grow as a dancer. I just saw her dance Peasant Pas in two performances of Giselle, and she is looking better than ever.

    I'm curious how people make so much over her status/ possible promotion and whether she "deserves" it, when little was said about Hee Seo, who, in my viewings has more technical shortcomings (but is perhaps more versatile in terms of casting?) If you go to performances where Hee Seo is cast, you will see more Asians in the audience just as if you see Misty you will see more Black audience members. The difference, from my perspective, is that Misty brings out the young dancers (of all colors) who are inspired by her backstory and her pop appeal. I think this is good for ballet, kind of like what happened in the 70s with Barishnykov. Misty has a slightly curvaceous body for dance, which I think inspires a lot of girls who don't fit the stereotypical waif-type. Moreover, she was a late-starter, as far as ballet goes. I think this inspires a lot of students who didn't get to start ballet at 6 or 7, because of geographic or socioeconomic limitations.

    One aspect of Misty's dancing that is overlooked is her epaulment. Her shoulders and arms are always carried beautifully. I saw her in Coppelia last year, and she was a fantastic comedic actress. I do hope that she can develop a partnership with Cornejo and though I'm not clamoring for her promotion right now (STELLLLLA!), I despise any suggestion that McKenzie would be promoting her *because* of her skin color or publicity efforts. As I said earlier, I find her much more technically assured than Hee Seo. And I wish Isabella Boylston, also a principal, would learn to control her hands and arms like Misty.

  18. I will miss Xiomara greatly. She really grew on me over the years, and I found her dancing to be wonderfully musical. One of my favorite Xiomara moments was seeing her in the Tudor R&J pas de deux at City Center. Never forget that. Wish she was dancing the McMillian R&J this season.

    I'm sad I couldn't be there, so thank you so much for sharing the reviews and the curtain calls. Xiomara's embrace with Irina Kolpakova was beautiful.

    Interesting that both retiring principals showed visible apprehension when McKenzie approached.

  19. Personally, I find Macauley's comments on personal appearance distressing and rude. I know that personal appearance is part of the performance, but it seems completely over the top to single out someone's hair color, hair "streaking" (known in the real world as highlights) or eye makeup. If someone has dyed their hair green, okay- fair game because the persoanl appearance has created a distraction from the performance. However, the fact that he persoanlly does not care for a partiuclar hair color shade or highlight job really should not make it into the review. Most recently he has complained that Sara Mearns wore too much eye makeup, while Sterling Hyltin wears too little. I also recall comments in the past about the hair colors of Gillain Murphy, Savanah Lowery and, I believe, Jennie Somogyi. Of course, there was the Hitler Youth comment about Steifel mentioned above. I believe he had also mentioned Darci Kistler's hair coloring a number of years ago. If you want to discuss someone's execution of the choreography or their acting, that's fair game. I don't believe that he should venture into the area of cosmetology, however.

    You nailed it abatt. (I was laughing when I read "streaking" in his review. I'm surprised the editors at the NYT couldn't help him define highlights.) I recall him calling out Blaine Hoven for changing his hair color as well. But the worst for me was when he felt the need to mention Danny Ulbricht's small feet. I think it was the last line of the review. It was as though he couldn't critique his dancing, so he went after his foot size. And we can't forget the Jennifer Ringer "eating a sugar plum" line. You'd think he'd learn . . .

  20. I also feel lucky to have Gomes and Vishneva at ABT. I took a friend last night, and he was blown away by Diana's performance. (It's always interesting for me to experience ballet with someone who knows almost nothing about the company, technique, or tradition, because their experience seems very pure.) It seems that Vishneva dances almost exclusively with Gomes when with ABT, and can you blame her? He is an extraordinary partner.

    I was sad that Stella was replaced as Myrta. Like others, I'm still thinking about her Giselle! Devon Teuscher danced admirably but lacked authority. I guess I'm one of those shameless Part apologists, because her performance did a lot more for me despite any missing beats or technical shortcomings. (Simone Messmer was a fierce Myrta from her debut, and I miss her in this role.)

    Regarding Gillian as Giselle, I didn't say her dancing was "harsh," I just don't find her suited to the role. I would say this is more of an opinion than an "excuse." Similarly, I am not eager to see Vishneva cast as Hagar or Part cast as Juliet, although I am a huge fan of both, as I am of Gillian Murphy.

    What I can't understand why Gillian isn't dancing Nikiya, particularly with Seminova's withdrawal. I should probably ask this in the Bayadere thread, but do any of you insiders know if Stella Abrerra has learned Nikiya?

    Lastly, I just finished checking out all these beautiful dancers on instagram. https://instagram.com/p/3GUnJ0C94b/?taken-by=vladimir_shklyarov Despite last night's magnificence, I can't stop thinking about Saturday. I sure do hope Shklyarov comes back.

  21. Gillian performed as Giselle with Royal New Zealand Ballet, which was filmed and broadcast in movie theatres internationally

    Sorry, I did not know this. Seems they brought the production to L.A. too. Looks like an interesting take on Giselle. (The whole ballet is framed as a flashback remembered by a guilty, aging Albrecht. 2nd act solo added. Hillarion's role expanded.)

    But watching the trailer and viewing images of the production confirms my opinion that Gillian is perhaps not particularly well cast here.

    Murphy 2nd act arabesque (wish I could find a pic of Stella to contrast)


  22. I'm a huge Gillian Murphy fan, but I don't think she'd be well cast as Giselle. Did she actually express a desire to dance this role? I haven't seen her display the right kind of vulnerability or lightness. I'd actually rather see her Nikiya, which also requires some vulnerability, and I believe she has danced, but she is only cast as Gamzatti this season. I'm so glad I got to see her Hagar again this season, though.

    I did standing room on Saturday to catch Stella's debut. There's not much to write that hasn't been said. She did seem to struggle a wee bit in the first act, both in the hops on pointe and pirouettes, but her characterization was fantastic. I felt like there was a cultural distance between them that served them well: infatuated with one another, yet from other worlds. Sadly, Craig Sailstein did not come off well, dancing on the same stage as Shklyarov. Poor guy. Weak double tours :(. Misty danced beautifully, in my opinion. I love how she presents her carriage and face to the audience -- others could take note . (Overall this was a night of fine ballerina port-de-bras, between Misty, Stella, and Veronika. This is something I truly value ABT for, so I was pleased.)

    Stella owned the second act, as many have observed. She seemed so weightless at times, truly like a spirit. There were moments when she held that third-arabesque (?) position so typical of Giselle she looked like a print out of the 19th century. It's hard for me to describe the subtly and beauty she adds to the role. And Shklarov partnered her with such ease! Also, his beats are amazing.

    Thanks for all the reviews and information on the season so far, friends. Now onto tonight and Vishneva/ Gomes. Gosh, I love springtime in NY. And I get to sit!

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