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Posts posted by DeCoster

  1. I was there last night too. I feel like a fool, but was that really Boylston in Sylphides? I don't have my program with me now, but I thought the soloists were Melanie Hamrick and a shorter, lighter-haired dancer (with a great jump) whom I didn't recognize. I agree that it was lackluster. Tom Forster did thud about, and Hamrick seemed uninspired and lazy. I can't say this ballet is one of my favorites, though.

    Pillar of Fire was fantastic and perfectly cast. This ballet is so unique in the staging and lighting. The chemistry between Stella Abrerra and Gillian Murphy is something fierce. And I love the choreography. Glad to see it back.

    Fancy Free was good times, and the audience couldn't get enough of Herman and Marcelo (can you blame them?) The dancers seemed to be having legitimate fun. My boyfriend really wanted to know how much of the choreography was original and how much the dancers embellish their solos, in particular all of the humorous hip shaking in Marcelo's solo. I told him I thought they stuck to the original choreography (didn't Jerome Robbins himself perform the hip-shaking, mambo part?) pretty closely, but I wasn't sure.

    Yes, lots of empty seats at the Met, although the crowd did seem a bit younger than usual. (I wouldn't have bought tickets for this performance myself, but I won them in an ABT Facebook contest) There were a noticeable number of Koreans in the house, presumably to support Hee Seo who had a bit of a rough night, falling on her bum in Sylphides. It can only go up from here?

    Oh, and regarding calling Boylston, "Bella," didn't everybody call Baryshnikov "Misha" and Marakova "Natasha"? Seems like exactly the same thing.

  2. Wow. The mere notion of Gomes retiring anything has me flabbergasted. I suppose he is human after all.

    I do agree with the commenter who suggested they didn't need to bring Kim in for Bayadere. Is he really such a ticket draw? Why not Whiteside, Gomes, or Hammoudi? Gomes is great with Seminova. But maybe he's finally tired.

    Gomes said last year in an interview that he could no longer do Bayadere. I'm afraid he'll be "retiring" many other roles in the next few years.

  3. Oh, and in regards to Misty Copeland. I would like to see Sarah Lane promoted first, and I do think Misty is unfinished in some ways (like Boylston); however, I think she can excel in classical roles and, in fact, has a very classical style, despite a late start to her training and a non-traditional body-type for ballet. I can't see her at NYCB or SFB, as I think classical roles suit her much better than Balanchine. Her Coppelia with Herman Cornejo was excellent. She is a humorous actress. She has a great jump, and covers space despite being short. I would be interested to see her DonQuixote. And we know she excels in the jazz-influenced Tharp roles. She was well-reviewed in Firebird too.

    Misty sells tickets and is bringing new audiences to the ballet. I think she's bringing popularity and coolness to ballet, like Barishnikov did with his pop culture goings-on. If they cast the Russians to sell tickets, can we really resent Kevin giving her a chance at Swan Lake for a week day matinee? I probably can't make it, but I'm excited to hear how it goes.

  4. Just catching up here, and it's interesting to read everyone's comments regarding the casting and general company health over at ABT. Thank you all.

    I purchased a trio package, but I'll certainly try to do standing room to see some debuts. Like several of you, I'm very excited for Sarah Lane's Aurora with Herman Cornejo. I do wish more casting was up for Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere. Hopefully I'll be able to catch Veronika Part as the Lilac Fairy. She is "world class" in that role, folks! (3 words: port de bras.) I'm excited to see what Ratmansky does with this ballet, and from what I've read, the designers are returning to the Baskt designs, so we'll be released from Disney tafetta-pastel-land. I'm guessing Ratmansky's version will be darker in general, and he'll probably dig up some oddities from the original libretto (like the bees in the Nutcracker).

    I am also looking for to both castings of Othello. Do people despise this ballet?

    I think Hammoudi has actually improved immensely, particularly his partnering. He does many principal roles, so yes, I think he will be promoted soon.

    Some have pointed out the state of the ballerinas in the company with three retirements on the horizon. Personally, I hope this provides opportunity. I am excited about some of the soloists and their chances. I would certainly come to see a Boylston, Lane, or Abrerra Giselle or Juliet, were they cast. I would have liked to see Maria Riccetto or Simone Messmer get a chance. I miss them. (I don't think Michelle Wiles was a loss to the company. She seemed to have plateaued or worn out, and she wanted to explore other things. Although I did think of her when I saw Pillar of Fire listed this season. Wiles surprised me in that.) Reyes is a loss. She is versatile, consistent, and partners perfectly with Cornejo. But Lane and Copeland also dance well with Cornejo, so this may be an opportunity for them.

    Unless I missed it, no one seems to mention Seminova in their assessment of the company. She is not a guest artist, is she? She appears in the Fall season too. Her Bayadere is pretty "world class," as far as I'm concerned. Yet I do agree with the commenter who suggested they didn't need to bring Kim in for Bayadere. Is he really such a ticket draw? Why not Whiteside, Gomes, or Hammoudi? Gomes is great with Seminova. But maybe he's finally tired.

    I agree that ABT is a little too obsessed with the guest artists and thus loses talent from the soloist purgatory. I hope this can change a bit with the retirements. Still I'm looking forward to the season, and I still think they're lucky to have nabbed Ratmansky. NYCB is fantastic, no doubt, but ABT is something different.

  5. Wishing Xiomara Reyes all the best and grateful for so many beautiful performances, some of them, as others have mentioned, very recent. She is a wonderful actress and a great technician too. I was suprised to read of her retirement but will definitely make her final performance.

    As to who will partner Cornejo, someone mentioned the many guest artists he has partnered with, such as Cojocaru and Osipova. I saw him dance Copellia with Misty in the Spring, and he partnered her easily. She is terrific in that role, however, I do not think she is ready to be promoted yet.

    I'm joining the pray for Stella campaign. Unless she has some unkown injury, I think she is ready for principal full lengths. Ratmansky seems fond of her. He cast her as the ballerina in Bright Stream, as well as principal roles in Seven Sonatas (my screen saver is Stella and Gennadi Saveliev in Seven Sonatas, and it makes me so happy) and the Nutcracker. I mean, has there ever been a filipina principal ballerina? Stella would also be making history. And Julie Kent's retirement will open up some spaces. For instance, I'd love to see Stella's Juliet. And wouldn't she make a lovely Aurora in Ratmanksy's new Sleeping Beauty. Also, Sarah Lane will shine in the role, I think.

  6. Last night was a really enjoyable performance for me. It's rare that I enjoy all three pieces in a mixed bill to this degree.

    The Leaves are Fading is just such a beautiful, understated piece of choreography. I've seen it a few times in recent years, and I find some new aspects to appreciate each time. As far as dancing goes, Sarah Lane and Daniil were stand-outs for me. They seemed to relate really well, and they matched each others beautiful shoulder and head movements. Perhaps Lane's gorgeous fluidity, mature abandon, and controlled port de bras that reveal the stiltedness and hesitancy that sometimes afflicts Hee Seo. (Perhaps her segments have more difficult choreography. I'm not sure.) Also, (nitpicky here) I find Hee Seo's pointe-work to be a bit clod-hoppy. Perhaps her shoes need to be hard because her feet are so flexible, but she doesn't seem to roll through her foot easily like the other ABT women, and she makes quite a lot of noise. Still, Hee Seo and Roberto Bolle did make a ridiculously beautiful pair, and her lines in arabesque and a la seconde are wonderful to behold. This choreography really suited Bolle; I've never enjoyed him more onstage. (Would love to see Bolle and Kent together in Leaves.) Seo has also become more of an actress and excelled in the flirtatious moments. Some of the group parts were a little rough. Perhaps the dancers were so excited for the Ratmansky premiere, they lacked focus at moments. Daniil had a rough partnering moment with a taller dancer (Kristi Boone?) which was a bit humorous actually. Tudor created some challenges for a group of such divergent sizes, as they are required to switch partners quite a bit.

    Symphony # 9. Wow. I lack the full vocabulary to describe what I saw last night, but if you enjoy Shostakovich and ballet, I can't imagine not being taken with what Ratmansky has done here. He seems to depict in dance many of the themes present in the music: humor, pathos, collectivism, and alienation. He chose a small corps of women, which allows Polina Seminova to stand out amongst them. She had some nervous balances in the beginning, but her and Marcelo were a sexy, exuberant pair, awesomely athletic and big in all their movements. Despite the top billing of Gomes and Seminova, Herman Cornejo stole the show with his virtuoso dancing. He also got the biggest crowd reaction. As I've come to enjoy with Ratmansky there is a lot of traditional ballet vocabulary performed in interesting ways. Herman is such a master of the petit allegro, and Ratmansky gives him lots to play with here. Simone Messmer and Craig Salstein had the other leading roles, and they just blew my mind. Messmer seems so perfect for this. I loved how she wore her short hair; she has what I would describe as a Kurt Weil quality to her, if that makes and sense. She tore into the choreography, as did Salstein. Messmer has quickly become one of my favorite dancers in the company, and this piece was a great vehicle for others. She is a compelling actress with really solid, gorgeous technique. Wowie zowie. How I wish I could see this again to describe it better! That's how much this piece pleased me. As for weirdness, there was some percussive slamming of the floor, but mostly it was beautiful 21st century ballet to Shostakovich Symphony #9. I was not crazy about the costumes, and I think they'll look dated in time (as the Leaves are Fading costumes do). But who cares; it was marvelous. I can't wait for the Spring, and I'm so happy this is happening in New York City and I get to live through it.

    Rodeo was a lot of fun as expected. I just love the music, and I was feeling so happy after Symphony #9 and my glass of wine at intermission (where I spotted the beyond lovely Sara Mearns), feeling relaxed and ready to entertained. Craig Salstein hammed it up to no end. This was really a bid evening for him. The whole ensemble dance with great gusto and effort, and to me the orchestra sounded swell. I had spotted Isabella Boylston (she hopped out of her seat to applaud Symphony #9) earlier in the night, and I wonder if she will be performing the Cowgirl. I think she'd be wonderful, as would Osipova.. Marian Butler is a supreme actress but lacks the ups. Eric Tamm really caught my attention as well.

    In summation: What a great night at City Center. Sat in the front row of the upper mezz and had a great view. The music sounded fabulous! I can't wait for the Spring Shostakovitch evening. Sarah Lane and Simone Messmer are principal material.

  7. I have to agree that Misty, while wonderful to watch, is not yet ready for promotion by any means. Abatt mentions Stella Abrera, who I could see as a principal, but what about Maria Riccetto? She has danced Giselle (although sadly not this season). Ratmansky cast her as one of the Natalias in On The Dniepier and Clara in the Nutcracker, both principal roles. She is one of my favorite Lilac Faries (second only to V. Part).

    My fear is that Isabella Boylston or Hee Seo, both whom I admire for many reasons, will get promoted first. I find Maria's dancing more musical and nuanced, and again, she is such a fine actress. Neither Seo or Boylston has the consistency of Riccetto (in my opinion).

    I can't even imagine Misty being promoted at this point.

  8. Can someone remind me of the standing room policies for ABT? I've done it several times, but I forget. I know you have to buy the tickets day-of, but do they only allow standing room for sell-outs.

    I have only done standing room from the orchestra. Carbo, if you're reading, is the scenery also cut-off when standing in the Dress Circle? Why do you prefer to the Grand Tier?

    Also, foolish question, perhaps but: do they allow standing room for the gala? Normally I'm not particularly interested anyway, but this year's looks especially chock 'o block, plus I'd love to see the Manon pas. My assumption is that they don't sell standing rooms, with all of the cocktails and hot-shots and such.

  9. If Kajiya, Lane and Riccetto get roles that, absent the height of these ballerinas, would be accorded to other soloists or corp members by merit, then is it right to prioritize finding a partner for short men over the advancement and development of other ballerinas? Why don't the taller women who might now be losing opportunities get priority and, when they get roles, cause non-short men to be cast next to them? Why the male development focus?

    A related issue is why ballet adheres to the traditions that that male danseur is expected to be taller than the ballerina. Is that something that audiences should reconsider?

    I don't think that male development is always the focus: it goes both ways. I would venture to say that Cory Stearns has received certain opportunities because his height allows him to partner some of the more established taller women such as Part and Wiles.

    Height is not merely a matter of aesthetics, either. Women grow several inches on pointe (taller girls grow more, as they have bigger feet). Often the male dancer has to hold the female dancer's arm above her head to support her in assisted pirouettes and promenades (I wish I could describe this better, but hopefully you know what I mean). This could be difficult and tends to look really awkward if she is already taller then him on flat ground. (Just imagine someone is taller than you and you have to hold one of their arms over their head while they spin around in front of you.) Also, there are lifts to consider. Gomes can partner anyone, but Simkin, as one can easily see, is somewhat limited as to whom he can hoist over his head.

    It does seem unfair: a small ballerina can be partnered by a tall/big guy (like Boylston and Gomes in EHAO or Julie Kent with Roberto Bolle) but generally a tall ballerina doesn't work with a small guy (because of reasons I mentioned). Of course there is some choreography that doesn't call for pointe shoes, or doesn't call for much partnering, where height doesn't matter much. Or even some--Prodigal Son comes to mind--where a taller girl and smaller guy can work to great effect.

    I love watching partnerships develop and evolve; it's one of my favorite parts of ballet. I'm not sure if Reyes' was promoted mainly as a partner to Cornejo; I recall that Julio Bocca and Angel Corrella used to partner Reyes fairly regularly as well. (Of course Bocca retired years ago and we see little of Corella these days) She may not be a technical virtuoso like Murphy and others, but I always admire her acting and musicality. I've come to appreciate her more and more over the years, especially her Giselle and Juliet.

    Incidentally, if you're interested in a parody of the classical ballet paradigm you should check out the Trockoderos. They love to play on the big ballerina with the small male dancer theme. It's pretty astounding some of the partnering they actually do pull off, but you can clearly see (and get a good chuckle at) the difficulties that arise. They will also provide an answer to your pointework question.

  10. Speaking of Hallberg (and other dancers with lovely arches), does anyone have any speculation on the Seminova/Hallberg DQ?

    I usually do 4 Sat. matinees with my Mom (she doesn't like to stay up late) and a couple evenings with my friend. It seems that in the past 2 years they've really improved the casting for Sat. matinees. Last season we got an Osipova/Hallberg R & J and a Murphy/ Carreno SL. Perhaps the management has noticed that the matinees sell very well.

    Nice to see opportunities for Maria Riccetto. She ended up partnering Simkin in Nutcracker and she appears with him again in Coppelia. (I heard their Nut pas de deux was excellent, although regretfully I was not there.) Someone mentioned that they hoped Sarah Lane would sort of experience opportunities via a partnership with Simkin. Although I admire Sarah Lane, I personally would quite prefer these chances go to Maria. She not only has paid her dues, but is a much more consistent dancer, and, although it might not be mentioned much, she can act!

    Also of note: Hammoudi is cast for another principal role after his own Grownup Nutcracker Prince debut. Speaking of nice feet!

  11. I was walking through Times Square the other day (usually a pretty aggravating experience) and someone handed me a postcard with Sara Mearns on it, advertising buy-one-get-one free tickets for the Fall Season.

    The fine print on the postcard states the deal is restricted to Orchestra Sides and 3rd and 4th rings, but I just used the code online and the website offered half-price (that's how it works; not really "buy one get one free") tickets in the main orchestra and first ring too! (not the 2nd ring, strangely)

    Anyway, the code is THO11

    I thought I should post it here, since it's a killer deal. Just got my first ring, half price seats for thursday. Woo hoo! I never would've splurged for that section if they were full price. Moderators please remove if this is inappropriate.

    Sara Mearns looks sexy and beautiful in the photos which are a bit casual/personal as many of you have commented on. They are clearly trying to lure in a younger, perhaps less classically inclined audience.

  12. I've never had a problem with his dancing or partnering either. I just thought their partnership seemed even better than when I saw them together last, which as you point out could not have been on the PBS video. (I've seen them together in Don Q fairly recently and I believe Swan Lake as well, although i can't say what year without going through my programs) The delicacy and ease in the lifts seemed remarkable; it was perfectly fluid. I think that partnerships almost always improve over time, and I was struck by how effortless they made it look. I'm looking forward to seeing Cory Stearns get more comfortable with some of the ballerinas and work towards achieving this fluidity and ease. It's part of the glorious illusion of ballet.

    Anyway, 4mrdcr, I was trying to complement their dancing, not disparage them in any way. Seems like I struck a nerve, which was not my intent at all. Susan Jaffe and Jose are my all time favorite ACT II SL.

  13. Sad to see Jose leave ABT, but isn't there something to be said for dancers retiring before they start to noticeably decline (and then retire en masse a la NYCB)?

    I saw Jose dance Swan Lake with Gillian this season and they were phenomenal. Their partnership has certainly evolved and improved since the 2002 (?) recording; it's remarkable. Although his jumps might not be what they used to be, his partnering was perfect, his acting sublime, and his pirouettes completely controlled and delectable. In my mind he's the best spinner in town. NYC will miss Jose big time.

  14. Thanks ballet-talkers, for explaining the role of the Russian Clara/Marie. I was not aware, and as I have only seen American productions. I just noticed that Nureyev's version for POB, which I have been wanting to see on DVD, also has an adult Clara dance the SPF pas de deux.

    I was reading a bit about Catherine Hurlin, the young Clara pictured with Gomes in ABT's promotional stuff. Quite the prodigy, it seems. You may have caught her on stage in Mozartina last season. She almost looks like a young Gillian Murphy: http://www.dancespirit.com/articles/2134

  15. christian -- The press release indicates: "Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes will debut in the leading roles of Clara and The Nutcracker Prince". So, an adult dancing Clara and the Prince.

    If I were Wiles, I would not be happy. Maybe she will be Sugar Plum Fairy in some productions, but, if I assume she would have wanted to be female lead in at least one of the productions. It's also presumably a somewhat disappointing outcome for Sarah Lane, with Yuriko K being paired with Simkins. Working well with Simkins is going to give Sarah, Yuriko or another dancer of similar height some meaningful opportunities going forward. That it's Yuriko who is getting this first major opportunity opposite Simkins is interesting (and appropriate, in my mind, at least relative to Sarah Lane).

    I also noticed children pictured on the ABT website in what looked like the roles of clara and a young prince. Could it be they transform when Clara has her dream? This seems possible to me.

    I'm expecting the casting for the Nutcracker will dribble in as rehearsals progress and we'll see casting for other roles perhaps.

    Michele Wiles, a very skilled ballerina, doesn't really do girlish and vulnerable (no Giselles or Juliets) which may be why she wasn't a natural fit for Clara (although I can't presume to know what Ratmansky is doing with this production). She is a strong dancer, with regal qualities (I love her Myrta and Lilac) that might be better suited to the Snow Queen or Sugar Plum (both principal roles).

    There is no reason for a dancer to be unhappy if they are being cast in roles that best suit their strengths.

    Anyway, as I said, the nutcracker, in all it's disparate productions, is a showcase for a company, not carried by the lead couple in the same way some of the other full-lengths are. From my experience, clara and the prince do a lot of sitting around, watching, and gesturing in the second act.

    Someone correct me if I'm off base, here.

    Nice to see Hammoudi and Seo getting some opportunities. I love what I've seen from both of them.

  16. I had no idea Anne Milewski had been in the corps for so long either. She was my favorite girl goat in Sleeping Beauty.

    My eyes were always drawn to Reyes in the big 18th century ballets--perhaps because she is quite short and generally in the front of the corps--but I think it was something more. She lit up those "milling about the village" scenes. Her pantomime reached the dress circle, anyway.

    They were, in my opinion, two of the most beautiful women in the company. I wish them the best too.

  17. If Clara does turn out to be dancing role, I'd nominate Boylston. I can see her having a wonderfully childlike quality, like G. Kirkland had. Also, I find her dancing beautiful.

    Her Cavalier? Halberg, ideally. But I've seen Boylston partnered with Stearns to nice effect before too (because he isn't super-secure as a partner yet, I think he does better with smaller dancers).

    Stella would make a stunning Arabian dancer, with her gorgeous extensions and exotic looks. And Ratmansky will certainly include the acrobatic Russian dancer (Trepak), right? I can picture Simkin dazzling the audience in that variation. He'd look quite darling in a fur hat too.

    I think other Nutcracker versions use the Dewdrop too, perhaps after Balanchine. I know for a fact, anyway, that New Jersey Ballet's production, which I danced in, had a Dewdrop. It was choreographed by George Tomal and quite different than the Balanchine version.

  18. I have seen dance before (Momix and Ailey) at NJPAC, and I believe the sight-lines are much better than Avery Fisher, and--now that I think about it--also City Center for that matter. I sat in the front row of the second ring for Momix, and the seats were terrific. For that reason, I am really looking forward to seeing Seven Sonatas and EHAO again in this space, which is certainly more appropriate for dance than AFH (it has wings!).

    I hope hope hope Stella dances Seven Sonatas with Alexandre Hammoudi. They are wonderful together.

    From my visits to NJPAC, the audience actually seems younger than the MET. They mostly do modern and ethnic dance programming, and it does seem to sell. The photos of EHAO look edgy and a bit sexy in the brochure. Maybe they are going for some of those modern dance regulars who wouldn't normally venture into New York City for classical ballet.

  19. So is ABT not doing the Bard residency this summer? I suppose because there is no real fall season. Tis a pity. I enjoyed the ride up and the performance last year. I also remember them announcing it would be an "annual" residency. Hmmm . . .

    I don't know if it has been mentioned here, but tickets for the NJPAC November 20th performance have gone on sale. I got my NJPAC season brochure and there are individual pictures of soloists Misty Copeland, Danil Simkin, and a group shop from EDHAO. For those who haven't been to the PAC, it is walking distance from the PATH station. PATH trains leave from 33rd st., 14th st., other downtown stops, and World Train Center. There are also some tasty restaurants in the area, particularly in the IronBound section of Newark. The theater is very well suited to dance, in my opinion.

    Sorry, this was totally OT. Didn't feel like starting a new thread.

  20. I remember that piece about Ferri coaching Lane on Juliet. Lane has really impressed me this season. She is an expansive, if small dancer, who has such beautiful lines, although she can stumble on turns. I would love a Lane Juliet with Cornejo or even the young Simkin. Regarding Cornejo not getting many performances, I agree that Vishneva, although petite, is too powerful for his size. Lane getting more principal roles may help us see more Cornejo (Giselle?).

    And a "tall" R & J with Hammoudi and Abrera would be just dreamy in my opinion. They make an utterly perfect pairing in what I've seen them in (7 Sonatas and Brahms-Hayden Variations), and I would love to see their partnership develop. Their long limbs and ability to cover space complement each other well.

    I've enjoyed reading everyones' reviews this season. It sure helps me picture the many performances I can't attend. I haven't had time to post much, but when I find a moment I should comment on the Gillian Murphy Swan Lake, as I think she is at top form in this role. I also hope to report on the Osipova R & J debut this Saturday. So looking forward to it.

  21. Thank you so much for the heads-up, Barbara. I'll be sure to tune in.

    I heard a brief announcement last night on So You Think You Can Dance that dancers from ABT would be performing on their elimination show tonight. My guess is the dancers will consist of some of the talented soloists and corps members. Perhaps doing a section of the new Millepied piece? It seems that would fit into the tenor of the show.
  22. Gee, thanks for the kind words on my sloppy (but heartfelt) review.

    I've really enjoyed visiting this board since I joined. I find not only keen insights on the company, but more importantly, a historical perspective on ballet that helps me put things in context.

  23. I attended the evening performance on Saturday, October 3rd at Bard College. It’s difficult for me, after one viewing, to give much of a comprehensive, intelligent review of the evening, as I was taking in so many new works. I will try, instead, to give you a general impression of what I saw, highlighting some of the outstanding performances. Please excuse my writing; I’m doing this at work.

    I arrived at the theater early to see Stella Abrera marking choreography on the stage. My, she is beautiful! With no stage curtains, one of the unusual pleasures of the Bard experience was watching the dancers warm-up before each piece.

    Seven Sonatas, the new Ratmansky work, was danced by Abrera, Kent, and Reyes and Saveliev, Hammodi, and Cornejo. The dancers were paired respectively as listed, although Kent and Abrera seemed to switch partners frequently. There were also two pas de trois sections. This piece was the most classical of the evening, in the sense that the dancers retained turnout and what I consider “ballet arms” throughout. The music was fast, fast, fast, but the dancers all brought their allegro A-game, and even the extra long ones (Abrera and Hammoudi) kept up. Cornejo and Reyes are such joyous, buoyant dancers, and they move together beautifully. They really lit up the stage. Julie Kent showed impeccable footwork, but I found myself wishing she would open her shoulders more and lift her face (I was in the balcony). There was something a bit tentative about her performance. Ratmansky’s choreography is wonderfully musical, and I enjoy how he uses less frequently seen petit allegro steps. This piece seemed understated compared to the rest of the program, and thus, I think, received a more tepid audience reaction. There were moments that maybe lacked rehearsal, and sloppy arms from the men, but I am eager to see Seven Sonatas again.

    Next up was One of Three, which featured a trio and later a slew of men in black suits, interacting first with Gillian Murphy, then Misty Copeland, and finally Paloma Herrara. Whereas Seven Sonatas exemplified subtly, lightness, and happy couplings, One of Three showed us dancers exhibiting flashy extensions, rugged male ensemble work, and sometimes jaunting confrontations. Gillian appeared in striking long white ankle-length gown with a slit down one side. The gown appeared restricting, but somehow accommodated her ear-splitting developes. Gillian exhibited great control and sexiness, and Cory Stearns partnered her well. I wish I had the words to better describe Barton’s choreography. There was definitely some hip-hop influence where the movements would abruptly halt then the flow would start again (pop ‘n lock?). Misty came out all spunk and fire, in a black, high-neck, sleeveless number. Her movements featured an abrupt flexing of the feet and falling back on the heels, which accentuated her sort of long feet and hyper-extended legs. It looked pretty crazy. She was partnered by Simkin briefly, and just as I thought “Wow, look at him handle Misty” something went awry and he either dropped her or she slipped. There were a few seconds of audience gasp and awkwardness before they got it together. Still, despite the snafu, their interaction was interesting and unexpected. Paloma was the last woman to appear and she seemed the most at ease with the contractions and flow of the choreography. Paloma is not one of my favorites, and I avoid her in the full-lengths, but she seems to really excel in more contemporary choreography.

    After a brief pause came Some Assembly Required. This pas-de-deux exhibited some unusual and challenging partnering. Jared Matthews doesn’t have much bulk to him, but his strength (for example, lowering Maria to the floor slowly while lying on his back) was undeniable throughout. The couple is entwined for much of the dance. There is flirtation, conflict, sex (almost), acceptance, and forgiveness going on. Nothing looks too easy. The message? Love is work.

    I sat in my seat and watched the onstage goings-on during the second intermission. Stage hands quickly appeared with long sheets of white Mylar which they flattened and taped to create a large white square covering most of the stage. When they were done Marcelo came out. Hooray! At that point I decided to scamper down to the orchestra to gawk from the edge of the stage (I wasn’t the only one). Soon the stage was full of dancers. I was amazed as Maria came out so quickly with her hair put up and a different costume. I was happy to see the regal, captivating Kristi Boone and some of my other favorites. Daniil looks like a porcelain doll, up close in his stage makeup. As I stood there I noticed Benjamin Millepied right behind me, seated in the front row, all bearded, skinny, and serious. The lights dimmed, and I scampered quickly up the aisle and up the stairs to my proper seat. Thankfully it’s a small theater!

    Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once was next. Isabella Boylston was listed opposite Gomes in the casting on the website, but she was substituted (on stage and in the program) by Stella Abrera. No complaints here. This was really a great night for Stella (her picture, mid-leap, even graced the program cover), and I know her many fans on this board will be delighted to see her getting some nice opportunities. In the beginning, Blaine Hoven seemed to gather the dance as a sort of leader of the tribe. There was so much going on in this piece, solos, couple-work, and a big ensemble finale. It was high energy and fast paced, except for the slow sensuous Gomes/Abrera pas de deux, which seemed to be performed almost entirely in plie. David Lang’s minimalist music fueled the driving pace, except in this pas de deux section where it was so slow, pounding, and dissonant, it finally started to turn me off. Simkin stole the show in this one. Millepied uses the silences in the music to punctuate huge moments in the dance. At one point Simkin catapulted himself through the air only to be caught on-high by a group of men, freezing with pinpoint precision in the perfect moment of silence. He did the same thing back the other way, perfect again, the audience gasping. He began a third attempt but as he starts to jump toward the awaiting group (women this time) he shirks; the audience laughs. Simkins subsequent solo sent the audience wild again. I’ve never seen anyone turn like him. I lose count of pirouettes after 6 or 7 revolutions. And he finishes slowly, on demi pointe, with a low developé a la seconde. Simkin also performed a series of these insane tour jetés where he lays out his body, almost parallel to the floor, and elevates his legs above that, all while covering so much aerial space. It looks like he’s being propelled by strings . . . or magic. I should also mention that Simkin partnered Gemma Bond in this one, and they suited each other wonderfully, (despite an excessive level of elfin blondeness). Seriously, though, I hope to see more of them together. I’m sure if you asked the audience, they would have pegged Simkin as the featured dancer, as opposed to Gomes (whose perfectly controlled turns and strong partnering also deserve mention). The piece ends--after a crazy, criss-crossing, ensemble segment with all dancers on stage--with Simikin front and center revolving in one of his endless pirouettes as the panel of light on him dims.

    I was captivated by EDHAO. (So was my partner, who remarked that football didn't cross his mind once during the last piece.) The level of movement when the entire ensemble was onstage was visceral and powerful, perhaps exacerbated by the small theater. The simple, modern black costumes against the white floor meant nothing got missed, and despite all the crossing intersections and big movements performed by 24 dancers in a small space, the formations and connections were spot-on. I appreciated the lighting, as well. Textures and patterns were occasionally projected on the white surface, (echoing the repetitive, patterned feel of the music). But these effects were not distracting, and the stage wasn’t plagued by the dimness that seems to accompany so many contemporary ballets.

    I wonder if the critics will find this piece a bit gimmicky. I wonder if NYC audiences will have the same reaction as the Bard crowd (standing ovation/ lots of cheers). I wonder if Simkin will dance this role in every performance.

    I do hope the Bard/ ABT relationship continues. It was a lovely day trip. We took a leisurely drive, spent the afternoon at the FDR home and presidential library, and enjoyed the foliage in the Hudson River Valley, where the reds and oranges (much like the ABT stars) pop out earlier up there than down here.

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