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ABT week 1

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Last night's program, was, umm, interesting.

Offenbach in the Underworld (Tudor)

I'd never seen the piece before, so I had no idea what to expect. The program nots says the balelt takes place in a "fashionable cafe in the 1870's" for me it felt like I was watching a scene from the best little whorehouse in texas.

Nevertheless, some nice performances, especially from Gennadi Saveliev, the painter who gets to dance with all the women.

Ernica Cornejo danced the role of the debutante. I loved Cornejo, such strong feet. Among her friends, Marian Butler, Misty Copeland and Yena Kang. I wish I could say more about them, but I couldn't take my eyes off Cornejo.

Carlos Molina danced the part of "His Imperial Excellency" I kept referring to him as the magician, since his black cape with red lining was more intriguing than his dancing.

Irina Dvorovenko... The Operatta Star. She danced with nice attack, her turns were all on and her ease at reversing their direction was truly amazing, she made it look easy. She's a bit stiff in her torso and the wrists could have been a little limper, but all eyes were definitely on her when she was on stage. Sascha Radetsky was the Young Officer, in his "Music Man" costume, unfortunately he didn't have much to do.

Finally Monique Meunier. It was a nice welcome back to see her on stage again. She looked lovely and her high extensions weren't too high and they were effortless. It was a limited role, as were all but Dvororenko, who had the most dancing to do.

The can can part, seemed a little sparce, I wish they had brought more people in just to fill it out, especially on the Met's stage, it gets a bit lost.

Next piece was Clear, a Stanton Welch piece with music by JS Bach and costumes by Michael Kors for Celine (but no tags were displayed, just a program note thanking Kors)

Marcelo Gomes, Maxim Belotserkovsky, Ricardo Torres, Gillian Murphy, Joaquin De Luz, Carlos Lopez, Craig Salstein and Gennadi Saveliev were the cast. This was the best I've seen Murphy, you just never have any worries watching her dance the "fast" (City Ballet type) roles. But the men stole the show, especially De Luz, Lopez, Salstein and Saveliev. They really did a solid job in a ballet that just seemed packed with turns and tours throughout.

There was a pause and then after listening to glorious Back, we had Diana & Acteon pdd music by Cesare Pugni, choreo Agrippina Vaganova. Palom Herrera and Jose Carreno danced it. Carreno deserved tremendous applause for his costume, a barely there sarong, more reminscent of the Flintstones than ancient Rome.

It was a crowd pleasing piece, with not a heck of a lot going on. I don't think there's enough time for the dancers to have much of a connection and except for the occasional miming of a bow, it could have had any other title. The programming was unfortunate (at least for me) but both Herrera and Carreno pulled out all the stops.

The last piece was Within You Without You, I didn't stay for it, and most of the half filled theater seemed to be leaving as well.

A mother sitting next to me commented that it was impossible for her to bring her kids to the ballet because of the cost of tickets. I genuinely felt bad for the kids.

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I also enjoyed the Thursday night program. I disagree with Calliope -- compared to her usual coolness, thought Paloma was very responsive to (and happy to be with) Jose in the Diana & Acteon. Both were in top form. I find this pas to be all flash, little substance, and would like to see these dancers -- Jose particularly -- in something meatier.

In Offenbach, it was wonderful seeing Monique, for so long City Ballet's best kept secret. Her natural regality, dramatic instinct . . . I'm hoping she finally finds at ABT the opportunities she deserves.

Sorry you (and other early leavers) missed Within You Without You, if only for Herman Cornejo's performance in the role Ethan Steifel originated (song, Within You and Without You). As beautiful as Ethan was in this challenging choreography, I was stunned by Herman's performance. I kept asking myself if I could believe what I was seeing, as he seemed to be dancing in zero-gravity. He is a dancer not to be missed.

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I attended Friday night's performance of La Bayadere with Julie Kent as Nikiya, Ethan Stiefel as Solar and Irina Dvorovenko as Gamzatti. Overall it was a very good performance, however I have seen Julie Kent look stronger. Her por des bras and expression were beautiful as usual but she just seemed a little shaky during some of the variations. She was still wonderful though. I was really impressed with Irina Dvorovenko's performance. At times she is almost too flashy but she really goes for it and I admire her attack. This was the best I've seen her!!! Ethan Stiefel also performed well. The corps generally looked good with a few shakes and wobbles here and there but overall looked well rehersed and clean. Natalia Makarova was also in attendence!!!

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Good News: Cojocaru is a ravishing Nikiya. She looks Kirov -- strong attack, long angular limbs -- but has the softer lyricism and the dramatic immersion of the RB. After having seen her last year in London, I was surprised at how small she looked among the ABT dancers. Her Nikiya was passionate and vulnerable. Supple, musical, with a beautiful line, she was very exciting. In the scarf dance, she alternated the pirouettes -- something I haven't seen seen (that I recall) since Marianna Tcherkassky did the role. Also reminiscent of Marianna were her traveling turns -- piques and chaines were incredibly fast and straight as an arrow. Wonderful. Such an exciting youngster -- I hope to be able to follow her progress over the years. For quibbles, see also "Bad News," below.

What is there to say about Angel that hasn't been said? His virtuosity and musicality were all we've come to expect from him. However, for quibbles, see also "Bad News," below.

Together, I liked the partnership. Some audience members found them a bit cool, but I didn't get that.

Stella Abrera, a very pretty dancer, carried off Gamzatti with all due haughty bitchiness. For quibbles, see also "Bad News," below.

Shades: A little extra applause for Erica Cornejo's second variation, sensitively phrased and not overly bouncy. Also to Maria Riccetto who was able to keep the movement flowing through the killer third variation, even if she slightly cheated the sissones into the ecarte developes. In the first variation, Renata Pavam reminded me of Cheryl Yeager, though her line lacks the polished classicism of Cheryl's.

Golden Idol by Joaquin deLuz had some eccentric phrasing, but made it work on his terms with the requisite, quirky brilliance.

I was glad to see Sarawanee Tanatanit as Aya. Though a mime role, her appearance here seems to indicate Powers that Be share my admiration of her and want this new corps member to accumulate a range of performing experiences. It was also good to see Misty Copeland in several roles: Lead D'Jampe, pas d'action, flower girl, as well as a shade.

Neutral news: The Shades (corps) were okay. This company has done this better. There was some shakiness in the ecarte pose, the second shade took several phrases to fall into sync with her sisters, and I missed the poetry that I've come to expect from them here.

Bad news: Like so many of her generation, Alina goes for maximum extension. She is able to get the leg against the shoulder with only a slight distortion of line, and I couldn't help but think how much more effective her dancing would be if she'd be willing to lower that leg two or three inches. A couple times, the effort of stretching the leg to that level caused her supporting leg to tremble quite visibly.

In his variation and the coda, Angel deleted steps in order to cram in some extra turns. The result resembled a brilliant turner doing a classroom exercise. The structural balance of the choreography was skewed. These were the least forgivable flaws of the evening. I was told that Ethan did the same on Friday, suggesting that this has management's approval. I sincerely doubt that it has Makarova's approval, though. Then again, she was known to adjust choreography on occasion . . . .

Stella had a small, unfortunate misstep at the end of her variation. I was unable to tell whether it might have been due to a slick spot onthe floor, but it appeared that her knee went out from under her. (Oh, yeah, and in his variation, after the double-assemble manege, already in the final pose on one knee, Angel lurched forward, breaking his fall with his hand.)

On balance, I'd grade the principals "A-" and the corps "B."

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Yes, "we" attended last night's performance. Alina Cojocaru was exquisite last night and I couldn't take my eyes off her.

I'm, sadly, not capable of giving a well written critique of the performance and had been hoping someone else would start the ball rolling.

I had seen La Bayadere several years ago when the Bolshoi came to NYC and had been "wowed" by their production, in particular by the entrance of the shades during the opium dream sequence - that scene, the way they staged it was fantastic...each shade in perfect unison, the way they seemed to step on darkness and criss cross the stage on at least two, if not three, slanted diagonals... They were mesmerizing. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for last night's performance.

Perhaps I am being too harsh and my memory is but a pipe dream? ;) But seriously, I didn't find ABT's version to be moving in the way I had The Bolshoi's - at all. I felt their shades were a bit "off" and only too real - in part this was due to the lighting and set, but it was also due to their not being in unison. One was only too aware that they were, alas, mere mortals...

The absolute highlight was watching Miss Cojocaru. I think she is made of air and lightening. Also have to admit, that I truly enjoyed watching what appeared to be to me Angel Corella's real joy in dancing with her - and he was pretty good last night himself! :)

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We were there too, and had a chance to talk with BW for a little while. That was fun!

Point well taken about Alina Cojacaru's extension, it is very high,...but I liked it. Very much. It looks completely natural to me, not forced at all. She is an exquisite adagio ballerina with a near-perfect line. And yes her chaine turns, in particular were straight and fast and very clear. But my only quibble with her performance were in some allegro passages where her fifth position did not completely close. I would cross the ocean to see her again...and I just might.

Irina D is my perfect Gamzatti and I had hoped to see her Saturday night. Stella Abrera did a very commendable job with a such a difficult role. She had some problems, notably that suck-in-your-breath-as-an-audience-member slip and near-fall, but also with some traveling fouttes and a knee and foot that didn't always stay in place. I think she will grow into the part very nicely. She certainly has the characterization down! Of course with Irina, one finger flick tells Gamzatti's whole tale. Will Monique Meunier be given a chance at this part? One can only hope!

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Why not indeed??? I do see her more in the Gamzatti mold, than in the Nikiya--but I'd be thrilled to see her in anything. One perf of Opheus--possibly the silliest ballet on this year's program (imo, but I am the first to say that I have trouble with Tudor) and that is IT? Come on!

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Hi, I was at La Bayadere on Saturday. I'm not an expert balletomane so my comments will reflect this kind of ignorant status.

The only things I noticed in the Shades was that the corps need to coordinate their entrances down the ramp much better. It looked rather underrehearsed, as the gap between ballerinas descending was sometimes uneven, thus ruining the surreal effect. Also their line formation needs to be stricter -- one or two ballerinas seemed unable to get into the ruler-straight line.

As for Alina Cojacaru, i thought she was exquisite. The fact that she looked smaller and more childlike than everybody else added a degree of poignancy to her role that might otherwise be lacking.

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I saw both the matinee and evening performances of "La Bayadere" on Saturday, May 10th. The matinee performance was

part of my subscription, but I went on Saturday night to see Alina

Cojocaru, whom I had heard so much about. For once, the reality was even better than the hype. What an exquisitely beautiful dancer she is. I think everyone has described her qualties better than I ever could. I was totally caught up in and moved by her performance. And she 's so young - only 21 I think. Just imagine what kind of artist she'll be at 30! I wish she would join ABT so I could see that development.

As Solar I thought Corella was as wonderfully exciting as always.

Sometimes I think people try to find fault with his dancing because he's so gifted technically. Not to nitpick, but I don't think Corella did any extra turns during his Act II variation. Every time I've seen "La Bayadere" Solor does five double assemble barrel

turns. In the Royal Ballet video of Markarova's "La Bayadere" Irek

(I have no idea how to spell his last name) does six.

On Saturday night, Stella Abrera was a rather tentative Gamzatti, but it was her first time in the part. The major slip she made during the betrothal scene solo has already beeb mentioned. But what really impressed me was how brilliantly she came back in the coda. The audience gave her a well deserved round of applause for that.

With regard to the Shades, they were nearly perfect at the evening performance. At the matinee there were a few wobbles, mainly from a dancer who was in the second row from the front. Either she overcame her nerves for the evening performance, or she was moved way to the back where she couldn't be seen.

As wonderful as the evening performance was, the matinee was even better (IMO anyway). Nina Ananiashvilli was Nikiya, Julio Bocca was Solor, and Gillian Murphy was Gamzatti. I don't always

agree with Anna Kisselgoff, but this time I do. The afternoon performance was more exciting and passionate. A couple of years ago, I thought that maybe Bocca was a bit past his prime. But I've never seen him dance better than he did on Saturday

afternoon. It wasn't just his technical bravura - it was his total absorption into the role. His chemistry with Nina A. was palatable.

And Nina A was just perfect. I don't think i've ever seen a better

Nikiya. She's a beautifully lyrical romantic dancer with a technique of steel. She has the most poweful leaps of any female dancer I've ever seen. And her turns at the end of Act II were done at the speed of sound. I felt like I was caught in a whirlwind. It was really exciting. And like Bocca, her acting was marvelous. For the space of the afternoon, she became Nikiya.

Gillian Murphy was a Gamzatti to be reckoned with. Again I agree with Kisselgoff that it was a performance of fire and ice. I think the beauty of Murphy's footwork has been mentioned on Ballet Alert. Her dancing was always crisp and precise - and very very musical.

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