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ABT Week 2

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Bayadere: Cojocaru, Corella, Abrera 2nd chance

Everyone seemed more attuned to the artistic possibilities of this work the second time around. Alina's Shades Act was unquestionably otherworldly. Stella was meaner. Much discussion whether her beautifully soft lyricism prevents her from being fully effective as Gamzatti.

See what I mean about leaving out steps to make room for one 8-count pirouette? In his variation, Angel (looking a bit tired) fell out and had way too much time to fill getting to the corner to start his manege.

D'Jampe dance was led by Monique and Carmen. Monique was luscious, if disgracefully underutilized.

Which brings up this question: I recall the D'Jampe dancers doing a beautiful port de bras carrying their scarves in an arc from a deep cambre over one side, over their heads to a deep cambre on the other side. Was this done? :confused: Because now they trace a much smaller arc from slightly to one side, in front of their heads, to slightly on the other side. Better the other way.

I'm hungry for more Cojocaru. :)

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Agreed re Stella's lovely soft lyricism, but how it came across to me last night was that she was a worthy rival, rather than just a villain, which made it interesting. Lots of comments (in dress circle) of Alina looking very small on the stage. Clearly she is enormously gifted physically, but to me she had a quality I would almost call boyish, with not much in the way of magnetism that would explain Solor's attraction to her. I found myself being impressed by her extension rather than lost in her artistry. Seeing her again I would hope to see more of the acting I had read so much about.

It was fun to see the corps do the Kingdom of the Shades after we'd seen them demonstrate it at the Guggenheim a couple of months back. It has come a long way, though as others have noted, they still aren't uniform. We enjoy their exuberance.

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I thought Cojocaru quite exceptional in the pas d'actions, the dramatic sequences (the opening scene over the fire, the interchange with Solor, the fight with Gamzatti -- I loved her taunting of Abrera, the death scene, and the final act in the Temple). Still exceptional but less so in the Shades. Placement beautiful and very forward in the upper body. Her training in Kiev with Zacharova makes a natural frame of reference and an interesting comparison. Her super high extensions in the Shades are a shame. Her more natural extension in arabesque, when she rolls down off of point and at the same time extends further back and out with the beautiful working leg is a joy to behold. I was not prepared for how strong she is. Beautiful jump. Perhaps not the most flexible body. So pretty and regular in feature that I cannot recall what she looks like after watching her from the first row.

I would not describe Abrera as ethereal. I thought she danced the best performance of her career.

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Why does everyone make such a big deal of minor technical details that in no way diminish the power and beauty of the complete variations and even more importantly, why doesn't any seem to notice the extraordinary nuances in Angel Corella's performances as "Solor"? Instead of concentrating on how many turns he does or if he placed his hand on the floor at very end of an impeccable variation, why not mention the way his neck and jaw muscles move as he shows real anger at the Rajah and Gamzatti for having to marry her and many other nuances with which this dancer imbues his performances? Why not mention his superb partnering and his commanding stage presence? Many seem to forget that it's little details like those that give meaning to the "Theatre" part of ABT's title.

As for Ms. Meunier, since when has a visible roll of fat protruding from the mesh of a costume considered "luscious"? I have always admired Ms. Meunier's technical strength but she has always been and remains much too heavy and thick for a ballerina - her weight problem is a fact, plain and simple. Perhaps she is underutilized because ABT's management realizes it was a mistake to hire her.

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Hi samsara...Everybody looks at things a different way. They have what I consider touchstones in a performance of a ballet - things they look for and judge in a performance. But why don't you tell us more about how Corella's performance moved you. I have to admit, that Monday night I concentrated on Cojocaru's performance because I had never seen her dance before. I thought Corella's performance was fine, everything we've come to expect from him. And agree, Corella had a moving moment during the wedding scene where he wants to resist marrying Gamzatti.

However, we disagree about Meunier. As a dancer, she moves me. You might disagree, but I think she's lovely and currently is in very good shape. That's the shape she is. And she's every inch the ballerina. But any size she is is good enough for me. Her magic is in the way she moves, her musicality, her joyousness, her imagination, and - yes - her technique that allows her to express herself. I hope she will get the opportunity she most rightly deserves at ABT.

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posted concurrently (almost) with Dale

Originally posted by samsara

Why does everyone make such a big deal of minor technical details that in no way diminish the power and beauty of the complete variations and even more importantly, why doesn't any seem to notice the extraordinary nuances in Angel Corella's performances as "Solor"?  . . . why not mention the way his neck and jaw muscles move as he shows real anger . . . and many other nuances with which this dancer imbues his performances?  

You have a point, Samsara. I think we have come to take Angel's gifts for granted. But the "details" about flaws are equal to the details of you mention. Not all of us were close enough to see him clench his jaw, but there is no question that he seethed on learning of the Rajah's plans for him. He conveyed real passion for his Nikiya, and clearly Alina was happy to dance with him.

A problem -- and I recognize it's an unusual problem and a good one to have to complain about -- is that there has lately been an overemphasis on bravura at ABT that often brings art close to the line of being a circus act. When someone (in this case it happened to be Angel) changes the steps in order to "better" show off his extraordinary turns, and then falls short, it violates the expressive arc of the variation/coda. It was a problem of his own making.

As for Monique, her dancing -- her movement quality -- is very sensuous, womanly. She always seems to feel the air around her. It is a rare and beautiful quality. It would be nice if she were thinner, and perhaps she will be. I saw no "roll of fat," and I couldn't take my eyes off her. There is room for many types of dancers at ABT, and I think her presence enriches roster.

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Carbro, thanks; you expressed that very clearly. To me the most moving dance conveys the union of body and soul. If all dancers had the same body type, I think their capacity for expression would be diminished, and it would certainly not be very interesting to watch!

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I was hoping not to be first to post on this cast, but I really wanted any ambivalent people who like this Solor and this Gamzatti (as do I)to know that Paloma has undergone an amazing transformation.

There has never been any doubt about her technical abilities. She has lovely line and a good ear. But this dancer has often failed to engage either dramatically or with her partner, to project personality or dramatic action, or to fill out adagio passages. Forget that old Paloma. The new Paloma brought to Nikiya a passion, a freshness, and moments of great beauty. Every act revealed a new aspect of a newly mature ballerina. This was the performance of her career.

Michele's Gamzatti was beautifully danced, as expected. But her characterization was original and intriguing and made one remember that these Indians lived unquestioningly in a stringent caste system. She was no obvious villainess, just someone suitable to be Solor's bride. In the confrontation scene, after motioning to Nikiya that "This, all this is MINE, and you're just a lowly temple dancer," she somehow conveyed that she felt not only better, but also smarter than Nikiya. I can't describe the moment, but it crystallized her characterization.

Jose had his hands full -- literally and figuratively -- with two ballerinas both too large for him. His dancing was noble and elegant, if the surface was more patina than dazzle. Michele's inabililty to complete a revolution in a supported, arm-over-arm pirouette was due to the simple fact that when on pointe, her en couronne arms are several inches beyond Jose's reach -- basic mechanics.

Although I was drawn to the performance by the evening's Solor and Gamzatti, there is no question that despite fine performances from both, it was really Paloma's night. Brava!:) :)

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I saw two La Bayaderes, including Monday's with Cojocaru's second performance. She might been one of the tiniest dancers I've ever seen. And she's so light. But unlike many light dancers I've seen, she also has a very light attack. I have to admit I have a personal preference for dancers who displace their air around them, who have a certain weight to their movements (no matter what size they are), so Cojocaru's performance really wasn't an ultimate experience for me. But I did find it a very satisfying performance, especially in her two confrontations. With the High Brahmin, not only was her Nikiya not interested but was offended and disgusted. She was strong all throughout the first act - her delight in Solor's love, the split-second reaction to Gamzatti's taunts and the impulsive reaching for the knife, and her wonderous solo in Scene III. Maybe her success in those scenes were due to her strong realistic acting (important in her McMillian rep. at the Royal, but criticized in the most recent Ballet Review for turning up in Giselle). However, Cojocaru wasn't cool enough for me in the Shades scene. And while she is strong technically, I didn't find her diagonal of turns dominating enough.

That section was many of the highlights of Ananiashvili's portrayal on Wednesday night. Ananiashvili's characterization was naturally less girlish during the first act (with her acting looking a little more scripted) and more commanding during the Shades section.

Both Gamzatti's were strong. I thought Abrera's was the more rounded performance. Murphy was flawless in the Act I classical solos, while Abrera surprised me by foutteing to the left in a sort of strange way. In the last act solo, Murphy threw in several multiple turns (more than 3), which I thought impressive but too much. Abrera was as sinuous as a snake - smooth, smooth, smooth.

I have to admit to going to Wednesday's performance to see Monique Meunier and Veronika Part as two of the Shades (Anna Liceica did the first variation). But was rewarded with Meunier in the D'Jampe again and Part in the pas d'action. The trio had a triumph in the shades. It seemed a meeting of like minds and style - musicality, lushness and beauty.

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