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Did anyone see it Sat mat?


I was actually impressed and thought she did a very fine job. It had a very young interpretation ( I loved Saland and Helinka in this role). But appropriate. Benjamin Millepied was a solid Franz.

I thought Amanda Edge was beautiful in the Waltz of the Hours,

Abi Stafford just doesn't do it for me, great feet though.

Dana Hanson is not my favorite in this role. I look forward to seeing Dena Abergelnext week. Pascale Van Kipnis though, nails Spinner in everyway.

Aesh Ash had just the right command and feirceness for War and discord with Adam Hendrickson giving everything he had in him.What a strange little section. It is as though, it is just a reminder that even in this sweet story where life is great, there is another side to life always lurking around the corner.

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I saw the Sunday matinee, with the same cast. Your comments were an echo of the words my dancing daughter spoke after viewing the performance.

We both agreed Van Kipnis was wonderful as spinner, and Ash in

War. Very exciting to see Alexandra, carrying the role and the mantle of principle.

Millipied was incredibly solid and yet graceful in all he danced.

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I also saw the Sunday matinee. ("La Fille Mal Gardee on Saturday

afternoon, "Coppelia" on Sunday afternoon. It was a weekend of

happy ballets for me.) I thought Alexandra was wonderful. I don't know if any ballerina will ever live up to my memories of Patricia McBride as Swanilda, but Alexandra reminded me very much of Nichol Hlinka in the role. And Benjamin Millipied as Franz

was just perfect. His dancing is so easy and unforced - every

movement just flows out of him.

On a related note - the ladies' room matron told me that Alexandra was made principal dancer on Saturday afternoon. Has anyone else heard this? The matron has been at the State Theatre for years, and always seems in the know about such things.

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I saw her Tuesday night. The audience reaction was extremely warm. She is a most beloved dancer. It is something that she gives and which then comes back to her. What beautiful eyes she has.

Her Act II was quite amazing. By the end of Act III, there was a definite air of "Well, She got Throught It, But Just," a definite running out of gas. It is an incredibly demanding role, probably the most physically demanding I know of. Swanhilda dances practically the whole of a very long evening. What a challenge for Ansanelli, for whom physical stamina, particularly in her feet, has come hard. What impressed me most was the grace with which she shaped the adagio steps, as well as the presence to carry an entire evening. It was not Millepied's best performance. Lots of elevation and fireworks but also lots of details slurred over, not a lot of turn out at some times, not a lot of pliee at other times.

Ansanelli's characterization of Swanhilda in Acts I and III will grow, I think, as time passes. There are at least two distinct ways to approach Swanhilda: either as a sort of mask, almost a commedia del arte sort of mime of stock emotions and situations (now you pout, now you cry, now you lead your friends in mischief), or more naturalistically, dramatique in the Stanislavsky method. Ansanelli last night seemed to fall a little between the two approaches. Sometimes more stock, then suddenly more natualistic. It was curious. It worked, in a way. I'd like to see more of her in it. And we will, that is the marvellous thing.

Adam Hencrickson was absolutely superb as Coppelius -- a wonderful dramatic performance in this role, rendering Coppelius as warm and human and with great subtlety and detail. Bravo. Hendrickson is a wonderful dramatic dancer (dance actor, dance intelligence).

And also (For Your Info) Dena Abergel was lovely in the Prayer variation, as good as I've seen her and as good as I've seen that variation.

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I wish I'd been there --

Nobody's mentioned -- though it's not news, and I understand how Ansanelli's fans, and I'm sure I'd be one, are gratified by her success, both gratified for her and grateful TO her -- my favorite thing, so maybe the corps was dull -- but I'm crazy about Balanchine's Act 1 character dances, which are among hte finest things, IMHO, he ever did -- that Mazurka!! oh my God, the pas de bourrees on hte heels, the jumping up and down! the most fun a dancer ever has is in those dances, it looks like to me..... are they not doing them with gusto these days?

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They are being danced with great gusto. In fact, they are about the best thing about the production these days, they are noticeably in much cleaner shape than everything else. Comparing ensemble "levels of performance," they are in particularly in much better shape than the level of coordination and characterization among Swanhilda's friends, for example, or the level of coordination and style among the children in Act III, or the level at which the individual variations are being danced.

The company is casting the Hungarian dances very well and very interestingly. The cast is for the most part the very tall, very blond women from the corps de ballet -- Reichlen, Flack, Mueller, Lowery, Korbes, etc. (some of the best young dancers in the company) and for the most part the men of color, with one or two of the taller "other" men added. These dances fill the stage with color and with motion. It is by far the best I've ever seen these done at NYCB. They draw big ovations from the audience, bigger than those drawn by the Pas DD, for example.

The use of these national dances in Delibes score, as structure to move into and out of the pas d'action, is so clearly prescient of the Russian classics.

It is interesting that the skill in performing these, being so high in comparison to the rest of the production, is the exact opposite of what it was at NYCB the last time Coppelia was in rep, about four years ago. Those who say that the use of character and demi-character are "classical vocabulary" but then say that NYCB is not a "classical" company (must be "neo-classical" instead) might have a curious fact here. The company is very at home right now in these "national" dances. But then, Paul, I think that what you are saying is precisely that, with such things as the pas de bourees on the heels, etc., these are "neo classical" character dances. So no contradiction here at all.

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I don't know if anyone saw this, but something happened in the first act to Alexandra, and she entered the stage at one point with a tissue in her nose and was fooling around with that, something certainly not choreographed into the ballet. The next day, the program was rescheduled (Morphoses to Hallelujah Junction) due to someone's illness in Morphoses, and I'm wondering if the two things aren't related, thus offering an excuse for a more tired third act rather than she simply ran out of steam.

I really hope Alexandra is okay, because I'm unsure about whether or not they have another understudy for Coppelia (she was, after all, simply the understudy for Yvonne and Jennifer Ringer), and Coppelia goes for the last time today. It would be interesting to see who would fill her shoes should Alexandra not have recovered (if she is actually ill at all, that is).

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I wanted to say a little more about the wonderful performance, since I didn't get much in on that in the last post. This is certainly a role that one might think was tailor-made for Ansanelli upon viewing, if you didn't otherwise. It fits her like a glove, and as Michael touched on before, the audience is more than thankful and appreciative of what she's giving them. She gives, they give back.

Alexandra's technique may not be perfection, but one would hardly even notice in that ballet because she uses it so well, which is a quality Alexandra is able to use in most of her ballets. I'd take a million Alexandra performances over certain technical drones that will remain unmentioned.

Did I mention that Alexandra has now managed to tie herself with Ms. Taylor as my favorite female dancer in the company? The girl is as bright and fresh as anything I've ever seen on that stage, and will certainly make audiences very happy in all the wonderful years of her dancing to come.

As for other cast members, Benjamin Millipied was a good Frantz, and his good technique, large jump and pleasant acting capabilites did well on creating the role. Lindy Mandradjeff absolutely blew me away in the Waltz, even if it's not a particularly impressive or thankful role. Her technique and line will hopefully not go unnoticed in this company.

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I saw Ansanelli tonight (more formally on that as soon as I get time) and she looked just fine, happily.

It's just a guess, but since Ansanelli has no understudy right now in Coppelia, they might have pulled Morphoses to give her a night off and play it safe. She did four Swanildas in under a week. That's quite heroic.

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Swanilda is a difficult role -- for one thing, it's ALL EVENING... for another, the dancer has to manifest dancing and acting energy, which are very different, and make it look easy; and for another, the last act is the hardest..... Balanchine''s new choreography for her has her flying through the air in assembles to point, she lands like a pogo stick and keeps going.. there's also a series ofpirouettes in attitude -- doubles, I thnk, that CHANGE (from front to back, or back to front, I can't remember which, but that was a Patty thing -- she did something like it in Tarantella, a diagonal of tarantella turns on pointe, alternating atitude front and back..... it's gut-wrenching HARD)...

So congratulations to hte new principal dancer Alexandra Ansanelli -- she's proved herself a hero, and saved the day. That's a great way to hit hte top....

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A few observations:

As Paul stated, Swanilda is a complex and demanding role: Act I is a soubrette, Act II is a soubrettish character dancer, and Act III is a *Ballerina in the Classical Manner*. And throughout she is always acting.

Alexandra had some very beautiful moments in Act I. As she left the stage after the Wheat Dance, her head hanging down, she seemed to be whimpering. It was the first time I heard the solo violin's "weeping" sounds. Wonderful.

I had problems with her Act II -- found her characterization outright mean instead of merely high-spiritedly mischievous.

By Act III, she was a serene young woman. The magic of her joy was so infectious.

I could not help but compare her Swanilda to Gillian's Lise of two nights earlier. Both roles are sweet young girls with wills of steel, both dancers new ballerinas. No question that Gillian is the more secure technician. Gillian had all the dramatic/comedic understanding of her role and was able to convey that knowledge convincingly. But Gillian lacks charisma. Gillian's performance was near flawless, Alexandra's was not. But Alexandra's high points will stay with me for a long time, despite her misguided Act II and slight flagging in Act III.

Paul, I also love Balanchine's Act I national dances. Last season they were at a supreme level. They've deteriorated some since. But still fun.

Eva Natanya was miscast as Prayer. Wonder why. She's a natural for the War & Discord section. Wonder why not.

I was terribly disappointed by Benjamin Millepied's Frantz. His acting was pro forma, his partnering adequate, but his dancing was hardly at a level that I would expect from a principal dancer of a world-class company. Really doesn't use his plie very well. Very pretty face, though.:(

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In re: the tissue

I thought it looked as if Ansanelli might have gotten a bloody nose, and that's why she had a tissue. Given the confines of backstage, it's conceiveable that she could have collided with something or someone while offstage.


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Ah, yes the tissue --

Anybody else remember the Kleenex still hanging from Baryshnikov's face when he took the bows after Theme and Variations...?Just stuck to his chin, if I remember right -- obviously (i semed to me) it had disintegrated as he wiped off some sweat...

Things happen -- one measure of a dancer is how well they behave when things go wrong.... I'm sure Glebb has a garage-full of stories of that kind.... one of my favorites is about Kyra Nichols when she was still a kid dancing around here, it involves a contact lens on hte floor in the middle of hte stage and doing a super-deep swoop in a balancee, picking the lens up, putting it on hte tip of her tongue, and doing her fouettes with it safely tucked away there....

I can't wait to see Ansanelli.....

A bloody nose would be a LOT to contend with....

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This was recounted to me by a good friend, but I can't resist passing it on.

A certain Venezuelan ballerina Who Shall Remain Nameless was performing in a version of Swan Lake done by the combined dancers of the Cleveland and Atlanta ballets. She was also not endearing herself to the casts.

Anyhow, said ballerina came on in Act IV and suddenly went to the back of the stage. After the ballet ended, my friend went to one of the other swans and said, "Did anyone else see this, or. . " and got the answer, "She $%#$# BLEW her nose on stage!"

Said ballerina went to the back of the stage in Act IV of Swan Lake, took a tissue, blew her nose and tucked it in her bodice.

And people say they don't understand the ineffable magic of the ballerina. . .

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