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SAB Workshop -- reviews

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Guest nutz4ballet

Although as an SAB volunteer I'm a bit biased, the Chopiniana (sans sets and costumes) was so well-rehearsed and beautifully coached by Cynthia Gregory that the clarity of the dancing was actually enhanced by the lack of clutter. In fact, I found it more interesting that it was danced to a solo piano rather than the orchestral score that "goes" with those Slyph costumes and the forest set. The lack of orchestral "noise" made the (very few) heavy landings more obvious.

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I saw the matinee workshop performance and emjoyed it very much.

Chopiniana, the setless Les Sylphides, was nicely performed. I won't call it costumeless, as the dancers are wearing something :), but it's simply costumed with white practice dresses for the women and black tights/white shirt on the man. Zlato Fagundes who was to have danced the male lead was injured and was replated by Tyler Angle (younger brother of NYCB soloist, Jared Angle).

Nikolaj Hubbe did well with his stagings of Ballabile and the pdd from the Flower Festival at Genzano. Nice attention to epaulment from the dancers.

The Act II pdd from Swan Lake was solidly performed, though I don't think that the vast majority of student dancers are ready for the role of Odette/Odile. I think it requires an emotional maturity that only comes with age and experience.

Aurora's Wedding (from Sleeping Beauty) was an inspired choice. It's a great chance to see the varied talents of the SAB students and a lot fun to watch. Highlights were the grand pas de deux (Angle & Ana Sophia Scheller) and the Blue Bird pas de deux (Olivia Goodrich and Vincent Paradiso). Paradisio and Angle appeared with NYCB in Swan Lake this season.

Mae Wien Award Winners:

Sheryl Ware

Sarah Mearns, Ana Sophia Scheller, Vincent Paradiso and Giovanni Villalobos

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Others are better able to discuss the dancing, so I'll just give a few impressions. Because the corps in Chopiniana stands and poses much of the time, the start of Saturday night's Workshop seemed more of a "student performance" to me than anything I'd previously seen at these events. I emphasize that this isn't meant as a criticism of the dancers or the staging by Cynthia Gregory. I appreciate all the purity and history, but I confess it made me a little sleepy.

There was a very long and unexplained delay after the first intermission.

I enjoyed the two Bournonville excerpts more than anything else on the program. Barette Vance and Arron Scott were wonderful in the Flower Festival pas de deux and the Ballabile from Act I of Napoli was nicely done by all concerned. For some reason the Act II pas de deux from Balanchine's Swan Lake was sandwiched between them. The young man originally scheduled for this, Zlato Fagundes, did not dance due to injury.

Then came Aurora's Wedding from Peter Martins's Sleeping Beauty. This seemed a very ambitious undertaking and was staged by Sean Lavery with a platoon of assistants. It was enjoyable, but in my opinion, made the program overlong.

This was the first Workshop I can remember in which nothing was staged by Suki Schorer. I missed seeing her gliding out for a bow, but had the consolation of Cynthia Gregory, the only stager of the night who took a bow. (Nikolaj Hubbe did the Bournonville and Sean Lavery the Swan Lake.)

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I very much enjoyed Saturday night's Workshop performance. There's lots of talent in this group.

The Chopiniana without costumes and sets worked for me (although I admit that a very unscientific sampling of opinion of other audience members at intermission said they missed the costumes). For me though, without the long flowing dresses, the viewer really can focus on Fokine's choreography, which showed patterns beautifully.

The two leads -- Lauren King and Sara Mearns -- had nice easy jumps for tall girls and along with an attentive partner Tyler Angle turned in a very professional performance. Lots of promise here.

The Flower Festival with Barett Vance and Arron Scott was joyful. Kudos to Nikolaj Hubbe for staging. But Arron Scott deserves very special mention for the variation which calls for three turns to the left, three turns to the right and straight on the vertical with cat-like landings. Very, very well done. And Ms. Vance was charming.

What talent there is in the mens corp of the Napoli -- again very well staged by Hubbe. All the boys were terrific. The audience did a little gasping at the height of some of the jumps, and I wish I could identify them for you.

Ana Sophia Scheller turned in a very professional Princess Aurora with all the expected nuances of this famous role. If two of the fish dives were not 100% right on the money, the third one was (and I know they can do them because I saw them do them perfectly in the rehearsal the day before).

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I am not sure what I can or can't write with all of the prior admonitions. :( We attended the Saturday night perfomance of SAB and as usual were very impressed with the level and quality of the dancing. This was a very professional preformance... including not only the dancing but the costumes, music and staging as well. Although Alexandra is opposed to singling out performances - I think that is a diservice to these young dancers when they do exceptional work. This are essentially young professionals at this point and words of encouragement to those who have provided great enjoyment seams to be quite approrpriate to me. These are the graduating students of SAB for goodness sake - not the 10 year olds from Madam Fifi's Ecole de Dance. :)

The performance started with Chopiniana staged for the dancers by Cynthia Gregory. It was very well danced by Lauren King, Sara Mearns, Likolani Brown and Tyler Angle (brother of Jared Angel a NYCB soloist). Likolani Brown was exceptional, but I agree with FarrellFan that this was mostly a snooze..

The highlight of the evening for me was the first Bournonville piece The Flower Festival at Genzano (pas de deux) staged by Nikolaj Hubbe (NYCB Principal) and danced by Barette Vance and Arron Scott. They quite literally brought the house down! This was a fantastic performance.... just wonderful Bournonville whose choreography I find very apealing. Scott was a small dancer who danced very big. He would be perfect for any of the small dancer roles perfromed in the past at NYCB by such dancers as John Clifford, Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Gen Huriouchi, and more recently by Tom Gold et.al.

This was followed by the Balenchine Swan Lake (pas de deux) staged by Sean Lavery and danced exceptional well by Likolani Brown. Having recently seen Maria Kowrowski in this role it was hard to be impressed - but I certainly was by the poise of this young dancer. Her partner was injured and a subsititue (unfortunately I lost the inset and don't recall his name) did admirably in supporting her.

This was followed by another Bournonville piece Napoli (Ballabile from Act I) also staged by Nicolaj Hubbe. This was also wonderfully performed with lots of fantastic jumps. One of the dancers - also not sure which, had vertical jumps that seemed unreal. It appeared as is if he was on a trompoline he jumped so high. Sorry I couldn't be sure which dancer he was. The soloists were Monique Rojas and Daniel Applebaum, with the Marika Anderson, Lauren King, Flicka Michaels, Meaghn Spedden, Erica Takajian, Michael Breeden, Hyck Chen, Jarmel Johnson, Choong Hoon Lee, Vincent Paradiso, Troy Schumacher. It was a pleasure to see them.

The final third of the program was Aurora's Wedding from Martin'sSleeping Beauty. This was a comparable production to, even using the costumes of, NYCB. This provided a large number of soloist roles, all of which were performed to high standards. Ann Sophia Scheller was a beautiful Aurora, partnered by Tyler Angle as the prince. It looks like we may have another pair of siblings at NYCB, as Tyler appears to have the right stuff to join the company, although I have absolutely no knowledge of this. Sara Maerns was the Lillac Fairy. The jewels included Barry Kerollis as Gold, Maya Collins as Diamond, Misa Kuranaga (exceptional) as Ruby and Danielle Santos as Emerald. The cat and the puss were danced by Miriam Rowan and Jason Chinea, the Bluebirds were Olivia Goodrich and Vincent Paradiso and Heathe Viernes (she looked like she was 6 or 7 years old....?) was a delightful Little Red Riding Hood with Ted Seymour as the Wolf. Hyek Chen, Radoslow Kokaszka and Giovanni Villalobos were the admirably high flying Jesters. Although I am not a big fan of this ballet, it was certainly danced to very high standards.

I look foward to seeing many of these young dancers in years to come at NYCB and other companies. :)

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A quick word here before this thread turns into yet another debate about this board's policy on workshops. It has been discussed extensively for the past four years and I don't want to go through it again. Those who missed those discussions or the posts that caused the policy--I'm sorry, but you missed them. I'm not going to rehash them nor the reasons for the policy. Comments on that policy are inappropriate for this thread.


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We attended Saturday night and were very impressed.

I understand the comments about the corps in "Chopiniana" - I couldn't help but feel for them as I'm sure they'd all have preferred to be dancing a bit more. That said, Likolani Brown kept me wide awake throughout!

There's not too much that I can add to the comments that have already been made... Arron Scott's boundless energy and easy manner made The Flower Festival at Genzano a favorite for all, that I am sure of. :D

I found the Pas de Deux from Swan Lake to be mesmerizing and felt that Likolani Brown's performance belied her years in its maturity of emotion. The dancer who took over for the injured Zlato Fagundes was excellent and I'm really annoyed that I, too, have lost that little insert with his name on it!:( If anyone does know it, I'd really appreciate your posting it. I like to try to remember the names of these dancers as I know I'll be seeing them again in other venues.

Skipping to "Aurora's Wedding" from "The Sleeping Beauty" - what can I say, my heart was stolen by Little Red Riding Hood...and The White Cat and Puss in Boots played by Miriam Rowan and Jason Chinea...though, in saying this, in no way do I mean to take anything away from the other dancers for they were all quite wonderful and really very entertaining.

This was the third SAB Workshop that I've attended (missed last years) and I found it very interesting to see the students performing non Balanchine pieces. I believe that initially some people weren't too pleased to hear this but I thought it was great and proved that these dancers are much more versatile than many might think, given their SAB training. Great program - only wish I were going to tonight's too! :D

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Correct me if I'm wrong but hasn't it always been done without sets or costumes? The name was changed from Les Sylphides to Chopiniana along with the costumes/sets so it's essentially a different ballet with the same choreography.

I know that at SAB there is even a picture of the last time Chopiniana was performed in workshop in the 80's and it features the same dress of this year's workshop. I was simply under the impression that while they're the same ballet the title Les Syphildes denotes costumes/sets, while the title Chopiniana denotes a lack of costumes/sets. No?

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I think "Les Sylphides" (originally titled "Chopiniana" in St. Petersburg, and still danced there under that title, with sets and costumes; the Royal Danish Ballet did it under "Chopiniana" too, to avoid confusion with "La Sylphide") has always been "Chopiniana" at NYCB -- when it was in the company and the workshop, presumably to emphasize the music and not the atmosphere, whiich was what the original title change represents. But I don't know of another company that dances it without sets and costumes.

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I cannot post an objective review of either of the Saturday SAB Student Workshop Performances that I attended. I will say that I enjoyed myself completely and preferred this year's performances over last year's.

I can clarify that due to Zlato Fagundes injury:

Tyler Angel took his place in the Saturday matinee Chopiniana .

Choong Hoon Lee took his place in the role of the Catalabutte in both performances of The Sleeping Beauty.

Ted Seymour took his place in the evening performance of Swan Lake pdd from Act 2.

For the folks who enjoyed the Ballabile from Act 1 of Naopli, I believe it was the impressive jumps of Jermel Johnson that drew the positive attention of so many, including myself.

The extra long break during the first intermission for the Saturday evening performance was due to a breakdown in communication between the stage and the house management. The dancers were also very tuned in to the timing of the show and found the wait difficult.

Alexandra, I do know that Likolani Brown has attended SAB for the past 2 years.

Congratulations to every one of the hard working dancers at SAB and merde to those who will perform tonight.


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Thanks for clarifying, Alexandra. I thought that the name ''Chopiniana' was simply a change made by Balanchine to modernize the ballet or seperate it from it's original form as ''Les Sylphides''. I had no idea that's what it was originally titled!

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I attended the Saturday evening performance and had many of the same reactions as those who have already posted. A few comments:

Dancing Chopiniana without costumes, scenery, and an attempt at Romantic style strips the ballet of everything that's important to it. Fokine was evoking the pre-Petipa Romantic ballet, which demands careful coaching in the appropriate style. This is difficult for all dancers nowadays, but the SAB esthetic is so far from Romanticism, and it was so obvious that no attempt had been made even to suggest the style, that I wonder why they bothered. Without an attempt at the style — and it requires costumes, if not scenery, to bring it fully to life — the ballet looked empty. The performance reminded me of something a pianist friend once said about the difference between playing Chopin and Bach: with Chopin, the pianist has to bring to the performance her own interpretation, because simply playing it straight makes it sound like there's nothing there. With Bach, on the other hand, "the more music you put in, the more you get." Something similar could be said for ballet. Dancing Chopiniana as though it were Concerto Barocco makes neither the ballet nor the students look good. I can only wonder why Balanchine staged it for NYCB.

As with others here, the highlight of the program for me was Flower Festival. Wonderfully coached by Nikolaj Hubbe, the dancers looked not like they were doing an isolated party piece but as though they'd just stepped out of a full-scale ballet. They had life. Arron Scott is in the Danish tradition of shortish men who are essentially demi-caractère dancers rather than that of the danseurs who condescend to kick up their heels in order to show off their throroughbred technique. More power to him. I'm not sure there's room for a man of his talents at NYCB just now, but some company is going to be very lucky to get him.

One nitpicky thing: while I enjoyed Jermel Johnson's wonderful elevation in the opening solo in the Ballabile from Napoli very much, I was taken aback by his mustache. It really looked very unclassical. Perhaps it's defensible in a ballet like Napoli, but it bothered me.

Watching the third act of Martins's Sleeping Beauty made me long to see the company do this again — it's been three years! Maybe the Balanchine focus of next year's seasons will offer the ballet that Balanchine remembered so fondly from his years at the Maryinsky. We can hope.

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Not much to add that others have not already said.

Chopiniana-- The practice clothes make you realize how forgiving the full tulle skirts can be. With so many poses and dancing in unison for the corps, nothing was left hidden. That said, it was refreshing to see the students try the more Romantic style. Lokelani Brown captivated me most here. More so than in her Swan Lake, where the drama was lacking. It's a hard role for anyone to do at the student level. I haven't even seen the role done well that many times at the ballerina level! (well= to my tastes!).

The highlight was Flower Festival, for me, as well. Barette Vance and Arron Scott's technique was matched by their verve. Scott not only showed confidence and happiness, but wit as well. I appreciated that. The last time I recall see that at SAB were Bouder in Stars & Stripes and Ramasar in Fanfare as a percussion. At a time when the students must be so overwhelmed and nervous, it's impressive to see such a glimpse of the dancer's personality shine through.

Napoli was a joy to watch as the students obviously enjoyed themselves. THe Bournonville seemed more natural on them than the Fokine (not a surprising thing).

To see Martin's entire Wedding act performed by students was thrilling (it also made me want to see it over at the state theater again-- i do admit it.. . I like the Martins SB). Paradiso's Bluebird was, of course, a highlight. I hope with time he does not come across as if is trying to impress so much, though. Maya Collins as Diamond moved in a big, lush way. Not my personal taste, but she intrigued me with her way of dancing nonetheless. Having heard all about Ana Sophia Scheller, I was still impressed with the confidence she exuded. It seemed a fully realized performance.

I also missed seeing Suki Schorer come out for her bow. :-(


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I was at the Monday night performance. There was an awful lot to go home happy about; it was a good performance and a good crop as well.

It's interesting that Cynthia Gregory set Chopiniana. If there is any stylistic difference between Chopiniana and Les Sylphides, (Did Balanchine and Danilova ask for a different approach as well as removing costumes and sets?) it would have been interesting to know. Gregory set the ballet well, but she set the Les Sylphides she knew from ABT, so any connection to Balanchine's original intentions have been lost.

This version of Chopinana doesn't work for me as a ballet; it's Les Sylphides stripped bare of its context. Those poses and port-de-bras don't make sense as mere choreography or steps. They're part of the style of the work, and so are the sets and costumes. That said, the dancers did a good job in a very exposing work. Tyler Angle is very promising. The male variation is far harder than it looks; it's so slow, and the dancer has to fill the whole phrase. Angle never looked static, he looks like a leading man, and on top of it he's an attentive partner.

Nikolaj Hübbe set the Flower Festival in Genzano pas and the Ballabile from Napoli and his settings keep getting better. It's not that they change; it's that each time I've seen one of his settings it seems he's been able to communicate more detail to the dancers. It's cleaner, more together, and livelier. Not a bad development. I saw Giovanni Villalobos and Abigail Simon in the Flower Festival pas, and both did a fine job. Simon was utterly charming and if her temperament was native rather than Danish, her dancing was strong and ingratiating. I didn't feel transported to either Denmark or Italy, but a long-ago country fair with the sweetest girl in town who was the best dancer in the neighboring five counties. The corps de ballet in the Ballabile danced uniformly well.

I don't think the Balanchine version of the "White Swan" pas de deux excerpts well; he appends a coda that really needs the corps de ballet, but I liked Likolani Brown in it. As in the Prelude in Chopiniana she brought an interesting urgency to her dancing. I gather Zlato Rodriguez had been injured for previous performances, but he was able to perform tonight.

Like the coda of the White Swan pas, the Martins version of Act III of Sleeping Beauty has an ending (an apotheosis with an abdication) that's hard to do excerpted, especially without the final sunburst backdrop that is used at the State Theatre. Angle danced a second lead that night as the Prince, so it's understandable he looked very slightly fatigued by the time he danced his solo. Still, his performance and Ana Sophia Scheller's as Aurora were polished and focused; so much so they no longer looked like students anymore, a major accomplishment (Angle has already appeared with City Ballet). There is something ingratiating about still acting like a student sometimes; only a student would have beamed with pure unguarded pleasure the way Barry Kerollis did when he nailed his final double tour to the knee in the "Gold" variation and I wouldn't have missed that for anything. The whole act was well danced; it's hard to name standouts among the cast, but Misa Kuranaga as Ruby, Jason Chinea as Puss in Boots, Olivia Goodrich as Princess Florine, Hyek Chen, Radoslaw Kokoszka and Villalobos as the Jesters all deserve praise.

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(I don't live anywhere near NYC, disregard this post if you're looking for Workshop Reviews).

I think Lokelani (or Likolani, I don't know) might've been the girl who came to just one of my summer intensive classes. I talked to her mom and sister, and she had trained at the Washington School and was going off to SAB year-round .. and that was two years ago, almost exactly.

Makes sense, I guess! I remember her demonstrating a Donizetti and La Source variation for our repertory class with Mme. Violette Verdy - she had learned them during the summer. We were all duly impressed, of course. :D


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I attended both Saturday performances, and was much impressed. I enjoyed it much better than last year, but I prefer the classics. I admit Chopiniana also made me sleepy, although I attributed this to the 5 hour car ride into the City. The Corp work was nice and the principals all did a nice job.

The Flower Festival did indeed bring the house down in both shows. The chemistry between Barette Vance and Arron Scott was wonderful. They were playful and fun and let you know you could have fun watching ballet. Scott’s jumps and footwork were amazing and drew audible grasps from the audience. Wow!

The Swan Lake Pas de Deux was nice in both performances, but I agree that the Swan Lake Pas might have worked better leading into the Bournonville pieces.

Napoli was very nice. The guys were great although occasionally sacrificed musicality and togetherness to get height in the jumps. All in all, I have to say I was quite impressed with the group of young men at SAB.

Sleeping Beauty was impressive in both performances. In the afternoon show, the Grand Pas was breathtaking with Ana Sophia Scheller and Tyler Angle hitting all three fish turns. The Divertissement were quite fun. The Court Jesters (Anthony Carr, Troy Schumacher, and Nicolay Smirnov in the afternoon and Hyek Chen, Radoslaw Kokoszka, and Giovanni Villalobos in the evening) stole my heart with the White Cat and Puss in Boots (Cassia Phillips and Barry Kerollis in the afternoon and Miriam Rowan and Jason Chinea in the evening) close behind. Both casts did a fabulous job with a wonderful blend of technique, humor and charm.

What a great job by all the dancers and a wonderful day of ballet!

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Guest balletvisions

I had the pleasure of attending both of the Saturday performances of the SAB workshop. I agree with everyone else the highlight of both shows was Flower Festival. Aaron Scott was wonderful and truly perfect for this role. His quick footwork kept me on the edge of my seat. It was also a pleasure to see a dancer like Barrett Vance who showed such a maturity in her expression and technique. These two had a wonderful chemistry together and I am truly looking forward to seeing them both as they grow in their professional careers. Nikolai should be commended in his casting. Barrett was also wonderful in her role as Lilac Fairy in the afternoon performance. It was amazing to see how she transformed from the charming peasant in Flower Festival to the beautiful Fairy in Sleeping Beauty. Very few dancers of this young age are able to be so versatile in their dancing. Kudos to both of you. You were truly amazing

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Swanilda, in my program for the Saturday evening performance, April Taylor is listed in the corps of Chopiniana. Perhaps others will know the casting for the Saturday matinee and Monday evening performances.

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