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ABT Fall City Center week 2

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Master Works

October 28

Note: Interesting, yes?, that aside from the Raymonda GPC, all of the works on this program premiered between 1942-1948.

Symphonic Variations: This cast has not yet found the key to SV. It generally looked pretty, but was bogged down by too many lifeless moments. Perhaps by default, Max Belotserkovsky (flanked by Craig Salstein and Carlos Lopez), was the standout in this cast, refined and unforced. With time, maybe the dancers will find the emotional key to this piece, because it fell far short of its reputation here. :shrug: The women were Ashley Tuttle, Marian Butler and Maria Riccetto.

Diversion of Angels: I agree fully with NYSusan's post from last week regarding Sandra Brown. She is a wonderful dancer, and it is a shame that ABT does not have a substantial rep (especially in the Met seasons) that suits her. (There are many roles, though, that I would love to see her in, for another post.) Her abandoned (sometimes almost possessed) way of dancing is so exciting. She was partnered here by Isaac Stappas. As the couple in White, Stella Abrera (surprisingly) and Gennadi Saveliev lacked presence. I will chalk that up as an "off" night. The Cornejo siblings in Yellow were absolutely fabulous, dancing with infectious joy. I was amused that the women in this piece, more than the men, had a sense of Graham-esque weight. In the ensemble, Erica Fischbach held the eye. For ballet dancers, they gave a commendable, pretty credible reading. It was much improved over the state it was in last spring.

Pillar of Fire: I loved Gillian Murphy's Hagar. For the first time, I realized that Hagar was really an adolescent. An older adolescent, perhaps, but certainly not yet an adult. Her ability to fuse the gesture and choreography is not surprising -- she has always done this with great subtlety in even her classical roles. I thought Xiomara's Younger sister was too overtly mean. The best YS's of my memory were more thoughtless than intentional in the pain they inflicted. Carlos Molina's Friend was touchingly tender and protective. Marcelo Gomes as the Man . . . Opposite, could have been more predatory, perhaps will be if he has an opportunity to develop the role.

Raymonda (led by Paloma and Jose) was a real fizzle. :sleeping: No one seemed to understand the distinctive, charactertistic accents that make it more than a series of classroom exercises. I hope that time (and coaching) will bring us a vibrant, Hungarian Rmnda by the time it hits the Met in its entirety. But it was great fun watching Herman C (a soloist with Carlos Lopez) fly around the stage as easily and musically as he did. The female soloists were Renata Pavam and Misty Copeland.

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As the couple in White,  Stella Abrera (surprisingly) and Gennadi Saveliev lacked presence.  I will chalk that up as an "off" night. 

I've seen Diversion of Angels twice now and both times I've found Abrerra's performance to be the weakest of the 3 female roles.

To be fair I think that in many ways the Woman in White may be the most difficult one to perform. The other roles may require more technique but they lend themselves to much flashier dancing. It must be difficult to project a strong, serene, mature persona within such "quiet" choreography.

As in Alexandra's comments on lead female role in Symphonic Variations

"It really needs a seasoned ballerina, a queen ballerina, the kind of quiet, take-charge ballerina that Fonteyn was..."

I know that we're talking about Graham technique here, not ballet, but I think the role requires a similar ability to command the stage even when performing the quietest, most restrained movements. I do not consider this a good sign since Abrera is scheduled to take over the ballerina role in Symphonic Variations soon :wink: :

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You're welcome, HF, but I wish I could have sent you better news. :wink:

Your news of Gillian Murphy's Hagar was good news :) I've been waiting for Hagar to re-emerge since I saw Sallie Wilson's performances, even if her interpretation is a different one. Especially if her interpretation is a different one!

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I really liked Gillian Murphy's Hagar as well. Though I had a slightly diferent read than Carbro. I found her to be almost insane. Like she had become trapped by her insecurities and could no longer function. Murphy's face looked almost frozen in despair and her shoulders were kept hunched, like she was afraid. I agree that Xiomara's interpretation came off as mean. You would think that she would have some degree of sympathy for her older sister, who was so clearly in pain.

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I went to the contemporary works 11/02, and unlike Gia Kourlas's article I just loved the Kylian. Petite Morte and Sechs Tanze seemed to me very effective as companion pieces, and I hardly thought the only funny part were the dresses on rollers, though they were rather funny. I asked about the Kylian I think months ago, and Estelle replied that she thought Sechs Tanze was the funniest ballet she had ever seen, and I think I agree with that.

If nothing else, American Ballet Theatre’s fall season proves that when critics declare that William Forsythe is the antichrist of ballet, they really mean Jiri Kylian. It’s always better to try something and fail, as Forsythe is apt to do. Kylian, however, invents serviceable dances that include the same basic traits: Mickey Mousing the music note for note; the addition of props, however incongruous; Martha Graham contractions; and meaningless gesture as a way to jazz up classical vocabulary. I’m not sure when covering the eyes with the fingertips became accepted as a part of the ballet idiom, but judging by Kylian (and that of his adoring imitators, Nacho Duato and Stanton Welch) it is as crucial as the arabesque.

I really cannot at all agree with this. Both ballets I thought were head and shoulders above the Duato and Welch I have seen (which is basically ABT's rep of these choreographers). I also hardly ever felt I was watching meaningless gesture, or something inexpressive. While I understand why she refers to "Mickey Mousing" the music, I thought these gestures were fairly rare and effective when used. In the final analysis I found Petite Morte very sexy, and Sechs Tanze very funny, also kind of sexy.

Dorian I more or less agree with her about. What I liked least was the mish-mash of music, which seemed to distort the originals in a way that sapped them of any dramatic or expressive power. (That's another think I liked about the Kylian, I really heard the music in a new way). I also tend to agree it's too long; there's a lot of narrative that's mimed out, and I kind of felt it could all go - I didn't want to see the story acted out, as I wanted some sort of emotional commentary on the story. This I definitely got in Kent's solo as Sibyl and the duets between Dorian (Hallberg) and the portrait (Gomes), all of which were beautifully danced and choreographed. Basically, I think the ballet is good, it could be great if it were leaner and meaner, and with non-adulterated music. Maybe instead of Dorian I would have preferred something like Scenes from Dorian, If you know what I mean. Reservations aside, I think I would like to see more of Hill's choreography in the future.

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Thanks for your comments, Lee. I have several friends who HATED the Kylian and others who liked both pieces. (I can remember 15, 20 years ago, when Kylian was going to be The Next Great Choreographer. I never agreed with that, but I usually find his pieces easy to watch, at any rate.)

I'm curious about Dorian. ABT hasn't brought any of Hill's ballets to Washington, so I don't have a sense of him as a choreographer. It sounds as though this ballet had some interesting parts, but there were problems with the whole.

Anyone else see this program?

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I went to two family friendly matinees - on Sunday, October 26th, and

Saturday, November 1st, so I decided to discuss them together. The family freindly program is a good program, but it bothers me that there was only one program for all 6 matinees. I live in Staten Island, and it's very hard for me to go to evening performances. If ABT had two different matinee programs, I would have gone to more performances.

Anyway on to the ballets. "Theme and Variations" is a ballet I have always loved, and in the male lead Corella was as wonderful as always. But Ashley Tuttle was

sadly miscast. Her footwork lacked the crispness and clarity the role calls for (imo

anyway). I think Tuttle is much better in dramatic parts and romantic ballets.

On November lst Gillian Murphy was the female lead in "Theme and Variations" and she was just perfect. As Michael has often said, Murphy is the best Balanchine

ballerina at ABT. And David Hallberg was wonderful. There's a real elegance and natural flow to his dancing. I don't understand why he's not a soloist yet. He's been dancing soloist roles for a couple of years now. He's even done principal roles - not only "Themes and Variations" but "Symphony in C" and "Grand Pas

Classique". It seems like Halberg is being groomed to become a principal. So I ask again why isn't he a soloist yet?

I found "Le Grand Pas De Deux" to be very enjoyable both times I saw it. On October 26th I saw Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim B. (I don't have time to write out his name). Dvorovenko is a a natural comedienne, and Maxim B. is her perfect straight man. They had great timing, and pulled off all the mistakes effortlessly. Even the bows were humorous, especially with Irina doing her "Swan Lake" deep, deep curtsy and Maxim giving her a "I can't believe I'm with this woman" look.

On November 1st, Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes were also very funny. Cornejo was not so much a straight man as an equal partner in Reyes' mishaps. A really funny moment occurred when Cornejo was asking the statue of the cow where Reyes had gone. (I don't remember Maxim B. doing this.) And when Reyes and Cornejo took their bows, Reyes had great difficulty taking a flower from her bouquet to give to Cornejo. She ended up giving him just the flower - minus the stem. Cornejo and Reyes were great together - they have real chemisty, and she's just the perfect size for him.

To me "Three Virigns and a Devil" was a very slight work, more a dance drama than the usual ballet. Therefore, acting ability is equally as important (if not more important than dancing ability. I wasn't overly impressed by the virgins in either cast. On October 26th it was Carlos Molina as the devil who stole the show. After seeing Molina dance the title role in "Onegin" in 2002 I knew he was a superb dramtic dancer. But his performance as the devil showed Molina to be equally as gifted in comic dancing. On November 1st, Carlos Lopez was not nearly as effective as the devil. In my opininon Lopez went way over the top. He turned the devil into a big crybaby. Molina's sly humor and devilish sense of fun was sadly lacking in Lopez's performance.

I saw the same performers dance "Tschaikovsky Pas De Deux" at both performances, and I'm very happy I did. Anna Kisselgoff is right in saying that

Paloma Herrera is dancing better than she has in a long time. Her speed, her

musicality, her chemistry with Acosta, her quadruple fouettes - all were just wonderful.

And Acosta. What an incredible dancer he is! Everything I could say about his performance has already been said better than I could ever say it by other posters. Let me add a few words about why I think his performance was so perfect - his double turns in the air, the incredible leaps where he seems suspended in the air, and especially those super soft landings. During the October 26th performance while he was doing his turns a la seconde, Acosta twice jumped from and landed on his supporting leg. It was pretty amazing to see. And Acosta is not just a superb technician - he's musical, he's extremely attentive to his partner - all in all a truly great dancer. I really really hope Acosta performs with ABT during their Spring season at the Met.

And finally - "Fancy Free". The performances of Cornejo, Radetsky and Carreno have been described wonderfully by other posters. I have seen "Fancy Free" dozens of times, and this production is as fresh as though it were choreographed yesterday, not almost sixty years ago. Cornejo was all leaps and turns and boundless energy as the first sailor. Radetsky as the second sailor was the best I've ever seen him. But to me, Carreno just owns the part of the third rhumba dancing sailor. After seeing him in the part a few years ago, I didn't want to see anyone else dance the role. I've seen other dancers do the rhumba since first seeing Carreno in the part, and I've always been extremely disappointed.

I was hoping to see Corella dance the role of the first sailor at the November lst matinee. I wanted to compare his performance with that of Cornejo's. I've always loved Corella as a dancer, but Cornejo impresses me more and more every time I see him. However, Corella was replaced by Craig Salstein. Salstein was very good. I was impressed with his performance, but he's not at Cornejo's level. Ethan Stiefel was good as the second sailor, but Radetsky was just as good.

And I don't think that any sailor during World War II would have hair as long as Stiefel's.

With regard to the girls, they did seem very one-dimensional. I thought Julie Kent and especially Sandra Brown were better than Stella Abrera and Gillian Murphy. Brown and Kent were more real, more natural. And, as I mentioned before, I've seen "Fancy Free" dozens of times. The pocketbook scene has never struck me as portraying anything violent. The guys just seemed like they were being playful. In the performances of "Fancy Free" I've seen the girl with the purse often seemed annoyed, but never scared.

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Hi, Colleen! Glad to see you posting -- I wondered where you'd been (now I know. On Staten Island!) Thanks for the review -- and thanks, too, for your point about programming. I think a lot of people prefer matinees for a variety of reasons, and it would be nice to have a choice of programming.

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