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Swan Lake in Chicago

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ABT will be touring in Chicago in March. That's the good news. The worse news is that they are only performing Swan Lake (why must it always be Swan Lake?)

Nevertheless, we would like to pay homage to the Swamp Thing. What cast do you suggest?





Wiles/Hallberg (!)


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Wiles-Hallberg would be my choice because I admire both so much, but I should note that they are new to (inexperienced in) these roles.

My second choice would be a toss-up between Herrera-Carreno (mainly for him), and Dvorovenko (a natural Odile)- Belotserkovsky.

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I saw Murphy's Swan last summer, and I was very impressed. She is growing every time I see her. If the choice were Murphy and Carreno, I would be shouting at you to get that ticket. I've never seen Dvorovenko, so of the choices there, I would go for Murphy. Whatever you see, you have to report back what you chose and how you liked it.

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Great input, as always! I knew I could count on you folks.

Unfortunately, the choice might come down to which kid can get excused from classes and rehearsals most easily. But now I have ammunition with the teacher for making a particular request! (Of course, I could take each daughter on her "off" night and see it twice myself, now THERE'S a thought!)

I'll let you know what the final decision is.

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It opens March 24. We have tickets for the 25th. I'll try to report back in.

Is anyone here familiar with the Lyric Opera House? I cheaped out and got tickets towards the back of the first balcony (that's still only the second price range). Will we regret being so far back?

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Reporting Back! I saw it on friday, and I thought it was wonderful! Of course, I am not a very experienced ballet-goer so I found it difficult to view it with a critical eye when I was simply in awe of the whole production. A few things I had read about were that the corps dancers were sloppy. For example, I looked for all their legs to be at the same height in arabesques, legs moving up and down in the chugs, timing for arm changes, precision in movement. I found these things to be very improved from the impression I had gotten from the reviews. There was one swan whose leg was left 'floppy' in her chugs, but the rest of them were good. I ended up seing the Hererra/Coreno. I thought they both danced beautifully. This was my first Swan Lake and I think my favorite parts were the Pas de Trois in the beginning (not only did I love the dancing, but I thought their costumes were beautiful!) and the Black Swan Pas de Deux. What other people think?

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I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Being “an experienced ballet-goer” has nothing to do with it, being “in awe” is what it’s all about. I must have seen 30 or 40 live performances of Swan Lake and when I see a great one it still robs me of my senses and I find it impossible to be crtitical or analytical. I’m not fond of McKenzie’s staging, but it’s hard to be objective when you love a ballet so much, and you have a strong idea of what it should be. It’s good to hear that it can still have the same imact as my first SL had on me! My favorite parts are the 2nd & 4th act adagios, and I think that’s where McKenzie’s staging is the weakest. I’ve never seen Hererra & Carreno in SL but I’d bet their Black Swan pdd was spectacular!

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I too saw the Friday night performance. I'll comment on the ensembles first....

The Pas de Trois was well rehearsed, but I would have liked to see it less safe and tame. But kudos to the girl doing the second female variation (no sure which was which between Abrera and McHugh)who had a beautiful line, and stood out as the stronger of the two. During the first segment of the Pas de Trois her repeated pirouettes down to the knee were extremely suspended and well phrased, versus the other girl who hopped and wobbled down to the knee each time.

Moving to the swans.... The corps was surprising. It has been about four years since I have seen the company, and to be honest I was expecting the worst. I most appreciated that no one dancer stood out above the rest. I think that at NYCB standing out is good, but in a classical ballet such as swan like I would like to see a body of dancers with exact phrasing, classical lines and formations. It was very well rehearsed, and their arms in particular were beautiful and at times nearly emotionally moving.

The cygnets recieved thunderous applause, as always, but it was really nothing to write home about. Same for the two big swans. In fact, their menage of grand jetes were lacking balon. I much preferred the corps work to the demi-soloists.

In the ballroom scene, I was put off slightly by the costumes. Actually, I felt the same about the women's costumes in the village scene in Act I. They were cumbersome and basically huge. I felt like the women looked smothered, and only the feet and hands visible. The large puffy sleeves made their shoulders look much too high. I respect the aim for authenticity, but please don't loose the line of dancers in the process. I felt like I was watching the adults in the Party Scene of the Nutcracker, but doing multiple pirouettes, arabesques and grand jetes. It was unnerving at times.

Now as for Herrera and Carreno.... Exquisite. Of all the swan lakes I have seen, this one was particularly moving. I know the common criticism of Ms. Herrera arms, but I for one thought that she was poignant and supple in her interpretation. The grand pas de deux in Act II was breathtaking. When the cygnets finally arrived I had to literally take a deep breath and wipe the tears from my eyes. The extension of each movement to it's fullest, and the way she moved as if from her soul was just simply beautiful. I also wanted to point out that her famous feet seem to fit odette to me, like their fragility and curves mimicked perfectly the line of her arms, rounded and expressive. Her variation was not quite as suspended as the pdd and she had one wobble coming down from the last rond de jambe en l'air side, breaking the magic for a split second. But, each time her and Carreno were together, the tension, saddness and love between their two characters were just expressed so beautifully through their dancing.

I actually surprised myself, because for the first time I preferred Paloma's odette. While I have always preferred her allegro dancing, and she was wonderfully vixen and flashy in the black swan pas de deux, it almost seemed superficial compared to the emotion of her white swan. But, her technique was strong, of course, and her turns beautiful, particularly en attitude and a la seconde in her variation.

Carreno was equally emotional. His mime segments seemed real and engaging. His dancing was powerful as always, but I seem to keep coming back to his abillity to carry a ballet. Despite his power house technique and handsome lines, I love the way the story unfolds around him and we become invested in his character.

Overall, I was most impressed with the swan corps and Ms. Herrera - exactly opposite of what I had expected. It was quite magnificent and worth the long drive to Illinois. I left the theater feeling like, at least to me, Paloma had gained something in the four years since I have seen her. She seemed so complete and so engaged in what she was doing. It was beautiful acting and beautiful dancing - so crucial to the classics. Well done.

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Nice review, coffee! We saw it Thursday night (Murphy/Stiefel). I, too, looked for sloppiness in the corps, but did not find it -- at least, nothing that overwhelming. Murphy was charming; for once, I saw the difference between Odette's and Odile's dancing. I especially liked the Act I (II? does one count the prologue?) pas de trois, with Michelle Wiles, David Hallberg, and Stella Abrera. Wiles and Hallberg stood out; I really would have liked to see them in the lead roles.

What did you think of the orchestra? Did you find the tempo as breakneck as I did?

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My fiancée and I were lucky enough to see ABT in Chicago last night, with Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky in the lead roles. We were VERY lucky to get 1st row, 1st balcony, center seats 45 min before curtain. My thanks to whoever it was who returned those to the box office!

Mrs. Dvorovenko was very good, excelling at her super high arabesques and rock solid balances. The first a la seconde balance in her variation was particularly noteworthy. Emotionally, she was very evocative, and transitioned in between the demure Odette and seductive Odile cleanly and clearly.

Mr. Beloserkovsky looked like he was having a bit of an off night. Technically there were some pirouettes and one saute de basque that seemed to get a way from him a little. As well, most of the emotion seemed to be coming from Irina, with Max in a very supporting role. It may have been simply that he wasn’t quite reaching all the way to the balcony, did any one on the floor have a different opinion? It seems to me that he would be the kind of dancer who would make more subtle or subdued acting choices, and perhaps I did not pick up on them. As always those AMAZING feet and legs impressed, as did the double tour to attitude in the variation.

I thought the prologue was awful, not so much the dancing, they did the best they could, but for em ti didn’t work on SO many levels. I appreciate the effort to tell more of the back story, but I thought the choreography was awkward (especially compared to the rest of the ballet), and that the stuffed swan that she turns into at the end looks, well, I guess “wrong” is the polite word. Add to that that I was completely distracted by my first view of the Swamp Thing, and well. . . The best part of the whole scene was the transformation from “swamp” Rothbart to “court” Rothbart, despite, or perhaps because of its low tech nature.

In the “supporting” cast (aka those who can make or break a performance), I was delighted with Cornejo and Reyes in the pas de trios, spot on pointe work and use of batu across the board. Perhaps the musicality in the beginning of the first girl’s variation was a little off, but perhaps it was just different than I am used to. I was absolutely bowled over by Herman Corenjo as Benno however. He danced effortlessly and excellently through the whole act, including the pas de trios, in which his variation was absolutely textbook. In fact, his ebullient stage presence occasionally overwhelmed the more sedate Sigfreid.

I also enjoyed the partnering aspects of the maypole section, too often that kind of thing turns into 2 circles of girls doing very repetitive steps, but including the men allowed this version to avoid that pitfall.

Kudos as well to Mr. Radetsky on his interpretation of “court” Rothbart. The first pirouette that balances in arabesque croisse gave this act an auspicious beginning. I really enjoyed his seduction of the princesses (and the queen!). In addition to being well danced, it made Rothbart a more complete character, and defined him as the villian of the ballet.

An honorable mention to the two Neopolitian gentlemen (sorry, guys, I do not remember who you were L, and do not have my program to hand), not only for the multiple pirouettes at the end, but particularly for the double pirouettes from fifth, ending on the demi pointe. To me those are much more difficult than multiple pirouettes from fourth to fourth.

The swans were very good in both of the lake scenes. On account of our excellent seats, we had a bird’s eye view of all of the formations and patterns. There was only one instance all night were the lines were not quite right, but I doubt it was visible from anywhere but where we were sitting. I also had low expectations for the corps, I know how difficult and time consuming rehearsing scenes like that are, and I knew that they are doing a different show in Cleveland and LA. No worries though, the corps looked good.

On the tech front, there were some costuming choices that I have issues with. The Swamp Thing, well, enough has been said by others more perceptive than I, so I will not go there. I echo BalletIsLife about some of the other costumes. I did think that the aristocrats dresses were a little heavy and did not always show off the dancers to their best ability. There were several times in that scene where I found myself thinking “That was nice, but I bet it looked better in the studio, in leotards and tights. . .”. As well, I did not like the shorts worn by the peasant men in that same scene, not for any good reason, I just didn’t like them. I do have a good reason for disliking the blouses of the peasant girls however, the bare shoulder-puffy sleeve look was not a good choice, IMO. Whenever the dancers lifted their arms, it made it look like their shoulders were touching their ears. All those years of ballet mistresses saying “SHOULDERS DOWN” gone in an instant. . .

Shortening the ballet to one intermission was godsend, especially with an 8pm curtain. I have seen Swan Lake where at some point I just want the bloody swans to get off the stage so everyone can die and we can all go home! That did not happen at all, thanks to this staging’s excellent pacing. As well, the use of live music, Ormsby Wilkins conducting, was a special treat. There is such a prevalence of touring companies using canned music exclusively, for understandable reasons, it was great to see ABT buck the trend. I did think that the temops were brisk, especially in the coda to the Black Pas Pas, but everyone seemed to dance to it well.

What to say about the ending. I do not envy any artistic director trying to find an effective ending for this ballet. It is kind of like conflict in the Middle East, great minds have pondered, but there isn’t an exit strategy to be found. Swan Lake’s ending can’t be too depressing, but it is a classical ballet, so someone has to die. Watching dancers try to gracefully throw themselves onto a crash mat always makes me laugh at an inappropriate moment. Mr. McKenzie has chosen to have all of the swans disappear into the fog, bowing to Odette and Siegfreid, as they rise as ascendant as the sun. I thought that it was way over the top, but I don’t have a better option, so I’ll shut up about it ;-).

As a whole I thought that the company showed consistently clean technical execution of all of the steps, as well a great deal off attack and stretch throughout. This entire group of dancers (and their choreographer ;-) ) also showed a great aptitude for linking steps, and having them flow naturally from one to another. This was an excellent production and well worth the drive!

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I, too, saw Thursday night's Stiefel/Murphy, and loved it! As a young dancer, it was very inspiring and it was great to see a new company, but with names that I recognized. I was a little disappointed that Radetsky was not cast in Thursday's show, as I was really looking forwards to seeing him dance, but I have been told they are coming back next year. So maybe then!

Technically, I found the company, as a whole, to be very clean, and I agree that the corps was very well aligned and together. I was incredibly impressed by Murphy's quadruple fouettes during the Black Swan Pas. She did 2 singles, and then a quadruple, four times through, before switching to straight singles. At the end, it seemed she fell out of her last turn, but covered it amazingly well, in such a way that I wasn't sure that she had actually stumbled. The only major mess-up that I can remember was that almost everyone was having trouble getting offstage behind the scenery without being seen. It might not have been a problem from lower down, but from the back of the balcony, I saw a lot of movement. Two such examples: after Odette dives "into the lake" I could see her walking away, and during the court/ballroom, when the 2 incarnations of von Rothbart switch in a flash of light, I could clearly see the exiting one exit. It was slightly distracting, as I started to watch for it at the end...it certainly happened several times. Otherwise, a wonderful show, and I'd go back in a minute!

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Nobody saw Wiles/Hallberg or Part/Gomes in the Sat & Sun matinees? What a shame!

I was planning to see Wiles in her NY debut, but it turns out that I have to be in CA on business when she is scheduled to perform. And Part isn't scheduled to dance Swan Lake in NY at all. I was hoping to hear some impressions from their Chicago performances...

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Guest arabesque42

I saw Swan Lake on Friday with Herrera/Carreno. It was the first time I have ever seen Swan Lake as well as the first time seeing ABT. I was lucky enough to be on the main floor, though near the back. I was absolutely amazed by the level of technique as well as their abilities as performers. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was such an inspiration to me and it made ballet class the next afternoon more fun! :jump:

:P Heather

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