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ABT@The Met 2004 week 1

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Wed. Mat.

I went to see Michele Wiles' Hagar, which was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't get the sense that she was comfortable in the role. I know she hasn't done it many times, so I don't hold it against her. There was nothing "wrong" here, it's just that she seemed not to connect many of the movements to the emotions they were meant to convey. David Hallberg, too, as the Friend, was something of a cardboard cutout. Martha Butler's Youngest Sister didn't emphasize the meanness that can make her role so memorable, but her portrayal was vivid, nonetheless. Maria Bystrova was a domineering but compassionate Eldest Sister, more distant that others I've seen. Ricardo Torres gave a powerful, threatening, and ultimately spiteful Young Man ... Opposite.

The two opening ballets (Kylian's Petite Mort and Sechs Tanze) were thin. I hadn't seen them at City Ctr., so I had only a vague sense of what to expect. They struck me as a stringing out of a single joke that quickly tires. I can't believe that they stretch the dancers. I am puzzled why ABT acquired them, knowing there is much better Kylian to be had.

Within You ..., which I'd defended through last season, finally wore out its welcome with me. During the closing My Sweet Lord, I kept waiting for Angel Corella's next entrance. He made each movement so clear and alive, but it was not enough to save the ballet for me. And I can't blame my disappointment with WYWY on a sluggish orchestra! :nopity:

Initially, I'd expected that I'd be going back for this program later in the season to see McKerrow's Hagar. Nope. Not after having seen the whole thing. :yawn:

It was great to see Monique Meunier looking fit :P , but sad to see her wasted in the Kylian and the ensemble for the Harrison.

So, Dale, sorry you asked?

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Well I saw it Wed. night and enjoyed it a great deal. I really enjoyed the Kylian; I saw them at city center and greatly enjoyed them then and I enjoyed them quite a bit.

McKerrow's Hagar I found fantastic. She embodied a kind of desperation in the role that made me see the ballet differently - she's not depressed or sad as much as she is consumed or overwhelmed by erotic longing. Thus, the giving her self to the man from the house opposite (I think that's Tudor's appellation) seemed more understandable as a kind of last hope. This contrasted wonderfully with Reyes's Younger Sister, who seemed to command a type of social and sexual ease foreign to Hagar's character.

I thought that WYWY seemed oddly subdued as compared to the other times I have seen it. This ballet doesn't seem like the right time or place for restraint. I wanted to see more of a sense of "wildness." Michele Wiles did look very good and was magnetic on stage. She really stood out as being in tune with the overall sense of the piece. Also, I must admit, now that I've seen this a few times the piece doesn't really cohere together. I'm not sure if it is supposed to, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I have in the past.

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I went to the Wed matinee and also found Wile's performance disappointing. I am a big fan of hers, and hope these difficult leading roles she is now being given will help her grow, rather than overwhelm her. On the one hand, her technique was wonderful - she really delineated the shapes of the steps beautifully. I also thought that she was able to convey Hagar's emotional state fairly well in the pas des deux with Hallberg and Torres. Unfortunately, she simply could not hold the stage when she was on her own. It felt kind of like she was intellectualizing the role, I was very much aware of the process of her dancing, rather than caught up in the emotion. It's possible that the large Met stage made the role even more difficult (as opposed to the intimacy of City Center) but IMO she hasn't yet developed the kind of stage presence necessary to carry a ballet like this. Hopefully this will be just a step in the process of her development and she will grow into the role over time.

I didn't like Hallberg as the friend when he danced with Murphy last season, and this performance didn't change my mind. I prefer when the friend is portrayed as kind of a solid, dependable, bourgeois choice and he is far too charismatic for me. It just doesn't make sense that the town hottie would fall for Hagar. But that's just my opinion & even so, it's not Hallburg's fault - must be tough being tall, blond & handsome! I did like Marian Butler's younger sister. Borrowing from Big Lee's post about the evening performance, she seemed like someone who simply was born with "a type of social & sexual ease" that Hagar could never understand and, conversely - she could never understand Hagar's unease and awkwardness around men. I like it much better than the spiteful, mean younger sister approach.

I've seen the Kylian pieces 3-4 times now. Didn't like them the first time I saw them and I still don't. They are amusing the first time around but they're just fluff. Weird fluff, too. Even so, Sarawanee Tanatanit and Erica Cornejo were a pleasure to watch for their beautiful line and phrasing.

What can I say, I still like the Harrison piece... Meunier looked GORGEOUS and Corella & H. Cornejo were outstanding.

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This doesn't count as "Met Season" technically, but I did see Rep Program I in Los Angeles just over a month ago, at each of the three casting changes (McKerrow, Murphy, Wiles).

I too, felt that Wiles was tentative in the role. I do think she's moving in the right direction but as of then she looked uncomfortable in the role and it looked like it needed to sink more. She glossed over some key dramatic movements in the choreography, failing to stop and give them proper weight. However, I do feel like she might get there in the future. McKerrow was superlative as Hagar - very poignant dramatic interpretation, very committed to the role. You never once questioned that she was anyone but Hagar up there on stage, and the dancing seemed like to come out of her like a very natural language. Murphy, on the other hand, was in the same boat as Wiles, though I think Wiles has a slight edge...

"Within You WIthout You" was mildy amusing, but I decided to skip out the third time around. "Petite Mort" and "Sechs Tanze" were amusing the first time, but got progressively less and less so on repeat viewings. It seemed to get sloppier as the performances went on as well - not as sharp, not as unexpected. Have they fixed this in New York?

--Art (who is in NYC for two weeks and will see much ABT at the Met...and actually post Met comments, not outdated LA ones! :lol: )

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By the way, speaking of ABT's Met Season, if you're dying to catch a glimpse backstage while ABT is at the Met, take a Backstage Tour of the Metropolitan Opera House. They're offered by the Metropolitan Opera Guild (www.metguild.org), and they're only $10 - but you have to call ahead to reserve. I took one today and it was great fun!

Ballet highlights from today's tour: watching some "Theme and Variations" rehearsal from the wings of the stage (up behind the curtain); having to squeeze by Gennadi Savaliev and Herman Cornejo several times while in the back corridors; riding a packed elevator in close quarters with Angel Corella; momentarily glimpsing Angel rehearse in a studio; getting an up-close look at pieces of the set for the new "Raymonda" and for "La Bayadere"; seeing tutus lined up in a row and marked "Theme", "Ballet Imperial", and "Mozartiana"; then, from the front of the house, watching corps rehearsal for the Grand Pas Classique from "La Bayadere" - without the principals (who knew there was so much choreography going on behind them?).

Then there is the great stuff from the Opera Company itself, like the huge sets, the sheer size of the stage complex, etc. etc. etc. Great fun...but balletomanes will enjoy glimpsing at ABT back there!


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P.S. - I overheard a snippet of conversation between 2 middle aged ladies exiting the Met after the Wed matinee of the mixed rep program - "Is it the other NY ballet company that does more traditional ballets?" :wub:

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