Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×


Recommended Posts

I for one am completely satisfied with ABT's Kennedy Center season.

I enjoyed Ferri's Giselle, the Fokine program on Saturday's matinee. I especially enjoyed

Petrouchka and Polovtsian Dances.

Gillian Murphy's performances as Odette/Odile in FEB 8th's Swan lake opening was great. I think she gives more of herself than many dancers I see. She is a wonderful dramatic actress (without over-acting) and her technique is formidable. If more dancers could be as sincere in their dancing as Murphy we would be lucky indeed.

I agree with the two reviews I read from the two Washington papers...this Swan Lake will translate well to TV which is not usually the case. As I will share this performance (when available on DVD) with friends both near and far I am grateful for McKensie's staging and editing of the ballet.

Link to comment

To shave the armpits??? Reminds me of a Bluebird I once knew...he agonized for a week before the performances as to whether he should shave or not. He was not really very hairy and I said, "Just leave it...everyone knows men have hair under their arms." About an hour before the opening performance, he shaved. But a very itchy rash developed. He powdered it down but of course while dancing, the sweat caused the powder to "melt" and he had these blotchy red marks which were far uglier than any hair would have been. The rash lasted through the entire week's run of performances, and it was a while til things were back to normal.

Link to comment
To shave the armpits??? Reminds me of a Bluebird I once knew...he agonized for a week before the performances as to whether he should shave or not. He was not really very hairy and I said, "Just leave it...everyone knows men have hair under their arms." About an hour before the opening performance, he shaved. But a very itchy rash developed. He powdered it down but of course while dancing, the sweat caused the powder to "melt" and he had these blotchy red marks which were far uglier than any hair would have been. The rash lasted through the entire week's run of performances, and it was a while til things were back to normal.

Herman Cornejo shaved.

Link to comment
I think a better question is: "Why doesn't the costume cover that area?!"

It's impractical. Most costumes are not easy to launder...

Now, speaking of grooming, what makes me crazy is men with floppy hair (on their heads, I mean). Makes me want to endow a "haircut fund" or something.

Link to comment

Can we talk about the corps in Swan Lake? Never, ever has the ABT corps looked better. My wife even said that she, for the first time ever, was impatient with the very good variations and other dancing and just wanted to see the swans again. I cannot recall the corps ever being so together.

Julie and Jose were very well-received last night, long standing ovations and the corps as well. I thought Radetsky's von Rothbart far inferior to the astounding and mesmerizing performance of Marcelo Gomes in the broadcast cast. This was not Julie's best Swan Lake, but even Julie on an off night, can be very special. The green horned costume is growing on me. The sets (especially Act III) and costumes are spectacular, closest to POB's La Bayadere (which is the most beuatiful production I have ever seen).

I would have liked to have seen Gillian paired with Jose.

Link to comment

Time to digress from the body-hair discussion. Hope I'm not writing out of turn. :angry2:


I've just returned home from the ABT matinee 'Swan Lake' starring Michele Wiles as Odette/Odile. In one word: SPECTACULAR!!!! We all have our opinions but....to me, Wiles was so much stronger, technically & charismatically, than was Gillian Murphy, last Tuesday (although Murphy is normally a strong technician, like Wiles). Wiles' Black Swan triumph was almost expected; heck, I remember Wiles delivering a great Black Swan back in 1996 at Washington's Kirov Academy (now Universal Ballet Academy) before she embarked on her Varna 1996 Gold Medal triumph! Then & now, Wiles' Odile offers beguiling temptress mannerisms...the spot-on solo...easy triple pirouettes at the start of the 32 fouttees, ending with a very solid double. What was unexpected, to me, was Wiles' poetry & smoothly delicious Odette...every position that she 'hit' was a Rodin statue...almost as if she had been infussed with the magic of Martine Van Hamel. [Did Van Hamel coach her, I wonder?] BRAVA, WILES, A TRUE BALLERINA!!! OK, so when is she going to be made Principal, I wonder?

As Siegfried, Maxim Beloserkovsky offered magnificent partnering and a rock-solid Black Swan solo.

Young Danny Tidwell was a last-minute addition to the Neopolitan duet (with Grant De Long), dancing with panache and a 1,000-watt smile!

Monique Meunier impressed for the amplitude of her dancing and incredible balances in arabesque, as one of two 'Big Swans' in Act II.

What a shame that these dancers won't be on the telecast, in these roles!

On the other hand, the pas de trois today (Sasha Redetsky with Anna Liceica & Anne Milewski) was just OK...nothing like the spectacular Cornejo-Cornejo-Reyes trio at the opening/telecast roster.

Today, Jesus Pastor was a wonderful 'discovery' as the human Von Rothbart (with the 'Russian solo' in Act III), although, to me, Marcelo Gomes -- who danced for the telecast -- is still the 'king of the ball'!

Are we having fun yet? Whee!!! Thanks for a great week of dancing, ABT!

Natalia Nabatova

Washington, DC

Link to comment

Thank you for the wonderful review, Natalia :) I love hearing about Michelle Wiles...is she really still not a principal? ::drums fingers, taps foot, nudges Kevin McKenzie:: :D

I was sorry to have missed this performance--my favorite male and female ABT dancers in Swan Lake! And Sasha Radetzky to boot...I take it no one sneaked in a video camera :P :rolleyes:

Link to comment

Yes, let's talk about the corps and Swan Lake. I've seen about 10 Swan Lakes over the past few years here at the Met Opera spring season, and just love watching the swans every time, they are so beautiful and mysterious and amazingly swanlike. The "swan" effect, by the way, is much more pronounced when you're watching from one of the balconies, rather than the orchestra.

And re Marcelo Gomes doing Von Rothbart.... I saw him towards the end of last season doing Von Rothbart in the Ananiashvili-Bocca Swan Lake, and while they got tons of applause, he pretty much upstaged them... he was, as you say, mesmerizing. Re Nina, now I'm wondering... could that have been her last ABT performance? I hope not.

Link to comment
Can we talk about the corps in Swan Lake?  Never, ever has the ABT corps looked better. My wife even said that she, for the first time ever, was impatient with the very good variations and other dancing and just wanted to see the swans again.  I cannot recall the corps ever being so together.

I went into the yesterday afternoon's performance in a bad mood, ready to be displeased with everything. The dreaded program insert confirmed that the central Pennsylvania Neapolitan casting I went to see would not be happening and I had a bias with seeing Ms. Wiles in Odette-Odile. I have always been very stubborn about approving of something/ someone after I have heard too many glowing reviews about. I was glad to have this attitude turned around yesterday by watching Ms. Wiles give a wonderful performance.

I totally agree with paolo, I saw what I believe was the 3rd cast yesterday afternoon and I was really impressed. Unlike last weekend's matinee cast of Les Sylphides, this white cast was polished, feet quiet, not rushing the orchestra, and hitting their marks perfectly. I too could not wait to see them again and again and actually gasped, "yes!" as they executed segment after segment without any flaw visible to me.

Mr. Tidwell, in long sleeves, filled the gap in Neapolitan. Although I did not come to see him, he and Mr. DeLong made the variation look effortless and joyous. I also saw Tidwell's debut in Le Spectre de la Rose last week. He was tentative and I am sure that will change when he is more comfortable with the role. As he partnered Ms. Riccetto, his comfort level "rose" and performed very well. I did not notice any excessive hair and the costume was fine. I had, in the past, seen Mr. Cornejo in the same costume. Like most fellows he does not "shave," he "trims."

Things that did not impress me over the past 2 weeks include:

Polovstian Dances in general just did not impress me. Les Sylphides corp looked shabby when I saw it.

Highlights for me from ABT's visit to KC included:

Petrouchka. After the lights came up the man sitting next to me turned to the person he came with and said, "I didn't realize it would move me to tears." His reaction was genuine, ABT aced this one. The corp again was warm and exact. The layers of Stravinsky's score well represented by the colorful characters. This is the first time in years Mr. Corella has touched me with his performance, it had depth and his steps were performed with clarity. I am glad to have seen him in the role of Petrouchka.

Swan Lake. I don't know how many times I have seen ABT's Swan Lake but it was like seeing it for the first time. So many ragged edges have been trimmed away. The corp, ladies and gents, look great. Ms. Thomas, one of the Two Swans, was very nice. All together it turned my foul mood glad, what more can someone ask from a ballet performance.

Link to comment

A long-time lurker finally comes out.

Went to see Giselle with Ferri and Bocca. I enjoyed Bocca as I usually do. Ferri was a mixed bag. Her mad scene was terrific, but I have to agree with some of the earlier posters, her technique wasn't really up to snuff. Her 2nd act didn't take me to another world. There were some pretty things, but overall just OK.

I found her feet to be a blessing and curse. On the one hand, they are truly beautiful, for example, just looking at them in tendu. At the same time, they made me nervous the whole time when she was on point. I kept fearing that she would fall over, so I found the earlier discussion about knuckling over interesting.

I was very impressed with Veronika Part. The last time I saw her in a meaningful role was as one of the soloists in Raymonda. She was paired with Wiles, who upstaged in her strength and technique. In Giselle, this was the first time I really got the role of Myrtha. She was totally committed to the role and played it to the hilt. Carmen Corrella had some beautiful moments in the peasant pas.

Saw the Murphy/Corrella Swan Lake. Murphy was actually quite beautiful to watch, even if her whole performance didn't blow me away. Highlights included the beginning black swan pas where her partnered penchees were delicious. The fouettes were another story. Given her talent as a turner, they were dissappointing. The last 16 counts she moved so far forward that I though she might wind up in the pit! In any event, they became quite sloppy. In her defense, I do wonder if the music was being played at an extremely fast pace.

Corella was his usual pleasant self. Very gracious and maybe a bit cleaner overall than he usually is. However, I really wished they cast someone else as the prince-- maybe Carreno, Stiefel or Belosertkovsky.

Marcelo was great, made a lot out of this role.

The big applause must go to the corps. The best I have seen them in Swan Lake. Very beautiful and moving. I felt like McKenzie gave them a pep talk before the performance and said, this is being taped, go out there and blow them away. They were truly beautiful.

McKenzie's 4th act is not my favorite, but I liked it more this time than ever before. I remember the discussion of Kirov's 4th act, and also didn't like all that they did either. For sheer execution, I can't forget the Bolshoi's swans a couple of years ago. From another planet. ABT did well here too.

Overall, I'm feeling a bit dissapointed with Swan Lake lately. I bring such high expectations to every performance, and those expectations are never quite met. I don't know if its overexposure or what.

Link to comment

I think ABT has been absolutely right in not making Wiles principal: at the Met lat year she was outclassed by Meunier and Liceica in Ballet Imperial; her Raymonda was a near-disaster. Her extension and jump have actually decreased in the last two years. But her Odette/Odile was quite good for a debut. She is obviously very talented but has not made steady progress. This is one time where I think ABT has been wise not to jump the gun. Wiles' herself,

in the Time Out interview last year, seemed to admit as much. So I am very looking forward to seeing her at the Met this year and hopefully she is much improved. I really think Hallberg is not a strong enough partner for her, so now that she's dancing with older, more experienced men while he is injured she may be blossoming.

Link to comment

Having delivered myself of a whine, if not a rant, about ABT Saturday matinee casting in advance of the company's arrival, I would just like to say that I moved to goose bumps and tears by Michelle Wiles' Swan Lake. Just stunning. As wonderful as her Odette was, her Odile was if anything even better, scintillating both technically and dramatically.

Belosertkovsky was a fine prince, noble of manner and line. It was wonderful to see more of Maria Riccetto and Danny Tidwell, and I welcomed the opportunity to see the much-discussed Monique Meunier. Like the queen and princesses, I was seduced by Jesus Pastor's von Rothbart, although nothing will erase my memory of Marcelo Gomes in the role. The swans earned the roar of applause that greeted them at the curtain call. It was a memorable afternoon. I look forward to seeing the production again on PBS and DVD.

Although I wouldn't have minded missing Polovtsian Dances, ABT certainly brought two fine weeks of dancing to the Kennedy Center. Last week's Petrouchka has left indelible memories. The entire production--dancing, setting, costumes--was both moving and thrilling. Would that we could look forward to a film of this as well. For now, I'll settle for rereading Alexandre Benois's description of Russian street festivals in Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet.

Still glowing from the past two weeks, I begin my happy anticipation of the New York City Ballet's arrival next month.

Link to comment

This afternoon's Swan Lake was my first chance to catch up with this five-year old production. Having heard so many negative things about it, I was expecting the worst, but it's actually far from the worst I've seen. (Parlor game: rank your worst Swan Lakes. Nah, too depressing. And it would take too long.) But it's far from what I want out of SL, either.

First, let me just say that the principals were wonderful. Veronika Part has slimmed down and looks fabulous, and to judge from this performance she has technique to spare. You don't often see legs as bowed as hers in a ballerina with a major company (let alone one who was trained at the Vaganova Academy), but I don't think it hurts her dancing at all. I especially liked the way she integrated her acting as Odette into her dancing: in contrast to many ballerinas, I never got the sense that she was just layering some tragedy onto her dancing. Her characterization of Odile does need work, however. I saw no seductiveness or animation, just a fixed smile. Marcello Gomes danced well and partnered attentively, but as a character he came off rather blandly.

Now, that production. Well, I liked the single intermission. :P Beyond that, there wasn't a lot I did like.

Choreography: the replacement of Ivanov's great fourth act with McKenzie's strange, unsatisfying one is baffling. Why bother to do Swan Lake without, well, Swan Lake? Do they think that people come just for the music? Because in the last act that's all there was of SL. Why not stage The Marriage of Figaro with a new score by the Met's resident conductor? It would be novel. The second act was left pretty much unmolested, but the entree of the swans -- one of the most exciting moments in all ballet -- looked thin with only 18 dancers instead of the usual 24.

Drama: I dislike SLs with a prologue. Tchaikovsky's superb overture sets the mood so brilliantly, immersing us instantly in the world of SL, and having to watch a mime scene during it takes away from that luxurious experience. And with the inclusion of Odette's mime scene in Act II, it's redundant. I like the mime (even if it wasn't entirely clear this afternoon). The bifurcation of von Rothbart is unnecessary and strikes me as the kind of gimmick that stagers of familiar 19th century works sometimes resort to just to be different (like Odile wearing a white tutu, in Baryshnikov's version). The only justification for it is the quick transformation necessary at the end of the third act, but that could easily be accomplished by a double (as the vision of Odette we've just seen is always done by a double). His lengthy dancing scene before the Black Swan pas de deux almost makes the later anticlimatic. And why is he dancing with the princesses? He's a gatecrasher. Any guest, invited or not, who sat on the throne next to the queen would be thrown out on his ear, perhaps to the dungeon. McKenzie also doesn't seem to understand that peasants should not be dancing with aristos, as they do in Act I.

Physical production: the non-swan costumes are far too elaborate. It was hard to see the dancing in Act I with all those full skirts. The poor Queen is got up to look like Elizabeth I in the third act. The scenery, strangely, was spare, making an odd contrast.

So why do I say that it's far from the worst SL I've ever seen? Well, it's not unmusical (although Ormsby Wilkins conducted the first two acts very sluggishly, and in the second I suspected he was following Part). It doesn't layer any clever-clever concepts onto the story. It follows Tchaikovsky and Ivanov/Petipa enough to make it recognizable as SL (but please, bring back Act IV). These days, I'm afraid, that's pretty high praise.

Link to comment

You said it, Ari: Part's Odette was a fully integrated performance, and very moving I thought. But I liked her Odile as well: exuberant and flirtatious with an occasional hint of an evil gleam, especially when she looked at Rothbart. I was disappointed with the pas de trois.

Link to comment

Part may have been the best Odette/Odile all week, and I am a big Gillian Murphy fan. Gillian's performance on Saturday night was her best of the week, extremely powerful and a bit more dramatic (although this is, as we know, where Gillian still needs work).

Part had an elegance and grace that was lacking in the others. If the next prinicipal is between Part and Wiles, it should be Part hands down. I do not understand the raves of Wiles in the Sat. afternoon Swan Lake. She was fine, some very fine moments, many others less so. But, she is not yet prinicipal material. And, let's face it, Veronika Part is a very beautiful woman.

For those of you attending the Saturday matinee, what was the deal with Wiles and Max gingerly stumbling into the lake? They looked ridiculous. Michele looked like she tripped into the lake and Max seemed to stumble into it. It should be a leap and a biger leap (like Part and Gomes today).

Highlights of the glorious last two weeks:

The corps in Swan Lake


Julie Kent's Giselle

Carreno's Albrecht

Alessandra Ferri

Spectre de la Rose with Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes

The Swan Lake Pas de Trois with the Cornejos and Xiomara Reyes

Marcelo Gomes as von Rothbart

Gillian Saturday night

Veronika Part on Sunday

Corps members to watch out for: Simone Messner and Kelley Boyd.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...