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I didn't realize they were goats until I read my program after the ballet was over.

Well... I didn't get a chance to read my program until after the ballet was over (though I did attempt to find something out about the ballet by checking ABT's website the night before... to no avail! Whatever happened to ABT's wonderful old site? Tamara Barden's work was much better than this. I gave up trying to find the ballet's synopsis... assumed it had something to do with the Diana/Artemis legends... A friend called with an extra ticket a day before the premiere... I should have thought to dig into my Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets... but alas... ). I was hoping to get a chance to check it out during the second intermission, but no luck as there was no second intermission.

They looked like cats. They looked a lot like cats with rather strange tales. Their movement seemed to be cats (since when do goats bat at one another with their paws?... oh ok, maybe not "at" each other but still, those port de bras spoke of cats) Perhaps because I did not have my opera glasses and was up a balcony or two... but my friend had hers and she thought they were cats as well. I kept thinking to myself "what the?, did the Queen Mum fancy cats? What are they doing here? " Actually, the whole 3rd act was inexplicable without program notes... and at times it seemed to break into a sort of "Rocky Horror Show" or "Moulin Rouges" music hall 'let's everyone dance now' quality... Actually, the "what the?" was my reaction to a great deal of activity in the 3rd Act.

I thought the whole performance was worth sitting through to see Gillian Murphy's pirrouettes... however, I wasn't thrilled otherwise.... Not knowing the ballet's historical casting, I spent the first act thinking "Fonteyn, Fonteyn, Fonteyn.. this ballet cries out Fonteyn". Perhaps it's a casualty of the Balanchine influence in America, but I don't think ABT's dancers understand port de bras musicality the way dancers in Fonteyn's time did... I don't think it's a "classical training" sort of thing, because I felt Maxim Beloserkovsky came up equally short in a Vaganova sort of way... hard to describe... too flashy? not quite... but it was more a "look at this snapshot, look at this snapshot" rather than an embodied fullness to the music.... I'm afraid not being a poet, it's difficult to describe the difference.

However, please, if one is going to dance with a drawn bow, it is important to actually take aim, if the movement is going to come across otherwise the pose looks well... err.... like the dancer is more self conscious than movement conscious.

I haven't seen much Ashton in my life and none recently. I enjoyed the contrast to his contemporary, Balanchine's work... Ashton has such a different understanding of pointe work... it seems much more about the special effect of pointe rather than Balanchine's use of it as an extension of line...

The corps seemed like multiple pas de deux, more like "dancing people" than "architectural elements".

I rather like how the corps wasn't together in places, it seemed to lend individual coloring to the movement... I thought perhaps it was left intentionally ragged.

There was something about the choreography, I don't know quite what, but it seemed I always looked away just as something unfolded in the plot and found myself continually wondering "now where did that come from?

This ballet doesn't hold together like the more famous story ballets, but it was reminiscent of the earlier court ballet entertainments with it's "reference club" allusions to mythology and the various cameo roles.

The lighting* & costume pallet was quite beautiful.

Gillian seems quite the coquette, I gather she makes a good Copellia? Perhaps more coquette than Amazon?

I scrawled some comments in the dark on my program that I can make head nor tails of now:

- want to crescent moon to be evoked with every arabesque...

- corps like a frieze

- wish that when they were blowing their horns it would be in time with the french horns in the score instead of seemingly random.

- shades of the Willis in the first act

- use of ballete

- *except I didn't seem to like the opening of Act II for some reason... on the other hand there was some sort of torch bearer lighting that came off well?

- one soloist, Terpsichore? was rather lax in her footwork...

- "flowers! not batons!"

- "wonderful glittering hand movement"

- "nice sissone failli"

- "pas after cats pure Petipa"

- similarity between the Ashton & Balanchine Sylvia choreography: not a part for anyone with weak ankles.

Oh dear!

A performance can be so different depending on how far from the stage one is. I gathered from my friend with the opera glasses that Gillian's facial expressions were very worth catching.

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Having seen three performances -- all different casts -- I remain convinced that this was a great acquisition for ABT. I wish I'd been able to see the RB in it, to have a basis of comparison. I'm aware of the complaint that the RB can't do Ashton any more (much along the lines of NYCB-Balanchine), and heaven knows, ABT is that much further. Watching the company tonight, having already noted their (relatively) shallow epaulement and imprecise footwork, I was trying to define the quality of attack that was wrong. It's not so much that the company punches out the steps, not so much that Ashton doesn't need attack (it does), but something deep in the muscles. Instead of everything going up and out -- or rather, WAY UP and WAY OUT -- doesn't Ashton require the dancers to keep the attack more down and in? Isn't that the same kineseology that made Symphony in C by the RB such a frustrating experience for Leigh? http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...ndpost&p=158203

The way they dance it now makes even Gillian Murphy look rushed in certain passages. The 11:30 extensions don't help, either.

I hope that with time, they will absorb the vernacular. It is a beautiful production. I congratulate Kevin McKenzie and the Board on its selection. This can only get better, and I'm confident it will.

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Goats, goats, goats.

Goats are famously nimble-footed, able to leap and run about on mountainous crags with sure-footed ease, and hte ability to move like that  used to be the hallmark of a dancer. Nowadays, we tend to think of dancers as cat-like, but in ancient Greece and Rome, and in the neo-classicizing Renaissance, and again in the 18th century, goat-footed was almost synonymous with agility.

And the goat-legged fauns that accompany Dionysus/Bacchus in Bacchanalias are dancing constantly.

In Greek imagery goats, of course, stood for sexual promiscuity, too. As do the ballet cats in some way. So basically both are animals.

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Well I saw it last night.

I agree with those who say the corps were terrible, especially in the first act.

I really loved Delibes' score, especially the music for the third act pdd. Very beautiful.

I am surprised this ballet was created on Margot Fonteyn, as the role has a lot of things I dont usually associate with Fonteyn: fast footwork, and most of all, JUMPS! I never thought of Fonteyn as a particularly proficient jumper, but Sylvia's first act is practically all jumps.

I thought Gillian Murphy was a very regal, amazonian Sylvia. I like how naturally classical she is. What she lacks is the winsomeness and girlishness I imagine Fonteyn brought to the role. I thought Beloserkovsky danced well but that the role is so slight and cipher-ish.

My favorite of the night was Marcelo Gomes as Orion. Marcelo is like ABT's Maria Callas -- always striking and vivid and scene-stealing, even when he's not dancing.

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Well I saw it last night.

I agree with those who say the corps were terrible, especially in the first act.

I really loved Delibes' score, especially the music for the third act pdd. Very beautiful.

II thought Gillian Murphy was a very regal, amazonian Sylvia. I like how naturally classical she is. What she lacks is the winsomeness and girlishness I imagine Fonteyn brought to the role. I thought Beloserkovsky danced well but that the role is so slight and cipher-ish.

My favorite of the night was Marcelo Gomes as Orion. Marcelo is like ABT's Maria Callas -- always striking and vivid and scene-stealing, even when he's not dancing.

Yeah, Marcelo sure has personality.

Personally I'm glad ABT did this, yes the corps were messy, but even the soloists seemed to have not completely "digested" the piece.

I hope they revive it here in NYC next year, I think it will have a greater polish.

But the goats!!!!!!! Enough!!!!!

Richard

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I saw the 6/14 performance with Gillian and Maxim and with the pleasure of sitting next to the previous two posters, canbelto and richard53dog (HI!!!). The highlights for me were not the two lead roles, great as the dancers were. Rather, it ended up being the supporting roles that I remember most.

Oh Marcelo! :wub::wub: The first time I saw him dance, it was as von Rothbart. Now as Orion, he's again proven himself to be a great villain. The evil look in his eye! The deliberate malice in his steps! Oh, and thumbs up to the costume designer for letting us see Marcelo's biceps. :yahoo:

Herman Cornejo couldn't dance the role of Eros as originally planned, and I applaud Kevin McKenzie for giving the role to corps member I hadn't heard of before, Craig Salstein. Sometimes principal dancers become so accustomed to dancing the lead roles that they look like they're just going through the motions because the novelty has worn off. But Salstein treated it like the wonderful opportunity it is.

Salstein really poured his heart into the role, completely immersing himself in the character and energizing all his steps. Eros/Cupid is often portrayed in popular culture as a one-dimensional figure, but Salstein made him human. He perfectly captured the energy and playfulness of Eros, yet imbued him with earnestness and, when 'negotiating' with Diana in the end, maturity.

There was a sweet moment during the curtain calls when he came out and someone threw him flowers. He had this wide-eyed look of amazement on his face, "Wow, flowers for ME?" :) :blush:

The other highlight of the performance, for me, was Arron Scott as the goat. Scott has such a natural comedic gift. His steps were sprightly and not the least bit sloppy or contrived. Ballet is designed to show off the woman most of the time, but it was Scott that I couldn't keep my eyes off of. (I'm not suggesting that Anne Milewski, the female goat, was bad by any measure. I'm just saying that Scott was spectacular.) The goats could easily have been an annoying and unncessary addition to the ballet, but Scott turned them into one of the highlights.

Edited by Tomatonose
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Beautiful! The one glitch was not of her doing. When Orion (Gennadi Saveliev) abducted her, he did not have the most secure hold on her. Running offstage, there was a single step up on a riser, and Gennadi tripped, dropped Michele and then fell on top of her. Michele could be seen scrambling off, Gennadi right behind her. If either suffered jangled nerves, it didn't show in the next act. I also noticed the following night that the step had been removed.

She was not trained to dance Ashton, and it showed. The arms could have been calmer, the feet neater, but otherwise she gave great show. She was authoritative, both as a presence and in her characterization. Her dancing was bright and joyous. And she and Marcelo continued with the great rapport they'd shown in Raymonda. I much preferred this cast to the cooler Gillian-Max-Marcelo cast the following night.

What a season for this young lady!

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