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carbro

ABT @ City Center, Fall 2005

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It was a night for kisses, as both the opening and closing ballets resolved in puckerdom.

ABT unveiled its production of Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun. Ethan Steifel (with a new haircut that accentuates whatever squareness his jaw has) caught the essence of a young boy who, for the first time, is fascinated by a woman. Julie Kent lacked the innocence necessary for her role. Throughout, she seemed too worldly, not virginal. In the final moments, as she exited the "studio," though, and the boy was left alone, I was left wondering whether she existed at all or was merely a dream. It's something I'd never gotten from that ballet before, so I have to assume that the suggestion of a dream was not Robbins' intention, but if I take the whole performance in that context, I kind of like it.

The other kiss was the culminating plot point of Rodeo, starring Erica Cornejo, Craig Salstein as Head Roper and a very sexy Isaac Stappas. The trio effortlessly fell into their roles. The chemistry between Erica and Craig -- both of whom have real star presence -- filled the house. Midway through his tap solo, Craig was compelled to pause and raise his arms in a "stop" gesture, to quell the applause. It was a charming ad lib.

In between we had a Paquita pdd by Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky. She has lost none of her faux Spanish hauteur, arching her back during the slow pas de basque a terre. He continues to impress with his beautifully extended line, and the many sissones and the manege of grand jetes gave him plenty of opportunity to show it off.

Excerpts from Kirk Peterson's The Howling Cat (premiered in 2001 by Richmond Ballet), were uneven. Paloma Herrera looked stunning in her costume -- black bodice with high neck and a knee-length "skirt" of red and black fringe. It allowed you to see her magnificent legs, and was mesmerizing when she turned. I guess that speaks to the quality of the woman's choreography. The male quartet, danced by Grant DeLong (who stood out as the first among equals), Jesus Pastor, Jared Matthews and Luis Ribagorda, was the choreographic high point among the three sections we saw. The preview ended with a passionate Jose Carreno trying vainly to elicit a sexy response from Paloma, who was lightly flirtatious but cool. (It occurs to me that perhaps she and Julie should have reversed roles tonight).

Gong is a hybrid. The quality of the performance among the ten principals. In general, the men outdanced the leading women, and the corps (of five women) outshone the men.

Rodeo ended the evening on an appropriately festive note.

Kevin McKenzie's speech promised that "we'll be dancing ourselves silly" over the course of the season. I think they just might.

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Thank you, carbro, for kicking off the season with a great review!

(Hopefully, some more ABT goers will chime in about opening week.)

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Carbro, I have often wondered if the "nymph" in Robbins FAUN is a real woman or an invention of the boy's imagination. I suppose it could be taken either way.

When I think of her as a real woman, I can imagine her either as virginal and rather unaware of her impact on the man, or she can be played as a more calculating type. Usually I think it depends on the age of the ballerina involved.

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Cabro,

My personal feelings about last night. My opinions are my own.

Afternoon of a Faun did not strike me as a brilliant piece, it was a little too slow for my taste. Especially to open. I heard two dancers behind me gasp during a PDD with a lunge.

The men in the tango peice deserved a bow, they were spot on and gave a commendable performance. My fav of the night. ABT does a peice from the Richmond ballet, that is great! (ADC Alumnus)

ABT can be rightfully proud of the men in their comapny, and a lot of the peices showed off their capabilities.

Bravo to the Audience! The silent sections of "Gong" were great, noone coughed, no cell phones went off. I heard every little noise on stage from the rear mezzanine.

I'm not a big Modern Contemporary Ballet fan, but I liked Gong. Mr. Morris has some nice Choreo. I hope the ABT does his "Sylvia" some day.

Did the orchestra assist with the clapping in "Rodeo"? Beutiful rendition of Copeland by the orchestra. I was waiting for the medium rare steak to arrive at my seat.

Looks like ABT is building up its repetoire of american choreographers. With a name like ABT, they should promote american arts.

Unlike Swan Lake in the spring, noone slipped.

What really suprised me is I did not know a single person in the house. last night was a spur of the moment, I was in the city on business and had time to go.

MJ

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MJ...The Tango piece I think you are referring to is from Kirk Peterson's Howling Cat. Yes it premiered with the Richmond Ballet in 2001. It will have it's premiere with Cincinnati Ballet on November 1st. Not sure if CB is doing the entire ballet but the Tango piece will be performed with several men and is called 'Enrage' (from Howling Cat). So I'm curious if this is the entire ballet or not. Nevertheless glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the review of the evening! Tango

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Tango, ABT called what it did last night "excerpts from Howling Cat." Enrage was one of those. The best of those, in fact.

I neglected to say, of Kent in Faun, how her general physique and angularity suggest something of what I imagine LeClerc looked like in the role. Oberon, I don't know if the woman's age is as important a factor as her mien. Farrell never lost that unawareness of her effect on her partner. Allegra Kent danced it with innocence well past age that Julie is now.

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Carbo...After reading the reviews of opening night I see that there are 3 sections to Peterson's piece. CB will be doing the 'Enrage' section...so the audience in Cincinnati will be in for a treat! Thanks!

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Re Julie Kent in Faun, the instability during everything she did on point was a major problem -- even more of a problem than any wordliness or lack of innocence on her part, though you are quite right about that too Carbro. Some weakness and instability (wobbling) can be absorbed in a performance. But when it's too pervasive, it defeats your ability to see much of anything else. I also thought Ethan didn't convey much. A very very flat performance of Faun. The orchestra did play heavenly though -- this company has a good one; has great production values; a great repertory. Now all they need is consistent dancing.

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Michael, there you go, sitting way up close again! :wink: You sit too close, you may see more than you want to!

From my perch, I did notice that Julie had trouble raising her right leg much above 90 degrees. She did a good job of fudging that, too, by not quite developing the leg fully.

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Did anybody see the new Quanz work? I had tix but was stuck at work. The picture on the front of abt.org is very pretty.

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Did anybody see the new Quanz work? I had tix but was stuck at work.  The picture on the front of abt.org is very pretty.

I did. It's structure reminded me very much of Balanchine's Petipa homage ballets. The first half (for Murphy& Steifel) had a definite Aurora by way of T&V feel, and the second half (for Part & Beloserkovsky) was reminiscent of Odette or Raymonda a la Ballet Imperial ( the adagio). I enjoyed it. It was danced well by all esp Ms. Murphy who was charming & Ms. Part who was mesmerizing.

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Did anybody see the new Quanz work? I had tix but was stuck at work. 

I was there too.

Chris Wheeldon has no competition!

The best I can say about 'Kaleidoscope' is that the lighting was well done. Reminded me of some lighting in Wheeldon's ballets. And if you know Balanchine's ballets you will be somewhat entertained in naming all the Balanchine choreography, concepts and ideas literally stolen by Quanz. Allegro Brilliante, bits of Ballo, Ballet Imperial, lots of Swan Lake, Symphony in C.... tisk, tisk.

'Kaleidoscope' starts off well enough -- it's ballet, it's tutus and tiara-like headpieces for the women (Allegro Brilliante type tunics/tights for the men), but then it quickly slides downhill to the point where rolling of eyes becomes exhausting while mentally listing the Balanchine copy jobs.

For the dirty old men in the audience, there will be plenty to watch underneath the female tutus. Too much color going on in the panty areas, and the tutus are so highly placed on the dancers that it's impossible not to watch the panties.

Veronkia Part was luminous, sexy and lovely. She was giving it her best razzle-dazzle. There isn't much scenery left at City Center to chew on!!!! Still, I look foward to seeing Sarah Lane's debut in the Murphy role tonight. I'll give Quanz 'good taste' for casting them. What a turkey to sell though...

The rest of the evening was under rehearsed or badly rehearsed with poor casting. Paquita looked under rehearsed. Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carreno pulled out all the star tricks but there was a tenseness, instead of excitement, and a few minor partnerings that didn't quite work. On the whole, however, it was the best part of the evening. Both dancers were in fine form, and Acosta's inventive tricks remain as fondest memories with Carreno.

'Afternoon of a Faun' was flat. Ethan Stiefel and Julie Kent are just wrong together in this ballet. And Ms. Kent badly needs a little hair and makeup work, starting with some light pink blush. The makeup on both dancers was far too severely white with black holes for eyes. The set looked absolutely gorgeous however in its original home at City Center.

The most disappointing part of the evening was Kirk Peterson's staging/coaching of 'Les Sylphides.' Are they kidding?!!!! Although Erica Cornejo has a breathtaking, light jump, I saw far too much of the choreography from the other female leads (Abrera and Riccetto) turned into approaches that resembled doll imitations of Coppelia. So wooden, so stiff. This 'Les Sylphides' was not otherworldy and softly feminine, with the exception of a few corps dancers. Why isn't ABT's ballet mistress, Irina Kolpakova, staging/coaching this ballet??!!

David Hallberg was very handsome and often beautifully poetic.... with long lines. But that's about all I can rave about in last night's performance of 'Les Sylphides.' NYCB's School danced the ballet far better at their workshop performance a couple of years back.

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The Saturday matinee of Afternoon of a Faun with David Halberg and Stella Abrera was beautiful, the best maybe I've ever seen Faun performed. This is why one keeps going to the ballet - because you never know when a performance like this is going to happen. I left immediately afterwards because there are some acts which should not be followed.

One should note that in JP's staging at City Center the lighting is quite beautiful at the outset. The curtain goes up on a white scrim with milky light; the scrim then rises and the lighting seems to go through a transformation or two, through a soft golden glow, before coming up to performance level.

There are several successful readings of Faun -- Hallberg's was to be quite taken with Abrera, to try to, but to be unable ultimately to escape the mirror and to break through to her. Something in him kept dragging him back to the mirror. It was the condition of his existence. Abrera -- who is looking very ethereal and attenuated these days -- read the part as a woman very dissociated from herself. With an animal quality too. She was gorgeous in costume, her hair sensual, she's lost weight and her eyes were very striking. Suddenly she seems like Ballerina material -- that transformation that happens when a dancer somehow becomes a little inhuman, more a creature of the stage than one of the street.

What is it that constitutes dramatic immediacy? You know it when you see it. Stiefel and Kent were acting. Today, something real happened on the stage.

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Thank you, Michael. Very encouraging that this junior cast brought so much to Faun. Also, for those of us who have been waiting for Abrera to assert herself as a stage presence, giving us hope that she may be breaking through.

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For the dirty old men in the audience, there will be plenty to watch underneath the female tutus.  Too much color going on in the panty areas, and the tutus are so highly placed on the dancers that it's impossible not to watch the panties.''

Now you tell me! Had I but known, I would have insisted on a seat down front for ideal watching under tutus. As it was, from Row P, I was totally oblivious to all that was going on in the panty areas. :flowers:

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The Saturday matinee of Afternoon of a Faun with David Halberg and Stella Abrera was beautiful, the best maybe I've ever seen Faun performed.  This is why one keeps going to the ballet - because you never know when a performance like this is going to happen.  I left immediately afterwards because there are some acts which should not be followed.... 

What is it that constitutes dramatic immediacy?  You know it when you see it.  Stiefel and Kent were acting.  Today, something real happened on the stage.

Beautifully described. Thank you! You REALLY left? The ultimate "Bravi."

At ABT's website

http://abt.org/

there's now a photo of the Abrera/Hallberg Faun. It looks small and rather inconsequential. But it has high resolution and when I "saved" it and then looked at it in saved form it was big and clear. Really worth the effort.

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Regarding the new Quanz last night -- with all of the formalist Ballets being made over the last twenty years, it would be remarkable if at least a mediocre Balanchine imitator did not emerge. As it was, though the piece is too long and is also uneven and a little trite at moments, it furnishes a nice, fresh vehicle for some of their dancers, particularly Veronica Part.

Sarah Lane is exquisite. Now if only Herman Cornejo could partner. God I hope she is not going to have to be partnered this way for ever. (And note that where Balanchine -- choreographing to a piano concerto -- always had his Ballerina dancing against the piano cadenzas, as in the pirouette entrance for the Ballerina in Imperial, Quanz gave this material to Cornejo, in this case balancees and balonees). Then Vernonica Part had her entrance and after that you really didn't watch anything else. A gorgeous performance by her. What a developee the girl has, in the legs and in her arms also, with such beautiful Kirov development and placement in her shoulders, upper back and neck. And her feet seem much stronger, she is going through the foot so very much better in developpees and roll downs -- either new shoes or new training. Max Belesorkofsky should thank his lucky stars to dance with her -- they look damned good together.

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The new Quanz probably is a rip off of Balanchine's and Ashton's neo-classical works, but you know what? I don't care. I thought it was musical, a little inventive in some places (in the corps configurations) and provided interesting roles for the dancers.

I hope to see Murphy in the lead, because I think the part is perfect for the terra-a-terra style. As Michael said, Lane is exquisite but I didn't know if the times she came abruptly off point were choreographed in or accidents (partnering problems?). I guess it is a testiment to her prodigious stage craft. Lane handled the still, quite moments beautifully, making a simple arabesque into the most important thing in the world.

What can one say about Veronika Part? Just standing on stage, this most lovely of ballerinas can hold the eye. Quanz was wise to showcase her awe-inspiring arabesque and developees. She made magic out of the most elemental gestures.

Beloserkovsky partnered well. He looks good with her in the right things, but this is not a "romantic" partnership. Of course it isn't as he's married to Dvorovenko, that's not what that is to mean. There is something more platonic in their union than there is when Part dances with Gomes or (in the old days) Zelensky. Possibly she would have performed the role with Gomes if he hadn't been injured.

Cornejo made less of an impression on me, through no fault of his or the choreography's. The women reigned supreme in this one. How different (a throwback to earlier times) than what we are lately used to.

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I agree with you Michael, that Saturday matinee of Faun was truly special. I was also much impressed with Herrera in the Paquita PDD. She always reminds me of the old nursery rhyme: "There was a little girl who had a curl, right in the middle of her forehead---when she was good, she was very very good--and when she was bad she was horrid". I thought she was very very good! It was her demeanor that impressed me; if it is possible to be both regal and simple at the same time, she achieved this; and the absence of any kind of mugging or ingratiating herself to the audience brought to mind another truly regal ballerina--Alicia Alonso. Les Sylphides was a letdown, although I did like seeing the two soloists, Yuriko Kajiya and Zhong-Jing Fang in leading roles. There was little other-worldliness about it. which wasn't helped by Dvorovenko's broad smiles and complete lack of style.

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I went Thursday and Friday.

Thursday night opened with Les Sylphides (AGAIN!), and for me the only thing that made it bearable was Hallberg, who was absolute perfection. With his Roman God looks, and long lines, and expressions of longing, I didn't take my eyes off him even for a second. :-) I agree that the "sylphides" arms looked extremely stiff and wooden, and very un-sylph like! Everything looked too calculated and not inspired, just as it did to me during the Spring Season.

I didn't think Afternoon of a Faun was too bad, however it most definetely could have been a better interpretation. I always think Julie Kent is beautiful, and she was very faun-like, delicate, and fragile, but I think it'd be be better with more raunchiness, some more sexual appeal. I would have liked to see this with Corella. Since he is appearing only for the last week, perhaps he was not there to rehearse these ballets? Stiefel and Kent definetely don't have that daring, instinctual, interesting chemistry at all, which is so necessary for this ballet. I dont think it has to do with age, because Faun could be successful as either virginal or mature/experienced (IMO), but with familiarity---> abandonment.

Paquita PDD - Jose Manuel Carreno was fantastic, all the turns and jumps were perfect, he looked to be in great form. I thought Herrera was a bit dead. It was missing that Spanish spunk....one review said something about Irina Dvorovenko's "faux spanish flair"...Well, Paloma's could have been genuine Spanish..errr Argentine... and I missed it. Fouettes were spot-on as always, but something was lacking, I felt. She looked regal, yes, but sometimes she can be both regal and lustrous, and she wasn't.

About Kaleidoscope- I felt it was impressive, giving how many decent tutu ballets are being choreographed (close to zero), and how young Quanz is, and how much experience he has had. I disliked Murphy and Stiefel, and strangely, didn't see any chemistry between them at all. :unsure: Part, however, was in a class of her own, to me it was like a breath of fresh air. She is such a natural dancer, all her lines are so exquisite, and she can just stand there and command your attention. She is just captivating! I liked her with Beloserkovsky, and I agree with both Dale and Michael about this partnership. They look "damned good together", and seem to enjoy dancing together. Both have great smiles, are tall, and beautiful! However, perhaps with time and experience, it could evolve into something more, I didn't see Part with Gomes, but perhaps she and Beloserkovsky have the potential? I'm very excited to see this piece with Kent and Hallberg dancing together, during the Spring Season I made a mental list of improbable couplings I'd love to see...imagine my surprise when I saw casting for Kaleidescope!

Apollo with Carreno, Kent, Abrera, Dvorovenko.

Dvorovenko as Calliope was the strongest, IMO. She is not one of my favorite dancers (that faux thing pops up everywhere) but the others had a similar effect on me as the corps of Les Sylphides, especially Kent, who while <again, still> looking beautiful, looked nervous and unsure, and didn't have the right aura to Terpischore. Her movements were not big enough and she seemed tentative. Abrera was solid but something that I cannot identify was missing. However this Apollo was interesting, here was a cast of four gorgeous people and actually almost exactly (if not exactly) the cast I had proposed for Apollo earlier when the city center schedule first showed up on BT. :-) I liked Carreno, again. I would have liked everyone to be larger, more daring, electrifying.. :rolleyes:

Gong was awesome, I remember seeing it some years ago (I think with Ananiashvilli) and it was nice to refresh my memory. The costumes are great! The standouts for me were the Cornejos and Xiomara Reyes, who infused it with energy. Great balances from Erica, and those jumps!!

I'll wait for someone else to report on the Green Table first. :-)

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Apollo with Carreno, Kent, Abrera, Dvorovenko.

Dvorovenko as Calliope was the strongest, IMO. She is not one of my favorite dancers (that faux thing pops up everywhere) but the others had a similar effect on me as the corps of Les Sylphides, especially Kent, who while <again, still> looking beautiful, looked nervous and unsure, and didn't have the right aura to Terpischore. Her movements were not big enough and she seemed tentative. Abrera was solid but something that I cannot identify was missing. However this Apollo was interesting, here was a cast of four gorgeous people and actually almost exactly (if not exactly) the cast I had proposed for Apollo earlier when the city center schedule first showed up on BT. :-) I liked Carreno, again. I would have liked everyone to be larger, more daring, electrifying.. :rolleyes:

In the spirit of "that's what makes horseraces", I’m afraid I have to disagree about Apollo. Anyone who has seen any of my postings here can probably tell that when it comes to a question of ABT’s sensibilities vs NYCB’s I generally fall squarely into the ABT camp. However after watching the first Apollo with Carreno, Dvorovenko, Abrera and Kent my only thought was that this was a mistake. I liked Abrera, and thought Carreno was okay if unremarkable but Dvorovenko & Kent were another story. Kent just doesn’t have the chops, or the style for this. I really love Dvorovenko most of the time but after the 3rd or 4th time she batted her eyes at the audience it took all of my self control to keep from jumping out of my seat and screaming “You’re supposed to be a muse, not a coquette!”. I found it to be a painful experience.

I thought ABT redeemed itself with today's matinee. Steifel, Hererra, Ricetto & Murphy were a MUCH better cast. Steifel’s Apollo was very finely developed. You really saw his transformation from a perfectly formed but awkward & gawky infant god, through his discovery & mastery of his powers to his perfection as a fully formed god. He particularly reveled in testing those powers at points. His was not a calm, contemplative interpretation but it was a compelling one. Ricettto was very good as Calliope and Murphy & Hererra were outstanding. Hererra is a dancer I often don’t like, but here she was perfect. Technically precise, she danced Terpischore simply & beautifully.

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I also generally fall into the ABT camp, and I must say that my overriding idea was that I didn't like it. I think that the Balanchine style is really unnatural for the ABT, the performance was very reserved, very..classical. Apollo looks better at NYCB because the style is just so much more fitting- the huge daring steps, not as quiet, a little edgy. IMO, its like Bouder in Giselle... hard to imagine (for me, at least.. :unsure: ) Anyone who went to last February's Stars of the 21st Century Gala could see Ansanelli was having a hard time in Le Corsaire. At NYCB, the style is a bit more explosive, daring and messy, and that is what people love :) . ABT should get repetiteurs from NYCB for Apollo.

However, for a ballet like Les Sylphides, there is no excuse!

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The thing about Hallberg and Abrera in Faun is that you almost never see the boy make anything of this role. I've loved Ansanelli and Taylor in this at NYCB (Ansanelli's first performance some years ago was one of the best I've seen) -- but I've no particular memories of the boy's role being a great performance. Which is odd, considering that the "Faun" is the boy. David Hallberg changed all that. With this, Apollo and the Green Table, it's his season here.

Dale I agree totally that Kaleidoscope is a successful Ballet. I liked it and I'd see it again.

The thing is that there is a need for fresh Ballets, including fresh "Neo-Balanchinian" ones, if nothing else because they are MADE on this company and on and for these dancers. That's how this succeeds. The role for Veronica Part is great one because she is a great dancer and Quanze perfectly embodied her in this. That part of it was great and was about Vernonica in the same way that Ballo is a great ballet and is about Merrill Ashley. Hey, despite any other criticisms, that's good praise for Mr. Quanz. He should, though, avoid the direct choreographic quotations, they are distracting. And learn to edit a little bit. The score might have been cut slightly.

Funny thing about putting the Saint Saens next to Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto # 2. It shows how related to French 19th century music Tschaikowsky, Minkus and Glazunov are. It's not the Austro-German school one hear's in the Russians. It's the Parisians -- Gounod, Bizet, Berlioz and Meyerbeer. With Russian nationalism and melodic input in the mix.

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We saw Apollo at Sunday's matinee and were disappointed. Dancers included Steifels, Herrara, Murphy and Riccetto. It was hard for us to put our fingers on the reason why. It simply lacked the elegance and grace of the performances we have seen at NYCB. We don't know whether the music was too fast, the dancing to frenetic or it was just too "bubbly," but it was not the same. The person sitting next to us, whom we did not know, also thought there was something lacking. I hope someone with a more educated eye than I have also saw this performance and can provide greater insight.

We loved Rodeo. It is the first time I've seen it as far as I can remember. Xiomara Reyes as the Cowgirl and Jared Matthews from the Corps as the Head Wrangler really stood out. I really enjoy it when a member of the Corps has a chance to show his or her stuff. Matthews generally did not disappoint. However, I'm not sure the tap sequence went as well as it might have.

As for Gong. My wife enjoyed it and I didn't. I generally do not relate very well to Mark Morris and accept my wife's occasional judgement that, at times, I am a cultural lout.

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As for Gong.  My wife enjoyed it and I didn't.  I generally do not relate very well to Mark Morris and accept my wife's occasional judgement that, at times, I am a cultural lout.

I tend to love Mark Morris, but I understand when people don't. Stick to your guns, Mark D, until he does something that touches you :unsure:

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