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"Le Corsaire"

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"Noche Latina" May 23rd tribute to Latin dancers at ABT

Last night's "Le Corsaire" was a special event "Noche Latina" honoring the Latin (Spanish and South American) dancers at ABT. There were many Latin society and business eminences in the house and Oscar de la Renta was one of the honorary co-chairmen and spoke before the curtain at the beginning of the show.

This was a remarkable evening of dance by a stellar group of dancers with remarkable star turns even in the smaller roles. Julio Bocca danced his last Conrad and he is in fine shape. Much of his familiar animal intensity, physical abandon and daring were present last night - he was not holding back. Bocca also is a passionate and focused actor at this point in his career as manifested in his love scenes with Paloma Herrera and fights with Cornejo.

The Odalisques were Maria Riccetto (feathery light), Stella Abrera (quick and sharp) and Veronika Part (in a class of her own as the turning odalisque). Part is in fine physical shape - her bare midriff showed firm abdominal muscles and she didn't bobble during her grueling solo with the multiple pirouettes. She didn't do them as quickly as Gillian used to do them but was solid and unfazed technically. Her uniqueness showed in the sections she danced with the other two girls. Her gestures and movements seemed to have more air around them - she elongated steps so that they seemed momentarily suspended and floating while the other two girls were efficiently and accurately doing the movements with nothing extra. Your eye went to Part automatically.

Herman Cornejo and his sister Erica were Birbanto and his Pirate Maid partner. Cornejo added flourishes to his solos that made the role the equal of the other men and threw himself into his villainous plotting with gusto. Erica is wasted in character shoes but showed form and style anyway.

Lankendem was Jose Manuel Carreno in an uncharacteristic demi-caractere role. He is a naturally modest and reserved stage presence, so I was delighted and surprised by his sharp and energetic portrayal of the slave dealer. No one has matched the sly wit of Malakhov or has attempted the deep plié landings from jumps that he did in his solos, but Carreno was excellent in his own way. All that was missing was a sense of fun in his characterization though he was exuberant as a dancer.

Xiomara Reyes was delightful and virtuosic as Gulnare showing a flair for characterization and speed and control in her many pirouettes and pique turns. Her spoiled houri in the last act was delightfully impish when teasing the eunuchs or the Pasha, played by Victor Barbee.

Paloma had a fine night as Medora and she has a special rapport with Julio which was evident in their pas de deux and mime scenes together. She had a winning characterization of a spunky and free-spirited young woman and her dancing was technically brilliant especially in her turns. Angel Corella was Ali and I have seen him many times in the role but still am amazed by his dancing. He did the bent corkscrew twist on the stationary leg in his turns a la seconde that were astonishing. He also had great elevation on his jumps.

The Pas de Trois in the second act was a real dancing competition with Julio throwing in a few bravura licks after Angel and Paloma stunned with their fouettes and spins.

In many ways this was as much a gala event as the opening night. Carlos Acosta was in the audience in a white sleeveless shirt and cap and was very social with his many Spanish-speaking admirers.

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What a night!!!!! This was a repeat of last year's mindblowing performances except Paloma replaced Julie, making it a 100% Latin cast. And it was on fire! If last year's or this year's performances of this cast were not taped, it is a HUGE, HUGE loss. Yesterday marked three events- Noche Latina, the celebration of ABT's Latin Contingent which is by far not limited only to Principal dancers, Corella's Tenth Anniversary with ABT, and Bocca's last Le Corsaire.

Animal intensity comes close to describing Julio, I suppose :devil: . If anyone came last night looking for latin fire they certainly found it. I am not a big fan of Herrera's, and last night it was as if I was looking at a different person. She came alive! I have yet to see someone lack rapport with Julio, or perhaps Julio lack rapport with anyone. I saw real passion from Paloma! At the beginning of their Pas de deux in the cave (I still do not know what this is called and what the music is- is it simply called the Bedroom Pas de deux? It is one of my favorite pas de deuxs) they locked eyes and then threw themselves into it with abandon. It was different from last year's pas de deuxs with Julie- whereas Julie has a very soft, gentle, ethereal like presence that meshed beautifully with Bocca's machoism, Paloma matched him and as a result the movements looked more daring and dramatic. At the end, they just kept schmoozing...and schmoozing...and, well then Bocca was poisoned. Her technique was perfect all through the night, with sustained balances after her turns and clean fouettes alternating single-double for the first sixteen. In her solos, she still lacks presence for me- her arms do not have enough definition and she doesn't accent her movements, especially when it is necessary in correspondence with the music. But her artistry has improved a great deal and she brought humor and passion into the performance, if not the minute details I loved from Julie last year, special glances here and there, a flutter of eyelashes here, gasp there, laughter, etc.

As for Bocca's retirement, there is no apparent physical necessity, he is absolutely in top form. He still flies onto the stage and soars extremely high, suspending himself in the air. I always love this cast in the second act, if this is not a contest I can't say what is, Cornejo, Corella, and Bocca try to outdo eachother every second and it is just so much fun to watch! After Corella thrilled with his turns, Bocca again flew on and attempted his triple assemble entourne, (he got about 2 3/4 of the way around) and all three finished the pas de deux with their trademark latin gusto. Cornejo and Corella keep getting better and better- Cornejo's turns are now a la Carreno (who actually was having an off-turning day)- very consistent and solid, he seems to just turn and turn and then right when its time to proceed to the next step, he says, OK I'll come down now, and he sustains the last pirouette- a quality seen especially in his jumps as well. Corella, adorable as ever in this blue pantalones and gold hoop earring was better than ever in his variation and got a thunderous ovation as usual. Bocca inserted his trademark side split leaps in the menege (sorry, no idea how to spell that, corrections?). He did not hold back at all the entire night, though there was one moment in the First Act when he lost his balance a tiny bit after a series of jumps and turned it into a "You know I meant to do that" moment, shrugging his shoulders, and what not and finishing with a grin- it's these moments I'll miss most when he retires. He lives every single moment on stage passionately.

Malakhov is unmatched as Lankendem but Carreno, if not as fun, was great to watch maybe because of his reserved manner. The assembles into grande plies are thrilling to watch but always make me extremely nervous- they are so hard on the knees! As FauxPas said, your eye was drawn to Veronika Part immediately as one of the Three Odalisques because of her regal bearing and large, lucious movements. Riccetto and Abrera were technically perfect and very pretty and both have great things ahead of them. But Part has that star quality. Even when she just walks around the corner to begin a diagonale with her back to the audience, she has such a commanding presence- she is such a beauty onstage. She is also a reserved soubrette- she does not put on this big act of flirtation with the audience or those around her, it just seems to happen naturally with her smile and way of moving.

The Third Act in this production always seems out of place to me (Jardin Animee) but I suppose it is a must. One of my favorite moments is when Conrad and Birbanto sneak into the palace and pray with the Pasha. Cornejo and Bocca have such a sense of comradeship on stage (Cornejo, after all, was taken by Bocca into his company as a fourteen year old) and it was evident from the very beginning how much they enjoyed performing together, and it makes Le Corsaire's silly plot so much more enjoyable when the dancers are having fun with it and acting as a team.

Noche Latina was a great way to celebrate the unprecedented Latin talent in ABT. In leading and demi roles, there were four representatives from Argentina (Erica and Herman Cornejo, who were wonderful together, Bocca, Herrera), two from Cuba (Reyes, Carreno) one from Spain (Corella) and even one from Uruguay (Maria Riccetto), and others, I'm sure. :) At curtain calls, Angel grande jete-ed out and was thrown some flowers from the audience. After the first round (or two) audience members all over the theater kept cheering and applauding for a good two minutes with the house lights already on in hope for some more, but the powers backstage didn't cooperate. Perhaps running off to get ready for their big dinner? ;)

A wonderful night at the MET.

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Ahhh, the Amazing Acosta. His Ali is a creature of passion & poetry, so unlike Corella who pulls out all the stops instead of listening to his inner deity.

I saw Acosta in ABT's Corsaire last night too. The audience screamed with joy. He certainly has found a new calmness in his passion and poetry, and his turns and landings from huge leaps were cleaner than ever. Yet Acosta hasn't lost one bit of his daring, full of testosterone, attacks. I *loved* him! Acosta covers the stage, vertically(!) and horizontally better than anybody I've ever seen.

Guess Acosta's dancing at the Royal Ballet has been good for him, bringing out a new elegance. Makes me wonder what changes might come about with Alexandra Ansanelli's dancing in a year or two...

And why hasn't ABT yet offered Acosta the highest paying contract to stay here??!!!

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And why hasn't ABT yet offered Acosta the highest paying contract to stay here??!!!

But as an artist, what could ABT offer him to compare with his Royal partnership with Tamara Rojo? Especially from a company that has a random partner policy.

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But as an artist, what could ABT offer him to compare with his Royal partnership with Tamara Rojo? Especially from a company that has a random partner policy.

I'm thinking...

Thought Roberto Bolle was Tamara Rojo's Romeo(?!)... though Tamara is also cast with Acosta at times.

I'm not too familiar with The Royal Ballet... but Acosta hasn't danced Corsaire there has he? Nor Apollo? Or Theme and Variations?

I think ABT has much to offer Acosta that RB does not, as in variety of rep and number of performances. As far as partners for Acosta at ABT.... Veronika Part... and Herrera seems to perk up around him... Sofiane Sylve might be very tempted... I can also think of a Cuban or two...

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Eric Cornejo's lovely Gulnare on Wednesday afternoon must be mentioned. She is beautiful in a tutu -- shoulders, arms, legs, long neck -- and a gifted adagio dancer. The Pasha did right to buy her first and would have been forgiven had he preferred her to Dvorovenko. Irina did dance Act I as if she thought the role of Medora were that of Odile as the Black Swan in Swan Lake, and as if she was interested in seducing her prospective purchaser. On the other hand, a wonderful Act II from Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky that day, as they danced it very formally, with no attempt to dramatize it. And Irina may be in the best shape of her career.

I totally am of the same mind with whoever above said that Paloma Herrera had a fine performance on Tuesday night. One loves the fact that she so did not overdo anything, that she simply let herself project what was needed. As with Dvorovenko, Herrera is in great shape right now.

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And why hasn't ABT yet offered Acosta the highest paying contract to stay here??!!!

But as an artist, what could ABT offer him to compare with his Royal partnership with Tamara Rojo? Especially from a company that has a random partner policy.

I believe he is now listed as having joined the company in 2005 as a principal. Therefore, he is no longer a guest artist. As for money and staying, the Royal Ballet is currently on tour in Boston and D.C. and on June 15th he is dancing "Manon" with Tamara Rojo. So he is shuttling between two companies this summer and can't commit as much time to ABT as he did last year. :)

Like Vishneva, Bocca, Ferri, Malakhov and Ananiashvili he is in demand as a guest worldwide so he can't make the City Center season always and can't appear in the tours. However, we have had him once at City Center and regularly during the Met Spring season. I expect we will be seeing a lot more of him next Spring.

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I do believe that any dancer from the Royal Ballet- and maybe even other European ballet companies- takes a substantial paycut when they dance with ABT. I know that Acosta has alot of family to support. His prime years are dwindling to a precious few. He needs to maximize his earnings while he is in the magnificent form he is in! :D

Acosta's Ali last nite had all the fireworks you can wish for. Extreme elevation, wonderful stretch, line, glorious pirouettes ending in wonderful finishes. He is so powerful, but yet so graceful. Even when he is doing some of his own personal tricks. And he is dancing with an injured toe joint!! :( His combinations in his second variation were off the charts. He jumped jete twice, covering 2/3rds of the Met stage. He then jumped and executed the jump from Diana and Acteon, where his torso is bent over the left side from the waist at a 45 degree angle, his left leg is stretched out at another 45 degrees, as his right leg is bent at the knee, with his foot pointed perfectly at his crotch area. He then did one of his patented moves whre he whips one leg over another- must be from his breakdancing days- that end in a kneeling position! The audience was in a frenzy!! His final combinations around the stage were a combination of all the strength, elevation, artistry and then on the last 1/3rd of his circle, warp drive speed that ended in a beautifuly executed double turn in the air ending in a wonderful pose. His a la second turns were a marvel to, with at least 4 or 5 turns were done consecutively with his leg straight out. He then finished with at least 6-8 turns and then a hop into a kneeling position! :jawdrop::):P

I would also like to point out that Marcelo Gomes, who also danced wonderfully, ended his variation in the Pas De Troi, in a kneeling position, with his backed arched beautifully, for an wonderful finish to his coda. He and Acosta complement each other perfectly!!!! Julie Kent had her best turning nite this season so far! She was fantastic! Carlos Lopez and Maria Riccetto were also great!!!!

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Dear SZ, Acosta has danced Apollo with the Royal. One of his Muses was Darcey Bussell!!! Whereas the Royal Ballet's rep. may not be as extensive- and I am not too sure about that- their rep. is still pretty hefty. They dance quite a bit of Balanchine, Cranko and others, to go along with their Ashton.

Carlos has been dancing with Tamara before Bolle came on the scene, I believe. Esp. in Don Q. and Swan Lake. They will be dancing Manon when the Royal will visit Boston in June!

I am not sure, but I believe that Acosta has danced a Corsaire PDD in honor of the Queen and/or for the reopening of Convent Garden. can anyone help out on this?????

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Just checked out Carlos Acosta's website. Interesting pictures... According to his bio, he is 33 years old.

Anyway, Acosta does have an extensive international performing schedule, and I'm sure collecting mucho buckos!! I'm happy for him!! I just want to see Acosta in NYC more often!!

Michael, Thanks for reminding me how much I hated that NYTimes' review of Irina Dvorovenko's Black Swan of last Monday's gala. He (the reviewer.... I'll not name) had some nerve... panning Irina without giving one reason for the pan, and the audience responded to Irina's dancing as if she was one of the best all night. I'm so glad Ballet Talk and Dance View Times are around... The NYTimes is pretty lame these days....

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I just wanted to comment that I saw the Wednesday evening of Corsaire with David Hallberg and Gillian Murphy, Stella Abrera and Jose Manuel Carreno as Ali. The performance was originally scheduled to feature Ethan Stiefel as Conrad, and it was clear that Hallberg has seen Stiefel perform many times because there were a few moments in Act I when I thought I was watching Stiefel perform it again.

But I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable Corsaire performances I have been at in a while. The entire cast seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the Indiana Jones/Saturday matinee silliness of the ballet, and having memories of Murphy as a technically brilliant but rather expressionless odalisque a while ago, I was very pleasantly surprised by her characterization of Medora as a free-spirited and mischievious young woman. Her rapport with David Hallberg was palpable, and were I in NY at the time, I would definitely try to see their performance of Cinderella later on in the season.

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I was lucky enough to attend the Wednesday Matinee, with Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky, Corella, E. Cornejo and H. Cornejo. It was the Cornejos, Erica especially, that brought me there. She's a dancer we have seen far too little of -- partly due to her injury last year. Her Gulnare was beautiful. Her buoyant jumps seem to emanate from her personality, and her musicality lets her glide through the choreography.

Herman fell :clapping: during a manege -- actually, just breaking a fall with his hand. He was upstage when it happened, and he was down and up so fast, it would have been easy to miss. Had this been a competitive figure skating program scored on the old system, he would have lost no points for breaking the flow of the program, although it occurred during an element. He may not have had the depth to the plies that Malakhov does, or quite the villainy, but the effortlessness of his dancing is what makes it so wondrous. He truly looks as though he could roll out of bed and just go into an octuple pirouette, ending in full control and perfectly on the music.

Excellent Odalisque trio, although I must single out Kristi Boone's joyous spontenaiety in the second variation. She was joined by Simone Messmer, whose petite batterie was set off by lovely, rounded arms. Anna Liceica's third variation was full-bodied and lyrical, although Murphy trained us to expect the triple pirouettes, and anything less (Liceica has done triples in the past but not this time) looks empty.

Commendations to both Corella and Dvorovenko for toning down their mannerisms. And to the often angelic Beloserkovsky for giving us a charmingly raffish Conrad, and without sacrificing his beautiful line or phrasing.

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You might try calling the Met & asking to speak with the press office. As the Met takes care of the programs & is quite competently run, this would seem your best bet: (212) 362-6000.

I did and was told to call 212-799-3100, another Met number. They passed me to an ABT spokesperson who advised me that Erica is slated to dance Lead Pirate Woman on July 7 and an Odalisque, July 8 Mat.

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Erica was replaced by Marian Butler as the lead pirate woman tonight (July 7).

Corsaire is the kind of ballet that you just don’t go to see if you’re offended by blatant displays of virtuosity, but even for Corsaire I think tonight was over the top. There was a big group of teenage girls there absolutely screaming & squealing for each big trick and especially for Cornejo, who was awesome. Not only were his variations jaw dropping, he also acted the part very well and made a charming Lankendem. After Cornejo’s big variation in the market place I turned to my husband and (jokingly) whispered “wonder if Corella will try to top him”. As a matter of fact it looked like that's exactly what was going through his mind, resulting in the sloppiest pas de trois variation I’ve ever seen from him. I usually love him in this, but he really tried so hard that he lost his form and actually tripped himself up with a couple of very visible mistakes.

I was really looking forward to seeing Part as an Odalisque, and she did not disappoint but I was also surprised at how much I liked Ricetto in the first variation and Abrera in the second.

Reyes makes a charming and technically dazzling Gulnare and Hallberg was a pleasure to watch as Conrad but the real surprise was Herrera - Hallberg really brought out something special in this dancer that I don't usually care for. She was both modest and sparkling at the same time and she was so engaged when they were on stage together, she danced with almost a reckless abandon in their pas de deux. As much as I love Hallberg I don’t always like the combination of him and Wiles, so I find the idea of this as a potential new partnership very exciting. It seems to bring out the best in both of them.

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I had seen Herrera in Swan Lake, she was okay. I saw the Herrera/Hallberg LeCorsaire in Cleveland(picked that performance because of David really). I was pleasantly surprised with Paloma, perhaps the role suits her better. I have a feeling David gets cast with Wiles alot because of her height and the "marketing" of the 2 young and up and comers.

As silly as the plot is I rather like LeCorsaire, my husband loved it(I think we may have a new fan after all).

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Le Corsaire, 7/7/06

ABT has a real treasure in David Hallberg (Conrad). I look forward to seeing him continue to develop in years to come. He (nearly) matched the virtuosity of Cornejo and Corella, and did it with a beautiful classical form, confidence, and an authoritative onstage presence.

H. Cornejo -- a joy to watch.

Corella -- adorable in that blue slave outfit and the little feather, amazing in general and throwing himself through the air with unbelievable force, but I agree with nysusan, he was sloppier than usual.

Herrera -- not usually my favorite, but I enjoyed her, without being totally wowed, last night. She is so talented, I just wish she could engage emotionally with what she's dancing.

Reyes as Gulnare -- good, sparkling, a sharp turner, I was surprised to realize what a really good dancer she is, but just too too cute.

E. Cornejo -- was supposed to be the Pirate Woman, but was replaced. What a disappointment! This probably would be my last chance to see her. If anyone goes to the matinee today, please report back whether she danced.

Abrera, Riccetto, and Part -- as the Odalisques. All three are wonderful dancers, but as usual, Veronika draws your attention almost the minute she walks on stage (well described by Faux Pas in the first post in this thread).

The audience -- roaring with approval throughout, with what sounded like thousands of screaming teenage girls. It sounded like what I imagine it was like when the Beatles arrived in the US.

All in all, a very fun evening!

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I have a feeling the screaming teenage girls are students at the summer intensive...

When I saw this ballet in Cleveland, Carreno was announced before the curtain went up as Ali(guess someone got hurt as he wasn't cast). You couldn't hear the other subsitition for all the screaming for Jose. Don't know if it was a bunch of teenage girls, but it was loud.

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Wiles/Hallberg/Carreno Corsaire July 8 Matinee

...When I saw this ballet in Cleveland, Carreno was announced before the curtain went up as Ali(guess someone got hurt as he wasn't cast). You couldn't hear the other subsitition for all the screaming for Jose... .

Well, today he was listed, and danced a flawless Ali. Bravo! Jose!

This afternoon's Corsaire was simply wonderful. Michele's first two performances were as a sub for Irina Dvorovenko a few years ago and it is a role that she's owned from the start.

Act 1. Two subs for the Odalisques: Melanie Hamrick (a first Odalisque with legs looking like she'd come slumming from across the plaza, a delight!) for Erica Cornejo (so sad we didn't get one last look at her classical style) and Anna Liceica for Renata Pavam (as the third O). Misty Copeland scored again as the second O, what a breakthrough season for this open, whole-body dancer. Come on, Mr. McKenzie, show some of that Peter Martins courage and give her a lead next season; she'll sell seats and you can be a hero! Maria Riccetto (Gulnare) and Sascha Radetsky (Lankendem) were both on in the big PdD. Her dancing seemed a continuation of Hamrick's first O, and, while noone can surpass Malakhov and his backbends, Sascha landed with a couple of dazzling deep plies in his first variation and had even greater jumps in his second. Michele looked beautiful and very much at home in the role and with David, who sub'd for Marcelo Gomes.

Act 2. The PdT was dynamite. Michele's fouttes included singles, doubles, triples with very little wandering given the variety, ending with a triple so easily that she might have been able to do another flurry of them! Whatever the concerns not long ago, Jose Manuel was sensational. Both he and David had no problems lifting either. And Hallberg, despite you would think being exhausted (he'd just danced Conrad last night and has really been a workhorse this season--with two killer Romeos (ask Bocca!) to go) also dazzled with full-prince charisma. The bed adagio, long the private domain of Nina Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca, was also impressive. These two dancers obviously like each other and lyricism flowed. At adagio's end David celebrated with astonishingly high leaps for joy!

Act 3. The Jardin Animee was all beauty, and Michele, as always, tossed off those Italian fouettes as if they were as easy as simple pirouettes.

I was sitting next to a mom with two very young girls. They were very actively enjoying the show, looking for every opportunity to shout "brava!" (including for Jose!) and whatever else. Yet everyone around them loved them. THIS is THE proper ballet to take the youngsters to.

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It was a delightful performance. I had been looking forward to Gomes as Conrad,

but was thrilled by the Hallberg and Wiles partnership. They were so comfortable

together and looked like they were really having fun. She is such a strong technician

(think Cynthia Gregory) she barely needs a partner but when he touches her she

is pliable. He spun her so fast and lifted her so high she could have been airborne.

I could kick myself for missing their Swan Lake and Sylvia. Now I'm already

looking forward to seeing them next year.

I was very impressed by Riccetto's Gulnare. I'm used to seeing her as an odalisque

or in a peasant pas de deux or trois - she's ready for more principal roles.

Carreno, Lopez, and Radetsky were exciting without showing off too much.

This is a fun Ballet to watch and I'd like to think the dancers enjoy it as well.

Too bad ABT doesn't have some of the marketing Disney has this summer for

its pirate movie, which is PG. Le Corsaire is entertainment for everyone.

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Just a quick FYI: Those mid-pirouette plies Corella does in his variation were first done (that I can remember) by Baryshnikov. You can see him do it in the "Turning Point" ('Gala' chapter on the DVD?). But Corella does them faster for more rotations, and then of course they both do different finale entournant moves: Baryshnikov doing his trademark "butterfly" tour jetes'. (Kind of a "flying camel" in the skating world.)

When I saw Corella do "Corsair" at the Wednesday matinee, I too noticed that it wasn't as clean (he bobbled his ankle during 1st pirouette sequence in variation--worrisome, but he finished ok), or controlled as seen previously. I thought it was those two galas and full performances the nights immediately before.

Cornejo wasn't perfect either. But he gets major kudos for "going for it".

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