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SWAN LAKE June 26-July 1

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Swan Lake 6/28/06

Didn't help that the conducting was all over the place... and mostly slower than ice melting in 25-degree weather for White Swan. Hello Kevin!!!!

The orchestra on a whole was off last night...

Every year I complain about how the horn section tends to produce clunkers, but this year they had been uniformly good until last night, when there were a couple of really abominable sounds emerging from down there.


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I don't know... I really thought that this year's "Swan Lake" showed some improvement over Vishneva's 2005 effort with Saveliev. First of all, she did have a more appropriate partner in Carreno with whom she has danced in "Don Quixote". Now I am sure that she hasn't danced "Swan Lake" with José before and how much rehearsal they did together in this ballet where teamwork and chemistry is essential is seriously in question given how much time ABT allots to such things. If Vishneva had been given a second performance with Carreno we might have seen greater rapport and it may happen in a future season where we will get the performance and not the dress rehearsal. I am sure she has danced it more often with Malakhov and that partnership has been honed in Berlin, so that would have immediately clicked and Vladimir would have brought out the best in her Odette.

Admittedly her 2005 Odette was a bit slower and more soulful but those gorgeous arms and delicate febrile quality still reminded me powerfully of Makarova. She danced everything a bit faster this time with some suggestions of brittleness - frankly she can handle the slower tempos gorgeously but that may have been the conductor's fault. José has had over the years serious upper back pains and shoulder muscle injuries from lifting but I thought he did very well with his partnering last night. However, these are gorgeous dancers (in movement and in repose) and I couldn't keep my eyes off of them.

The biggest change was in her Odile which was much better in general despite some technical bobbles of the overreaching sort. She had a minor slide when finishing her Odile solo due to the speed and force of her piques and pirouettes before. She began the fouettes in the coda at incredible speed like a demon but after a while they started to travel and get looser until she misjudged a double or triple and ended up facing downstage. Better to start them slowly and crank them up. The pirouettes and technical level in general was still virtuosic and exciting.

However, last year her Odile was a brittle soubrettish flirt, small-scale and mischievous rather than threatening. This year she was more of a ballerina and a siren. The smile glittered with knowledge of her glamour and her secret betrayal. Much greater authority and sense of power emanating from this Black Swan this year.

I still prefer Vishneva's Odette to her Odile which I thought would be the other way around. I still think she is finding her way into every aspect of the role and in a year or two with Malakhov (if ABT bothers to book him for more than one or two performances a season) she will knock us dead with a complete portrayal of both roles.

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I have to agree with much of what I've read about last night's performance. I kept asking myself whether I was being fair to Vishneva - my expectations as the result of last year's performance were very high. My impression was that the majority of the problem was the partnership. There was no chemistry whatsoever, as has already been noted. Carreno danced with her as if he was just following orders. It was very perfunctory and studio-like. Carreno was not, in my opinion, anywhere near his accustomed level last night. He hestitated when he had to take the steps up as he chased Von Rothbart out. He hestitated when he had to step up on to the boulder to gaze at Odette on the cliff. Even when he was standing in his B+, he looked uncomfortable. And, his arabesques - never startling - looked on the verge of retirement last night.

Vishneva as Odette was lovely, but oh my, we wanted and expected so much more! Odile was a non-event, as far as I'm concerned. It didn't even rise to the level of ordinary.

HOWEVER, I thought the corps looked exquisite. They worked their feathers off last night, and were much appreciated.

Radetsky as Von Rothbart was appealing, but he just does not have the control and consistency in his turns that are required in a principal role. His center seems to be up somewhere around his throat.

The Pas de Trois was spectacular, and it was nice to see Erica step forward for some special applause. I also saw some on-stage applause for her as well.

One nice moment -- Kevin McKenzie discovering Jacques D'Amboise sitting next to him in Parterre. There seemed to be a very warm exchange between the two, and Jacques still has that cherubic face!

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I just wanted to send a :wink: to all who have posted so wonderfully on this thread. There have been lots of things to appreciate here.

Among them:

-- the attention to detail and thoughtful description, which has helped the rest of us to visualize the performances we missed;

-- the areas where your experience and knowledge brought you to a kind of consensus about so much;

-- the way in which differences in personal taste allowed you to disagree, though always with respect for the way others see things;

-- that underlying sense that what you've written came from a deep love of classical ballet and those dance who dance it, and your wish to see all things done as superbly as possible ... every performance

P.S. Also, a last-minute thanks to Haglund for that visual impression of d'Amboise, a dancer who played a big role in my totally unplanned fascination with ballet long, long ago.

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... in a year or two with Malakhov (if ABT bothers to book him for more than one or two performances a season) she will knock us dead with a complete portrayal of both roles.

Devoutly to be wished. But in a 22 day period Vladimir not only gave us two Manons and a Giselle but also danced two Solors for his Berlin company. It must have been exhausting. And I think it might have been the first time his company was performing his 1999 production of Bayadere, more work still. So we really couldn't have asked more of him this season.

P.S. Getting back to Wednesday night, the doors to seating were delayed in their opening because things were still going on on stage. The curtain was also a few minutes late going up. Makes one wonder re adequate rehearsal time, or...

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It had occurred to me that perhaps Vishneva was under the weather, or nursing a minor injury or deprived of rehearsal time etc. Still, she is considered by many (including me) to be one of the 3 or 4 greatest ballerinas of her generation, and has begun to be spoken of in the same breath as Ulanova, Fonteyn and Makarova. While I sympathize with Vishneva (and anyone can have an off night) I think a dancer of this caliber must be held to higher standards than mere mortals, and it must be noted when they turn in a sub par performance.

It should also be noted that most of the audience was enthralled by the performance. It will be interesting to hear what the local papers have to say.

Also - Makarova and brittle don't belong in the same sentence IMO. While Vishneva did bring Makarova to mind last year, I thought that this performance couldn't have been farther from Makarova's approach. Especially with regard to the lack of poignancy in her portrayal and the lack of elasticity and expression in her back. The 4th act was her best and her arms were gorgeous, but a little too superfluously swanny to me. Melt she did not. Up to a meeting for next time better (in my best Dianglish).

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I just want to comment on the Part/Vishneva perfs. yesterday by going by my historical ideals for Swan Queens. My favorite White Swan is Markarova. Her body, for me was the most swan like. She had the crystaline and fast footwork you need. But her body, esp. her arms did not seem to have a bone in her body!

And her arms were simply amazing!!! They undulated in waves of continuous flowing movement, whether in her variations, in response to the Prince, or briseing off the stage as she was turning back into the swan at the end of the white act. She was not Markarova, but a creature of mystical proportions.

My favorite Black Swan is Cynthia Gregory. Since she was such a large physical presence, esp. on point, she was a truly regal and menancing B. Swan. Her attack was right on. She was in perfect control of her technique and her Siegfreid, who was usually the late, great Fernando Bujones. Her technical prowness, along with Fernando's, to be honest, was criticized for making their perfs. together feel like "Olympic Events". But, to me, it was always an exciting evening when they danced together! But Gregory's interpretation of the Black Swan was truly a sinister being!

The best all-round Odette/Odile for me is Nina Aniashvelli. She has all of the necessary ingredients of the two swan queens, that I said before.

One point about ABT's Swan Lake. The "tree curtains", move in too soon as the Swan Queen is briseing off, which cuts off the swan-like arm motions, way before they should be, to me.

Both Part/Vishneva were nowhere near my ideals, yesterday. BUT, with their body types, technique and time, they do have the potential to be all-time great swan queens!!!!!!! :wink: One Swan Lake a season, does not help!!!! Having different partners, with little preparation does not help! My ideals all danced and were able to perfect their interpretations, esp. Nina and Natasha, long before they came to ABT, I believe.

Part also has the handicap of not dancing enough principal roles, to help get her ready to dance Swan Lake. She is also quite tall, esp. on point. So even one of the best partners in the world, Marcelo Gomes, has to modify some of his lifts in the White Swan act!!!! He did not do the overhead lifts, just the straight up overhead ones. Also the technique and arms were not as secure and swan-like as they need to be. Her technique needs to be right on, esp. for those cursed fouettes. She did seem more unsecure as she progressed thru those turns. A Black Swan HAS to be in total command. There was not enough of a break bet. here interps. of the Odette/Odile characterizations.

Vishneva white swan was very good. She had the right "lightness", that I look for. Her arms were swanny enough for me. But, her technique was untidy during the Black Swan Act. Then she started her fouettes at a very manic pace, as if she was trying to get thru them with as much momentum as possible. I should never be made to feel that a prima ballerina should look uncomfortable doing a series of steps. But I did feel that about her fouettes. But, I also fault the conductor for not even trying to get up close to the tempo that DV wanted!!!! :mad::wink:

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I also, sadly, agree with what many people have posted on the board about last night. Last year, I saw Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes. This year, I wanted to see Diana Vishneva, especially after watching her magnificent Giselle with Angel Corella on June 17th. Last year, I saw Jose Manuel Carreno bring the house down when he danced the Act III Pas de Deux with Paloma Herrera in the All-Star Tchaikovsky Night. So, I was really looking forward to last night's performance and the combination of Vishenva/Carreno.

Things started out great, especially with the Act I Pas de Trois. Last week, I saw Herman Cornejo give a very subdued performance as Manon's brother. Last night, he was back to his usual virtuoso self. The audience oohed and aahed over every one of his leaps and Xiomara Reyes and Erica Cornejo radiated joy. Last year, in the Part/Gomes performance, I saw a weak Pas de Trois and the audience was really not "into it" until Part came onstage. Last night, the audience was there (packed!!) and was ready for something spectacular. It just didn't happen.

I thought Diana Vishneva made a beautiful Odette. But, she did not really display much emotion. I wanted to see the torment, the despair, the suffering, and the feeling that she was a trapped woman. And I know she is capable of great acting, as she showed in Giselle. Vishneva was good last night, but I wanted her to be spectacular, and she wasn't. However, her Act II with Carreno was lovely - that got one tear to come out of my eye. Overall, there was a coldness in Vishneva's Odette, which I did not expect.

Carreno is also a good dancer, but again the acting and emotion were just not there. There was not much chemistry between the two dancers, certainly not the chemistry which Diana had with Corella in Giselle. I feel that Carreno got better as the night went along. He was really on in his Act III solos. Vishneva was good in Act III, but she wasn't perfect as she usually is. In her solo before the 32 fouettes, she wobbled when she stopped and she looked visibly shaken. She did her fouettes, but as someone else commented, she ended with her back to the audience. Maybe she was just having an off night.

The corps de ballet was beautiful. I liked Sascha Radetsky as von Rothbart much better than Jesus Pastor, who I saw last year. The overall production - costumes and scenery - is first rate!

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I left the performance after Black Swan. If White Swan doesn't make the audience fall in love with the couple, then Black Swan needs to be beyond intoxicating, which it absolutely was not.
Too bad, sz, because for all the thinness of this Act IV, Vishneva finally seemed to wake up here. I guess the pressure of the set pieces was off. For the first time, I felt a suggestion of connection between her and and Carreno. And Carreno last night did look off form to me. Whether the stiffness in his back was due to an infirmity or just the natural progression of the years, it is hard to tell, but his general tentativeness suggested the former.

Many Swan Queens have talked about how they view the Odette/Odile duality and similarity. Should Odile be pure evil? Wouldn't any idiot realize that this is not the forlorn woman of the lakeside? Perhaps, I mused, Vishneva solved this problem by making her Odette cool and remote. :wink:

And I agree with you about Kristi Boone and Sarah Lane -- two of ABT's most promising corps members who had the same early training.

However, the Pas de Trois was great enough to redeem the whole evening. That Herman can give us such soaring leaps, such quick footwork, such unstoppable turns without turning the whole affair into a circus is a testament to his talent and integrity. The enduring images of Erica are of her figure in mid-air. I've never seen such effortless lightness (even comparing her to Makarova and Kirkland, among others). I was so pleased that Herman urged her forward to take a solo bow -- and that the audience responded so gratefully. Her absence from ABT in future years will leave a great void for me.

So even one of the best partners in the world, Marcelo Gomes, has to modify some of his lifts in the White Swan act!!!! He did not do the overhead lifts, just the straight up overhead ones. Also the technique and arms were not as secure and swan-like as they need to be. Her technique needs to be right on, esp. for those cursed fouettes. She did seem more unsecure as she progressed thru those turns.
This may have been an artistic choice. I don't know if the straight-up stag position lift is any easier than the inverted attitude. It is more traditional, I believe, and Part gave as traditional a reading as this production allows. Except -- this was such an emotional performance. Both principals -- all three, including Hallberg as the sexy Rothbart -- allowed the drama to speak through the steps.

In his Act I solo, Gomes perfectly captured a late-adolescent existential funk by letting his arms go limp or lowering the angle of his head. In Act II, by the midpoint of the pdd, he and Part had created a single soul from their two magnificent, well-matched bodies (those harmonious bodies being no small element in the overall pleasure of this performance). Part's connection lay elsewhere in Act III. From their entrance through the end, it was clear that she and Hallberg were conspirators out to pull a fast one. She was a glamorous, if not "brilliant" Odile, exploiting that glamour to beguile and manipulate Siegfried.

Both performances suffered from problems from the pit (off-pitch horns the least of them) were more noticeable in the afternoon. David LaMarche's tempi sped up and slowed down within a couple of beats, but mostly he seemed to rush Odette's first variation and pas beyond Part's preference. She knows how to fill the music and draw out phrases to great effect, thanks to her heritage, temperament and musicality. I wish she'd been able to do so yesterday.

Her complete Swan Lake may not be there yet, but I have no doubt that Wednesday afternoon's Odette was one of the *Great* Odettes of our age, with credit shared with her Siegfried and Rothbart.

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I just wanted to send a :wink: to all who have posted so wonderfully on this thread. There have been lots of things to appreciate here.

I'd like to second this! I talked about the ballet with my mother (with whom I attended), but I really needed/wanted to discuss it further...I was practically considering talking to strangers on the subway on the way home!! ;)

I'm so glad I found this forum to discuss ballet, and grateful for the intelligent opinions on here.

BTW--If anyone ever sees me at ABT, do feel free to say hi! I'm probably the only person in the whole theater with a septum (center nose) piercing, so I should be easy to spot! Especially when accompanied by my mother, who is 6' with white hair!!

I realize the combination of facial piercing and my mother makes me sound all of 16--I'm really not, I'm just young at heart and my mom likes the ballet. :wink:

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After hearing how wonderful Vishneva would be it was disappointing to see such a mediocre

performance. I sure didn't expect the wobbles and missteps. Carreno was fine on his own,

but together they looked like they had never met let alone rehearsed. The main difference

between her Odette and Odile was her facial expression. And the 3rd face when she took

her bows.

There were many good things about last night. How wonderful to see Frederic Franklin

onstage. I wish more retired dancers would be cast in character roles. Would Jacques

d'Amboise ever want to be Drosselmeyer?

Radetsky's solo work in act 3 and the way he slumped on the prince's throne to watch

the show. The 4 petit swans were perfectly unified with quick, sharp footwork. The

corps and the soloists did a terrific job. The Pas de Trois was the best - now there was

chemistry. I wish Erica Cornejo would have been the lead. She will be missed.

What always bothers me is that old can of worms about the guest artists vs the

permanent company members. Oh well, if it had been the one, definitive, perfect

Swan Lake then my quest would be over. I'm doomed to go again and again, back

to the swamp, er lake. :wink:

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Let me add my thanks for the intelligent discussion here. I agree with a lot of what's been said, and don't want to be repetitive, but just have to throw in my two cents' worth.

Re Part and Gomes, she was just beautiful, and the chemistry between the two made it totally believable and tragic. She is so magnetic, and I can't think of a better partner for her than Gomes. I can't find the words to capture it! And BOY, has she lost weight! I actually think it detracts a bit from her beauty, but if it helps her technique and helps her get better roles, I won't complain. Come on, ABT! Now is the time to let Veronika shine!

No one has commented on David Hallberg's von Rothbart, but I really like him in this role. I was amazed when I saw him do it last year -- I never would have thought this blond prince could turn so evil and seductive. He's a more interesting dancer than I had realized at first.

Re Vishneva... I've been a big fan of hers, but was disappointed last night. I wasn't sure if it was just me, or the effect of seeing Part and Vishneva on the same day. Thanks to all the posters here who have helped me figure out why I felt it was a dud.

The Cornejo-Cornejo-Reyes PdT made last night worthwhile, however. I'm not usually crazy about Reyes, but in this particular role I like her more than anyone else I've seen. And Erica Cornejo was spectacular, showing that she shares her brother's talent for attaining abnormally high elevations. Can't ABT arrange to keep her?? Maybe if they could find space for Carlos Molina, she would stay...? anyway, and Herman, of course, was his usual virtuosic self.

On to tonight -- Dvorovenko/Beloserkovsky. If you had told me I would like Dvorovenko better than Vishneva, I never would have believed it, but such is the case. Those swan arms as she floats offstage at the end of Act II -- how does she do it? And the fouettes -- as reported from Monday night, she opted for singles, and was more in control by the end than anyone else this week, something I appreciate.

I look forward to hearing what everyone else has to say.

And Aurora, if I see you and your mother, I'll certainly say hi!

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Hey -- does anyone know the casting of the pas de trois for Saturday matinee and evening? I wasn't planning on going to those two (I do have to pay the rent, after all), but if I could see the Cornejo-Cornejo-Reyes combination again, I would go. How does one get the casting for roles like that?

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How? One hopes. I phoned ABT a couple of years ago to find out casting for a major unbilled role -- Queen of the Dryads, perhaps. No one in the press office seemed to know. I asked, who sends the info to the printer? No one seemed to know. I told them that if the right dancer were cast, I might buy a ticket for a performance I otherwise wouldn't attend. No one seemed to care. It's so frustrating, especially when Pennsylvania Ballet has pdf files for all of its performances, full casts, top to bottom.

It's a fair bet, though, that Herman Cornejo gets to dance the Peasant Pas in the first Giselle of a run, the pas de trois in the first Swan Lake of a run, etc.

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It's a fair bet, though, that Herman Cornejo gets to dance the Peasant Pas in the first Giselle of a run, the pas de trois in the first Swan Lake of a run, etc.

and is listed for the first Corsaire (July 7) and the first R&J Mercutio (July 10), and only those.

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I wonder if Wednesday night was Erica Cornejo's last appearance with ABT. The bows after the pas de trois seemed to be different. Herman's special attention to his sister bringing her forward for her solo bow after the pas de trois made me wonder if this was actually her swan song. I rarely saw her dance better.

She isn't doing any more Gulnare's in "Corsaire" and the pirate maiden in that ballet is minor. She has no solo roles that I know of in "Sylvia" or "Romeo and Juliet". Was Wednesday her goodbye? :wink:

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I hope anyone who sees Erica in any substantive roles will report in. She has led the Czardas in SL III in the past. I don't know if she's doing it this season.

I've never seen her as an Odalisque in Corsaire, but if it would make sense that that would be in her rep. :wink:

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I wonder if Wednesday night was Erica Cornejo's last appearance with ABT. Was Wednesday her goodbye? :clapping:
Whether anyone can answer that depends on whether anything's been published. :)

I called the ABT press office about casting for tomorrow's pas de trois, as well as Erica Cornejo's upcoming performances. Is that "legal" to post?

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I called the ABT press office about casting for tomorrow's pas de trois, as well as Erica Cornejo's upcoming performances. Is that "legal" to post?

Well, there are higher-ups at BT who can. Hopefully one will replicate your call! It would be nice if her fans, as well as just immediate friends and family, could be part of her ABT Farewell.

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