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SWAN LAKE June 26-July 1

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I thought I would put this here. It seems like a very good summary of these two exceptional performers.

The New York Sun

Where No Two Swans Are Alike



June 30, 2006

Veronika Part and Diana Vishneva each trained at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, joined the Kirov Ballet in the mid-1990s, and immediately became leading dancers in the company. Each now dances with American Ballet Theatre, and each danced an exciting Odette/Odille in ABT's "Swan Lake"on Wednesday.And there the similarity between the two ends.

Ms. Part's natural realm is the adagio, while Ms. Vishneva is the most exceptional allegro technician the Kirov had produced in a long time.Ms.Part is lush; Ms. Vishneva is chiseled and wiry. Ms. Part retains a visible connection to the classic Kirov aesthetic tradition, whereas Ms.Vishneva's aptitude for neo-classical and modern ballet idioms represents a real break from the past.


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I assume it is OK to discuss the actual (newspaper) article. It featured a three column color photo of Part(as Odette)/Gomes, calling her "White Goddess." Part's performance was said to seem "a rebuke" to those who've complained of "her alleged technical weakness", and finding (in her Odette) "a palpable vibrato to her movement that seemed capable of sustaining a story line all by herself." Gomes was praised for supporting any interpretive direction she chose, and overall for giving a "gloriously committed, intense performance, technically assured at every point on the dynamic spectrum." Part's Odile was compared to that of her teacher Inna Zubkovskaya, and he loved her variation and her fouettes.

Vishneva/Carreno: Her Swan was preferred to her Giselle earlier this season, maintaining that the arch of her back and her arabesque were much better in Swan Lake, and calling her O/O "schismatic...also riveting and electric." (I'm not sure I saw the same performances Mr. Lobenthal saw, though I have seen all of them.) He also felt she has been fatigued by too many recent performances at too many different places, and that this was visible "at odd moments when her epaulement became careless." He was quite moved by their lakeside act, toward the end of the adagio finding that "she soared into moments of baroque abandon" and feeling her arms in the coda "became wings beating frantically against the bars of an invisible cage." He also liked Odile, and noted that in the variation she "interjected two jetes into her manege of pique turns...that were so startlingly powerful." Carreno's dancing and partnering were also praised.

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Just a quick note until I have enough free time to properly review this afternoons performance!! Over all, it was quite gorgeous. There were a few moments of hesitation, but very nice. The corps as a whole, was right on. I truely enjoyed it! More to come later!!

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Wiles/Hallberg Swan Swamp July 1, matinee

Agree, '85, there was much to like this afternoon.

Act 1 opened with a warm welcome for Tutor (in more ways than one) Frederic Franklin. This noble dancer was not to be alone today, as that noble young star David Hallberg was his pupil and prince. Hallberg began happy, totally at ease among his subjects, until his mother laid it on the line. Dissociation was to be his theme. It began as he danced with Benno's (Lopez) girlfriend, and was not helped at all by tutor's disapproval. Franklin had a Siegfried who paid attention to him, and the great dancer was able to help the young one grow his interpretation. Before the soliloquy began, Hallberg circulated among the young villagers, but their earlier warm interaction with him was gone, it was as if he couldn't focus his sight on any of them, his eyes darting not just aimlessly but with an underlying panic. By the time of the soliloquy proper, his fabulous line and stretch aside, they were pretty much couples oblivious to him, just as his own possibility for being part of a couple had been taken from him by his obligations. It was as if he were invisible, not there, and the young Hamlet ran off in fear and to find some other there. The PdT was what it should be, two young dancers Misty Copeland (she seems in a different role every night, but here she was a delight, lots of warmth radiating, as if a budding, dare one hope, Giselle) and Renata Pavam (pointed feet, exemplary turnout, needing only some of that open-hearted epaulement Misty has), both flawless, and nicely partnered by Carlos Lopez.

Act 2. Siegfried is so lost Benno has to explain to him how to hunt birds with a crossbow. Somewhat dazed, he comes upon Odette, Michele Wiles, his partner since he was in the corps (this young Bruhn actually partnered her to her win of the Eric Bruhn competition). She was startled. He believes her mime, her story something concrete to hang on. The adagio begins, although Michele is still affraid to look at him. As confidence comes, eyes meet and there is a modulation in her shoulders as her human body awakens within. She leans, her back against him, and luxuriates in a physicality probably half forgotten. And something so needed by the dissociated prince. Her petit battements seemed less about emotions than about themselves, that she'd had feet when free of wings. During this adagio Hallberg reminded of Igor Zelensky, that kind of tall majesty. Michele's second variation lacked only the needed flexible upper back early on, but ended with virtuosity. Her moment of recapture into the swan body was different. Facing the audience, her arms suddenly each shot out, straight and parallel with the stage, with a jolt that would dislocate some people's shoulders! Locked in, the wings took her off stage.

( Edited to add: David Hallberg in his July 2 entry in The Winger shows his costume worn to this point of the ballet and discusses what he goes through during this intermission. "It seems whenever I am at the ballet the intermissions are always too long, waiting for the second act to start, but when you are the one dancing you need more than 20 minutes, easily 30.")

Act 3. While Hallberg didn't use the time seated on the throne to forward the story as Gomes does, once off his Hamlet reemerged. He partnered each princess as if she'd just appeared in his path and guided him a while. And by the time he had to walk by the princess line to chose a bride, he just looked ahead (or somewhere...), not seeing them at all. When Odette arrived he wakened and darted off stage with her. As they reentered for the Black Swan PdD his eyes were glued onto her, not to where he was going. The balance Siegfried places Odile into was attained immediately and the arabesque held longer than I can remember it ever being held, surely comparable to Cynthia Gregory's best! Before she was to convince him she was Odette by demonstrating choreography leading up to the start of Act 2's adagio, she'd pretty much convinced him with another leaning on him with her back, that especially iconic move from their earlier pas. In her fouettes there was an early triple and some more multiples, with the turns finishing out with a number of singles.

Act 4. One felt sad, despite the silly early hopfrogs and cheapening glitsy final ascension.

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I've gotten way behind in my postings and have three performances to write about (fruit for some interesting comparisons though). I'll start with Michele Wiles' Swan Queen at today's matinee.

Unfortunately, I have reservations about the approach she took. (I'm sure I'll end up overstating the case to make my rhetorical point about this young and talented dancer.) Today, she seemed to me to be hardening into an overly-mannered dancer, committing some Soviet-style sins, and not showing herself with the freshness and directness lauded here in the past. First off was applause-milking after variations. I say wait to get your full glory at the end of the ballet. Diana Vishneva is good at bows in the very grand manner, coming in front of the curtain and bowing right, left, and center stage. That is better than lingering too long during the ballet and stopping its flow.

Second sin: musical abuse. She slowed down her tempos too much, and then used the extra time oddly. I felt as if her upper body and her legs were moving to different clocks. She would conclude a phrase where she'd stopped her lower body in a pose with VERY... SLOW... PORT DE BRAS, in a stab at lyricism. To me, the result was that she kept squandering any momentum she'd built up. The effect was, weirdly, both syrupy and static. This was most marked in her white swan solo, which received very tepid applause. The coda was more energetic and much better.

As Odile, in particular, she displayed some of her impressive, trademark balances, notably a lengthy unsupported arabesque in the black swan pas de deux, warmly applauded. Another interesting thing she did with balance happened during some double pirouettes en dehors on diagonal. She slowed her momentum at the end of the turns, balancing in passe without coming off pointe as she came around to face the audience. So she is doing some unique exploration and coming up with flourishes that are unique to her. However, she is not showing enough sensitivity to the music, which she doesn't stay in sync with. She is not following an organic line through the musical phrase, but rather is shoehorning effects into it, sometimes unsuccessfully.

In contrast to this was Veronika Part's musicality on Wednesday. She also slowed down her tempos, but she unfurled her arms and legs like the sails of a ship to fill and echo through the extra time. She gave out the trademark swan-armed arabesques and attitudes like pearls; every single one was beautiful. I wanted Wiles to show these to me more clearly. The beautiful moments of hers I remember are all in passe (a backbend in Odette's pas de deux with baroque, twining swan arms).

As is nearly always the case at ABT, I preferred her Odile to her Odette. I felt her Odile was very cruel and powerful; she seemed to have some of the same mind-control power over Siegfried that von Rothbart does over the princesses. Very cool; I wouldn't mess with her. The Odette rang a bit false to me with the complicated port de bras and a bit of the tragedy queen face. I think it would be fine if she kept it simpler, with faster tempos and a sustained attack. Too often she was standing still on stage.

Basically, I am in sympathy with the strategy David Hallberg appears to be following in developing his interpretation: keep the dancing clear, simple and beautiful, build up dramatic nuance, and eventually add greater virtuosity when you can pull it off. More to come on his admirable performance!

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7/1/06-Matinee; David Hallberg & Michelle Wiles-

I saw them in their debut, what about 2 years ago? I thought it was breath taking then. This time around, was gorgeously done. More maturity was shown, but along with that came some unneeded caution. I'm not sure my review can do the performance justisce as have the reviews before me, even if I don't fully agree, but I shall give it a go!

The corps was very lively as the performance started and in walks David.*loud applause*!! His first little interaction with all the dancers was nice, shyly flirting. His little variations he did were superb! The pas de trios, was nice. I had never seen Carlos Lopez dance and he's very nice. His lines could use a little work and his pirouettes were at times a little unnerving, but he has great stage presence! Misty Copeland, while she was nice in this I did not love her. She has a very nice jump and gorgeous six, but I felt her port de bras lacked some classical quality. A little too far behind her and never really finishing the line. Renata Pavam, The first time I saw her was in Coraisre back in June and she really impressed me then, as she did now! She has a beautiful quality to her dancing. She just shines and has very nice use of port de bras. In corsiare I felt her foot work was lacking, but this time I feel she was very clean and just lovely to watch.

Let's start with David. Everytime I see him, he amazes me. It's impossible that he is human. I truly believe his performance. His unbelieveable technique, along with his glowing presence, breath taking!! Besides his natural attributes with thise feet and legs, he has the most amazing grand jete known to man!! In the coda he just came SOARING out and did he come down like a normal human dancer would? No, he went HIGHER before he decided he should come down!! Now, I guess I shouldn't say he's not human, as he wasn't perfect. He had a few bobbles in some of hir varaition, nothing bad just not getting around on all of his turns some times and landing a little ackward once in a while. But still! I feel he partnered Michelle wonderfully. They had such a connection and I could feel as if they were one. I felt his heartache to be betrayed, and his horror in trying to find his TRUE Swan Queen. OH! The Ending!! I have NEVER seen someone jump off the cliff so! He FLEW in the air! I gasped! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Here's to a 100 more 'Swan Lakes'!

Michelle, I have always loved her. I know she has been said to have gotten worse since she was promoted, but I've not seen her enough to know if that's true or not. I feel she was gorgeous, she had a few faults and some hesitations, but she still pulled off what I think was a fine performance. I felt she was more more expressive this time, not just with her face but with her body too. Her arms, while different than last time, were very nice. She added alot more sharpness this time, but I don't think it was over the top. She still had a nice smooth quality when needed. I also feel that the sharpness works with the way her arms seem to be angled. She wasn't the top she usually is. She did as stated have some very impressive turns, and bassicly stopping on pointe before going on to the next thing. I don't think turning makes a dancer, but when one is known for it, one might expect more. Her fouettes were good, she did Single, Double, the first 16 and then 16 singles, but she lost control and pulled in to only a single. Now, that's not such a horrible thing, but the last time she did fouette, fouette, triple the whole time and pulled into 4. Now we all have our off nights, and this did NOT ruin her performance. My biggest pet peeve with her was her arabesque. Now I know she was injured with her back for 4 months, and she's never had an extremely high arabesque, BUT it was always well placed and gorgeous line. This time around I felt it tended to turn in and not really finish the line. The thing that bugged me the most was her balance. It was a very impressive balance, BUT, the leg was turned in and just hanging there. I saw Irina do this in the gala and it bothered me just as much. At the end of the balance, she looked to the audience with this look of *MUAHAHA* and lifted her leg to a gorgeous line, all the while still balancing by her self! I just hope someone tells her, or she can see the lack of line that was there.

The Corps- *standing ovation* I was impressed to say the least! It was not perfect, but almost! The patterns were just spot on. Only once or twice did I see someone out of line or fumble a bit. The Cygnettes, where the BEST I have ever seen. The litteraly moved as ONE. Bravo, Bravo to Caity Seither, Carrie Jensen, Maria Riccetto and Anne Milewski! Gorgeous job! The Two Swans as ABT calls them were Kristi Boone and Simone Messmer, they were good, but a few times were not together.

The performance over all I feel was fantastic. The feeling was there, the talent was there and the hard work paid off! Bravo ABT on a wonderful performance of Swan Lake!!!

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I definitely appreciate the impressions of drb and Danseur85. I also would not care to or be able to make the argument that Michele Wiles has regressed since her promotion. She was a breath of fresh air in Le Corsaire and In the Upper Room. I just think she is still finding her way in the role. It is an intriguing challenge for a principal to develop her individuality without becoming a caricature of her best qualities—her virtuosity is solid, and she did enough turns to impress me today. I did not realize she had been injured and that that might have compromised her line.

I actually have a similar opinion of Diana Vishneva's Odette, based on what seems to have been an off night Wednesday. I can see in some way why she was not cast in Swan Lake at the Kirov for so long, out of their more rigid sense of emploi. Since she is a hot, Rubies dancer (if we can use Jewels as our template, as I have read in some reviews), she must find her own path to lyricism. She has been able to make Giselle her own with a very individual interpretation, as an intense, mercurial teen in the first act and using the force, control and flow of her pure dancing in the second to present a beautiful spectre. I do not feel she was there yet with her Odette. She seemed to tamp down her natural enthusiasm to become a cold, remote abstraction. There were some intriguing hints of wildness coming from her manipulation of her shoulder blades, but she was not dancing from the center of her back. My personal preference in Swan Lake is that the upper and lower body work as one and I felt Veronika Part showed me this. She turned her liabilities (height and plasticity, almost weakness) into assets, curving her long body into exquisite shapes that showed us bird and woman. She camouflaged her weaknesses as best she could and made us see what she wanted us to see. Right now, Wiles is showing us her strengths, but her portrayal will be more complete when she goes through the same struggle Part did. I agree she was more expressive this time around and next time she can dial it back a notch to arrive at a happy medium.

My contention is that an emphasis on bravura technique at the higher ranks means we are not developing as many naturally lyrical dancers, though some of our favorites at the lower ranks do have this quality, like Fang, Lane or Hamrick. I have come to believe Odette is the more difficult part of the role for most dancers now, in contrast to Fonteyn's ongoing problems with Odile's 32 fouettes. In my view, Vishneva and Wiles were actually trying too hard to be lyrical and overshot the mark, obscuring the qualities we prize in them. Yet this is no death sentence. The most intriguing example of an unexpected flowering of lyricism is Wendy Whelan, whose adagio I now prize. Her main characteristic has been described on the board recently (I can always remember these things and not where they came from) as uncompromising honesty. Vishneva and Wiles need to tap into their own inner core of sincerity. Now this is my own rambling, but we are living in a prosaic rather than a poetic age, and our dancers are not immune to the temper of the times, so it seems to take them longer to access certain emotions. Susan Jaffe is a dancer who grew much more compelling and vulnerable at the end of her career. Amanda McKerrow reached a quiet, yet sublime depth that often went unappreciated. So that's the general point of view that guides my opinion.

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Swan Lake 7/1/06, Evening

Best dancing I've seen from Paloma Herrera in years, surpassing her performance of Swan Lake just last year. Paloma's Black Swan, I expected would be full of technical thrills, which it was, including one of the most gorgeous and long balances I've ever seen outside of Cuba. Speedy, clean, multiple turns done with complete ease. Strong jumps. And of course, her very pretty legs, and lines, finished with the most beautifully arched feet in the business.

But it was also so moving to see her White Swan *queen* who wasn't weak, but instead tender, lovely and warm in her yearning for her prince -- as well as being technically exciting. This year, Paloma's White Swan completely took me by surprise with a few new interpretations to the music, additions to the choreography. Paloma's musicality in both black and white swans shows an artist who is very much a fine wine still growing and improving in her career. The audience gave Paloma the screaming, enthusiastic appreciation she well deserved.

Also outstandingly beautiful tonight was Melissa Thomas as one of two big swans, and among the princesses, Erica Cornejo and Sarah Lane. All three ate up the stage, moving with such expansiveness and radiance in their parts.

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I am enjoying reading everyone's commentary so much! But I notice no one has commented on Kent/Gomes Friday night, and very little on Murphy/Corella Tuesday night and Dvorovenko/BelosverkovskyThursday night. It certainly seems that Part and Vishneva inspire the most commentary, but I would enjoy hearing reports on the other performances, as well as from tonight's performance (Herrera with...?).

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I too would love to hear about Kent and Gomes! I have seen her perform twice and it was the best Swan Lake I've ever seen, but I was unable to attend this year, which saddens me since she is getting older and who knows when will be her last! So impressions please!!

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Angel Corella, Saturday night, was Herrera's partner. Corella is an explosive powerhouse, but in the last couple of years has lost much of his refinement and elegance especially needed for a role like Prince Siegfried. I enjoy Corella's dancing more in the wilder, mucho macho roles.

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