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SWAN LAKE -- reviews

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l loved both of them, Gillian M. and David H. -- both gave such sensitive, emotional (for each other) performances. And all that outstanding dancing. Gillian surpassed herself in Black Swan including a series of hops on pointe backwards in arabesque that normally females do on flat foot after a very tiring section of choreography (and the entire night). It's a tough trick to execute without looking heavy or tired, and I've not seen it done that well in years. Just when you think you've seen most of Gillian's fabulous tricks!! She has endless energy and strength it seems... but is also becoming a gorgeous White Swan minus just a couple of tomboy moments a good coach ought to quickly catch and fix. Gillian only needs the tiniest bit of polish at this point... She's really amazing with her style of feminine powers. Yes, very engaged.

Ditto Hallberg! He will get stronger in time for the Black Swan section..no doubt... it got a bit weak in technical fireworks required for the man's role....but Hallberg is clearly untouchable with his stunningly beautiful lines and graceful, accessable elegance, a soulful faun of manliness. Very special. And you totally believe his acting, from beginning to the bows....My, oh my, what a sensual and poetic, and divinely handsome prince he is. Wow!

So yes, indeed, an incredibly exciting and moving night..., and the orchestra sounded its best too, so far this week. An overall great performance.

Oh, and Jared Matthews in the pas de trois of Act 1 -- he danced so fully and brightly, youthfully without being cute, and with so much energy - especially loved his clean jumps and his speedy turns at the end of that pas -- so many I lost count with one preparation. Another very handsome and talented, tallish male dancer at ABT. Can't wait to see more from Jared in further solo/principal parts. He's got what it takes, sexy too.

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I'm sorry, but I just didn't connect with Gillian tonight. I rarely do, though. I thought she gave a very dutiful, letter-perfect, cold-as-ice Odette. Poor David Hallberg, having to provide all the emotion give and take for both of them.

Gillian's timing, positions, everything was there. She obviously put a lot into preparing for tonight. Ballet is not an easy profession. You really need to love what you're doing. Until she got to the razzle-dazzle of the Black Act, I saw no evidence of this. She looked like she was taking her SATs, trying to make sure every answer was correct, and blacking in the little marks on the answer sheet.

David, on the other hand, is one argument in favor of the US developing its own monarchy, and what a prince he'd be! What a prince he IS! From the moment he enters, his bearing sets him apart from the other aristos (except his mama). Elegant, always dignified. And beautiful.

Yes, Christine, Hee Seo was a standout. What lightness! She was like a helium balloon that had to be held down to earth.

I hate this production :mad: , cutting out all that front-of-curtain business would be such an improvement. Some music is just fine with no dancing. Yes, I know this invites whispering and noisy candy wrappers, but all that swanny stuff is like cut glass as the setting for Ivanov's diamond.

I was bored to tears by Murphy's too-perfect Odette :clapping:, and oh, by the way, could they play the Second Act any slower? :wacko:

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nina, not Nina-44

Frederic Franklin starred as the Tutor tonight, guaranteeing total clarity for Act 1's story of the Prince. The new, noble Angel Corella took care of the rest. Again no corps people were allowed the chance to step up in the PdT, but at least it was much better danced than on Tuesday. Angel's spiritual longing for what-he-did-not-know after being given that doomsday message from Queen Bystrova was transformed into dance in the soliloquy, vituosity now hidden, or serving, eloquence. He was to be an outstanding partner for Nina in the dance and drama that followed.

When Nina leaped out on the lakeside it was the beginning of one of the best (sorry for that word) performances of the season. At no time would we see that amazing 44-year old Ananiashvili that we enjoyed in the Gala. All we got was the amazing Nina Ananiashvili, just the same one we loved years ago. Her mime echoed and rippled through her body as she told of her capture and confinement. Her Odette was as before, although it seemed decades since La Swan's wings were so real. The adagio tingled the spine with its effortless poetry, her flexibility, the perfect fit with Angel. A roar errupted as the adagio ended. The variation too gave no sense of a three year pregnancy leave, it was so simple, so effortlessly flown. Once she'd gained Angel's pledge, the Swamp Thing aspect of the Evil Magician jolted his control through her almost free human body, leashing it back inside the swan, she turned her Russian back (as she's said, she's Georgian, but a Russian Ballerina) to us center stage, and made that rippling wings exit seem more generous in time than ever. I hope that Diana Vishneva was lucky enough to still be here to see this. This, of course in her own way, is what she needs to fulfill her Odette. Other than Ms. Part, that is so for all ABT Swans...

Of course there was no hope that Ms. Ananiashvili could pull off Odile's pyrotechnics so effortlessly. OK, so the adagio gave no hint of age, she was very hot and had Angel quickly hypnotised. So real was her deception that Angel stroked each of her wings so erotically that you hoped her arms weren't ticklish. And yes, when he set her on balance there was no wobble, no sense that she'd ever need to leave that graceful position, just old Tschaikovsky forced her on. So she pulled that off, but the variation? Well that scored another 100%. But surely she'd be too tired for the fouettees. 32, right in place, with a few arm tosses just to keep her from being bored with too much ease. And all this perfection fully in character, with panting hot Angel so taken that he tossed off what looked like a 33-tuple pirouette in response. She rejoiced with such total glee as her deception crushed poor Mr. Corella. I'd like to think that glee was also being felt by that mighty woman inside the birdsuit. Surely it filled the hearts of the screaming audience. Nina Ballerina tonight turned pure evil into pure love. Jared Matthews, by the way, was quite a fine (was this a debut?) Evil Magician. A good omen for him, especially as it follows his great success in Romeo and Juliet's mandolin solo, inasmuch as great Rothbarts Gomes and Hallberg have graduated to Siegfried. It will be a farce if he is not promoted to soloist.

Back on the lake, Nina and that new and perfected Angel were in such tragically romantic harmony that poor Swamp Thing might as well have got out of that uncomfortable costume two acts earlier. Angel gave not a hint of acting, just a pure simplicity of expression that told he'd fully grasped his error, sin, and now hopeless love. Yet when Swampy dared to part them a kind of anger crossed his face, with the Power of an Old Testament Prayer; I got the feeling it was answered. But offstage in a higher place, not in that cheapening apotheosis.

Around 10 curtains.

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...And the most unusual curtain call - as the curtain split she boureed out as Odette,

rippling those swan arms, with a very unswan-like grin on her face!

What a magnificent performance from Nina and Angel!!

I will still dare, even though probably will make everyone hate me ;-(( (and I have to admit i am a russian classical school and ballet fan).....

1) Nina was WONDERFUL, her arms were heavenly, And she's a GREATEST actress. I'm totally happy that I gave myself another chance of seeing her (this is the first year i saw her, and my 3rd time of seeing her)....

2) I didn't count 32 fouettees, sorry but she finished before the score and it was only 30 (however, I may have been mistaken)

3) There were several, but NOT 10 curtain calls (unless you count Angels and Nina's appearances separately).

4) Angel seems to have lost some weight (good for him)... however, I can't help remembering Nina's pairing with FILIN (in Giselle, at New Haven, just 2 weeks ago).... Had I not seen Filin's lift's and support, I would not have dared saying that Angel struggled lifting Nina (and she's tiny, tiny tiny). And Filin has the perfect turn out, perfect 5th position landings, and Great Extensions (a female balerina can envy)....

Overall, bravo to Nina!!!!! bravo to the "russian" swan arms!!!!

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No doubt, Nina's Swan is one for the ages---what a pleasure to see a TRUE ballerina dance the role. I loved her demeanor for the Black Swan---she was toying with the Prince and enjoying it immensely--rather than just being villianous. (Ah, the eternal female!). While watching her I couldn't help thinking how I wish there was another recording of her Swan Lake...the Perm recording is from 1992 and she has added so very much to her performances over the years. I also wished she had another Prince---Corella is not danseur noble enough for Nina.....

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I will still dare, even though probably will make everyone hate me ;-(( (and I have to admit i am a russian classical school and ballet fan).....

I don't think anyone will hate you, though some of us may disagree just a little....

I thought Nina was wonderful last night. Definitely better than her Bayadere earlier this season and better than the New Haven Giselle (although conditions here were more in her favor - in New Haven she had to contend with a tiny cramped stage, very bright lighting for the first act & an auditorium where people in the first rows of the orchestra & mezzanine were practically close enough to kiss her).

I love both Filin & Corella but they are completely different in technique, temperament etc. I won't compare them but I agree that Angel did seem to have a tiny bit of trouble in some of the lifts. I don't even know if I'd call it trouble, just a little more effort showing than I would have liked. But they were both exciting & fearless in their dancing and I found Nina to be very moving as Odette and perfectly seductive as Odile. Their chemistry together was great. What I love about Nina in SL is that she doesn't just trade on her soulful face, she really shapes her movement and her phrasing to express Odette's feelings which is the kind of expressiveness I want to see in this ballet. The only thing I don't like about her interpretation is that I think she overdoes the swan arms, especially in the first lake side scene. It has to be very tempting for her since the audience bursts into applause each time she does it but I find it distracting when done so often and I think it dilutes the power of the imagery.

In the black swan pdd it looked like she did 32 fouettees to me, with multiples thrown in and several changes in arm position. Her fouettees didn't start out as fast as some, they did slow towards the end and the leg worked it's way down a bit as she approached the finish but these are all such minor flaws, they really don't matter to me anyway. She didn't travel side to side, or fall off point, or panic, or grind them out, she finished in control and facing forward and that's more than good enough for me. What matters to me is that she danced it well, with confidence and in character. I don't think I've ever seen a "perfect" Black Swan pas de deux in the full length ballet (not even from Murphy or Bouder) and I think it's unrealistic to judge a live performance against a classroom conception of perfection.

Abrera was lovely in the pdt and I think this is also one of Saveliev's better roles. Misty Copeland continues to charm in the first act as the woman who flirts with the prince's friend & winds up with the prince, and I couldn't take my eyes off of Fang as one of the Princesses. She has such a special quality I hope she doesn't get lost in the shuffle if promotions are made this year. Speaking of soloist candidates - it was great to see Jared Matthews as von Rothbart, he is really developing wonderfully. All in all it was a very exciting evening.

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... Misty Copeland continues to charm in the first act as the woman who flirts with the prince's friend & winds up with the prince...

Well, not quite! :clapping: I always enjoy Mr. Franklin's intense concentration as the Tutor. While Misty dances with the Prince he watches with such stern disapproval, even commenting on the Prince's misbehavior to some people near him. But once the Prince leaves, it is Mr. Franklin, grinning happily, who, arm around Misty's waist, leads her off. So, score one for the faculty! :thumbsup:

It has been another of those seasons where everyone notices Misty, but will management ever? Promotions, so many are deserved...

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... Misty Copeland continues to charm in the first act as the woman who flirts with the prince's friend & winds up with the prince...

Well, not quite! :tiphat: I always enjoy Mr. Franklin's intense concentration as the Tutor. While Misty dances with the Prince he watches with such stern disapproval, even commenting on the Prince's misbehavior to some people near him. But once the Prince leaves, it is Mr. Franklin, grinning happily, who, arm around Misty's waist, leads her off. So, score one for the faculty! :clapping:

It has been another of those seasons where everyone notices Misty, but will management ever? Promotions, so many are deserved...

Yes, the tutor was upset, the Prince was amused, the other aristoctrats were jealous, but I was still charmed :thumbsup:

Regarding those promotions, I'm sure management notices Misty, and all the other talented dancers in the corps. Problem is there are so many who deserve a promotion! The soloist ranks are looking pretty thin at this point so hopefully there will be a few promotions soon. I think Lane and Matthews are the ovbious front runners, I'm also betting on Misty, Fang & Issaac Stappas

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Should I conclude that I was the only person who liked Irina's Odette/Odile on Monday night?

No, I enjoyed her Odette/Odile immensely.

David Hallberg was wonderful as von Rothbart. When he made Siegfried swear his love for Odette, Hallberg got this positively crazy look in his eyes. It was brilliant. Oh, yeah, his dancing was pretty good too. :thumbsup:

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Hallberg, Wiles, Saveliev (a brief review)

David's performance was beautiful from his port de bras to his (always beautifully pointed) feet. His leaps have such lift to them!

Michelle Wiles danced very well, but I wish she'd give more emotion and drama in her performance. In her entrance as Odette, I thought she didn't have the "Russian Back" to do the step--I don't know the name, but the one with the leg in attitude with the arms arched back--because her back was not arched as much as Nina's or Diana's; however, she displayed this flexibility later.

Her Odile definitely had more of a spark. Unfortunately, she fell when her shoe slipped during her Black Swan solo, but she got right up and continued dancing. Suddenly her dancing had this intensity and beautiful flexibility and control (especially her back), that she seemed to be lacking before. The turns in attitude (en déhors?) were amazing. Her back was beautiful and she seemed to do them so slowly yet perfectly balanced, and held the leg in attitude all the way around. (I don't know whether I'm describing the step well. I don't know the name of it, but I always think Carmen Corella does this step beautifully in her solo as one of Myrtha's minions in Giselle because she keeps her leg in attitude all the way through the turn.) At any rate, the audience was completely with her (which they were anyway) and she finished the solo beautifully with a a series of fast chainées into one of those balances that stop on a dime without any rotation.

Her fouettés in the finale were wonderful with some triples thrown in. (I wasn't counting how many she did.)

David's variation and his turns in the finale were wonderful too. This was the last performance for me of the season b/c I really don't care for the Cinderella production. Although I might break down and see it just to see ABT once more before the season ends.

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... Herrera just doesn't do it for me, I guess. I've avoided her in the past few seasons, but decided to try her out again, based on the reviews she got this season (including the New Yorker asking, "Is she in love?"). But I won't be doing that again. For technique, give me Gillian Murphy, who does what Herrera does, but in a more precise, crystalline, and committed manner; and for interpretation, give me anyone else.

Loved Corella.

Saveliev doesn't do it for me as von Rothbart either. Would have greatly preferred Hallberg or Gomes.

Sarah Lane (pdt) is a lovely dancer, but that bright and artificial smile is getting on my nerves. As Princess Florine in SB, I assumed she'd been coached to smile in that bright way, while always looking upwards, but she did it again tonight, and it distracts from my enjoyment of her dancing! Yuriko Kajiya (also pdt) also smiled to excess in SB, I felt, but tonight was much more natural, and I enjoyed her very much.

Hee Seo, as one of the princesses, was outstanding. She is having a great season, and I look forward to more.

So my ABT season draws to a close. (I don't need to see Cinderella -- not enough dancing, and I hate to see the ABT talent pool, so impressive, not doing what they can do). My favorite this year: three performances of Manon, and in particular the two with Gomes, Gomes/Kent, and Gomes/Vishneva.

I look forward to City Center!

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Saturday night's Swan Lake was beautiful - not without problems - but beautiful. Herrera's articulate feet and gorgeous legs etched out every step with clarity and strength. In a series of supported developees a la second, Odette slowly, slowly opened the leg to the most beautiful and perfect 90 degree position I've ever seen. Pushing the arches on those feet to the extreme and powering the leg with such slowness, it took my breath away. This is why I go to see Paloma. As a youngster, she flashed her technique and threw her legs around; as a mature artist, she dances with an uncommon sense of values.

I spent a lot of time focusing my binocs on her face, and she was one very convincing Odette. Passionate. Vulnerable. Distressed. Resigned. Most other Odettes dive off the cliff as though they have Olympic aspirations. Herrera's Odette stood at the edge, looked back and focused on Siegfried, and she was gone. A great death.

Herrera's Odile is less about meanness and evil, and more about mischievously toying with Siegfried. Perhaps this Odile could use a little more hiss and spit, but it seems always to have been Herrera's choice not to make Odile someone who the audience could dislike - even though she must know by now how much we love and cheer our evil characters.

Corella topped off a remarkable season last night with a powerful and dramatic performance. No problems whatsoever partnering Herrera, who allows him 100% of her confidence. And the guy is great in the passion department, no doubt about that. I lost count of the revolutions in his final pirouettes in the Black Swan pdd, but it went way past seven, and the audience went insane. It seems these days that there is no one who can match Corella's turning and jumping speed followed by those dead-in-his-tracks stops -- absolutely thrilling. He got so many bouquets and loose flowers thrown at him when he came before the curtain that he seemed embarrassed.

Saveliev as VonRothbart had the character down pat, but his dancing was not nearly aggressive enough. His innate elegance got in the way, and he approached a lot of the great Von Rothbart moves sectionally: careful preparation stop controlled multiple pirouette stop open arabesque stop, instead of crazy-mulitple-pirouette-open-arabesque. What a let down when the strobe flash and smoke didn't go off when Von Rothbart exited up the steps to the doorway where it was revealed that he was Swamp Thing. Speaking of S.T., Jared Matthews handled this role well and gave us a good death at the end, but not before getting his cape-fin-wing appendage caught on the rock.

The Pas de Trois was well-danced by Lopez, Kajiya and Lane. I have to agree with Christina174 regarding Lane's use of looking up at the ceiling on her pirouettes. It's a good trick and nice to see once in a while, but doing it every time gets tiring. Kajiya's phrasing in this variation blows me away every time I see her. Last night she found an arabesque balance that not only lasted forever, but continued to breathe and grow and fill the music extraordinarily. She was so lovely without a bit of showiness. I'm still waiting to see Lopez have a good night. I know he's been injured and thus is not at 100%, but his lumpy line and lax feet do not make me happy.

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