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ABT's Beauty: Miami Performances

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It is my understanding that two former Miami City Ballet dancers are now members with ABT, Misha Ilyin and Joseph Phillips. Cubanmiamiboy, did you have the opportunity to see them perform during ABT's tour in Miami? I believe Mr. Ilyin left Miami two years ago. Mr. Phillips, arriving from San Francisco Ballet, left this season after a very brief association with Miami City Ballet.

I no longer reside in Florida but have always enjoyed Mr. Ilyin's past performances with Miami City Ballet.

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It is my understanding that two former Miami City Ballet dancers are now members with ABT, Misha Ilyin and Joseph Phillips. Cubanmiamiboy, did you have the opportunity to see them perform during ABT's tour in Miami? I believe Mr. Ilyin left Miami two years ago. Mr. Phillips, arriving from San Francisco Ballet, left this season after a very brief association with Miami City Ballet.

I no longer reside in Florida but have always enjoyed Mr. Ilyin's past performances with Miami City Ballet.

Artspatron07, Joseph Phillips danced one of Carabosse's Minions on Friday, and he repeated the role on Saturday plus that of a villager on The Spell scene. Mr. Ilyin wasn't listed on those 3 performances.

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Last night I went to my last Beauty. I’ll try to compress the three performances in two reviews, one for production values and the other one for the dancing.

So first here's what i disliked:

From Act I The Christening Scene.

1-The uniformity of the courtier’s costumes. Bad bad the wires design of the female courtiers headpieces. Diversity is needed, and the headpieces looked cheaply made.

2-King Florestan and wife wearing costumes made of the exact same fabric. Unacceptable.

3-Aurora’s crib and royal thrones. Not grand enough and too cartoonish looking…

3- The blinding burst of light that shoots across the sky landing in the set to get its way along with our old friend the smoking machine. This is not Disney, for God’s sake, this is Tchaikovsky/Petipa!…(oh well, there was always those who were applauding the fireball and fumes with great excitement )

4- The four helmeted, spidery green-and-purple minions who accompany Carabosse. So what, first there was that horrible Swan Lake’s Rothbart looking more like a Mars creature instead of an owl and now these…things. Seriously, McKenzie should stop watching sci fi films. Seems like he gets too inspired

From Act II

5-Lilac’s journey vehicle…This glitzy boat/flotation device/bird/horse/something was Disney in full display.

6-All the noise made backstage to rearrange the sets for the awakening scene while a Halloween-look backdrop –(with skeletons and everything)-is on display. . It was just too much. The score could be barely heard, and people were laughing about it….

From Act III

7-The white&blue stuffed, way too bright and multi layered sets for “Aurora’s Wedding”. Always been an advocate of the idea that subtle elegant designs better suit the dancers, allowing them to offer the choreography to the audience without too much visual distraction.

8-Aurora and Desire's wedding white capes. The fabric was so stiff.. . Nylon was screaming its name out loud…

On the other side, i liked...:

1-The sets from The Christening scene

2-The fairies costumes and headpieces.

2-The sets from The Spell scene Act I. Also the villagers and four princes costumes.

3-Sets and costumes from Act II

Dancing review coming next...

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I was able to see two shows this weekend. Saturday evening and Sunday matinee. Saturday I was Center 1st tier, Sunday, a bit off to house right in the orchestra. My opinons of the sets and costumes and lighting changed like night and day from the two views. 1st Tier Center, everything was way to bright and like a cartoon, but from the orchestra, while I may not have particularly liked the costumes, the sets looked better. A lesson learned for me in staging ballet...go up for a different view rather than busily working, working from the table in the center in the orchestra.

The dancing for the most part was marvelous for both performances. Reyes/Carreno /Riccetto/Lane/Lopez on Saturday and Wiles/Hallberg/Part/Seo/Radetsky on Sunday. I have my personal preferences for sure, but outside of the hysteria of the Canery Fairies in both shows, I believe in this production they call her Sincerity, the dancing was just lovely. I do not like the coaching nor staging of this variation.

As a Veronica Part fan from when she was in 6th year Vaganova Academy, it was a delight to see her excellence in this role. Her artistry is reminiscent of my many evenings in the Mariinsky Theatre. Breathe taking and classical ballet at the highest of levels. :clapping::wub:

Please come back ABT very soon.

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Vrsfanatic, we were posting at the same time. It certainly seems that the coaching was inconsistent. As with the curate's egg, some of it was excellent. Perhaps someone in charge should take another look at the entire piece and bring up the other parts to the higher level of which these dancers are capable.

Thanks, Crisitian. It's ironic that we managed to cover just about evey Miami performance between us, but not the same one. I made it down just for Sunday matinee (Wiles, Hallberg, Part, Van Hamel)

Mr. Ilyin wasn't listed on those 3 performances.
Ilyin, whom I remember fondly from MCB, danced -- and very well -- on Sunday. He was a Fairy Knight in Act I (group of 6), a Courtier in Act II. I also thought I saw him as a Villager, though he was not credited in the program. He's got a pleasasnt combiantion of lightness and weight, and he fitted into his new company marvellously. I hope they give him the opportunity for solos soon.

Spoiler: Believe it or not, there ARE negative comments in what follows. :clapping: But, speaking as an amateur in the field, I want to make the point that this strikes me as a beautiful, world-class production. On Ballet Talk we can often be guilty (nno one more than I) of being a bit too generous with local and regional productions and too willing to pick out nits from major ones. ABT's SB -- despite having been cut to keep it under 3 hours, despite variations depending on casting, despite some difficulty with the way it's been designed, costumed, and even coached in parts -- is definitely worth seeing.

About the production: As others have said, costumes are highly colored, cut in a complicated fashion, and made of lavish materials. It was splendid to watch (from the orchestra at least). The dancer is that you look at the costumes and miss the dancers underneath. This was the case with the Act I court seen (especially with the Act III March, which was more like an all-purpose procession than actual dancing). Vrsfanatic, your comment about the differences in the look when seen from the first tier and the orchestra is interesting. Possibly lighting is a problem? Maybe someone from the company should take a look from seats in all parts of the house and re-think?

The castle scenery in Act I took up far too much stage space, even though I gather it has been drastically reduced. Before Aurora's entry, the eye was drawn to a low arched stone gateway looking out onto a marsh. My assumption was that Aurora would have to enter there -- from the swamp? Instead, the walked across a comically low battlement and descended an almost invisible (and very narrow) stairway to the side of wall. Understandably, Michelle Wiles was obliged to be tentative while negotiating the awkward steps. What should be a glorious first entrance, full of joy and confidence, became a challenge in negotiating a bad set design.

In Act III Aurora and the Prince make their appearance in a small temporary stage located upstage center. Although constructed of white satin and gold, this structure looked like something one might set up for the entertainers at a particularly lavish garden party. Or something out of a Louis XIV version of Petrouchka.

The Dancing: The young corps was spectacular, moving beautifully and with elegant classical style. Their with arms, heads, gestures, and facial expressions were always in character. I wish they had been given more time just to dance and a less cluttered space in which to do it.

Aurora is possibly not the best role for Michelle Wiles. Those gauzy white long sleeves, which she wore thorughout the performance, called attention to port de bras which was neither classical nor aristocratic. Certain movements -- especially the very long, but curiously undramatic, balances -- required slowing down the music to the point that energy was lost. In fact, energy and intensity were probably the things one missed most. I'm not qualitfied to evalue the classical technique. On the whole, there was much to admire. But the magic, the urgency, the pacing and dynamics, and the emotional commitment need work.

I really liked David Hallberg. He's a good partner, and is especially effective dancing alone, or in scenes like the thrilling entry of the Huntsmen with its five men striding and jumping in front of a simple backdrop). Hallberg engaged every character on the stage with a balance of classical gesture and real emotional involvement. For a tall, thin dancer he's remarkably fast in jumps and turns and is in remarkable control of his extremities. I'd like to see him dancing with a variety of Auroras.

The Lilac Fairy, Veronika Part, was a creature from another world -- or at least another production -- classically pure, warm and generous in movement, stunningly beautiful, caring but also above the concerns of petty mortals. Just as Lilac should be. I had never seen her on stage before, and I can understand now what all the excitement is about. When she is on stage the space she inhabits becomes somehow more significant than that which is going around her. It's a quality I can only call "charismatic" -- in the ancient Greek sense of having the favor of the gods. It's as though she carries her own spotllight with her. You cannot take your eyes away.

At points in every SB I've seen, the Lilac Fairy rises above the other dancers to give a blessing or guarantee that all will be well. Often, it's an embarrasing and artificial device, in which a dancer not all that different from Aurora or the other fairies, does something she has not earned. Here, apotheosis was earned. I've already forgotten many of the steps in the production, but not Part's arms, facial expression, and aura of serene all-will-be-well confidence.

(Off topic: I can't imagine why ABT is willing to lose this dancer. Another off-topic: Why did ABT make so little of Lilac's final apotheosis? She's squashed down almost at the level of the others. Silly ... and counterproductive.)

Sascha Radetsky was a fine Blue Bird, and I was very impressed by his Princess Florine, Hee Seo. She's petite, serene, classically proportioned, and joyful in this role, creating a character who actually upstaged Blue Bird for me.

It was great to see Martine Van Hamel on stage again. Her Carabossse is restrained (as Carabosses go), but just seeing her was marvelous for this big fan from the 1970s. The pyrotechnics were impressive. I was told that Gelsey Kirkland burned her hands during an earlier fire-works effect, which has since been removed. I was also told: "You should have seen Nancy Raffa last night!"

The orchestra was uncredited in the program. Local musicians? It was excellent, creating a beautiful sound and clearly knowing the score well. The unnaturally slow pace at times seems to have been required by the needs of certain dancers. Otherwise, the orchestra, conducted by Ormsby Wilkins, kept things popping along.

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I was there on Friday night... it was an interesting evening.

I have to say that I was not disappointed- then again, after everything I have read about the production, I was not expecting much. Generally, I found the sets and costumes rather jarring to look at- as if the palettes didn't match. Specifically, I am remembering the costumes for the fairies and the king and queen. "Disney" is the word that comes to mind- everything a little too vibrant. The kiss scene seemed, to me, to be an homage of sorts to Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and while providing a nostalgic moment, it did not seem right for a ballet. I also did not care for the blue-green shading on Aurora's tutu for the wedding pas de deux- someone suggested that Act 3 could have been hosted by the Bluebirds since everything was tinted blue- the King and Queen (same costumes for a wedding?), Aurora and the Prince, the set. Also, I missed seeing the "Precious Stones" pas de trois in Act 3- even though we got the music played, we had another series of Fairy variations, and for me this really came across as an attempt to give these girls more to dance rather than having anything to do with the story. I found alot of the choreography a little silly, too- the entree for the characters in Act 3- Puss and Boots, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella- they had some sort of act revolving around a flower. I can't remember who gave the flower to whom, but after I saw it for the third time, I had had enough. It is too bad that these variations were cut in favor of having all of the fairies dance again- I already knew who the fairies were, and I would rather have seen the characters dance. Instead, these characters were introduced, the fairies took over the Precious Stones, and sudduenly there are the Bluebirds followed by the Grand Pas. There was no build-up of expectation, so it didn't seem so special when Aurora and the PRince finally appeared. One more gripe... the garland dance from Act 1 was led by two children, supported by a corps adult dancers. I would rather have seen adults featured in this- or an ensemble with no featured dancers, or something. This approach made the garland dance look like a recital.

I can't be too critical of the dancing- I have heard far too many stories about the lack of rehearsal time and the constantly changing choreography, and knowing this, I could understand what was happening on stage when things were not together. Julie Kent and Jose Manuel Carreno danced Aurora and Desire, with Michelle Wiles as Lilac and Nancy Raffa as Carabosse. Everyone dance well, but, with the exception of Carabosse, I felt that the characterizations were rather pale. Nancy Raffa's Carabosse, however, commanded the stage and electrified the air from her first entrance (although the pyrotechnics made me laugh!). It was a relief when she entered, as she made more out of the little bit of choreography that she had than most everyone prior to this point. I enjoyed also the scene when Aurora pricks her finger- at this moment Julie Kent's fragility and vulnerability really worked, as it did in the vision scene, also. After that, the highlight of Act 3 was Maria Ricetto's Princess Florine. Clean, clear, musical, sparkling- I would love to see her as Aurora, someday.

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Sleeping Beauty was, overall, a beautiful spectacle that i enjoyed tremendously. I know about all the controversies regarding choreography/score cuts and the like, but for me, being the first time I see the whole Belle live, it was really rewarding. I liked this production way more that their Swan Lake. So here i am, after having watched three different Auroras and Lilacs and two Desires from Thursday to Saturday. About Aurora, we had, sequentially, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomarita Reyes. During SB's supreme test, the Rose Adagio, Paloma Herrera showed, in full display, the athleticism of her dancing, nailing her balances a bit more emphatically than her two counterpart, but then, Ms. Kent danced more beautifully the solo variation. On Kent's dancing nothing was abrupt. Even while in climactic parts her arms were always gentle, courteous. She danced with more sensitivity than the other two. Then, petite Xiomarita was just so cute, light, airy...the more convincing teenager of the three. Her face was also very expressive, her eyes moving in a flirty way from suitor to suitor during the Adagio, acknowledging each of their support gestures with a gracious nodding. She is also a super fast turner, pique turns and chainees being totally achieved. Still, if i want remember the FACE OF AURORA, Kent's comes right away to my mind. I think that without being as young as Xiomarita, or steady as Paloma, she has mastered the art of a truly ballerina. She radiated a regal modesty, a real princess air that i couldn't detect on the others. Her Aurora was all rounded and soft, with curved arms and looks over her shoulder while keeping, during the balances, her knee in the endless attitude derriere position at the right high. Another part where she really shined was on the "dizziness sequence" from The Spell scene. The image of this trembling being wandering around the stage bourreing her way to the

enigmatic and elusive music passage, back of the hand on the face, almost ready to faint, to finally collapse in the most convincing way is unforgettable. She really won me. Xiomarita's choice for this segment was a little overdramatic, almost like a lighter version of the madness scene from Giselle. Right there, i thought that she could be great for the part. (Has anybody seen her on it...?) Lilac was danced, sequentially, by Veronika Part, Michele Wiles and Maria Riccetto. Here I want to stop to talk about Part. NOW i understand why the opinions are so divided regarding this beautiful Ballerina. Since the very moment that she was carried to the staged, (with some difficulty by her shorter Knight Grant Delong), she showed

her exquisite schooling, beautiful suppleness and unique facial artistry. Watching her was like taking a class on dramatic skills. A detail that i still remember is when she starts the mime/dialogue with Carabosse acknowledging that her protegee will grow and everything else, but instead of dying she will be put to sleep. The gesture of "no, that won't happen" was so beautiful, so reassuring that suddenly, the mime gained total logic and reason to be, something that is not achieved by many dancers.Michele Wiles' Lilac was nice to look at, but not very interesting. (how was her Aurora on Sunday, bart...?)...Then, there was Ricetto...ah, that's another story. She was magnificent. Technique at its best, beautiful pointework and the right amount of dramatic skills to reassure herself as the main guidance of the whole story. The audience rewarded her with a standing ovation at the end.

To be continued. Coming next, Carabosse and Desire... :)

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It's great to hear so many comments. I regret having missed Kent, Herrera, and Reyes. Cristian, I opted in my Sunday matinee review not to say to much about Wiles's Aurora. "This is perhaps not her role" is my last word :smilie_mondieu: .

I'm glad to have seen Part, my first time too. In the absence of a charismatic Aurora, the Lilac Fairy becomes the real center of the ballet. Literally, it was a ballet about Lilac Fairy. Wish I'd seen Raffa's Carabosse; she seems to have brought a weight to the part that would balance Lilac's serene and seductive powers more equally.

Liebling, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the pastel -- and, as you say, Disneyesque -- quality of the costumes. I also liked the brillliant lighting in the court scenes. It made the darker Hunt and Vision scenes more powerful by contrast. The set for me was the true disaster (see above).

The bit with Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf was sweet but out of character with the ballet. The action was quite truncated, and I missed the MCB version of just a few months ago, when all these divertissements were done in full for "Aurora's Wedding." Here's the action as I remember it: the rather cute wolf is menacing Little Red Riding Hood. Cinderella's Prince directs him to stop, then gives him a large chrysanthemum and tells him to give it Little Red Riding Hood. He does so, and they skip away. Later this happens again. Now the Wolf gives one of those sit-com shrugs, gives her the flower, and they ... skip away. A little too cartoonish, but oddly sweet. Like all small jokes, however, it quickly outstayed its welcome. Your post made me wonder, however: where did the Prince get the chrysanthemum? I must have missed that bit.

The variations appear to have been cut, so the fairy tale divertissements were a mish-mash anyway.

So -- next year -- what do you want them to bring to Miami????

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Cristian, the ABT website gives the following programs for the spring/summer Met engagement -- a week or more of each of the following:

-- Corsaire

-- Swan Lake

-- Program made up of a new Tharp Work and Etudes

-- Don Q

-- Sleeping Beauty

-- Bayadere: (Opening night: Part and Gomes !!!!!)

-- Merry Widow

-- Giselle (Opening night: Ananiashvili and Corella)

From that list, I'd actdually like to see a program of Etudes done twice, with different casts. (Have to wait for the reviews of the Tharp piece.)

But, returning to reality, I'd go with Giselle, my hands-on favorite among the full-length classics. I'd love to see the corps especially. But MCB has a Giselle. So I'll join you wishing for the very odd (to me) but interesting Bayadere -- IF you can promise me Part and Gomes. I'd like to see the corps -- and some of their remarkable soloists -- do the Kingdom of the Shades.

:smilie_mondieu: Why are they willing to lose Part? With several of their great female stars on the way to retirement, and with a couple of young American principals who not yet acquired the ability to reach the emotional/spiritual heart of the great classics,, you'd think they'd be on their kinees to keep her.

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:smilie_mondieu: Why are they willing to lose Part? With several of their great female stars on the way to retirement, and with a couple of young American principals who not yet acquired the ability to reach the emotional/spiritual heart of the great classics,, you'd think they'd be on their kinees to keep her.

You know bart?, I brought my mother to two of the performances, one of them with Part as Lilac. Then, after watching the two Belles, she couldn't believe when i told her that a certain Aurora was a Principal while Part wasn't, stating that there was no logic to it at all. And she was totally right.

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That would be nice. They did it in NYC in 2006. I wonder when they last toured it.

And who would dance it? I was surprised at the limited range of principals they brought to Miami this year -- just 3 men and 5 women and none of their celebrated guest artists. Who, in this list, could dance a world-class R&J?

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That would be nice. They did it in NYC in 2006. I wonder when they last toured it.

And who would dance it? I was surprised at the limited range of principals they brought to Miami this year -- just 3 men and 5 women and none of their celebrated guest artists. Who, in this list, could dance a world-class R&J?


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To be continued. Coming next, Carabosse and Desire... :)

Between Thursday and Saturday we had a set of three Auroras, two Desires and two Carabosses. I was actually delighted with Gennadi Saveliev's performance on Thursday with Herrera. Still, on this performance, i had the sense the everything was about her. Now, on Friday , that was another story with Jose Manuel Carreno partnering Julie Kent. I've been watching Carreno's dancing since 1998, and boy, this guy doesn't age. He has the same scenic projection and strength as 10 years ago, and it's like time stopped on him. He looks ageless. All that i hoped to get from his performance was there. Toto is, with no doubt, one of the most charming dancers and partners that I've ever seen. Particularly his performance in the Grand PDD with Julie Kent was delicious. He was a perfect prince, a noble gentleman, attentive and supportive the whole time. No doubt that he's a great virtuoso dancer. Such beautiful hyper extended Pas de cheval, lovely strong cabrioles and perfect 5th position landings. What a gracious and secure slowing down on his pirouettes, all along showing his perfect smile. Never a ballerina looked so secure on those famous 3 fish lifts as Kent did during their night. Toto's dancing was a truly lesson on compelling fluidity in male ballet technique.

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