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ABT - Swan Lake May27 - June 2, 2008


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I was hoping other people would have beaten me to this, as I have a headache and am not really up to posting a real review right now, but I wanted to report that Veronika Part was fantastic today (I thought anyway!).

Her Odette is always breathtaking, but her Odile was a far cry from the last time I saw her (in 2005), when I would have described it as somewhat tentative.

She OWNED the stage this afternoon. She was confident, glowing and evil, and if anyone has ever looked as drop dead gorgeous in that tutu I've never seen them (that was just the icing on the cake though).

You could dislike her take on the character (I know some people prefer a more subtly evil Odile), but her confidence was magnetic and she had no technical difficulties at all. Her fouettes were singles and on the slow side, but solid (I didn't fear she would fall out of them as I did both Vishneva and Somova in the Kirov season) and still, travelling only slightly forward in a straight line towards the end I believe.

David Hallburg was his beautiful self, and gave a very nuanced performance (I don't think I've ever seen a Prince so distressed in the 4th act) and his leap into oblivion was a thing of beauty!

Kudos also to the most sensuously evil Von Rothbart of all time, Marcello Gomes. He was hypnotizing.

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Saturday matinee, May 31, 2008

Odette AND Odile

Today, for the first time, Veronika Part's Odile rose to the level of her Odette. From her first Swan Lake, she has, for me, been ABT's most poetic, most pure Odette, full of all the mystery and beauty of classical form that this role calls for. Instead of her seemingly permanent Siegfried Marcelo Gomes, this time her prince was David Hallberg. So that I missed searching for that always varying surprise magic moment she and Marcelo somehow would deliver in Act II. After brilliant Act I dancing, concluding with a Hamlet-like soliloquy, Mr. Hallberg was a splendid lakeside partner to Veronika. A hint of things to come, at that early moment where she is about to look up and be startled by his crossbow, she struck a perfect balance. Their PdD built from chaste classicism to hope, her variations free and all in beauty, virtuous virtuosity.

But this is all expected from the Company's Classical Prima-Lyrica. The surprise came with her Act III Odile. Certainly the particular brilliance of her Act II variations gave a clue, but even moreso the confidence of her bearing when she first appeared as Odile. Virtuosity in full measure, great balances, yet never overdone, the line only she can deliver, and truly confident fouettes, ending not in fatigue but with a flourish. The compleat ballerina! Why not? She is after all a young ballerina entering her prime. Mr. Hallberg had a madness in his eyes that should have terrorized the princesses, and made them thankful for his rejection. And Marcelo Gomes's Rothbart: the most spectacular villain since Liepa's Crassus.

There is a moment in Act IV that mimics one in Act II. Odette's back to Siegfried, her left leg wraps around his back. A moment later her right raises back, over his shoulder. In Act II all is chaste, they do not touch. But here they do. She has her humanity, and he his sanity. They will have their tragedy, but it will be a human one. Victory.

In a more perfect world, Mr. McKenzie would have appeared during the curtain calls, knelt, and promoted her to Principal. As it was, after the final curtain the house lights went up and spotlight went off. But the audience stayed and forced four more: Mr. Gomes, Ms. Part, Mr. Hallberg, and the victorious couple. Onward to Bayadere! And many seasons to come of Veronika Part keeping the Classical Flame burning at ABT!

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Part's Odette today was everything I'd remembered it to be from two too long years ago. Exquisite and hypnotic. Her Odile was good in terms of a Part Odile, but she had some clunky moments manuevering within the supported pirouettes and partnering and her variation had the minimum of virtuosity for an Odile. But I'll take it when it's wrapped up in delicious evil like it was today. I loved her persona as Odile - absolutely loved it. Lots of hiss. Back to Odette – Odette was sumptuous and suffering with endless legs and line that usually only come in dreams. She just has to stand there in that costume and one is instantly grabbed by the fantasy.

Hallberg turned in another fantastic performance. However, I felt his disconnect with Part. Usually, Hallberg burns his eyes into his partner's, but today he sometimes looked at the tiara or top of her head instead of into his partner's eyes. While on paper this looks to be a perfect match, I sense that maybe it's not a very easy relationship.

Gomes as vonRothbart was even better than on Tuesday night. Nasty, spiteful, vindictive, venomous - oh, lord he was good.

The PdT was Messmer, Pavam and Hoven. This is the first time I've seen Hoven in the PdT. I don't know if he's done it much, but it looked like a couple of more times is all that is needed for him to be brilliant in this. He was concentrating a lot and looked a little tight while executing most everything really, really well. And he's got all that prince stuff, too, just waiting to be fully developed and utilized.

What was up with the awkward front-of-curtain bows? It took a long time for Gomes to come out, then Part appeared by herself, then Hallberg wandered out by himself. Did they not hear us wildly cheering and decide to head for the subway before us?

I'm glad I missed the Friday night split up of Odette and Odile. Was there an insert that said why Julie wasn't dancing Odette?

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Haglunds, I had the same feeling about the Hallberg/Part relationship. I felt there was little chemistry between the two of them; something he definitely has with Wiles. This is my first time seeing Part and I have a question about her interpretation/execution. As Odette she didn't do the lightning fast beats sur le coup de pied nor did she do the mesmerizing undulating swan arms as she bourees off the stage. What's up? These are two things I've come to expect and look forward to seeing. I was rather surprised that Part omits them. Can anyone shed light for me?

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As Odette she didn't do the lightning fast beats sur le coup de pied nor did she do the mesmerizing undulating swan arms as she bourees off the stage. What's up? These are two things I've come to expect and look forward to seeing. I was rather surprised that Part omits them. Can anyone shed light for me?

Actually, she did do the 'coup de pied' beats; but while Hallberg was turning her they showed to the rear of the stage!--granted, they were not the most delicate I have seen---that honor belongs to only one ballerina---Alicia Markova.--as to the undulating arms---- they were there---beautiful, but not as over-the-top as Ananiashvilli.

All in all, I am with drb---she should have been named Ballerina....

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Maybe I misspoke in saying that Ms. Part omitted the beats and arms. They were there to be sure, but the beats were very very slow and the arms barely "waved". I've seen many other ballerinas do these things to heartbreaking effect (admittedly, not Markova), which made me wonder if Ms. Part's interpretation might be just that, a choice she made. Any thoughts?

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All in all, I am with drb---she should have been named Ballerina....

count me in as well--hopefully this will be the season. After all, she still has some bayaderes to do...

but in my view she is now, without question, the best odette/odile (whole package) they have.

What a surprise! you all know by know that I think she's fabulous. :P

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All in all, I am with drb---she should have been named Ballerina....

count me in as well--hopefully this will be the season. After all, she still has some bayaderes to do...

but in my view she is now, without question, the best odette/odile (whole package) they have.

What a surprise! you all know by know that I think she's fabulous. :P

As for ABT Odette/Odiles as the 'whole package', I would say she's penultimate. As much as I love her Odette and certain parts of her Nikiya, her problem from the gitgo has been pulling the whole package together for any performance. Yesterday's Odile was wonderful on persona, but elementary on technique. Not principal level - not yesterday. Let's hope she keeps working hard on her technique and her relationships at ABT, and minimizes the times she withdraws from soloist and demi-soloist performances for illness or injury or whatever.

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Thank you for all the reports on Part's Swan Lake everyone!!! :P

While on paper this looks to be a perfect match, I sense that maybe it's not a very easy relationship.

Was this the first time Hallberg and Part danced together?

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Thank you for all the reports on Part's Swan Lake everyone!!! :P
While on paper this looks to be a perfect match, I sense that maybe it's not a very easy relationship.

Was this the first time Hallberg and Part danced together?

No--I think they did Sleeping Beauty together last year if I'm remembering correctly (anyone sure?).

But this is (as far as I know) the first Swan Lake they've done together--the prior 3 years at least she had been cast with Gomes.

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I may have had a somewhat different reaction to the Halberg/Part partnership than others on this thread. Without exactly thinking that everything in this past week's particular performance worked--in particular, some of the lifts seemed less than spacious and easy--I still felt that they were physically so gorgeous together, their lines so elegant and refined, that it's a partnership well worth developing for the future. I also thought they generated a lot of emotion in Act IV (more, in my eyes, than Ananiashvili and Gomez who were superb in Act II but seemed to suffer somewhat from lack of preparation time in the final two acts--she was replacing Vishneva as noted above).

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Her Aurora partner at both Met Sleepings was Marcelo Gomes, not David Hallberg. Have they, perhaps, partnered on the road? I do agree with some of the above comments that her partnership with David Hallberg did lack the chemistry that all her work with Gomes has shown. But David's dancing and partnering was very impressive. Hopefully this partnership will have a chance to develop, and anyhow the Part/Gomes unity goes on with Bayadere.

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Thank you for all the reports on Part's Swan Lake everyone!!! :P
While on paper this looks to be a perfect match, I sense that maybe it's not a very easy relationship.

Was this the first time Hallberg and Part danced together?

Part was partnered by Hallberg in La Bayadere while ABT was on tour in Paris. She also did Apollo twice with Hallberg at the Met. Also, he was her partner at least once when she danced Mercedes in Don Q.

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I loved Part and Hallberg at the Sat matinee. I thought they looked absolutely gorgeous together and I guess I was far enough back that it looked like Hallberg was looking at her and not through her - so I thought they had great chemistry together. I don't think you can find another pair of dancers with such stunningly beautiful & complimentary line, I loved them together in Apollo a few seasons ago and I'd definitely like to see more of them together.

Her Odette was pure poetry – the best I've seen at ABT in the past 5 years. She has an arabesque that just goes on into infinity, absolutely beautiful plastique in motion or stillness and an incredible depth of emotion to her interpretation. I do love it when a ballerina does major undulating swan arms as they turn back into a swan during their lakeside exit but that's a small flaw and I prefer her understated arm style in general.

I also loved her Odile, I thought the characterization was fabulous and that she really nailed the black swan pdd. I know it wasn't perfect but it seldom is and I just don't agree with the following statement:

Yesterday's Odile was wonderful on persona, but elementary on technique. Not principal level - not yesterday.

I think that's a very harsh assessment. It's true I've seen better fouettes but usually that's coupled with major overreaching resulting in botched endings, falling off point etc (I'm referring to performances I've seen by Murphy and to Nina's Swan Lake last week). I don't consider that preferable to 32 clean ones. Just earlier this season both Reyes & Kent showed really poor form in their fouettes (not in Swan Lake, but still - Reyes fell off point several times during the fouettes in her variation during the gala and Kent pretty much took a tour of the stage during hers in Corsaire). Part's were slow but they were right in time with the music, almost no traveling, perfect in form – the working leg was high the entire time & she picked up the speed at the end & finished with a multiple – in perfect position. I don't see a problem with that and I didn't see a lack of technique in her pique turns, her balances etc. She will never be a monster allegro ballerina but I wouldn't say that the level of allegro technique she showed was not at a principal level.

Regarding whether or not she will stay at ABT – the only official report I've seen is the interview that specifically states that she gave ABT notice that she was leaving at the end of the season. There is a post from Juliet in the casting thread about a conversation she had with ABT's PR person who says that she's not leaving. That would be great news but I won't believe it till there has been an official announcement. Frankly as much as I would miss her I don't think she should stay unless the circumstances change. It's ridiculous for her to be dancing demi-soloist roles like a big swan at this stage of her career – shameful really. I'd miss her terribly if she left but unless they're promoting her I think that moving to another company would be a better career move.

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Thank you for all the reports on Part's Swan Lake everyone!!! :P
While on paper this looks to be a perfect match, I sense that maybe it's not a very easy relationship.

Was this the first time Hallberg and Part danced together?

Part was partnered by Hallberg in La Bayadere while ABT was on tour in Paris. She also did Apollo twice with Hallberg at the Met. Also, he was her partner at least once when she danced Mercedes in Don Q.

Of course the roles are much smaller, but he's been Cavalier to her Sugar Plum Fairy as well.

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Waelsung, we've been discussing the one article that mentions Part might be leaving here:

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=22733

This is only one source and other information has come down the pike, so for the meantime, we should be careful regarding her status at ABT.

I love V.P. - she's my favorite ABT ballerina, but I can't see her staying here if they keep offering her roles like Lady Capulet and one of the two Big Swans.

I hope they promote her though and she stays...

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Comparing Part with the technically diminished Ananiashvili was quite interesting. Part has a long-limbed, statuesque, sculptural quality to her Odette that sets her apart as their Queen even if she didn't have the little feathered tiara headpiece. Ananiashvili was smaller-scaled and more delicate, a haunted and fragile creature. Part had a certain stoicism in her suffering and more grandeur. Ananiashvili really stressed the swan arms throughout whereas Part became more human in the Pas de Deux. Part had higher arabesques, better balances and deeper backbends. Ananiashvili is still a better turner with more fluid and accurate pirouettes and revolving piques. The smaller footwork was handled better by Ananiashvili who is smaller and quicker. Part has long legs and feet and quick petite batterie doesn't come easily with that physique. Part definitely did do the swan arms at her exit, I was watching carefully with binoculars, but they were more swan wings and less rippling water in effect. More subtle.

I really have to agree with Susan about the Odile, there were impressive technical feats in there. First of all, she has high extensions in her developpées and she struck some stunning balances as both Odette and Odile. I felt the variation in the Black Swan PDD was beautifully spacious and precise with lovely rounded pirouettes. I guess some people wanted greater speed - ditto with the fouettes. However, the fouettes were all clean singles with the working leg just above the knee and sustained well with minimal traveling and in time with the music.

Of course then there are those arms, the epaulement and the musical phrasing, peerless.

As for David's chemistry with Veronika. I saw him last year with Michele and thought this was a more dramatic pairing and it improved his overall performance. Sometimes being too comfortable with a partner makes you coast through a role. First of all, David handled Veronika beautifully showing real care and concern in his partnering. Marcelo has more temperment onstage than David and his passion always brings out the best in Veronika. Also, Marcelo really seems to consider it a great thing to dance with Part despite her insecurities. He is very giving with her onstage and she needs that. David is cooler and more cerebral in his performing with an Apollonian quality. These factors, the greater electricity with Marcelo and David's more reserved approach might make one think there is a bad rapport. I thought it only suffered by comparison with the partnership with Marcelo.

What I did feel is that there was a balance between the White and Black Acts this time. There was not really that much "yes, but..." concerning the Odile on Saturday afternoon. It was interpretively strong, not subtle, but commanding and she looked confident of herself and her dancing. Where she might improve her Odile is adding the "woman of mystery" approach that Makarova developed later in her career. Aloof, glamorous, not too vampy - sort of "you come to me, I don't come to you" approach. Make her a Garbo-like sphinx and siren who doesn't do much and has men falling over themselves. I think that would be her best approach. This was a gloating, smiling seductress who was very open and exultant in her allure and rather brazen. I would like the cool but alluring interpretation better.

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Thank you for the comparing/contrasting of Part and Ananiashvili, FauxPas. I appreciated your descriptions and details, they made me feel like I was there.

Did anyone see the evening performance? With Carreño and...Murphy?

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Thanks Faux Pas for helping me understand the inherent differences between Hallberg and Gomes as partners. Both so different and yet utterly compelling in their own right. To see them both on stage in the same ballet is a real treat. I wish I had been able to see the opposite casting of Hallberg as von Rothbart and Gomes as the Prince.

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Thanks Faux Pas for helping me understand the inherent differences between Hallberg and Gomes as partners. Both so different and yet utterly compelling in their own right. To see them both on stage in the same ballet is a real treat. I wish I had been able to see the opposite casting of Hallberg as von Rothbart and Gomes as the Prince.

Gomes just keeps adding and adding to his von Rothbart character. This year, I noticed his Dracula moment when he stood glaring at the audience, grasped his throat with his hand, and threw his head back laughing. He is so good, it hurts.

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How right you are, Haglunds. I just watched Marcelo as VonRothbart on YouTube and Saturday's performance was even more deliciously seductive. How could you NOT fall under his spell.

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