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ABT Sleeping Beauty


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Hi dancedance 40. I'm glad you enjoyed Sleeping Beauty. Speaking of Stella....[Note: I posted this in the Dancers section of this site, but it seems appropriate here as well, since you're asking about her.] I'm worried about Stella Abrera. She was supposed to dance the title role in Giselle on the Wednesday matinee in July. Then I heard that she was injured and had been taken out for the rest of this season. I also heard that she had been injured three years ago. Does anyone know the extent of her injuries and whether/when she will dance again? I love her and was so much looking forward to seeing her in Giselle.

Thanks, Angelica

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I noticed the demi-point bit too, but when the Kirov came with their new/old production (of glorious memory!) a lot of their Bluebird was done on demi-point, which I found charming. I thought maybe it was meant that way--I do hope she isn't injured, since she is supposed to do Gamzatti.

Regarding Kajiya, I had the feeling that she may have a foot problem. She did not do the hops on pointe as she brought her front leg to retire, but hopped on the other foot as she extended to arabesque. There were a couple of other moments usually done on pointe which she executed on demi-pointe or flat foot. A neighbor remarked on tense hands, which are uncharacteristic of Kajiya but no surprise if a dancer is in pain. I wouldn't judge her based on this performance. It wasn't bad, but it should have been better.
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I appreciate all the comments on how ABT's Sleeping Beauty has changed since last year. What surprises me is that no one has commented on how unusual it is for a choreographer(s) to make changes after bad reviews. Kevin McvKenzie is one of the few who seems to listen to feedback and try to rectify problems in a ballet. I wish more choreographers would do the same.

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Cornejo's SB Prince was a (not unexpected) marvel, giving the lie to those nay-sayers who claimed he could never be a prince. As noble a prince of any size onstage today.

His variation after the Vision scene was so full of joy and exuberance to have found his True Love, both powerful and endearing.

Lane had a very promising NY debut but I might have been more impressed had I not attended the remarkable performance of Xiomara Reyes the night before (yes, I chose to see this rather than Damian's farewell and don't regret it).

The aspect above all that so impressed was Reyes' refinement, as though Tchaikovsky and Petipa were whispering into her ear. Nothing overdone (or underdone) here. No big grins or falling out of triple pirouettes. Style, musicality, lyricism, joy (but not glee), connecting with everyone else onstage, from start to finish an Aurora comparable only to that of Amanda McKerrow in recent years.

If I had to compare Reyes' Aurora to another performance it would be to the Don Ottavio of the late tenor Goesta Winbergh, a perfection Mozart could have wished for.

Carreno was ardent, noble and, it goes without saying, The Perfect Partner.

I thought Lane had more success in the Grand Pas than earlier in the evening. In Act I her back leg had a tendency to lag, and I noticed the line in her upper body tends to tilt forward. The Vision scene had more of a channeling of Nikiya than Aurora. But by Act III she seemed to have settled down and finally began to enjoy herself and that finally reached me.

On Monday Paloma danced so very small. She doesn't always; certainly her Kitri is bigger. Corella did his usual bouncing around (with glee) but it did lift the somnolent mood.

The best reason to see Monday's performance was the Real Lilac Fairy of Veronika Part. Oh my! There is So Much Lilac Fairy in this production (why does she have to act as Mistress of Ceremonies in the last act?). But I'll never complain of too much stage time for VP.

Wiles was quite a good Lilac on Wednesday. She has really worked to lengthen her neck, drop her shoulders and ginch out at the hip to lengthen her line. Her Swan this year was much improved and, after a plateau period of a couple of years, she is turning into a real ballerina.

I found Riccetto miscast. Again small; one of the fairies, not the boss. Why Kristi Boone wasn't cast here is a mystery (and as Gamzatti when ABT is bringing in a ringer for two performances). Boone was a seductive Countess, a lush Fairy and the sexiest White Cat in memory.

Nancy Raffa was glorious as Carabosse. A Wow, in fact. This is what I expected from Gelsey last year. Venom dripping from every pore. You wouldn't think such a poquita could stand up to the magesterial Part, but Raffa did. Hoo .. vicious!

As for the production, most of the changes are welcome but why do the Courting Princes look so alike except for their chapeaux? These are exotic Princes here; they shouldn't look like they wandered in from the nearby countryside in their Sunday best.

And that odious stage in Act III looks like a Vegas reject. Using it for the appearance of the happy couple might work if the warm-up acts weren't also presented there.

Some other quibbles but, on the whole, a much improved version over last year. And Barker conducted wonderfully.

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The aspect above all that so impressed was Reyes' refinement, as though Tchaikovsky and Petipa were whispering into her ear. Nothing overdone (or underdone) here. No big grins or falling out of triple pirouettes.

I see what you mean, but to some extend that is the difference between an experienced dancer like Reyes, who was a soloist in another company before joining ABT (where I think she's been a principal for 5 yrs), and a young soloist. The one flaw I saw in Lane was that at times she went for too much - going for triple pirouettes when doubles would be better etc. Next year I'm sure Lane will be more tempered in the role. At the same time seeing a young dancer going for too much (a trait of youth in all areas) makes me smile in a special way. Maturity and judgement are great things - but ah youth!!

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I attended the June 21st matinee of “Sleeping Beauty”. I may be in the minority, but I thought it was a beautiful production. Michele Wiles was a radiant Aurora. Her balances in the Rose Adagio were a little bit wobbly, but the rest of her performance was just perfect. As always, David Hallberg was the ideal prince, but a prince who’s an exciting solo dancer as well as an excellent partner. I usually like Maria Riccetto, but I was very pleased when it was announced from the stage that Veronika Part would be dancing the role of the Lilac Fairy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better performance in this role than what Part delivered on Saturday afternoon (and I’ve seen the full-length “Sleeping Beauty” close to 20 times). I, like so many others, do not understand why Part is not a principal dancer. I think the Lilac Fairy, like Gamzatti in “La Bayadere” and Myrtha in “Giselle” is one that should be danced by a real ballerina. And Part is certainly that. Among the other fairies, I enjoyed most the dancing of Misty Copeland and Jacquelyn Reyes. (Is Jacquelyn Reyes Xiomara Reyes’ sister?) I usually love Sascha Radetsky, but I thought his Bluebird was very disappointing. My only complaint about this production is that the divertissements for Puss in Boots and the White Cat, Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, and Cinderella and the Prince have been dropped the last act.

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I thought Sarah Lane's Rose Adagio was excellent. She WAS 16. You could also tell that she was so excited and happy and passionate and, finally DOING IT. She was giving so much in the first act, and I think that is what made it one of the best Rose Adagios I have seen. She really was Aurora for me. I didn't find her size to be a problem until the vision scene, where she would run in and out of the corps, and I would completely lose her. Unfortunately, she was still 16 in the third act - to me at least. I didn't see a radical change in the way she approached the role. She did command a lion's share of my attention though; her act I performance alone was worth the price of the ticket.

Herman was technically brilliant, as usual, but again, he was just a hair short to be the prince, especially when parading around in the hunt scene. Him and the "girlfriend" looked a little Napoleon and Josephine. The grand ppd was excellent though - no one can fault their pure classicism and superb pairing. When they were dancing alone, they were divine, but I felt that they often got lost in the crowd. I would love to see these two do something contemporary together as well - would be very interesting to see how they handle something more modern.

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Michele Wiles was a radiant Aurora. Her balances in the Rose Adagio were a little bit wobbly, but the rest of her performance was just perfect.
This is funny. I found her RA to be one of the strongest, steadiest I've seen in a several generations. There are ballerinas who can probably compare, but I haven't seen them lately. Michele really went for the balances, holding her arms en couronne for more than a moment, and as late the music (which was truly adagio, for a change) permitted, calmly lowering her upstage arm to receive the next prince. I didn't see any unsteadiness. On the other hand, she seemed to build up to radiance from a somewhat restrained first act. By the Wedding pdd, she was every bit as radiant as any bride, dancing grandly.

David, of course, is the product of advanced genetic engineering. Scientists went to find the genes for the perfect ballet prince, mixed them up in the lab and presto! Here he is! His dancing is every bit as aristocratic as his bearing. I'd like to see him act less with his face and more with his posture, hands, head, etc. Less important here than in other roles, so perhaps that explains the sole weakness in his performance. People have written mild complaints on this board that his partnership with Michele lacks temperament. I understand the desire for more electricity, but I thought in SB, their rapport was perfectly appropriate.

Hee Seo was the White Cat, looking wonderful, and giving us a few big, light grand jetes in her truncated role. Welcome back! Yuriko's Florine was better than Thursday, although she did not hop coming into retire. Sascha Radetsky had a very unfortunate night. Fatigue seems to bother enough dancers to give performances a generally tired look. I hope they can find a second (third? fourth?) wind for Bayadere week. Cheers also for Maria Bystrova's first fairy, a big, fat HINT that she could be a memorable Lilac Fairy.

I was thrilled to finally see Veronika Part's Lilac, who really did have special powers of benevolence, and to see her conquer Martine van Hamel's Carabosse. For those who've posted on the Bournonville FolkTale Thread, here was a vivid example of the possibilities of mime as both a form of dance and an expression of multilayered communication. Some of the gestures may be arcane to those unfamiliar, but the tone of each character's "lines" was unmistakable. Carabosse's sarcasm -- fabulous!

Our new Aurora-Desire couples are so different. Any company should be proud to present them either, but what a treat to see both among the more seasoned Beauty casts! Now, all they have to do is give them a production.

Errant thought after the awakening, as Aurora and Desire greet the King and Queen: Where else would parents be overjoyed to see their teenaged daughter emerge from her bedroom with a guy they'd never met? :):) Strange place, this ballet world.

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Maybe I thought Michele's balances were just a little bit shaky in the RA because I saw Paloma Herrera dance Aurora last year. (Actually I saw Paloma dance the role twice. I was supposed to see Diana Vishneva in the role the second time, but she was out sick.) Paloma's balances were absolutely rock solid. I may be wrong, but I don't think anyone balances like Paloma. Saying that, I will say that overall I thought Michele's Aurora was better than Paloma's. (Although Paloma's Aurora was very good).

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ABT Sleeping Beauty 19 June 2008

This is my first view of ABT's 'new' SB. I have nothing of interest to say about this misbegotten production that either hasn't been said or shouldn't be said.

Allow me one sentence: The sets are awful and the colors of the costumes are bilious.

Sarah Lane had, what I viewed as, a most promising debut. Her most successful scene was the Rose Adagio. The taxing double work was beautiful to behold, precise, full of ardor, elegant party manners, with clean control that allowed the Petipa choreography to breathe and to be seen.

In the Vision scene her arabesque and attitude turns were exemplary.

In the Wedding pas de deux, while we don't notice any particular clues to the growth of her inner life, that would let us know this is symbolically a long time after her sixteenth birthday, nevertheless, the pairing with Cornejo is a felicitous one.

Bravo to Ms Lane and bravo to Mr Cornejo.

Two quibbles:

The preparations into the three 'fish-dives' remained too careful (read: slow) to achieve the virtuosic effect of confident maturity.

The coach who advised triples for the three pirouettes following the Rose Adagio

misguided her. The debut was not the place for them. (She did nicely two and then forced the third revolution. Three times!)

The triples will come. Ms Lane is a gifted turner.

I have no quibbles with the six fairies (Ricetto (Lilac) Hamrick, Boone, Pavam, Reyes, Messmer).

But I would have liked to have seen more sincerity, fervor, charity, joy, valor, from all of them.

The Bluebird pas de deux left me perplexed (Kajiya/Saveliev). I did not understand what the dancers (or their coaches) intended. Too many changes from the canonical.

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I also attended the June 19th performance of Sleeping Beauty with Herman Cornejo and Sarah Lane. I thought Lane was wonderful in the role and made a terrific New York debut. Over the next few years I expect her to grow both as a dancer and a person and her dancing will begin to reflect that maturity. At that point, I would love to see her tackle something more dramatic, perhaps Romeo and Juliet. I think she and Cornejo are a superb team and will be extraordinary in those roles. However, I take issue with the folks who think that Cornejo, one of the greatest dancers on the scene today, is just not tall enough to carry romantic leads, like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty. Succumbing to stereotyping is never a good idea, and if he is able to handle the role technically there is no reason why the aesthetic of the production can’t be shifted to support him. By that I mean, you see what you want to see. If you see Napoleon and Josephine on stage, you are not seeing what you should be seeing, which is Sleeping Beauty and the Prince. Human beings come in all sizes, shapes and colors. You can stereotype people by height just as you can by race. The film and theatre critic John Simon used to be notorious for criticizing the New York Shakespeare Festival for casting non-white people in Shakespearean roles. As time has passed, that kind of criticism is no longer valid. If your preference is for a tall leading man, then don’t buy a ticket to see Cornejo in the role. But you shouldn’t limit yourself by thinking that a certain type of role can only be played by someone with a certain body type.

One other thing about this particular production I’d like to mention, which no one else has here, and I’m not certain if anyone else has in the past. As a former costume designer, I find that the costumes are usually a signal as to how a production has been created and pulled together. The costumes in this Sleeping Beauty are not simply garish. In Acts I and II, the costumes contain very specific references to mid-15th century France. In Act III, they are specific to late 18th century France. That’s a span of 300 years. Yet in the traditional fairy tale, as well as the program, Sleeping Beauty and her kingdom fall asleep for 100 years. I don’t think somebody goofed on purpose with this. They probably liked the look of both eras for the costumes and figured that nobody in the audience would know or care enough to see that things were incorrect visually. I wouldn’t call it contempt for the audience, but I think it does show a lack of concern that is obviously mirrored in the jumble they’ve made of the ballet. Well, my only thought about this is, maybe they’ll change the production again next year, or just drop it for now!

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I take issue with the folks who think that Cornejo, one of the greatest dancers on the scene today, is just not tall enough to carry romantic leads, like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty.
This is an important point. I noticed that the only times when Sarah or Herman seemed small was when they were relatively still amidst other dancers. Both of them, once they're dancing, fill the stage.
The costumes in this Sleeping Beauty are not simply garish. In Acts I and II, the costumes contain very specific references to mid-15th century France. In Act III, they are specific to late 18th century France. That's a span of 300 years. Yet in the traditional fairy tale, as well as the program, Sleeping Beauty and her kingdom fall asleep for 100 years. I don't think somebody goofed on purpose with this. They probably liked the look of both eras for the costumes and figured that nobody in the audience would know or care enough to see that things were incorrect visually. I wouldn't call it contempt for the audience, but I think it does show a lack of concern that is obviously mirrored in the jumble they've made of the ballet. Well, my only thought about this is, maybe they'll change the production again next year, or just drop it for now!
Thanks for that observation. I suspect they had to make the change of fashion stark and unmistakeable, but I think most audience members would recognize a well designed shift from the 17th to the 18th C.
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