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Giselle - July 2008


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two Innocents

Tonight Herman Cornejo seemed to play Albrecht as a young innocent, caught up in a new experience, romantic love, with someone of the wrong social class. The two were so alike that as they danced 'round a circle, Albrecht following Giselle, their jetes were perfectly in time, of the same height, legs making the same angle. Bravo to Herman, sacrificing a chance to show off in favor of artistry, as of course one would have expected of him. Later, as Xiomara Reyes' mad scene developed, she came to the part where she recalls the "he loves me, he loves me not" flower petal scene. He comes to his dying love, contrite, as if to apologize, in great sorrow. She does not repel him. Later, in that leap to him where she crumbles off him and collapses, to her death, one feels she still loves him. As she lies dead it as if he cannot leave her, repeatedly crying at her feet. The villain is more the social rules of the time, rather than some young Count on some last spree before his arranged marriage.

Act II begins by showing that the Church is no better than the Social Order. Hillarion, Isaac Stappas, has to fashion a cross of wood for her unmarked grave, the Church not allowing such a young woman to be buried in the church cemetery, walled "safely" away rear stage left. Somehow Ms. Reyes' entrance from the grave, the positioning of her hands and head, recalls a very old memory of Alicia Alonso. Would she have possibly studied this role with Mme.? In this Act Mr. Cornejo of course gets to turn on the virtuosity. What glorious elevation combined with formal purity! Almost as rewarding as what seemed to me to be very impressive partnering by him. While his double sequence of brises voles did not quite have the thrill (nor audience reaction) of Mr. Corella's on Monday, Cornejo's leaning towards Michele Wiles' Myrta really caught the sense that she was pulling him on some invisible string. All in all, a very auspicious second performance. Naturally the full house sprung to its feet as one at the end, and we stayed there a considerable while.

Yuriko Kajiya, with a certain soft yet expressive and expansive grace, and Craig Salstein, who really can nail the end of a variation, danced the PPdD. Zhong-Jing Fang repeated her success as Zulma, a virtual bonus of extra Giselle-like dancing!

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[

"...just cant stop thinking how sad is not to have Nina's Don Q, Swan Lake and Giselle for the ages."

There are two DVDs of Nina at the age of 29 (approx, I'm not exactly sure of her age then), one dancing Don Q and one dancing Swan Lake with the State Ballet of Perm. She is breathtaking in both. I understand that the Swan Lake DVD is becoming a collector's item, so get it while you can. I recommend Amazon or Kultur. But why no Nina as Giselle? I think someone should capture Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel before it's too late.

Where are you, DVD people?

Angelica

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There are two DVDs of Nina at the age of 29 (approx, I'm not exactly sure of her age then), one dancing Don Q and one dancing Swan Lake with the State Ballet of Perm. She is breathtaking in both. I understand that the Swan Lake DVD is becoming a collector's item, so get it while you can. I recommend Amazon or Kultur. But why no Nina as Giselle? I think someone should capture Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel before it's too late.

Where are you, DVD people?

The Don Q and Swan Lake videos have been reissued, at a slightly higher price, by VAI.

http://www.vaimusic.com/VIDEO/DVD_4450_SwanLake.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Swan-Lak.../dp/B0015RB70Y/

http://www.vaimusic.com/VIDEO/DVD_4451_DonQuixote.htm

http://www.amazon.com/L%C3%A9on-Minkus-Don.../dp/B0015RB718/

The corps in these videos leaves something to be desired, but Ananiashvili is magnificent.

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Wednesday Mat/Thursday Eve (Reyes/Cornejo): what a difference a day makes. Wednesday was an excellent dress rehearsal; Thursday was the performance.

Cornejo's Albrecht characterization is still in the sketch phase but it's a very good indication that it will deepen into a most interesting one. He will give Reyes more in the mad scene as he gains experience in the role and I hope she will revert to the way she did it with Bocca and Carreno. She took that long dangerous moment at the beginning of the mad scene upstage of Albrecht and looking at him, still coming to terms with the betrayal and then is destroyed as she sees his shame. With Cornejo she uses the fourth wall rather than Albrecht. Still beautifully effective but less so, to me, than previously.

But there was nothing sketchy about the dancing. There was such a union of souls in Act I that led so inexorably to Act II. It was really a remarkable performance on so many levels, spiritual, dramatic and technical.

Reyes has a quality of transparency in her Giselle, physically and spiritually. She is almost not there and yet very much there equally. She is a subtle actress (no fussy mad scenes here) who makes every step tell its story in a wonderful arc of creativity. She breaks your heart gradually.

Among her many heart-stopping moments, when she goes from Albrecht to return to the grave her feather arms so clearly tell him "No, my love, you must leave me now".

Another facet of this remarkable ballerina is how she includes everyone onstage in her world. This is true in all her roles.

Herman .. what a dancer he is. He makes it all look so easy and natural that it's over before you realize what he's done, so wrapped up you've been in the beauty and perfection of it.

Having Wiles as Myrta also contributed. Murphy seemed more the cheerleader of the Wilis whereas Wiles was truly a Queen. Murphy may do some of the choreography more strongly but Wiles' bourrees are smooth, small and way superior. And she is far more expressive in the role. In her long solo Wiles made clear that Myrta is preparing the ground for the upcoming sacrifice and not merely dancing a solo in the forest. Wiles is not merely working on her technique; she is showing imaginative growth as well. What a good season she's had after a bit of a plateau period. It's been well worth the wait.

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What a spectacular evening! Given the difference between what we saw at Wednesday's matinee and last night, I cannot even imagine what a year of touring Giselle is going to do to Herman's Albrecht. One of the memorable aspects of last night was at curtain when Herman seemed almost overwhelmed with gratitude of being able to finally dance this role. Xiomara seemed pretty thrilled to be able to share that with him. I loved Reyes' portrayal last night. Her variations in Act II were at times danced by a spirit unhinged. Wildly fast entrechat quatres that barely left the floor.

I so love seeing all of these debuts with their little blemishes and awkward moments and then the follow up performances where the artists come into their own and begin blasting their way into ballet history.

If ABT is in fact touring this production next year, try to see every cast. It is truly a gift.

I wasn't happy with the Peasant Pas last night or generally this season. The women had more success with it than the men. Last night, Craig Salstein faced a lot of challenges from a technique standpoint, and wasn't helpful to Yuriko Kayjia in the least. Hopefully, a year of touring will pull this PdD together.

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Sounds like the Reyes/Cornejo Giselles were a smashing success! Unfortunately I couldn’t go so hopefully they will present Giselle again next year and I’ll get a chance to see them together.

I opted for the Hererra/Gomes/Part Giselle on Wednesday and was extremely disappointed with what I saw from Hererra. Although there was a certain sweetness and simplicity to her portrayal and her dancing was technically flawless I found her unforthcoming dramatically and thought her dancing lacked any romantic character. I was completely uninvolved in the first act - which I think is a first for me in I don’t know how many Giselles, at least 15 in the last few years. Her second act was somewhat better but still, there was no sense of weightlessness to her dancing, no sense of floating or yearning or transparency discernible in her phrasing. It didn’t help that in her brief appearance in the ppd Sarah Lane pretty much gave a clinic on everything Paloma’s first act Giselle lacked - the delicacy and fragility of her dancing, the lingering balances and infatuation with her partner. Can we please see her debut next year?

I agree with Carbro that even though Marcelo’s dancing was wonderful and his characterization was finely detailed and emotionally charged - he got little back from Hererra in terms of dramatic expression and thus his performance looked overdone at times. His series of entrechats were beautiful, and you really believed his exhaustion when he collapsed at Myrtha’s feet as they ended - but I miss the brises!

I’ve only seen 2 Giselles so far this season but I agree that (with the exception of Ms. Lane) the 2 casts I saw in the ppd were underwhelming. This is especially disturbing in regard to the company’s up and coming men. Though Hoven was better than Matthews neither one impressed, and it’s unusual to see ABT’s men struggling with the choreography - it used to be a highlight of the production.

Are some of the costumes new? They seem to look a bit different from what I remember but I’m never sure if I’m just confusing it with another production.

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I enjoyed the Reyes-Cornejo pairing very much last night. They did give the impression of two teenagers in love. Note to ABT: Please give us a Reyes-Cornejo pairing in Romeo and Juliet when that ballet is revived!

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I totally agree with the praise of last night's performance. It was the best performance of about 20 I've seen this season. Xiomara Reyes especially -- this is a great role for her, something I wouldn't have expected. ABT has been doing her a disservice by keeping her in "cute" roles. She a tremendous dancer technically, something I tend to forget (it has surprised me many times when I see her whip off some feat with amazing speed and precision). But most of all, she was totally believable, sincere, and full of sorrow and depth.

As to the peasant pas de deux, I had a different take than Haglund's. I found Yuriko Kajiya absolutely lovely (she's had a great season), and not only didn't notice any problems with Craig Salstein, I found myself thinking what a great stage personality he is.

Maria Riccetto and Zhong-jing Fang were Moyna and Zulma. I always find Riccetto a beautiful dancer. Fang was especially beautiful and chilling. And I liked Michele Wiles as Myrtha more than I usually like Wiles; she was more expressive than I usually find her, with lovely arms.

The Wilis gave me the willies! I had goose bumps. But, Note to the Audience: can we please hold the applause while the Wilis are dancing? I understand the enthusiasm, but the sudden smatterings of applause really interfere with the moment.

All season long, I've been listening to the creaking coming from up there in the lighting booth. It sounds like something needs WD-40. Can't the do something about that?

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>>Sounds like the Reyes/Cornejo Giselles were a smashing success!

Cornejo's Albrecht (dancing/acting) was the best I've ever seen. I caught his first (NYC debut ) at Wednesday's matinee. Don't miss any chance to see him in this. The only thing that still needs attention is the Act 2 partnering. Cornejo really needs a Giselle who is even smaller, lighter, than Reyes to handle those floating qualities. It was pretty good with Reyes, but not at all what it could be. Experience will help, but I think Reyes is not right for Cornejo. In Act 1, I kept seeing Reyes as Cornejo's older sister.... It was an odd chemistry. Reyes was much better and convincing in her role of Act 2.

I also saw the Hererra/Gomes/Part Giselle on Wednesday evening and share Susan's feelings with Hererra.

>>It didn't help that in her brief appearance in the ppd Sarah Lane pretty much

>>gave a clinic on everything Paloma’s first act Giselle lacked - the delicacy and

>>fragility of her dancing, the lingering balances and infatuation with her partner.

>>Can we please see her debut next year?

From your lips to Kevin's ears!!! I didn't want to be the first one to say it.... I felt much the same about Sarah's presence during Act 1 of Reyes' performance too. When Sarah and her male peasant pas partner first sat on that infamous bench (before Giselle makes her entrance), the audiences started a small reaction of applause thinking Sarah was Giselle. Yeah, she's that into character! Then Sarah proceeded to dance her solos and the ppd with all the qualities one could hope for in a youthful Giselle.

>>I've only seen 2 Giselles so far this season but I agree that (with the exception

>>of Ms. Lane) the 2 casts I saw in the ppd were underwhelming. This is especially

>> disturbing in regard to the company's up and coming men. Though Hoven was

>>better than Matthews neither one impressed, and it's unusual to see ABT's men

>> struggling with the choreography - it used to be a highlight of the production.

Agreed again. I was disappointed with Hoven, (Wed evening ppd) and a bit less disappointed with Ilyin who danced the matinee ppd with Sarah. Ilyin is a fabulous turner, jumper, but doesn't quite have the leg/body proportions (sorry....) to shine brilliantly in such a role. I thought Ilyin was the best overall technically of the new men in the ppd....

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Maria Riccetto and Zhong-jing Fang were Moyna and Zulma. I always find Riccetto a beautiful dancer. Fang was especially beautiful and chilling.

I totally forgot to mention how exquisite Maria was as Moyna. I was blown away by her ethereal quality. She truly floated from one place to the next. What a beautiful Act II Giselle she will be someday. I also thought Melissa Thomas was perfect as Bathilda and had just the right amount of "B" in her.

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What a fantastic evening yesterday! . I am so happy I choose it to see Giselle. :wub:

Xiomara Reyes's performance was breathtaking. Mad scene was deeply touching, truly tragic and so intimate!

And Second Act - oh my God! It was hard to believe that those girls who danced willies are actually flash and blood - no, they really were spirits!

Xiomara was absolutely weightless.

Did anybody noticed that to dancers stumbled and almost fall in almost the same spot on the left side of the stage? :thumbsup: First Yuriko Kajiya and then Gemma Bond, who had to step aside to weight until other 5 girls finish combination..

Isaac Stappas' spectacular jumps in Act II made some people in audience gasp for air. :wub:

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I can't agree with the knocks on Xiomara, or unfortunately, with the praise for Sarah. She was one of my favorites as a corps dancer, but not as a soloist. She's like a robot. The expression on her face never changes, and she's always looking up - I guess she's reading the sign in her head that says "SARAH LANE - PRINCIPAL DANCER . . . and some other people from the ABT . . . ". She certainly never bothers to connect with her partner. In fact, it's creepy, because her eyes don't move in her head - she turns her entire head to look around, like a doll with fixed eyes.

Cornejo really needs a Giselle who is even smaller, lighter, than Reyes to handle those floating qualities. It was pretty good with Reyes, but not at all what it could be. Experience will help, but I think Reyes is not right for Cornejo. In Act one, I kept seeing Reyes as Cornejo's older sister.... It was an odd chemistry. Reyes was much better and convincing in her role in Act 2.

>>It didn’t help that in her brief appearance in the ppd Sarah Lane pretty much gave a clinic

>>on everything Paloma’s first act Giselle lacked - the delicacy and fragility of her dancing,

>>the lingering balances and infatuation with her partner. Can we please see her debut next year?

From your lips to Kevin's ears!!! I didn't want to be the first one to say it.... I felt much the same about Sarah's presence during Act 1 of Reyes' performance too. When Sarah and her male peasant pas partner first sat on that infamous bench (before Giselle makes her entrance), the audiences started a small reaction of applause thinking Sarah was Giselle. Yeah, she's that into character! Then Sarah proceeded to dance her solos and the ppd with all the qualities one could hope for in a youthful Giselle.

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I can't agree with the knocks on Xiomara, or unfortunately, with the praise for Sarah. She was one of my favorites as a corps dancer, but not as a soloist. She's like a robot. The expression on her face never changes, and she's always looking up - I guess she's reading the sign in her head that says "SARAH LANE - PRINCIPAL DANCER . . . and some other people from the ABT . . . ". She certainly never bothers to connect with her partner. In fact, it's creepy, because her eyes don't move in her head - she turns her entire head to look around, like a doll with fixed eyes...

I didn't notice those specific things, or her tendency to raise her eyebrows which someone else mentioned but I wasn't sitting very close to the stage and I forgot my opera glasses Wed night. I don't doubt that they were there - even without opera glasses I remember thinking that she needs to be careful not to come across too cute all the time. I don't consider any of these characteristics cause for concern because they relate to her presentation - not to her technique, musicality or the way she phrases her movement all of which I find sublime. And they really didn't bother me, though they will if they continue over time. She is really just starting to dance meaty soloist and principal roles and I'm sure she'll find her way as she settles in to them. Watching her Wed night I couldn't help remembering how much Reyes mugged her first couple of years as a soloist and even Bouder had trouble keeping that huge grin off her face in her early years. Time will tell but for now I think she's ready for more...

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Adam, while I too have noticed certain goofy mannerisms of Sarah Lane (like the raised eyebrows and the staring up into space), I wouldn't assume that these mannerisms are based on any arrogance on her part regarding her potential future status as PRINCIPAL DANCER. She's pretty young, and I'm guessing that she will be able to work out these kinks over time. Performers sometimes don't take into account that every little thing they do will be discussed and analyzed by audience memebers or critics. As an example, the New York Times has criticized both Gillian Murphy and Abi Stafford for having their mouths open during their performances. For me, this is a minor quibble, and the NY Times critic was simply being nasty. I enjoy Sarah Lane's performances very much, and a few odd facial mannerisms won't stop me from going to see her.

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I've objected to Sarah's pasted on smile and ceiling staring in the past, but in the performances at both the Wed matinee and evening, I thought the smile worked wonderfully. She danced the Peasant pas like she was Giselle, and it made many of us think of her as such. She seems very intent on differentiating herself in her solo work from others who have come before her and is trying new things. Some things work; others don't. I think she's curbed the ceiling glances significantly. I thought her overall Peasant pas had the perfect combination of sparkle and charm.

The men in the Peasant pas were somewhat disappointing - in their variations and partnering. I wish ABT would have allowed Sean Stewart an opportunity to dance it with Kajyia.

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I attended to Monday's performance (Nina/Angel)

Once again, Nina showed what a truly prima ballerina can do on stage.

Her acting in the 1st act was incredibly good. Wasnt she a real young girl coming out of her house ? Her happiness and love was touching. The only thing that I didnt like was when she did the diagonal on point in the 1st act (whats the name of this step?)

Is it pose turn followed by assemble?

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Ananiashvili II: Submission

How extraordinarily different from Monday's was Nina's Giselle tonight. From the start one could see apprehension often cross her face, even though she was also eager for the dashing Jose Manuel Carreno's attention. He was more to the cad side of Albrecht, compared to others I've seen this season. After he'd betrayed her and she was at her mother's feet having her hair loosened, she did take a quick glance toward the audience, but not with the look of horror at "seeing" her Wili fate that she showed Monday (this may be seen on the 14-photo Times* set of that performance, number 7), and even early in her mad scene she had a look of resignation, already moving like a Wili.

How powerful is Gillian Murphy as Myrta (and how rich this company is in casting that role). She and the wonderful Corps had me ready to root for them, until...

Nina entered, seemingly prepared for Wilidom, her Wili spin more freely taken than on Monday, dancing with real force. But then came the moment when Giselle led Jose Manuel to her grave's cross, and stood before him as shield. From some sacred place of mystery within her broken heart then came dancing so sublime.... She was simply Love.

Diana Vishneva was in the audience, radiantly beautiful. I wonder if Nina chose to give such radically different interpretations out of respect for Diana, who is famous for such variety?

* http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/07/0...SHOW_index.html

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6/11/08 Giselle - Nina A, Jose Carreno, Gillian Murphy

The house was sold-out tonight. I thought the performance was overall very strong. I have quibbles with the peasant pdd of Jared Matthews and Maria Riccetto. Matthews needs a lot of work refining his technique, and Riccetto seemed to be dancing without much enthusiasm. Nina A's first act was not as good as her second act. Although she was still believably girlish, she messed up the Spessivtseva variation. I knew from the moment her arms started flailing wildly that she was struggling to stay on pointe. She made it across about half the stage, then substituted a few pirouettes. Her act scene was very well acted though. Not hammy at all, she seemed to wander around aimlessly for a few seconds, then stared at Albrecht, right before dying. It made the betrayal seem all that stronger.

In Act 2, however, the performance picked up considerably. Gillian Murphy was a marvellous Myrtha. Imperious, commanding, with very strong jumps, it's the best Myrtha I've seen. Most of all, Murphy has an essential hardness about her that can be offputting in other roles but is appropriate here. The Wilis could have been better, especially in the hopping arabesques. Carreno's technique is no longer awe-inspiring, but he was a good partner. His brises toward Myrtha were very well done. I thought his portrayal was more introverted than most Albrechts, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Gennadi Savaliev made Hilarion a real, sympathetic character. I thought him tying the cross to make Giselle's grave at the start of Act 2 was a nice touch.

Nina A was fabulous! When Myrtha first commanded her to dance, she spun with surprising speed and abandon. The extremely exposed arabesques were solid, with just a hint of a wobble, but it didn't detract from the overall line. Her entrechats were surprisingly fast and sustained. Most of all, Nina's elevation was still incredible. She gave off an air of absolute weightlessness. This Giselle was a kind Wili, a gentle spirit. I love how when dawn came she raised her finger towards the heavens, a touching vow of love for Albrecht. When she went back to her grave the tragedy was all the deeper.

Bravo Nina!

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with the praise for Sarah. She was one of my favorites as a corps dancer, but not as a soloist. She's like a robot. The expression on her face never changes, and she's always looking up - I guess she's reading the sign in her head that says "SARAH LANE - PRINCIPAL DANCER . . . and some other people from the ABT . . . ". She certainly never bothers to connect with her partner. In fact, it's creepy, because her eyes don't move in her head - she turns her entire head to look around, like a doll with fixed eyes."

Wow - with all due respect there is some pretty strong mind reading going on here. Lane is musical, secure and makes the most of every minute on stage. She has some habits to work on, but I think she connects with her partners rather well.

I loved Reyes as Giselle. I think this has been great year for her in terms of showing herself to be a "ballerina." I haven't liked her much in the past (except for a nice performance in an awful Cinderella), but this year her Etudes and Giselle were both wonderful. Which in a way leads me back to Lane. Sometimes it takes a while to grow a ballerina, but I think Lane has the ingredients.

I also think that the up and coming women are so much stronger than the men. I have been very disappointed this year in the men in Blue Bird and Peasant PPD. What's going on?

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But there was nothing sketchy about the dancing. There was such a union of souls in Act I that led so inexorably to Act II. It was really a remarkable performance on so many levels, spiritual, dramatic and technical.

I agree. It was a beautiful performance.

Having Wiles as Myrta also contributed. Murphy seemed more the cheerleader of the Wilis whereas Wiles was truly a Queen. Murphy may do some of the choreography more strongly but Wiles' bourrees are smooth, small and way superior. And she is far more expressive in the role. In her long solo Wiles made clear that Myrta is preparing the ground for the upcoming sacrifice and not merely dancing a solo in the forest. Wiles is not merely working on her technique; she is showing imaginative growth as well. What a good season she's had after a bit of a plateau period. It's been well worth the wait.

I saw Wiles dance Myrtha twice this week. While I thought she danced beautifully both times, her performance was much stronger dramatically Thursday night than it had been on Tuesday. On Tuesday, I kept wanting more drama. She wasn't commanding enough. But on Thursday, she "brought it." I hope she does even more. I loved how imperious she was on Thursday.

I don't think Wiles' bourees were way superior to Murphy's. In fact, the audience audibly gasped at Myrtha's entrance (the bourees across the stage) both nights. If I had to choose, I would say I prefer Murphy's bourees although I think they both bouree well. :)

Overall, I prefer Murphy's performance to Wiles'. Gillian has this way of rolling through her spine when she does the reverence that begins many of Myrtha's phrases. It adds to the character's other-worldly quality. The movement is so fluid it's almost as if she has no spine for just a moment. She uses her back so beautifully throughout her opening solo. I love it!

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