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Giselle - July 2008


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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.

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

I nearly missed that NYTimes slide show attached to the review of Nina's Giselle. It is one of the best collections of dance photography that the NY Times has managed to put together. The photographer is former ABT corps member Erin Baiano.

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Nina I vs. Nina II

Act I was overall better on Monday, however, Act II was slightly better last night.

I found Nina's acting more calculated and theatrical in Act I last night while missing some of the touches she did on Monday. For example, missing last night was the hollow, haunted stare Nina did as Berthe mimed the Wili tale. There was a touch more mischievous playfulness with Angel and greater spontaneity. However, José's taller build and maturity matched up better with Nina - with him she didn't need to work so hard at the girlishness. As for the truncated hops on pointe in the Spessivtseva solo, they were stunning until she lost momentum and the inserted pirouette was impressive. The mad scene may have been even better. Overall, still wonderful.

Act II started off strongly with Murphy's sovereign Myrtha. Totally agree with above posters re: the Giselle's initial spinning after her resurrection - much faster and the jetés were so high! Much better also was the exposed solo opening to the grand pas de deux with the ecartés to each side - much smoother and more balanced. José has some nice individual touches. On the overhead lifts he is able to rotate Giselle making her seem to levitate in a circle in the air. Angel just held Nina aloft. José also tossed in some of his "speed-up/slow-down" pirouettes and the brisés were good if less light and quick than Angel's. Oddly in their exit before the coda, Nina sailed through a high jump offstage but José didn't jump, he just ran after her. Spur of the moment choice or sparing himself after an earlier injury a few weeks ago? He looked fine elsewhere.

Also, José did more business with the lilies than either Angel or Ethan. In the first entrance one of the lilies fell on the floor - ever the pro he worked the moment - he stooped on one knee and picked up the fallen lily and pressed it tenderly to his cheek. I forgave him right there. At the final curtain, earlier in the week Angel and Ethan dropped the bouquet on the grave and walked downstage broken-hearted. José following the grand Russian drama queen tradition currently exemplified by Vladimir Malakhov, did the clutching the lilies to his chest, stagger backwards in a daze letting the lilies slowly drop the ground one by one and finally crumple to his knees in tears. YES! Give me the drama my Cuban guapo!!!

Lots of flowers again at the curtain but no confetti shower. Nina and José both caught flying bouquets from the audience to the audience's and their own delight.

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Nina I vs. Nina II

Act I was overall better on Monday, however, Act II was slightly better last night.

I found Nina's acting more calculated and theatrical in Act I last night while missing some of the touches she did on Monday. For example, missing last night was the hollow, haunted stare Nina did as Berthe mimed the Wili tale. There was a touch more mischievous playfulness with Angel and greater spontaneity. However, José's taller build and maturity matched up better with Nina - with him she didn't need to work so hard at the girlishness. As for the truncated hops on pointe in the Spessivtseva solo, they were stunning until she lost momentum and the inserted pirouette was impressive. The mad scene may have been even better. Overall, still wonderful.

Act II started off strongly with Murphy's sovereign Myrtha. Totally agree with above posters re: the Giselle's initial spinning after her resurrection - much faster and the jetés were so high! Much better also was the exposed solo opening to the grand pas de deux with the ecartés to each side - much smoother and more balanced. José has some nice individual touches. On the overhead lifts he is able to rotate Giselle making her seem to levitate in a circle in the air. Angel just held Nina aloft. José also tossed in some of his "speed-up/slow-down" pirouettes and the brisés were good if less light and quick than Angel's. Oddly in their exit before the coda, Nina sailed through a high jump offstage but José didn't jump, he just ran after her. Spur of the moment choice or sparing himself after an earlier injury a few weeks ago? He looked fine elsewhere.

Also, José did more business with the lilies than either Angel or Ethan. In the first entrance one of the lilies fell on the floor - ever the pro he worked the moment - he stooped on one knee and picked up the fallen lily and pressed it tenderly to his cheek. I forgave him right there. At the final curtain, earlier in the week Angel and Ethan dropped the bouquet on the grave and walked downstage broken-hearted. José following the grand Russian drama queen tradition currently exemplified by Vladimir Malakhov, did the clutching the lilies to his chest, stagger backwards in a daze letting the lilies slowly drop the ground one by one and finally crumple to his knees in tears. YES! Give me the drama my Cuban guapo!!!

Lots of flowers again at the curtain but no confetti shower. Nina and José both caught flying bouquets from the audience to the audience's and their own delight.

After the excellent performances of Angel, Ethan, Herman ,Marcelo and Jose(with Max to follow and David in the wings) as Albrecht, can anybody think of any ballet company with a better group of Albrechts than ABT at present? :dry::)
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After the excellent performances of Angel, Ethan, Herman ,Marcelo and Jose(with Max to follow and David in the wings) as Albrecht, can anybody think of any ballet company with a better group of Albrechts than ABT at present?

Has there ever been a better crop than ABT's in recent decades?! Thinking back to Malakhov, Bocca, Bujones, Dowell, Baryshnikov, Nagy, Nureyev, Bruhn... Especially thinking of Bruhn, perhaps ABT will have gone full circle when Hallberg joins the club.

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I attended the Wednesday matinee of “Giselle”. I have a Saturday matinee subscription (two subscriptions actually), but I switched to the Wednesday matinee so I could see Abrera and Hallberg. I saw them dance in “Les Slyphides” at City Center about three years ago, and thought Stella and David would be wonderful as the leads in “Giselle”. Unfortunately, that was not to be. For a while, it looked like I was going to see Dvorovenko as “Giselle”. I’ve never seen Irina as “Giselle”, but I don’t think it would be a good part for her. (Anyone attending the Saturday matinee, please post and let me know how Irina and Max did in “Giselle”.) I don’t think Irina has the innocent quality Giselle needs, but I could be wrong. And Paloma Herrera (who I saw dance “Giselle” in 2006) was one of the worst “Giselles” I ever saw. Her dancing, her acting, everything was really off. (Gomes, however, was fantastic as Albrecht.)

So I was very happy to see Cornejo and Reyes as Albrecht and Giselle. Thursday night’s “Giselle” must have been out of this world, because I really loved their performances on Wednesday afternoon. I saw Xiomara dance “Giselle” in 2005 (with Corella), and as good as she was then, she was even better at Wednesday’s matinee. Her Giselle was so young and so in love with Albrecht. Her mad scene was absolutely heart breaking. And in Act II her lightness and incredibly fast footwork was just perfect.

Herman’s Albrecht broke my heart even more than Xiomara’s Giselle. I think his Albrecht loved Giselle from the very beginning. He seemed even younger than Giselle. I got the impression Albrecht pushed his real life way to the background, and didn’t even think about it or his fiancée when he was with Giselle. In Act II Herman was the most devastated Albrecht I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen “Giselle” close to 30 times). I started crying as soon as he appeared in Act II, carrying flowers to Giselle’s grave. I don’t always cry when I see “Giselle”. I think, for me, it has to do with the power of Albrecht’s performance and the chemistry between Albrecht and Giselle. In 2006 I saw Vishneva and Corella in “Giselle”. I thought both danced beautifully, but for me there was no chemistry between them. So I didn’t cry. But on Wednesday afternoon, I wept bucketfuls. Both performances were so real and so moving I feel sad thinking about the Reyes/Cornejo “Giselle” even now.

Other performers stood out too. I definitely agree with all the posters who have commented on Isaac Stappas’ incredible performance as Hilarion. And I always love seeing Susan Jones as Berthe. She was like a real mother, not a corps member made up to look older. Her relationship with Reyes’ Giselle was very close and loving. Gillian Murphy was the best Myrta I’ve ever seen, and other posters have described it better than I ever good. (I don’t think Gillian would be a good Giselle however. I hope she never dances the part. She’s just too powerful, too strong. I remember my disappointment years ago seeing Cynthia Gregory dance Giselle. She was just too strong for the part. I didn’t believe for a minute she had a heart condition. Did Gregory ever dance Myrtha? I think she would have been outstanding in the part. Lastly, Sarah Lane and especially

Mikhail Ilyin were wonderful in the peasant pas de deux. What an exciting dancer Ilyin is! And after seeing him as Birbanto in “Le Corsaire” and the lead peasant dancer in “The Merry Widow’, it was the first time I got to see what Mikhail really looks like.

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I attended the Wednesday matinee of “Giselle”. I have a Saturday matinee subscription (two subscriptions actually), but I switched to the Wednesday matinee so I could see Abrera and Hallberg. I saw them dance in “Les Slyphides” at City Center about three years ago, and thought Stella and David would be wonderful as the leads in “Giselle”. Unfortunately, that was not to be. For a while, it looked like I was going to see Dvorovenko as “Giselle”. I’ve never seen Irina as “Giselle”, but I don’t think it would be a good part for her. (Anyone attending the Saturday matinee, please post and let me know how Irina and Max did in “Giselle”.) I don’t think Irina has the innocent quality Giselle needs, but I could be wrong. And Paloma Herrera (who I saw dance “Giselle” in 2006) was one of the worst “Giselles” I ever saw. Her dancing, her acting, everything was really off. (Gomes, however, was fantastic as Albrecht.)

So I was very happy to see Cornejo and Reyes as Albrecht and Giselle. Thursday night’s “Giselle” must have been out of this world, because I really loved their performances on Wednesday afternoon. I saw Xiomara dance “Giselle” in 2005 (with Corella), and as good as she was then, she was even better at Wednesday’s matinee. Her Giselle was so young and so in love with Albrecht. Her mad scene was absolutely heart breaking. And in Act II her lightness and incredibly fast footwork was just perfect.

Herman’s Albrecht broke my heart even more than Xiomara’s Giselle. I think his Albrecht loved Giselle from the very beginning. He seemed even younger than Giselle. I got the impression Albrecht pushed his real life way to the background, and didn’t even think about it or his fiancée when he was with Giselle. In Act II Herman was the most devastated Albrecht I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen “Giselle” close to 30 times). I started crying as soon as he appeared in Act II, carrying flowers to Giselle’s grave. I don’t always cry when I see “Giselle”. I think, for me, it has to do with the power of Albrecht’s performance and the chemistry between Albrecht and Giselle. In 2006 I saw Vishneva and Corella in “Giselle”. I thought both danced beautifully, but for me there was no chemistry between them. So I didn’t cry. But on Wednesday afternoon, I wept bucketfuls. Both performances were so real and so moving I feel sad thinking about the Reyes/Cornejo “Giselle” even now.

Other performers stood out too. I definitely agree with all the posters who have commented on Isaac Stappas’ incredible performance as Hilarion. And I always love seeing Susan Jones as Berthe. She was like a real mother, not a corps member made up to look older. Her relationship with Reyes’ Giselle was very close and loving. Gillian Murphy was the best Myrta I’ve ever seen, and other posters have described it better than I ever good. (I don’t think Gillian would be a good Giselle however. I hope she never dances the part. She’s just too powerful, too strong. I remember my disappointment years ago seeing Cynthia Gregory dance Giselle. She was just too strong for the part. I didn’t believe for a minute she had a heart condition. Did Gregory ever dance Myrtha? I think she would have been outstanding in the part. Lastly, Sarah Lane and especially

Mikhail Ilyin were wonderful in the peasant pas de deux. What an exciting dancer Ilyin is! And after seeing him as Birbanto in “Le Corsaire” and the lead peasant dancer in “The Merry Widow’, it was the first time I got to see what Mikhail really looks like.

Colleen, if you thought Cynthia was too strong as Giselle, you should have seen Martine Van Hamel danced it for one performance with C Tippet in late 70's(or early 80's).Imust add that her 2nd act was beautiful. Clark was such a strong partner that he helped a lot in giving the illusion of lightness. Cynthia did Myrtha a few times.

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I attended the Wednesday matinee of “Giselle”. I have a Saturday matinee subscription (two subscriptions actually), but I switched to the Wednesday matinee so I could see Abrera and Hallberg. I saw them dance in “Les Slyphides” at City Center about three years ago, and thought Stella and David would be wonderful as the leads in “Giselle”. Unfortunately, that was not to be. For a while, it looked like I was going to see Dvorovenko as “Giselle”. I’ve never seen Irina as “Giselle”, but I don’t think it would be a good part for her. (Anyone attending the Saturday matinee, please post and let me know how Irina and Max did in “Giselle”.) I don’t think Irina has the innocent quality Giselle needs, but I could be wrong. And Paloma Herrera (who I saw dance “Giselle” in 2006) was one of the worst “Giselles” I ever saw. Her dancing, her acting, everything was really off. (Gomes, however, was fantastic as Albrecht.)

So I was very happy to see Cornejo and Reyes as Albrecht and Giselle. Thursday night’s “Giselle” must have been out of this world, because I really loved their performances on Wednesday afternoon. I saw Xiomara dance “Giselle” in 2005 (with Corella), and as good as she was then, she was even better at Wednesday’s matinee. Her Giselle was so young and so in love with Albrecht. Her mad scene was absolutely heart breaking. And in Act II her lightness and incredibly fast footwork was just perfect.

Herman’s Albrecht broke my heart even more than Xiomara’s Giselle. I think his Albrecht loved Giselle from the very beginning. He seemed even younger than Giselle. I got the impression Albrecht pushed his real life way to the background, and didn’t even think about it or his fiancée when he was with Giselle. In Act II Herman was the most devastated Albrecht I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen “Giselle” close to 30 times). I started crying as soon as he appeared in Act II, carrying flowers to Giselle’s grave. I don’t always cry when I see “Giselle”. I think, for me, it has to do with the power of Albrecht’s performance and the chemistry between Albrecht and Giselle. In 2006 I saw Vishneva and Corella in “Giselle”. I thought both danced beautifully, but for me there was no chemistry between them. So I didn’t cry. But on Wednesday afternoon, I wept bucketfuls. Both performances were so real and so moving I feel sad thinking about the Reyes/Cornejo “Giselle” even now.

Other performers stood out too. I definitely agree with all the posters who have commented on Isaac Stappas’ incredible performance as Hilarion. And I always love seeing Susan Jones as Berthe. She was like a real mother, not a corps member made up to look older. Her relationship with Reyes’ Giselle was very close and loving. Gillian Murphy was the best Myrta I’ve ever seen, and other posters have described it better than I ever good. (I don’t think Gillian would be a good Giselle however. I hope she never dances the part. She’s just too powerful, too strong. I remember my disappointment years ago seeing Cynthia Gregory dance Giselle. She was just too strong for the part. I didn’t believe for a minute she had a heart condition. Did Gregory ever dance Myrtha? I think she would have been outstanding in the part. Lastly, Sarah Lane and especially

Mikhail Ilyin were wonderful in the peasant pas de deux. What an exciting dancer Ilyin is! And after seeing him as Birbanto in “Le Corsaire” and the lead peasant dancer in “The Merry Widow’, it was the first time I got to see what Mikhail really looks like.

Colleen, if you thought Cynthia was too strong as Giselle, you should have seen Martine Van Hamel danced it for one performance with C Tippet in late 70's(or early 80's).Imust add that her 2nd act was beautiful. Clark was such a strong partner that he helped a lot in giving the illusion of lightness. Cynthia did Myrtha a few times.

I saw it. A very healthy and sunny Giselle for sure but she was such a beautiful and big dancer. By big I mean she totally filled the music

Saw her do Aurora, too. Musically, it was sublime.

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I attended the Friday night performance of Nina and Jose.

I must begin my stating that I have been saddened by the injury to Diana Vishneva this season - I had tickets for her Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Giselle. How nice to see her in attendance last night. (She looked gorgeous!!!) But what this unfortunate turn of events has done is made me fall in love with Nina Ballerina.

This is the third time that I have seen Giselle live. I saw Kent/Bocca/Murphy in 2005 and Vishneva/Corella/Wiles in 2006.

Last night had everything that I want to see when I go to the ballet. Nina was incredible - acting and dancing. Jose was a wonderful partner and I have never seen Gillian Murphy as strong as last night.

My only complaint was a very, very weak Peasant pas de deux or maybe I am just spoiled by the one I saw done in 2005 with Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes.

And - how nice to see Hee Seo. This is the first time that I have seen her all season. I enjoyed her so much last year as the Third Shade in La Bayadere.

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I’ve never seen Irina as “Giselle”, but I don’t think it would be a good part for her. (Anyone attending the Saturday matinee, please post and let me know how Irina and Max did in “Giselle”.) I don’t think Irina has the innocent quality Giselle needs, but I could be wrong.

You couldn't have said it better... I mean, I think Irina's always a great technician, but I was aware every minute of the first act that she was "acting" today. What is it? Is she overacting? She just has this vacant smile. I liked her much more once she came unhinged, and she was better in the second act. And real tears before she died! Technically though, oh my god, the hops on pointe she did at the beginning were unreal, she just skittered across the stage. I don't know how she can be so sensational in one ballet and I don't want to say it-- forced... in another. I loved her in Merry Widow this year, but was disappointed today. I saw Julie and Ethan on Tuesday and you know like, you can't compare.

The sailing bouquets at the end were ridiculous; Irina and Max must have gotten eight thrown at them.

Veronika Part though, I went just to see her and she was excellent, and so GORGEOUS, god, they should put her picture in the tourist brochures next to the Statue of Liberty. She had beautiful serpentine arms, and was so predatory as Myrtha. She moved very slowly in places, especially when she was waving her arms above her head, and I think this added a lot of power to her gestures; it was very different from Wiles' approach on Tuesday, which was a little more insistent.

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I have avoided Irina's Giselle for some time for fear that she would portray Giselle as Kitri's half sister. She overacted in Act I. She was too kittenish and knowing in Act I. However, she was fantastic in Act II in both her technique and her acting. She moved like a butterfly on speed- weightless and very fast in her jumps. This was dancing with abandon. She had absolutely gorgeous arms, and a virtually spineless, flexible back. She paid attentiion to every detail of upper body movement, down to the tips of her fingers. She did not overact here. Her portrayal was moving and touching. Max was a fine and elegant Albrecht. He doesn't deliver the high powered, exciting jumps that Corella, Steifel and Cornejo do, but he was very, very good. He was very naturalistic in his acting, and you could believe his grief was real. (Don't get me wrong- I also loved Marcelo the Magnificent's supercharged drama, as well as the approach of the "Cuban guapo"). Part repeated as Myrta. Yuriko was magnificent in her delicacy as Zulma. (Messmer was Moyna. She was merely adequate.) Copeland and Lopez did the peasant pdd. Lopez had a bad afternoon. He landed a jump very awkwardly, and had to put both hand down on the floor to prevent himself from falling over.

I'm glad I went, because Act II was magnificent. I can live with a mediocre Act I under the circumstances.

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Count me among the most appreciative of Dvorovenko's Giselle today at the matinee. A very strong, nuanced performance from a complete artist who obviously has thought out the details.

Dvorovenko's Act I Giselle was sparkling and full of the joy of life and a new love. Her mad scene was excellent, enhanced by teary eyes and a quivering lip. The overall dancing of Act I was superb with soaring grand jetes, fast hopping ronde de jambe, chaines that were so fast that Giselle's hands turned red. The Act II awakening spin was supersonic with the final rotations just off balance enough to elicit gasps from the audience. A totally convincing spirit from note one.

I almost never understand the Irina bashing. She's a beautiful woman who happens to have perfect teeth, a perfect smile and huge theatrical eyes. I found nothing fake or mannered about her today. She didn't overact or over-anything as far as I'm concerned. Maybe ABT should mess up her face a little, so people can emphathize with her.

Beloserkovsky was more than fine. He reads Prince no matter what role he is playing so there was no challenge for him in that respect. The lines were elegant, the elevation not much less than in years past, the pirouettes were serviceable but did not distinguish his Albrecht in any way. It was a standard Beloserkovsky performance: everything was pretty good, but nothing was spectacular. But it was all pleasing to watch and of course he took expert care of Irina.

Isaac Stappas was so strong as Hilarion that it could almost be said that he carried Act I. He was a menacing, in-your-face suitor who was not going to take no for an answer. His Act II confrontation with the Wilis was thrilling, but frankly, I was glad that they pushed him in the lake.

There were problems with the Peasant Pas again. Misty Copeland was very light and cheery with beautiful and extremely articulate footwork. Carlos Lopez did better than in previous outings, but then muffed the landings of a few tours in a particularly bad way. His feet never look fully pointed. They are of course pointed, but the top of his foot and the front of the ankle aren't flexible and don't bend.

There were also a couple of wardrobe malfunctions. One of the Wilis walked out dragging her veil behind her, and then it mysteriously began moving along the floor as it returned to the wings. Moyna's top kept dipping down thereby exposing her during her solo. But she maintained her composure and managed to dance very well.

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Colleen, if you thought Cynthia was too strong as Giselle, you should have seen Martine Van Hamel danced it for one performance with C Tippet in late 70's(or early 80's).Imust add that her 2nd act was beautiful. Clark was such a strong partner that he helped a lot in giving the illusion of lightness. Cynthia did Myrtha a few times.

I say both Cynthia & Martine in Giselle too. Cynthia had a vulnerability to her that Martine did not, but both offered splendid 2nd acts. I think that is was wonderful that they got an opportunity to dance a role that was considered "off type."

In fact I think a fun topic might be - what dancers would you like to see in an "off type" role.

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Two interesting things happened tonight at the final Giselle:

At the beginning of Act II when Hilarion was roping the cross together to plant it at Giselle's grave, they changed the lighting to give Hilarion (tonight it was Radetsky) a very bright spot for his whole scene. I know there were complaints about the lighting being too dark, but this seemed a bit overboard. Maybe they could shoot for something in between.

The second interesting thing that happened was during the 3rd or so full company bow, Stiefel walked clear across the stage to take Radetsky's left arm and raise it into the air - as if he were the winner in a boxing ring. Now what do you suppose that was about? Please let it be . . . .

The final performance was okay. I was a bit underwhelmed with some of Julie Kent's technical choices, such as leaving out the penche arabesques in her Act II variation, and substituting some simple changement for the wild entrechat, quatres. However, as a whole, Kent was a classical dream of a Giselle. The entrechat quatre that she did choose to do going backwards on the diagonal were textbook-perfectly formed with the toes ever so slightly bent back. The coming together of her feet in her Act II assembles were heavenly. Her line in her (intentional) 45 degree arabesques was exquisite. Some aspiring Degas should capture that arabesque in bronze.

Stiefel looked 120% of everything he's ever been. He caught the most beautiful pirouette and intended to end it in attitude but just kept slowly rotating all the way around in attitude. He gave a lot to Julie tonight, who perhaps could have given a bit more in return.

The corps was superb again tonight. Michele Wiles' Myrta actually was better than on a previous outing this week. There was a lot more bend to the upper body the way Murphy does. I'm still bothered by the organization of her fingers, especially those thumbs. They distract from her line and do nothing for her. Moyna and Zulma were Thomas and Boone, respectively. Both were beautiful. Boone truly commands the stage and I cannot wait to see her as Myrta. Radetsky's Hilarion was sincere and well thought out, but it did not resonate to the extent that Saveliev's or Stappas' did.

The Peasant Pas had no mishaps tonight - but still it was not what we are accustomed to seeing. Kayjia and Salstein were much better than earlier in the week and far more coordinated.

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Two interesting things happened tonight at the final Giselle:

At the beginning of Act II when Hilarion was roping the cross together to plant it at Giselle's grave, they changed the lighting to give Hilarion (tonight it was Radetsky) a very bright spot for his whole scene. I know there were complaints about the lighting being too dark, but this seemed a bit overboard. Maybe they could shoot for something in between.

The second interesting thing that happened was during the 3rd or so full company bow, Stiefel walked clear across the stage to take Radetsky's left arm and raise it into the air - as if he were the winner in a boxing ring. Now what do you suppose that was about? Please let it be . . . .

The final performance was okay. I was a bit underwhelmed with some of Julie Kent's technical choices, such as leaving out the penche arabesques in her Act II variation, and substituting some simple changement for the wild entrechat, quatres. However, as a whole, Kent was a classical dream of a Giselle. The entrechat quatre that she did choose to do going backwards on the diagonal were textbook-perfectly formed with the toes ever so slightly bent back. The coming together of her feet in her Act II assembles were heavenly. Her line in her (intentional) 45 degree arabesques was exquisite. Some aspiring Degas should capture that arabesque in bronze.

Stiefel looked 120% of everything he's ever been. He caught the most beautiful pirouette and intended to end it in attitude but just kept slowly rotating all the way around in attitude. He gave a lot to Julie tonight, who perhaps could have given a bit more in return.

The corps was superb again tonight. Michele Wiles' Myrta actually was better than on a previous outing this week. There was a lot more bend to the upper body the way Murphy does. I'm still bothered by the organization of her fingers, especially those thumbs. They distract from her line and do nothing for her. Moyna and Zulma were Thomas and Boone, respectively. Both were beautiful. Boone truly commands the stage and I cannot wait to see her as Myrta. Radetsky's Hilarion was sincere and well thought out, but it did not resonate to the extent that Saveliev's or Stappas' did.

The Peasant Pas had no mishaps tonight - but still it was not what we are accustomed to seeing. Kayjia and Salstein were much better than earlier in the week and far more coordinated.

Great that the last performance went so well! I would like to point out that A LOT of people don't do the penchee after the arabesuqe in the variation any more! A lot of people just balance, but what I like that Julie does is she changes her upper body and it adds an extra dimension!

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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.

* * *

I love how when dawn came she raised her finger towards the heavens, a touching vow of love for Albrecht.

Each Hilarion and Giselle in this production do these bits. They are part of the staging.

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In her review (Russian Bazaar, this Thursday) of Nina Ananiashvili's Monday performance of Giselle, Nina Alovert reported that

"Diana Vishneva twisted her leg in rehearsal" and would be replaced by Nina on Friday. Urging her readers to attend on Friday, Ms. Alovert said

This will be the last time she [Ananiashvili] will dance Giselle in America.

I saw her performance on Monday in this ballet, and it will remain one of the most vivid memories in my life as a ballet spectator.

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After 4 Giselles in 3 days, I'm just grateful to be living in New York where I can see ABT like this. Like Haglund's, I very much appreciated Irina Dvorovenko at yesterday's matinee. Especially in the 2nd act, where she stunned with her half-dead look, and I mean that as a compliment... she came across as someone struggling with the transition from life to death; the top half looked like it was sinking into the world of death and weightlessness, while the bottom half was full of life and spring. Beloserkovsky was fine, though he's not my favorite. In general I'd prefer almost any other ABT man to him; they are almost all more spectacular, but he and Dvorovenko do have amazing unison together.

Stiefel last night had a "mad scene" of his own after Giselle died. I found him very convincing. Kent was my least favorite of the four Giselles I saw (the others being Reyes, Ananiashvili, and of course, Dvorovenko), but I'm not complaining about her.

If I could choose one highlight of the four performances, it was Zhong-jing Fang's Zulma. Totally otherworldly. I also find the hopping arabesques chilling, but I do wish the audience would hold applause till it's done.

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I almost never understand the Irina bashing. She's a beautiful woman who happens to have perfect teeth, a perfect smile and huge theatrical eyes. I found nothing fake or mannered about her today. She didn't overact or over-anything as far as I'm concerned. Maybe ABT should mess up her face a little, so people can emphathize with her.

Kent is a beautiful woman as well, but people (myself included) tend to sympathize with and enjoy her Giselle because of the fine and nuanced quality of her acting.

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What is coming across as a theme in the "off-type" Giselles (re: P. Herrera, C. Gregory, M. Van Hamel, I. Dvorovenko) is that they generally do better in the second act. I think Susan Jaffe was another "off-type" Giselle. Susan Jaffe did Giselle all throughout her ABT career but like the ladies above (with the exception of Herrera), she also did Myrtha early in her career quite often. I saw her as Myrtha with Ferri and Bocca circa 1991 and she was wonderful. I didn't see Susan's Giselle early (say in the eighties or early nineties) but did see her with Ethan Stiefel circa 1998. Her first act was indeed rather calculated and lacking innocence but her second act was excellent. I always found Susan too sophisticated and knowing for something like Giselle Act I. I concluded that Myrtha was her natural role.

Interestingly, Susan Jaffe grew as an interpretive artist as an older dancer and was more convincingly virginal, unsophisticated and innocent in her farewell performance as Giselle. Like her Tatiana in "Onegin" her acting had grown to a point where she could transcend her own personality and present a finished portrait of a character totally unlike herself. She had to simplify some of the choreography but the two halves of the ballet were balanced.

I think that that is the challenge of "Giselle" in that the character in Act I is presented largely in mime and the dancing needs to be superimposed on an essentially theatrical framework whereas in Act II Giselle is an abstract figure who expresses herself totally in pure dance. The emotions and byplay are rather passive emotional states in Act II, (sadness, forgiveness, renunciation and regret, etc.) whereas in Act I Giselle is reacting to specific dramatic actions with realistic give and take, action and reaction.

I don't know if Paloma or Irina can transcend their own stage personas and styles and create a convincing Act I Giselle. Certainly when I saw Paloma a season or two ago, all her lightness in Act II was a byproduct of Marcelo Gomes' superb partnering which made her seem to float and levitate rather than any intrinsic ballon in her dancing. Similar to what Clark Tippet achieved with Van Hamel who seems to have been a much more artistic and musical dancer than Herrera.

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Faux Pas, I recall once reading an article in which Susan Jaffe mentioned that she worked with an acting coach. I don't know if all dancers at ABT take acting lessons, but this may have played a role in the fact that Susan Jaffe was praised as a fantastic dance-actress.

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Interestingly, Susan Jaffe grew as an interpretive artist as an older dancer and was more convincingly virginal, unsophisticated and innocent in her farewell performance as Giselle. Like her Tatiana in "Onegin" her acting had grown to a point where she could transcend her own personality and present a finished portrait of a character totally unlike herself. She had to simplify some of the choreography but the two halves of the ballet were balanced.

I think Susan Jaffe grew as an interpretive artist because she improved as a dancer. Before working with Irina Kolpakova, her dancing and her performances were glib, one-dimensional and kind of hard. It was fascinating to watch her soften and deepen her technique and the dance characters she created in the later part of her career.

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Faux Pas, I recall once reading an article in which Susan Jaffe mentioned that she worked with an acting coach. I don't know if all dancers at ABT take acting lessons, but this may have played a role in the fact that Susan Jaffe was praised as a fantastic dance-actress.

Jaffe did indeed work with an acting coach whom she extends a great deal of credit to. She discusses this and her theatrical development in her 2002 interview with Charlie Rose, which I happened to rewatch recently.

Susan sometimes comes to watch video at the Performing Arts Library (where I work), looking so lovely and fresh with her pixie haircut.

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This is getting a bit off topic, but I do think that Carreno had a lot to do with Jaffe's career as well. He brought out so much in her. She did develop into a wonderful performer--I thought her Fall River Legend was amazing, she really did change from old to young before your eyes. I think it is one of ballets losses that she never got to do Pillar of Fire (that I saw, anyway.) But back to her Giselle, her final ones were certainly professional and interesting, but I think she was much better in classical than romantic parts.

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I completely agree, cargill. After a Jaffe-Carreno Sleeping Beauty, I remarked to a friend that it was just like real life -- Susan had been asleep until Jose came along and woke her up. He is an extraordinary performer who needs an emotional give and take with his ballerina, but there was a unique current that ran between him and Jaffe that he hasn't found since she left.

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