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ABT at City Center, Fall 2008


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I may have to follow Marga's lead (see her great reports from ABT at Bard) and post in segments, although I can promise that I won't be nearly as detailed or as eloquent. I'm already behind this season and didn't want to let the ABT season get ahead of me.

So let's start with my rant about the audience and get that over with. Patrons of the 92nd St. Y may be familiar with that establishment's big bowls full of cough drops by the auditorium doors. I suggest that City Center place big bowls of Ritalin at its doors. Some people are unable to stay in their seats or confine their commentary to applause breaks and blackouts (with one exception noted later.) Boo to the audience in the rear of the Rear Mezz. :crying:

The gala opened with Theme and Variations, danced very cleanly, if primly by the ensemble, and less cleanly but very spiritedly by the leads, Marcelo Gomes and Paloma Herrera. Paloma played with the phrasing in the pdd, and while my friends appreciated her effort, I didn't think she had the musicality to make it work. I was thinking that here was another one who's been watching Bouder and wants to do what she does.

I'd seen Tudor's Romeo & Juliet once before, danced by Makarova and Prinz, and I remember being disappointed then. Last night, Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg brought to life a pair of youngsters in the intensity of their first erotic experience and unable to savor the joy. It was a nasty tease for the audience, leaving us wanting the whole ballet. :pinch: I'm glad that this pas has been added to programs throughout the season. I also enjoyed Delius' music last night much more than I did thirty or however many years ago.

[back later with more]

. . .

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I saw the first night of the regular season (Wednesday the 22nd) which included the premiere of the new Lauri Stallings ballet "Citizen".

The evening started off with Twyla Tharp's "Baker's Dozen" which was in the words of the lady to my left "happy-making". One of the happy-making aspects was the presence of so many corps dancers getting a nice opportunity to show their stuff (including Sean Stewart) . However, the two real standouts were soloists: Craig Salstein in his best Donald O'Connor mode and a wild and funky Misty Copeland who threw herself all over him like a rag doll. These two really got it.

The new Lauri Stallings ballet "Citizen" to a score by Max Richter is a head scratcher. A long-time ballet fanatic friend saw derivative elements of Forsythe - slightly contorted modern choreography with off-center pirouettes etc. mixed in with performance arty effects. Richter's music is restless and moody without really giving enough structure for coherent dance-making - it seemed like a film score, a good one but something essential was missing. The stage is bare with the brick back wall exposed and a shadowy half-lit stage. Stallings choreography becomes repetitive after a while but then random and arbitrary theatrical effects come in and shake things up - glitter coming down on Paloma Herrera from the flies, stagehands and dancers from other ballets walking on as observers briefly and then leaving, etc. The dancers were the best thing here: Paloma looks sensational in modern choreography and should do Forsythe somewhere, sometime. David Hallberg done up in a Madonna bustier like a fugitive from her "Girlie Show" tour was an androgynous powerhouse. Blaine Hoven showed that he is very much a dancer to be watched and Nicola Curry and Isabella Boylston were fine. The word for this one was "interesting" and I will leave it at that. I don't think it will remain in the repertoire.

"The Leaves are Fading" was the first time I saw the complete ballet - it is gorgeous and got a lovely performance. Julie Kent has a role that suits her lyricism and delicacy and where her maturity is a positive element. I always have noted a very "English" quality in Kent - she is kind of ABT's Antoinette Sibley in a way. It is a shame that ABT hasn't done more Ashton - she would have shone in his "Cinderella" a decade ago. Tudor also has a very English, understated quality in this piece and she was in sync with that. I never saw Gelsey Kirkland thirty-three years ago, so I have no point of comparison. Marcelo was her selfless but engrossing partner - the partnering demands are heavy for the male role but he also had nice folk accents in his solos. The other ladies in the pas de deux were Maria Riccetto, Veronika Part and Hee Seo - all lovely in different ways. The Dvorak music is exquisite by itself even without the dancing. There is a mood of age looking upon youth and love from a distanced but mellow and warm perspective. A work I want to see again.

"Theme and Variations" got a fast but not careless performance. The big news was the debut of Corey Stearns in the male lead. He did very well though he was physically mismatched with Michele Wiles who is too big for him - he will have to work out at the gym and bulk up to work with her. Wiles was having a strong turning night with dazzling multiple pirouettes - she went off the music in one solo section but otherwise really carried the star role with strength and panache. Stearns showed excellent form in the jumps with the leg beats and the multiple turns in the air (though I suspect that if he had to do one more set he would have started to tire). Stearns defiinitely showed some fulfillment of promise. The technique is clean and articulate and he is showing nice instincts in using his upper body and arms in a musical elegant way. He just needs a little more strength in his partnering and a touch more stamina which experience in bigger roles can and will give him. He is also a little tentative in his projection which also will be remedied with experience.

All in all a satisfying and varied programme.

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Thanks, faux pas, for a great wrap-up of Wednesday. I, too, had trouble making sense of the new Stallings ballet production. My focus was on Paloma, whose legs and middle were exposed. She really has a magnificent physique. Nicola Curry caught my attention for the first time. At one point, the house lights came up. What was that about? It looked expensive, which is a shame, since ABT has better uses of its money. However, I guess if they don't continue to commission new works, they'll never get a good, new ballet. They need a good, new ballet.

Cory Stearns is still young and is bound to fill out. Michele won't be too big for him if he gains breadth across his chest and shoulders. It was great to see him enter from the wings for his notoriously difficult three-step variation with a nice, relaxed smile on his face. He knew before we did that this was going to be good! And at last we saw the Michele who, years ago as a corps dancer, caught our attention. She was hugely expansive, fast (pushing the orchestra beyond its comfort zone) and clean.

During Leaves, I realized what an excellent dance actress Julie Kent is. She showed us delirious young love with clarity and subtlety. A gorgeous performance. Marcelo's physicality was too emphatic -- he almost seemed angry. Hee Seo, in the Tcherassky role (apparently channeling the originator) was exquisite.

Overall, Bakers Dozen looked much more coherent than it did last year.

Back to Tuesday night:

The first half continued with "Time," a solo choreographed by Craig Salstein to Schumann's Tramerei for Michele Wiles. The curtain rose on her dressed in the lavender "Other Dances" dress standing in a wide, parallel second position -- a pose she repeated several times throughout the solo. Her costume was well chosen, since, had Robbins chosen Schumann instead of Chopin, this could have fit easily into Other Dances at a Gathering. Pleasant enough.

Next was Kylian's Overgrown Path to Janacek, danced by Julie Kent, Gennadi Saveliev and Jared Matthews. I've already forgotten it.

The half closed with Xiomara Reyes and Jose Carreno in the Adagio and Coda of the Don Q pdd. Her dancing was clear and strong. By ABT standards, his may have lacked ambition, but my goodness, was he suave! An excellent, smooth performance with gorgeous pirouettes in low attitude.

Company B followed the brief intermission and provided the evening's great hit. When ABT danced Taylor's Thirties ballet, Black Tuesday, they played it for funny and missed the dark undertones. They did not repeat that misreading in this ballet, which may speak to the relative strength of the newer work, but also got extraordinary performances all around. The one very slightly off-note was Craig Salstein leading "Joseph, Joseph," which should have been a perfect fit for his tendency to ham, but he could still tone it down half a notch to maintain the balance of the work. My friend remarked of Misty Copeland ("Rum and Coca-Cola") that we hadn't seen it danced like that since Mary Cochran, the role's originator, to which I replied that we'd never seen "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" danced the way it was danced last night -- by ABT's great dance genius, Herman Cornejo. The man can dance anything. Anything.

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I'd also like to mention Arron Scott, who is going to give Craig Salstein a run for his money in the funny department, as well as turning into a really good dancer. His "Tico-Tico" in "Company B" was superior to Craig's "Oh, Johnny".

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I attended last night (Wed)

Baker Dozen:

I saw it last year. To me its ok, nothing spectacular. Very well danced though.

Craigs Salstein was very impressive.

I have a question for you guys. Did you hear Misty C laugh out loud, real real loud, in the middle of the show,

from the left side of the stage (behind the curtains) ? I saw it last year and I dont remember that to be there.

I know it was her because I was in the right side of the theater and I could see them very well behind the curtains.

To me it sounded so grotesque, I dont know, I didnt get it.

If any body could explain, I wd really appreciated.

Citizen:

Weird piece, the coreography a little repetitive but in general I enjoyed it because its something unusual.

I have to say here that I was in shock with P Herrera. I have been one of those who has really criticized her

a lot in the classics, but boy, didnt she look amazing in those costumes ?

Is she in better shape now or is it that this modern dance really suits her dancing style wery well ?

She danced beautifully and as I said, I was just really impressed with her stage presence.

Leaves are fading:

Very nice, quiet, sweet, relaxing. Kent and Gomes were as good as I always expect them to be, wonderful artists.

Marcelo, as usual, a magnificent partner. Julie is ideal for this ballet, so refined, fragile, beautiful.

The other girls were great too.

Seo looked fantastic ! Ricetto danced very well and Veronika, well, I just suffer watching her doing only this small roles, as beautiful as a ballerina can be, there she was.......I couldnt take my eyes out of her :toot:

i wish I could see her doing Julie's role someday, but I guess it wont happen...... why ? why ?

Themes and Variation:

Michele's technique was very very strong and secure, as always. Fantastic turns, clean footwork.

Again, I have 2 big problems with her.

1.- Lack of musicality, huge, i would say. To me seems like she doesnt listen to the music, just execute, execute. If she were musical and if she enjoyed her dance more..... she def has the potential to be a great artist.

2.- Her face while she is turning or moving is horrible. This is something that def can be corrected.

She pretend to be smilling, but the result is just a funny face, very unnatural.

I dont really know who is coaching her, but is doesnt look to me like is doing a good job.

I always see her with that great potential, making mistakes and doing things that can be so easily corrected...

I didnt really like her partnership with Stearns at all. He could not lift her, it was terrible. They dont look good together either. He seemed so weak next to her.

Stearns looks like a noble dancer but technically he always falls short for me, especially compared to so many others abt dancers. when he was turning and jumping, at the end, he totally run out of gas. In my opinion, this is another miss-cast from abt. I wouldnt like to see him again doing this.

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Hi. I was at last night's performance. I was in the Rear Mez and I could hear the laughter coming from off stage left. The laughter was incredibly loud. I enjoyed Baker's Dozen more this year than when I initially saw it last year. I thought Citizen was terrible. As FauxPas noted above, it was a bad imitation of Forsythe. The choreography was repetitive and tedious. Was there some big point we were supposed to derive when all the people dressed in street clothes came on stage? If so, I guess I missed it. Glitter falling to the stage floor is not an adequate substitute for interesting choreography. Yes, I agree Paloma looked great. Poor David Hallberg. His costume looked like an early Halloween costume. Men in bustiers and silver pants is a VERY BAD IDEA!!! One post above noted that Citizen will probably not remain in the future repertory. My question is how and why it got to the City Center stage at all in the first place. In Leaves, I thought the whole cast was terrific, and that Julie Kent was sublime. Her performance, in particular, was gorgeous. As for Theme, Wiles was pretty good. I also thought Stearns was mis-cast. There were times that Stearns could barely lift Wiles off the ground. Also, in his big solo, he ran out of gas in his jumps and started fudging the steps. Since many of ABT's heavy hitters are not around for this engagement (Steifel, Corella), I guess they worked with the team they had available.

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Regarding Stearns, the heavy hitters aren't getting any younger (Carreno, Stiefel - even Angel is into his thirties - gasp! I remember him as a teenager who couldn't speak English!) and they all need an understudy. I remember having feelings similar to that eight years ago when Marcelo Gomes starting getting bigger roles (they have Julio, Vladimir, Angel, José Manuel, Ethan - why do they need to put him on?). Well, I have been eating my words for the last seven years.

Now Marcelo was more mature then and stronger as a partner than Corey is now but still the development of Stearns, Matthews and Hoven is a very good thing - for company morale now and for audiences further down the line.

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Regarding Stearns, the heavy hitters aren't getting any younger (Carreno, Stiefel - even Angel is into his thirties - gasp! I remember him as a teenager who couldn't speak English!) and they all need an understudy. I remember having feelings similar to that eight years ago when Marcelo Gomes starting getting bigger roles (they have Julio, Vladimir, Angel, José Manuel, Ethan - why do they need to put him on?). Well, I have been eating my words for the last seven years.

Now Marcelo was more mature then and stronger as a partner than Corey is now but still the development of Stearns, Matthews and Hoven is a very good thing - for company morale now and for audiences further down the line.

well, I totally agree with the idea of giving young people opportunities to develop. Its just that I think that there may be other young dancers at abt, better suited for a piece like Theme...and for partnering Michelle. I think Stearns has great talent but the two times I have seen him in big roles (Corsaire with Irina and last night) he hasnt performed at the level at which Marcelo or Angel were dancing when they were his age. I personally like Hoven better than the other 2 that you mentioned.

How about, for example, Alex Hammoudi partnering Michelle in Theme....

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Alexandre Hammoudi looked great in "Leaves are Fading" - so yes, I second Classic_Ballet's endorsement. Vitali Krauchenka looks like he could partner Michele as well and is a fine classical dancer but seems wasted in the Ethan Brown/Brian Reeder "he is big and can play the father" character/mime track. Also Kevin needs to throw some goodies towards Maria Bystrova - not just character/mime assignments but classical soloist roles. Another reason for grooming these men is that David Hallberg (who has been getting shoulder and upper back trauma injuries of late) and the seemingly tireless Marcelo Gomes have been carrying more than their fair share of the burden of partnering everyone including the ABT basketball team of Michele and Veronika. Now Roberto Bolle is on his way to lift their burden during the Spring/Summer Met season and he is a fully finished dancer and experienced partner.

The real glory of the City Center is seeing corps dancers step forward while the stars are away.

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I wonder if Kevin ever gets a chance to read these posts :lol:

Was hammoudi partnering Veronika last night ?

loved the basketball team analogy, ha, very funny and true..

I am still "in-shock" with Misty Cop. "laughter" last night.

I have never seen such a thing in a ballet performance.

To complete the night, after the performance ended, a poor guy fall off the stairs

in the mid-mezzanine level and landed against the wall, pretty wild.

Do you guys think that bringing Bolle may help to finally see our dear Veronika as a Principal,

since now she is going to have another partner

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The big draw October 23, Thursday night, was the program's finale, Balanchine's Theme and Variations. Despite injury concerns voiced in these pages, Herman Cornejo did partner ABT's Mariinskette, Sarah Lane. In size and presentation, they are a special match. While he is now arguably the company's primo virtuoso, his younger partner is herself quickly developing into principal material. This night she wore her crown as if born to it. Ms. Lane was truly regal, not some acted hauteur, but at ease in it. She did not sell the role to us, no grinning or pushing, rather just the natural grace of being in Mr. B's steps. Her dance, beginning flanked by ballerinas on either side, built its steady spell to prepare us for the following duet. Much of the partnering went well, just one tiny foul up, until the very end. Then Mr. Cornejo could not quite get her up on his shoulder for the final pose, so that she had to kind of slide down, propped at his side on an angle. This may have well been the "injury part", for otherwise so much of his partnering seemed secure tonight.

The program started with Antony Tudor's The Leaves are Fading, and while no lead can match the role's muse Gelsey Kirkland, Xiomara Reyes, partnered by Gennadi Saveliev, could have had more breadth and breath in her dancing, just, say, a wistful sigh... Still, there is much to love in the corps work in this ballet, and it was a mostly young group, principal Michele Wiles beaming in their midst. From my seat upstairs I could not ID the young woman partnered by Roman Zhurbin, but she was wonderful and I hope someone will tell me her name.

In the middle was Jiri Kylian's Overgrown Path. I remember not liking this brooding ballet of a father's loss of his daughter (the composer Janacek's Olga, age 21, of a long and lingering disease) nearly three decades ago, performed by the choreographer's company. It seemed to offer no new movement ideas from the then young and richly creative Kylian. But when Kevin McKenzie took over ABT it was on his short list of works to put on. 15 years later he finally got his wish. And he did everything he could to make it succeed. A cast of stars (no need to relist as there's a massive review of it's pre-NYC perfomance by Marga on another BT thread). It seems that Hee Seo (always a joy in Tudor and, it now seems, in Tudor-like dances) danced in place of announced Misty Copeland. Olga, Gillian Murphy dressed in black, haunted the dance right from the beginning. Marcelo Gomes seemed the father-figure, roaming through memories of his girl's life. Julie Kent was especially moving, and nowhere more than in In Tears with Gennadi Saveliev and Jared Matthews, dancing the trio that leads to the work's finale. Here the grieving father finally faces the hardest memory, his daughter dies in his arms and vanishes into a black void in rear center stage. Janacek's music (the score is for solo piano) for this scene, titled the barn owl has not flown away, reaches Schumann-like depth. But as the father's daughter dies so doe his art. The ballet ends with grieving cast on stage, in silence.

Kylian's assistant Roslyn Anderson has done a wonderful job preparing these dancers. They capture deep human feelings, and have given Kevin McKenzie a much deserved deeply moving performance of this work that he loves.

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I liked Sarah a lot when she was in the corps, but what worked for her as a corps dancer has completely turned me off to her as a soloist - her absolute refusal to acknowledge her partner in any way whatsoever. She didn't look at Herman once, and kept that fixed look on her face. I know her fans describe that look as "beatific" or "regal", but to me, as a former supporter of hers, it just looks like she's just thinking about how good she is, and why doesn't this man get off her stage?

I don't remember who Roman was partnering, but it was probably Anne Milewski or Sarah Smith.

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I was there last night. I had never before seen Overgrown Path. It was very moving. I'm looking forward to seeing it again. This was absolutely LUXURY casting. As for Leaves, Xiomara just didn't do a thing for me. Kent's rhapsodic, lyrical performance the night before was dramatic and touching. I didn't feel that way at all about Xiomara. However, the big revelation for me last night in Leaves was Melissa Thomas. I'm now looking forward to seeing her next week in the lead of Jardin. Herman looked very good in Theme, and effortlessly tossed off all of his jumps and turns. His only major mistake was in the lift at the very end. Sarah Lane did a wonderful job too. All in all, a wonderful night of dance. Did anyone else in the rear mez notice that someone was fumbling with a noisy plastic bag throughout Leaves. Some audience members are CLUELESS.

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I could hear it, and I was in the orchestra. There's one woman who comes almost every night, and she's always packing and unpacking these plastic bags she brings with her, almost like an OCD. I wonder if it it's the same woman.

On opening night, I was surrounded by misbehaving people, and, as you know, the ushers stay outside - almost as though Andrey or Carol doesn't want them to get involved. It was so extreme that it would have been comic. On my left was a guy who spent the whole evening playing with his extremely brightly lit iPhone. On my right was a couple who talked through the entire evening - except when the husband was singing. Not even singing along - he had his own songs that he "bum-bum-bummed" to amuse himself. The were two people getting phone calls (one of whom didn't turn the ringer off after the first call, because he/she got another one later on). There was the guy in the side mezzanine who complained loudly about the size of the head of the man in front of him, and then stomped around looking for another seat. And the two rows of Ukrainian women who didn't know each other before they arrived, but got to know each other very well, in spite of all those people on stage who kept trying to dance in the middle of all their talking.

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October 23, Thursday night:

Lovely name, "ABT's Mariinskette, Sarah Lane." Fits her perfectly too!

In size and presentation, Sarah and Herman were, have been, a special match except that now Herman is facing injuries (I will not go into details) from years of hard work and age. He was not in the best shape last night to partner his ballerina well. He looked terribly under rehearsed in the pas de deux and finale, though his two solo sections were danced well enough.

Sarah started off with regal confidence, and beautiful technique -- I thought her two solo sections had matured and were quite brilliantly done, with strong, clean, musical precision. And the solos' tempi was faster than in past performances, so her solo sections were quite exciting. Petite Sarah had no problem keeping up with the quick tempi, and actually looked as if she loved the challenge.

But Sarah cannot dance the pas de deux by herself. Herman just wasn't there, or he was in the way at the wrong times. He zapped, bit by bit, Sarah's confidence every time any partnering moves became insecure, and there were many. The shoulder lift at the end of the finale, that didn't stick, was the least dangerous, but stood out as obviously wrong to the audience.

Herman has been one of my very favorites in Theme, but he should have let his understudy take his turn last night.

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I was pretty unenthusiastic about the announced line up for this short City Center season but got more excited as casting details started coming out. I went to opening night and then again last night and really enjoyed both performances.

My favorite parts of the gala were the Tudor R&J pdd and Company B. I loved the way that Tudor was able to convey such deeply felt emotions so clearly with such restraint & economy of movement. I love the McMillan version but this was a welcome alternative and very well realized by Murphy & Hallberg. I look forward to seeing it again and hope for a revival of the full ballet.

Having seen the Taylor dancers perform Company B many times in the past few years I have to admit that I felt ABT's dancers didn't fully capture the weight or earthbound energy of his style, and this production didn't bring out the contrast between the reality of the war and the cheery denial in the popular music of the times as strongly as his production does, but I still thought they did a great job with it and while the message may have been a bit diluted it wasn't completely lost. It goes without saying that all of the dancers were incredible.

Last night I sat in the back of the rear mezz, which is much farther back than I usually sit. While I thought it might be a problem for a ballet as subtle and evocative as Leaves I found that it had the opposite effect on me. I saw it more as a whole cohesive piece rather than focusing on the individual sections and the beauty of the structure, the mingling of entrances, exits and main focus made the ballet come together for me more than it did last year when I watched it from up close. I thought all the dancers last night were very good. While neither the Reyes/Saveliev pairing or Kent/Gomes (who I saw last season) matched up to my memories of Kirkland and Kage, I thought Reyes/Saveliev were much improved over their performance last year, and even over last month when they did the pdd at FFD.

From my seat upstairs I could not ID the young woman partnered by Roman Zhurbin, but she was wonderful and I hope someone will tell me her name.

I don't recall 100% who Zhurbin's partner was but it wouldn't surprise me if it was Melissa Thomas. She was a real stand out – she presented the dance simply without embellishment but with lyricism and ravishingly beautiful line.

I was intrigued by Overgrown Path, I loved the music and was fascinated by how fully the dancers inhabited Kylian's modern style but I think it suffered a bit (no pun intended) from its placement right after the Tudor.

ABT's T&V also benefited from a little more distance, those pink & lavender costumes that I find so overpowering from 10 feet away looked quite lovely from the rear mezz. I peeked though my opera glasses a few times and when I did I will agree that I found the look on Ms Lane's face a bit frozen and plastered on – it's something for her to work on however I thought her dancing was beyond wonderful. Technically assured, there was also an absolute graciousness and elegance to her dancing. This was no "small" reading of the role, she looked like a ballerina in all her glory. Cornejo was also amazing, as we have come to expect, but I thought his partnering went south very early in the coda – it started to look like he was hauling a sack of potatoes around the stage and considering how small Lane is that was disturbing. She isn't the only one with some work to do…

Lastly – it was indeed very noisy in the rear mezz – both at the top and on the sides where latecomers chattered and ushers used their flashlights to seat them WELL into the evening. Very distracting

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... Ms. Lane was truly regal,...

Lane must have really developed in the past six months, as I've never thought of her as the "regal" type. A fine soloist with a strong technique but more a Canary Fairy than Aurora or more Amour than Dryad Queen. Glad to read about these recent improvements. Good for her!

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I was at last night's performance and I am completely dismayed by the performance of Theme & Variations. Sara Lane ?? No--this was a minor league peformance by a supposedly world class Company. I felt the same way about Cornejo in T&V as I did with his recent performance last spring of Don Q...he has a long way to go to convince me he is a Premier Danseur. He is lovely to watch technically--but.....I really liked Reyes and Saveliev in "Leaves"---their PDD was a joyful testament to love. Much of the ballet was reminiscent of the final lyrical PDD of Pillar of Fire. The cast of 'overgrown path' was breathtaking to watch---imagine! Herrera, Part, Kent, Murphy, Gomes---all on the stage at the same time---it's enough to make any ballet a success. Time will tell with different casting; although I thought it an appropriate tribute to Tudor.

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I, too, was less than wowed by the Lane-Cornejo Theme & Variations, especially after the buzz I still felt from Wiles-Stearns the previous night. First, the Wednesday couple clearly enjoyed dancing together and sharing the fun of their experience (which was evident when they were paired again Thursday in Leaves), and there were two dancers each doing their job. Also, Thursday's tempi may have been fast, but not as fast as the previous night (when some musicians simply couldn't keep up. Thursday they kept up, but some just got lost. :clapping: ) Both Herman and Sara have given sparklier performances. I don't know what the cause of Herman's injuries, but the only concession I noticed was that he took the first phrase of his variation in the opposite direction, landing the sissonnes on his left rather than right leg.

I have no desire to see Overgrown Path again, since seeing it the first time gave me such an overwhelming sense of deja vu. The last moments of this ballet about grief looked (except for the costumes) uncannily like the last moments of Sinfonietta, with the entire cast grand jete-ing around the stage.

What I missed most in Xiomara and Gennadi's Leaves was that long, long Kirklandesque line which is so intrinsic to the choreography. I think they understood their roles (Gennadi more than Marcelo the previous night).

My distraction came from two little girls -- actually only one. Her mom said the box office assured her that the program was suitable for children. While there's no reason not to give it a G rating, the program was somewhat slow-paced for children as young as these (the younger was about 5-6). The younger one could not stay still, although she was relatively quiet. Still, when someone within your peripheral vision is rocking from side to side, you can't fully enjoy the action on stage. By the time the really fun ballet came up, they were gone.

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Inaugural posting here; I don't get out very often in recent years. I saw Thursday's slate and thought I'd share a few comments - I'm someone who hasn't had the luxury of seeing these dancers often enough to be really familiar with their abilities, so please take my notes with that caveat in mind.

"Leaves" was lovely, very subtle as Tudor often is, beautifully danced. As a complete work I think it has a certain lack of pacing. But it's the prettiest dancing floral wallpaper you'll ever see. I do happen to be a big fan of Xiomara's dancing but as has often happened, I was a bit distracted by seeing too much of her broad smile. She still tends toward mugging a bit which is fine sometimes and other times is inappropriate for the role. But she had a nice lightness and fluid upper back.

I'm guessing it was Yuriko Kajiya who was the standout to me in an early pas de deux in Leaves - I'm deducing her name from her being the only Asian dancer name listed. She had particularly lovely port de bras. I didn't realize until later that the blonde was Michele Wiles; I'd seen her this summer as Myrtha in Giselle, where she'd had a commanding stage presence, and here she blended into the ensemble.

If Roman Zhurbin is the one who somewhat resembled Gennady and partnered in an early pas de deux, he was exceptionally strong - can anyone confirm that was him?

"Overgrown Path" was an embarrassment of riches. Part, Murphy, Kent and Herrera all dancing together? Usually when you see any one of them, they'll stand out as a cut above the featured soloistes of the evening. Each of them has the ability to draw your eye away from the others. Put them all together and I had trouble knowing where to look. That said, to me Murphy was the star. She is a true dance-actress and I envy those who will get to see her Pillar of Fire. Followed by Kent, who's still got it in spades; then by Part. Veronika's feet were so incredible I had to make a conscious effort to watch the rest of her as well. Herrera was technically gorgeous, but to my eyes had less stage presence than the others. The others were also superb and the ensemble work was cohesive.

I also really enjoyed the choreography. I felt it was intensely connected to the music in a way that not all the Kylian pieces I have seen are. I liked the vocabulary, the patterns and the motifs. I also liked the tailored dress costumes, though the men's costuming of of dark pants and white shirts was undistinguished.

Agreed with the previous poster who complimented David LaMarche's piano playing. Exquisite, and the piano itself sounded incredible. My husband and I agreed this was our favorite piece of the evening.

I hadn't seen Theme and Variations in many years and when last seen it was NYCB. When the curtain rose I heard a mix of applause and chuckles - the effect of that much pink, purple, bows, crowns and sparkle was pretty over-the-top. With the fake chandeliers it looked a bit like a little girl's Barbie fantasy toy theater. City Center's stage was a bit small for so many dancers with such wide tutus. Sarah Lane displayed extremely secure technique, especially on those entwined balances, and she does look the right size for Herman, but coming right after the bevy of internationally renowned ballerinas in Overgrown Path I felt she suffered by comparison - a bit careful. Considering that Sarah Lane is new to the big leagues, I'm more than happy to see how she develops.

Herman Cornejo is always a dancer I look forward to, yet I didn't feel he seemed to have his usual brio this time. If someone were to tell me he was dancing with an illness last night, I wouldn't have been surprised to hear it. Someone upthread hinted he has had recent injuries; yet what I saw seemed to me to be more an off night for energy, less than for injury. Either way, hope he is back in finest form soon. After his astounding Albrecht in Giselle this summer, he became in my eyes the finest danseur of his generation (- to each their own)!

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I hadn't seen Theme and Variations in many years and when last seen it was NYCB. When the curtain rose I heard a mix of applause and chuckles - the effect of that much pink, purple, bows, crowns and sparkle was pretty over-the-top. With the fake chandeliers it looked a bit like a little girl's Barbie fantasy toy theater. City Center's stage was a bit small for so many dancers with such wide tutus. Sarah Lane displayed extremely secure technique, especially on those entwined balances, and she does look the right size for Herman, but coming right after the bevy of internationally renowned ballerinas in Overgrown Path I felt she suffered by comparison - a bit careful. Considering that Sarah Lane is new to the big leagues, I'm more than happy to see how she develops.

From reading these posts it seems that Lane seems to be becoming a love her or not dancer, much like Part. Interesting, I think her Theme was splendid, marred only by poor partnering. Cornejo has never been know for his partnering skills (short male dancer problem) and perhaps rehearsal time was lacking.

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I have tickets for Sun. mat. I just checked casting & Kajiya is doing Theme instead of Murphy. Oh No! I saw Kajiya in Ballo last year and thought her terribly miscast. Does anyone know what's up?

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