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ABT at City Center, Fall 2008

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I was there on tuesday, I don't have a lot to add but my 2 cents...


I thought David was fabulous, I'm not as familiar with the ballet as I should be, so I can't say if it was "true to the piece" but he looked fantastic.

I cannot warm up to Michelle Wiles. I don't really know why, but I don't enjoy her dancing. I thought the soloists were all lovely, and really enjoyed Leann Underwood, whom I don't really remember noticing before.


Why does Daniil Simkin have to look so young? I know he is young, but while he was stunning, I fear it will really limit him as a dancer. The only major role I can see him taking on is Romeo.

I thought Sarah Lane was very disappointing. She really doesn't interact with her partner. I thought she was very underpowered. She fell out of pirouettes and off pointe. Granted the only time I've seen this piece live before was with Osipova, so she had a lot to live up to, but she didn't even live up to her partner. I also thought their mugging for applause after their intro was embarrassing. They got applause, and kept milking it. People were hardly clapping and they just kept on taking bows. I know *I* was clapping just because it was so uncomfortable.

By the end they GOT the applause (and largely deserved it, at least he did), but the begging for it was unpleasant.

Overgrown Path:

I don't have a lot to say except that I very much enjoyed it and would have liked to see it more than once this season. But alas no. It was nice to see the principal dancers Paloma and Julie Kent integrating themselves and being so much a part of what is basically an ensemble piece.

Brief Fling:

I'd never seen this before, and I'm not always a huge tharp fan, but I really liked it! For one, the costumes are phenomenal!

Xiomara is not one of my favorite dancers, but I really enjoyed her here, she didn't mug, as I sometimes feel she does. I've been impressed with Maria Riccetto all season--she's not a big dancer and the smaller scale of city center really suits her I think. Misty was great, as, indeed she was all night. Someone said it was her night and I can't disagree. She danced 3 roles in 3 very different pieces and seemed totally committed to each.

I wish I could see this piece again too.

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I was there last night too..


I enjoyed david a lot, as most people here. His jump is just amazing, how beautiful !!

Michele did a decent job, not the best ballo ever but it was ok. At least this time I saw her going more with the music and enjoying a little more what she was doing, not just executing as some other times.

The soloist were really good. I especially liked the 4rth one, which was the only one that I didnt know who she was. When I looked at the program, it said: Lean Underwood. Its the second time that it happens to me with this girl. She did a fabulous 3rd shade in Bayadere last spring, I was very impressed, and I remember trying to

read the program in the middle of the darkness to find out who was that marvelous dancer.

How old is she ? boy, this girl seems to have a good future, she is taking every single opportunity that she is given, good for her !


I think Daniil Simkin was just incredible. More than the astonishing athleticism and the pyrotechnics that he showed last night, I was impressed with the tremendous control and the crazy-clean way he finished all the steps. Amazing !! thats control !!

Sarah didn’t really reach my expectations, although she didn’t do a bad job at all. To me, she is not a natural turner or a bravura dancer and next to Simkin in this pdd…he just swallowed her. She did fell off point, and as she has done before, she finished pretty weak a couple of times which leaves you a bad flavour, especially in a short piece like this. I agree about the "mugging for applause" mentioned before but I think is more a result of the inexperience of both of them.

Overgrown Path:

I enjoyed this cast way more than the other one (reyes, carreno, cornejo).

The all danced really well.

Brief Fling:

A lot of fun, loved it. Reyes danced strongly, as usual. My problem with her is her lack of line,

such short legs !! :)

I love to see her in R and Juliet, manon, even her kitri, but everytime i see her in tutu....it just doesnt look pretty. I also agree with the fact that her dancing is not pretty either.

Herman was great, as he always is. The partnership doesnt look bad but doesnt look great either.

I still see a lack of partnership skills on him.

Misty was incredible, she stole the show.

I like her so much more doing this kind of dancing than in classics !!

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Danil' Simkin is in danger of becoming ABT's answer to the Mariinsky's Leonid Sarafanov: the eternal baby-faced Solor. Sarafanov is a fabulous dancer, delightful personality and has, to his credit, improved 10-fold in his lifting capabilities since his early days in Kiev, then St Petersburg. Nonetheless, how many times, very recently, have many reviewers lamented the continuing 'teen-aged look' of this fabulous dancer who is pushing 30...as Sarafanov is now 27 or 28 yrs young?

Will this be Simkin at age 28, too? Credible as Basil and, perhaps, the 'juniorish prince' in Nutcracker, but not as Albrecht, Siegfried, Solor, Jean de Brienne, etc....dancing the competition solo 'Les Bourgeois' forever and ever? What I would love to see, some day, is Simkin (or Sarafanov) in principal roles that exist only in Russia & the former USSR: Ivanushka in Little Humpbacked Horse or Danil the Stone Cutter in The Stone Flower.

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>Reyes takes chances; Lane does not.

>I think it is part of a planning & execution problem...

>It's almost as if she feels that she has to do the most

>difficult thing she can all of the time in order, to prove

> herself - a problem that often afflicts young dancers.

Also someone wrote that Sarah is "not a natural turner."

I can't let these go without a response.

To that latter person I'll just say, based on what criteria? Have you ever taken class with Sarah? Did you see any of her three (so far) Themes in NYC? Theme is mostly all turns, fast ones, slower ones and lots of very fast footwork and transitions between all the turns. There is not one second's room for error.

If Sarah didn't take chances, she would have refused to be thrown into nearly every ballet she's done at ABT -- most with 2 or less rehearsals. They have called her from the street with 20 mins notice to dance a big part. If Sarah didn't take chances, she wouldn't go for the triple pirouettes and miss. She's very often not satisfied to take the easy way by just doing a safe double.

When was the last time you saw Reyes go for a triple?! Not even in DonQ when one can fall out of it very easily and flash a flirty, huffy, Kitri pose. In classes and rehearsals, Sarah often does 4-6 consistently. But performances have far greater pressures. In rehearsals you can stop the music and go back and fix something.

Sarah's not an Osipova. She never will be. Nobody is. Flames is a fantastic ballet for Osipova. Then again, I don't think Osipova would be right for Theme without a good year of serious rehearsals. Wish we were going to seeing her in difficult pas de deuxs (eg, Flames, DonQ, Corsaire) when she guests in the Spring, but so far Osipova's only cast for much easier roles.

I could have written dozens of things that went very wrong with Yuriko's Theme, but I didn't. She and Sarah (and a couple other up-and-comings) are just starting out, under the greatest pressure and competition. Try to appreciate what they are experiencing. Daniil was born dancing the tricks of DonQ and Flame. He'll have his pressures/challenges when he tries a part like Theme and/or Tchai pas.

Btw, Ferri, Jaffe, Markarova were all the worst turners, completely unnatural. Yet, we managed to love their dancing. I saw Markarova's first DonQ pas in NYC and in the coda she managed 8 fouettes before landing into the wings (from center stage). But she flew out the wings and ended the coda with the most gorgeous stag leaps. Markarova could do whatever she wanted.... The up-and-comings cannot.

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Just one thing.

I was the one who wrote that she is not a "natural turner" and I still think so.

First of all, you shouldnt take people's opinion so personal.

There is nothing wrong with not being a natural turner and you mentioned a few examples of that.

I am actually one of those who happens to like Sarah a lot and I do appreciate her dancing, which doesnt mean that I see everything perfect on her. Every ballerina has her own style, strenghts and weaknesses.

In fact, I think she could have a very bright future in abt.

FYI (and I may be wrong), to me a natural turner is Gillian or Michelle who can throw "in a performance" (not in a class) effortless triples finishing really strong. Thats all i meant.

(and btw I did see her themes and her SB and she had the same problems, which again doesnt mean

that she was bad or that she wont do better in the future).

The amount of rehearsals and so on...is a different issue which, in my opinion, is not what people are discussing here and is not even relevant to this forum. I think its pretty unfare to abt artistic direction to say here that Lane is been thrown in nearly every ballet with 2 or less rehearsals or with a 20 min notice, its just insane, lol.

You dont have to be an insider to know that its just not true. As a matter of fact, she was oficially announced in the cast for Theme...Flames (and SB) way ahead of time before the seasson began (or in SB before her debut in Cali)

and btw, my favorite abt ballerina (by far) is Veronika and as you know she doesnt throw triples fouettes at all (boy I wish, ha ha) but I dont need that, her artistry, line, beauty and so on...makes up for that and more....

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>I think it is part of a planning & execution problem...

>It's almost as if she feels that she has to do the most

>difficult thing she can all of the time in order, to prove

> herself - a problem that often afflicts young dancers.

I can't let these go without a response.

I said the above and think I was misunderstood. First of all I am a big fan of Lane's, I saw and very much enjoyed her Theme twice, wrote on this board my very positive impressions of her Sleeping Beauty, and am very disappointed that she isn't getting a shot at Ballo - still - There are times when I watch her I feel that as a young performer she doesn't always build her variations in a way that is satisfying. Example - 16th birthday variation in SB, I would have loved to see beautiful double pirouettes (finishing in an up position and then closing as Lane can do) and a triple at the end instead of trying to do all triples and finishing with the weakest turn. I saw the same thing kind of thing happen in Flames of Paris and in my opinion it is something Lane has to work on as she matures, in order to give fully satisfying performances.

Also, with all due respect as an audience member I do not care what someone does in rehearsal or class.

I do look forward to seeing Lane in many roles, I sometimes even base my ticket buying on seeing her name in the casting.

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Why I liked Citizen (to continue my report of the October 26th 1:30 PM performance):

Waiting for it to begin, I was mentally prepared to dislike the piece, given all the negative criticism it had received on BT and newspaper reviews. When the curtain came up, I first noticed Sarah Lane, trying not to wobble as she held fourth position plié en pointe, her opening pose. I need not describe the set, for others have done so, but I'd like to add that that the women were not wearing short shorts as others have said (at least not the kinds of short shorts I remember), but even briefer panties that were cut to skim the buttocks above the legs, a costume that might make some uncomfortable to move in for the amount of flesh it reveals. Sean Stewart, wearing the girly, gauzy top was in stark physical contrast to Cory Stearns in the green corset and silver/mesh capri-length tights, so much shorter and smaller than the tall, larger-bodied Stearns.

Lane, attired in the aforementioned underwear, also wore a bra with a corset-laced back, and long-sleeved fingerless gloves that covered most of her hands. Both Melissa Thomas and Devon Teuscher were in the brief briefs but had different tops, one which covered and one which left the midriff bare. So.... nonchalantly sexy, skin-exposing costuming for the ladies, and both men wearing women's clothing. AHA! It was the beginning of Halloween week! Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, this brief modern dance, with its witches' brew of strange happenings and weird flavor, worked out very well. It was clearly ABT's homage to the holiday. :wink:

I loved it when the "other people" came on stage. Sunday afternoon these folks included some Baker's Dozen dancers (who had just performed) still in costume, a few stagehands, and a man carrying a two-year-old little boy in his arms. How very Don Redlich, I thought. Next, I really loved the tiny gold glitter, especially at first, when the stage was dark, the falling flecks rendering a magical, mystical effect. Really beautiful. I don't remember too much about the dancing. Sarah Lane had many leg-turned-in pirouettes, there was off kilter balancing, sharply angled arm movements, and the neat ending where Lane, stepping slightly in front of the other dancers was finally separated from them by the descending curtain skimming her back as it lowered until she was standing alone in front of it, and, with inches of descent left, was yanked in a split second by unseen arms back behind it and out of view. I'm sure the effect was even better for those seated farther away than I was.

With my background being in modern dance as well as ballet, I had no expectations that Stallings' piece would be much of a ballet. Taken as a contemporary modern dance, I think it was not bad at all. Taken also as the effort of a youngish choreographer, I give Lauri credit for her audacity in exploration and fearlessness in working with well-known classical ballerinas and ballerinos and giving them such an utterly unballetic series of movements to do. I'd have been much too humbled at her age to attempt this on dancers of such caliber. With this kind of chutzpah, I'm eager to see what will be coming from Stallings in the future.

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I haven't been able to attend any of these performances, but reading the criticism here and criticism in other forums about theater and opera, it's a wonder that anyone in the city performs at all.

Regardless of what any of us think, there are no perfect performances. Even if we think we've seen a perfect performance, I'd wager that if you asked the performer, he would not say that he gave a perfect performance.

On another note:

Flames was designed for a female who's as strong as an ox...

While I understand the incredible strength and stamina required of dancers, the image of an ox dancing made me laugh.

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>it's a wonder that anyone in the city performs at all.

>there are no perfect performances.

>I'd wager that if you asked the performer, he would not say that he gave a perfect performance.

Outside of Havana, NYC audiences are also the most appreciative (applause/screaming) when anything is good. They generally have a fairly good understanding of what they are watching. I also strongly agree with you that performers rarely love their performances.... some nights are just better than others.

You're absolutely correct in saying nothing is ever perfect. Except perhaps when Gelsey danced, her early years.... I have never seen anybody else, so perfect, in so many roles. But I think she'd have been miscast in Flames. And Gelsey rarely put in multiple trick turns or for fouettes, etc. Does that mean she wasn't a natural turner?! Quite the opposite. And according to this website, Alina C. (of Royal Ballet) flubbed her attempts at triple turns during the filming of Sleeping Beauty. Does that mean she's not a natural turner? No. Some performances' tricks just work better than others.... timing, experience, luck!

Most of ABT's principal women now do multiple turns frequently. Not long ago they did not. Thirty-two single fouettes were considered plenty of a challenge. But the bar on tricks got raised by people like Gillian Murphy, Osipova and others. Then before long everyone was pushing their limits. I personally don't care about the tricks as much as the quality of an overall performance.

I am not going to rehash much more from the above post.... and I'm certainly not trying to win over new fans for Sarah. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But it really upsets me when people make grand conclusions that are premature and/or just incorrect.

It's an inaccurate assumption to think that just because casting is up that rehearsals for everyone have also started.

Of course, class and rehearsal are one thing, performances are quite another. In time I think you will see far better performances from Yuriko, Sarah and Cory, as they become more comfortable on stage in very demanding principal roles, and are also given ballets that present them at their best.

I purposely didn't bring up Veronika Part.... She is a gorgeous dancer in certain ballets, but she will never dance Theme or Flames (at ABT).... and she shouldn't. But that's why some other, younger, newer soloists are being pushed so hard to explore their limits and capabilities under great pressure.

Thanks for the lovely touch of humor re my ox comment. What can I say, I'm Russian and my mother was a farm girl... Kidding!! "Strong as an ox" was used by several Russian ballet teachers I've known.

Let's wish Yuriko and Sarah merde for this weekend!!!

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Why I liked Citizen (to continue my report of the October 26th 1:30 PM performance):

I loved it when the "other people" came on stage. Sunday afternoon these folks included some Baker's Dozen dancers (who had just performed) still in costume, a few stagehands, and a man carrying a two-year-old little boy in his arms. How very Don Redlich, I thought.

on sunday evening, David Hallberg and Marcelo Gomes (both in the next piece, Pillar of Fire) both came out too!

I liked that part as well

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I saw 'Lilac Garden' last night with Melissa Thomas and Veronika Part--two of my favorites. Part was superb as the other woman; she really 'nailed' the role. She could have been schooled by the Master himself. Thomas had the most youthful interpretation of the role of Caroline I have seen. The interpretation was a bit light-weight and hopefully more performances will reveal a greater depth. There was another 'Ballo' with Wiles and Hallberg. This ballet was so tailor-made for Merrill Ashley's gifts I have sympathy for any ballerina who takes it on. The Romeo & Juliet PDD was a tease..it would be wonderful if ABT restored the original work and used it as a centerpiece of its repertoire. There was a rousing finale of 'Company B' which had me tapping my feet throughout the performance.

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I saw the Wednesday and Thursday night performances (29th and 30th) which both included "Jardin aux Lilas" (both casts) and "Company B" (both casts). The other pieces included "Brief Fling", "Romeo and Juliet PDD" (Tudor) and "Ballo della Regina".

"Jardin aux Lilas" I had only seen before on the huge Met stage. This is a piece that really blooms in a space like City Center. The smaller stage and closer proximity to the audience helps get across the dramatic nuances but also the sense of being trapped in a beautiful but constricting public place. On the Met stage it looks flat and flimsy. First night had Julie Kent as Caroline with Corey Stearns as her lover and Roman Zhurbin and Kristi Boone as the Husband and Other Woman. Kent was lovely but I found her too emotionally restrained and calculated - a sense of desperation was missing. Julie pitched everything very small and contained. Kent seemed already resigned to her fate so tension was lost. On the next night, Melissa Thomas was much softer, younger and emotionally vulnerable. Corey Stearns was excellent as Kent's partner in her lost romance - very romantic presence (his curls were slicked down, looked gorgeous in the costume and white tights) and the dance demands were fully under his belt. He is better matched with slighter medium-sized ballerinas like Gillian and Julie rather than with amazons like Michele. Roman Zhurbin was nicely nuanced as the Man She Must Marry while Kristi Boone looked well but lacked a certain je ne sais quoi as the Other Woman. On Wednesday, newcomer from the corps Thomas Forster had a very anguished, tremulous quality as the lover partnering Melissa Thomas. Vitali Krauchenka looked impressive but lacked the acting nuances that Zhurbin had. Veronika Part had the European quality that Boone lacked and had lots of passion, hauteur, glamour and mystery. Superb new assumption challenging my memories of Martine Van Hamel in the role. On the Thursday evening - Part and Thomas got a rousing ovation from a very impressed and moved audience - including a mid-performance ovation at the moment where time stops and Caroline steps outside herself during her faint. The whole thing played better with greater warmth and propulsion on Thursday night.

"Company B" had some interesting assumptions in the second cast. Mikhail Ilyin had a more jerky jazzy body articulation than the lighter, jumpier Arron Scott in "Tico, Tico". Carlos Lopez was delightfully Harold Lloyd in "Oh, Johnny, oh Johnny, oh" and Nicola Curry had a lovely creamy dreamy phrasing in "I Can Dream Can't I?". Joseph Phillips was a technical dynamo in "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B". Nice work in bits by Roddy Doble and others. The Wednesday cast included Murphy, Cornejo, Salstein et al. Misty Copeland owns "Rum and Coca Cola". A cute little vignette in the row in front of me. There was a white-haired older lady with her teenaged granddaughter who was loving the Andrews Sisters songs. They obviously took her right back to her youth and happy times. She was quietly singing along with them and bopping her head to the rhythm as the granddaughter looked on wide-eyed. Finally the granddaughter laid her head on her grandmothers shoulder by the end of the ballet.

Wednesday night closed with Marcelo Gomes and Paloma Herrera in "Brief Fling" in the roles created by Julio Bocca and Cheryl Yeager back in the now distant year of 1990 during the last century of the last millenium. I found I only remembered the costumes from this ballet which I might have seen with a second cast in 1991. It also looks better on the City Center stage. The score is a fusion of modern score with electronic instruments with Percy Grainger. The dancing is also a fusion of classical ballet and funky modern dance colliding in the usual playful Tharp fashion. I found I liked it a lot. Gomes was virtuosic in a jumpy, turn intensive role created for a smaller dancer. He also was as playful and witty as Bocca could be. Paloma looked like she was having fun and had lots of speed and style. The combinations in their pas de deux seem to be a riff on the "Sleeping Beauty" pas de deux and rose adagio. Leading the stomping highland flingers were Craig Salstein and Luciana Paris in the funky modern dance roles.

Thursday night opened with "Ballo della Regina" which seemed to have better energy than opening night. One problem with Michele Wiles vs. Merrill Ashley (who I spotted in the lobby during intermission) is that Michele is like a head taller than Ashley is/was. Those intricate and difficult petite allegro jumping and turning moves will look clunky or sloppy on a bigger body with longer legs and feet. Michele who was coltish back in her soloist days is also filling out and looks womanly onstage. The whole body type and physicality are different. Michele however was incredibly strong and had lots of brio and attack but lacked subtlety and delicacy. David Hallberg was a classical dynamo in the male role despite some slightly wild pirouettes - he looked happy up there too. Very noteworthy were the four soloist women - Leann Underwood, Isabella Boylston, Kristi Boone and especially Simone Messmer - they were stunning.

The "Romeo and Juliet" pas de deux ("Romeo's Farewell") was very tantalizing since I have long wondered what this ballet looks like. ABT better get working on restoring the whole thing (the Nureyev and Doris Duke Foundations have the money for a worthwhile preservation project like this) since in a decade or two no one will remember the choreography. Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Saveliev were the lovers. I keep forgetting what a powerful emotional actress Reyes can be in a dramatic ballet and she was incredibly moving here. Saveliev was an ardent, attentive partner for her. Lets have the whole thing now Kevin, we're ready.

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Faux Pas, I agree with you about Veronika's performance last night in Lilac Garden. Every gesture and expression was meaningful and nuanced. The prior night, Kristi Boone's performance made little or no impact. I also found that M. Thomas' youth made the ballet much more tragic and moving than when Kent performed it. I enjoyed Kent's performance as well, but it was very different from M. Thomas.

Wiles and Hallberg looked better last night than on Tues.

I had never seen the Tudor R&J. I thought Genadi's interpretation was bland.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Tudor Gala

There was a sign warning that there'd be no intermission in the hour-and-a-half program. Very strange decision, given the greying sector of ABT's audience... At the end, 105 minutes later, it was such a true tribute to Gillian Murphy--whose Hagar earned a Swan Lake-like triumph from a roaring crowd--that (at least from where I sat in the mid-mezzanine) the exit doors mostly remained closed for quite a long while!

Films preceded each ballet, perhaps a good influence of Morphoses? The first dance was Continuo, staged by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner. While Tudor cheats by using Pachelbel's Canon, this was a winning lyrical piece for three couples. And Mr. McKenzie showed too-long missing courage in giving us an all corps cast: Nicole Graniero/Daniel Mantei, Zhong-Jing Fang/Kenneth Easter (subbing for Hammoudi) and Katherine Williams/Gray Davis. They all seized the moment to impress. And what a dancer this Katherine Williams is! A blonde beauty with a wondrously expressive, flexible back. Jardin aux Lilas followed, but not quite what it should be, when Caroline/Her Lover (Kent/Stearns) seem less passionate than Husband/ex-Mistress (Zhurbin/Boone)... Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Saveliev danced the bedroom PdD from the Tudor/Delius R + J. Back then I didn't like the whole ballet (had expected something like I'd seen the Bolshoi dance). But Xiomara really sold me on this! She definitely wasn't that other Juliet, but instead the fragile non-operatic one of Tudor. And so, when Romeo left, she stood aside the bed and did that little helpless foot-clicking hopeless hop, and onto the bed for that longing stretch to where her Romeo had gone. Mr. McKenzie just prior had told us that it would be hopelessly expensive to mount the whole ballet.

After the novelty old-star turn of Judgment of Paris, Kathleen Moore, Martine van Hamel, Bonnie Mathis, Kevin McKenzie, Victor Barbee, came The Real Thing.

The evening ended with Gillian Murphy's Hagar. A Pillar of Fire that made the point that ABT must not dump its Tudor rep. The sisters were Maria Bystrova, Gillian Murphy and Marian Butler. Marcelo Gomes, a master of villainy, was the exploitive neighbor, and David Hallberg was Hagar's dream-made-manifest. Who would have thought ABT's flashiest trickster (more than that, of course) would become THE great actress among its permanent principal dancers? Never a hint of histrionics, telling it all through Tudor's dance, one long riveting arc of power. The crowd must have made her think she'd just finished Odette-Odile. It takes a ballerina to save a choreographer. ABT here had one of each. Cherish them both.

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As for no intermission, I certainly could have used a chance to stretch

It was old home week in the audience, if there had been an intermission it probably would have taken some time to get people back in their seats. Maybe anticipating this, they were afraid of running into overtime for the crew.

It wasn't noted in the program, but Continuo was choreographed as a vehicle for students at Juilliard. It would make a very useful rep. piece for second tier companies. And yes, it was wonderful to see corps dancers given a chance to shine. The whole cast danced it beautifully.

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I went to today's Mat. and just want to say that I wanted to do damage to a couple of audience members. I was mid mez and the two women seated behind me and my husband talked quite loudly during Lilac Garden. My husband turned and asked them to please stop talking, and they looked at him as if he was crazy. They kept talking but at least lowered their voices. If they didn't want to see that ballet they should have stayed in the lobby.

There - I feel better!

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Sat. Mat.

And what about Eric Tamm's surprise (and unannounced :mad: ) debut in Ballo this afternoon??? Didn't the audience deserve to know that the male lead was not (as listed in the programs which had no correction slips?) Herman Cornejo? Well, Mr. Tamm danced commendably and partnered Yuriko Kajiya securely and caringly. Talk about being thrown into the flames! It did appear, in the finale, that he twisted an ankle, but he did not stint on a final series of grand jetes. Kajiya has added crispness to her attack in the legs -- good girl! -- but it does not appear to come organically from her torso. If she pulls it together with as much improvement as she's shown in the past year, she'll have it down pat.

Having a bus to catch out of town, I left after a rousing Tchaikovsky pas by a much improved and unmannered Michele Wiles and an uncharacteristically daredevil David Hallberg. Bravi! A great way to end (for me) what was an exceptionally exceptional, well programmed season that gave so many opportunities to deserving corps and soloist-rank dancers. I think it was Charlie Wiggins who used to proclaim of City Ballet, "It's a corps full of soloists." These days, ABT can make the same claim.

I've been slow in posting, and I'm away from home without my programs, but I'll try to fill in or embellish on my personal highlights which may have been glossed over or neglected by other posters (although I must say, there's darned little left uncovered).

Later. :)

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Sat. Mat.

And what about Eric Tamm's surprise (and unannounced :) ) debut in Ballo this afternoon??? Didn't the audience deserve to know that the male lead was not (as listed in the programs which had no correction slips?) Herman Cornejo? Well, Mr. Tamm danced commendably and partnered Yuriko Kajiya securely and caringly. Talk about being thrown into the flames! It did appear, in the finale, that he twisted an ankle, but he did not stint on a final series of grand jetes. Kajiya has added crispness to her attack in the legs -- good girl! -- but it does not appear to come organically from her torso. If she pulls it together with as much improvement as she's shown in the past year, she'll have it down pat.

Having a bus to catch out of town, I left after a rousing Tchaikovsky pas by a much improved and unmannered Michele Wiles and an uncharacteristically daredevil David Hallberg. Bravi! A great way to end (for me) what was an exceptionally exceptional, well programmed season that gave so many opportunities to deserving corps and soloist-rank dancers. I think it was Charlie Wiggins who used to proclaim of City Ballet, "It's a corps full of soloists." These days, ABT can make the same claim.

Later. :)

I had a slip in my program about Tamm & Kajiya. I agree Tamm did a commendable job. Unfortunately, Kajiya ruined the ballet for me. She just doesn't really do the steps. She fudges instead of hits cleanly, doesn't hit lines in the air quickly enough, and the way she angles her head and shoulders seems all wrong. Yes she is a lovely dancer in general but totally wrong for this ballet. In my opinion she shouldn't be cast in it. The audience response was tepid.

I loved Wiles & Hallberg particularly in the pas. The two hands going to one partnered turns were something. They are looking like a couple that dances together often. I appreciate that.

I was glad to see Lilac Garden again, after many years. What a masterpiece, only marred by the chatterboxes seated behind me.

Gomes was WOW in Brief Fling.

I look forward to reading other impressions of this and other performances. Again I thank everyone for their views and opinions, which sometimes make me take another look at mine.

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Sunday Nov. 2 matinee

Ballo: I agree with vipa that this is just not a good ballet for Yuriko. She was a bit too stiff and chilly. She doesn't seem to enjoy the risk taking and thrilling/speed challenges of Balanchine's choreography. To her credit, she did a good job, and she did dance it much better than last year, but it all seems forced rather than joyous. Yuriko's jumps are quite breathtaking and light if a bit slow to arrive on the beat.... Then again, the tempi was faster for Yuriko and Eric Tamm than it had been for Wiles and Hallberg. Hmm... I was surprised by that....

And then came Sarah with Daniil in Flames. I really dislike this circus of a pas, but both dancers were in top form today; better than during the debut... We already talked about why.... Some ballets do not improve but are harmed by overworking them with back-to-back drills. Daniil's turns and jumps today seemed more dangerously fun than last time. He had an extra sparkle and pride today, as did Sarah. Sarah also managed a controlled 4 pirouettes!!!! where the other night she didn't quite make the triple. This is ABT's future! I cannot wait to see what's next. I hope ABT will not wait too long to give these very fine dancers every opportunity they deserve.

I couldn't watch anything else after that radiantly youthful, joyful, hard-as-hell technique pas done with "delicious" razzle- dazzle quality.

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Forgot to say a bit about Eric Tamm. It's early on in his soloist/principal roles, but he has big, nice lines and he moves very well. He was also a very attentive partner. It may have been the tempi being a tad too fast, but Eric just needed to tighten up some of his ways of approaching steps.... have more command on stage.... but only now and then... and I think that'll come in time with some experience especially with difficult Balanchine ballets. He'll probably be one of the guys in Allegro Brilliante. I can't wait to see how they cast the men of that wonderful ballet in the Spring.

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Today's 1:30 performance (Nov. 2) began with Ballo and the slip of paper announcing Kajiya and Tamm in place of Murphy and Hallberg. I knew Gillian wouldn't be dancing as planned, but I was so looking forward to David in this. But no worries -- it's always exciting to see a new'un in a new role and I thought Eric Tamm was very, very good. Kajiya, too, after her troubled "Theme" a week ago (last Sunday's aft perf) was confident, strong, and bursting with energy. I was happy I saw her in a better light. When she got to that special Merrill Ashley variation, I looked at her very closely, Ashley's dancing running through my head. Allegra Kent was seated near me and I wondered what she was thinking, too. Kajiya tried her darndest, she really did, and without the knowledge of Merrill Ashley's precedent-setting performances, one could say Kajiya did very well indeed. Alas, we DO have knowledge of Miss Ashley's incomparable antecedent! It makes you treasure having seen Ashley do it all the more and place a higher value on her considerable ability with the special choreography of this piece. Of course, it was a collaboration with Balanchine, who simply incorporated the things Merrill Ashley could do, and she could do just about anything this ballet required. The speed! The precision of those hops! That unique 3-part drawing in of the leg from grand battement à la seconde to high passé!

But this review is supposed to be about Kajiya. I was pleasantly surprised at how pleasantly and surprisingly she danced today. With ease and showing beautiful lines, good elevation and a much better facial expression -- joyful! -- to replace that upper lip curl that looked almost like a sneer last week when she was dancing unsure. She is quite the sublime dancer. I'm glad that I can end my season of watching by saying so, that I was able to change my mind about her (even knowing she was thrown into "Theme" and had to make [really sour] lemonade). Yuriko, you were wonderful today and you have t--i--m--e to get better at things like Ballo. You certainly took the bull by the horns today. More power to you.

Eric Tamm -- such a fine danseur noble. He's been given so many opportunities this fall season and he is using them so well. He stepped up today, too. Most of his turns were straight, fast, and beautiful-looking. His line is gorgeous. He was an attentive, strong partner. He covered the stage with his leaps and was right on the music throughout. I can still see him in my mind's eye, so that makes him memorable, as well. :)

The corps was crisp, expansive, sprightly and long-limbed. My Isabella was there, so of course I watched her loveliness quite a lot of the time. Maria Bystrova stood out for me, too. It's a darn shame she grew so tall and big-boned for I think that's what's keeping her from being moved up. She was a darling, pixielike 15 year old who danced like a dream in all the cute little girl variations. I was so excited when she joined ABT. For years, I've been itching to scream at someone about her still being kept from showing us all she's got. The other females (Nicola, Zhong-Jing, Nicole, Melanie, Anne, Luciana, Jacquelyn, Christine, Leann, and Karen U.) each had their own personality as they danced and it was fun to identify them as they whizzed by. All were in good form, some in sensational form.

The four soloists -- Misty, Maria, Hee, and Marian -- were wonderful. I don't have a bone to pick with any of them. Sheer pleasure in beautiful costumes. Marian Butler is so pretty!

So, there you have my stream of consiousness report, and it took no time at all to write! LOL! I'm leaving for home tomorrow morning with my husband who arrived yesterday and performed elsewhere today. (I chose to come to the ballet one last time rather than go watch him sing!) This fall season has made an addict of me. I can't get enough, but at $116 a seat, twice at City Center (Bard was rock-bottom cheap for just as good a seat) was more than I could afford, so now it's time to hustle to pay the bills incurred by my trip to New York. I'll report back later about the rest of the program. Preview: My new corps favorite is Roddy Doble (who knew?!) in "Company B". He was fantastic! And Carlos Lopez! Could he BE any better? Wow!

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