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Balanchine-Tchaikovsky Spectacular, 2009

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Turning our memories away from Ms. Obama's dress (OK, I can't resist - I thought she looked like Jane Jetson in it, but I'll give her a pass because she was very busy that day and I just love that she and her husband recognize the importance of the arts. And she earned bonus points with that J Crew cardigan she wore in London), I went to Tuesday's performance of the Balanchine-Tchaikovsky program.

Allegro Brilliante - Corps needs to find its way a little bit more. It was the first performance, so I'm sure it will happen, like it did with Ballo last year. Murphy was crisp and clean. What I love to watch in her dancing is how polished every single step is. It's like Waterford Lead Crystal goblets. I was happy to see Stiefel on stage and in his native Balanchine.

Tchaikovsky pas de deux. A totally different take than the gala performance by Murphy and Stiefel. Murphy, in that, was again so brilliant (and I mean that in the way one discusses diamonds). The Times had the differences down to Murphy and Stiefel dancing just off the beat where Herrera and Gomes were just ahead. Frankly, I thought it was the other way around. Herrera in the beginning and during her first variation seemed just a little off the music, a little hurried. Her dancing seemed just a little small. But all that changed by the 2nd variation and her glorious dives into Gomes' arms at the very end. It was that daring that Murphy was missing that lifted Herrera to triumph. I'm sure Gomes, so pleasing on stage, should be given some credit in creating a secure arena in which Herrera was able to let loose. In contrast, Murphy was always in control in Allegro and in the Pas de Deux in the gala. More romance is needed in Allegro. Still, I delight in Murphy's control and in Herrera's risk-taking.

Part looks more comfortable in the opening of Mozartiana than she had when she first performed the ballet a few years ago, and she looked beautiful in it then. Her variations were somewhat spoiled by a too flirtatious countenance. She kept that mood for the pas de deux, which seemed out of place. However, Part seemed so much more relaxed on stage than she sometimes has in the past, when it seemed as if she felt every step was a test that, if she failed, she'd be back to performing big swans and Juliet's mother the rest of her career. The partnering looked a little under-rehearsed. Hopefully, things will be better in Saturday matinee's performance.

Some soft shell crabs were beckoning, so I skipped T&V.

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Ok....so far...week one for me:

1) I've already commented on the Gala in the Gala thread.

2) Then I attended Wednesday's matinee.

I loved Daniil's dancing in Allegro Brilliante. He seemed very nervous though with Reyes, and Reyes seemed completely wrong and very careful with Daniil. Reyes danced with too much caution while he danced with so much happiness and elegant, big technique. The partnering was pretty bad.... I felt that the uneven partnering probably kept Reyes from enjoying herself more. The corps was much, much better from Gala night with Simone Messmer and Joseph Phillips standing out (also in Thursday's demis of Theme) with the right style/technique for this ballet.

Then came Tchai pas with Jared Matthews and Misty Copeland. It quickly became a pas de quatre with Misty in a small, clingy, pink chiffon dress.........Definitely the wrong part for her except that she is technically so strong. She can dance anything well, but she often doesn't have the right feel or look. Jared, a pretty good partner, looked weak in his solos coming right after Daniil with just a pause between the two ballets.

Mozartiana was the longest I've ever sat through....Maria Riccetto was too fragile, dry and light for my taste.

Theme.... Well, as Carbro wrote on the "Cornejo" thread.... Herman was injured just before the performance began. Cory Stearns was thrown on with Sarah Lane, and although it was their dress (and only) rehearsal together at the performance, they both did a wonderful job. I've never seen Sarah dance better, and relate to her partner better than she did with the excellent, reliable partnering of Cory. He's no Cornejo in the technique department, but Cory did a pleasantly good job, and gosh is he handsome! Sarah was radiant, warm and so pretty, also calm, full of princessy, feminine grandeur. Her technique (excellent) surprised again and again with balances and sustained turns. She got a little tired by the end.... so did he.... from what must have been a terribly stressful situation. Of course, there were a couple of partnering bumps and imperfections, but it was overall a lovely ending to the matinee.

I hope Sarah and Cory will get another chance together this coming Monday, the 25th - even though he is a bit too tall for her. (My computer is playing tricks on me -- one look at ABT's calendar and Sarah is cast to do Theme with Daniil (he's not ready partner-wise) and then at the next look Cory's name is there. We'll see.....). I want Daniil to do all the solos and Cory to do all the partnering!!!! I can dream, can't I??!!

3) I also went to Thursday's performance, mainly to see Irina D. in Allegro Brilliante, and she was fabulous!!! She's in top shape and seemed to really love this ballet. What's not to love!?!!! Irina had the perfect blend of gorgeous lines, abandon in movement, flash, ginch, goo, and attack in all the right places. She was stunningly perfect! Irina's maturity also added a special flavor she hasn't had yet for a role like this. I loved her!!! What a season she is having so far! The orchestra and pianist were brilliante too. Irina gave a rose to the pianist and acknowledged the well-deserved orchestra in her final bow. Maxim was very good, and an excellent partner, but not in the same dancer league as Irina. I'm really noticing the importance of good partners this season.... Without Max, I don't think Irina would have delivered such a fine, risk-taking performance.

Tchai pas was over sold, too hammy, too overbaked, and so far away from what I like about the freshness of this pas de deux. Reyes and Corella were the energizer-bunnies for sure, and I loved moments of their attack including the fishdives, but overall it was not for me.

I skipped a second viewing of Mozartiana with Riccetto.

Theme with Yuriko and Cory.... didn't work, although there were no major mistakes except one or two missed turns and sets of beats and loose footwork on Yuriko's side. But there also was no chemistry. It was a safe run through.... Yuriko seemed so unnatural and uncomfortable in the part. She did most of the steps well, but they lacked any real connection to the music. Cory certainly seems to be the favorite partner of ballerinas for Theme this season! His solos have improved as well from performance to performance since last City Center.

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I was at the performances last night and tonight. What most stands out is how absolutely stunning Hee Seo is looking (these nights, in featured corps roles). With a million-dollar smile and brimming with charisma, she looks like a star. I can't wait to see her in... well, especially in the three principal roles she's taking on this season, but really, I'm glad to see her in anything!

Blaine Hoven did Mozartiana both nights (with Riccetto last night and tonight, replacing Belosoverkovsky, with Part). He also was a tremendous pleasure to watch.

I enjoyed the Kajiya/Stearns Theme & Variations.

Also, surprisingly, I loved Gomes and Herrera tonight in Tchaikovsky pdd. I always love Gomes, but Herrera is someone I have repeatedly been disappointed in over several years. Tonight, however, a different story. Engaged, committed, and she and Gomes looked like they were having a grand time. And, of course, they delivered a spectacular, very crowd-pleasing performance.

I wish someone would report on the Copeland/Matthews Tchaikovsky pas de deux. I'd love to see Misty in it, but I'm a little less certain about how Matthews will fare. Any reports?

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Have to agree with sz about Irina Dvorovenko in AB Thursday night. I have this view of her from past years as someone I find too showy, but more recently she keeps surprising me with how mesmerizing she is. I thought last night, "she's the unsung hero of the ABT female principal contingent." I don't know how "unsung" she really is, but anyway, that was my thought.

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I was at the Wednesday evening program and went tonight, Friday.

Allegro Brillante:

5/20 - Paloma always looks best in Balanchine and modern choreography (did she go to the wrong company after SAB?). Very secure multiple pirouettes and a lovely sense of line. Corey Stearns was cast in a non-flashy cavalier role that showed off his elegant line, lovely legs and feet and already accomplished partnering skills. Seeing him up there made me very happy that Kevin is promoting him and this seemed exactly the right assignment for him now. He was not asked to compete with the international powerhouse male virtuosos in a slam bang bravura role and no acting was required. However, he really seemed to lead the corps of men (the male lead does most of his solo dancing with the corps). He looked like a star and they looked like very good support. He is coming along well.

5/22 - Gillian and Ethan both looked overjoyed to be on that stage and in that ballet. Both were exuberant and very giving. The corps picked up on their energy and had greater attack and speed and glitches were gone. The piece thanks to the two leads seemed truly allegro in speed and brillante in spirits. Of course Gillian is a strong turner and her unsupported multiple pirouettes were terrific as were Palomas. Ethan had a role that paced him well not punishing his joints with sustained jumps and turns. He was bouyant and joyous and seemed the ballerina's true equal, not just her cavalier. Each ballet on Friday had a sense that opening night nerves were gone, the corps had settled in, the leads were fresh and on form and were giving a little extra.

Tchaikovsky PDD:

5/20 - Michele Wiles and David Hallberg. Michele also had a little pas de quatre action going on in the upper body articulation but was in lovely form. She seemed almost a personification of Spring suddenly upon us with a glowing smile and radiant phrasing. Both David and Michele radiated great happiness in the piece. David made up for less than feather light batterie by putting lots of ballon into his jumps which were very high and soaring. The audience ate him up.

5/22 - One again Paloma showed that Balanchine is natural terrain for her. Working with Marcelo allowed her to be extra daredevil with the fishdive catches really throwing herself into them at the last minute knowing he would be there for her no matter what. Paloma had great speed which sometimes she loses. Paloma's great strength was her turns which now she is matched and even surpassed in by Gillian. She has had to find new ways to define herself and that is difficult. Marcelo put extra work into his spins and the audience went crazy for him.


5/20 Nina Ananiasvili and Angel Corella with Craig Salstein - all three dancers are big personalities and natural hams. Nina performed the Preghiera with a mournful "Giselle as Wili bidding farewell to Albrecht" or "Odette mourning her fate" face. It was rather overdramatic and un-Balanchinean. Craig Salstein seemed a character like Sganarelle of Moliere in the Gigue but his playful energy and natural wit suited the choreography and the music. Angel was also selling the piece hard with a big sunny smile and "look at this" star projection. However his quickness and articulation of the complex choreography cannot be denied and he radiated generosity to his partner. Nina lost her drama queen persona and became playful even mischievous - Angel seemed to snap her out of it. The quick footwork with many changes of direction were well-handled. Her footwork was still deft but I have noticed that she is more dependent on her partners lately - an unsupported pirouette nearly went out of control except for a speedy save by Angel who stepped in quickly to support her. Certainly this was fine dancing but the Balanchine style was lost a bit. However, Nina's first appearance made me already miss her - I can forgive her anything.

5/22 - Veronika Part, Blaine Hoven (replacing Beloserkovsky) and Carlos Lopez. Oddly, Veronika was all radiant happiness and smiled almost all evening! No grieving spirit she during the Preghiera - this was a joyful prayer of thanks (Thank you God, I am now finally a principal ballerina!). Veronika's cooler, less histrionic but elegant persona seemed to fit the Balanchine style well. Despite the unfamiliar partner, Veronika seemed very sure of herself also happy to be onstage. She even experimented with some off-kilter turns a la Suzanne Farrell going off center in a few places deliberately and confidently. I was worried that she would fudge the many directional turns and small steps but she was quite articulate and only slightly muffed the end of a series of repeated turns and there only at the very end. She definitely looked prima ballerina and each ballerina was in top form this evening. Blaine Hoven seemed plenty tall and strong enough to handle his newly confident ballerina though he is looking very muscular which is neither good nor bad. He definitely also scored in the articulation department with quick turns and footwork. (Per second-hand report Maxim Beloserkovsky rather missed some of the quick articulation on Tuesday being a naturally lyrical long-lined danseur noble) Carlos Lopez looked recovered to his pre-injury form and was less puckish than Salstein though still light and witty. The ballet was less dramatic but more recognizably Balanchine.

Theme and Variations:

5/20 Okay, I should be really tired of this ballet but I didn't regret seeing Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes dance it. Gillian carried her role with real aplomb and Marcelo is a superb partner but also really nailed his solos. The corps looked more on than earlier in the evening. Good performance, no real weird or quirky or bad moments to report.

5/22 - David Hallberg is a GOD. Gorgeous feet but we knew that. Gorgeous multiple turns and perfect landings. Gallant and handsome. Michele Wiles looking good and really seemed to own the role. Firm footwork and making each moment count. Really giving some flash and sparkle at the end. Another good performance.

Just an overall note - everyone seems rested and looked in grand form for the opening of the season. I was told by those that had seen Tuesday's opening night of the Tchaikovsky Balanchine bill that every dancer and every ballet looked better on Friday night though the casts were nearly identical. Tuesday was supposedly poorly attended and had that sophomore slump aspect coming right after the glitzy Opening Night Gala. Also Veronika seems to have been different in "Mozartiana" each night adding something different and trying new things.

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I saw Saturday's matinee and Danil Simkin in Allegro did not disappoint. An outstanding danseur noble in the making. What a joy to behold--such expansiveness--he commanded the whole stage and gave constant attention to his partner even when watching her from the sides. (his resemblance to Baryshnikov does not hurt :D ) I saw Misty Copeland's Tchai PDD at the dress rehearsal and also today and thought she triumphed both in style and technique. I am still marveling at Veronika Part's Mozartiana. No one, and I mean NO ONE equals her use of the upper body in this work--the port de bras--the 'back'---intoxicating. The problem with T&V is that it requires an established Ballerina---not a soloist. Lest we forget it was created for Alicia Alonso at the height of her technique and artistry. As Dale pointed out, there seems to be too much smiling in all of these works. Part was properly solemn in the Preghiera but too flirtacious in the PDD---also Reyes and Kajiya could not stop smiling---could this be what the Artistic Director requires of them?

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This is my second review on BT so I'm still nervous to write on here! Thanks for all the nice reviews. I enjoy reading them.

I attended the Balanchine Tchaikovsky Spectacular on 5/19. First of all, I had a very large head in front of me and I am hoping that this person does not have the same Tuesday subscription that I do. If so, I will have to get one of those red velvet pillows to see next time.

AB - I really enjoyed Murphy in this. What stood out the most for me was her crisp and clean triple pirouettes that were perfectly timed with the music. Her bright red hair looked nice with her peachy pink silk dress, although I thought it was going to be an odd combination. Her variation was very well done and her petit allegro is so energetic and entertaining to watch. I will say though that I wish she would open her eyes wider and smile a little more. She looked too serious at times, but I guess that is her. Ethan really stood out to me, not only for his stage presence and beautiful dancing, but also for his obvious mastery of Balanchine ballets. I did not particularly enjoy the corps and felt they looked a little disconnected. The corps men danced well in general but not necessarily well for a Balanchine ballet.

Tchai Pas - Marcelo Gomes was absolutely wonderful in this, most notably as a partner. I think that he just keeps getting better and better every season and is at the top of his game. Even though I like him better in the story ballets, I thought he was excellent in Tchai Pas. Paloma wowed the audience with her daring fish dives and quick turns. It seemed that she was a little off music tonight, like speeding up and rushing at times. I am not her number one fan and I always seem to just stare at her legs and feet, which I can't complain about, but it can get boring. Herrera and Gomes danced so well together though and it was definitely the highlight of this piece, watching their partnership.

Mozartiana - no comment. From now on, I'll stick to watching City Ballet perform this.

T&V - This was my first time seeing Wiles in this ballet. I didn't like it much. Wiles has really nice footwork, technique, and turns but her upper body doesn't do it for me. Maybe she just needs to perform these ballets more. I'm not sure what it is but I found her to be rather boring. I loved the corps though. The costumes always surprise me when the curtain goes up as if I've never seen them before. I especially liked Marian Butler. Her technique is solid and she leads the corps well. She also has a great smile!

In response to an earlier post about Kajiya in this role...I've seen her do it once with Hallberg and it doesn't seem like the right ballet for her. She executes all of the steps just fine but something huge is missing, not sure what. I wonder why she keeps dancing the lead in T&V, not that she doesn't deserve it, but I feel like there are so many other roles that she is much better suited for.

Thanks and that's my review! Please correct me if I went against any of the ballet talk rules.

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I saw the Monday afternoon and agree very much with the review by SZ. By the way, there were a lot of children in the audience because you could get a free ticket for a child when you bought a ticket. What a great idea. From where I sat - dress circle - it looked like a pretty full house and the audience was very appreciative.

I so agree with everything SZ said about Irina D. in Allegro Brillante. She was fabulous. This is a dancer who I have pretty much avoided since seeing her black swan ppd a few years ago (I thought it overly mannered without any subtlety). Today, as soon as she entered, I knew I was in for a treat. She was musical, glamorous and had totally assured technique with all the speed and sharpness needed. There were magical moments, as when in one long arabesque balance she started in a low arabesque and lifted her leg and focus as the music swelled. Just glorious. I want to add that Max's partnering was perfection and the eight corps dancers were right on. The ballet was exceptionally well danced by all.

Tchpdd with Vishneva & Corella was fun. I've seen the pas many times and this won't go on my list of all time favorites, but fun none the less. She looked like she was having the time of her life! He seems to like very brisk tempi for his solos, which for me are sometimes too fast. They don't allow any breathe and the beauty of landings do not register. Non the less he gave a virtuoso performance and did some flashy a la second turns (throwing jumps in) that were pretty spectacular - the crowd loved it.

I also agree with SZ that this was the longest Mozartiana that I've ever sat through, and I am a fan of that ballet. Blaine Hoven showed us just how difficult the male role is. He struggled from beginning to end. Maria R. is just too dry and seemingly unimaginative for me. She did the steps but there was no sense of wit in her presentation; there was no life in her phrasing.

Theme with Lane & Stearns - I went in with a bad attitude because I wanted to see Cornejo!! I was pleasantly surprised by Stearns. That ballet is a mine field for both the man and the woman, but he did well. I look forward to seeing him develop in it. Although he is a bit big for Lane, I thought they related to one another uncommonly well in the pas. This is something often missing from this ballet. I noticed something for the first time (I've seen this ballet a lot). He does a beautiful little bow to her as the pas starts, and she responds. It was a lovely gesture brought to life. Sarah L. I believe has the makings of a ballerina. Yes there were moments here and there when you wished she held something a bit longer or finished a turn more fully, but there were so, so many moments when her dancing just took off. She played with the music and phrased things in a refreshing way. Her line is beautiful (amazing for such a short dancer), and her presentation has warmth and authority. Her dancing is bigger and fuller than before.

I'd love to hear from others that were there.

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And I agree with Vipa!!

It was a very well sold-out orchestra and first ring today, as it was last Wednesday. I wasn't expecting that, but of course I was happily surprised. I went to part of NYCB's matinee yesterday and there were far more empty seats. Sigh... Tiler Peck was FANTASTIC in Fall of Four Seasons.

Just a quick sum of today's at ABT...

Irina D. was as fabulous as she was last Wednesday. I just loved watching her again.

A. Corella was better today in Tchai pas; he seemed to be more focused on his technique this time which left less energy for overdoing the hamming. Vishneya was a lot of fun, full of brillant energy, but she also left out some of choreography, taking short cuts, and was a bit too wild with her arms. Otherwise, Vishneya was a lovely, Russian ballerina. Her fouettes were especially gorgeous - not because of the number or because of multiple additions but because they had such quality,ease and lines, and they fit so perfectly with the music. The ending of the fouette series was especially beautifu, the way she ended the turns and rotated to upstage to join her partner for the jumps and final fishdives. I agree the orchestra tempi was a bit too fast for Corella's solos.

Theme.... was not as spontaneous as it was last Wednesday for Sarah or for Cory. Typical results from young dancers after a day off?!... Sarah did not take as many risks in her solos this time, and neither did he, but, yes, the chemisty, musicality, and regal beauty were there in abundance. They really seem to love dancing with each other.

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I was there on May 23rd.

Paloma Herrera and Cory Stearns showcased excellent technique in AB, all poses and movements looked precise and elegant.

David Hallberg was dancing instead of injured Herman Cornejo in Chaikovsky PDD. He was almost breathtaking! Although him and Xiomara Reyes, in my opinion, do not make perfect partners - their PDD was very special and memorable.

Mozartiana with Nina Ananiashvili, Angel Corella and Graig Salstein did not seemed long to me. Their performance did not create big picture for me, but rather several little peices which were beautiful, but did not nessesary connect with each other.

T&V with Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes and corps de ballet was a highlight of the evening!

Overall impression of the May 23 performance - there was lots of good energy in the air, you could feel that dancers are excited to do this program. :)

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Saying something was very long implies that it was on the dull side........

Nina may not be in her best shape this season but she is never dull.... neither is Angel...

What a strange pairing, David Hallberg with Xiomara Reyes. Also I don't think I've ever seen Hallberg dance Tchai pas, but I can well imagine he was all noble beauty and gorgeous lines.

Indeed, ABT came up with a brilliantly beautiful idea, the Tchai-Balanchine celebration program! They should do it again in the Fall at City Center with a new bunch of Mr. B's best ballets.

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Saying something was very long implies that it was on the dull side........

Nina may not be in her best shape this season but she is never dull.... neither is Angel...

What a strange pairing, David Hallberg with Xiomara Reyes. Also I don't think I've ever seen Hallberg dance Tchai pas,

but I can well imagine he was all noble beauty and gorgeous lines.

Indeed, ABT came up with a brilliantly beautiful idea, the Tchai-Balanchine celebration program! They should do it again in the Fall at City Center with a new bunch of Mr. B's best ballets.

I agree that the programming idea was a winner with the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky. It certainly showed a wonderful range of work from the genius of Balanchine. While City Center would be a bit small for this, I would love to see ABT dance the glorious "Symphony in C" (it would show better at the Met) But what a showcase for all the dancers of this company. With it's four sections (movements), it would keep the casting people busy for days, while affording us, the audience an opportunity to see all the levels that this company can field. One can dream!


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<<Indeed, ABT came up with a brilliantly beautiful idea, the Tchai-Balanchine celebration program! They should do it again in the Fall at City Center with a new bunch of Mr. B's best ballets.>>

I would much prefer for them to maintain their Fall focus on Tudor rather than to stage "a new bunch of Mr. B's best ballets." If they're to that point, then they should just merge w/ City Ballet to create one mega-Balanchine company and be done with it.

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>I would much prefer for them to maintain their Fall focus on Tudor rather than to stage

>"a new bunch of Mr. B's best ballets."

They have two weeks! One week could be Tudor! I wonder how that would sell....

>If they're to that point, then they should just merge w/ City Ballet to create one

>mega-Balanchine company and be done with it.

Now there's another good idea!!!! Kidding.....

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I saw the Tchai-Balanchine Spectacular on Tues, Wed eve, Thurs and Mon.matinee yesterday. I enjoyed all performances of Allegro Brilliante and Tchai pdd. I especially loved D. Vishneva at the Mon matinee. Corella was also incredible. I didn't love any of the Mozartiana casts, and I think I prefer seeing it at NYCB. V. Part had beautiful upper body movements, but I felt that she fudged the difficult footwork passages on Tues evening. I couldn't stand the overly melodramatic presentation of Nina A. in the opening prayer. She's supposed to be in prayer, not in mourning. It was very distracting in a bad way. She did better in the difficult footwork than Part. Corella fully articulated all the difficult footwork and changes in direction. Maxim, in the prior evening's performance, did not. Worst of all was B. Hoven, who was leaden and effortful. He made numerous mistakes in executing the choreography on Monday afternoon. His technique definitely needs improvement if he is going to be cast in leading roles like this. Maria Ricetto was bland, but she did a respectable job. I have to agree with the posts above that the Mozartianas felt interminable. Was the reason that the orchestra played at a snails pace? I think my favorite cast of T&V was G. Murphy with Gomes. Sarah Lane, in my opinion, also did a wonderful job at the Mon afternoon performance. Cory Stearns had some difficulty in his solo, but he was a very fine partner. The Mon. matinee was loaded with little kids because of the special deal that ABT offered on kids tickets. There were some minor crying outbursts in the balcony (where I was seated) but nothing too horrible. Onwards to Le Corsaire. Casting has been updated. Cornejo is replaced tonight by Simkin. Hopefully Cornejo will return soon.

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