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Le Corsaire

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I went last night and had a great time. This will never be my favorite ballet but with ABT's roster of male stars it can be great fun, and last night it was.

First the ballerinas. I've never been a big fan of Maria Riccetto, and last year I was very disappointed in Nina's performances in DQ and SL so I was a little nervous sbout this casting. Riccetto was fine - her dancing lovely as always but as Gulnare she also had a personality and was fun to watch. As others pointed out, Nina was not the Nina of old, but I thought she was lovely as Medora. What a wonderful artist she is, totally believeable and charismatic. Her technique was more than good enough, but then she was partnered with Gomes and what ballerina wouldn't be at her best with him?

The men dazzled - Gomes made something special of Conrad, which can be a thankless role and it was a pleasure to watch him interact with Siimkin, Lopes and Carenno. Carenno has lost a step by now, but was there ever anyone who danced a more virile, less campy Ali? He was wonderful, and Simkin was a wonderful surprise. The youtube clips and gala perfomances made it obvious that he was a phenomenal technician, but it was great to see what a natural, commited actor he is - this guy has the whole package. He also seems to be a decent partner. I didn't feel the nervousness that I usually do when dancers like Cornejo or the young Sarafanov dance a pas de deux. Sarafanov manged to overcome his strength issues and while Siimkin's small stature means that there will always be partnering challenges to overcome he seems to take these responsibilities seriously and IMO is well on his way to becoming a solid partner for ABTs smallest ballerinas.

The Odalesques were Lane, Copeland and Kajiya and all 3 were lovely.

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I agree NYSusan - I was there yesterday evening too and what a fun early summer experience. Plus the weather was glorious! We enjoyed a cocktail and some people watching before the performance at the newly revamped Alice Tully Hall. It's a great place to see pre performance or post rehearsal dancers. Saw A. Corella pass by talking on his cell as well as other little bunheads already made up perhaps for the Jardin Anime. As to the performance - yes, LOTS of virility on stage between Carenno and Gomes. And I loved the touches Nina added to her fouettes like the attitude en devant and the girlish holding of the edge of her tutu. Who cares about triples when you have artistry! She seems like a genuinely lovely lady and her warm personality came through during the curtain calls. I really felt as if she was saying goodbye to the NY audience even if this wasn't her final performance of the season.

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I attended Wed night (Nina A), Friday (Reyes) and Sat Matinee.

The 3 casting were superb.

I already wrote about the Wed night performance so I will go straight to Friday/Sat matinee.

Reyes was a huge surprise for me. I like her because of her musicality and consitency as well as for being quite expressive but she kind of always run short for my taste. Well, not this time.

Her techique was very very sharp with one of the faster and shaper turns i ve seen, clean and perfectly executed.

She did give to the whole ballet a complete different meaning, astonishing beautiful pdd in the second act after the fireworks with Cornejo (despite the fact that Savaliev didnt do a decent job at partnering her, i just dont like him as a partner). Herman was so clean and perfect, it just cant get better than that, cant say enough about him.

I didnt particularly like M. Cooperland, I dont see her dance elegant and classical at all. She always looks fabulous in modern/contemporaty dance but i just dont see her dancing "tutu ballets".

On Saturday matinee, Irina D. just blew me away.

She is so damn talented !! I am really thrilled to see her again in such an amazing shape, havent seen her dancing like this for 2-3 years. Boy, her jetes and extensions were literally Svetlana Zk-like, her technique all over the ballet was top of the line, not to mention the italian fouettes that she executed perfectly and so high in the 3rd act.

She ended them up with a huge balance in a la second which she held for a few seconds, amazing.

In the pas de trois she nailed all the step with perfection and cleaness. She held a few balances in arabesque (real high too). In the pdd, she and Cory looked terrific.

Cory impressed me very very much. His line is so beautiful and his jumps are to die for.

He looked very well in command and secure, partnering Irina perfectly.

Corrella did an amazing Ali, much better and clean than the one he did in the opening night gala.

Irina seems to be back in great shape and decided to dance with such an energy. She also seems to finally be going for that extra in every performance, which in my opinion, is whats been keeping her from the great ones. She def has it all to be there.

Overall, I am quite impressed with the improvement in the dancing, especially the females principals.

I think it may probably be too fast to assume this is due to the arrival of Ratmansky or is it ?

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I also attended the Saturday matinee, and I agree with what Classic Ballet has already said. With all the casting changes, I ended up seeing the same "Le Corsaire" cast I saw last year. All the principals (except Jared Matthews) are even better than they were last year. Irina Dvorovenko did have a little bit of trouble during her fouettes. She must have overrotated a bit, and during the first half of the coda, she was wandering all over the place. At one point her head was facing backwards, which I had never seen before during fouettes. But then Irina got herself in gear, and the rest of her fouettes were perfection.

I was really hoping see Herman Cornejo in the role of the bazaar owener, but again I saw Jared Matthews. He was okay, but only just okay. He didn't make any obvious mistakes in his dancing, but he wasn't very exciting. His acting was considerably better than his dancing. Mikhail Ilyin was wonderful, both in his acting and his dancing. He has great leaps and turns, and was a very menancing Birbanto. I really think he should be promoted. Yuriko Kajiya was a really lovely Gulnare. She has wonderful extension, and the best use of her hands I've seen in quite a while. Yuriko was somewhat off in the solo sections of her pas de deux with Lankendem last year, and I am very impressed with her improvement.

Cory Stearns is making great strides forward in the role of Conrad. I also knew he was a good partner, but his solo dancing is getting much stronger. Stearns has great elevation with light soft landings. And he's really having fun with the role of the pirate leader. Last year, he was undoubably nervous, and had to mainly concentrate on his dancing. This year he was a very convincing Conrad, especially when he was letting the other pirates know he was the boss, not Birbanto. And Stearns has obvious chemistry with his partner, Irina Dvorovenko. To me Stearns is too tall for Sarah Lane, and too short for Michele Wiles, but just right for Dvorovenko.

But the highlight of the ballet (as always, for me anyway) was Angel Corella as Ali during the famous slave pas de trois. This is the fifth time I've seen Corella dance the role of Ali. But I think Corella just owns this part. It doesn't seem humanly possible, but Corella just gets better in this part every time I see him dance it. It's not just his scissors leaps, his incredibly fast pirouettes, and especialy those amazing turns a la seconde where he bends his supporitng leg while keeping time to the music. It's the incredible energy and joy of dancing Corella's every step shows. And he did this all while staying in character as Ali the slave.

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I got the impression that Dvorovenko's fouettes facing different parts of the stage were intentional--I saw her turn 1 1/4 times until she faced the front again and then she did them straight on. I thought it showed astounding control--a circus, but a tremendous one. Mary

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I didnt talk about Irina's fouettes since I wasnt sure if she did that on purpose or if it was that she had gone off in the middle of them. What really impressed me a lot was how she went back to her initial spot, then did the 1 1/4 turn to face the audience and then how she finished them so strong.

It seemed to me that she was in control about was was going on all the time, she didnt travel the stage or anything, it was a straight move to her right side, then back to initial position.

I thought that even if it wasnt on purpose, just the way she came back was pretty amazing.

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Dvorovenko is such a strong ballerina that maybe she did perform the fouettes intentionally. And if it was a mistake, I agree that it was amazing that she got back on track. I don't think the fouettes took away at all from Irina's wonderful performance. I just have never seen fouettes performed that way (and I've been attending the ballet regularly since 1980), so I thought I'd comment on them.

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