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ABT at Avery Fisher Hall --


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A fantastic evening tonight as ABT performed for the First time next door in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. For non-New Yorkers, AFH is the Philharmonic hall of LC, it has a permanent orchestral shell and a trapezoidal shaped stage. No Preocenium as well, so the audience watched the dancers warm up and practice. Special lighting and speakers were brought in over the stage area.

My Comments:

Lighting: Perfect and well done Kudos to the stage hands!

Sound: Could use a little more oomph, sound was weak from the back of the house.

Seats: AVH seats certainly are not like MOH, not very comfy. Good sight lines.

1st piece: Seven Sonatas

Choreo Alexi Ratmanski

Music: Domenico Scarletti

Costumes: Holly Hynes

Lights: Brad Fields

Piano: Barbara Bilach

Dancers:

Abrera, Reyes, Kent

Saveliev, Cornejo, Hornberg

Nice piece, Cornejo danced with Athleticsm Julie Kent was lovely

Costumes were all white but no two were identical, nicest costumes of the evening

Short section had the men holding hands and dancing, I don't think I've seen that before

Very Lyrical piece that flowed well

2nd piece: One of Three

Choreo: Azsure Barton

Music: Ravel (Violin Sonata in G)

Costumes: Yannik Larivee

Not my favorite piece, First section was elegent, the men in suits flirting with Murphy in a long gown, best of the three.

In the next section the Men took their jackets off and pulled out their shir tails, it looked sloppy. The last section they put their jackets back on and still looked sloppy. Paloma wore a one piece suit that was ok, but did not reflect the music or dancing very well.

3rd Piece:

The Dying Swan

Choreo: Fokine

Music: Saint-Saens

Veronica Part did a magnificent job, Arms and hands were beautiful, she is very talented.

This was the *only* Female-majority piece of the whole evening, ABT has great Male dancers and this was a great showcase for them.

Cellist missed a note, come across as very flat.

Final Piece:

Everything Doesn't Happen at Once

Choreo: Benjamin Millipied

Music: David Lang

Costumes: Karen Young

Lighting: Brad Fields

Mini Orchestra in the back on a small platform: Violin,Cello, Piccolo, Clarinet, Piano, Percussion. Good job gents!

WOW!!!! Most of the company was in this piece, Amazing Pas de Deux by Gomes and Boylston! Simkin was amazing! The Partnering was very slow, but wonderful. Choreo was great! I want to see this again! One small section was all women, another was Simkin and the women, were they jealous of his dancing when they threw him off stage?

Crew placed a square of White Marley on the floor, lighting was from above, and behind using Xenon light bulbs for a "bluish-white look" and Incandescent bulbs used for certain pieces. Lighting design was excellent!

Costumes were black shorts and open vests on the men, and black leos on the women. nice to see a ballet without tights and frilly pink stuff.

Very enjoyable evening.

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Lighting: Perfect and well done Kudos to the stage hands!

...

WOW!!!! Most of the company was in this piece, Amazing Pas de Deux by Gomes and Boylston! Simkin was amazing! ....

Crew placed a square of White Marley on the floor, lighting was from above, and behind using Xenon light bulbs for a "bluish-white look" and Incandescent bulbs used for certain pieces. Lighting design was excellent!....

As noted, the Millepied piece intended to make the most of the lighting. The white material taped to a large portion of the stage highlighted the lighting effects. To me, the lighting effects were a little too obvious. For example, with respect to the Gomes/Boylston pas de deux, at one point, the lighting jumps dramatically to only a portion of the large white material being lit, with the remainder of the original white rectangle being cast in shadow. Then, to an even smaller rectangle being lit. At one point, Gomes or Bolyston might be standing close to the periphery of the area that is lit. As another example, there is speckled lighting (not dots, but a large expanse of modern-looking, combined black and white patterns in the light) used at one of the points when there are a lot of dancers moving across the stage. The lighting augments the feeling of dynamism and kinetic energy conveyed during the scene. I would say the lighting was certainly obvious in the piece. But to me it was a "hit you in the face" type of approach to lighting.

The costumes in Millepied's piece were quite nice-looking. The men's costumes revealed their chests, as they consisted of modern-looking black vests that swung around a bit, with no shirt underneath. Instead of a "V" shaped made by the neckline in front or a straight edge there, there was a straight edge and then, halfway down the best, another straight edge to the vest, but much further "in". Maybe somebody else can describe this better? Gomes was the only danseur that did not seem to feel the need to achieve a closely shaved effect. The revealing vests also showed that, continuing a trend that already had begun earlier this season at the Met, Blaine Hoven's physique has bulked up for the worse. He has lost some beauty of his line, and he seems like the most "gym-bulked-up" danseur out there. Also, Hoven's current hairstyle and hair color are not flattering. Hoven and, more than him, Simkin have more significant roles (after Gomes of course) relative to the other danseurs.

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I thought Avery Fisher was actually a nice place to host ABT. It was cozy and I had no problem seeing anything (I was in row N; Orchestra).

As MJ said, the evening was fantastic. And it was so much fun to see so many ballet stars (from other companies).

SEVEN SONATAS (Ratmansky)

I liked this ballet a lot.

Outstanding dancers were Hallberg (when isn't he incredible?), Cornejo, Julie Kent (so good to see her back). Stella Abrera, Xiomara (a favorite), Gennadi Saveliev were all good too.

I loved the music.

ONE OF THREE (Barton)

Didn't like this ballet at all. However the dancers were excellent particularly Misty Copeland, Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Cory Stearns, Eric Tamm, Carlos Lopez, Jared Matthews (and the others were good too!).

I did love the music (I'm a huge fan of Ravel).

THE DYING SWAN

Veronika!!! The only bad thing is that the excerpt was less than 5 minutes. She is simply stunning.

EVERYTHING DOESN"T HAPPEN AT ONCE (Millepied)

Marcelo was brillliant. Isabella was excellent!

I also loved Kristi Boone, Maria Riccetto, Alexander Hammoudi, Blaine Hoven, Leanna Underwood, Marian Butler andothers.

But the standout -- was (no question) -- the brilliant beyond words Danil Simkin.

Gorgeous technique, jumps, stage presence and more. He's not a show off either.

Danil -- you rock!

Bravo Ben! As much as I love him as a NYCB principal (and I do), he's a choreographer to rival the fantastic Chris Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky.

I can't wait to see this program again on Sat. and Sat. night.

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Some aspects of Millepied's choreography:

(1) The Gomes/Boylston pas de deux involved, at some points, the two dancers stretching out their palms, and putting them together in modern-looking ways.

(2) After a group introductory segment, it is Maria Ricccetto with two danseurs for a little while. Initially, they lift her in a slanted position off the ground while she is positioning herself in different ways in a nice looking and modern looking manner (e.g., pretending to "walk" in the air slowly, by moving her legs in a stretched way above the ground).

(3) The first group piece begins with all the dancers in this piece lined up along the three "edges" of the large rectangular area that has been taped down in white, at regular intervals. The only "edge" of the rectangle (if one looks at the stage as being a larger rectangle) is the edge closest to the audience. Then, Blaine Hoven leads a small group that was standing on the side opposite the audience and that includes Boylston, but may have excluded Gomes, through the first steps by moving forward towards the audience. The rest of the dancers, positioned on the left and right sides of the rectangle that is formed by the large white taped down area are initially not moving. They are the so-called "pillars", made of human beings, that Millepied talked about in the NYT article from a few days ago. He had to deal with exits and entrances in Avery Fisher and that is part of how he dealt with that.

(4) At one point, in the second half of the work, Millepied has dancers in large numbers almost "marching" (almost; it is walking, with a distinct tempo) along certain edges of the white taped down portion of the stage. This, while a smaller number of dancers are performing other steps. At one point, there are two "groups" of such "marching" dancers moving in different directions.

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THE DYING SWAN

Veronika!!! The only bad thing is that the excerpt was less than 5 minutes. She is simply stunning.

That was not an excerpt. That was Fokine's Dying Swan in its entirety.

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THE DYING SWAN

Veronika!!! The only bad thing is that the excerpt was less than 5 minutes. She is simply stunning.

That was not an excerpt. That was Fokine's Dying Swan in its entirety.

Sorry, Abatt. I wasn't familiar with that piece so didn't know.

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I don't want to be critical of Veronica Part when I feel ambivalent about why I don't like her dancing (her dancing or her larger-framed body type and lack of lightness, not that this piece demanded lightness). But didn't Part look more like a diva melodramatically "preening" and "overacting" a fake anguish, than a swan suffering a fragile, vulnerable and dignified death (not that I know what Dying Swan is intended to invoke, but I assume it's not intended to invoke images of a self-conscious movie star dying)? I found Part's performance artificial and lacking in subtlety. She seems to try too hard to please, to exaggerate some aspects of the emotions she was trying to convey so that all subtlety was lost.

I would have a similar complaint (trying too hard to please; going for the obvious and the exaggerated) against the choreography of A Barton's work, definitely, and, to a lesser, but still meaningful extent, Millepied's work. Against these two choreographers, Ratmansky seems even more accomplished because his works don't make it seem like he is trying so very hard that he oversteps the boundary between something artistic and something obvious and crowd-pleasing and deliberately so (sort of like high-brow things versus low-brow things, with low-brow in this context meaning more obviously likely to please the crowds, but lacking in shading and gradations). Ratmansky is trying less to appeal in obvious ways.

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I don't want to be critical of Veronica Part when I feel ambivalent about why I don't like her dancing (her dancing or her larger-framed body type and lack of lightness, not that this piece demanded lightness). But didn't Part look more like a diva melodramatically "preening" and "overacting" a fake anguish, than a swan suffering a fragile, vulnerable and dignified death (not that I know what Dying Swan is intended to invoke, but I assume it's not intended to invoke images of a self-conscious movie star dying)? I found Part's performance artificial and lacking in subtlety. She seems to try too hard to please, to exaggerate some aspects of the emotions she was trying to convey so that all subtlety was lost.

I normally enjoy Part's performances very much, particularly her Swan Lake. However, I found last night's performance of Dying Swan strangely unmoving and uninvolving. I thought maybe it was because I was so far away from the stage (3rd tier center). It wasn't bad, but I think she has a long way to go with it. This may have been her first performance of the role. I have memories of being blown away by past performances of the role by Nina Ananiashvilli and Lopatkina. Part's performance was not in the same league as those, in my opinion.

By the way, did anyone else feel that the Ratmansky piece quoted heavily from various Jerome Robbins ballets? I loved the pdd for Stella and Genadi, and the solos for X. Reyes and Cornejo. However, I thought the group dances were the weakest link, and became tedious. I really enjoyed the Millipied work. I thought the Barton work was pretentious and suffered from unimaginative choreography.

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I don't want to be critical of Veronica Part when I feel ambivalent about why I don't like her dancing (her dancing or her larger-framed body type and lack of lightness, not that this piece demanded lightness). But didn't Part look more like a diva melodramatically "preening" and "overacting" a fake anguish, than a swan suffering a fragile, vulnerable and dignified death (not that I know what Dying Swan is intended to invoke, but I assume it's not intended to invoke images of a self-conscious movie star dying)? I found Part's performance artificial and lacking in subtlety. She seems to try too hard to please, to exaggerate some aspects of the emotions she was trying to convey so that all subtlety was lost.

________________

From what I understand, people either love Veronika (no C in her first name) Part or they don't.

I don't think that she preened or overacted. Nor did I see fake anguish. What a saw was a stunning (albeit too short) performance. Everyone around me (mid-orchestra) also loved her. But again, to each his/ her own.

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I forgot to add this -- it was a very long program. It started at 6:30pm (they were fairly prompt) and ended at 9:30pm.

There was one speech by Imani (spelling? She's a model) and also Veronica Webb.

Ms. Webb butchered Benjamin's Millepied's last name. It might have been nice if someone at ABT phonetically spelled out his last name.

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I forgot to add this -- it was a very long program. It started at 6:30pm (they were fairly prompt) and ended at 9:30pm.

There was one speech by Imani (spelling? She's a model) and also Veronica Webb.

Ms. Webb butchered Benjamin's Millepied's last name. It might have been nice if someone at ABT phonetically spelled out his last name.

Yes, someone at ABT fell down on the job in that department. How hard is it to get someone to listen to the ladies' speech and get it right for them? In truth, the intro speech came across as sort of a bad awards ceremony speech with the ladies alternating lines as they did. It would have been a nicer gesture if Kevin had come out and made a nice speech, especially since they were performing in a new space. And yes, the evening was long. I would have eliminated "The Dying Swan". Coming where it did in the program it sort of fell flat. The other works were all interesting (especially the Millepied who made the best use of the odd space), and it will be good to see them all again. I wasn't as thrilled with the lighting as in most instances the dancers faces seemed to fade and disappear. Loved the "casual" look of the dancers warming up. A fun evening and certainly different!

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They closed with Danil doing multiple pirouettes to a hard bump to black, very cool, very dramatic.

This is a very short fall season, I'm sure they are economizing like we all are.

It's a pity they don't broadcast the Galas and black out NYC. It may drive ticket sales.

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I don't want to be critical of Veronica Part when I feel ambivalent about why I don't like her dancing (her dancing or her larger-framed body type and lack of lightness, not that this piece demanded lightness). But didn't Part look more like a diva melodramatically "preening" and "overacting" a fake anguish, than a swan suffering a fragile, vulnerable and dignified death (not that I know what Dying Swan is intended to invoke, but I assume it's not intended to invoke images of a self-conscious movie star dying)? I found Part's performance artificial and lacking in subtlety. She seems to try too hard to please, to exaggerate some aspects of the emotions she was trying to convey so that all subtlety was lost.

In a word, NO!

And though I've seen the Dying Swan up-teen times I have never found it particularly moving. It has only made me cry once, at a performance by (of all people) Anastasia Volochkova. I'm pretty sure the tears came because my cat had died earlier that week, rather than due to the subtlety of the performance. Having seen Vishneva dance the Isabel Fokine sanctioned version last week I found the differences between her version and the more familiar one that Part danced fascinating and unmistakable. The version Vishneva danced used different positions in several places, there was much more tension in the execution and much sharper imagery. It evoked more struggle & anguish. Veronika's version was more like Lopatkina's - a graceful, beautiful, wounded bird succumbing to her inevitable fate. Although I agree that Part's performance was not quite in the same league as Lopatkina's (few are).

As for the new works, while the Ratmansky was pretty, witty & lyrical I thought it became tedious after awhile and I agree that it did seem somewhat derivative of Robbins. I might have like it better if it had been shorter. It goes without saying that all the dancers were fabulous.

I found the Barton quirky & charming although I'm not sure how well it will hold up to multiple viewings.

My favorite piece of the evening was Millipied's, by far. I thought it was very inventive & kinetic and I loved the way he used his corps, loved his use of patterns. The only thing I didn't like was the clanging during the Boylston/Gomes pdd, but other than that I also loved the music.

By the way - the view from the side boxes is terrible! The seats are set so far back from the rail that you only see about a third of the stage unless you lean all the way forward. There is also the issue of the rail bisecting your view if you sit back in your seat properly.

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The rail is also a problem in the center tier seats as well. It is so high that it interferes with your stage view. I have been to AFH to see numerous Philharmonic concerts, but the rail has never been an issue because I did not need to focus so clearly on what was happening on stage. For ballet, the rail at AFH is a disaster for anyone sitting in the first row of the tier, as I was last night. The only options for seeing the whole stage was either to sit up very tall, or to scrunch down in your seat in order to see underneath the railing. Leaning forward was not an option because it obstructs the view of the people behind you. For me, that was just one of many reasons I think AFH is totally inappropriate for dance. Please return to City Center next year!!

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I've been mulling over Millepied's choice of title for "Everything Doesn't Happen at Once," where, at times, it seems that everything is happening at once. This was the one new piece that I distinctly disliked. I watched it from the rear of the orchestra, where there is a gentle rake, but looking at the stage from that level, the last movement looked unintentionally chaotic. My eyes could not make sense of it. And I hated the music.

By the way, did anyone else feel that the Ratmansky piece quoted heavily from various Jerome Robbins ballets?
Yes, in its details and in its resemblance to Dances at a Gathering as a small group of friends. But unlike DaaG, here the partnerships are fixed. Also, the first movement, with all six dancers together on the stage reminded me at moments of Paul Taylor's Arden Court. There was, however, plenty of originality in the choreography, the best of which went to David Hallberg and Julie Kent. Unlike most of the other work of the evening, Ratmansky really used the qualities of the dancers to show them to great advantage -- for example, Abrera's seamless lyricism -- and mark them as individuals. (With the exception of the central adagio and Simkin's bravura flying and turning in Millepied's ballet, not many of the other roles gave the dancers much distinction.) Like In the Night, each of the couples had its own personality, Reyes and Cornejo being the frisky, youthful lovers; Abrera and Saveliev the complicated couple, and Hallberg and Kent somewhere in the middle. It was a gentle ballet, and I hope it enters the permanent rep.

I adored Part's Dying Swan. As nysusan noted, it was not the familiar interpretation of a creature fighting desperately against her doom, but a serene one accepting her fate, and I found it fascinating. I generally consider Dying Swan a bit of kitsch, and even though I've seen it done many times by some of the acknowledged great ballerinas of the 20th (and now the 21st) century, with few opportunities for subtlety, I thought Part immersed herself in the choreography, and her use of stillness and her response to her music were quite affecting. I think the "preening" that abatt objects to is inherent in the choreography.

The Barton ballet wasn't bad. The men were all dressed in black suits with white shirts, no ties, and in the first movement, Gillian Murphy with her blazing red hair (the only bright color on stage all night, btw) entered in a long, white gown. She never joined the all-male group. In the second movement, Misty Copeland, in a short-skirted black and white costume, was less of an outsider. When Paloma Herrera came on in her black jumpsuit, I wondered why the choreographer had chosen to cover the most beautiful legs in the company. Then I realized that it was to make her an integral part of the ensemble, unlike her two "sisters" in the ballet.

With Ratmansky's dancers all in white, the Dying Swan in her customary white tutu, the Barton dancers in black and white, and the Millepied dancers in black and slate, I was hungry for color on the stage. Again, grateful for Murphy's red hair, but it wasn't enough to break the visual monotony of the monochromatic evening.

By the way - the view from the side boxes is terrible! The seats are set so far back from the rail that you only see about a third of the stage unless you lean all the way forward. There is also the issue of the rail bisecting your view if you sit back in your seat properly.
I had the same problem with the Ratmansky and wondered how Avery Fisher Hall felt entitled to sell those seats for ballet. Add to that the acoustics, which amplify the extraneous, ambient sounds, and I was so unhappy that I moved to the rear orchestra during the first intermission. Not ideal, but as predicted weeks ago by other posters, this is a poor house for ballet. I hope ABT learns from this and, if City Center is unavailable for future seasons, finds a more suitable venue. My goodness! Who'd ever have thought we'd be ruing the absence of City Center??? :wub:
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Not ideal, but as predicted weeks ago by other posters, this is a poor house for ballet. I hope ABT learns from this and, if City Center is unavailable for future seasons, finds a more suitable venue. My goodness! Who'd ever have thought we'd be ruing the absence of City Center??? :o

Although it was a number of "renovations" ago, I saw a program that included some ballet in the early 70s at the then

Philharmonic Hall. It was one of the old Philharmonic Promenades Concerts. And it sure didn't work too well then. (Villella and McBride in some Gayaneh excerpts)

But then AFH isn't even ideal for orchestral concerts! :wub:

Agree things are not well if we are missing City Center!

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Am I correct in perceiving some cast changes for "Some Assembly Required", on the current ABT Calendar?

Boylston and Stappas are no longer paired, and all performances of "Some Assembly Required" remaining are being danced by Riccetto/Matthews, with the exception of one Nicole Graniero/Stappas. I think N. Graniero's naming to this cast is a recent development. This is a good opportunity for Nicole, who, according to the ABT website, "joined the Studio Company in 2004 and the main company as an apprentice in 2006."

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Not a fan of city center, even though you may be closer to the stage, the low ceilings and bad rakes (very steep in the balcony, hardly any in the mezzanine.) No lobby to speak of for entertaining afterward (the reason the Donors pay the big bucks is so they can sit down with a dancer and enjoyed a yummy re-heated meal.)

Jazz at Lincoln Center has some nice stages too.

Since AFH is a different kind of venue, I suspect the union house rules are slightly different. No grips, no riggers needed. AFH may be a "cheap date"

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The Barton ballet wasn't bad. The men were all dressed in black suits with white shirts, no ties, and in the first movement, Gillian Murphy with her blazing red hair (the only bright color on stage all night, btw) entered in a long, white gown. She never joined the all-male group. In the second movement, Misty Copeland, in a short-skirted black and white costume, was less of an outsider. When Paloma Herrera came on in her black jumpsuit, I wondered why the choreographer had chosen to cover the most beautiful legs in the company. Then I realized that it was to make her an integral part of the ensemble, unlike her two "sisters" in the ballet.

With Ratmansky's dancers all in white, the Dying Swan in her customary white tutu, the Barton dancers in black and white, and the Millepied dancers in black and slate, I was hungry for color on the stage. Again, grateful for Murphy's red hair, but it wasn't enough to break the visual monotony of the monochromatic evening.

I liked "Everything" From the Second Tier.

AFH has lovely wooden walls in a subtle brown patina. AFH forces you to focus on the stage

I recall everyone detesting Sleeping Beauty because it was "too Colorful" Please make up your minds!

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I want to thank everyone for their detailed reviews! Not being able to be in New York for the fall season was killing me, but this is the next best thing (actually the next best thing would be complete videos!). I also enjoyed the video clips on ABT's facebook page.

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I recall everyone detesting Sleeping Beauty because it was "too Colorful" Please make up your minds!
There's lots of room between too much and not enough. Lots. :wink:

Oh, and not sure if SB's screaming palette got a complaint here from me. It was not the worst element of that production.

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.........love Veronika (no C in her first name) Part or they don't........

it's Вероника in Russian, and can be spelled either way, so no biggie, i guess

The program (and every story I've read about Ms. Part) spells her name Veronika (with a K) so it's probably the spelling she prefers.

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.........love Veronika (no C in her first name) Part or they don't........

it's Вероника in Russian, and can be spelled either way, so no biggie, i guess

The program (and every story I've read about Ms. Part) spells her name Veronika (with a K) so it's probably the spelling she prefers.

________

More misc. comments -- I didn't mean to demean your observations about Ms. Part's name YID. However, my own given name is Devorah (I won't even write out the Hebrew), but call myself Deborah because no one "gets" Devorah. Because of this I want my name spelled Deborah

(and not Debra, which it often is). Maybe Ms. Part doesn't care how her first name is spelled in English, but since it's VeroniKA in the program, I follow that lead.

I also agree with another poster -- I am no fan of City Center. Silly too since I spend so much time there seeing dancing.

But the seats are uncomfortable; you are packed in like sardines and the foot and leg space are non-existent (and I'm just a normal size size 8 woman). Finally there seems to be no rake (or is it called an incline?) in the orchestra. If you get behind a tall person you're sunk (or simply can't see).

But it does sound like I'm the only person on this board who actually liked seeing ABT at Avery Fisher. I had a great seat; had no problem seeing anything; had plenty of legroom and could see over my neighbor in front (and he was at least 4 inches taller than my 5 ft. 6).

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