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MJ

ABT at Avery Fisher Hall --

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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.

I agree. As I've noted before, Veronika's father is Estonian (and the last name "Part" means "duck" as in the farm animal), and Estonian uses the Latin alphabet, with some practical omissions. For instance, there is no "c", that letter's job being done by "k" and "s". So, although she was born and grew up in St. Petersburg, Veronika does have Estonian roots, and in Estonia her name would definitely be written with a "k". And, of course, that's how she herself spells it in English.

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I'm glad the NYT article showed appreciation for Ratmansky's more "high brow" (in the sense of subtle, less gimmicky and less obvious) approach over the two other choreos, and lauded his piece.

What I think the NYT article did not do is to differentiate between the quality of Millepied's piece, which, even though paling in quality against Ratmansky's piece, was still noticeably better than the worse piece of the three from Barton. In providing less-than-favorable assessments of the choreography of Millepied and Barton, the article does not distinguish between the two very much. But maybe the point is that Ratmansky's work is so far superior to the other two, that the level of the other two relative to each other was not important.

"The main draw was three new ballets by the choreographers Aszure Barton, Benjamin Millepied and Alexei Ratmansky. Clearly Mr. Ratmansky, the company’s artist in residence, had the upper hand in his spellbinding “Seven Sonatas".... But for all its attitude and power, “Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once” rarely rises beyond proficient. If the Avery Fisher Hall experiment reveals anything, it’s that a choreographic point of view matters more than ever; “Seven Sonatas” could have been shown in a parking garage, and it still would have made you gasp."

I assume all three choreos knew their new pieces would be presented relative to the other two's new pieces this fall. In such an environment, it must have crossed their minds that they would be evaluated relative to the other two. If I were Ratmansky, I would not have worried so much, but I find it interesting how Barton and Millepied might have viewed having their works presented next to Ratmansky's.

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Last night Millepied's piece received a standing ovation. I and the people around me felt it was well deserved. It showcased the wonderful ABT dancers in a way those of us who are ABT regulars rarely get to see. He definetely handles groups of dancers well and that was exciting after the rest of the evening.

Maybe because of the second cast and because Avery Fisher makes it hard to see the lower body,the Ratmatsky seemed merely pleasant in comparison. Although the Barton piece didn't hang together it was great to see Paloma, Misty and the extraordinary men, in her vocabulary.

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Looks like the people in the Orchestra had a different opinion of Millipied's "Everything", versus those in the Tiers. It looked more organized from above, where I could see it would appear less organized at eye level.

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Reading this thread I'm struck by how differently various people react to the same work. There are such contrasting opinions on all three works. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is the excellent level of dancing. Art is in the eye of the beholder? Thanks to all for your reviews. :thanks:

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dirac's daily links include two more reviews of ABT's opening night, both also stating a preference for Ratmansky's choreography:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fc8dbc70-b42c-11...144feab49a.html

"After Ratmansky, the evening barrels downhill. Choreographer Aszure Barton, whom Baryshnikov has long championed, adores eccentricity but can only imagine it in libidinal terms.... [Millepied's] Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once looks clueless – and makes me feel that way. Is it a tone poem or a drama? Are the dancers characters or figures in a moving landscape? I couldn’t tell."

http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2009/10/fall-gala.html

"A straightforward title for a straightforward piece; it [seven Sonatas] was by far the most accomplished and polished of the new pieces.... Aszure Barton's "One of Three" ... was a forgettably jokey piece, though used the music as a background rather than a springboard.... It was basically choreography as doodling, with no development, purpose, or real interest, other than enjoying the fine dancers prance around.... Benjamin Millepied's "Everything Doesn't Happen at Once" was the most ambitious and the most opaque, beginning with its irritatingly vague title.... Beneath the glib and slick surface, there is a truly vulgar depth to his choreography, which seems to exist only for applause.... it was painful to see a dancer as rich and talented as he [simkin] is used as a party trick."

Thank goodness the professional reviewers so far have seen through the superficiality of Millepied's choreography and evaluated it as it ought to be. :thanks:

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I'm surprised that ABT is taking this program on the road to its tour to China. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though. No scenery transport costs = cheap program to bring on tour.

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My sense is that, like the Met the ABT feels pressure to keep at the leading edge of their art. They want to be both a museum of masterpieces and a workshop for new ideas in dance. For one, I am thrilled that they do both, preferring the masterpieces but enjoying the new choreographers for contrast and to see how many ways dance can be a vehicle for beauty and ideas. The new works are not always successful from my point of view and they won't appeal to everyone (what does?), but I suspect that ABT feels a need to be a company with broad appeal, like a university not a college. With their standing in classical dance, they are able to bring new thinking to audiences which might otherwise not be exposed to the new.

The recent bruhaha over the Met Opera's Bondy production of Tosca raises the issue of modernizing classics which is yet another approach to take to introduce new ideas to the genre. This is treacherous territory however and some works lend themselves better to interpretation than others, perhaps related to the libretto. Once you mix it up, you bring in all sorts of cultural messages established for centuries into play opening up all sorts of room for interpretation and response in the audience. Like everything, this will appeal to some and not to others and in the end it may come down to economics. If it helps ticket sales and prestige, it has legs.

As far as dance is concerned, I would imagine new choreography is both fun and challenging for the company and they probably welcome it and makes them better at their classical work too.

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I wonder how much new choreography costs relative to the acquisition of access rights to pre-existing choreography, given that the Company has asked dancers to take certain concessions on benefits in the past. Also, I wonder if Ratmansky's residency means that the marginal costs of getting choreography from him in the medium run are lower, because he is paid a fixed amount that is his primary compensation (?)?

I agree that the Fall seasons has opportunities in terms of exploring what ABT's role is in maintaining and advancing the art. Also, given that the more senior principals seem not to be interested in participating in the Fall and stating the obvious, the Fall gives some opportunities for the corps, soloists and the more junior principals (not that some junior principals are not already prominently featured at the Met). :bow:

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It's a pleasure reading these posts. Thanks to all.

Question: Do any of these new works have the legs to carry them to a future with other companies around the world -- and, if so, where and by whom? Will they gather dust in the back of ABT's storage closet? Or what?

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Heading back to Avery Fisher today(mid-Orchestra seat) for the matinee. Hee Seo -- one of my favorite young dancers -- is in this cast of the Ratsmansky ballet (Seven Sonatas). I do think that this ballet is a keeper, and could be performed by other companies as well. This program also includes Murphy and Hallberg (hooray!) performing "Other Dances." And I can't wait to see Millepied's ballet again. As I said here earlier in the week, I very much enjoyed this ballet. That said, I do find it amusing that (often) the audience (at various companies and venues) loves something (as in this ballet), but the critics do not. However, I truly enjoy reading said reviews; occasionally I'll even alter my opinion after considering the critics' analysis. And not to be too sappy but in this terrible time of media cuts (especially arts writers/reporters/editors), we're lucky to still have a lot of coverage here in NYC.

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It's a pleasure reading these posts. Thanks to all.

Question: Do any of these new works have the legs to carry them to a future with other companies around the world -- and, if so, where and by whom? Will they gather dust in the back of ABT's storage closet? Or what?

Ratmansky's "Seven Sonatas" absolutely would fit into any great classical company, both here and abroad. I can't imagine any artistic director saying "no" to this piece. A wonderful challenge, technically and a wonder to watch. Every viewing brings new depth of pleasure. Kudos to ABT for this one! The Millepied would look good on San Francisco Ballet, or Pacific Northwest, possibly even Miami City could have a go at it. Personally, I think it needs some tweaking, but it has such great energy going for it. The dancers seem to be having a wonderful time. As for the Barton, the less said the better. Ouch! What a dud. Even the costumes aren't worth saving. The men in their black suits look like refugees from the male variation from Paul Taylor's "Cloven Kingdom". If only this ballet had that work's energy and drive. I found myself nostalgic for last season's Stallings piece, also a dud. Well, you can't win them all. For the most part the Avery Fisher experiment has been a winner. It surely gives a new perspective to the company. Off to the matinee!

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Last season's Stallings, even though generally dubbed a dud, was very good in my mind, at least when danced by the first team that included Hallberg. I loved it. I hope to see it again, although that seems unlikely given its reception.

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Did anyone see the Friday afternoon performance? If so, please comment on the Ratmansky cast.

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Lots of empty seats at today's matinee. House went wild -- standing ovation --for Benjamin Millepied's ballet, and especially for Daniil Simkin. I thought Marcelo Gomes and Isabella Boylston were even better today than they were on opening night (and they were terrific then). Kristi Boone, Maria Riccetto, and (again) Blaine Hoven were also especially impressive (all the dancers were really).

I very much enjoyed the second cast for "Seven Sonatas" including Yuriko Kajiya, Sara Lane, Hee Seo, Carlos Lopez, Joseph Phillips and Jared Matthews. The pianist, Barbara Bilach was wonderful too. I still didn't like "One of Three, " despite enjoying the dancers (Blaine Hoven, Craig Salstein, Jared Matthews and Michele Wiles were standouts).

The highlight of the afternoon for me was David Hallberg and Gillian Murphy in Robbins' "Other Dances" (one of my favorite ballets. Have seen

many casts at NYCB perform this piece). They were simply magnificent.

It was also incredibly fun to watch the dancers warm up (in practice clothes too) before each ballet (there was no curtain, and no room in the wings, as has been discussed here already). The audience seemed to love this almost as much as the ballets themselves. It really was a treat.

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Lots of empty seats at today's matinee. House went wild -- standing ovation --for Benjamin Millepied's ballet, and especially for Daniil Simkin. I thought Marcelo Gomes and Isabella Boylston

I was also there, and sadly there were many empty seats. I enjoyed the Ratmansky piece, and think it might be a keeper. The cast danced well. I must say my eye always goes to Sarah Lane because of her beautiful port de bras and the wonderful openness of her upper body. Her partner Joseph Phillips won't be in the corps for long. I wish, however, that Ratmansky did not go with the cliche of the cutesy short person's pas de deux. Yes, play to their strengths of moving quickly (and these 2 did so without ever seeming rushed) but all that looking under the arm cute stuff is - well as I said - a cliche.

One of Three - I can't comment upon it too much because my mind sort of wandered. It didn't seem to have much to do with the music.

Other Dances - the opening duet - matching lines and musicality were glorious. The rest I felt lacking. These are world class dancers who are great, but I was disappointed in some ways. I felt that in Hallberg the "Russianisms" such as the head shaking and folk dance movements seemed plastered on. There was nothing organic or, to my way of thinking, fun about them. Murphy of course showed me steps that I didn't know were in the thing (I've seen it a few times before, including Makarova/Baryshnikov), but she too seemed to be missing a sense of fun. The lifts seemed lacking in the sense of abandon that the music asks for. There is a lift in which she is held sideways, and then drops to his arms and is turned around (a bad description, I hope you know what I mean). It was done well at every stage, but you saw every stage (lift, drop, turn) and so there was no sweep or sense of abandon, it looked cautious to me.

Millepied - I don't think it's a keeper, but I think it shows he could make a keeper. Oddly, for me the pas was the weakest part (I say this because of the discussion of the Boylston/Millepied relationship). My husband told me that this was the section during which he watched the musicians. In the opening movement I liked the way Millepied explored and developed the theme of the angles he had the dancers make. He did this in movements and patterns. Of course the Simkin moments were very, very entertaining. Will this be a problem in casting? Can anyone else do it? Does his understudy have a slightly different version?

I too enjoyed watching the dancers warm up, mark, practice between ballets. I wonder how the dancers felt.

As a comment to my last question. My husband, who was with Dennis Wayne Dancers, said he loved the opportunity to be onstage before an audience before the actual performance (this was part of the D. Wayne thing)

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Millepied - Of course the Simkin moments were very, very entertaining. Will this be a problem in casting? Can anyone else do it? Does his understudy have a slightly different version?
The role is Simkin's but the company has other dancers ready to dance the role. Second cast's Arron Scott's version is different. I only saw the second cast on Friday so can not give details other than what I am told is called an "aerial cartwheel" was replaced by a switch leap.

t

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Millepied - Of course the Simkin moments were very, very entertaining. Will this be a problem in casting? Can anyone else do it? Does his understudy have a slightly different version?
The role is Simkin's but the company has other dancers ready to dance the role. Second cast's Arron Scott's version is different. I only saw the second cast on Friday so can not give details other than what I am told is called an "aerial cartwheel" was replaced by a switch leap.

t

Was the second cast's version in that time only?

Because I'm planning to go to Beijing from Japan & there will be 2times of this program,it's my very concern.

Anyone who know,please tell me about that.

I want to thank everyone for their detailed reviews& sorry for my English.

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Surprisingly, we enjoyed the Millepied piece very much.It,probably, would be even more effective if seen in a bigger space and from an upper seat.Stella was just great in her 2 very different roles.Maria B., Renata, Eric and esp Arron S. were standouts in their solos.

i did not like the AF Hall venue. Surely, the Koch Theatre can squeeze ABT for 2 weeks in the fall?

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Surely, the Koch Theatre can squeeze ABT for 2 weeks in the fall?

Bingham, assuming that they are able to continue their performance schedule at something like their past years, the NYCO opens in September and runs to mid November, not much of a gap where the house is dark.

Of course right now the NYCO is in an iffy position, their 2009-10 seasons are much abbreviated. Only the future will show just how long their upcoming seasons will be.

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Was the second cast's version in that time only?

Because I'm planning to go to Beijing from Japan & there will be 2times of this program,it's my very concern.

Anyone who know,please tell me about that.

I want to thank everyone for their detailed reviews& sorry for my English.

Your English is clear, babclyde. :lol:

As of now, casts are not posted for the programs in Beijing, but based on past experience, ABT will change casts between the first and second performances, although perhaps not completely.

You can check here for announcements and, perhaps, changes.

Welcome to BalletTalk. We hope to hear from you after your visit to Beijing. Have a wonderful time!

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I saw the program for a second time on the Sat matinee. We had the "second" cast for the Ratmansky ballet. I liked the opening night cast better, with one exception. I preferred Sarah Lane over Xiomara Reyes. Lane was amazing in articulating each and every step of her difficult role. The Ratmansky ballet is a keeper, but I still think it would have been better if a few sections late in the ballet were omitted. I disliked the Barton ballet even more on the second viewing than the first. It is a dud - boring but harmless. I read a few posts above that thought Stallings' Citizen was better that the Barton. For me, Citizen holds the dubious distinction of being one of the worst ballets I've ever seen. I also enjoyed a repeat viewing of the Millipied ballet. I too think it will benefit from a larger stage. Simkin is incredible. I hope they give him a Don Q in the Spring. I enjoyed seeing Other Dances w. Hallberg and Murphy. Perhaps not the best performance of that ballet I have seen, but it was good. I'm sorry I missed Part Gomes in those roles.

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I'm still floating on the cloud that Part and Gomes sent me to on Friday night with their Other Dances. I don't like to throw around words like "revelation," but that word does not overstate my experience of that performance.

If you saw Suzanne Farrell dance, you will likely remember some performances where she seemed to be dancing from a place so deeply private that it was almost embarrassing to watch. That was what Part created both in the opening adagio and both of her variations -- and even manage to retain in the upbeat coda -- in Other Dances.

In the adagio, she and Gomes had as strong a connection as they ever shared in Swan Lake. It was an intensely romantic reading, and at a moment when Part held a balance a moment longer than expected, Gomes was right there with her, both deleve-ing from pointe/demi-pointe in perfect synchrony. I also loved how their backs -- epaulement and cambre -- moved as if the same spirit inhabited both bodies.

But the truly magical effect was how, despite my having seen this pas perhaps dozens of times, including by its originators, Makarova and Baryshnikov, Part made me believe she was making it up as she went along. She used the pauses in the choreography to suggest, "What will I do now?", taking a "normal" walking step or two (as choreographed) before breaking again into dance. And through the whole piece, she exulted in the feeling of the movements and of the air around her. It was one of those performances that I don't expect to see repeated, but I implore ABT to give this pair the opportunity to dance OD again in New York. It's a sure bet I'll be in the house.

Gomes was also terrific. Even though I know the gag in the man's first variation, his feigned dizziness made me laugh out loud.

The memory of this performance will surely linger as one of the highlights (unexpectedly) of my ballet-watching career.

Maria Riccetto replaced Isabella Boylston in Some Assembly Required. Riccetto sometimes has trouble filling her space and projecting, and in this respect she seemed to improve. She seemed to enjoy the jazz-inflected movements of the ballet, which despite its happy ending, contained too much of the angry (or mock-angry?) battle-of-the-sexes theme we see so much of these days.

I enjoyed Seven Sonatas more than I had on Opening Night, perhaps because I had a better seat (rear orchestra, center, thanks to the kindness of a stranger :wink: ), and perhaps because Sarah Lane, whose progress has been unsteady, displayed her bold and radiant star quality in the role originated by Xiomara Reyes who (according to the program insert) is injured.

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I'm still floating on the cloud that Part and Gomes sent me to on Friday night with their Other Dances. I don't like to throw around words like "revelation," but that word does not overstate my experience of that performance.

But the truly magical effect was how, despite my having seen this pas perhaps dozens of times, including by its originators, Makarova and Baryshnikov, Part made me believe she was making it up as she went along. She used the pauses in the choreography to suggest, "What will I do now?", taking a "normal" walking step or two (as choreographed) before breaking again into dance.

carbro, in her "Swan Lake" last June, which I believe you also saw, I would go as far as to say she was actually 'Creating The Ballet', not just performing it or making me believe that she was making it up. I know that statements like this can involve matters of degree and precise definitions, but there was something that she did that for me made the ballet 'Her Creation'.

She may have performed all the steps exactly as choreographed and she may have acted the role exactly as expected, but the 'Essence of the Ballet' was somehow still Hers. Whether it was simply 'nuancing' or actually becoming Odette-Odile, she somehow accomplished this. I have seen her do it before. If she achieves a certain comfort level, she seems to be able to take over the complete reality.

I totally agree with you about the "revelation" that can be found in this brilliant and magnificent lady's performances.

[spelling correction made]

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