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ABT at Avery Fisher Hall --


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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?

Agreed, will NYCB claim squatters' rights? I would like to see NYCB at the MOH as well. NYC has plenty of great venues: BAM, Park Avenue Armory, Radio City, NJPAC.

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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?

Agreed, will NYCB claim squatters' rights? I would like to see NYCB at the MOH as well. NYC has plenty of great venues: BAM, Park Avenue Armory, Radio City, NJPAC.

Unlike some I rather liked the Avery Fisher venue. My seat in the front row of the first tier (while a bit far back) was perfect viewing for dance. (but talk about far away, Radio City Music Hall makes the performers look like midgets!). Anyway, one of the things that AFH has going for it as opposed to say City Center, the Koch and even the Met is a real entrance lobby that one can enjoy before passing the ticket taker. None of those mentioned theaters has any place to sit, have a snack or a pre-theater drink or coffee before one gets through to the main area. What a nice thing to be able to not feel shoved and and packed in. I've never been able to understand why both the Met and the Koch have such an unwelcoming entry area. Once through the ticket taker it's fine, but such a crush before. Avery Fisher is more European in that respect. Also, the entry has nice light, again welcoming not dark like City Center tends to be. A couple more pluses. Restrooms (plenty), legroom (hooray!), and professional ushers who seemingly liked their job. Never rude or surly once! I loved the "open" stage before the performance . While probably not what one would like before "Swan Lake", for these more experimental pieces it was a great touch! To see these wonderful athletes prance and stretch before and then see them pull it all together for the work was for me a breath of air! And while I didn't love all the work presented, I felt this was an excellent venue for what was shown. It would be nice if ABT, along with their other venues did a short season like this every year. I can think of no better way to spend a nice Fall evening than to sit by the new fountain before the show and then enter into a bright space full of energy and talent!

Kudos to ABT for this!

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Saw the Sat night performance. My favorite was the Ratmansky, and I especially enjoyed watching Hallberg (incredibly musical, as always) and Stella Abrera. Best music of the night. I liked the "fugue" part of the ballet at the end, where he has all the couples reprise a main theme/motif of their previous pdds.

The second ballet was meh, choreographically speaking.

I thought the Millepied was good, but I hated the "music" for the pdd and it hurt my ears. The finale was very good, built up to a nice climactic ending. Did anyone else notice how much Millepied quoted from other ballets/choreographers? I saw the famous head-to-knee penchee from Symphony in C, the dancing-with-shadows from Wheeldon's polyphonia, the group dancing in a big maelstrom effect of La Valse, and several riffs on Mr. B's throwing of a dancer from one group to another, frozen momentarily in position by the second group, as in Monumentum/Movements. Millepied's also learned a lot from Balanchine's way of handling big groups. It was fun to see the ABT dancers go all out. And, of course, Simkin is incredible. He's half gymnast, it seems.

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Barton and Millepied receive very unfavorable reviews in the WSJ review:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...0902040856.html

"Neither Aszure Barton's "One of Three" nor Benjamin Millepied's "Everything Doesn't Happen at Once" amounted to much individually, but in the shadow of "Seven Sonatas," which opened each program, they paled even more...."

"Ms. Barton's "One of Three"... is a mostly opaque display ... ... uses ABT's dancers and their ways of dancing awkwardly, as so much received wisdom. Just as often, she tries to be original—and achieves foolish results. Costumed by Yannik Larivée eccentrically and often unbecomingly ..., especially in the case of the three badly dressed women, "One of Three" looks more confounding than confident, more miscellaneous than momentous."

"Mr. Millepied's "Everything Doesn't Happen at Once" is an ambitiously scaled exercise ... I say "exercise" because each of the ballet's three movements plays out like a separate study of some sort, variously involving clustered group effects, self-consciously stiff and austere partnered connections, and eye-catching, flashy high points... much in "Everything" ends up looking busy and incidental despite a trendy veneer of sexiness...."

"When one considers that such especially talented dancers as Michelle Wiles, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes and Cory Stearns—to name but four included in Ms. Barton's or Mr. Millepied's casts—failed to make much of an impression with their featured appearances, one is given pause."

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Barton and Millepied receive very unfavorable reviews in the WSJ review:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...0902040856.html

"Ms. Barton's "One of Three"... is a mostly opaque display ... ... uses ABT's dancers and their ways of dancing awkwardly, as so much received wisdom. Just as often, she tries to be original—and achieves foolish results. Costumed by Yannik Larivée eccentrically and often unbecomingly ..., especially in the case of the three badly dressed women, "One of Three" looks more confounding than confident, more miscellaneous than momentous."

This confirms what I've thought about Barton's work since I first saw it: she's been moving "up" too fast in proportion to discernible talent. Everything I've seen that she's choreographed has been impeccably produced, in first-rate venues with great dancers, but slim on choreographic ideas.

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I saw two of these programs: the first on Thursday night the 8th and on Saturday the 10th. The three new ballets were included in both programs with cast changes for the Ratmansky and Barton but identical for the Millepied. The pas de deux on Thursday was "Other Dances" with Hallberg/Murphy and on Saturday it was "Some Assembly Required" with Graniero/Stappas.

I guess I have bad taste in choreography because I found the Ratmansky tasteful and correct but ultimately familiar and lifeless while I enjoyed the Barton as a slick clever dance entertainment and loved the Millepied.

The Ratmansky showed that he has a fluency and naturalness in neoclassical choreography but he was bringing nothing new to a template that Balanchine and Robbins have fully exploited. Six dancers, three men and three women dancing to piano sonatas by Scarlatti. I kept waiting for the piece to develop into something more interesting but it seemed merely an exercise not an inspired work. There was an interesting quirkiness in the later dances for the women (angular folky arm movements, hints of humor) but my ultimate reaction was that it was "nice". You couldn't say much against it but really couldn't say much for it as an original statement. Julie Kent looked physically refreshed as the older and more emotionally complex woman of the three couples. Her dancing had authority, complexity and flair. Hee Seo in the other cast had a creamy soulfulness and hints of refined sensuality that suggested a younger but stronger woman. David Hallberg was stronger than Jared Matthews in making a major statement of his role. Ratmansky showed his predilection for developing and encouraging young talent in the corps by giving Joseph Philips a major opportunity alternating in the role created by Herman Cornejo. Cornejo sailed through his variations but Philips didn't stint really pushing himself with vigor into a part that Cornejo sailed through. Philips was working harder and seemed at his technical limit but his energy really pulled the piece up to another level. Sarah Lane danced both nights due to yet another injury to Xiomara Reyes (get better soon and stay that way Xiomara, we miss you!) and brought a lovely freshness to the "puppy love" pair. The other couple were danced with more authority by Gennadi Saveliev and Stella Abrera - no solos for them. Yuriko Kajiya and Carlos Lopez (it looked like Alexei Agoudine to me) didn't make as strong an impression.

The Barton wasn't great choreography and reminded me of Broadway dancing in places but I liked it both nights. The jazz influences in Ravel's violin sonata seemed to be reflected in the dancing which had a similar combination of classical and jazz. Sometimes I felt that she was just letting certain dancers show off - Simkin, Salstein, Carlos Lopez, Misty Copeland etc. but I thought they were up to the job. It started out with the men in jackets in an almost Hollywood production number style and then they shed the jackets and the women went from evening gown to short skirts and slacks as the tone got more jazzy and snazzy. In the "Hollywood Siren" role in the first dance, I thought that Michele Wiles brought more presence and authority than Gillian Murphy. Paloma Herrera both nights showed her continuing brilliance in contemporary ballet style. I loved Misty Copeland in the 2nd section but Luciana Paris also scored with a more sinuous less athletic style. I felt the piece had some style and new ideas and made a diverting entertainment. Unlike the Ratmansky it didn't seem too long nor did it repeat itself.

The Millepied was full of so many ideas and beautiful images and revealed an original choreographic voice in a new style for me. There were hints of William Forsythe but I actually liked this better - less overextended physicality and more lyricism and musicality (I liked this music better than the electronic stuff that Forsythe often uses). I felt that Millepied's gift for structure and using mass showed an unusual maturity. There was a little bit of "look at me" virtuosity here but we can use that now and then. Both Barton and Millepied utilized the quirky virtuosity of Daniil Simkin to its limit - Simkin is an unusual talent who probably would find much of the standard classic repertory a partial or bad fit (roles like the Spectre de la Rose or the Bluebird, Basilio would work, Albrecht and Siegfried, no). Many of Simkin's solos reminded me of the pieces choreographed by Simkin's father for the "Stars of the 21st Century Gala" a few years ago - showing off unusual steps and superhuman bravura but here in a more sophisticated context. Millepied's piece was the one that got the audience on its feet - people were hooting and hollering.

As for the pas de deux's: Thursday's "Other Dances" was pretty much a washout though David Hallberg showed a nobility of style as always. I think it was a first for both dancers and it must have been like a bad dress rehearsal rather than an opening night for them. Gillian Murphy actually fell onstage but not in a difficult choreographic section - a promenade or simple turns on both pointes I think. She looked mechanical where she needed to flow with the music - none of the rubato or playfulness that Makarova could make magic with. David Hallberg didn't find the wit and self-parody that came so easily to Baryshnikov (and Ethan Stiefel could have also had fun with) and looked too serious much of the time. No chemistry between them and a lack of that European or Slavic je ne sais quoi that gives style to the piece (even when danced by American or South American dancers).

"Some Assembly Required" by Clark Tippet I saw danced some years ago by Amanda McKerrow with either her husband or Robert Hill (or Ethan Brown???). I remember it as tender and lyrical with playful sections. This version seemed almost as if Nicole Graniero was pushing Isaac Stappas around most of the time and he was stone-faced and unemotional. He really seemed a porteur - just there to move her around in difficult positions. Hard to see what this was about - it didn't seem to be a love duet. It was like Bejart in the trailer park or something. Again it seemed too long.

So I have bad taste, but I had fun...

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So I have bad taste, but I had fun...
Taste isn't really arguable -- chacun a son gout, as they say. But seriously, I enjoyed your comments and on my next viewing of the Millepied and Barton ballets (assuming future opportunities, but not too soon, I hope, for the Millepied), my enjoyment will be enhanced by your clear observations, which you expressed so well.

This would be a very boring board if we all agreed about everything, wouldn't it?

Thanks, Faux.

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