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Swan Lake -- Nov 5-8


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Nilsen did attend opening night on Thursday as well as the alternate cast dress rehearsal Thursday afternoon. He was actually very happy with both casts and in his preview he was very excited about what he was going to see. Not sure what happened though. It is quite the interesting editorial though.

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Thank you so much for the review, Krystin! I was hoping a Ballet Talker was there tonight.

Chelsea Wilcox is tall -- I would never have expected her to be one of the four cygnets!

Roman Zavarov's Apollo was a highlight of last season. I think he's on his way. I'm glad to hear about Hartley: I didn't see her in the season-ending Balanchine program, and I don't think she danced the one performance I didn't see.

Fingers crossed that the rest of the run sells as well or better!

Wilcox is not that tall, she's about 5'6 and she's fabulous!

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Yikes, that is quite the review in the Arizona Republic. I guess I'd have to agree with the above posters. If the reporter is not familiar with ballet he can't really make critical observations about it. If something really bad or really great happened in the ballet he saw he wouldn't know...so he took a different direction with his review. Leading off the story the way he did was an "interesting" choice, however. It almost seemed like it was a parody or joking review. But hey, at least there was a "review" of some sort.

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I found her much better as Odile, although she was unable to finish her 32 fouettes.

Not that Ms. Magnicabelli needs defending, *but* she did do doubles. Beyond that, her Odette was poignant, sweet, and honest, as Odette should be. Her unusually long arms and pliancy contributed to her transformation. As Odile, she was an otherworldly creature, less a minion of von Rothbart than a power unto herself, providing glimpses of a crouching, predatory cat, making a toy of the prince. Her juxtaposed portrayals, in conjuntion with Mr. Zenjati's prince, seemed a commentary on a particular kind of man: he will take the loving heart, but is in thrall to the ultimate unattainable woman.

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I was thrilled to see Ballet AZ’s Swan Lake! It is my new favorite. I saw the Sunday matinee and Saturday evening show. The "court" with all the boys in red at the beginning was good with some distinct moments of not being together and one or two dancers not being in line with the others. Seeing the Wozniak brothers dancing together, side by side was a real treat. The pas de trois was great, I saw Slawomir Wozniak and Zavarov. Wozniak was a little more boyish for this demanding role. Zavarov was fantastic! There was one unfortunate incident with the pirouettes that Zavarov assisted Smith with. I attribute that to Smith being so tense every time she turned, she seemed to fear turning and I have not noticed this in her before. Her shoulders were raised. Some of the other posters noted that she and Zavarov had an awkward moment on one of the previous nights also, maybe she was scared from this incident. Wilcox on the other hand was breezy and fluid, and floated across the stage like a feather. The big disappointment of the afternoon was Johnson. He was hyped up in the writings of Richard Nilson and the quotes from Anderson that he was Brad Pitt like. I found him to appear unkempt and much older looking than his true age (22). He also danced clumsily and poorly. His posture is terrible, his knees bent, his feet not pointed. He is hard to watch! I am surprised that he is a principal dancer with Ballet Arizona in his first year. What was Anderson thinking? He was very emotional on stage, sometimes garishly so, but the chemistry with Huang was undeniable. Huang and Magnicaballi were both beautiful swans but they were very different. Huang was a cute swan and I loved her odd interpretation. Magnicaballi was the quintessential swan, she had the look and the body that one would expect this character to have. Nothing bad can be said about either one of them, I loved them! The four swans were awesome too! They were perfectly uniform. The amount of stamina that those girls put into that dance is admirable. The rest of the swans were great too I loved how the choreography made the 18 swans look like 40. From where I was sitting you could hardly tell there were students in the mix. Neapolitan was lively and entertaining, the Spanish was fun and passionate, but the Polish dance and the Czardas were kind of boring and pointless to the ballet. I thoroughly the performance as a whole and hope Ballet AZ does it again soon.

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Yes, Insider, I'd agree with your charecterization of Slawomir Wozniak as "boyish." Since he arrived last year, Mr. Anderson has been determined to push him to the fore, using him in soloist roles he is not yet ready for, often juxtaposed with the more mature Roman Zavarov, which only serves to highlight that young Wozniak has only recently graduated. While he shows promise, it is puzzling that more seasoned dancers, with demonstrated greater physical and emotional maturity, are underutilized.

As for young Shea Johnson, he does display his competiton roots, does he not? Big on the bravura end and giant jumpts, with partnering and ensemble a bit weak. We saw an amazing demonstration of confidence and physical prowess courtesy of Mr. Johnson during the "Ballet Under the Stars" series, earlier this year: he and Paula Hartley performed an exerpt of "Don Q." Ms. Hartley was her usual fearless self, even on the less-than-ideal portable outdoor stage, giving as if it were her last dance. The two of them began a supported turn -- one which she begins with a standard pirouette in passe, then drills the supporting leg down and continues, spinning, spinning, spinning. She started the turn -- and he pushed her over, failed to catch her, whatever -- she *kept* drilling and spinning -- one, two, three, four, *five* turns -- though he didn't catch her until she was 45 degrees from the floor of the stage! Brava, Paula!

Regarding references to the relative height of the dancers -- this is an increasingly taller company. There remain a couple of small women -- Kendra Mitchell and Paula Hartley, and one of the new hires is in that category -- but there are quite a few ladies hoving in the 5'9", 5'10" range. There is even a new dancer taller than the 6' Kenna Draxton.

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That's funny -- seen them a few times together, and Kenna has looked shorter. Maybe it was a matter of posture or a trick of perspective. Regarding the other -- no, Stinger, about this I am correct. I've been looking at this company and it's predecessor for lo 20 years and more, now. The average female dancer is *much* taller than in the past.

Being tall yourself, and having the perspective of your own relatively recent timeframe, perhaps your idea of "average" is relative to your own height and the change has been less apparant. It says something when the four "small" swans include dancers who are around 5'6", like Chelsea Wilcox, noted above. Similarly, Ginger Smith and Jillian Barrell are around 5'5". They are in the range of the average American woman. Kanako Imayoshi, Tzu-Chia Huang, Chelsey Saari,Beau Campbell, Jennifer Ham, Sasha Edelman, Kara Hanretty -- all are several inches taller. As I said, several in the 5'9", 5'10" range.

There was a time, back in the Uthoff days, when the short dancer was the teenincy Bonnie Rich -- at what? -- 4'9 -- and the tallest was Judith Adee, at about 5'7". Over time, the Uthoff dancers have left, and Ib Anderson has more and more tended towards taller female dancers.

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Sorry AZ Native. As you did pop Chelsea Saari into my head, as she has been out with injury recently but is now back and getting ready for Nutcracker, the girls you mentioned are not 5'9" or 5'10".

Kanako, the next tallest girl after Kenna and Jessica, is 5'8". Probably much of what you are seeing is that the dancers just know how to hold themselves as Baryshnikov did unless he was standing next to Patrick Bissell. Sorry to bust your bubble on this one.

All in good fun of course. :angry2:

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Maybe on pointe vs. off pointe could be part of the difference. Merrill Ashley, who was at least 5'7" had very small feet, and she didn't seem to gain much on pointe. Other shorter women would look a lot taller that I'd have expected.

I'm glad to hear that Chelsea Saari has recovered from injury. She was one of the three Fates in last season's "La Valse", and she was the one who "got" her role. It made me want to see her in the lead.

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