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ABT at The Met 2010 Opening Night program


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I am glad to be able to read this gala as it appears there was much to applaud including its benefactor Mr. Koch.

However, I personally would have liked to have read a more detailed exposition of the various pieces danced and the performances given.

On this site in the past, I have learnt to expect shades of a professional review instead of unnecessary personal remarks about dancers with little detail of their actual performances.

Sadly the result is that I felt underwhelmed by some writing which I think robbed the reports of the status of the event and the dancers.

Thankfully there were some contributions that gave a flavour of what after all was a kind of special event.

All though I do not always agree with Alistair Macaulay I enjoyed reading his review.

See:- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/19/arts/dan...a.html?ref=arts[/url]

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". . . let's keep politics out of this board. . . "

Another commenter had said ". . . David Koch received surprisingly little applause from the audience considering how much money he has contributed. . ." I offered a possible explanation that's been in the news. It's also possible that the audience didn't make the connection between the David Koch being introduced on stage and the David Koch whose name is now on the (former) State Theatre next door. Or perhaps the audience was distracted by the presence of Baryshnikov or Makarova or other stars of the past and didn't realize how much $$ Koch has donated to the ballet. I suppose there are all sorts of explanations for the tepid response from the audience, some political, some not.

He gives a lot of money to PBS too, maybe the audience is full of NBC executives. He got more applause than Ms. Trump, who needs to work on her presentation skills.

I still prefer to keep the discussion apolitical. It was not terms for expulsion, but still a cheeky political slap.

I think ABT did a great job last night, Mr. Koch deserves the accolades for his support.

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Alastair M says, for the full context of his comments on Stiefel's blondness: "Although “Don Quixote” features Spanish characters, Ethan Stiefel appeared with his hair so ultra-blond that he looked as if he were auditioning for the Hitler Youth. His partner, Gillian Murphy, also seems singularly non-Hispanic, but the liquid ease and skill of her dancing, especially in her brilliant legs and feet, certainly makes me want to see her dance several other roles."

Alastair's comment seems misguided by the basic, but flawed, tenet that the leads in Don Quixote have to look Spanish. Yes, the ballet features Spanish characters, but it does not flow from that that Basilio and Kitri should physically look Spanish (including with respect to their hair color). Alastair's flawed point is made again when he notes that Gillian "seems singularly non-Hispanic".

Taking the converse of Alistair's argument to the extreme, to illustrate how silly his argument is, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are not Spanish characters. So, would a Latina ballerina be inappropriate, just because of her ethnic origin, to play those leads?

Sadly the result is that I felt underwhelmed by some writing which I think robbed the reports of the status of the event and the dancers.

See:- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/19/arts/dan...a.html?ref=arts[/url]

Well, the only way to rectify that is for more people, like yourself if you attend future ABT performances, to post. Otherwise, you will be left with what the particular attendees who did take the time to post felt about the event. And, no, despite the quality of other members' write-ups of performances, we are not professional reviewers and hence do not take it upon ourselves to provide professional-quality reviews (especially in my case, as a relatively recent ballet goer of only the past several years).

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I am actually more interested in the audience responses to the various dancer/alumni who were introduced, especially Baryshnikov and Makarova. Was the audience surprised and thrilled just to see them on stage? I didn't see any hints of their presence in the advance reports on the event. I also don't recall Baryshnikov's presence at an ABT gala (at least not on stage) since he left the company in 1990, although perhaps I missed it. His departure as director was reportedly less than completely amicable (I'm being diplomatic here -- the details, whatever they were, are not really of interest at this juncture), and I wonder what it took to get him back on this 70th anniversary occasion. Nudging from MacKenzie or Makarova?

I found an interesting report on the 60th anniversary gala on-line:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-05-10/ente...susan-jaffe-abt

It reports that when Alicia Alonso appeared on stage to make a few remarks the cheers were "deafening." It will be interesting to see what they have planned for her birthday celebration June 3 this year.

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I was there too last night. My impression is that Mr. Koch didn't get much recognition when his name was announced but did get some decent applause later on.

Many of my observations are echoed above. However:

La Dame aux Camellias: this was very well danced. Bolle's passion and commitment impressed me and showed his skills as an actor rather than as a very pretty face and body. His partnering was magnificent. Bolle is not quite the acrobatic technical virtuoso that other ABT men are/have been. However, he has artistic skills that are continuing to be revealed to us as he does a wider range of roles. Julie looked very lovely and expressive. This will be very good. I don't think Neumeier is idiotic or trashy. He does use a lot of acrobatic lifts in a style used by Cranko and other 20th century choreographers. This Act III pas de deux had emotional specificity.

Giselle: Hallberg and Osipova have been dancing this ballet in Russia. Osipova showed greater refinement in her upper body and style. What was interesting about her exciting Giselle at ABT last season was that her Act II Wili was still a tormented, febrile creature and her virtuosic aerial dancing with those huge jumps were full of that nervous energy. The PDD last night had much softer Romantic arms and more inward emotion - it will be interesting to see how she develops. Hallberg was all that one might expect and hope from him in this role. He now seems to be Osipova's preferred partner. This is interesting as they have very different plastiques, height and style of movement. But they work well together.

Swan Lake PDD: Part's Odette has always been more subtle than her Odile which has always been a straightforward vamp. I would like a touch of "mystery woman" added to the mix rather than just a smiling femme fatale. A little Greta Garbo "don't come too close" attitude but really attracting the moth to the flame thing. However, some of those supported pirouettes were veering to the side and Marcelo had to straighten her out. The fouettes in the coda were solid and there were no gaffes.

Sleeping Beauty Act III PDD: Xiomara Reyes was promoted because ABT needed a tiny virtuosa ballerina to partner Herman and Angel and Xiomara fit the bill. Sarah Lane is the only shorter ballerina currently. Her natural metier is demi-caractere ballerina but indeed she is good as Kitri and also Giselle but I like her Lise and Coppelia too. Tiny ballerinas have been cast as Aurora in the past and can make touchingly youthful figures in the part. I thought she danced pretty well. She is not as young as she looks and recently has had several injuries. Herman Cornejo had partnered Ashley Tuttle in "Theme and Variations" and the Times reviewer said he had trouble getting his arms over her head while partnering her and she is not that tall. Arm length is another factor here.

Thais PDD: Vishneva excels in oriental odalisque type roles (Nikiya in Bayadere and Zobeide in Scheherazade) and this was right down her alley. She brought the right kind elegant sensuality. Jared Matthews also danced well but his partnering was rough and several bad landings and messy turns were his fault. This will need more rehearsal if this partnership is to be repeated.

Rose Adagio: Michele Wiles had a tentative quality in the first set of balances. However, the final set with the promenades were very secure and she knew she nailed them. I am not sure I like her body type as Aurora but she seems to be able to dance it. I am seriously thinking of seeing her do it.

Don Quixote PDD: Ethan Steifel looked like he is back and seemed happy up there. I didn't think I'd see him dance this well again.

Birthday Offering: this looked a little stiffly danced to me (though Irina looked lovely in it). Hopefully it will settle in. What gorgeous music and choreography!

Caught: Okay this is Cirque de Soleil techno trash but for a gala it was a diverting curiosity. Basically the strobe catches Angel in mid-flight. We never see his feet touch the ground so he seems to levitate. It was cool. If this piece had gone on a minute longer I would have been tempted to walk out. Special effects to loud techno music. Angel is amazing though. His thighs didn't look that big to me.

Ballo per Sei: Edward Liang's choreography looked elegant and well-constructed and the ABT II kids danced it with polish. I would like to have seen the whole thing.

More observations later.

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La Dame aux Camellias: ... Julie looked very lovely and expressive. This will be very good. I don't think Neumeier is idiotic or trashy. He does use a lot of acrobatic lifts in a style used by Cranko and other 20th century choreographers. This Act III pas de deux had emotional specificity.

Fauxpas -- I agree with your take on La Dame aux Camellias.

However, I am not sure that the point where the excerpt begins is helpful to the audience taking the piece too seriously. Bolle is sitting in a slouched, perhaps dejected, position on the ground, his head down on the right hand side of the stage near the audience from the audience's perspective. In the middle of the stage is Kent, standing initially stoically with a large black cape or coat on. On her head, she has a black cap or hood that closely fits around her face and that has a lace veil that partially obscures her face, although the lace allows some portions of her face to show through. These opening positions seem a bit melodramatic.

There are other arguably slightly melodramatic sets of steps in the La Dame excerpt, presumably intending to either convey internal conflict on the part of Bolle's character or the sexual and other tensions so evident throughout the piece. For example, at one point, Bolle seems to be getting ready to leave the room, but dramatically comes back to be drawn in by Kent.

As mentioned above, there are some sequences of movements that seemed - at least to me -- to connnote sexual activity between the two characters. That is after Bolle removes her black dress and she is in the blush pink camisole-like number. Initially that number is visible slightly from the back when Kent has the dress on. Kent looked very fragile at times when she had the camisole-like number on. This made Bolle's character seem more forceful and powerful physically, presumably an intended effect. :)

ABT has been promoting Dame. I got a several-page color leaflet about Dame in the mail a few days ago.

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I was also at the gala and hope to post some comments later when I have time - but wanted to mention that I just saw a tweet from David Hallberg saying that he just found out that he won the Benois de la Dance. I assume this was in the best male dancer category where he was nominated for his Albrecht. Congratulations David!

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I was also at the gala and hope to post some comments later when I have time - but wanted to mention that I just saw a tweet from David Hallberg saying that he just found out that he won the Benois de la Dance. I assume this was in the best male dancer category where he was nominated for his Albrecht. Congratulations David!

Yeah! :)

Here is some info on the other nominees.

http://benois.theatre.ru/english/history/2010/

Can't believe that Boylston was nominated for "Everything Doesn't Happen at Once". I wonder if she won :)

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I was there too last night. My impression is that Mr. Koch didn't get much recognition when his name was announced but did get some decent applause later on.

Many of my observations are echoed above. However:

La Dame aux Camellias: this was very well danced. Bolle's passion and commitment impressed me and showed his skills as an actor rather than as a very pretty face and body. His partnering was magnificent. Bolle is not quite the acrobatic technical virtuoso that other ABT men are/have been. However, he has artistic skills that are continuing to be revealed to us as he does a wider range of roles. Julie looked very lovely and expressive. This will be very good. I don't think Neumeier is idiotic or trashy. He does use a lot of acrobatic lifts in a style used by Cranko and other 20th century choreographers. This Act III pas de deux had emotional specificity.

Giselle: Hallberg and Osipova have been dancing this ballet in Russia. Osipova showed greater refinement in her upper body and style. What was interesting about her exciting Giselle at ABT last season was that her Act II Wili was still a tormented, febrile creature and her virtuosic aerial dancing with those huge jumps were full of that nervous energy. The PDD last night had much softer Romantic arms and more inward emotion - it will be interesting to see how she develops. Hallberg was all that one might expect and hope from him in this role. He now seems to be Osipova's preferred partner. This is interesting as they have very different plastiques, height and style of movement. But they work well together.

Swan Lake PDD: Part's Odette has always been more subtle than her Odile which has always been a straightforward vamp. I would like a touch of "mystery woman" added to the mix rather than just a smiling femme fatale. A little Greta Garbo "don't come too close" attitude but really attracting the moth to the flame thing. However, some of those supported pirouettes were veering to the side and Marcelo had to straighten her out. The fouettes in the coda were solid and there were no gaffes.

Sleeping Beauty Act III PDD: Xiomara Reyes was promoted because ABT needed a tiny virtuosa ballerina to partner Herman and Angel and Xiomara fit the bill. Sarah Lane is the only shorter ballerina currently. Her natural metier is demi-caractere ballerina but indeed she is good as Kitri and also Giselle but I like her Lise and Coppelia too. Tiny ballerinas have been cast as Aurora in the past and can make touchingly youthful figures in the part. I thought she danced pretty well. She is not as young as she looks and recently has had several injuries. Herman Cornejo had partnered Ashley Tuttle in "Theme and Variations" and the Times reviewer said he had trouble getting his arms over her head while partnering her and she is not that tall. Arm length is another factor here.

Thais PDD: Vishneva excels in oriental odalisque type roles (Nikiya in Bayadere and Zobeide in Scheherazade) and this was right down her alley. She brought the right kind elegant sensuality. Jared Matthews also danced well but his partnering was rough and several bad landings and messy turns were his fault. This will need more rehearsal if this partnership is too be repeated.

Rose Adagio: Michele Wiles had a tentative quality in the first set of balances. However, the final set with the promenades were very secure and she knew she nailed them. I am not sure I like her body type as Aurora but she seems to be able to dance it. I am seriously thinking of seeing her do it.

Don Quixote PDD: Ethan Steifel looked like he is back and seemed happy up there. I didn't think I'd see him dance this well again.

Birthday Offering: this looked a little stiffly danced to me (though Irina looked lovely in it). Hopefully it will settle in. What gorgeous music and choreography!

Caught: Okay this is Cirque de Soleil techno trash but for a gala it was a diverting curiosity. Basically the strobe catches Angel in mid-flight. We never see his feet touch the ground so he seems to levitate. It was cool. If this piece had gone on a minute longer I would have been tempted to walk out. Special effects to loud techno music. Angel is amazing though. His thighs didn't look that big to me.

Ballo per Sei: Edward Liang's choreography looked elegant and well-constructed and the ABT II kids danced it with polish. I would like to have seen the whole thing.

More observations later.

Thank you for your well observed comments. look forward to reading more.

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La Dame aux Camellias: ... Julie looked very lovely and expressive. This will be very good. I don't think Neumeier is idiotic or trashy. He does use a lot of acrobatic lifts in a style used by Cranko and other 20th century choreographers. This Act III pas de deux had emotional specificity.

Fauxpas -- I agree with your take on La Dame aux Camellias.

However, I am not sure that the point where the excerpt begins is helpful to the audience taking the piece too seriously. Bolle is sitting in a slouched, perhaps dejected, position on the ground, his head down on the right hand side of the stage near the audience from the audience's perspective. In the middle of the stage is Kent, standing initially stoically with a large black cape or coat on. On her head, she has a black cap or hood that closely fits around her face and that has a lace veil that partially obscures her face, although the lace allows some portions of her face to show through. These opening positions seem a bit melodramatic.

There are other arguably slightly melodramatic sets of steps in the La Dame excerpt, presumably intending to either convey internal conflict on the part of Bolle's character or the sexual and other tensions so evident throughout the piece. For example, at one point, Bolle seems to be getting ready to leave the room, but dramatically comes back to be drawn in by Kent.

As mentioned above, there are some sequences of movements that seemed - at least to me -- to connnote sexual activity between the two characters. That is after Bolle removes her black dress and she is in the blush pink camisole-like number. Initially that number is visible slightly from the back when Kent has the dress on. Kent looked very fragile at times when she had the camisole-like number on. This made Bolle's character seem more forceful and powerful physically, presumably an intended effect. :)

ABT has been promoting Dame. I got a several-page color leaflet about Dame in the mail a few days ago.

In the full ballet, this PDD occurs a while after Marguerite's leaving Armand . His father had confronted her w/out Armand's knowledge .

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Macauley thinks Lady of the Cam. is "foolish". I guess I'm not surprised by his reaction, but most of the audience seemed to enjoy it.

In Macauley's mind, Ashton and Balanchine are the only choreographers worth seeing. :)

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The last sentence in the Macaulay review is priceless:

"When will Ballet Theatre mount a gala that celebrates the art of choreography rather than the art of flash?"

The answer, darling, is never -- it's not that kind of company. ABT is a company of stars. That fact is hardwired into the company's DNA, has been since the early 1970s and ever shall be. (See Baryshnikov's failed attempt to turn ABT into a Kirov/City Ballet/downtown modern dance hybrid in the 1980s if you don't believe me.) So, rather than retrodding ground that Arlene Croce covered more originally in her review of ABT's January 1975 gala ("Back to the Forties"), maybe Mr. Macaulay should consider accepting ABT for what it is rather than what it is not.

Rant over!!!

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The last sentence in the Macaulay review is priceless:

"When will Ballet Theatre mount a gala that celebrates the art of choreography rather than the art of flash?"

The answer, darling, is never -- it's not that kind of company. ABT is a company of stars. That fact is hardwired into the company's DNA, has been since the early 1970s and ever shall be. (See Baryshnikov's failed attempt to turn ABT into a Kirov/City Ballet/downtown modern dance hybrid in the 1980s if you don't believe me.) So, rather than retrodding ground that Arlene Croce covered more originally in her review of ABT's January 1975 gala ("Back to the Forties"), maybe Mr. Macaulay should consider accepting ABT for what it is rather than what it is not.

Rant over!!!

Thank you -- maybe even before the 1970s

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Alastair M says, for the full context of his comments on Stiefel's blondness: "Although “Don Quixote” features Spanish characters, Ethan Stiefel appeared with his hair so ultra-blond that he looked as if he were auditioning for the Hitler Youth. His partner, Gillian Murphy, also seems singularly non-Hispanic, but the liquid ease and skill of her dancing, especially in her brilliant legs and feet, certainly makes me want to see her dance several other roles."

Alastair's comment seems misguided by the basic, but flawed, tenet that the leads in Don Quixote have to look Spanish. Yes, the ballet features Spanish characters, but it does not flow from that that Basilio and Kitri should physically look Spanish (including with respect to their hair color). Alastair's flawed point is made again when he notes that Gillian "seems singularly non-Hispanic".

Taking the converse of Alistair's argument to the extreme, to illustrate how silly his argument is, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are not Spanish characters. So, would a Latina ballerina be inappropriate, just because of her ethnic origin, to play those leads?

Alastair's comments were bigoted to say the least. Very surprised "The Gray Lady" would allow such a racist remark.

To follow Alastair's logic: no Blacks or Latinas should dance as a Willie in Giselle, they are supposed to be ghostly and pale.

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I was there too, though at a much higher elevation due to more limited finances this year. My impressions... (unfortunately, I lost my program after the show, so am working from BT postings above re: order--I remember most of the casting.)

BIRTHDAY OFFERING:

Having previously only seen excerpts on video, or stills, I was glad to see (some if not all) live. I'm sorry I've forgotten the context of the 'birthday' it was originally choreographed for, but I thoroughly enjoyed the choreography...I'm not going to comment on the individual steps, which were lovely, but more how the formation, placement, phrasing would focus attention on one aspect or another, and yet remain a harmonious whole in overall action through symetry or synchronous attention by 'corps' and principals. I especially enjoyed watching the sync in the promenades, (en tournant or not) with of course many reminiscences of Petipa; the contrast in elevation (I mean that literally) between foreground principal action and supporting 'corps' to enhance one or the other--particularly remember foreground couples kneeling (backs to audience) while background corps couples did arabesques on promenade (of course visible in much Balanchine too); the consistant "V" formation to focus attention on center couple (ID, MB) so they could move forward in jete, or do their own mini-pdd amidst the larger action. Also noted the original costuming design? Was it borrowed from RB or recreated? In this pared-down age, it was something to see so many patterns and layers, and the heavy weight of the tutus.

BALLO PER SEI:

I saw ABT II perform at Mt. Holyoke College earlier this year, and I think posted some of my thoughts, the choreography may be perfunctory but I rather liked it. It was danced by 3 couples in the basic contemporary variation on casual/practice clothes that seems to be the norm--I also liked the colors and lighting. The couples would mirror each other, or move in sync touching each diagonal, they consistently reminded me of a flock of birds both in movement and patterns. There was also a nice attention, if not committed interaction, between the individual partners that was probably part of the choreography. It was short, sweet, and harmless. (Sorry, but I hate it when galas drag out their entire school to perform--I want to see the company, not a recital.)

SLEEPING BEAUTY- Rose Adagio:

Was it me? Or was almost every pdd's pace this evening taken in super slow-mo? (Wish I knew whether it was choice of the conductor or dancer(s)) It made for some VERY distinctive phrasing. Michele Wiles was tentative in the beginning, but very distinct and concentrated in each movement (thinking too hard?) because of that slow pace. She also had a very soft (hope these are correct terms--) 'legato' and 'plastique'--so that, to me, it seemed more "flowy" between the steps; not something I usually expect from Aurora or this work. As she progressed, though, the confidence grew, and the phrasing became sharper so that as noted she "nailed" the last set of balances, and I finally felt like I was watching SB rather than a gala excerpt. I think Ms. Wiles would be good to see in the complete performance, and hope she grows more assured in the role--she has the technique, just needs to go for it.

GISELLE-Act2 pdd

Again, the music's pace was SO slow it was an "adagio" spelled out in large capital letter; but still beautiful to watch. I was aware Hallberg and Osipova had danced this previously in Russia, and had seen the limited clips on YT (probably gone now)--I've never seen Osipova live. I was wondering how ABT was going to excerpt the pdd in this gala. (Though I think I saw Nina's at a previous year's ABT gala?) I agree with all the superlatives regarding Mr Hallberg's dancing--he really is the epitome of the classic prince both in style and technique. I'm sure it also has to do with his physique--the height, long line, strong carriage, and great arches. His partnering was sure and concentrated, his solo with some interesting variations--but I did see the technique behind it, and sometimes wanted to forget that and just watch. Overall, I preferred Ms. Osipova en l'air. In the other areas of the pdd (en terre), the arms were soft, but often not rounded--I think a Russian failing to really think through (or acknowledge?) the original Romantic technique. She would seem sweet and attentive and 'float' towards her Albrecht, or during the pdd, but then the arms would sweep too wide or high, or the wrists break and sort of dissolve the effect. All the low lifts (yes poor DH's back!) were nicely done, but that super slow pace to me put them behind the phrase quite often, then they would catch up and I would sigh in relief. Her soubresauts, (sp?) sautes, jetes etc.etc. were OMG breathtaking, and I finally understood all those previous encomiums. I loved the longer skirt of her costume which enhanced everything she did. (On a personal note, Ms. Osipova, Mr. Hallberg and myself all share a birthday--so I may have paid more attention, and felt more warmth than usual.) AND MANY MANY CONGRATULATIONS to David Hallberg for winning the Benois.

SWAN LAKE- Black Swan pdd

I'm sorry, but Veronika Part was off her leg through most of this pdd. It was a major distraction, and I was glad Marcelo Gomes was there to save her--several times! I have long wanted to see her Odette,--twice I've had tickets, but casting changes or timing negated matters--so now I paid attention watching her Odile. Again, I thought the pace was slower than I'm used to. I thought generally she was okay, but not something I'd run out of my way to see in this pdd--(NOT a comment on an entire performance which I've yet to see). I didn't really see 'swan arms' or the sharpness of attack Gillian puts into this. I was too far away (and forgot my opera glasses) to see whether she was vampish, expressively acting, or not. Marcelo's partnering saved the day, and was appropriate to the role. I really wanted to see his variation--but we only got the pdd and coda. Ms. Part's fouettes were centered, and solid, but not spectacular. (I totally agree with McCauley's comments about repetitiveness of choreography and tricks, and did prefer Ms Murphy's rendition of fouettes even in the different context of DonQ.)

I'm going to skip the next series, except to say that I agree with Macauley mostly re:

THAIS--beautiful to listen to and watch, yes some difficulties in difficult choreography, but competent for now--and probably better with time; would love to see all casts of this--so please post those who can. (This gala was a great chance for me to catch up on Ashton since I probably can't attend a lot of perfs this year.)

BRAHMS-HAYDEN: I've never seen this--(couldn't attend last fall at AVH). I was surprised how classical it was for Tharp, and much more restrained in her usual musical sly interpolations and choreographic mannerisms. Nice to see the corps and soloists though in something fast and lively.

LA BAYADERE-SHADES: At first I was very glad I didn't have to film this version--the lighting was very dark--but it also made the shades arms/legs look transparent from where I was sitting--that was stunning. I thought their sync was very good--and definately vast improvement on the London performance I saw in '07 and Met '08. (Hooray Susan Jones?)

AWAKENING PDD--I thought was rather flat. Is this the usual music used in the complete perf? I don't remember all those references to Nutcracker's score--which came first? Herrera and Stearns were competent, but I didn't see any interaction between them to place their roles in context; it was just two dancers moving through the steps. If this occurs when Aurora is woken, then I should have been giddy and excited, instead of just mildly interested and determined to concentrate on the choreography instead of the dancers.

SLEEPING BEAUTY - Act3 pdd

Yes, Reyes is paired with Cornejo much these days because of the height issue. She is a very competent dancer--and as others have said "reliable". (I am not put off by her petite physique--I've seen outstanding dancers do Aurora who were her height or less. If someone has the technique and artistry to dance a role I don't care what size/shape they are!!! The best Juliet I ever saw (other than Ferri of course) was two of her performances with Angel Corella 05 & 07; for once I believed this Juliet was a teenager who grew up very fast through the strength of her feelings.) Of course, I saw the slip on the first fishdive, maybe it was nerves or placement, things happen, but I wouldn't condemn the entire pdd for that. They both adjusted and moved forward. I saw Herman do SB with Sarah Lane at the OCPAC and they were fine then--and that was a debut by both! Herman Cornejo is a brilliant dancer, who is very dedicated and determined and can apply what he's learned. I'm VERY sure he will get stronger in his partnering. (Note: I miss Erica at ABT, but get to see her in Boston.) The difference in height between Angel and Herman is at most 4-6 inches; but Angel is good at adjusting to dancers very much taller than himself--eg. Tereshkina (still think their SL was gorgeous) and Somova at the Kirov in '08.

LA DAME AUX CAMELIAS

Bolle's height is a great advantage, and he is an able partner. He has gotten better as an actor over the years. I've seen many of the pdds from this ballet, but never the complete production. Given the context of the plot and Neumier's take on it, I don't have problems with the choreography of this particular pdd and it's purpose. If most of the dancing occurs in "flashback" then the beginning with Armand downstage in (saddened) contemplation is perfectly understandable--as is Marguerite's static solemn pose upstage. Also agree with poster above (FauxPas?) that the acrobatic lifts are consistent with this choreographer and echo Cranko--which was always my take on Cranko: often brilliant but often overly acrobatic. I SO missed Julie Kent last year. I adore her beautiful long lines, sensitive phrasing, and grace. I don't consider her as cold as Macauley does, but she does have a sort of contained quality that reminds me of those classic English balerinas of old. She probably enjoys being loose, funny, or crass when given the opportunity but I won't believe it. Maybe Ambonnay thought the choreography was suggestive in spots--but hey MacMillan certainly didn't avoid suggestion in his ballets, so why condemn others? If it's part of the plot and tastefully done--not always the case of course--then I don't have a major problem, and certainly didn't with this choreography.

DON Q - Pdd

Hey I thought Ethan's hair was as bright as Danil's, but I won't comment on it --what does that have to do with the dancing?! And of course, ethnicity should never interfere with casting when the technique and artistry is already present to perform a role--which this pair certainly have had for a very long time. I agree with everyone that it was good to finally see Ethan Stiefel able to perform at the expected level again--and add my well wishes to all that it continues. Gillian's fouettes were fun--her usual speed, attack, playfulness very much present in the quadruple multiples in the beginning and flashy fanwork (she has done this many times before). Not new to watch, but lots of fun--it woke me up again, and made me smile. (But yes Mr. Macauley repetitive to see more fouettes after all the previous renditions that night--though Gillian's were the most secure.) My ABT standard for gala versions of this, however, is still PH & AC on that PBS video from 1998.

CAUGHT

The music was way too loud--and I was in DC not in Orch or lower elevations. Blame the sound tech--probably a guy, (they can't hear as well as women), and probably trying to compensate for the large crowd--which absorbs sound, but still jarring to all of us who were lulled by a basicly flat evening of music. Ive seen this piece twice before--but not with Angel. I think he did it at an ABT gala some years ago; I know he did it once for a Parsons gala, and has since performed it in Spain several times. Everyone I've seen has varied the choreography slightly to suit their strengths. The beginning in the downspots reminded me of much of what makes Angel unique--surprise! but it's not his ability to turn; it's not the way he moves--others can do that, it's how. The latter portion under the strobe is more difficult and different. The DANCER controls the strobe; he jumps and clicks. So consider that dear audience/critics, and the quick timing between the jumps--sometimes almost crossing that huge stage very fast before leaping again. He once told me it seemed like he jumps over a 100 times--probably true. And that's why there are deliberate choreographed pauses centerstage under normal lighting--for our eyes possibly but more importantly to give the guy a break and let him catch his breath, even in the rafters I could see he needed that. But what I also noticed in those flashes was his amazing extension, the continuous and evenness of the height of the leaps in the circles, and the form. A strange present, after all the classicism before, but I appreciated the chance to see it.

apologies for length. (I agree with leonid's assessment of reviews, and hope I haven't bored or annoyed anyone.)

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The seven ABT alumni who were introduced were supposed to represent a decade of the company's history, although it seems to me that there was some overlap -- van Hamel, Makarova and Baryshnikov are pretty much contemporaries. I, too, was pleased to see Baryshnikov return, like the Prodigal AD. I hope whatever rift may have existed has, at long last, healed.

For me, the evening's pointless low mark was Caught, during which I was forced to not only cover my ears but also close my eyes. All my senses felt like they were under violent attack. I saw David Parsons dance Caught in a smaller venue. Either the strobe was less bright or the house was less dark, but I don't remember my eyes hurting then as they did Monday night. Then again, I was about 20 years younger, although I'm sure my age had nothing to do with it. :) Anyway, Parsons explained that the dancer holds the control for the strobe. It requires no special coordination with the crew. One reason why it was chosen for Corella may have been that with his busier schedule these days, once he learned the piece, he did not have to coordinate rehearsals in New York or with a partner. If the program could do without Jose Carreno (who appeared at the end in the end at the company's curtain call), it could do without this number. (BTW, Misty Copeland who, it seems, will not be dancing this season, also appeared then, looking beautiful).

Michele Wiles, on the other hand, rather than being "on her own," had four partners. I thought she looked radiant and confident from the start, and spent the rest of the adagio graciously showing us why. It was more than her balances, but the overall quality of her dancing, that left me feeling so satisfied.

I also especially enjoyed Osipova and Hallberg in the pas from Giselle. I did not expect Osipova to impress me as much as she did with her seamless lyricism and lightness. It surprised me, then, in the coda, that she chose to slow the tempo and go for height rather than lightness in her entrechats sixes. When you're famous for your elevation, perhaps you want every opportunity to show it off, but Giselle is full of opportunities to jump high. This particular passage, however, is probably best not made into one of them, since the bigger "little" jumps tend to land heavier. Not heavy, just heavy enough to ruin the illusion of lightness.

It was too bad that the partners messed up the first fish dive in their Sleeping Beauty pdd. Cornejo's problem as a partner has nothing to do with strength. He seems unable to read his ballerina -- where her center of balance is at a given moment or her timing. It's terribly sad, because he is such an extraordinary, stylish dancer. But otherwise, I liked the pas a lot. he pair gave a clean, unaffected reading. What Reyes lacked in regalness, she made up for with just the right touch of sweetness. But the Awakening Pas de Deux was a total washout, despite Cory Stearns' futile efforts to engage Paloma Herrera and elicit an acknowledgment of his presence.

I don't normally care about dancers' hair color in Don Q, but Ethan Stiefel looks like he's trying to out-blond David Hallberg. It is not flattering to Ethan, washing out his complexion, even with stage makeup. If he's trying to hide the very first grays, don't worry. We can't tell from the audience. I was actually proud of Murphy for not going for Big Balances in the adagio -- if she had, with her embellished multiple fouettes, it would have degraded the pas to a circus act. Less of more is more of less. :)

The ABT II dancers looked great in their excerpt from Edwaard Liang's classical Ballo Per Sei, a ballet I'd like to see in full at some point. Maybe a future acquisition for the senior company?

If the excerpt we saw of Lady of the Camellias, on the other hand, is typical of the whole thing, I may skip its whole run. It does look like a good vehicle for Julie Kent, a fine actress, at this stage of her career, but I'm not interested in the genre, which I think of as a lot of acting with a few steps thrown in.

All in all, it was one of the better recent galas.

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Here is the NY Post's take on the evening:

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/thea...s&FEEDNAME=

Consistent with members' comments, the Thais PDD, Giselle excerpt, and Dame aux Camelias generally were described favorably. The Don Quixote PDD gets decently reviewed, despite the description of the performance as having less polish.

Sleeping Beauty PDD was criticized for being a "generic performance". Part was slammed: "Veronika Part is riveting in the right roles, but the "Black Swan" pas de deux isn't one of them. Her flexible body is hard to control, and Marcelo Gomes was working overtime to keep her vertical."

Isn't it depressing for Part if she needed help to "keep her vertical" in a classic role that she should be very well-versed in?

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AWAKENING PDD--I thought was rather flat. Is this the usual music used in the complete perf? I don't remember all those references to Nutcracker's score--which came first?

The Sleeping Beauty music came first, but it was not used in the 1890 production, so Tchaikovsky re-used the theme in Nutcracker.

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AWAKENING PDD--I thought was rather flat. Is this the usual music used in the complete perf? I don't remember all those references to Nutcracker's score--which came first?

The Sleeping Beauty music came first, but it was not used in the 1890 production, so Tchaikovsky re-used the theme in Nutcracker.

Hans, George Balanchine took the gorgeous Violin solo from Beauty and added it to his Nutcracker. No other Choreographer uses it. The piece builds excitement to lead into the battle scene in Act I.

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Macauley thinks Lady of the Cam. is "foolish". I guess I'm not surprised by his reaction, but most of the audience seemed to enjoy it.

In Macauley's mind, Ashton and Balanchine are the only choreographers worth seeing. :clapping:

Friends of Connecticut Ballet co-sponsored a talk by MacAuley at the Wadsworth Antheneum in Hartford, the Museum sponsored Mr. B's green card and managed to buy almost all the costumes, sets and drawings from Ballet Russe. Mr Macauleys discussion was in depth and very knowledgeable.

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MJ, the reason Balanchine interpolated that piece in his Nutcracker is that the same theme was already in the Nutcracker score--during the music for the transformation of the living room and the growing Christmas tree. Thus, when he was choreographing his Nutcracker for NYCB and found he needed more music in Act I, he added the previously unused entr'acte from Sleeping Beauty.

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One note about galas and choreography. Choreography isn't best served by being presented in "bleeding chunks". Even the warhorse pas de deux from "Swan Lake", "Giselle" and "Don Quixote" were shorn of the solos leaving the pas de deux and coda only. The two Ashton premieres "Thais" and "Awakening Pas de Deux" were fortunate in that they could be presented in toto.

Also, unlike Macauley I consider Petipa, Tharp, Ashton, Neumeier and Parsons (though not in "Caught") major choreographers. Ratmansky, Robbins and Balanchine will be in the repertory mix this year. Kevin McKenzie with his background with the Joffrey in the 1970's is very conversant with major 20th century choreography and is interested in acquiring major works for ABT. We have seen more Ashton under his directorship than in any other period in ABT's history. In fact my major criticism is that McKenzie has neglected the Tudor, De Mille and the other founding ABT choreographers works. The Tudor centennial season at City Center last year was a partial recompense.

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One note about galas and choreography. Choreography isn't best served by being presented in "bleeding chunks". Even the warhorse pas de deux from "Swan Lake", "Giselle" and "Don Quixote" were shorn of the solos leaving the pas de deux and coda only. The two Ashton premieres "Thais" and "Awakening Pas de Deux" were fortunate in that they could be presented in toto.

Also, unlike Macauley I consider Petipa, Tharp, Ashton, Neumeier and Parsons (though not in "Caught") major choreographers. Ratmansky, Robbins and Balanchine will be in the repertory mix this year. Kevin McKenzie with his background with the Joffrey in the 1970's is very conversant with major 20th century choreography and is interested in acquiring major works for ABT. We have seen more Ashton under his directorship than in any other period in ABT's history. In fact my major criticism is that McKenzie has neglected the Tudor, De Mille and the other founding ABT choreographers works. The Tudor centennial season at City Center last year was a partial recompense.

Sorry to go off topic, but I get confused by the grouping of Ashton with Balanchine when they did not work in the same genres. Do

you not also think that in your list of admired choreographers, there is no comparison of like with like and I would suggest that each choreographer needs to be measured in the context of their individual style(s) not against one another. To reflect my rather elderly view, I would say that many dance works employ dancers’ en pointe, but they in my opinion remain dance works and not ballets.

Ps I know you personally did not start this argument and I especially enjoyed reading your review of the Gala.

As to comments elsewhere, regarding bigotry and racism, every classical ballet role has an emploi and I would suggest it is not too much to expect dancers’ appearance in the Don Q pas de deux to reflect the more than obvious Spanish influence. I have on occasion seen male performers wear black wigs to confirm the source of the appropriate characterisation and I am fairly sure Petipa would not have countenanced a blonde haired man performing Basil.

However, as a Gala is not necessarily so much about art, but borders on an entertainment, I am not surprised therefore, at a less than Spanish looking dancer performing the pas de deux.

Ps There was a particularly good series of posts on "emploi" on ballet talk in 2000 see:- http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...c=2919&st=0

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(BTW, Misty Copeland who, it seems, will not be dancing this season, also appeared then, looking beautiful).

Wow, I've been wondering where IS Misty? Will she really not be dancing this season, is there anything official on that?

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