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Until now, we had been discussing the upcoming 2011 Gala within the 2010 thread, so I'm opening up one that's for this year's event, scheduled for March 22 at NY City Center Theater.

Press release with the updated line-up of stars here:


Moving from the earlier discussions about the changes in originally-announced stars, I wrote:

Yes, Ekaterina Kondaurova is out...and Alina Somova is now in! She will dance the world premiere of a pdd by Benjanim Millepied. Her partner will be POB first soloist Alessio Carbone. Perhaps the Mariinsky wanted to make-up for Somova not having performed in the big Canada tour of Baya and Lake? On the positive side, I bet that she will be more appealing in a modern work, than in the classics.

I also see that the Bolshoi's Ivan Vasiliev is back in the program, dancing Don Q pdd with Cuba's Viengsay Valdes.

EDITED on March 15 - I see that the YAGP Gala management has pulled the above link. The program has changed, including NO SOMOVA or CARBONE cited as dancers in the Millepied piece. At present, no dancers cited for that work.

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Tonight's YAGP was horrible overall, with mediocre to downright nastily poor performances by almost everybody, except for the following:

> Viegnsay Valdes (National Ballet of Cuba) and Ivan Vasiliev (Bolshoi)

Don Quixote [Grand] Pas de Deux

This was the first time I had seen I Vasiliev live. His leaps and turns and many other movements are so imbued with power. He is a very lively and animated dancer, with a great deal of energy and aplomb, if not as much finesse as I prefer in a danseur. A truly memorable experience with Vasiliev dancing at the very end of the evening. The ballerina Valdes did well as well, and made it a point to hold her balances during the PDD for much longer than normal.

> Thomas Forster (ABT corps) and Rubinald Pronk (Dutch National Ballet)

Live Piano Performance by Conrad Tao

Ami -- World Premiere

choreo: Marcelo Gomes

music: Chopin

One of two world premieres of pieces choreographed by ABT principal Gomes (the other being "Paganini" with music by the same, performed by Francesca Podini of La Scala with a live violin accompaniment on stage). I liked this piece. There are two spotlights on a largely darkish stage. Two men are moving acrobatically and artistically, in a somewhat synchronized way but at many times with individual differences in extension or body placement. The overarching theme could be either an angst-ridden romance between the two danseurs or a theme of competition. I liked the dancing and I liked the ambiguity in what the piece was portraying. Of course "ami" denotes friend in French, so the romantic component was possible (although a romantic friend would be "petit ami" in colloquial French).

> Yuan Yuan Tan and Anthony Spaulding (SF Ballet)

Diving into the Lilacs; choreo Yuri Possokhov; music Tchaikovsky

I've seen Tan in this piece before in NY. She had nice lines like the last time.

Other than that and a decent "Stars of tomorrow" piece by the Students from Beijing Dance Academy called "Point and Line" (choreo Zhang Di Sha; music Wen Zi), the rest of the performances were poor or worse than that. Particularly autrocious were Myriam Ould-Braham and Karl Paquette of the Paris Opera Ballet, performing "Delibes suite" (NY premiere; choreo Jose Martinez; music Fado Portuges) and the stopping of the recorded music midway through the "Grand Defile" large cast performance at the end of Act I when all the YAGP 2011 finalists were performing.

Fortunate I saw Vasiliev perform live for the first time.

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I have to agree that this year's "Stars of Today" were pretty disappointing. As noted above, Vengsay Valdes and Ivan Vasiliev were thrilling. Yuan Yuan Tan and her partner (don't have my program) from San Fran. were also lovely. Danny Ulbricht from City Ballet did a fun, short little solo that showed off his jumping and spinning skills. I thought Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle were pretty wonderful in the pdd from Wheeldon's Mercurial Maneuvers.

The biggest disappointment were the two dancers from Paris Opera Ballet. I would have expected them to thrill. I didn't like any of the new works. The first piece, with the dancer from La Scala, was a boring waste of time. The pdd for Forster and Pronk was well danced, but the choregoraphy looked amateurish. I thought the pdd for Carreno and Hamrick was also pretty dull and simple.

At nearly 3 hours running time, I would say that there were very few thrilling moments in the overly long evening. I'm glad I stayed to see the amazing Valdes - Vasiliev pdd from Don Q.

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Some additional snippets of info: I think the Benjamin Millepied premiere piece may have ended up not being performed, for whatever reason(s). Like in a prior year, I saw Cory Stearns in the audience. The overall announcement of each performance was done in an amateurish way. For example, if you are going to say "piece d'occasion", try to pronounce it in a correct French manner.

The first Marcelo Gomes piece with the La Scala ballerina dancing herself on stage, but around a violinist who was also performing onstage, left a lot to be desired. I always think that choreography that only looks interesting because the ballerina in this case had an unusually long and wiry (and not traditionally classic) body is probably not the best expression of choregraphy. The violinist was also a problem in this piece. I'm not looking for Gil Shaham or Itzahk Perlman, but at least play without meaningful squeakiness that leaves audience members questioning whether you are bette rthan a recording.

The Carreno/Melanie H piece was, as noted above, disappointing. Melanie wore a purplish pink long gown that was attractive, but the piece didn't have a lot of interesting choreography that didn't rely on the lines of the dress and Melanie's long red-tinged hair. The hair actually got in the way of the ballerina being effective, i think.

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