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ABT fall season 2014

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I was there tonight. I really hope to read other impressions to compare notes, but here are mine. I thought it really a mixed bag. First thing - there were a lot of empty seats. I don't know why.

Raymonda Divertissements - IMO Hee Seo just doesn't have the amplitude, musicality and assurance to do this. It takes a ballerina that can do a lot with steps, port de bras and covering space. To me she doesn't own the stage and project enough to bring this off. Whiteside's variation was good. Copeland & Lane are a mismatched duo in the first variation, but it was pleasant enough. Skylar Brandt and especially Christina Shevchenco pulled off their variations well, but truthfully I'd love to see a little more musicality and phrasing.

Lilac Garden - I'm one who thinks this should always be in the ABT rep. I was with someone who rarely sees dance and she was riveted by the stop action moment and what followed. I thought Devon Teucher a good Carolin but didn't care for Part as the mistress. The main reason is that I never saw the "stop action" moments from her that suspend time. Martine Van Hamel was amazing in this way. Also some of the lifts didn't gel. There is one lift where she is almost parallel to the floor which became a move-though instead of a heart stopping moment. It's funny because my usual criticism of Russian dancers is that they seem to me to be too position oriented.

Fancy Free - Loved Gomes & Cornejo. Stearns didn't make much of his solo. Julie Kent was a disappointment in the pas, but maybe I'm too used to seeing Tiler Peck across the plaza.

I'm going again next week. I hope ticket sales improve.

I agree Vipa. "Lilac" should always be in the ABT rep. It is simply a superb example of dance drama and it would offer so many of the dancers an opportunity to do this type of work. Both the men and women would gain from learning and dancing this ballet. Last night was lovely. A few quibbles, but all in all a good rendering. (as an aside, I couldn't help wish that Carla Korbes had danced this role. To my knowledge she never has, but what a splendid Caroline she would have made). I enjoyed "Fancy Free" very much with the three guys just wonderful together. I especially liked Cory who had previously danced in "Lilac". What a contrast. Both women were fine with me. I missed Julio Brigado-Young's bar tender. A small role, I know, but he had just the right demeanor for it. The major misery of the evening was the "Raymonda". What a mess! No sense of style or spirit to the dancing. I agree that Sarah and Misty were ill matched. One couldn't help wonder if that was on purpose, given that both women are forever poised for promotion but...... Skylar is fine technically, but simply disappears on stage. With the horrible lighting this performance got, she was all but invisible. Would someone PLEASE show her how to put on make up? The four men were, as mentioned above, not in sync in any way. Not even stylistically. But that was true of the corps in general. Legs and arms all over the place. Lines not straight. On and on. The whole piece looked slap dash and thrown together. MAybe more rehearsal. Oiy! Seo and Whiteside totally forgettable. She's stiff and has no sense of elan or presence and his landings leave a great deal to be desired. Partnering was pretty rough. As mentioned above, the lighting was pretty bad and there was just a blue back drop for the most hideous costumes I've seen since "Sleeping Beauty". The corps looked like refugees from Hershey Theme PArk! Brown fur? Really? More oiy! Tutus overwhelmed the ladies and the men seemed to be in straight jackets. Doesn't anyone look from out front? Kolpakova got a bow at the end, but I wanted to throw tomatoes. Perhaps more rehearsal and a change of cast will bring this up to snuff. The best version out there is still from the "Trocks" who at least bring a sense of glamour and commitment to the work. Their epaulment is to die for. Last night looked like bored class work.

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Go see Sara Mearns in Cortege Hongrois in January, assuming she is cast in the ballet. She is thrilling. It will demonstrate what Hee Seo's variation SHOULD HAVE looked like.

Yes, the costumes for the Raymonda were quite ugly. That fake fur was awful.

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Good news. The boob grab and shake has been removed from the Scarlett ballet. The twerking has been reduced to a slight rear end shake. Glad to see McKenzie came to his senses. Don't know if the change is optional or mandatory. We'll see what Misty and Whiteside do in future performances

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Go see Sara Mearns in Cortege Hongrois in January, assuming she is cast in the ballet. She is thrilling. It will demonstrate what Hee Seo's variation SHOULD HAVE looked like.

Yes, the costumes for the Raymonda were quite ugly. That fake fur was awful.

I agree abatt, but that concerns me about ABT. In a two week season, every female lead in Raymonda should be a ballerina with a capital B.

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Just got back from the matinee and enjoyed all 3 performances. Thought Cassandra Trenary, Devon Teusher and Gillian Murphy were the standouts in Raymonda divertissements.

Seven sonatas was my favorite work of the day. The PDD between Stella Abrera and Calvin Royal took my breath away. I also enjoyed Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes, who both dance with so much passion. I wish I would have been able to see more of Xiomara before her retirement, because I think she brings such joy to the stage.

Fancy Free was also very entertaining and Danill Simkin was the standout to me but I enjoyed everyone. Overall, I thought it was a strong day. But then, I'm still easily enthralled, being a relatively new ballet fan.

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I attended today's matinee performance.

Devon Teuscher was a standout in Raymonda Variations. I bought a pair of her pointe shoes because I think she is on the way up. I look forward to seeing more of her.

Stella Abrera was breathtakingly beautiful in Seven Sonatas. It is criminal that she hasn't been promoted to principal dancer. Calvin Royal III has a beautiful classical line and dances with a naturalness that seems inborn. He only needs to work on pointing his feet more.

Joseph Gorak was stunning. Those ronds de jambe en l'air in the middle of pirouettes seemed effortless.

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I was at last night's performance. The house looked pretty full from where I was sitting.

Sinfonietta: it's a pleasant enough ballet but I'd have no need to see it again. It's pretty forgettable and the music (except for the horn sections) is boring. A lot of the dancing though was terrific. Stand-outs were Part (though she needed a better partner than Hoven; he's fine just not up to her level), Teuscher and Forster (they were a great pair), Royal and Salstein. Part is just gorgeous. Period. I'm so excited that she finally gets an evening SL in the spring so I can finally, finally see her majestic O/O that I've been reading about. Royal has the longest arms I've ever seen and the most joyful manner than anyone. His enormous smile makes me smile. I really hope big things are in his future. Salstein doesn't get enough credit/attention in my opinion. My eye is always drawn to him; he has a strong stage presence no matter what he's dancing, and is very quick and sharp. Forster is another beauty. His line is outstanding, his jumps are huge and his landings plush, has gorgeous feet and is a good partner. But, I think I see why he's still in the corps or lacking more opportunities. Despite his height, he kinda disappears onstage. He doesn't project at all and his face and upper body is always "quiet". Salstein should give him some advice (trust me I know that won't guarantee a promotion; how many other dancers do we all discuss here who have wonderful presence yet are forever stuck as a soloist or corps dancer?).

Lilac Garden: I haven't seen this in years and am so glad it's been brought back. Teuscher is such a lovely dancer but her acting wasn't strong enough. This is not Manon, but I didn't believe her grief and final resignation. Katherine Williams had some nice moments, and her gestures towards Teuscher and anothers were subtle but very affecting.

Fancy Free = Fantastic. The three guys were terrific. Cornejo was in prime form with his customary leaps, pirouettes, panache. He had real spunk. Gomes is such a natural actor with such charm. I was hesitant about Stearns being in this but his natural shyness and sweetness is perfect for this role. Kent and Abrera have clearly performed these roles many, many times, in a good way. Everything they did was just right. But, I kept thinking about the purse grab discussion on another thread here while watching this again. I did wince but I told myself to view this through 1940's eyes, meaning I think this was intended to be an "innocent" scene (I know others disagree and that's fine). And, the fellas (especially Gomes) did a good job of making it playful instead of menacing. Honestly, what made me more uncomfortable was the three of them following Abrera around. Who wouldn't be freaked out if 3 men were following you down the street? I don't know; I have mixed feelings about this entire section. Not everything ages well regardless of intention.

I'm so glad I didn't buy a ticket to see Scarlett's new piece after reading about the horrid manhandling here and in some reviews. I can't believe such rubbish made it to the stage even once; it's a small consolation that the boob/butt jiggling has been removed. How many angry donor calls did they receive that made McKenzie come to his senses?

Looking forward to Raymonda, Seven Sonatas, Thirteen Diversions next weekend.

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I attended last night's performance. For me the highlight was Bach Partita. This is such a beautifully crafted ballet it makes me wonder why ABT didn't revive it until last season. Especially thrilling was the magnificent Gillian Murphy, who seems to completely embody and thrive in the Tharp movement vocabulary. Also a standout was the pairing of Abrera and Royal. It's time to promote Calvin Royal to soloist. (Also time to promote Forster.)

There was a repeat of the Seo - Whiteside Raymonda. She looked better last night than on opening night, but that's not saying much.

Gaite is a guilty pleasure.

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I seem to be the only one here who admires Liam Scarlett. I saw 'Acheron' earlier this year at NYCB and just basked in his lyricism. I found "With a Chance of Rain" perhaps the

best new work I have seen these past few years. His relationships between and among the couples reminded me of Tudor.

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I was there Thurs. night and I thought the company looked great - something I haven't thought for a while.

Bach Partita a wonderfully structured piece was very well danced. Paloma Herrera (never a favorite of mine) looked wonderful. Obviously she is making a choice to retire in the spring. I wish her well with what ever she does.

Seven Sonatas - I know everyone loves this piece, and I love sections but I have to admit that at times my attention wanders. Scarlatti seems an odd choice as a composer. Never-the-less well danced by all.

Sinfonetta - I enjoyed it very much. It is a fun ballet with lots of choreographic themes and it's a piece that gives dancers a chance to show off their movement quality in a way ABT dancers don't often get.

A few notes about individual dancers - Marcelo Gomes continues to be my ideal in male dancing and partnering. As a dancer his technique is beautiful and masculine. As a partner he saves any misstep made by his partner while offering a gracious, respectful attitude that en-nobels himself and the woman. It makes them both look better. He never strikes a pose while partnering that says "look at me." Not all male dancers in ABT share this trait.

Sarah Lane looked wonderful in the soloist role in Bach Partita and the principal role in Seven Sonatas. Her port de bras is just gorgeous. She is not an "extreme" dancer in terms of wack your leg super high, but to me her arabesque line sings. Please give this woman more opportunities.

Aaron Scott - Who is this guy? He looked great in Seven Sonatas

Craig Salstein - Loved him in Bach Partita - He looked like a real Twiya dancer - I'm old enough to remember back in the day.

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Let's hope that at least some of these dancers who are performing so well this fall will be promoted in the next few months, e.g., Sarah Lane (she is getting two Sleeping Beautys in the Spring), Stella Abrera (she is getting two Cinderellas, but deserves a Petipa ballet), Calvin Royal III, Thomas Forster, Aaron Scott (I loved him in "A Month in the Country" when that was last performed), and let's see more of Devon Teuscher and Skylar Brandt. I do hope the promotions will happen quickly with the retirement of the three principals, all of whom have been splendid over the years, but it's time to move on.

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I went last night.

Most of the audience around me sounded "wowed" by Raymonda, but I found it barely tolerable with one or two exceptions. The plain blue backdrop and the costumes were awful (except the principal's costumes). In general, the corps was mostly out of sync. Devon Teuscher, as many have said, was extraordinary in her solo. She made one or two little baubles, but they were barely visible, and the rest of it was flawless - technically secure, confident and radiant. I find it interesting that the most difficult choreography was given to a soloist part and not the principal. Stearns and Herrera were fine but bland. Stearns had the same stiff look as he does in T&V. Herrera's port de bras have always been inarticulate and unmusical. The pas de quatre was out of sync as others have noted. Royal and Hoven were the better of the two (Royal was pretty great). Before curtain it was announced that Eric Tamm would be replaced by Patrick Ogle; no reason was given and Tamm danced later in the program. Ogle was in no condition to perform. I don't know if he's coming off of an injury or what, but he was visibly out of shape (very overweight) and could barely keep up with the others. He struggled greatly to get any elevation in his jumps and he nearly fell over onto the guy next to him after his final tour to the knee. Two rows ahead of me sat Allegra Kent. I'd love to know what she thought of this piece.

Seven Sonatas was as beautiful as I remember when it premiered. Hoven stepped up his game to partner Part; she was heartbreakingly beautiful. Lane and Arron Scott were to my surprise a wonderful pair. Where has that guy been? I was afraid he wouldn't be up to Lane's standards, but they were adorable together and his dancing was terrific. What high, clean jumps! What clean pirouettes! What presence he has! Lane's port de bras were as beautiful as ever. Shevchenko and Hammoudi were very good together; she is just lovely but Hammoudi just looks like he's phoning it in whenever I see him dance anymore. Watching this ballet I couldn't help but think how Part and Lane would have been perfect as the principal lead in Raymonda.

This was my first time seeing Thirteen Diversions and I loved it. I really liked the backdrop and how it kept changing colors and shapes. Joseph Gorak danced with a new confidence and I didn't see any of his first-few-minutes of nervousness (the result of his promotion?). Calvin Royal replaced Daniel Mantei and he, Gorak, Gomes and Tom Forster were quite a powerful foursome. THAT was a pas de quatre! I wrote in my comments from last weekend that I thought Forster didn't have much presence despite being such a wonderful dancer. Last night he projected so well! He's overdue for a promotion. Abrera and Teuscher were the best of the ladies.

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Same people - Nicole Graniero and Luciana Paris, Cassandra Trenary and Devon Teuscher.

P.S. I thought Stearns was awesome in Raymonda. Especially in comparison, because I thought Whiteside and Hammoudi were so NOT awesome in it. Whereas Whiteside and Hammoudi made the variation look like the most difficult and exhausting thing they've ever danced, Stearns soared through the huge leaps and jumps and made it look so much more effortless.

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Why was the back half of the Playbill all about NYCB? It had the NYCB winter season and all the NYCB donors listed. Did NYCB pay for all the advertising or is it some NYS theater house rule?

I noticed that too MJ. I just figured that ABT was doing it on the cheap, since it was just a 2 week season, and had their performance information inserted into pre-existing NYCB programs. It would have saved a lot of time & money.

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Playbill has been screwing up the Ballet 'bills royally. I'm not a printer, but I think you gotta run everything through a printer and stapler at the same time. I don't think it would make sense to keep old parts of playbills.

I assume it is:


Staple and fold


Box it up

Perhaps they added the ABT to the end of the NYCB season print run to save some money. They may have been printed weeks in advance.

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Perhaps they added the ABT to the end of the NYCB season print run to save some money. They may have been printed weeks in advance.

That looks to be pretty much what they did. The first and last 24 pages of the ABT program I'm looking at (including the inside of the front and back covers) is where all the advertising is, as well as the little "read me at intermission" featurettes -- i.e., they are essentially "prepackaged" pages that could in theory be used for any ballet audience. The 24 page ABT section of the program, which includes program information as well as ABT staff and donor information -- but no advertising -- has been inserted in the center of the program, between the first 24 and last 24 pages. As it happens, the NYCB and Lincoln Center donor pages take up 12 of the last 24 pages. I'm guessing that it was easier and / or cheaper retain those 48 prepackaged pages than to print a whole new run without them, especially if ads in the front half of the book sell at a premium.

Playbill contracts with presenters / theaters to produce programs for events. If I'm not mistaken, the presenter doesn't pay for the Playbill programs that handed are out during an event -- Playbill does. (I can't remember if presenters get a cut or not as part of the contract.) Playbill recoups the cost of production, printing and distribution from its ad revenue. ABT may not have had much say over what was in the program (other than its own info, of course).

Here's a link to Playbill's ad rate card, for whatever interest it may have.

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