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Swan Lake-Spring 2014

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I saw Semionova and Gomes dance Swan Lake in 2011.(Hallberg was supposed to dance but he was injured.) Both were fantastic separately and even better together. I have a ticket for the Saturday matine of Swan Lake. I wonder if it will still be Semionova and Hallberg dancing that performance.

And if Cornejo is still listed as out, who dances with Alina on Friday? Anyone know?

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I just returned from the Wednesday matinee performance, which was probably the most well-sold Wednesday matinee I've ever been to. Kudos to whoever in ABT's marketing department developed the American Girl Place promotion for today's performance. The audience was filled with little girls (and their dolls), and most of the children were remarkably well-behaved. It was nice to have a somewhat full house and lots of energy, especially since Part has been saddled with so many matinee performance this year. It was a breathtaking performance from her, but I think I'd rather start with the bad...

Stearns' performance today was the most dramatically inert performance I've ever seen on ABT's stage. In the past, he has been criticized for showing a lack of warmth and intensity towards Part, but today, he barely seemed to be there mentally. He might as well have been thinking about his Fairway shopping list for most of the performance. This is all the more frustrating because his dancing has grown very elegant and more impactful in recent years. And his partnering of Part was among the most impeccable I've seen (from a technical standpoint). However, he barely interacted with his court, the peasants, his mother, anyone. Who can say what he felt, if anything, during his birthday party? It was in stark, upsetting contrast to Gomes, who, at one point on Monday night got out of his throne because he was so engaged with Sarah Lane's dancing in the peasant pas de trois. I know everyone cannot be Gomes, but I've never seen someone--even Stearns--dance for an entire performance with nearly no variation in facial expression. He didn't seem to have feelings about impending marriage (either positive or negative); the princesses were simply there and he danced with them a bit. When he received the crossbow from his mother, he was like "oh, isn't that nice," whereas some dancers can make so much of the moment. The corps dancers standing on the sidelines were much more expressive than Stearns. At one point, Thomas Forster interacted with one of the court ladies and delicately traced his hand through the air, mirroring the way Siegfried later points to the swans alighting on the lake. It was more expressive than anything Stearns did all afternoon. It's one of the few times I've seen an ABT principal performance that is shockingly bad for dramatic rather than technical shortcomings.

I will be discussing Part's performance in a separate posting because, frankly, she inhabited a completely different world onstage.

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Part's performance today was lovely, though it didn't reach the dizzying heights of her past ones with Gomes and Bolle. She was expertly partnered by a dramatic non-entity. She could swoon and nuzzle all she wanted, but it was depressing to see her get so little from her partner in response. I've written much about Part in these forums, so I won't go into too much detail, but her upper body was as much a marvel as ever, even if her back may be slightly less flexible than in years past. She's a dancer who, like Mearns, seem to almost speak with her arms and hands. Part's swan arms seem to have grown more fluid, as well. She also seems to be one of the few dancers who can rub her head against her arm in a bird-like manner and make it look very subtle. Her dancing is expansive and delicate in all the adagio sections, and she just had a couple small glitches in both her white and black swan variations. I also loved her buoyant coda to Act II.

Part's black swan, over the past couple years, has become electric--a real highlight that it never was in her early years as ABT. She treats the black swan as sensuous and vampy (much like Seo), rather than icy and conniving. It was a joy to simply watch her facial expressions throughout that entire act, even if her partner seemed less than enraptured. Her fouettes were quick and secure and ended well with a nice double. She also really knows how to milk the backwards hops into arabesques to marvelous effect. Brava!

She received THREE bouquets onstage today and two more thrown from the audience. Her interactions with Stearns during the curtain calls were strictly businesslike, nothing more. She didn't kiss the rose she gave him, which I've never seen before, but she then remembered to do so when she gave him a rose from the second round of bouquets. She seemed moved by the outpouring of adoration from the audience, which was nice to see.

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I havent had time to report about the many performances that I have seen this year, so I decided to take a few minutes and do so for SL

Just arrived from Wed matinee, very well sold show. Very different audience than in the evenings though.

Part was once again sublime, I have no words to express the liquidity and exquisiteness of her upper body and more so of her magnificent

port-de-bras. Time stopped for me during act II, it made me remember why some British critics have defined her as the best swan queen in the western world. I believe she was using a different tutu, which had some dark colored feathers on he backside, resembling the tale of a real swan.

Her balances in high arabesque were ethereal, and the technique spot on. I was very impressed with her Odile, not only because the substantial improvement on technique but in the portrayal of the role, energized, seductive yet evil....I could go on and on, because Part's interpretation of this role is larger than life, brava.

Stearns partnered her really well, his lines are also gorgeous and his dancing has grown a lot as well. I still fond his interpretation very soft, lacking emotion, projection, very flat in general.

I attended to Monday's performance as well. Extremely disappointing. Gillian has grown in the role of Odette, and just seeing this technical marvel perform a Petipa ballet does it for me, I take basically what she gives and its a lot. However, there is no fluidity on the movement, there are brilliant moments connected through many not that brilliant ones, where the character, the upper body work, seems to be gone.....Sadly, she got injured (i think at the end, during the entrechats, she clearly made a small gesture of pain and almost went off point. I thought at first that she had slipped but it looks that it was an injury) I hope she can recover, I was dying to see her Titania, one of her best roles....

Regarding Seo, first, I just want to say that she is a professional Principal Dancer at a big ballet company in the world. A black swan coda on fresh legs, its really not a big deal for a ballerina at this level, especially for someone who has rehearsed the part for a show during the same week .....I can see that she has improved, but she is far far from the minimum technical skills required to perform Petipa choreography. The balance that some people are referring to, has been done by Herrera, Wiles, Murphy e Irina a few times, more so, hers was wobbly, and with the lowest arabesque ever, i.e., not pretty. Her variation and coda needs no comment. She has a super plie, beautiful lines, but to me the amount of tension in her upper body in Act IV killed the whole thing, she tried to use her wrist and fingers as some vaganova trained dancers but with a bad result, her right hand wide open all the time, as if holding a glass of water was incredible disturbing to me.....Poor Marcelo did everything he could and more to lift the show, this dancer is more than an MVP, he is pure heart and commitment, a true artist.

On to Semionova/Marcelo tonight, I saw their first show together here and loved it. Her following SL with Hallberg was a huge let down to me, I hope tonight, as always, Marcelo will get the best of her.

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I, too, attended today's matinee of Swan Lake. Over the years I have watched Part many times in this role and today I felt she reached new heights of artistry: she seemed fearless and much more secure technically than ever before; she used her upper body and port de bras with great fluidity and expressiveness; she neither overacted nor underacted--she was pitch perfect. Words almost fail me. She was ravishing and I was in awe of her performance.

It makes me sad to hear Cory excoriated so badly because I really enjoyed his performance today. Admittedly, I was sitting in Orchestra Row B, close to the center aisle, so I could see every nuance on his face. He is not a self-promoting dancer and doesn't play to the rafters, but I found his dancing/acting nuanced and sincere. He partnered Veronika with great attentiveness, putting her needs before his own, and in his solos he created beautiful lines and landed in beautiful fifth positions. He extended his renverses the extra bit that made them beautiful rather than simply correct. I felt that although he may not be the most expressive actor, and may not have the ability to play multiple roles at once, e.g., prince, son, friend, lover, foremost in his mind was the recognition that it was a privilege for him to partner the magnificent Part and he was going to do his darndest to help her shine.

I could write about other dancers (Stella Abrera and Melanie Hamrick were wonderful) but for me today's performance was all about Veronika--to my mind the best performance of Swan Lake I've ever seen from her. When I saw her in the company class onstage last Saturday she stood out from the rest of the dancers. Her body, with its long and expressive arms and legs, shaped by her superior Vaganova training, is a marvel, and she has reached a whole new level in being able to use it to deliver a stunning performance like today's.

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I have to say I'm with those who found Cory's performance today singularly disappointing. He was a blank, really. There was nothing. This was not subtlety, it was emptiness. Perhaps the most characteristic moment came when his mother asked him to choose a wife from among the 4 princesses. There was simply no interest. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was in (new, passionate, confusing) love with another woman. He just didn't happen to find anyone there who struck his fancy.

I was in Orchestra row H on the aisle. I believe that if there was anything to be seen in his acting, I would have seen it. There was next to nothing. I agree with everything angelica has written about the technical side of his dancing. In particular, the high arcs he achieved in his leaps during the Black Swan PDD were striking and gorgeous, and he was an exceptional partner in the sense of supporting and showcasing his ballerina. (The lifts were among the best I've seen of Veronika, who is admittedly difficult to lift with seemingly effortless grace. The supported pirouettes, though, I have to say were reminiscent of those three or four years ago.)

But dramatically, there was simply nothing there. He took no opportunity to make anything special out of any particular moment. This was on the borderline of acceptable in Act I, when Siegfried is supposed to be an uncomfortable outsider on the action of the court. But once he becomes enchanted by this fascinating foreign creature, there has to be something there, and there was simply nothing.

Veronika and Cory have been paired together in SL for at least the past three years, and last year I was delighted to see real growth in this partnership. Unfortunately, today's performance marks a substantial step back. I can only hope that this is a result of the fact that Cory has not been performing much in recent months, due to his injury. But what I really hope is that ABT's management will finally realize that this is not a working partnership and will give Veronika the partner she deserves: Gomes, or Bolle, or, heck, even Whiteside. She deserves better! She is a dancer of such vitality and passion and depth of feeling. She cannot achieve her greatest potential in the arms (however capable) of a crash test dummy.

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Angelica, I agree - today it was all about Veronika! I hadn't seen a SL from her for a number of years and it was an astonishing afternoon of beauty! Others have described the fine points of her technique. I'll add that her characterization was so clear and well thought out; a completely mature performance. I don't think I've ever seen an Odette that remained truly afraid of the prince who seems to offer his love so suddenly. She is not going to be easy to win over and she makes him work for her acceptance. And then in Act IV she didn't forgive him immediately. She seemed to be thinking that her instincts had been correct, this was merely a human man that betrayed her and couldn't break the spell. Of course she eventually recognizes his sincere grief at what he has done but this doesn't come easily. She was simply sublime in every way today.

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Semionova and Gomes tonight were spectacular.

Well, usually I totally agree with you, abatt, but this time, I will have to respectfully disagree...for me, Gomes WAS spectacular, and even better than on Monday, but Semionova was a disappointment, again. Not even close to the euphoria I felt when I saw them in 2011.

Yes, she is absolutely beautiful; yes, she pulled off all the steps perfectly, but somehow, even with Marcelo, she was boring. At intermission, the lady next to me commented, "it's beautiful but I'm falling asleep," and I had to agree.

Act III was better--Semionova seemed more engaged as Odile--and here she could display her technical chops--like a very impressive balance, and amazing fouettes. However, I actually really disliked how she only did triple pirouettes and made absolutely no effort to connect the turns to the music. It's not 32-counts to do whatever you feel like, in my opinion! As impressive as they were, I much prefer how Murphy does the fouettes: single, single, single, super pirouette--totally in keeping with the melody. But that's just me. The house went crazy, with a bunch of people in the orchestra giving a spontaneous standing ovation in the middle of the Act.

In the Giselle thread, someone mentioned that Semionova seems to have "no inner beat" or something like that, and I really noticed that tonight. At the end of Act II, she totally missed the point in the music where she poses in attitude and holds Siegfried's bow, and she was late again when she transformed into a swan. On Monday, Murphy hit the beat exactly and made both of these moments stunning--you could tell exactly when she fell under Von Rothbart's control, and when she transformed. I also have the same criticism for Semionova that I had for Cojocaru in "Giselle," which was that she occasionally milked balances in ways that interrupted the musical phrase, in my opinion.

I still think Semionova is a gorgeous dancer, and I really appreciate her technical chops, but having now seen her in Swan Lake 3 or 4 times at ABT, I'm looking for her to be more interesting in the role. As my friend commented, it seems like she does the exact same thing every time.

As much as I love Gomes, a Semionova/Bolle "Swan Lake" would be on my wish list for next year. The last time I saw Semionova look really excited on stage is when she danced with Bolle in "Sylvia"--and maybe a new partner (she's danced with Gomes in 2011) might help her bring something new to the role. And if not, at least they would be oh-so-gorgeous onstage together!

Edit--Oh, I almost forgot to mention--in the bows, Semionova had trouble removing a single flower from the bouquet to give to Gomes, so she just gave him both bouquets. (She did the same three years ago.) It was really sweet, and Gomes seemed really touched. Several people also threw flowers on the stage, so Gomes was able to pick a bouquet up and present it to her in return.

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Stearns, as noted above, Dull Dull Dull.

Certainly he could have been paired with equally dull Herrera this week, as he was in Giselle. It's no surprise that no one in these forums seems to have followed Herrera's performances. Stearns and Herrera are meant for each other. It really peeves me to see him drag down Part's SL year after year now.

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I also was a bit bored, Batsuchan. So much gorgeous on the stage from Semionova, but little to no fire. I didn't feel like she was a real sad swan; she went through the motions but didn't transformed herself into Odette. I spoke with a friend, and we agreed that she looked more like Polina doing the white swan variation. She did seem to liven up when performing Odile, but I still didn't truly buy that she was seducing Seigfried. She was 100% technically secure and showed off her chops. I was just yearning for some more emotion and passion from her. Gomes had it all.

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This is my first time watching an ABT production.

Just some observations:

The corps were lovely, but a little tired and unengaging on stage. It's my first time seeing Zhong Jing Fang on stage, I always wondered why her career stagnated after her prix de lausanne win and I guess this is why: she's very dull on stage. Great technique, but unengaged and a terrible partner.

Marcelo Gomes was wonderful. His technique was amazing but his acting was even better, and his lifts were perfect. Hammoudi had trouble lifting Polina.

Polina was a disappointment. Her Odette was...boring. At no point in Act II did I feel like this was a woman hesitant and falling in love, or telling her life story. Her arms are very expressive, and I liked that her physicalisation of Odette was lyrical and romantic, while Odile was more brusque and firm. But the acting was AWFUL. Poor Marcelo was giving his best in Act II while Polina pranced around and enjoyed showing off her gorgeous technique.

Act III was a lot better. Her Odile really came alive, and PS and MG had great chemistry in that act. You could tell by the way the whole audience came alive after Act II's snoozefest and Marcelo got really emotional at the end of it. I was disappointed that she didn't do the 32 fouettes though.

The theatre was packed, and PS got a huge standing ovation at the end of it, with repeated curtain calls.

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Count me as another one who found Semionova's Odette boring. She needs to work on her expressiveness as well as her arms (Ananiashvili anyone?). However, I really did enjoy her Odile. She did that long unsupported arabesque & the fouettes were great. I was doubly impressed because the tempi tonight was the FASTEST I have ever heard from ABT's orchestra. Truly Balachineque, I also have to applaud Marcelo for not only being ABT's MVP but a fantastic partner for everyone.

I thought the cygnettes (Trenary, Paris, Lane, Kajiya) were excellent as were the big swans ((Uphoff, Curry). However the corps looked a bit ragged to me; everyone's arms were at a different height, especially during the lakeside scene. It had me wishing for the Mariinsky.

Alexandre Hammoudi was a disappointment as purple Rothbart. The one point where Marcello used to hold an arabesque on relève forever, Hammoudi came down flat and simply didn't hold the arabesque. His acting (unlike his technique) was ok I thought.

In the PDT, Teuscher, Shevchenko and Hoven were competent if not exciting. I had been hoping for Lane, Gorak (maybe Stella) so I was disappointed.

Overall, though, I thought it was a pretty good SL, especially after the intermission. Semionova may not be a world class O/O but she definitely has her strengths.

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I sat in the Orchestra, I typically sit in the rings. It took me a few minutes to notice Seminova's perfect balance, and Gomes' perfect partnering. Polina was amazing! Many gasped when she did those perfect turns and piques.

I noticed one of the female corps dancers in the first act was wearing a leg warmer under her dress! If she had a pink or white one on, noone would have noticed. LOL. I almost happened to me once, but it is more obvious for guys in tights.

The auditorium was a bit humid, hard to balance comfort and coolness this time of year.

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I wonder who will be dancing for Halberg on Saturday? Would love to see Gomes, but that might be asking a bit much of the overworked guy! Based off the reviews, I'm actually disappointed I'm going to see Semionova. I should have kept my tickets for Part.

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I wonder who will be dancing for Halberg on Saturday? Would love to see Gomes, but that might be asking a bit much of the overworked guy! Based off the reviews, I'm actually disappointed I'm going to see Semionova. I should have kept my tickets for Part.

Hi Kaysta, Whatever else you do, you should always keep your tickets for Part. She is a world-class ballerina, and the best that ABT has to offer.

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Angelica, I agree - today it was all about Veronika! I hadn't seen a SL from her for a number of years and it was an astonishing afternoon of beauty! Others have described the fine points of her technique. I'll add that her characterization was so clear and well thought out; a completely mature performance. I don't think I've ever seen an Odette that remained truly afraid of the prince who seems to offer his love so suddenly. She is not going to be easy to win over and she makes him work for her acceptance. And then in Act IV she didn't forgive him immediately. She seemed to be thinking that her instincts had been correct, this was merely a human man that betrayed her and couldn't break the spell. Of course she eventually recognizes his sincere grief at what he has done but this doesn't come easily. She was simply sublime in every way today.

Barbara, I love the way you describe the dramatic arc of Part's performance. She truly did convey the trajectory of Odette's feelings, from fear, to forgiveness, to recognition of the only way out.

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Having slept on it, I concede that with a more engaged partner, Part's Swan Lake could have been a very different ballet. The only other partner I've seen her dance O/O with was Hallberg at a last-mnute substitution, and it was a disaster. He couldn't lift her and there was no emotional engagement. What struck me most about the partnership yesterday was that in the past, Part has overacted to compensate for the lack of emotion from Stearns, as if she was trying extra hard to pull something from him. That didn't happen yesterday. What did happen was that she seemed to trust that Stearns would be able to lift her and spin her (yes, there was one nail-biting moment) and she could dance her own story. I do think Stearns has one of the most beautifully proportioned body for a male dancer as well as a beautiful ballet line, and anyway, I'm a sucker for his adorable handsome visage. :)

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The replacement slip said Hallbeg is injured. Lots of casting changes probably on tap for next week.

No casting listed for Australia yet, but if it turns out that Copeland is getting a SL but not Lane, that will be a complete travesty.

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Frankly, I don't know what what some of the commentators are talking about. Last night's Swan Lake was, it seems to me, pretty much one for the ages - and evidently to the audience too, who were delerious. I didn't see Part (but after.seeing SB last year I declared her to be my favorite ballerina) and I certainly was disappointed in Semianova in T&V, but she was radiant last night technically practically perfection but also lovely in her relating to Marcello and vixen rather tban pure evil as Odette. She had many little.moments (watching closely through the glasses) that were rea)ly memorable. She and Part are both beautiful women and fine artists. Hammoudi still.seems to be recovering but the potential to be a great Rothbart is.apparent. Marcello and Semianova were magical in my opinion.

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Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine just tweeted that Misty Copeland will do O/O on the Australian tour. What roles has she done in NYC this season in SL? Anything other than the four little swans? Any BAers in Australia?

Apologies! I didn't notice that onxmyxtoes had posted this. As I haven't seen any SLs in New York this year, I'm still curious what roles she has had.

Excited to know that @mistyonpointe @ABTBallet will dance Odette/Odile in Brisbane @debjonesoz : http://deborahjones.me

Edited by California
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