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Swan Lake-Spring 2014


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I also don't see why PR has to be danced by another "princely" type. The solo is IMO perfect for shorter, demi-character dancers. They can adjust the cape or whatever. But no reason why Arron Scott or Luis Ribagorda can't dance PR. As it stands they are casting PR with dancers who can fill in as Siegfried (Hammoudi, Whiteside, Matthews).

Also this kind of last minute casting changes/overdancing is just going to leave principals more vulnerable to injury.

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Per Schedule L of NYCB's 2011 IRS 990, Peter Martins was paid $77,450 for "Choreographic Royalties / Fees." I believe that this is on top of his base compensation of $775,000. I checked the same schedule in ABT's 2011 IRS 990 and found nothing there regarding McKenzie. His base compensation is substantially lower than Martins' by-the-by: $295,257.

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If ABT is looking for a "Puck" to replace Cornejo I can recommend Alexander Peters of Pennsylvania Ballet---I saw him this month at the Kennedy Center in the

Balanchine version and he was a delight---he was also recently promoted to soloist....

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Also this kind of last minute casting changes/overdancing is just going to leave principals more vulnerable to injury.

Along with this line of thinking, I can't believe they are asking Hee Seo to dance Swan Lake two nights in a row. That, to me, is putting her in harm's way.

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I also don't see why PR has to be danced by another "princely" type. The solo is IMO perfect for shorter, demi-character dancers. They can adjust the cape or whatever. But no reason why Arron Scott or Luis Ribagorda can't dance PR. As it stands they are casting PR with dancers who can fill in as Siegfried (Hammoudi, Whiteside, Matthews).

Also this kind of last minute casting changes/overdancing is just going to leave principals more vulnerable to injury.

I don't think PR needs to be "princely," but the role, as it is currently conceived, imagines Rothbart as a physically intimidating, villainous sexpot who (literally) tosses princesses aside. I'm not a height-obsessed ballet fan, but I do think McKenzie's creation is much more convincing with a tall dancer. The costume, certainly, can be incredibly unflattering to shorter dancers.

That said, I'd be happy to see PR go by the wayside for the reasons you and others have pointed out. It has been so much fun to see Gomes and Hallberg dance the role in the past and I enjoyed Matthews' interpretation very much, but the role is turning into more trouble than it's worth. I like the idea of a Rothbart danced by ONE dancer over the course of the evening, and I very much agree with you that it would be an excellent opportunity for one of ABT's many talented corps members or soloists.

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If ABT is looking for a "Puck" to replace Cornejo I can recommend Alexander Peters of Pennsylvania Ballet---I saw him this month at the Kennedy Center in the

Balanchine version and he was a delight---he was also recently promoted to soloist....

I think Gabe Stone Shayer should be considered for Puck. He studied at the Bolshoi school and Ratmansky cast him right after joining ABT's corps to dance the leading role of Ariel in the second cast of his "Tempest". McKenzie has been neglecting him passing over Shayer for Bronze Idol or Gypsy Boy in "Don Q". Zhiyao Zhang has danced both those roles well and should be covering Puck.

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Calvin Royal would be great as Purple Rothbart.

Calvin Royal, yes. And how about Thomas Forster? I think he would be great in this role. He was deliciously nasty in "Moor's Pavanne" last time around.

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If ABT is looking for a "Puck" to replace Cornejo I can recommend Alexander Peters of Pennsylvania Ballet---I saw him this month at the Kennedy Center in the

Balanchine version and he was a delight---he was also recently promoted to soloist....

I think Gabe Stone Shayer should be considered for Puck. He studied at the Bolshoi school and Ratmansky cast him right after joining ABT's corps to dance the leading role of Ariel in the second cast of his "Tempest". McKenzie has been neglecting him passing over Shayer for Bronze Idol or Gypsy Boy in "Don Q". Zhiyao Zhang has danced both those roles well and should be covering Puck.

Agree that Gabe is extremely talented. I saw him as the lead gypsy twice!

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Calvin Royal would be great as Purple Rothbart.

That is an inspired suggestion, cobweb!

Like. Also, Tom Forster has the height that McKenzie wants in a Purple Rothbart (Ivan Vasiliev was compared to Puss in Boots in the part on this site). He also has the strong technique and a wonderful sneer. This season Forster has shown some acting chops in different roles - High Brahmin in "Bayadere" and Bossy Ugly Sister in "Cinderella". He should be on the list for Purple Rothbart. How about breaking them both in as Rothbart in Australia?

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You know what I wish? I wish that Cojocaru would marry Johan Kobborg and take one and a half to two years out of her career to have a baby and let her body (especially the feet) heal up. Then go back to the barre and get back into top shape and resume her career. I know there is a question of money and a short ballet career. But several NYCB women have burned out, taken a few years off after repeatedly injuring themselves in the same place. Lopatkina also took a long hiatus after a serious injury. It may give her body the rest it needs to heal and actually may add a few years to the latter end of her career. Hallberg cannot have a baby (though he may want to wink1.gif) but may also need to take a hiatus and let his body heal - ditto Cornejo.

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Amen to Gabe Stone Shayer as Puck.

Why don't they let US do the casting instead of McKenzie?

THAT is a good question...

in all seriousness...can us BA folk can pool our money and buy out KM so we can fix the mess he's making?!?!?

seriously, all the casting suggestions made on these boards all season long have been better than what ABT has been cobbling together in the past week...but most of all, i love that we all have an appreciation for dancers in the company who are not yet "stars"...here's to hoping they get their chance before they go the way of Golding...

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You know what I wish? I wish that Cojocaru would marry Johan Kobborg and take one and a half to two years out of her career to have a baby and let her body (especially the feet) heal up. Then go back to the barre and get back into top shape and resume her career. I know there is a question of money and a short ballet career. But several NYCB women have burned out, taken a few years off after repeatedly injuring themselves in the same place. Lopatkina also took a long hiatus after a serious injury. It may give her body the rest it needs to heal and actually may add a few years to the latter end of her career. Hallberg cannot have a baby (though he may want to wink1.gif) but may also need to take a hiatus and let his body heal - ditto Cornejo.

Interesting suggestion. She must have discussed with doctors etc. -- at least I should think. Years ago I read an interview with Gordeyev on this subject; he came back strongly after a bad injury and insisted that the key was taking a long time to let the injury fully heal and said he felt most dancers came back too early from their injuries. However, it may be Cojocaru's problems pose too many risks (eg require surgery from which she might not come back etc.). That is, everyone is different. Still, whatever may or may not be a good choice for her, I suspect there was something in Gordeyev's words...too many dancers don't take the time they need to heal.

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Alina just posted two back-to-back tweets with apologies:

Very sorry not be able to be on stage tonight with Herman and the wonderful ABT company! Looking forward to next time we share the stage!

Alina Cojocaru@DancingAlina 16m

Injuries often happens in our profession,sadly I am forced to rest for a few days before I can come back to full working programme/shows.

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The casting change slip inserted into the programs tonight stated that Alina Cojocaru is injured and unable to perform. There was no mention of any injury or illness to Herman.

Turns out Hee Seo's Act IV is her best act. I thought for sure her Act II woud be better than average, but I was wrong. As she went through the choreography, she failed to connect one phrase with the next. It was like she was going through a mental checklist of what the next movement was, and was therefore too busy to concern herself with the flow from one movement to the next. She didn't interact much with Bolle. Her focus was just getting through the choreography of Act II. Sometimes she also lost focus of what her arms were supposed to be doing, and would just fling them without any thought of making them look beautiful.

Her Act III was danced better on Monday than tonight. The characterization was very good, but not the execution of the choreography. That balance that she held so nicely on Monday was gone almost instantanously tonight. The fouettes were even more sloppy tonight than on Monday. Since Act IV contains mostly mime and no difficult spins, she must have been relieved because she danced much better during the final few moments.

Bolle was terrific. He used every second on stage to create his character during Act I. Anyone who wants to see the creation of a pensive introspective Siegfried in Act I should watch how Roberto does it. He changed some of the choreography in Act III to make it a little easier. Who can blame him? He's not young anymore, and he has to do this again in 24 hours! He fudged one of his landings, but other than than he did good work. His acting was first rate and his partnering was very secure. He lifted Hee with no difficulty or strain.

Hammoudi has improved greatly in the characterization of purple Rothbart. However, I thought his dancing was noticeably strained. When he had to rotate on one foot, you could see he was making all kinds of little adjustments of his foot because he was not secure. Worse yet was that tonight he attempted to go on demi pointe while lifting his other leg into arabesque, which is what the choreography calls for. This did not go well at all. The foot that was on demi seemed almost to be shaking, and he could barely raise the other leg (maybe just a few inches, that was it). It looked bad. Is he still injured?

All in all, a less than thrilling evening. Was fun to see many ballet talkers at intermission. I will not be making a return visit to a Hee SL for quite some time. I'd like to check out Boylston during the next run of SL next season.

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Long time lurker, first time posting! Agree with everything above.

Having been to 4 SLs (Murphy->Seo/Gomes; Part/Steans; Semionova/Gomes; Seo/Bolle) this week, I have to agree that Friday evening's performance was by far the most disappointing. I wanted to watch Cojocaru/Cornejo of course, and I leave New York tonight. But my interest in a Seo SL was piqued after her Monday Black Swan (substituting for the injured Murphy) but she was scheduled to perform only on Saturday evening, until the switcheroo that occured yesterday..

Anyway, last Monday her Black Swan opening with Murphy was breathtaking. Despite the sloppy solo, I thought it would be better today after more preparation. However, while she traveled less during her fouettes today, she fell off her double fouettes at the end of the coda section. As mentioned, she also failed to hold her balance (Bolle quickly saved the situation).

Act 2 was really boring today. To add to the above: while I have always liked Hee's back (she was also beautiful with it today) her arms were just left trailing behind or following the force of gravity. Her beautiful port de bras were there only when she was close to stationary. While I walked off Semionova's performance feeling the same, at least Polina's O/O were clean and technically amazing..

I have always thought Hee was somewhat special, and Monday's and today's black swan opening showed her potential. If she can manage her solo well, she may well become one of my favorite Odiles. I hope tomorrow evening's performance would be better. Looking forward to read how they compare!

The rest were really good. Very entertaining spanish dance today. Best neopolitan (Joe Gorak, Zhiyao Zhang) who are technically secure compared to other neopolitans..The pdt was not really musical and clean. Except for Jared Matthews of course.

The orchestra felt so tired today. Lacked volume and I could not feel the passion in the score. Anyone felt that way too?

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Per Schedule L of NYCB's 2011 IRS 990, Peter Martins was paid $77,450 for "Choreographic Royalties / Fees." I believe that this is on top of his base compensation of $775,000. I checked the same schedule in ABT's 2011 IRS 990 and found nothing there regarding McKenzie. His base compensation is substantially lower than Martins' by-the-by: $295,257.

Wow, that's quite a significant difference. I wonder if NYCB is just in better financial health than ABT? Also, I would bet the principal dancers at NYCB make more money than those at ABT (the NYCB corps certainly should make more because they do much more dancing).

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Last night's performance of SL was the third one I have seen this week.

Monday was a peculiar evening for me, because I felt simultaneously weary and intrigued by what was happening. I really like Gillian Murphy, but I simply could not get into Act II --the heart of the work for me-- at all that night. I had mixed feelings when it was announced at intermission that Hee Seo would be replacing her. Having seen Murphy last year in this work I knew that she would have been wonderful in Act III. On the other hand, I wanted to take a look at Seo, whom I haven't seen much of at all. In general I was disappointed, although this had partly to do with my strong dislike of such a major casting change in the middle of a performance --because it makes the necessary suspension of disbelief required of the viewer even more difficult.

Several posters have heaped lavish praise on Veronika Part for her performance at the Wednesday matinee. I couldn't possibly agree more with them! She was utterly ravishing! Watching her closely the entire time she was onstage I appreciated anew how many things the ballerina who plays O/O has to do. In fact some things could have been done better; and yet her performance on the whole could only be characterized as exquisite. It's hard to imagine a more gorgeous Odette (she is truly great at all the adagio sections of the work -- the most beautiful ones, in my view); but we're (some of us anyway) used to this by now. So what is especially impressive nowadays is how good of an Odile she is too. I simply don't understand the logic of giving her only these matinee performances!

One more thing that needs to be said about the Wednesday matinee. While I certainly can understand some of the criticism directed at Cory Stearns, I must say that I also enjoyed his performance. He dances much, much better than in previous years, and it seems to me that his partnering is now more accomplished too. His ability in the acting area may perhaps improve with time.

Like so many others I was looking forward to Alina Cojocaru's SL, although I found myself necessarily lowering my expectations a bit after Veronika Part's great performance. I was very disappointed and somewhat irritated to hear that she was cancelling her appearance this year too. The entire situation seems a bit odd to me. I feel like I'm going through some kind of Pavlovian conditioning which will end --I fear-- in my associating the words "Alina Cojocaru" and "Swan Lake" with the word "cancellation". Some of us cannot afford to keep dishing out amounts like $160.00 for a "good" seat in the expectation of seeing her.

So taking into account my reaction to Monday's SL and my frustration with Cojocaru, I found myself in a poor mood for Friday night's performance. To my surprise, things turned out a great deal better than I expected. In point of fact I found Hee Seo way more enchanting than the posters above. I felt that her dancing and acting in the Lakeside Acts were both quite marvelous. To me all her movements were connected and made me lose myself in the story, as well as appreciate the timeless music Tchaikovsky wrote. From where I was seated her interaction with Roberto Bolle seemed quite superb. As far as Bolle himself is concerned --not having seen much of him so far-- I realize now why he is considered such a star. He is simply magnificent, and has everything you could ask for in a male ballet dancer. He is tall and handsome, and along with his great dancing and acting abilities has wonderful partnering skills. During the entire length of the wondrous Act II there was in the orchestra section I was seating in some kind of appalling feedback (?) noise. Typically I have an extremely low tolerance for any kind of distraction during a performance. It is a tribute to the work of both Seo and Bolle that I nevertheless kept my entire focus on what was going on onstage.

It's true that in Act III Seo did not hold that balance she held on Monday night. And her fouettes were --if anything-- somewhat worse, because she ran out of steam and ended that sequence badly. This is an area she clearly has work to do. But to me these flaws by no means substantially detract from the overall impression made by her performance. In every other way --most importantly her solo-- she was as good or better an Odile as she was the former night.

There was much fine work from other members of the company too. I find Acts I and III a bit tedious if they are watched several times over the period of a few days; but the performances from the leads helped me enjoy them a lot last night. I particularly enjoyed The Great Hall sequence with Siegfried (and later Rothbart) and the Princesses. As far as Acts II and IV go, they were utterly gorgeous! Each and every swan deserved to be given a bouquet of flowers of her own. I realize how much this production is disliked (or should I say despised?), but I have sort of accepted its limitations and try to enjoy the beautiful moments it contains. I must be just about the only person who likes the opening of Act IV, for instance. And I really like the moment when Odette runs to the edge of the precipice when she first appears. Seo handled this, as well as her fall a few minutes later (Act IV here is way too short) beautifully!

For me the casting "fiasco" turned out okay after all! My apologies for the long post. It's high time I learned how to express myself when discussing ballet. I have been attending performances for years, but I'm a complete outsider to this world. Its movements and vocabulary are alien to me. My love and appreciation of its great beauty is visceral. I guess one can say that every ballet performance I attend makes me feel a bit like Prince Siegfried when he first encounters Swan Lake.

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