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Swan Lake-Spring 2014


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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.

Well, it's not a given that one has to get married to have a child.

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I was there last night. Having an inadequate O/O really makes all the weaknesses of this production so obvious. First Hee Seo, I agree with much of what's been said. She is a beautiful woman, with lovely proportions who can get her body into beautiful lines. She has obvious technical limitations and is not particularly musical. Not once did she shape a musical phrase in a way that touched me, surprised me or made me pay attention. She just went on as best she could step by step by step. The moment in Act II when Odette is struggling and then bam - suddenly under Von Rothbard's control was so undramatic, that the person I was with thought it was no longer part of the choreography. IMO she shouldn't be a principal in a major company. On the other hand, last night's performance made me wonder if ABT is still really a major company.

The dancing on the whole seemed pretty unfocused. I think because no one is told to have a musical imperative so there is a lot of dancing kind of around the music, not really with it. The pas de trois Teuscher, Shevchenko & Mathews looked strained. The women's dancing in particular looked inorganic and contrived, as if the perfect head tilt was the object of the whole thing.

Bolle was appropriately introspective and princely. Yet even he danced as if musicality or even staying with the music was far from a priority.

I guess I mostly feel that there is no artistic vision behind the company. There is a need for better coaching and sense of what the company wants to be. NYCB, SFB and PNB all have strong identities. Whether you like them or not is another matter, but you know what they are and what they are after. What is ABT trying to be?

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IMO she shouldn't be a principal in a major company. On the other hand, last night's performance made me wonder if ABT is still really a major company.

Reports like these make me all the more frustrated that Seo has been given the "primetime" SL slots, despite my favorable impressions of some of the effects she was able to achieve on Monday night. At ABT, the Wednesday matinee has traditionally been for younger artists still in development, and clearly Seo remains in that category for roles like O/O and Aurora. I think she could have really benefited from more time as a soloist, just as Boylston has.

Part is a mature, fully developed artist whose O/O is her calling card. I think ABT should be ashamed for relegating her Swan Lake to the Wednesday matinee, especially given everything else that has happened this week. The Simkin/Boylston SL was poorly sold and apparently no one in these forums bothered to see the Herrera SL. An artist like Part, who reliably delivers in SL, deserves so much more from ABT's administration.

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Well, I am not in the bashing KM camp as I think that it is still evident that ABT is one great company and if that is true then KM, at the helm, eeds to get credit for that too. If there were another AD people still would be complaining about casting choices, productions, etc.. It is painful when you have a dancer you have been following and would like to see promoted, get passed over. I'll bet it is painful for KM too. Still, he is weighing a lkt of things. Some people complain about taking on Whiteside, but I readily understood at least some of why he did. Whiteside has a flair and brings a new excitement to the roster and be is strong and I bet will just get better and better. Still, after all that I do so wish I was seeing V. Part or P. Semionova with Bolle tonight - that would be ballet heaven!

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

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.

I felt somewhat the same way in St. Petersburg last April when Olga Esina, whom I really wanted to see, had to cancel out of Giselle and was replaced by Hee Seo. Just take out "Lakeside Acts" from your quote above and substitute "Giselle" and that's exactly how I felt. I thought she was "marvelous." As for Alina (whom I've never seen in Swan Lake, still greatly want to and consider to be one of the finest ballerinas in the world) not being able to appear again, I was flattened by that news last year, until almost immediately it was announced that Maria Kochetkova would take her place. What a save that was !

Also so glad to hear all the fine comments about Veronika.

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Another report on last night. I found both Seo and Bolle a little blah. Seo is very beautiful in many respects but to me just does not project the magic and interiority needed for this role. As for the fouettes, while I enjoy technical wizardry (a la Gillian Murphy), I don't require it. Still, it seems that the ability to do a series of clean singles, more or less staying in place, should be a basic requirement for this role. I found Bolle attractive but not what I'd call riveting.

There were smaller moments and smaller roles, however, that I enjoyed. For me the revelation of the evening was Zhiyao Zhang (hope I'm spelling that right), dancing with Joseph Gorak in the Neapolitan. I've heard raves about Zhang on this board, but only ever seen him in minor, peasant-type roles. Now I see what people are talking about. With his super-clean and effortless technique, and wide-open, appealing stage presence, he threatened to outshine even the beautiful Gorak.

I enjoyed the Spanish dance, especially the men, Calvin Royal and Luis Ribagorda. Royal has an inherent nobility. I have the feeling he hasn't yet fully embraced his tallness, but he should. Ribagorda was super-committed and intense.

Finally, I usually avert my eyes from the Swamp Thing, who (which?) I find ugly and awkward. Last night, however, I paid some attention to him/it. It's further testament, if further testament were needed, to the skills of Roman Zhurbin, that I felt sorry for this creature. He seemed sad, lonely, and tortured, not knowing how to get along with others, not knowing how to find happiness, and farfetched as this may sound, he actually wrung some of the evening's most heartfelt emotion out of me.

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the big one for me that is head scratching is why couldn't Bolyston or Part have been given another O/O when the casting this week went up in smoke? I've just never thought that Seo was a good choice for O/O to begin with from a technical perspective AND then you add in the fact that ABT is asking her to do it 2 nights in a row ALONG with doing the second half at last minute's notice on Monday...that's just completely unreasonable.

I understand that Matthews and Whiteside were set castings for purple von rothbart, but there's no reason that ABT couldn't have had one of them do a Seigfried instead and ask one of the other guys (let's be real, Gomes could have been an option -- but not another Seigfried) to do von rothbart...and THAT's what is incredibly frustrating about this week...i know that having the company scrap the original castings would have caused an uproar since people do purchase tickets based on castings...but nothing is worse than them pulling Cojocaru/Cornejo so last minute as is...but at least it would have been more feasible and would have produced better results if ABT had just redone the castings for Friday and Saturday evening completely...(i.e. Seo/Bolle/Hammoudi to Friday night and then have Part/Whiteside/Gomes on Saturday evening, tbh, von rothbart casting can be switched around easily, wasn't there a year when Radetsky did 3 von rothbarts in a row? or someone did a seigfried and von rothbart in the same day but one at the matinee and the other at the evening...) and honestly, if they didn't want too many changes, they could have had the proposed "new cast" do the Friday evening performance and left Seo/Bolle for Saturday night...

this entire week has just been an absolute mess, and you can't blame the dancers at all...injuries happen, BUT they all also know that means some one has to step up b/c the show MUST go on. so I feel like they would have been amenable to a solution that was better than what ABT ended up doing...sigh.

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Also does Martins' salary include his duties as the head of SAB?

I don't believe so. Per SAB's 2011 IRS 990, Martins was paid $106,050 for his services to the school. NYCB and SAB are separate organizations; each has its own EIN (IRS Employer Identification Number) and files its own 990.

The schedule to review for this kind of information is Form 990, Part VII: Compensation of Officers, Directors,Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors. Always enlightening.

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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).

Re the principals, not necessarily. It's not unusual to find a principal dancer or two on the list of highest paid employees filed with a dance companies IRS 990 (Part VII is where you want to look.)

If you compare ABT's and NYCB's 2011 990s (the most recent available) here's what you'll find:

NYCB

Wendy Whelan $172,730

ABT

Paloma Herrera $190,547

Julie Kent Barbee $187,064

Gillian Murphy $174,129

Now it could be that overall NYCB's principals are more generously compensated than ABT's, but fewer of them individually are above the threshold that would require their income to be reported on the organization's 990.

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I hope some of you who attended Friday night also attend Saturday night and tell us about the comparison, especially Bolle/Seo. This sounds like ghoulish voyeurism, I suppose, but I am hard-pressed to think of such rigorous performances on two days, back-to-back. I have only been able to think of a couple of episodes remotely comparable:

(1) When Baryshnikov did "Baryshnikov at Wolf Trap" in summer 1976, he did two consecutive nights. He actually did five dances each night. (The opening movement from Push Comes to Shove was omitted on the DVD, alas.) But he was also 28 years old at that point, while Bolle is 39, isn't he? And Baryshnikov had lots of advance planning for that tour.

(2) As some of you might remember, when Baryshnikov's full-length Don Q premiered at the Kennedy Center in March 1978, Baryshnikov-Kirkland did the premiere on Thursday night and a second performance for the Saturday matinee. Martine van Hamel as Kitri was visibly injured on-stage in Act I on Saturday night. Somebody found B&K having dinner at the Watergate Hotel next door and they came back over to do the Saturday evening performance, from scratch. But even then, Baryshnikov was 30 and Kirkland younger (and in great shape), although that is one exhausting ballet to do twice in one day.

It does happen that people step in on short notice, but it seems so unusual for it to happen in such a grueling ballet as Swan Lake on two consecutive days. Has anybody encountered that before?

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Hmm...The Mariinsky has occasionally cast back-to-back performances of Swan Lake (for example) with the same leads--Kondaurova last summer for example and also on tour earlier seasons. Not saying it's a great policy, but it has happened. A few years back Osipova did two different full length principal roles one after another at the Bolshoi (I think it was Coppelia one night and Giselle the next--I read about it on this website). I'm sure there are other, though probably still relatively rare, examples. Especially when there are injuries and cancellations. Some may remember the Nureyev touring marathons, too, -- where he danced pretty much every performance of full-length ballets on a lengthy tour (Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet etc.) And one couldn't really predict which performances would be "on" which made it a bit of an adventure to attend. Again, not advocating this, simply saying it's not unheard of...I don't know what was behind Mckenzie's decision, but I don't assume it was for the heck of it...

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Interesting examples, Drew, although Osipova would still have been quite young (early 20s?), and some of Nureyev's performances late in his career were painful to see. Surprising to hear that about Mariinsky, which seems to have such a deep "bench." In interviews, Baryshnikov seemed to acknowledge that performing such ambitious schedules in the first few years after his defection probably resulted in avoidable injuries. Bolle seems to be in great shape, of course, but Seo sounds so insecure in the role. Oh, well, I hope people will see it tonight and tell us about it.

This reminds me of an awkward interview by a local TV entertainment reporter last fall with the three principal women who were going to alternate in Giselle with Colorado Ballet (9 performances over 2 weekends). The reporter asked if it felt strange to "share" the role and they all seemed puzzled. Well, she asked, why can't one person do the same role at every performance, like they do on Broadway!

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It does happen that people step in on short notice, but it seems so unusual for it to happen in such a grueling ballet as Swan Lake on two consecutive days. Has anybody encountered that before?

In Russia I've seen this sort of thing happen enough not to be surprised. Evgenia Obraztsova once did two debuts of Le Reveil de Flore in a row because the other ballerina was unable to appear. Another time Leonid Sarafanov did at least three Sleeping Beauties in about a week at the Mikhailovsky. Last year I was calling the Mariinsky Festival (to myself) the Yekaterina Kondaurova International Ballet Festival because she seemed to be appearing almost every night, including doing all the leads in Jewels one night. If they need you, in you go, and you'll probably be outstanding.

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Ekaterina Shipulina danced almost the entire run of Medoras when the Bolshoi brought "Le Corsaire" to the Kennedy Center at the end of the 00's, including back-to-back evening and matinee performances, about which she had been told during dinner after the evening performance. Alexandrova flew to Moscow after the opener, and Osipova ended up in the hospital.

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On tour, I guess, the companies from Russia only take so many dancers. In California Oxana Skorik performed three of the seven Swan Lakes in Costa Mesa and then did another two or three in Berkeley. If there's an injury, the sky's the limit, I suppose.

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We generally notice this when it happens to the Principals, unless we know a company throughout the ranks and wonder why someone isn't dancing or why the program doesn't match who's on stage. Although we've heard from Womack how she was sidelined, on the other side of the spectrum Mariinsky and Bolshoi dancers have been vocal about overwork.

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In many interviews dancers from Russia say that being constantly tired is the norm. I wish it weren't so.

Added: On the other hand David Hallburg said that he had too much free time on his hands at the Bolshoi and another ballerina returned to the Mariinsky because she didn't know what to do with herself in Germany.

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I attended this afternoon's performance and I'm seriously speculating that Cory Stearns reads our forum. I thought his acting today was greatly improved from Wednesday. I had the sense he was adding, quite successfully, an acting dimension to his already accomplished partnering and dancing. He interacted with others on stage, smiled when appropriate, was excited by his birthday gift, turned his face upwards into the light and towards the balconies, ran instead of ambled, added much more emotion, always tastefully. For me, just as Wednesday's performance was all about Part, today's performance was all about Stearns.

Although Semionova is a technical wizard, I found her interpretation seriously lacking. I had no sense of an interior life, as they say, her arms were flapping every which way, her upper body expressed nothing of tragedy. Admittedly, she was better as Odile than Odette, but overall I think someone's earlier characterization of her as ABT's in-house ballerina was underscored by her performance today. Of course, she got deafening ovations and applause, but for me she paled in comparison to Part.

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Agree with everything Angelica said above about the matinee today.

I really enjoyed Semionova's Act 3 (she held that balance for a really long time!!). I think she is an amazing dancer, but there really wasn't that much of a difference, personality wise, between her Odette and Odile. She's just not soft enough for Odette. This was the first time I saw Stearns, and I thought he did a fine job. I sat in the back of the orchestra and thought his acting was fine. He did a good job partnering Semionova, I didn't see any shakiness in the lifts.

My favorite part: The PdT in Act 1. Stella Abrera is so darn gorgeous. She has the most beautiful arms. While she was dancing, all I could think was she has perfect Giselle arms. Wish I could go to the Phillipines to see her Giselle.

Also interesting...I sat next to a corps member's mother and got to talking about ABT. She pretty much confirmed the general thoughts everyone has had about the lack of opportunities/promotions for ABT corps/solists and the unfortunate situation of bringing in so many guest artists.

That was my last ballet of the Met season. I feel sad. I think I'm going to have to get a subscription to NYCB, I don't think I can wait 10 months for next year.

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That was my last ballet of the Met season. I feel sad. I think I'm going to have to get a subscription to NYCB, I don't think I can wait 10 months for next year.

ABT has a two-week fall season at the State Theatre/Koch October 22-November 1. I asked at the membership desk when we could expect an announcement of the rep and was told July. It looks like Push Comes to Shove and Pillar of Fire will be on the program, at least guessing from the rep for Kennedy Center next March. Fancy Free also looks likely, judging from the Instagrams Gillian and Marcello sent out yesterday of photo shoots on the Plaza with "75" (for ABT's 75th anniversary).

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Agree with everything Angelica said above about the matinee today.

I really enjoyed Semionova's Act 3 (she held that balance for a really long time!!). I think she is an amazing dancer, but there really wasn't that much of a difference, personality wise, between her Odette and Odile. She's just not soft enough for Odette. This was the first time I saw Stearns, and I thought he did a fine job. I sat in the back of the orchestra and thought his acting was fine. He did a good job partnering Semionova, I didn't see any shakiness in the lifts.

My favorite part: The PdT in Act 1. Stella Abrera is so darn gorgeous. She has the most beautiful arms. While she was dancing, all I could think was she has perfect Giselle arms. Wish I could go to the Phillipines to see her Giselle.

Also interesting...I sat next to a corps member's mother and got to talking about ABT. She pretty much confirmed the general thoughts everyone has had about the lack of opportunities/promotions for ABT corps/solists and the unfortunate situation of bringing in so many guest artists.

That was my last ballet of the Met season. I feel sad. I think I'm going to have to get a subscription to NYCB, I don't think I can wait 10 months for next year.

Kaysta get that NYCB subscription. I am a big fan of that company, it's my favorite in the world. I'm selfish and would love to hear your thoughts about their performances.

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My favorite part: The PdT in Act 1. Stella Abrera is so darn gorgeous. She has the most beautiful arms. While she was dancing, all I could think was she has perfect Giselle arms. Wish I could go to the Phillipines to see her Giselle.

Kaysta, many of us on this board totally agree that Stella Abrera is an exquisite ballerina and would make a perfect Giselle. Perhaps you know that she was scheduled to dance the role some years ago but got injured. Then she was scheduled a second time, but wasn't fully recovered yet. For the last couple of years she has been perfectly well, and even danced 10 Auroras in 30 days with the Royal New Zealand Ballet about two years ago, so she's up for anything. However, she has been passed over for roles and promotion in favor of inferior dancers with lesser technique and artistry. I have written to Kevin McKenzie about this, not criticizing his other dancers, but advocating for Stella, and I'm sure my letter went directly into a black hole. It's a very sad situation and I know many people who are both sad and furious that she has had to dance Myrta to Giselles who have been given the opportunity to cut the line in front of her.

By the way, if she were dancing Giselle in the Philippines with anyone but Whiteside, I would seriously consider making the trip.

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