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Best and Worst of 2014


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2014 is coming to a close, and I thought people might want to post thoughts on the the best and worst in ballet this season.

Best:

Russian Caviar

This year was unprecedented in terms of the number of ballet performances I was able to see of major Russian companies in the Northeastern US. The extravaganza started at the Kennedy Center in Feb 2014, when the Mariinsky brought a week of Swan Lake. It was a privilege to see this ballet performed by one of the great companies of the world, even if some of the casting was a bit underwhelming. The joy continued in May 2014, when the Bolshoi brought Giselle to the Kennedy Center, and also performed two weeks in New York City in July as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. (the engagment in July fell on an important birthday number for me, and it was a wonderful birthday treat.) We also got to see the Mikhailovsky here for the first time, and so many of their dancers were quite memorable. In addition, courtesy of ABT we were able to Smirnova, Shkylarov and Tereshkina in Bayadere. To top it off, in only a few weeks the Mariinsky returns to New York (technically Brooklyn) for two weeks, and is bringing even better casts for SL than they brought to the Kennedy Center.

NYCB's Wealth of Talent

So many exciting, rising stars at NYCB. Ashlee Isaacs blew me away in every new role I saw her in this season. Other exciting dancers on the rise are Russell Janzen, Harrison Coll and Harrison Ball. Ashley Laracey is making enormous strides. Peter Martins comes in for a lot of criticism generally, and sometimes with good reason, but nobody can dispute that he has found and nurtured a lot of very talented dancers.

Ashton's Cinderella

ABT finally has a Cinderella it can be proud of.

Worst

Bait and Switch - Alina Cojocaru's last minute cancellation of her Swan Lake performance. Seems like that may have been the last straw for her at ABT, as McKenzie has invitied many guest performers for the 2015 season but not her.

What were they thinking:

ABT has the dubious distinction of allowing Liam Scarlett to stage the most misogynistic ballet I've seen. It was pretty disgusting seeing James Whiteside grab Misty's boobs, and shake them like he was mixing a cocktail. Then we had to watch the two of them twerking. Worse yet, this ballet premiered on the gala opening night of the fall season, when a Ratmansky work featuring many children was debuting. There were tons of children in the audience. Did McKenzie think it was a great idea to show this disgusting, disrespectful, juvenile behavior to large numbers of little kids. .

Alicia Graf Mack Injury

Alicia is one of my all time favorite dancers. It doesn't matter if she's doing ballet or modern - she is always riveting. So sorry that she sustained a significant back injury this year. On the plus side, she is expecting her first child. I hope she returns to Ailey in some future season.

Milestone Moment

Retirement of Wendy Whelan. She was special and unique. Though she had not performed much at NYCB in the last few years, she was always compelling, especially in the works created for her by Wheeldon and Ratmansky. She will be missed.

Most looking forward to:

Mariinsky at BAM

New La Sylphide production at NYCB

New Ratmansky SB

Robbie Fairchild- An American in Paris

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Excuse me abatt, but you do seem to keep harping on Alina Cojocaru's cancellation of her Swan Lake performance. Do you have verifiable information that she was perfectly able to do this performance (as opposed, say, to being injured, perhaps at the last minute, or even sometime before but hoping she would recover in time for the performance) and therefore cancelled just on a whim?

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I guess I "harp" on it because she cancelled two years in a row, and lots of people spent lots of money for their uber expensive, dynamically high priced tickets to see Cojocaru. The announcement of her cancellation happened with so little advance notice that most people could not even exchange their tickets. Instead, we saw Hee Seo that night.

I don't know why she cancelled, and I've never surmised as to whether she was "perfectly able" or "perfectly unable" to perform. I merely state the fact that she cancelled, and the fact that she is not among the large roster of celeb ballerinas who have been invited to return to ABT for the big 75th Anniversary season.

Not sure why mentioning her cancellation in the list above constitutes "harping". Plenty of poeple other than me lamented and complained about her cancellation when it occurred.

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Bests of 2014:

Ashton Festival of Sarasota Ballet in May!

Finally a commercial DVD - Marco Spada - featuring the Bolshoi prima Evgenia Obraztsova in a leading ballerina role.

Tiler "Triple Threat" Peck, singing/acting/dancing in the Kennedy Center musical Little Dancer.

The Mariinsky's Xander Parish as Siegfried, during this summer's London tour.

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For some of us who don't get to see School of American Ballet's annual workshop performances, noted for the purity of their Balanchine style, tonight's PBS broadcast of Serenade and excerpts of Swan Lake, Coppelia and Western Symphony, will be one of the year's highlights.

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Best: "Lest We Forget," commissioned by the English National Ballet to commemorate the centenary of World War I

The snippets that I saw online were very intriguing -- I'm hoping that these works have continued life.

Bests of 2014:

Ashton Festival of Sarasota Ballet in May!

Even for those of us who weren't able to get to Florida, this was a highlight -- I'm so glad that Ashton's work is having a revival!

Best: The Ratmansky Trilogy (at San Francisco Ballet)

And one of my goals for 2015 is seeing this production!

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Best: ENB's Lest We Forget, Wheeldon & the RB's The Winter's Tale and... World Ballet Day Live! I really enjoyed it. Also the short documentary on Brigitte Lefevre was good. It wasn't perfect but still interesting to see her in a different light.

Laura Hecquet's promotion at the POB too.

Worst: Laurent Hilaire's cruel and unnecessary departure from the POB (Pfffft. Their loss - none of them will rival his absolutely brilliant public repititions, or his following for them!), news I will probably never see Carla Körbes perform live, and Nacho Duato's arrival in Berlin. Apparently the new czar has said if it was upto him Vladimir Malakhov would still be there. You couldn't make it up if you tried!

There are definitely more so I'll come back to this later.

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Best:

1. Wendy Whelan's farewell, it truly was the send-off this great ballerina deserved. To see so many NYCB alumni come back that night (Jacque d'Amboise, Allegra Kent, Edward Villela, etc.) along with so many current ballet dancers (David Hallberg, Irina Dvorovenko, Gillian Murphy) brought a lump to my throat.

2. ABT's Cinderella (Ashton). What a wonderful ballet, please keep it in the repertory.

3. Mikhailovsky Ballet: Again, please come back to NYC soon! It's nice to see that with all the ethnic/nationalistic tensions in Russia there's a top ballet company that is ethnically and physically diverse, yet dance with the uniform style so prized among balletomanes. Flames of Paris was tons of fun.

4. The Bolshoi in Spartacus: resistance is futile.

5. NYCB, every night: it's so rare to have a ballet company where you can buy a ticket any night of the week and be confident that there won't be a badly danced performance.

Worst:

Bolshoi's Swan Lake. Truly an atrocious version of the ballet. Please, the company deserves better. Wild horses couldn't drag me back to see the Grigorovich version.

Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews departures: sad.png

Natalia Osipova: not her technical skills, which remain amazing, but her hard, charmless performances with the Mikhailovsky. She used to dance with so much more joy.

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Best from my (necessarily rather limited) ballet-going in 2014:

1. New York City Ballet--extraordinary repertory/extraordinary ballerinas: especially performances by Sara Mearns (Diamonds and Chaconne--performances that really defy description) and Tiler Peck (preturnaturally Romantic in Funerailles, preternaturally fast in Pictures at an Exhibition, preturnaturally musical in Emeralds).

Also performances by Bouder and Hyltin. And, of course, Wendy Whelan. This fall every time I saw her step on stage was special, but 'specially special the beautiful new role she created in Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition

2. Great new neo-classical repertory at Atlanta Ballet. Maillot's Romeo and Juliet and (especially) Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas pushed the dancers to their limit and maybe even a bit over, but it was wonderful to see ballet choreography of substance at Atlanta Ballet.

Special nod to Alessa Rogers' performance as Juliet.

3. From Mikhailovsky U.S. tour: the Messerer revival/reconstruction of Vainonen's Flames of Paris and particularly the third of the performances I saw -- a Sat night with Bondareva, Perren, Vasiliev, Lebedev, and Ugrekhelidze. Just one of those exhuberant evenings in which a performance takes flight.

4. From Bolshoi U.S. tour: The brilliant Ekaterina Krysanova. Well, honestly I don't think I saw her give any one overall great performance from start to finish -- but in the bravura pas de deux of Swan Lake (Black Swan) and Don Quixote she reminded us why the word "Bolshoi" sends shivers down people's spines.

5. Also from Bolshoi tour: Semyon Chudin and Olga Smirnova: 2014 gave my my first chance to see these artists (Chudin as Siegfried and Basilio; Smirnova as Odette/Odile and Queen of the Dryads). When he made his bounding entrance onto the stage in Swan Lake, I think I literally sat up in my seat. And, from that performance, the first of his two Swan Lakes in NY, I won't forget the Bruhn-like landings from double tours and perfectly shaped and evenly controlled turns all evening long. All infused with modest gallantry and warmth. (Wee bit less perfection the other Swan Lake he danced and in Don Quixote--but still very refined and enjoyable dancing.)

She seems an extraordinary talent if still a work in progress and her distinctive and lush upper body was a special pleasure. In the moments when everything comes together, she take's one's breath away. I mention Chudin and Smirnova together because they also seem a real partnership and in Swan Lake one of best things about their dancing was their rapport with each other.

6. Sensational Russian Character Dancing: Whether Mikhailovsky in Flames of Paris or Bolshoi in Don Quixote. Wow!

Honorable mentions for year: Osipova's Giselle with Mikhailovsky was not quite as moving as in performances I have seen her give in the past. Still, there are always unexpected details of execution/interpretation to catch the eye--details which no-one else does or, perhaps, can do. David Hallberg's Siegfried with the Bolshoi had all his trademark elegance and, at least in first act, beauty of execution. Denis Rodkin as Espada in Bolshoi Don Quixote -- because fun is fun. (I had almost written because hot is hot.) At NYCB, I finally got to see some of Justin Peck's work and am interested in seeing what comes next -- and, among company dancers new to me, Ashley Laracey caught my eye.

Worst:

I always feel uncomfortable about doing a "worst" list, but I think acknowledging the good means more if one acknowledges that there is some bad out there and sometimes it bears mentioning; still, this year, after writing a rather longer list, I deleted most of what I had written. Here is what I left:

1. Grigorovich's Swan Lake. Even with the casts I liked best--Even allowing that some of Grigorovich's 'effects' however untrue to Petipa-Ivanov (as in Odette's entrance) have their charms...still just dreary. From start to finish. Depressingly so.

Final note: Usually ABT figures somewhere on my list, but 2014 went by with no ABT for me. I very much hope to see them next year!

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I will have to take notes throughout the year in anticipation of this thread for next year. Right now I am thinking only of:

Best: Stella Abrera's sublime debut as Clara in Ratmansky's Nutcracker. Hammoudi's rising to the challenge of the difficult partnering in that ballet.

Worst: That Stella still hasn't been promoted to principal dancer.

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The Best of 2014:

•​ World Ballet Day: Australian Ballet’s class with ballet mistress Fiona Tonkin teaching, Royal Ballet’s “Don Q” rehearsal with Carlos Acosta, the Bolshoi’s rehearsal with Zakharova and Denis Rodkin in “Legend of Love,” with Grigorovich supervising, National Ballet of Canada’s cameo glimpse of Svetlana Lunkina in rehearsal with Anthony Dowell supervising Act 2 of “Manon” and the pdds. *(Yes, San Francisco Ballet is missing; they’re on the other list).

The return of the Bolshoi Ballet to our shores with David Hallberg.
The Bolshoi’s hit premiere of Jean Christophe-Maillot’s new version of “The Taming of the Shrew” with the three Golden Mask nominees Ekaterina Krysanova as Katherina, Vladislav Lantrantov as Petrucchio and Olga Smirnova as Bianca.
New York City Ballet for fabulous performances all year long.
The “La Source” marathon at POB, currently in progress through New Year’s Eve.
The Royal Ballet’s 40th anniversary celebration of the creation of MacMillan’s “Manon,” with several new and outstanding casts.
Ex-Royal Ballet member, Xander Parish coming into his own with the Mariinsky. He made a successful homecoming this past summer at Covent Garden as Siegfried and Romeo, topping off his year as a recipient of the Taglioni Award.
Uliana Lopatkina onstage in anything.
Victoria Tereshkina’s magnificent debut (and by her own choice), one and only performance as Ashton’s “Sylvia.”
•Olesya Novikova’s resplendent performance a few weeks ago, returning to "Giselle" on the Mariinsky stage with Igor Kolb.
The Worst of 2014:
Alastair Macaulay & the NY Times

• Hanna Weibye

Natalya Osipova
The unseemly trending (phenomenon) of some ballet dancers who whine and complain about their personal and professional problems in autobios and social media for publicity.
The retirement of Nicolas Le Riche.
The retirement of Larissa Lezhnina.
Vaganova Academy Artistic Director, Nikolai Tsiskaridze as Widow Simone in the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s “La Fille mal Gardée.”
The passing of: Alla Sizova, Nina Timofeyeva, Brian MacDonald, Jean Babilee, Rimma Karelskaya, Ivan Nagy, Margarethe Schanne, Marc Platt, Harry Hawthorne, Elsa M. Von-Rosen, and from the entertainment world - Robin Williams, Geoffrey Holder, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, and Joan Rivers.
The 2014 “Masterpiece of Kleptocracy Award” goes to the leadership of the Mariinsky Theatre.
Benjamin Millepied’s and supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s Le Garnier photo spread with POB dancers in November’s edition of American Vogue. One had nothing to do with the other.
Diana Vishneva “On the Edge,” and now in “Context.”
As the final participant and U.S. representative on World Ballet Day, San Francisco Ballet, IMO, put on the worst presentation of all the participating companies. What set the tone for the grand finale? SFB had a local Channel 7 roving-reporter, who knew absolutely nothing about classical ballet, act as commentator for their segment; also, one of her cameramen fainted during the class. At least the preceding companies had knowledgeable people host their segments, and apparently, adequate studio ventilation.
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From the left coast and PNB, not in any particular order:

Best:

New Production and Revival of PNB's "Giselle."

  • Aside from the dead squirrel collar on Hilarion's jacket, the Houston Ballet sets and costumes used by PNB for the premiere of PNB's version in 2011 were serviceable, and the staging and dancing was the focus. The new sets and costumes by Jerome Kaplan were stunning and brought the visuals up to the level of the production itself. Up close in a wonderful seminar, we could see the beautiful construction and fabric samples.
  • With a second round, Kaori Nakamura, Carla Korbes, and Lesley Rausch got new partners, and a combination of the switches and the time to let the production sink into their bones had a happy effect all around. Nakamura, who retired with this production and the Encores that followed the last performance of the season, was paired with Jerome Tisserand, a stellar Hilarion in 2011, and it's sad that this partnership ended almost as soon as it began. Korbes and Batkhurel Bold are a perfect pairing, but, sadly, that will end with Korbes' retirement.
  • Carrie Imler's Myrtha, simply sublime.
  • There was a joke that William Lin-Yee, who was cast as Albrecht, Hilarion, and Wilifred in this run, could have done the entire first act on his own. His dancing was no joke, and it's amazing that he kept it all straight. He and Sarah Ricard Orza made formidable debuts in the lead roles, and the next sets of leads are in the wings.

Jewels. There are few other ballets/programs that PNB performs that have so much opportunity for so many dancers and such an extraordinary standard of choreography. Unfortunately there had been a five-season gap of the full "Jewels," Maria Chapman and Rachel Foster were out on parental leave, and there wasn't as much of a chance to see the gradual development as there was between 2006 and 2009, but there were wonderful repeat performances and debuts. Some highlights:

  • The coaching seminars. I was only able to see Jacques d'Amboise's "Diamonds" seminar, and not Edward Villella's or Violette Verdy and Mimi Paul's. I'm sure if I had, my heart would skip a beat when remembering them, the way I remember d'Amboise's. It wasn't always even about pure movement, but often the opposite: for example, how to make a lift look like it had more of an arc by placement, timing, and breath rather than through muscle or technique. We were watching a master of the stage. And a master storyteller: some of the stories are familiar, but it didn't make them any less potent in the telling.
  • The middle sections: Leta Biasucci weaving elongated phrases together in her "Emeralds" Pas de Trois solo, making it sing from beginning to end. Elizabeth Murphy and Eric Hipolito, Jr. making the center section of the Walking Pas de Deux a highlight of the ballet by pushing against the pulse established in the opening, finding that fine line just before the breaking point, and returning to it in the ending. It made me want to see her Sleepwalker in "La Sonnambula."
  • We're Not Worthys: Carla Korbes, Carrie Imler, and Lesley Rausch in "Diamonds," and Korbes in "Emeralds." Korbes was luxuriant in her finest rep, the Classical and Romantic flavors of neoclassical, without the trappings of a specific narrative. When "Diamonds" played as a stand-alone in 2013, "Swan Lake" was earlier that Spring, and the performances of "Diamonds" by Odettes Nakamura and Imler were more programmatic. (Korbes had her critical knee injury in that program and didn't dance in "Diamonds.") This time, Imler danced more freely and with greater nuance, partly thanks to Lin-Yee's partnering. That's not a partnership I would have expected, but I hope to see a lot more of them. Last season Rausch started to dance with more interpretive freedom than ever before, and her expansive "Diamonds" with Jerome Tisserand got the attention of and kudos from d'Amboise.
  • Notable debuts: Steven Loch's ardent partnering in the Ludlow role "Emeralds." Not even a Prince in the making: he's there, and he's only been in the company a few years. Leah Merchant brought great warmth and lush movement to the Verdy role in a breathtaking performance at the last Sunday matinee, one of the best I've seen. I almost went home after it. (I'm glad I didn't, because Lesley Rausch's long-limbed, sensuous version of the "Rubies" pas de deux followed, the antithesis of short and snappy.) Raphael Bouchard did the "Rubies" male quartet with PNB for the first time, and all I could think of was So You Think You Can Dance Canada's Jean-Marc Genereaux exclaiming, "You're a beast!, you're a beast!" He ate that role up, and I'd love to see him in the lead.

Kaori Nakamura. Dancing like she was thirty, Nakamura decided in her forties it was time to retire, and in role after role in her final season, starting in Fall 2013 in "Brief Fling," "That's Life" from "Nine Sinatra Songs," and "Petite Mort" to the role in Yellow in "Take Five...More or Less," to Aurora to the Divertissement from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," she danced with the same technical and interpretive excellence, range, and presence that she had for more than a decade in new rep and old rep, with new partners and old partners, and even with guest partner Sascha Radetsky. Her PNB career culminated with the Encore program with excerpts from several of her great full-length roles: the "Balcony Pas de Deux" from Maillot's "Romeo et Juliette," "Act IV Pas de Deux" from Kent Stowell's "Swan Lake," -- it was Russell and Stowell who brought Nakamura and Olivier Wevers to PNB in the '90's -- and the "Rose Adagio" from "The Sleeping Beauty," where her fellow female Principals and soloists donned practice clothing and shared the stage as spectators and students of her example.

Jonathan Porretta. It doesn't matter what he dances these days: it looks like he's making it up on the spot.

Short People: After staking a claim as a company of tall women, PNB has three extraordinary young, short women on the roster: Leta Biasucci, Angelica Generosa, and Jahna Frantziskonis. It's about time: men like Porretta, Griffiths, and Moore especially deserve to have such great dancers as partners.

The Devils is in the Details. There were so many during the season. Here are the ones that struck me most:

  • During the "Rose Adagio" each of the four suitors present a present to Aurora. There's not a lot of time in the music for those moments, but Rachel Foster looked at each present and made simple, modest eye contact with each suitor before going to the next. They were such beautiful, gracious moments.
  • Matthew Renko's faun-like walks in "State of Darkness," performed with such delicacy.
  • Angelica Generosa in the opening of "Take Five...More or Less," a quirky delight.
  • Ezra Thomson's Drosselmeier's reaction to Clara's kiss in the party scene. So often the Drosselmeier in this production is an almost unilaterally mean uncle, but Thomson made sense of Dream Clara's ambivalence towards him in Act II. His Dr. Coppelius a few seasons ago was full of similarly incisive details.
  • The dead stillness in each of Jessika Anspach's stops as Fairy of Wit with electricity practically crackling from her fingers. Doug Fullington explained that this fairy originally was a nod to electricity, as the theater had been recently electrified, and she was.

Out of Character.

  • James Moore's Hilarion. What a heart-breaker. (I'm all verklempt thinking about it.) He didn't play it as a Romantic hero, but it was easy to see how he could be one. (And I don't count Romeo, who's not a grown-up.)
  • Ezra Thomson's Bluebird. Thomson is almost the anti-ballet guy: aside from corps work, he plays the odd guys and the characters, not the straight-up ones. Thomson's Bluebird was so plainly classical, it was a revelation. I hope it wasn't a "Hah! See, I can do it and now we'll return to the regularly scheduled broadcast" one-off.

Orchestral Preludes. It's the PNB Orchestra's 25th Anniversary, and to celebrate, the orchestra has been playing an orchestral selection during each mixed bill program. Before the season opener "Jewels", it was the finale from Tchaikovsky's "Theme and Variations," and for Director's Choice, the beautiful "Praeludium" from Edward Grieg's "Holberg Suite." I will miss these after this season. I wish the orchestra could play a concert on their own, like the Met Opera Orchestra does.

Debonair. It's not that I think "Debonair" is a masterpiece. It's more important than that: it's a highly skilled and crafted ballet with a wonderful central pas and a fine supporting roles for secondary couples and corps. I didn't understand how good it was seeing it the first time, and this was my limitation, not the work's; it took the second performance for the light bulb to go off and for me to recognize how he showed the difference between public and private and the central couple alone and part of a community, the kinds of distinctions Robbins made, for example, in "Dances at a Gathering" and "In the Night." There was also a major section that repeated, but resolved differently both times, something I've seen in Ratmansky's work. I don't think Justin Peck was trying to copy other choreographers, and he has a voice of his own, but his work has affinities with other ballets with implied, but not specifically narrative traditions, and there is more to the relationships than "I Love You/I Hate You" and "We're The Serious Couple/We're The Lighthearted Perky Couple." I wished there had been more for Sarah Orza/Steven Loch and Margaret Mullin/Benjamin Griffiths, but the central pdd was a beautiful goodbye present to Carla Korbes, a hard, but deeply felt conversation between two adults. I am so glad I got to see Peck towards the beginning of his choreographic career.

Carrie Imler. Where there's a character, Imler always knows who and what hers is and represents, and her variations personify that character. As Myrtha and Lilac Fairy, she was simply at another level of the stratosphere from mime to dancing to simple presence. What was even more impressive was watching her reveal the Forsythe DNA that goes through Pite and Dawson, as her work in "Emergence" -- performed this year as a central part of Encores in June -- informed her choices and provided a continuity of movement quality in "A Million Kisses to My Skin." We're Not Worthy.

And since "Emergence" is valid for this year, I can't express how much I appreciate a work in which ballet and contemporary dance mutually coexist with respect and without it being a put-down of ballet.

Double-edged Sword:

The preggerinas had beautiful children, but they aren't back yet. I know, #firstworldproblems#

Worst:

  • Nakamura's retirement.
  • Carla Korbes' retirement announcement.
  • Laura Gilbreath's costume in "Diamonds." She's a long-bodied, long-limbed wonder, and she should be able to show it in something that doesn't look like an ill-fitting cheerleader's uniform. The next time this ballet comes back, make her a costume that fits.

Outside Seattle:

  • Not being able to make it to Ballet Arizona's season-ending Balanchine program after ten-years-in-a-row. Not getting to San Francisco to see the Ratmansky Trilogy. Not getting to Munich to see "Paquita." Not getting to Sarasota. No classical/neoclassical ballet company in Vancouver. Not being able to see Tereshkina live, wherever she is and whatever she's dancing.
  • Knowing that there are many under-rated and under-reviewed dancers doing spectacular work in many, many places that I don't see.
  • The people we've lost. RIP carbro.
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I'm a newbie on this forum but I have my list!

Best:

Seeing Bolshoi's DonQ and Spartacus and their corp in Swan Lake

Mikhailovsky's Flames of Paris, Seeing Lebedev and Soboleva in Giselle

Tereshkina and Shklyarov in La Bayadere

Vishneva and Gomes' Manon

Worst:

Seeing Seo Hee's Swan Lake 3 times in a week! This happened because she replaced so many injured principals! (Gillian Murphy and Alina Cojocaru) No offense to her dancing. I just wanted to see Murphy's Odile so badly.

Sarah Lane not getting promoted... but she'll be dancing Aurora in next season so I'm happy about that :)

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Among the Best's, I can't believe I left out:

The Auroras. Four different ballerinas danced Aurora, all at various times in their careers and with different experiences in the role. Nakamura went forth in a blaze of glory, having burnished her interpretation since the production premiered, yet remaining fresh and believable as the young Aurora. Lesley Rausch was expansive and confident. It was a debut for Rachel Foster, and it's always fascinating to see a dancer in her prime taking on an iconic role for the first time. Foster's characterization was nuanced and warm. The youngest, Leta Biasucci, has carried full-length ballets since she came to PNB a few years ago, but Aurora is the biggest test, and she danced a beautifully detailed interpretation partnered by Jerome Tisserand. I look forward to seeing what she does with it in the future. Watching her choices is a happy experience.

Jerome Tisserand's promotion to Principal. For this I have an excuse: he'd been dancing at the level for so long, that it was hard to remember he needed a promotion.

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Best:

Wonderful performances and an extraordinary depth of talent at NYCB.

Andrew Veyette's performance of Theme & Variations at ABT

Boston Ballet's visit to NYC with fine dancers and enjoyable rep that I would not have seen otherwise.

The Joyce Theater for presenting so many companies at good ticket prices. The deal for members is amazing, and all you have to do to be a member is buy tickets to 4 performances.

Worst:

My disappointment that Cojocaru again had to cancel Swan Lake at ABT.

Not being able to see Carrie Imler dance in NYC

Kevin McKenzie for failing to nurture talent and lack of imagination in choosing rep.

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