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Spring 2015: Giselle

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Murphy has danced Nikiya, but she was not cast in that role this season. I think Kochetkova's invitations have been solely because Herman needs a tiny little partner, and KM refuses to give roles to tiny little Sarah Lane. Therefore, he must look outside the company for Herman's partners. KM has offered Kochetkova less this season (one show only) than prior seasons. It's just a matter of circumstances that she now has 3 Bayaderes instead of one. If he were really interested in her as a permanent company member, he would not have invited her for only one show this season.

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I believe, just my opinion, that KM is trying to lure Kochetkova from SFB and will offer her a principal contract.

I can't imagine why on earth she would accept such an offer. She's perfectly positioned as it is. More than half of ABT's annual performances are invested in the Met season. SFB's season ends in early May, so unless the company has a major summer tour, she's free to spend the next couple of months in New York to dance some full-lengths and then return to the (generally more interesting) repertoire in San Francisco, a vastly preferable place to spend the winter months.

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I honestly don't know nanushka. Has Kochatkova danced the role with Sarafanov before?

If I'm not mistaken Kochetkova has not performed a full La Bayadere before. She danced Nikiya in The Kingdom of Shades scene, which Makarova set at San Francisco Ballet two seasons ago.

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Which in-house dancer could have danced Nikiya with Sarafanov, though?

Vishneva danced Bayadere just last spring but she won't dance with Sarafanov. She's refused to dance with him since he left the Mariinsky:(

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Just a late appreciation of last Monday's Giselle:

I don't think Kent gave the performance she would have wanted for her last Giselle, but there were many bright stretches: she made the Act 1 peasant dances really came alive; her interpretation of the mad scene was the best I've seen; and she danced the last 10 minutes of Act 2 with control and beauty. Bolle was world-class in every way.

I adored Luciana Paris' peasant pas de deux. I've seen plenty of dancers perform it with steelier technique, but Charline Giezendanner of POB is the only other dancer I've seen who hasn't looked downright brittle. Paris made it a conversation with the other dancers on stage.

I also love Gillian Murphy, but agree with some other posters about her interpretation of Myrta: it's a storm with lightening, but no clouds. It's striking (and her technical command is a joy), but I prefer occasional softness to add some contrast and mystery. Likewise, I'm not enamored of this production's "vision-struck" Berthe and "petulant" Bathilde, but Susan Jones and Leann Underwood were both standouts. Underwood, in particular, really articulated the relationship between herself and Albrecht.

I'll be interested to see how Thomas Forster's Hilarion changes. His Act 1 mime was too restrained (too refined, maybe?) to read clearly. In Act 2, where he just had to show unrestrained panic, he looked great (beautiful technique, I thought). Cassandra Trenary sparkled from the corps.

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It is interesting about Thomas. I felt in the first act he was very naturalistic and a bit understated in the role (Wed matinee with Herrera), not actually a bad thing. I remember thinking he doesn't really look like a dancer. His posture was slightly hunched. He was very much the average peasant guy. But then in Act II when he danced, he was wonderful, and I felt there was real terror in his face. I like him a lot.

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I believe, just my opinion, that KM is trying to lure Kochetkova from SFB and will offer her a principal contract. I've seen her dance a few times and she is a good, good dancer but IMO she is no reason to deny in house dancers opportunities. Her name can't be a ticket draw. It's painfully obvious that he has no interest in offering Sarah Lane opportunities. With the departure of 3 principal women some replacements will happen even if it isn't 3 for 3. I figure it will be Copeland and Kochetkova (if she accepts}. Stella is a maybe after her Giselle. Lane no way. I would love to be wrong.

If you are correct, vipa, that is just so wrong. I know that what I'm questioning may reflect my opinions or may have been discussed in past threads, but doesn't the AD first and foremost have a responsibility and duty to develop, nurture and promote his in-house talent? What kind of identity does this company have if the perceived 'valuable' dancers are ones coming in from the outside, the guests? And what does he have against these home-grown dancers, anyway? All this wonderful talent and he can let them languish? Does the board have any say in how he promotes or shapes the company? Yes, vipa, I would love you to be wrong, too. It is not, in any way, fair, and I would really love to see a change.

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For some reason, the side boxes on every other level except the Parterre level are officially listed as partial view. I don't know why they refuse to classify the Parterre level side boxes as partial view as well. Having sat in a side parterre box one season when I first started going to ABT many moons ago, I feel that they are definitely partial view. For the opera I don't mind, but for ballet where the visual component is crucial, the boxes are a disaster in my opinion. (Not to mention that people move so close to you in their chairs to jockey for a position that you feel they might as well be seated in your lap.) Obviously the center parterre boxes (front row especially) have a great view, but those are the "high roller" seats which most "regular" people cannot even gain access to.

Thanks for weighing in, abatt. The box I was in most certainly was partial view, for everyone, even the front row seats. About 1/4 of the stage is not visible, so you miss everything happening and entering from those wings, including half the wilis entering the stage. A disaster is the correct word and to charge $110 or whatever it was! And as I mentioned up thread, there is no room behind those front row seats - you are breathing down someone's neck, straining to see and you may as well sit cross-legged because there's no place for your legs. I should write my complaint letter right now!!!

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I am back, and it was great to see all of you. Really looking forward to next time.

So, here are some of my impressions of this run of Giselles.

I saw four different couples: Vishneva/Gomes, Herrera/Bolle, Reyes/Cornejo and Osipova/McRae. They were definitely all different interpretations. Starting with Vishneva/Gomes. Vishneva's Giselle is frail, shy, although a bit princess like. She definitely still has the technical power, and I couldn't really detect any problems with her interpretation. She knows the role, and she has refined it thru the years. Having Gomes as a partenaire is certainly a plus. He is wonderful...attentive, secure, exuding confidence and care for his ballerina. His dancing never tries to outdo that of her counterpart, and that always is a YES YES in my book. He has that wonderful way of keeping an eye at all times in the ballerina, so as if to take care of whatever in promptu business comes up. He went for entrechat sixes in the imploring segment, and I think did around 26. The dancing for both of them was beautiful. They are certainly in that very moment where they are able to create a perfect balance in between technique and knowledge of the role. Vishneva was careful, though, in certain segments, as when she grabbed the cross in the final scene during the arabesque penchee.


Herrera/Bolle's story is more or less the same. Special kuddos to Herrera, for making a wonderful farewell out of a role that many thought was never suited for her. Her Giselle was earthier that Vishneva's. Sautes on pointe were on the spot. Pique turns section was great. Developpes and arabesques in promenades also very correct. One bit of a slip, right after the grand pirouettes in the initiation scene, she didn't raise on pointe. She just did a couple of steps before getting into the traveling sissonnes. All in all, her Giselle was very pretty. Her curtain calls very emotional. She really looked overwhelmed. Her embrace with Mme. Kolpakova was long, and her encounter with McKenzie very icy. Bolle was amazing. He even outdid Gomes in the entrechats section, doing some like 30 something. His final moment with Giselle was very dramatic. He was all Italian, desperately crying on the tomb.


And then, THE Giselle of this season..Reyes/Cornejo. There was something on the air during the entire act II that made the whole thing just magical. I suspect the tempo during the PDD was slowered down a bit to make the whole thing grander and dreamier. Reyes has this wonderful capacity to go back into position from arabesque in a very slow motion, on pointe or not, so the movement is longer and lusher. During the grand adagio one could hear a mosquito fly. The atmosphere was just perfectly magic. Cornejo's overhead lifts were beautifully done. Reyes' mad scene was very wild. At certain points, when she was running in a frenzy, she was not going ballerina-pointe-heel anymore, but just regular human running, heel-pointe. She was just WILD. One of the most convincing mad scenes I've ever witnessed without being over acted. Then, there were technical segments where she really paid homage to her Cuban roots, as in the entrechats section. It is known that the norm now is to do them "Osipova style", sort of slow and jumping as high as they can, to make the step very visible. Cubans-(after Alonso)-have always gone for a devilishly fast petite allegro style here, almost without getting off the floor, emphasizing the speed rather than the elevation. She did so, and it was wonderful to watch. Another moment she went for a Cuban accent was right after the Grand Pirouettes in the Initiation scene. She did them, and right then she raised on pointe in one leg. She didn't do a whole pirouette in attitude as it is done there, but did some sort of a little pirouette in coup de pied. I secretly was hoping for her to pay a last tribute to the version she knew first by doing the Spessivtzeva's diagonal during her Pas Seul, instead of the pique turns,but it didn't happen. She mastered the piques, though. Cornejo went for the cabrioles instead of entrechats, but as someone said, they started somewhere center stage, and not all the way back. Not too satisfactory. During the final moment between Giselle and Albrecht, right after she embraces his body on the floor, one could tell that she was already also getting ready to just step out from the MET stage. Giselle's farewell with Albrecht was extremely emotional, for which Reyes was also bidding farewell to his still active partner of years and to her audience. When she gave him a single flower and started fading away, I had tears in my eyes. Her curtain calls were also very emotional. It was obvious she was very loved in the company. Each corps girl, besides giving her a flower, gave her also a kiss. Reyes Giselle was really, for me, the highlight of this run.


More to come.

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Was Reyes greeting of Kevin also cold? I believe some people said they heard boos when he appeared?

Check out LaKarsavina's video. You can see how warmly she embraces so many of the principals, coaches etc... Then around 10:25 when Kevin comes she does not hug him or kiss his rose.

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I'm so upset that I'm abroad right now and missed Stella's Giselle...both the announcement of her casting AND the glorious performance...I've been without internet for almost two weeks! I've always promised myself that even if I wasn't planning on being in NYC for the Met season, I'd do whatever I can to get my butt to NYC for Stella's Giselle at whatever cost...so here's to hoping KM gives her at least one performance of Giselle in the coming years bc it sounds as if she's proved what everyone of us have been hoping for all along when she finally had her moment! It fills my heart that she was as fantastic as we all knew she would be, and that the audience was so appreciative and happy for her.

I'm really sad to have missed it (and disappointed that other than a few performances, this season has been a mess) -- probably why I didn't bother trying to keep up when the first week rolled around...however, I'll keep hoping there will be positives coming from this (and I'll keep my fingers crossed!) at the end of the season -- KM, promotion please! -- and most casting opportunities for Stella, as everyone's under-appreciated ballerina. Here's to hoping that single performance was enough...if not, here's to hoping there are many voices of influence in her corner. (As over the years, it's clear that Stella just simply loves to dance, so I'm sure a promotion is not her top priority per se, but I really want to see a great dancer and beautiful artist rewarded and recognized for her hard work...it's been a long road back for her since she lost her original Giselle debut with that terrible injury, do I really hope she still has many good, long years of her career to go!)

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Wow cristian beautiful pictures! Can't wait to hear more ...

So here's more..(It's Giselle, you know, so I can keep going on forever.. ;-) )

Some considerations on the production.

Why is Hilarion, a gamekeeper, so richly dressed...? He even looks like a courtier instead. Here's an image of a XIX century gamekeeper.


For what I know, the cottage on the right belongs to Loys, so...why does Hilarion have such easy access to it..? Usually they have him break into it with a knife, but I didn't see that detail here.

Everyone is sort of overdressed. Even Albrecht, as Loys, doesn't even look like a peasant, nor the other males onstage. Women are better.

ABT's Bathilde has little nuances. I've seen more complex Bathildes...some of which we could even feel sympathetic with. According to the original scheme she's way more fragil and victim like, even making an appearance at the end of the ballet to take Albrecht back following a last wish by Giselle. ABT's Bathilde is just a plain negative character. I think it could be exploited a bit more.

More willis are needed in Act II. They look too sparse.

What happened to the traditional female petite allegro variation in the Peasant PDD...? I don't know the variation used here-(perhaps is from the original score, but I was unaware of it). The original one is more interesting, I think...very sparkling and fast. A real pleasure if well danced-(the video of Fracci/Bruhn is a wonderful example).

Great to see Berthe's full mime scene on Giselle's death premonition fully restored. ABT is going strong with the mime. The new SB is a good example.

I was dying to start cheering post Reyes' mad scene. It is a tradition in Cuba, and I still don't get used to such silence from the audience here. happy.png

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If I'm not mistaken Kochetkova has not performed a full La Bayadere before. She danced Nikiya in The Kingdom of Shades scene, which Makarova set at San Francisco Ballet two seasons ago.

Yes, you are correct. San Francisco Ballet has only performed Kingdom of the Shades in 2014 and 2015, which Makarova set on the company. Maria posted the following to her Instagram (and also posted on her Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mariakochetkova?fref=ts):

in rehearsal - https://instagram.com/p/3QKhxAkUTC/?taken-by=balletrusse

curtain call - https://instagram.com/p/3dO9SjEUZK/?taken-by=balletrusse

I had the great fortune to be in New York (visiting from San Francisco) and caught last night's performance - she was wonderful!!! This was my first time seeing the full length and I really enjoyed it.

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Shklyarov knocked me out in "The Little Humpbacked Horse" when the Mariinsky brought it to the Met on tour. He was such a vivid, full-blooded presence, aside from technique

Is funny to hear that Shkylyarov danced with Abrera?, she is not a principal, there are many dancers more qualified to dance with him, all the performances I have seen from her , she was too weak to end the variations, not strong , and her facial gestures are exagerated and port de bras are not correct.
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Not at all: he was scheduled for the performance, and I've been reading descriptions here by people who were taken by Abrera's excerpt during the Works & Process ABT presentations and who have described the full performance with Shkylarov very differently.

There is rarely consensus on any dancer.

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I realize I never talked about my last Giselle-(Osipova/MacRae), so even though the thread is pretty much defunct by now, I will still give my two cents.

I have mixed feelings on her Giselle. There's no doubt that her presentation card is being a technical powerhouse, but somehow there were moments where I think she was going just too far. Don't get me wrong...I think she has made her mark in the character, somehow parting with the two main forms the heroine has come to us-(I basically detect two very unique variations on the theme...the very fragile portrait of a nervous Giselle from the Russians, a la Galina Ulanova or Natalia Bessmertnova and the earthier but more restrained portray of the westerners after the likes of Markova, Alonso, Chauvire or Fracci. Natalia Osipova seems to want to imprint her own signature without fitting completely in either mold, so the result is at times very attractive, all this enhanced by her amazing technique, which allows her to do things that I have not seen in other ballerinas before.

Now...this is also tricky, for which I still identify Giselle mainly as a restrained, character, both in act I and II, and there's NOTHING restrained about Osipova's Giselle. She is, at all times, expansive and grand. She really enjoys covering the stage, and she doesn't hide it, which leads to one of the problems when she is dancing. She shadows EVERYONE ELSE onstage...even her partenaire. This was one of the first things I noticed...there seemed to be no real connection between her and MacRae. She was jumping all over the place, and it was hard not to notice that he was no match for her jumping. One time I remember someone mentioning that the video of Nureyev/Seymour should had been renamed "Albrecht", for which he was THE star in tis production, leaving too little for poor Seymour. Well, the ballet is called Giselle and yes, it is all about her, but I had the feeling that what I saw was "Osipova" and not "Giselle". Even in Act II I felt she was opening herself too much, leaving little to the XIX century lithographs inspired tilted torsos and curved necks I usually like to see in my Giselles.

And yes...the turning during the sautes on pointe in her Pas Seul are very amazing, but...should there be such choreographic variations in an iconic diagonal that has been totally straight probably ever since it was created...?

And then her jumping...she seems to be suspended on air at times...covering so much space while doing it. Her ballon is probably the most impressive I've ever witnessed in a dancer, male or female. She does the sequence of entrechats very slowly, so when the jump comes she seems to stay up on the air forever-(as I said earlier...I much prefer the very fast, "a terre" version of them, a la Reyes). So Osipova jumped and jumped and ran and ran...and then she fell, and, as we all know by now, everyone gasped in horror. It was hard to see her limping onstage trying just to walk a little, and then...right after one of the nastiest falls I've ever witnessed, she goes to do one of the biggest grand jetes I've also ever witnessed to get offstage-(and right after two more).

I enjoyed her portray, don't get me wrong. I really think her Giselle is completely different from everyone else's, right in the middle of an era where this role seems to be a carbon copy repetition from one ballerina to her peer, and I really appreciate that. She still has a long, prosperous career to go, and it will be interesting to see how she keeps developing the character. I am really looking forward to it.

MacRae was all about doing entrechats at all times, and I don't remember who danced Myrtha.



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