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Spring 2015: Cinderella


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I went last night. Seo was lovely, although I thought she had a tendency to soften the choreography. Stearns was in fine form and looked positively dashing. No problem for him carrying Hee down the stairs in the last act. His difficult solo was a little strained, but overall well done. Part was a gorgeous Godmother. The four fairies were Copeland, Shevshenko, Brandt and Hamrick. Brandt in particular made a stunning impression with her speed. Salstein and Zhurbin were great fun as the stepsisters. Balcony and family circle were very full.

There are 126 people on Ballet Alert right now or within the last 10 minutes. Is that a record, Helene?

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I went last night. Seo was lovely, although I thought she had a tendency to soften the choreography. Stearns was in fine form and looked positively dashing. No problem for him carrying Hee down the stairs in the last act. His difficult solo was a little strained, but overall well done. Part was a gorgeous Godmother. The four fairies were Copeland, Shevshenko, Brandt and Hamrick. Brandt in particular made a stunning impression with her speed. Salstein and Zhurbin were great fun as the stepsisters. Balcony and family circle were very full.

Thanks, abatt! Just out of curiosity: which fairy did each of the four dance?

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Gorak was dancing last year with Yuriko Kajija - it was a lovely performance.

Unless they made some last minute cast changes, I believe Gorak only danced Cinderella with Reyes last year. Yuriko danced Coppelia with Gorak.

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I find this to be a very rude practice. I can’t tell you how many times there have been disruptions that continued into the performance because latecomers were escorted to their seats during an appropriate pause and found people sitting in their seats. I prefer to be on or close to an aisle, and it is not unusual for me to buy a seat that someone in standing room might find tempting. If I buy a seat, I expect to be able to sit down without the hassle of the usher having to argue with a squatter in the dark with their flashlight.

If you don’t want to remain in standing room, and you don’t want to buy an orchestra seat, then you should buy a ticketed seat elsewhere in the house, such as Balcony or Family Circle.

Why assume that I would climb over anyone? At intermission it is very clear which seats are empty...

I spend a couple of grand each year on the Opera and ABT -

Just for the last ballet season I sat behind a cute little 4 year old, at an evening performance of Sleeping Beauty,

who insisted this is a follow-the-leader game -

she danced in her seat, arms waving above, each time she saw it on stage. I did not climb out over my neighbors to escape,

though the performance was impossible to watch and I left at intermission.

I firmly believe that my freedom ends where the other person's begins but also

vice versa - the other person's freedom ends where my begins.

At another performance I was next to a couple who sang along to their favorite tunes (Swan Lake). At another

I had the extreme left second row seat on Gran Tier. When you seat down, the guard rail of the balcony is

in the middle of your sightline - it is not sold as partial view by Met - it is a full price ticket.

Since Met allows all of the above, I am not sure why I should not once in a blue moon

take a seat that obviously no one is using.

When I was in college the Met allowed taking empty seats. As a student I always went standing room - no jingle in my pocket then,

(in those heady days there

was only one standing room line very civilized - today there are 3 - try to see something from that last row).

On rare occasions one would get a seat, although just the thought that it is possible had a certain appeal,

and I ascribe the fact that I plonk down serious (for me) money for tickets today, to that period. If I was cordoned of

like cattle, which is the current Met practice, perhaps I would not be in the audience today. No one can convince me

that empty seats have to remain empty just because someone paid for it, and if people behave rudely than the management can

make sure they do not - just like they do with cells.

I actually prefer the audience on balcony and family circle, they are much more well behaved - cultured in effect and come out

of sheer love.

Unfortunately my eyes are no longer 20 years old!

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I went last night. Seo was lovely, although I thought she had a tendency to soften the choreography. Stearns was in fine form and looked positively dashing. No problem for him carrying Hee down the stairs in the last act. His difficult solo was a little strained, but overall well done. Part was a gorgeous Godmother. The four fairies were Copeland, Shevshenko, Brandt and Hamrick. Brandt in particular made a stunning impression with her speed. Salstein and Zhurbin were great fun as the stepsisters. Balcony and family circle were very full.

There are 126 people on Ballet Alert right now or within the last 10 minutes. Is that a record, Helene?

When KMc and ABT does something right and exciting, people will be interested and excited.

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I went last night. Seo was lovely, although I thought she had a tendency to soften the choreography. Stearns was in fine form and looked positively dashing. No problem for him carrying Hee down the stairs in the last act. His difficult solo was a little strained, but overall well done. Part was a gorgeous Godmother. The four fairies were Copeland, Shevshenko, Brandt and Hamrick. Brandt in particular made a stunning impression with her speed. Salstein and Zhurbin were great fun as the stepsisters. Balcony and family circle were very full.

There are 126 people on Ballet Alert right now or within the last 10 minutes. Is that a record, Helene?

laugh.png The stats say that at one time, there were 338 people online at the same time, but that could have been when BT4D was part of BA!

When KMc and ABT does something right and exciting, people will be interested and excited.

On the other hand, the other 213 people might be in a dead faint.

Spring - Brandt, Summer- Shevshenko, Autumn - Copeland and Winter-Hamrick.

Thank you for this.

The original seasons were quite the line-up: Spring: Nadia Nerina, Summer: Violetta Elvin, Autumn: Pauline Clayden, and Winter: Beryl Grey.

We've been discussing the new print of "The Red Shoes" elsewhere on the site, so I'll mention that Moira Shearer was the original Cinderella, with Michael Somes as her Prince, and Alexander Grant Robert Helpmann (see below) was the meanie Stepsister. (I wonder what Massine would have been like as the Ashton stepsister.)

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um surely Grant was the original Jester and Helpmann the original, other sister.

My book on the Royal Ballet, the First Fifty Years, says that the original step sisters were Ashton and Helpmann. It was originally cast with Moyra Fraser and Margaret Dale, but Fraser left the company temporarily at that time and Ashton decided to have the sisters performed by men instead.

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um surely Grant was the original Jester and Helpmann the original, other sister.

And I was visualizing Robert Helpmann as I typed Alexander Grant blushing.gif .

Thank you for the correction!

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I find this to be a very rude practice. I can’t tell you how many times there have been disruptions that continued into the performance because latecomers were escorted to their seats during an appropriate pause and found people sitting in their seats. I prefer to be on or close to an aisle, and it is not unusual for me to buy a seat that someone in standing room might find tempting. If I buy a seat, I expect to be able to sit down without the hassle of the usher having to argue with a squatter in the dark with their flashlight.

If you don’t want to remain in standing room, and you don’t want to buy an orchestra seat, then you should buy a ticketed seat elsewhere in the house, such as Balcony or Family Circle.

I find even more rude to disrupt a performance once it has started. I admire certain theater policies that have absolutely ZERO tolerance for late seating, so the process of moving quickly to better seats once the doors are closed and right before the music starts is smooth and "legal". On the other side, I've lived thru very absurd policies, as with the Arsht Center here in Miami, where I was told to leave an empty seat in orchestra even though the woman next to me took the time to explain to the usher that it was her husband's and he would not be coming. "It doesn't matter, ", the usher said. "The Arsht Center has the policy of honoring a patron's seat even if said patron is not coming. So get up.."

Eutopean theaters are very flexible about moving to empty seats. It is an extended practice among youngsters with limited pockets. I've even seen ushers fishing such seats for standing people. How nice.

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As lovely as Hee Seo's performance was on Monday, Murphy was on an entirely higher level last night. Her Act II solo was thrilling. As the music swelled, her speed in doing a series of jumps and turns increased, and the elevation of her jumps increased. It made me realize that the music must have been slowed down for Hee on Monday, who was much more careful and slower. Murphy is at her peak, and she is a great interpreter of Ashton. See her if you can in this.

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As lovely as Hee Seo's performance was on Monday, Murphy was on an entirely higher level last night. Her Act II solo was thrilling. As the music swelled, her speed in doing a series of jumps and turns increased, and the elevation of her jumps increased. It made me realize that the music must have been slowed down for Hee on Monday, who was much more careful and slower. Murphy is at her peak, and she is a great interpreter of Ashton. See her if you can in this.

How was A Hammoudi?

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How was A Hammoudi?

Hammoudi was fine. I was somewhat disappointed in his Act II variation; he seemed a tad sloppy and under-powered in the leaps, but it was still a respectable effort. His partnering of Murphy was very good. The big overhead lift in Act III was very high and super secure as Hammoudi walked down the steps. They held it for a long time and he was able to bring her down very slowly. In fact, he seemed super strong in all of the lifts. The upside-down lift looked beautiful, though Hammoudi needed to readjust one of his feet just slightly as he was holding Murphy (a much more minor foot adjustment then we often see in such tricky lifts). I think Murphy's supported pirouettes have looked crisper and faster with other partners, but they were still perfectly clean. Hammoudi really seemed to have the upper-body strength that a lot of the ABT men are still working on...

I was a bit disappointed in his characterization of the Prince, which is perhaps unfair since it's a barely sketched character to begin with. However, I have vivid memories of Gorak seeming so enchanted with Reyes during Acts II and III in last year's performance. Even when Gorak was just standing at the back of the stage during Act II, he seemed so engaged and delighted with everything happening onstage.

Murphy was SUPERB in Acts II and III. When she walked down the stairs on pointe, she truly made it a magical moment. I had recently watched the Dowell/Sibley recording of Cinderella, and in that performance, Sibley only walked down the second set of steps on pointe. Last night, Murphy walked down both on point, boureeing on the landing between the two sets of steps. I can't recall how Reyes did it last year. I found it remarkable last night just how much time Cinderella has to stay on pointe during Acts II and III. So often when she is brought down from a lift, she is placed down on pointe (not on flat foot to then pop up into pointe). Murphy had all the strength and then some needed to accomplish this.

Murphy's characterization of Cinderella in Act I was a bit two-dimensional and didn't have much pathos or longing to it. But she more than made up for that in the next two acts. Her super-fast variation in Act II was a jaw-dropper. So musical and detailed, with each bit of the choreography crisply articulated. I think she's truly the company's supreme interpreter of Ashton at this point. She can handle all of the tricky footwork and elaborate upper-body choreography so well.

Boylston was pretty great as the Fairy Godmother. Very buoyant leaps. Trenary stood out as the Spring Fairy.

Gosh, it's hard to sit through a lot of the stepsister shtick, especially in the first act. Forster and Easter (I'm pretty sure he was the second sister -- correct me if not!) were great in the roles, but there's only so much unfunny physical comedy I can take in one evening. Even when I was watching the Dowell/Sibley recording recently, I was struck by how no one in the audience seemed to be laughing at Ashton as the stepsister. Have the stepsisters ever been funny? Did mid-century British audiences find them a hoot?

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Gosh, it's hard to sit through a lot of the stepsister shtick, especially in the first act. Forster and Easter (I'm pretty sure he was the second sister -- correct me if not!) were great in the roles, but there's only so much unfunny physical comedy I can take in one evening. Even when I was watching the Dowell/Sibley recording recently, I was struck by how no one in the audience seemed to be laughing at Ashton as the stepsister. Have the stepsisters ever been funny? Did mid-century British audiences find them a hoot?

Well, possibly so. Ashton seemed to honor and evoke the British Music Hall tradition here, as well as his love of pantomime was used. Not sure that American audiences understand it as well.

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Any reports on the Abrera-Gorak Cinderella?

It was really lovely! It felt a bit poignant for Stella to dance this role for her first performance as an ABT principal. I think she has had a bit of a Cinderella story with ABT: a modest, gracious hard worker who was overlooked and denied opportunities to shine for many years, but who has now FINALLY gotten to step into the spotlight.

Stella brought a lot of dramatic expressiveness to the role, and her mimes were particularly vivid. She was especially good in Act III where she really showed the full range of Cinderella's emotions after the ball: elation as she relived her memories of the ball, sadness that it's over, uncertainty over whether it was really a dream or not, and then joyful relief when she finds her glass slipper. She also really nailed that tricky Act II variation, where she did the most dazzling, high speed sequence of turns and leaps in a manege around the stage. I also loved way she so beautifully conveyed how Cinderella is both happy and grateful through her gracious Act III port de bras.

Gorak was good but didn't particularly shine for me. But in fairness, I was very focused on Stella.

Gabe Stone Shayer was a nice surprise as the jester. He needs to acquire some more polish and authority (there were points were he seemed a bit uncertain, he comes across as very young), but some of his jumps and kicks were pretty stunning and he has good stage presence.

Sarah Lane was the standout amongst the fairies, as Spring. April G also very good as Winter.

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Stella was radiant this afternoon. She absolutely glowed. Every movement was evocative to what she was thinking.

Her face, her arms, her body language so expressive and reactive to her surroundings and relationships. She

performed the choreography as if she's been doing it for years. She descended all the steps on pointe, her

turning sequence was fast, beautiful luxurious lines and always, always on the music. She's divine. So very happy

for her. Gorak was very good as well. His solos elegant and his acting was much more natural and relaxed than

he was last year with Reyes. His partnering was stronger also. He spun Stella off kilter during the 1st multiple

pirouette but kept her straight on the later doubles. He did the lifts well including the Act 3 carry lift. Her face was so

placid and happy - if she wasn't worried he would drop her than I knew he would manage it.

Really loved the performance and looking forward to many more from these two great artists.

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I actually think the male stepsisters sidestep what has traditionally been a thorny part of choreographing Cinderella: most stepsisters in Cinderella productions are "bad dancers." I hate this trope because you find ballerinas trying to pull off a "bad dancing" schtick that is neither believable nor funny. But having the sisters be excellent dancers (albeit in the English music hall tradition) is a clever solution. I also like how Ashton differentiates the sisters: one shier, more insecure, the other brash and outgoing.

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Did Stella get a good welcome at her performance today? I wish I could've been there to scream a few extra bravas for her! Hope someone posts the bows on YouTube.

Stella was enthusiastically and deservedly applauded during her 2 before the curtain bows, but I don't think most in the audience were there to see Stella specifically or were aware it was her first performance as a principal. From what I observed the audience was mostly parents and grandparents treating their kids to an afternoon at the ballet.

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