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Spring 2015: Swan Lake


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Again, I'd just point out that this is not what the use of nicknames by devotees for performing artists has typically signified or implied and that it's a tradition that goes back centuries. Some choose to talk in this manner and some don't. No problem. But I don't think we should misconstrue or mischaracterize what others are doing with their language.

I get it. That's fine, too. I'm sure I might have done it once or twice, but I am going to make a conscious effort not to. Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean others have to care.

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Yes, that's correct. And Abrera altered the trickiest of the steps in the performance in NYC (the last Sat matinee) that I saw too (though she didn't change the whole variation.)

I'm not a ballet expert by any means, but what Abrera did at that matinee was still much much harder than what Part did.

This is probably getting way too off topic, and I don't want to veer off into discussing the discussion, so I'm done after this post.

Again, I enjoy Part. But I think we all tend to be nicer (myself included) about the technical deficiencies of dancers we like or connect with, and are much harder on those dancers we don't feel a connection with. It's human nature. I'm guilty of it as well. I'm not saying Copeland doesn't deserve much of the criticism (I think she should be able to complete those fouettes by now) but things are never either 100% perfect or 100 % dreck. 99% of dancers fall between those extremes.

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I'm not a ballet expert by any means, but what Abrera did at that matinee was still much much harder than what Part did.

This is probably getting way too off topic, and I don't want to veer off into discussing the discussion, so I'm done after this post.

Again, I enjoy Part. But I think we all tend to be nicer (myself included) about the technical deficiencies of dancers we like or connect with, and are much harder on those dancers we don't feel a connection with. It's human nature. I'm guilty of it as well. I'm not saying Copeland doesn't deserve much of the criticism (I think she should be able to complete those fouettes by now) but things are never either 100% perfect or 100 % dreck. 99% of dancers fall between those extremes.

I completely agree on all points, regarding both Abrera's more challenging variation and the critical tendencies you describe.

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One of the reasons I assume it took some time for Part to get promoted to principal was the technical weaknesses that marred her performances. These really subsided around the time she finally became principal -- after waiting so long, you may remember, that she came very close to leaving the company the year before. I can't guarantee that they subsided (for the most part) before her promotion (I don't have a firm enough recollection of the timeline), though that was possibly part of what allowed it to finally come. In any case, while she is still not a particularly strong dancer technically, I would not say that, in general, she "could not do the steps or choreography." (Some might point to the recent substitution of an alternate Lilac Fairy variation for her, and I grant the point -- though this was also justified given that there were two different variations in the notations, and she did the easier of the two -- which was also the more dramatically expressive, in keeping with her strengths.) In any case, for the past 5-6 years she has been much stronger technically than she was 7+ years ago.

And I don't think it's at all true that "you won't hear [Part's weaknesses] mentioned."

(Note: I'm not making any comparisons to Misty or others here. I'm merely responding to your above question.)

I know that, in all honesty, I can react to technical flaws or lapses differently from dancer to dancer. I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical. I loved Ferri for the amazing dramatic truthfulness conveyed by her entire body as well as her face. I think of Cojocaru's unique imagination, Mearns - never hold back, go for it intensity. These and few other dancers have an artistry that is so special and transcendent that a technical lapse or flaw seems minuscule. With dancers of less artistry (and that would be most) I look more at how they are doing each step, and flaws become more important. I know lists of great artists might differ but I wonder if others feel the same way.

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I know that, in all honesty, I can react to technical flaws or lapses differently from dancer to dancer. I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical. I loved Ferri for the amazing dramatic truthfulness conveyed by her entire body as well as her face. I think of Cojocaru's unique imagination, Mearns - never hold back, go for it intensity. These and few other dancers have an artistry that is so special and transcendent that a technical lapse or flaw seems minuscule. With dancers of less artistry (and that would be most) I look more at how they are doing each step, and flaws become more important. I know lists of great artists might differ but I wonder if others feel the same way.

I agree to a point. There are a few dancers out there (the three you mentioned, but there are others) whose artistry completely transcends any perceived flaws in their technique. For me, it's when that transcendency is missing that I start looking far too much at the individual steps or movement sequences and I become distracted by the inadequate technique or lack of musicality or the inability to find a through thread perhaps in the acting. When true artistry is there, it's there and all else is secondary. But that's me. Everyone may have a completely different standard.

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I know that, in all honesty, I can react to technical flaws or lapses differently from dancer to dancer. I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical. I loved Ferri for the amazing dramatic truthfulness conveyed by her entire body as well as her face. I think of Cojocaru's unique imagination, Mearns - never hold back, go for it intensity. These and few other dancers have an artistry that is so special and transcendent that a technical lapse or flaw seems minuscule. With dancers of less artistry (and that would be most) I look more at how they are doing each step, and flaws become more important. I know lists of great artists might differ but I wonder if others feel the same way.

Oh, to be sure. And it works both ways. There are times when I'm willing to put up with less artistry, dramatic imagination, etc. for the sake of enjoying a performance that is technically magnificent. Nearly every performance is a trade-off, isn't it? There have been very few performers in the history of the art, I imagine, who have truly "had it all," leaving nothing to be desired.

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I think Gorak will eventually get promoted. But my most important advice would be Don't Get Injured between now and whatever time the promotion comes!!! I know people do not have control over such matters, but it makes a difference.

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I just came across this touching gesture in Hee Seo's curtain calls: She lays down her bouquet in honor of the corps. I've never seen someone do that before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqs7hyhcBlw&feature=youtu.be&t=2m56s

Corps members have always said lovely things about Seo in interviews, and I imagine that they think of her as one of their own (a homegrown talent who has risen through the ranks).

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Even if Gorak needs to grow in the acting department, I found that he looked so much more engaged and present than Cornejo in their Swan Lake earlier this week. Cornejo just went through the motions, but it was an incredibly two-dimensional portrayal. He doesn't do much with his face -- at all. I would much rather have seen Gorak as Siegfried and Cornejo as Benno, though I realize, of course, that Cornejo has moved beyond that role.

Regarding the subject of nicknames, the ballet world has nothing on opera. Flicka, Bubbles, La Divina. Okay, well, I guess we sometimes say "Marcelo the Magnificent."

Okay, so "Joey" it is. Even if I find it a bit disrespectful to use a diminutive with people we know (mostly) from this and other media. It would have been great fun to hear Beverly Sills referred to as "Bubbles" at a Board meeting of Lincoln Center. "Bubbles will now give her overview of this year's budget. Bubbles, the floor is yours!" LOL

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It would have been great fun to hear Beverly Sills referred to as "Bubbles" at a Board meeting of Lincoln Center. "Bubbles will now give her overview of this year's budget. Bubbles, the floor is yours!" LOL

Given what Sills' personality seems to have been, I can actually imagine her loving that!

(And, in a rather different way, I can imagine Callas loving being called "La Divina" to her face!)

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Many thanks to the people who reported content that blatantly violates Ballet Alert! policy.

Please do not quote posts in violation and respond to it on the board: that is discussing the discussion and makes clean-up a lot more time-consuming. That's what the "Report" button on each post is for.

[Admin benie on]

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I missed the Boylston/Simkin performance today, so interested to hear feedback on it. I wonder, was it poorly attended? I had offered my ticket up here and found no takers, and ended up donating it via the box office.

Finally had time to do my weigh in for whatever it is worth, the show was a sell out for what I saw and actually over heard one young gentleman, who most likely is a tourist in town, mentioning to someone on his cell that he wasn't able to get a ticket so he had to settle for across the theatre to the RB. It was quite funny for me as I can tell he had no idea what he was seeing, whomever was on the other side of the phone was encouraging him to see a ballet. The audience seems to have had many young people there and perhaps from all the various summer intensives that has begun around town.

It is really nice to hear of Simkin in the context of a partnership. The ABT performance threads read like both he and Boyston could really use a good one.

I was mixed in my feelings with the partering, I have to admist many things said may be very subjective and I do hope to be more objective to what I have to say. I loved both Simkin and Bolyston in their perspective dances and throughly enjoyed the performance, but I have to be honest that I didn't feel the connection in certain parts of the show. Their techniques are as always amazing to me, but if felt that Simkin was concentrating a bit too much to get the partnering right then his theatrics that was needed, IMO. With this said, this is a good partnership to start with and I know they will do well with more given opportunities together to become the much loved Corella/Herrera one day.

For the rest of the show, I felt the corps swans started a bit messy (timing of legs) but ended on a nice note, both Cygnettes with Copeland, Brandt, Lane and Aihara, as well as Big Swans with Waski and Hamrick were very together.

I had wished to have seen the much talked about Shevchenko on this thread, but sorry to have missed her in this particular performance. I was hoping she would be one of the princesses as I felt they could have used her.

Based on what I saw, I feel that ABT should definitely consider coaching several of these talented young dancers as I feel their talents need to be nurtured to do great things for this company.

Well, again, many things can be said and hope to have given a less subjective opinion, but overall I am glad I was there to see some of my favorites stars and enjoyed a nice afternoon.

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I'm not a ballet expert by any means, but what Abrera did at that matinee was still much much harder than what Part did.

Several of you have mentioned different choreography performed by Part and Abrera in the Lilac Fairy role. I saw two performances of SB, both with Part. Can you give us a couple of specific examples?

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Hallberg eventually sort of acquired a sort of mannered iciness to some of his performances, like it was more important for his cape to flutter perfectly as Romeo than anything else.

Yes, I agree, canbelto. "Mannered" is a good way of putting it. In the year or two leading up to his move to the Bolshoi I really felt this was happening. His dancing began to seem self-regarding, and self-consciously "Art" (with capital and quotes). As a performer, he began to feel very remote. (There was no longer a sense of the "intimacy" I've described elsewhere on this thread. Let's say I began to think of him only as "Hallberg," never as "David.") And this has been enhanced by his more literal remoteness in recent years (he seems to never actually end up dancing with ABT anymore).

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Several of you have mentioned different choreography performed by Part and Abrera in the Lilac Fairy role. I saw two performances of SB, both with Part. Can you give us a couple of specific examples?

It was actually a totally different variation, so it doesn't really boil down to alterations in steps. The variation Veronika ended up performing in NYC contained a fair amount of mime elements (gestures toward the crib, etc.). I saw three different Lilacs: Teuscher, Part, then Abrera. Teuscher did the more challenging variation, including a particularly tricky step in the latter portion -- perhaps someone with more technical knowledge can describe it. I just remember it included something like a pirouette leading into a shift to the other foot for something else. (Sorry to be so unhelpful in that description!) Teuscher didn't look wholly comfortable with it, but she managed it. When I saw Abrera dance it the final weekend, she altered this step -- there was no longer the tricky shift from foot to foot. But overall she did the more challenging variation that Teuscher had, while Part's was quite different.

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Several of you have mentioned different choreography performed by Part and Abrera in the Lilac Fairy role. I saw two performances of SB, both with Part. Can you give us a couple of specific examples?

I'm the wrong person to ask, as I fully admit I don't know a lot of the technical names. It was described by someone far more knowledgeable than I, as battlement fouettés and en dedans pirouettes. To me it looked some what similar to Italian fouettes but the leg stayed lower. It looked extremely difficult. Maybe someone with dance experience can chime in with a better less ignorant response.

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Several of you have mentioned different choreography performed by Part and Abrera in the Lilac Fairy role. I saw two performances of SB, both with Part. Can you give us a couple of specific examples?

Part performed the "Marie Petipa" variation which consisted of a series of attitudes while miming "cradling the baby." Daria Pavlenko performed something very close to the Marie Petipa variation here:

Stella Abrera and Devon Teuscher performed a variation much closer to what the Royal Ballet variation is at 5:39 of this video:

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One of the reasons I assume it took some time for Part to get promoted to principal was the technical weaknesses that marred her performances. These really subsided around the time she finally became principal -- after waiting so long, you may remember, that she came very close to leaving the company the year before. I can't guarantee that they subsided (for the most part) before her promotion (I don't have a firm enough recollection of the timeline), though that was possibly part of what allowed it to finally come. In any case, while she is still not a particularly strong dancer technically, I would not say that, in general, she "could not do the steps or choreography." (Some might point to the recent substitution of an alternate Lilac Fairy variation for her, and I grant the point -- though this was also justified given that there were two different variations in the notations, and she did the easier of the two -- which was also the more dramatically expressive, in keeping with her strengths.) In any case, for the past 5-6 years she has been much stronger technically than she was 7+ years ago.

And I don't think it's at all true that "you won't hear [Part's weaknesses] mentioned."

(Note: I'm not making any comparisons to Misty or others here. I'm merely responding to your above question.)

From my recollection, Veronika Part's "big break," so to speak was Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. And if you just Google "Veronika Part" and "Rose Adagio," you'll see that it wasn't exactly a technical triumph. But I'll let the reports of BalletAlerter's speak for themselves...

From the opening Entrance of the Shades, with two ladies in the front row struggling mightily to stay upright, to the Rose Adagio where Veronika Part not only fell off pointe, but had a hard time getting back on pointe, and then later just hitting her stride again in the dance. (carbro)
Veronika did look radiant in her entrance and her first poses showed gorgeous form and extension. However, the first balance was shaky and the second she fell off pointe and had to get back on it. In the second set of revolving supported pirouettes in arabesque with balances she was holding on very close to her cavaliers and never seemed secure. (Fauxpas)
Next came Veronika Part in the Rose Adagio who managed to turn this into an endless train wreck. Despite her fine lyrical qualities, I think McKenzie should fire her after tonight's performance or else his Board should fire him if he insists on entrusting her with the premiere. She missed every balance. She fell off pointe while desperately clutching one of the cavalier's arms. She was way off balance on most all of her supported pirouettes. No question she was pretty. She was very pretty and smiled and walked and developeed with great grace. But plain and simply, she can't do the job, and hopefully she will be replaced by June 1st. (Haglund's)

This was 2007, so in the year leading up to her promotion to principal. And I'm not so sure how much of her promotion to principal was an uptick in her technical abilities, and how much was McKenzie moving away from casting her in pieces to which she was not suited like Sleeping Beauty.

For the record, for a long time, I let Part's technical deficiencies detract from my enjoyment of her performances. It was not enjoyable to me to hold my breath, waiting to see if she was going to make it through a variation intact. But I attended a Bayadere some years ago, and realized that there was so much that made her special as a dancer and transcended the technical. I really look forward to her performances now, bobbles and all. :)

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From my recollection, Veronika Part's "big break," so to speak was Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. And if you just Google "Veronika Part" and "Rose Adagio," you'll see that it wasn't exactly a technical triumph. But I'll let the reports of BalletAlerter's speak for themselves...

This was 2007, so in the year leading up to her promotion to principal. And I'm not so sure how much of her promotion to principal was an uptick in her technical abilities, and how much was McKenzie moving away from casting her in pieces to which she was not suited like Sleeping Beauty.

For the record, for a long time, I let Part's technical deficiencies detract from my enjoyment of her performances. It was not enjoyable to me to hold my breath, waiting to see if she was going to make it through a variation intact. But I attended a Bayadere some years ago, and realized that there was so much that made her special as a dancer and transcended the technical. I really look forward to her performances now, bobbles and all. smile.png

Um. She doesn't have nearly as many of them (bobbles), so...

Also that was the premiere, and nerves used to clearly be a major issue for her. She did it afterwards and did not have difficulties. I'm not going to go back and find a thread from 2007 (seriously??) but she was very controversial among board members at the time and you have posted pretty much universally negative assessments. I'm sure that was not the case at the time.

I also know I saw her do one of the best Auroras I've ever seen. It remained in her rep until that production was dropped in favor of this one. And she has been given other technically challenging roles since: Le Corsaire and Don Q.

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I also know I saw her do one of the best Auroras I've ever seen. It remained in her rep until that production was dropped in favor of this one. And she has been given other technically challenging roles since: Le Corsaire and Don Q.

Yes, she continued to dance Aurora every time it came back and never had anywhere near the degree of difficulty she reportedly had at the premiere. (I did not see that performance, but I've heard from one who did -- and who otherwise loves her dancing -- that it was definitely a low point for her.) Many saw this (along with Nikiya and O/O) as one of her signature roles.

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This was 2007, so in the year leading up to her promotion to principal. And I'm not so sure how much of her promotion to principal was an uptick in her technical abilities, and how much was McKenzie moving away from casting her in pieces to which she was not suited like Sleeping Beauty.

Veronika was promoted in the summer of 2009, actually, so two years after the SB debut. It was reported that she would be leaving ABT at the end of the 2008 Met season, but she ended up staying, and a year later she became a principal.

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Since the discussion was technique, sidwich's quote selection does not misrepresent the majority opinion posted here, regardless of what members may have thought about other aspects of her performance.

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Since the discussion was technique, sidwich's quote selection does not misrepresent the majority opinion posted here, regardless of what members may have thought about other aspects of her performance.

A comparison was made about the technical deficiencies of a dancer on the eve of her (likely) promotion to principal and those of a dancer two full years before her promotion. It's true that the reviews quoted by sidwich and some of those on this thread describing Misty's technical problems are similar in tone. But given the difference in timeframe, I'm not sure how apt a comparison this is or how much it tells us.

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Since the discussion was technique, sidwich's quote selection does not misrepresent the majority opinion posted here, regardless of what members may have thought about other aspects of her performance.

I'm not sure that's accurate.

Very first review posted:

Part was triumphant! She not only gave us a technically secure Rose Adagio she surprised me with jetes that were practically worthy of Sizova and was ravishingly beautiful throughout.

Second review posted:

I agree, the dancing, was exceptionally good. Part was magnificent -- regal, pure, and except for a little problem with deleve in her Vision variation (the same choreography Vishneva danced at the opening night gala), completely solid. She did not play it safe in the Rose Adagio, taking her time to hold the arms en couronne between each suitor. But it was her noble bearing and exquisite line that made this a performance to savor.

Third review posted:

I can only echo what Susan has already mentioned. Watching Veronika's Rose Adagio was as heart-poundingly exciting as watching Olympic figure skating. All the talk up until that moment about whether or not she could do it made for an unpredictable, on the edge of my seat performance. She not only succeeded in executing the steps and balances, she exceeded everyone's expectations for what she is capable of. People stood up and applauded when she completed the Adagio.

I haven't read the rest yet. But that's just an alternative sampling.

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Aurora wrote:

I'm not going to go back and find a thread from 2007 (seriously??) but she was very controversial among board members at the time and you have posted pretty much universally negative assessments. I'm sure that was not the case at the time.

I pointed out that, actually, it was the case at the time for Part among Ballet Alert! members. sidwich did not claim that every Ballet Alert! member agreed, and Part was as much of a lightening rod about her dancing as Copeland is now. Ballet Alert! members' opinions are not, of course, necessarily universal. However, there was much carping about Part's technical deficiencies, almost as much as about her not doing the "harder" option for Lilac Fairy in the new Ratmansky, as if this were the YAGP finals.

Copeland's technical proficiency vs. Part's technical proficiency is a different issue. How much the technical issues impacted people's enjoyment of both dancers' performances is also very, very different.

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