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Spring 2015: Swan Lake


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Just about every major ballerina has at least one technical issue that "should have been corrected long ago."

The variation that Copeland performed doesn't make it any less legitimate than Plisetskaya's pique option, for example, for whatever reason she chose it. Individuals may have their preferences and their standards, but it's really up to the company directors to decide whether what a dancer puts onstage is acceptable to them and if they have a test the dancers must pass. Then it's up to donors and ticket buyers to vote with their $$ and their feet.

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Much as I love to see well-done fouettes with lots of flourishes -- Murphy and Osipova come to mind -- it's not hard to find examples of major performers who had a terrible time with these. When Julio Bocca's National Ballet of Uruguay did a live stream of their Swan Lake last year, Maria Riccetto bailed at 24. Makarova notoriously loathed the fouettes and didn't always get through 32. It would be better if they just planned a nice finish, perhaps chaine turns, than struggle to finish. I think it's more important to look at the overall technical quality in a performance than just this one thing. So I'm curious about the rest of the performance people saw at today's matinee.

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Probably the reason that Copeland will be promoted because people vote with their tickets. I would buy your argument completely if Copeland could actually perform what is expected from a principal dancer and then opted to make a change in the choreography. My guess is that she is unable to do all of them - perhaps ankle strength? I'm sure people will be supportive of her regardless; however, imagine going abroad where the custom is to perform fouettes in this act and the ballerina opts to do single turns from 5th position. It might cause some heads to turn (no pun intended).

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And, if she was traveling down the stage doing them is even more egregious!

It sounds like she did this (starting at 35 seconds: I don't know why the time instruction in the URL isn't working):

The traveling is very deliberate there. And the audience appreciated it.

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I think the prettiest fouettes are from Tamara Rojo - beautiful position and so polished. I agree that it's better to do them cleanly than to try and move a mountain with numbers. However, people have come to expect that this coda contains these turns and most people look forward to this spendid display of technical prowess.

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Those turns of Osipova's are a part of that variation and look good! Maybe other balletomanes find it ok to do these for the coda of Swan Lake. I'm just not a fan of it and I've never seen it for Odile's variation - anybody ever seen this for 3rd Act SL?

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Fouettés aside, I'm delighted to hear the (extremely) positive reviews regarding the overall performance--especially if (as reports of school trips up thread would make it sound) there were a number of newcomers to ballet in the audience.

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Much as I love to see well-done fouettes with lots of flourishes -- Murphy and Osipova come to mind -- it's not hard to find examples of major performers who had a terrible time with these. When Julio Bocca's National Ballet of Uruguay did a live stream of their Swan Lake last year, Maria Riccetto bailed at 24. Makarova notoriously loathed the fouettes and didn't always get through 32. It would be better if they just planned a nice finish, perhaps chaine turns, than struggle to finish. I think it's more important to look at the overall technical quality in a performance than just this one thing. So I'm curious about the rest of the performance people saw at today's matinee.

Amen to that, California. I've seen a number of principals over the years who have struggled or fallen out of fouettés and turning sequences (think corsaire pd3) in performance, including dancers known for their technical prowess and turning abilities.

Looking forward to hearing more about the performance as a whole. Judging by the accounts of those who were in the audience, it sounds like a treat!

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Those turns of Osipova's are a part of that variation and look good! Maybe other balletomanes find it ok to do these for the coda of Swan Lake. I'm just not a fan of it and I've never seen it for Odile's variation - anybody ever seen this for 3rd Act SL?

I've never seen that done during the black swan coda, even at regional companies.

I'm sure Copeland's performance was probably very good, and as I find joy in most performances, I'm sure I would have enjoyed her today in SL. While I favor Abrera's dancing of all the soloists, I still think Misty is talented and has hatched her publicity plan based off the current messed up atmosphere (rent a Russian, aka star strategy) at ABT.

That being said, saying that Misty's performance is on par with Lopatkina (who is probably THE definitive O/O) is crazy, and only adds fuel to the Misty hater cause. Misty is a novice in performing O/O, and while she may have been lovely, she cannot possibly be on par with Lopatkina, who has been perfecting the role for many, many years. That is not a slight on Misty, there may not be another current ballerina who can match Lopatkina in this role.

Making such grandiose statements only hurts Copeland's cause.

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I've never seen that done during the black swan coda, even at regional companies.

I'm sure Copeland's performance was probably very good, and as I find joy in most performances, I'm sure I would have enjoyed her today in SL. While I favor Abrera's dancing of all the soloists, I still think Misty is talented and has hatched her publicity plan based off the current messed up atmosphere (rent a Russian, aka star strategy) at ABT.

That being said, saying that Misty's performance is on par with Lopatkina (who is probably THE definitive O/O) is crazy, and only adds fuel to the Misty hater cause. Misty is a novice in performing O/O, and while she may have been lovely, she cannot possibly be on par with Lopatkina, who has been perfecting the role for many, many years. That is not a slight on Misty, there may not be another current ballerina who can match Lopatkina in this role.

Making such grandiose statements only hurts Copeland's cause.

Personally, I think if someone hates Misty because of a grandiose comment from a user on a message board, they have issues.

Anyway, I can't wait to hear how her debut went. I saw some snippets of her Swan Lake debut with the Washington Ballet and it didn't look very good.

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I didn't see the Copeland SL. I would love to hear an unbiased evaluation of the performance but it seems to be hard to come by. I know 3 people who went. Two went not liking her and found the performance heavily flawed. The other, someone I met recently, is a fan and loved, loved, loved it. I'm not saying these people were not being honest but they could have written reviews before seeing the show. I find this frustrating.

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Sara Mearns failed to execute the 32 fouettés in her first performance, opting for 16 and then a pique circle after. I didn't hear anyone complaining then, and it certainly didn't hurt her career. I think it's silly that that one component of a near three hour ballet could ruin a performance, but maybe that's just me.

For what it's worth, and in no relation to my opinion of Misty, I don't enjoy Lopatkina's dancing and wouldn't ever consider her to be a definitive O/O. There's no accounting for taste, I guess.

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Mearns was 19 at the time, so audiences were much more willing to cut her come slack. It doesn't surprise me that they should expect more from a 32 year old with nearly 15 years of professional experience under her belt.

Mearns was 19 and delivered a gloriously musical, unique and dramatic performance. I believe she was still in the corps, I could be wrong about that.

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ABC reports that Lauren Anderson and Raven Wilkinson both congratulated Copeland onstage afterward. (And Damien Woetzel felt it was an "honor" to be there. I guess he felt it was an honor that they sold him a ticket. I wish people would quit misusing that word).

Mearns was still indeed the corps when she debuted in Swan Lake.

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Sara Mearns failed to execute the 32 fouettés in her first performance, opting for 16 and then a pique circle after. I didn't hear anyone complaining then, and it certainly didn't hurt her career. I think it's silly that that one component of a near three hour ballet could ruin a performance, but maybe that's just me.

I completely agree, but I don't think one should jump to the other extreme and proclaim that switching from fouettés to pirouettes halfway through was an interpretive choice on Misty's part and that there were therefore no flaws at all worth mentioning. We need to try to be as honest and objective as we can when evaluating a performance, however impossible that may in fact be. I find it hard to believe that a soloist aiming for principal and performing O/O for the first time on the Met stage would be capable of doing 32 fouettés and yet choose not to. Bad optics. it seems far more likely that she was unable to and chose to finish in a way that worked best for her. Fine. Does that make the performance execrable? Certainly not. Let's take a middle road here.

No. Copeland chose to perform the piques at the halfway point, as Plisetskaya and Kistler did.

It was an extraordinary TOTAL PRIMA PERFORMANCE. I've never heard such energy for a Prima before, except for Alonso in the day.

Changing fouettés to piques is far better than bombing the Rose Adagio, as recently happened to a slighter soloist.

I'm curious to know which soloist you think "bombed" the Rose Adagio.

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When Kowroski first danced her (very beautiful) Odette-Odile at NYCB she did not do the fouettes. Don't know if she did them later or not.

I like to see them and see them done well, but it is not a huge stumbling block for me in appreciating an Odette-Odile when that doesn't happen -- as long as I admire the rest of the performance.

I had hoped to see this debut and am sorry I missed it. I bet it was plenty exciting to be there.

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I completely agree, but I don't think one should jump to the other extreme and proclaim that switching from fouettés to pirouettes halfway through was an interpretive choice on Misty's part and that there were therefore no flaws at all worth mentioning. We need to try to be as honest and objective as we can when evaluating a performance, however impossible that may in fact be. I find it hard to believe that a soloist aiming for principal and performing O/O for the first time on the Met stage would be capable of doing 32 fouettés and yet choose not to. Bad optics. it seems far more likely that she was unable to and chose to finish in a way that worked best for her. Fine. Does that make the performance execrable? Certainly not. Let's take a middle road here.

I was there, I didn't see it as a choice per se, in the sense of an artistic decision made ahead of time, but I saw it as a pretty "flawless," if one can use that word, cover for something going "not right."

Did she intend to do the fouettés or hope to? I think/assume so. But she had a backup plan if they didn't and executed it well. I have seen people mess up the fouettés and basically crash and burn...falling out of them and then standing there stunned for the rest of the music. I've seen people gut their way through them all, but so poorly that they looked awful and you were chewing your fingernails off wondering if they were going to land on their ass.

She did neither. Was it disappointing, well yeah a bit. But it was preferable to other things I've seen and it was just a few minutes of a very nice performance.

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When Kowroski first danced her (very beautiful) Odette-Odile at NYCB she did not do the fouettes. Don't know if she did them later or not.

She is the one I saw crash and burn, so she's tried them at least once. It was not successful....

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I was there, I didn't see it as a choice per se, in the sense of an artistic decision made ahead of time, but I saw it as a pretty "flawless," if one can use that word, cover for something going "not right."

Did she intend to do the fouettés or hope to? I think/assume so. But she had a backup plan if they didn't and executed it well. I have seen people mess up the fouettés and basically crash and burn...falling out of them and then standing there stunned for the rest of the music. I've seen people gut their way through them all, but so poorly that they looked awful and you were chewing your fingernails off wondering if they were going to land on their ass.

She did neither. Was it disappointing, well yeah a bit. But it was preferable to other things I've seen and it was just a few minutes of a very nice performance.

Thank you, aurora -- that's exactly the sort of "middle-road" approach to the issue that I had in mind.

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I've never seen that done during the black swan coda, even at regional companies.

I'm sure Copeland's performance was probably very good, and as I find joy in most performances, I'm sure I would have enjoyed her today in SL. While I favor Abrera's dancing of all the soloists, I still think Misty is talented and has hatched her publicity plan based off the current messed up atmosphere (rent a Russian, aka star strategy) at ABT.

That being said, saying that Misty's performance is on par with Lopatkina (who is probably THE definitive O/O) is crazy, and only adds fuel to the Misty hater cause. Misty is a novice in performing O/O, and while she may have been lovely, she cannot possibly be on par with Lopatkina, who has been perfecting the role for many, many years. That is not a slight on Misty, there may not be another current ballerina who can match Lopatkina in this role.

Making such grandiose statements only hurts Copeland's cause.

I love the Mariinsky and have seen Somova, Tereshkina, Kondaurova and Lopatkina all dance O/O multiple times. Nobody, NOBODY, even at the esteemed Mariinsky comes close to Lopatkina. To compare Copeland (who couldn't even do 16 fouettés without traveling and then just did pirouettes?) to Lopatkina????
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In response to Josette, it's believed by many people that Plisetskaya was incapable of performing 32 fouettes and opted to do piques instead. This is actually not correct. She could do fouettes and she could do 32. It was a personal choice of hers for this particular coda and interpretation (Swan Lake, Act III). I have to say that I've never seen a principal do a combination of fouette and pique for this, and my guess is that Copeland was "winding down", running out of steam, and was aware that she would not be able to complete them cleanly. This is really unfortunate. She is not Lopatkina nor is she Plisetskaya. I understand that she is a favorite and perhaps a role model. But, my opinion only is that she will need to perfect her technique and stamina and pull at least a nice clean set of single fouettes to continue to perform Swan Lake.

Yes. I just watched two videos of Plisetskaya doing the 32 fouettes in Don Q, so clearly she was capable of them. The video of 1973 Black Swan where she does the pique manege instead of the fouettes, she was 48! But Maya was a unique dancer who had such magic that omitting the fouettes wouldn't have detracted much from her performance IMO.

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It sounds like she did this (starting at 35 seconds: I don't know why the time instruction in the URL isn't working):

The traveling is very deliberate there. And the audience appreciated it.

But those pirouettes that Osipova does are the correct Don Q choreography. For a soloist who can't do the SL choreography to get promoted? Well, I for one, have voted with my money and feet this year. I'm not seeing even one ABT SL. And I will never, ever pay to see Misty. Never!

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I felt today's matinee with Misty was one of the most flawed and disappointing performances I've seen all season. I'm not sure where to begin, except perhaps her lack of musicality would be one place. She never once sustained a through line musically, but rather moved from step to step so as to perhaps not mess up, but it looked mechanical and certainly un swan like. Her arms "flapped" rather like some ungainly bird. I even noticed poor James Whiteside having to duck his head a few times so as not to be hit ! She rarely held a balance, or if she did it seemed for applause effect.. Her technique just keeps coming unravelled when one wants most for it to be strong. Those feet! Those claw like fingers! Scary. I didn't find much to praise in her interpretation either. It lacked focus and depth, again as if she were going through the motions, but without something underneath it all. She and James had zero chemistry together. I usually like him and feel he's improved so much recently. But here he merely looked uncomfortable and wanted this to be over. There was never a connection between them, a longing, a trust, a love. She looked downright angry during most of the Black Swan. And about those fouettes, or lack thereof. OK. so she didn't make it through them, but her substitution of pirouettes from fifth were a disaster! At least hit a solid fifth position rather that a nasty third or open fourth. And this is not the traveling kind that Kitri does in her diagonal in "Don Q". Stay in one place! These were just sloppy. As to other aspects of the performance, the pas de trois was just OK. Someone needs to tell Calvin Royal his second leg in every cabriole or tour jete" flops" and makes the jumps look unfinished and sloppy. For the most part the corps was experiencing an off day, with lines all over the place and people simply not dancing together. Hammoudi was OK as Purple Rothbart, I guess. Who knew the lifting of the Italian Princess was meant to be such a huge laugh line! Really? And if anyone could make that fourth act choreography look truly hackneyed, well Misty did that today. I could go on, but I can't. Suffice to say the house was sold out, with people screaming and many applauding in all the wrong places. I fear this is the future of ABT. Lopatkina? Really?

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There is one person who said that Copeland's performance was the best she'd seen since Lopatkina.

To characterize this as "crazy talk" is an ad hominen attack.

So stop it. Disagree all you want, but keep it civil.

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