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Spring 2015: Swan Lake


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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.

Oh no! The ignorant masses!!!! They enjoyed themselves and didn't even know how to properly behave...

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Devil's Advocate question : Given that every production has multiple performances with different principals each night, what's so terrible about having certain nights for pop star fans and the others for the more knowledgeable? It's not like the Met, where there's no way of avoiding singers not up to the part, unless one skips the production entirely. Nor is like a team sport, where the whole team would be affected, were one of the key players not at a professional level.

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Devil's Advocate question : Given that every production has multiple performances with different principals each night, what's so terrible about having certain nights for pop star fans and the others for the more knowledgeable? It's not like the Met, where there's no way of avoiding singers not up to the part, unless one skips the production entirely. Nor is like a team sport, where the whole team would be affected, were one of the key players not at a professional level.

Ususaly the ballerina you do not want to see is paired with a a dancer you love

example Gprak-Copeland (one is an epitome of elegance and grace and technique the other the anthithesis)

Gomes- Seo

apparently tickets for Cornejo - Kotchetkova also are not selling as well even if people love Cornejo.

Not so simple....

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I would have enjoyed seeing Part, but did not want to see Stearns. Also would have loved to see Cornejo, but not with Kochetkova as O/O. So it's a RB week for me, except for the fact that I will see the Sat evening SL because I like 2/3 of the lead cast.

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apparently tickets for Cornejo - Kotchetkova also are not selling as well even if people love Cornejo.

I was just on the Met site and this is indeed very strange since this is also a Friday night, I would think that is a night out...but perhaps not a ballet, yet it is Kotchekova. I already have tickets to the Saturday matinee ... luckily a while ago since I see that is almost sold out! Perhaps it is Saturday and also they do have the kids workshop listed for the same afternoon, not crazy about that and sure hope not too many young kids jumping in front of our seats.

Just an observer,

I would have also loved to see Veronica Part not wiht Cory Sterns, although Cory has beautiful lines she need a partner that project more character

I wish I had see this show as well, with all the comments on Misty, did anyone on BA see this? I have always enjoyed Marcelo as VR. Wonder if this was a sell out after a day with Misty.

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I was just on the Met site and this is indeed very strange since this is also a Friday night, I would think that is a night out...but perhaps not a ballet, yet it is Kotchekova. I already have tickets to the Saturday matinee ... luckily a while ago since I see that is almost sold out! Perhaps it is Saturday and also they do have the kids workshop listed for the same afternoon, not crazy about that and sure hope not too many young kids jumping in front of our seats.

I wish I had see this show as well, with all the comments on Misty, did anyone on BA see this? I have always enjoyed Marcelo as VR. Wonder if this was a sell out after a day with Misty.

It wasn't a complete sell out as the afternoon was but it was a very very full house. Marcelo was amazing as Purple Rothbart and Veronika was very confident and on. Cory dances the part better than in years past but is still somewhat of an emotional blank in it.

Part got 4 bouquets at the end of the evening.

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I was at the Part/Stearns/Gomes Swan Lake last night and it was a wonderful performance. I'll write more later, but let me just say briefly that I am finally fully resigned to the fact that Cory is now Veronika's regular home-team partner. I have been very critical of his performances with her in the past -- especially last year, when I felt that he was pretty much a total blank. This was always a disappointing partnership in my eyes, as I have many fond memories of seeing Veronika dance with Marcelo especially, as well as with Roberto Bolle that one year. I have always been impressed by Cory's dancing and partnering on a technical level, but he never seemed to project much character, and I always felt that Veronika -- such a passionate, engaged and engaging dancer -- deserved more. Well, last night he changed my mind. He was fully invested in the role and in the performance, and there were many fine nuances of character throughout. Given that the Marcelo-Veronika pairings are likely a thing of the past, I can live with this partnership going forward. It was a very satisfying performance. Thank you, Cory, for finally giving it your all!

And having Marcelo there to play Purple Rothbart was just icing on the cake! I feared going in that I'd spend the whole evening wishing that Cory and Marcelo would just trade places, but the casting seemed just right. Marcelo was perhaps better than I've ever seen him in this role, particularly in terms of characterization. The way he used his eyes throughout the Act III scene -- evil, seductive, cunning, amused -- was just a pleasure to behold!

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I was at the Part/Stearns/Gomes Swan Lake last night and it was a wonderful performance. I'll write more later, but let me just say briefly that I am finally fully resigned to the fact that Cory is now Veronika's regular home-team partner. I have been very critical of his performances with her in the past -- especially last year, when I felt that he was pretty much a total blank. This was always a disappointing partnership in my eyes, as I have many fond memories of seeing Veronika dance with Marcelo especially, as well as with Roberto Bolle that one year. I have always been impressed by Cory's dancing and partnering on a technical level, but he never seemed to project much character, and I always felt that Veronika -- such a passionate, engaged and engaging dancer -- deserved more. Well, last night he changed my mind. He was fully invested in the role and in the performance, and there were many fine nuances of character throughout. Given that the Marcelo-Veronika pairings are likely a thing of the past, I can live with this partnership going forward. It was a very satisfying performance. Thank you, Cory, for finally giving it your all!

And having Marcelo there to play Purple Rothbart was just icing on the cake! I feared going in that I'd spend the whole evening wishing that Cory and Marcelo would just trade places, but the casting seemed just right. Marcelo was perhaps better than I've ever seen him in this role, particularly in terms of characterization. The way he used his eyes throughout the Act III scene -- evil, seductive, cunning, amused -- was just a pleasure to behold!

I want to add that while my assessment was slightly less enthusiastic, it really was a very good performance (not sure my initial post made it clear I felt that way) and I can live with the partnership as well. Besides having the purple Rothbart Marcelo went a long way towards making up for not having him as Part's partner.

I loved that in one of the curtain calls, when Marcelo was standing next to a corps swan, and the curtains were closing, he wrapped her up in his cloak. He's so fun as the baddies!

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I loved that in one of the curtain calls, when Marcelo was standing next to a corps swan, and the curtains were closing, he wrapped her up in his cloak. He's so fun as the baddies!

Yes! Another example: as Carabosse, when he got wheeled on in Act III for the wedding, he made a threatening gesture toward Florestan, who had to take a moment to put Carabosse in her place. The fact that Marcelo made something of what could have been a total non-moment was great to see. (Craig Salstein, by contrast, was completely still when wheeled on -- don't remember about Nancy Raffa, but certainly nothing she did there caught my eye.) He's such a delight!

Both Veronika and Marcelo, by the way, got bouquets thrown from the audience.

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I loved that in one of the curtain calls, when Marcelo was standing next to a corps swan, and the curtains were closing, he wrapped her up in his cloak. He's so fun as the baddies!

Somebody with the screen name "Vic Toriya" posted these curtain calls on YouTube. The wrapping aurora noted occurs about 3:33.

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I was at the Part/Stearns/Gomes Swan Lake last night and it was a wonderful performance. I'll write more later, but let me just say briefly that I am finally fully resigned to the fact that Cory is now Veronika's regular home-team partner. I have been very critical of his performances with her in the past -- especially last year, when I felt that he was pretty much a total blank. This was always a disappointing partnership in my eyes, as I have many fond memories of seeing Veronika dance with Marcelo especially, as well as with Roberto Bolle that one year. I have always been impressed by Cory's dancing and partnering on a technical level, but he never seemed to project much character, and I always felt that Veronika -- such a passionate, engaged and engaging dancer -- deserved more. Well, last night he changed my mind. He was fully invested in the role and in the performance, and there were many fine nuances of character throughout. Given that the Marcelo-Veronika pairings are likely a thing of the past, I can live with this partnership going forward. It was a very satisfying performance. Thank you, Cory, for finally giving it your all!

And having Marcelo there to play Purple Rothbart was just icing on the cake! I feared going in that I'd spend the whole evening wishing that Cory and Marcelo would just trade places, but the casting seemed just right. Marcelo was perhaps better than I've ever seen him in this role, particularly in terms of characterization. The way he used his eyes throughout the Act III scene -- evil, seductive, cunning, amused -- was just a pleasure to behold!

I was there also, nanushka, as I was at their last year's Swan Lake and I have to agree with you completely. I've seen about eight Veronika Swan Lakes (with Marcelo and Roberto also) and regard each one as an adventure in excellence. Like several here I consider her performance with Roberto Bolle to be one of the finest ballet performances that I've ever seen. She somewhat made the ballet her own creation, a step beyond just making the performance her own. A step beyond is what she's about. Last night she may have been just as good in many respects.

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I was at the Veronika/Cory/Marcelo performance last night. I think it was the best O/O I've ever seen from Veronika. She was "on," so to speak, stunning throughout, maintaining her sublimely fluid upper body Mariinksy-trained line, lusciously extending her gorgeous long legs, technically secure! e.g., holding balances longer than I've ever seen her hold them, and I wasn't chewing my nails when it got to those 32 fouettes. In the past I used to think that she over-acted, partly to make up for the blandness of Cory's acting or perhaps to elicit more emotion from him, but last night he seemed to embody the character of Siegfried more than ever (which isn't to say that he couldn't bring more to it) and freeing Veronika up to dance her own role, e.g., her Odette was the essence of sorrow and her seduction as Odile was a tour de force. Ironically, I found Cory's dancing, while technically clean, to be somewhat lacking in projection, as if the energy that went into his acting had been borrowed from the energy that went into his dancing. All in all, a magnificent performance by Veronika. And it was no surprise that Marcelo brought down the house as Purple Rothbart.

I also thought that Cassandra Trenary was lovely in the first act pas de trois and I look forward to watching her develop and, hopefully, move through the ranks.

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I really wish I could have been there last night.

Gomes posted this funny little video on his Instagram, featuring the 2 Rothbart's: https://instagram.com/p/4VmCMYCuTj/

So glad to hear about all this and wish I was there, but looking forward to my Saturday performance. Just heard from a friend who actually ended up there and mentioned a name we haven't heard about for a while, Hamrick! Guess she has been out for most of the season? Heard that Waski and her were a good pair of Big Swans? I believe she was in this when the company was in Australia, as there is a post on ABT Twitter showing both together: https://instagram.com/p/4UcabUvfh0/

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Part does SL every season, and I think last night was the first one I've missed since she joined ABT. So there will be many more chances to see her SL, although maybe not with Marcelo as Purple Rothbart.

Yes, Hamrick has been out for several weeks. I'm pretty sure I saw her in the corps on Monday night at SL too.

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This was #8 or 9 of Veronika's Swan Lakes for me as well -- I think year 8, but probably the 9th one, since she did two the year she filled in (for whom? I forget) with David Hallberg. Of those, I agree that it was a highlight -- probably not the best, in my eyes, but certainly very, very fulfilling.

Backing up, though. I could tell from the moment that Cory came on stage that this was going to be a different show from last year's. Two years ago I was finally mostly satisfied with his performance opposite Veronika, but then last year was a big let-down. He seemed to me to be a complete blank. But last night was much different. He entered spirited and engaged with the entire corps.

Now, there was a problem here, and this portrayal was not really coherent in the context of this particular production. One thing that I dislike about McKenzie's Swan Lake is that it seems to confine Siegfried to one particular interpretation -- the outsider, estranged from the court, as exemplified when he has no one to dance with and almost runs back into the castle. So there was kind of a disconnect between Cory's performance at the start of Act I and what came later as the act progressed. I'd prefer to see a production that could accommodate a variety of interpretations -- including, for instance, a youthful, carefree Siegfried who doesn't want to be tied down but then is struck with passion when he meets Odette.

Still, at least acting was happening last night, even if it didn't seem wholly coherent. Whereas last year Cory couldn't have cared less about the crossbow or what his mother was telling him or anything much else onstage, last night he was dramatically present. And his dancing seemed to me as beautiful as it's always been in past years. He has a gorgeous arabesque, one that just stretches out into space in both directions. And his landings are as clean and soft as can be; I was very close and hardly heard a thing.

I was really hoping for the "dream-cast" (at least nowadays) PDT of Gorak, Lane and Brandt from Monday night, since I knew they hadn't danced it at the matinee, but I was pleased to see we'd get Zhiyao Zhang, Luciana Paris and Cassandra Trenary as a nice back-up. They started off very well, but then things began to go a bit downhill in the variations. Luciana's seemed quite good to me, though Cassandra's dancing was even more spirited and engaging. She was really connecting with those around her (corps and Prince) even while dancing her variation. Still, it was a bit sloppy toward the end. Zhang was quite good in his variation but ran out of space at the rear of the stage at one key point and sort of had to ad lib a bit. The coda was messy as well. So still a work in progress, but I agree that Trenary is one to watch -- and I've felt the same about Zhang since at least last year.

Cygnettes were Elina Miettinen, Skylar Brandt, Sarah Lane and Mai Aihara. They did very well, were pretty much in sync, mostly clean. Still, they lagged in the first 4 bars at the repeat of the music's 'A' section -- which is where ABT cygnettes always seem to fall behind. (I think I've only once seen them keep up at that point in the music. Don't recall who it was, but a few years back.) They need to be drilled harder on that bit.

Paulina Waski and Melanie Hamrick were indeed the big swans, and danced very well, both of them. It was nice to see Melanie Hamrick back onstage.

As for Veronika. Gorgeous as always, but finally with a partner who could meet her halfway and allow her to luxuriate in the role without having to carry the performance all on her own. What can I say that hasn't been said before? The feet, the legs, the arms, the back, the hands -- all fully engaged, fully controlled, and yet fully expressive of beauty and pathos in her role. Four or five years ago she finally seemed to overcome the technical inconsistencies that had hobbled her at times -- though even before that point, I was fully won over by her dancing in other ways. A few years ago she probably reached her peak, and we're perhaps a bit beyond that now -- the extensions (particularly to the side) are no longer so luxuriant, and the back is a bit less flexible, I think. And yet her expressive characterization through dance just keeps getting better. (And, on the technical side, supported pirouettes seemed even better last night than before. And the lifts were quite solid. Nicely done, Cory.)

Veronika's Odile last night was particularly revelatory. I've always loved her characterization here, even when the technique has been lacking. (And let's face it, we don't go to see Veronika with the same expectations we have for a Gillian. Single fouettés straight through, but very cleanly done; they traveled straight downstage, which I'm fine with, even if it's not ideal; at least there was no veering off to one side.) But last night was a perfect mixture of seductiveness and pleasure -- Odile's own pleasure, that is, in her seduction of Siegfried. There was no apparent evil -- after all, this Odile is capable of keeping that perfectly hidden, until the very last moment of revelation.

And then there was Marcelo. Wow. I think he really outdid himself last night. If Marcelo is the definitive Purple VR (and he is), this may have been his definitive performance. He still has all the moves -- the arabesque on demi-pointe was great, and he commanded the entire stage throughout the solo portion (second half) of the variation. And his interactions with the princesses were almost indecent -- particularly as, at some point throughout the piece, he came very close to the face of each one, almost for a passionate kiss, but left each one longing for what he was withholding. As I mentioned before, his eyes were incredibly dynamic. Again, this may have been enhanced by my nearness to the stage, but I felt his face must really be projecting to the last row of Family Circle. It was an overwhelming performance. I hope he continues to dance this role for many years to come, even after he retires his leading roles.

Before moving on to Act IV, I'll mention that Gabe Stone Shayer and Jonathan Klein were the Neapolitans. I don't recall having seen (or at least having noticed) the latter in anything before, but he did well for an obviously young and relatively inexperienced dancer. I've seen bigger problems in this number from senior corps members and even soloists in the past. Klein's only major problem was that he was consistently behind Shayer and the music almost the whole time. But the dancing looked promising. Perhaps another one to watch out for.

Act IV was more satisfying than it usually is in this production, particularly because of the total engagement of both Veronika and Cory. The moment when Odette mimes that her heart has been broken was, indeed, heartbreaking; and the moment after, when she gestures to keep Siegfried away from her, was filled with desolation, for both these characters.

Cory's leap off the cliff was just about perfect, I think -- a visually impressive moment, but not one that seemed to provoke applause or that seemed to be striving to impress. So, satisfying, but still in keeping with the tragic ending.

Finally, I have to commend Thomas Forster for his performance particularly in this final act. Usually, once Odette and Siegfried are gone, I'm just left twiddling my thumbs until the final tableau. But he was totally captivating in that last minute or two. Even with all that silly costuming, he came across as fully human here in his agony and defeat.

A fantastic night!

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This was #8 or 9 of Veronika's Swan Lakes for me as well -- I think year 8, but probably the 9th one, since she did two the year she filled in (for whom? I forget) with David Hallberg. Of those, I agree that it was a highlight -- probably not the best, in my eyes, but certainly very, very fulfilling.

Backing up, though. I could tell from the moment that Cory came on stage that this was going to be a different show from last year's. Two years ago I was finally mostly satisfied with his performance opposite Veronika, but then last year was a big let-down. He seemed to me to be a complete blank. But last night was much different. He entered spirited and engaged with the entire corps.

Now, there was a problem here, and this portrayal was not really coherent in the context of this particular production. One thing that I dislike about McKenzie's Swan Lake is that it seems to confine Siegfried to one particular interpretation -- the outsider, estranged from the court, as exemplified when he has no one to dance with and almost runs back into the castle. So there was kind of a disconnect between Cory's performance at the start of Act I and what came later as the act progressed. I'd prefer to see a production that could accommodate a variety of interpretations -- including, for instance, a youthful, carefree Siegfried who doesn't want to be tied down but then is struck with passion when he meets Odette.

Still, at least acting was happening last night, even if it didn't seem wholly coherent. Whereas last year Cory couldn't have cared less about the crossbow or what his mother was telling him or anything much else onstage, last night he was dramatically present. And his dancing seemed to me as beautiful as it's always been in past years. He has a gorgeous arabesque, one that just stretches out into space in both directions. And his landings are as clean and soft as can be; I was very close and hardly heard a thing.

I was really hoping for the "dream-cast" (at least nowadays) PDT of Gorak, Lane and Brandt from Monday night, since I knew they hadn't danced it at the matinee, but I was pleased to see we'd get Zhiyao Zhang, Luciana Paris and Cassandra Trenary as a nice back-up. They started off very well, but then things began to go a bit downhill in the variations. Luciana's seemed quite good to me, though Cassandra's dancing was even more spirited and engaging. She was really connecting with those around her (corps and Prince) even while dancing her variation. Still, it was a bit sloppy toward the end. Zhang was quite good in his variation but ran out of space at the rear of the stage at one key point and sort of had to ad lib a bit. The coda was messy as well. So still a work in progress, but I agree that Trenary is one to watch -- and I've felt the same about Zhang since at least last year.

Cygnettes were Elina Miettinen, Skylar Brandt, Sarah Lane and Mai Aihara. They did very well, were pretty much in sync, mostly clean. Still, they lagged in the first 4 bars at the repeat of the music's 'A' section -- which is where ABT cygnettes always seem to fall behind. (I think I've only once seen them keep up at that point in the music. Don't recall who it was, but a few years back.) They need to be drilled harder on that bit.

Paulina Waski and Melanie Hamrick were indeed the big swans, and danced very well, both of them. It was nice to see Melanie Hamrick back onstage. (Perhaps she's been off chasing rolling stones?)

As for Veronika. Gorgeous as always, but finally with a partner who could meet her halfway and allow her to luxuriate in the role without having to carry the performance all on her own. What can I say that hasn't been said before? The feet, the legs, the arms, the back, the hands -- all fully engaged, fully controlled, and yet fully expressive of beauty and pathos in her role. Four or five years ago she finally seemed to overcome the technical inconsistencies that had hobbled her at times -- though even before that point, I was fully won over by her dancing in other ways. A few years ago she probably reached her peak, and we're perhaps a bit beyond that now -- the extensions (particularly to the side) are no longer so luxuriant, and the back is a bit less flexible, I think. And yet her expressive characterization through dance just keeps getting better. (And, on the technical side, supported pirouettes seemed even better last night than before. And the lifts were quite solid. Nicely done, Cory.)

Veronika's Odile last night was particularly revelatory. I've always loved her characterization here, even when the technique has been lacking. (And let's face it, we don't go to see Veronika with the same expectations we have for a Gillian. Single fouettés straight through, but very cleanly done; they traveled straight downstage, which I'm fine with, even if it's not ideal; at least there was no veering off to one side.) But last night was a perfect mixture of seductiveness and pleasure -- Odile's own pleasure, that is, in her seduction of Siegfried. There was no apparent evil -- after all, this Odile is capable of keeping that perfectly hidden, until the very last moment of revelation.

And then there was Marcelo. Wow. I think he really outdid himself last night. If Marcelo is the definitive Purple VR (and he is), this may have been his definitive performance. He still has all the moves -- the arabesque on demi-pointe was great, and he commanded the entire stage throughout the solo portion (second half) of the variation. And his interactions with the princesses were almost indecent -- particularly as, at some point throughout the piece, he came very close to the face of each one, almost for a passionate kiss, but left each one longing for what he was withholding. As I mentioned before, his eyes were incredibly dynamic. Again, this may have been enhanced by my nearness to the stage, but I felt his face must really be projecting to the last row of Family Circle. It was an overwhelming performance. I hope he continues to dance this role for many years to come, even after he retires his leading roles.

Before moving on to Act IV, I'll mention that Gabe Stone Shayer and Jonathan Klein were the Neapolitans. I don't recall having seen (or at least having noticed) the latter in anything before, but he did well for an obviously young and relatively inexperienced dancer. I've seen bigger problems in this number from senior corps members and even soloists in the past. Klein's only major problem was that he was consistently behind Shayer and the music almost the whole time. But the dancing looked promising. Perhaps another one to watch out for.

Act IV was more satisfying than it usually is in this production, particularly because of the total engagement of both Veronika and Cory. The moment when Odette mimes that her heart has been broken was, indeed, heartbreaking; and the moment after, when she gestures to keep Siegfried away from her, was filled with desolation, for both these characters.

Cory's leap off the cliff was just about perfect, I think -- a visually impressive moment, but not one that seemed to provoke applause or that seemed to be striving to impress. So, satisfying, but still in keeping with the tragic ending.

Finally, I have to commend Thomas Forster for his performance particularly in this final act. Usually, once Odette and Siegfried are gone, I'm just left twiddling my thumbs until the final tableau. But he was totally captivating in that last minute or two. Even with all that silly costuming, he came across as fully human here in his agony and defeat.

A fantastic night!

Thank you so much for such a detailed synopsis nanushka, these are always welcome if one cannot attend a performance. I am pleased to hear that Zhang did well as I had appreciated his work since after seeing him as the Golden Idol and have missed seeing his skills used more. Also, nice to hear about the pairing of Waski and Hamrick working out well, as mentioned during Sleeping Beauty, she too is one to watch after both fairy variations. Seems Macaulay has noticed as well in his Times review. Hope ABT will take note of these young dancers to nurture and move them up the ranks as well.

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Also, nice to hear about the pairing of Waski and Hamrick working out well...

They made a very nice pair, especially with Veronika's Odette, as they are both rather tall and have similar dancing styles, it seemed.

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Going back to Copeland's matinee, can someone who was there say if there was an announcement of any kind regarding Anderson and Wilkinson coming out at the bows? Or was there anything in the program (am guessing no)? I remember Anderson quite well from her dancing days, but if I was there I might not have recognized her and I'm sure I wouldn't have known that was Wilkinson. It would have been really nice for them to have been identified for the audience.

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Do you think these ladies (Wilkinson and Anderson) were there because they asked to be included, or did ABT/Team Misty contact them to make it more of a historic "event".

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As for why they were there, perhaps one, both, or the company will speak on record.

Wilkinson has been unreserved in her support for Copeland, and it would be no surprise if she was asked by someone or decided on her own.

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I doubt anyone from ABT will speak on record. Transparency is not high on their agenda. The only honest and transparent record of their Star Strategy was removed from the internet after balletomanes found out about its existence.

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Do you think these ladies (Wilkinson and Anderson) were there because they asked to be included, or did ABT/Team Misty contact them to make it more of a historic "event".

Not sure if everyone on BA saw this but here is the latest from WSJ today:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/misty-copeland-takes-the-stage-in-swan-lake-1435189061

I am curious if there was an announcement, to those who are not familiar, as to whom these ladies are. Misty may be a first for the ABT but indeed she is not the first in the ballet world, IMO, nor should her PR team claim the be the first.

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