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Spring 2015: Swan Lake


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The main problem for me was that I disliked the line of her legs intensely. This has never bothered me about her dancing before, but the white swan attitudes & arabesques are so iconic and it just never looked to me that either of her legs were straight. Her standing leg never looked straight, and her working leg never looked like it opened out into a full arabesque (as opposed to an attitude or bent knee arabesque). I don't know if it was because of her hyperextended knees, or bulky calves or the combination of the 2 but I thought it really diminished the beauty of those iconic white swan images.

You can get a bit of a glimpse of what NY Susan is talking about simply by comparing the photo of Misty/Whiteside with the photo of Murphy/Gomes that appeared in the NY Times. You can see they are in the same pose. Misty's leg droops a little, while Gillian's leg is held high with a beautfiul line and beautiful turnout.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/arts/misty-copeland-debuts-as-odette-odile-in-swan-lake.html#

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/arts/dance/review-american-ballet-theaters-swan-lake-adds-drama-to-romance.html?_r=0#

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And speaking of ABT dancers not being able to perform the steps, I could swear that the pdt variation Devon Teuscher performed usually ends with an entrechat six. What I saw her do was jump, hit her feet together once and come down.Just another in a long line of disappointments at ABT this season.

Okay -- I thought I was perhaps witnessing a mistake when Luciana Paris did exactly the same thing in Wednesday evening's performance. I had never seen that variation without the entrechat six. I remember Stella always making that a particularly exciting moment. If she's dancing the role this year, I'd be curious to know whether she preserves the entrechat six.

Varying the choreography in variations is something I can understand, though this particular choice was a little disappointing. However, tampering with something as iconic as the 32 fouettes (despite their debatable artistic value) is a little harder to swallow.

Edited to add: I believe Veronika modified the white swan variation, replacing some unsupported pirouettes with arabesques penchees in which the supporting foot is flat on the stage (it's during this passage). I've definitely seen her do this before, but perhaps not last year. I think she has alternated over the years between this modified version and the traditional ABT version. If this is what she needs to do to perform at her peak in all other sections, as she did on Wednesday, then I'm very happy with the substitution!

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I believe that kfw is quibbling over the nowadays quite conventional and idiomatic (but, to language purists, somehow distasteful) transformation of the noun's meaning into use as a passive verb or predicate adjective -- i.e. saying "I'm honored" when one means one feels privileged. (Forgive me, kfw, if I'm wrong, and if in fact you are making a quite different point.)

No, you're right, some of us language lovers are bugged (I prefer this technical term, “bugged,” in honor - wry usage there - of Esther Balintz’s great line in Jim Jarmusch’s comedy “Stranger Than Paradise,” “This dress bugs me” wink1.gif ) when a new usage of a word threatens to obscure the old one.

I agree that it wasn't literally a privilege for Woetzel to be there unless of course he was invited and comped, in which case I’ll borrow Emily Latella’s line (“never mind”), and just lament the new usage of the term in general)
I don’t see why it’s anymore a privilege than it is a honor to have the money to see Copeland’s Swan Lake, As you said, the performance wasn’t about him. Woetzel was fortunate, sure. If he was privileged, i.e. preferred over others, who did the preferring? Who conferred to privilege? Who conferred the distinction? You may be right that “honored” in the way Woetzel used it is generally understood to mean “lucky” or “fortunate,” but if so, for how long? Language changes all the time, of course, but maybe sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. “Honor” is an important concept, obviously, so it’s worth preserving in a way that clearly understood. We wouldn’t say we privilege a hero. Why say we are honored by good fortune? Language doesn’t just help us understand, it teaches us what to think. It seems to me that the way we keep concepts clear and distinct is to use clear and distinct terms for them.
Sorry if that sounds like a rant. It’s not meant to. Thanks for furthering what to me is an interesting if perhaps too Off Topic discussion.
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No, you're right, some of us language lovers are bugged (I prefer this technical term, “bugged,” in honor - wry usage there - of Esther Balintz’s great line in Jim Jarmusch’s comedy “Stranger Than Paradise,” “This dress bugs me” wink1.gif ) when a new usage of a word threatens to obscure the old one.

Better than saying you're aggravated, right?

(Sorry -- couldn't help myself.)

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Yes, I've thought specifically of that. Unless he was invited and comped tickets, he was no more honored than any other ticket buyer. I hear "honored" used his way a lot nowadays, as when people call up Diane Rehm and say they're "honored" to talk to her. I'd be thrilled to talk to Diane Rehm too, but the call screener would be the one doing the "honor"-ing. I guess he or she would be honoring me for having an interesting question?

Is it beyond your realm of imagination that Damian actually just felt "honored" to be at the occasion? I don't see what is so incorrect about his usage of the term but the fact that you can't imagine being "honored" to be at Misty's debut says something about your mindset.

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Is it beyond your realm of imagination that Damian actually just felt "honored" to be at the occasion? I don't see what is so incorrect about his usage of the term but the fact that you can't imagine being "honored" to be at Misty's debut says something about your mindset.

canbelto, I really don't think kfw is making a point about Misty's debut in particular. kfw is making a point about language usage (see above posts). The same point could be made (though I wouldn't make it -- because I have no problem with this use of the word "honored") about someone's attending any event of significance for which one has purchased a ticket.

Not everything is a dig at Misty or her dancing!

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Okay -- I thought I was perhaps witnessing a mistake when Luciana Paris did exactly the same thing in Wednesday evening's performance. I had never seen that variation without the entrechat six. I remember Stella always making that a particularly exciting moment. If she's dancing the role this year, I'd be curious to know whether she preserves the entrechat six.

Took a bit of finding but I was right in recalling ABT instagram once posted this and glad to have found it, most delightful entrechat six, I believe during rehearsals: <https://instagram.com/p/zN2K-tyJW-/?taken-by=abtofficial>

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Posted Today, 10:18 AM

nysusan, on 26 Jun 2015 - 09:50 AM, said:snapback.png

And speaking of ABT dancers not being able to perform the steps, I could swear that the pdt variation Devon Teuscher performed usually ends with an entrechat six. What I saw her do was jump, hit her feet together once and come down.Just another in a long line of disappointments at ABT this season.

Okay -- I thought I was perhaps witnessing a mistake when Luciana Paris did exactly the same thing in Wednesday evening's performance. I had never seen that variation without the entrechat six. I remember Stella always making that a particularly exciting moment. If she's dancing the role this year, I'd be curious to know whether she preserves the entrechat six.

I saw the matinee and evening performances so I can't swear that it was Teuscher and not Paris but I'm pretty sure that I noticed it first at the matinee and then again in the evening performance.

The part I'm talking about is at 8:21 - 8:26 here:

I'm so glad this was taped, Xiomara was lovely and Herman and Erica were both just AMAZING.

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And speaking of ABT dancers not being able to perform the steps, I could swear that the pdt variation Devon Teuscher performed usually ends with an entrechat six. What I saw her do was jump, hit her feet together once and come down.Just another in a long line of disappointments at ABT this season.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Devon Teuscher in ABT's Raymonda (was that last Fall?), I did not enjoy her performance as Myrtha last Spring. I'm thinking that, overall, Teuscher needs to work on her jumps, which is the reason she doesn't achieve what would otherwise be satisfying performances in the roles that require elevation.

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I saw the matinee and evening performances so I can't swear that it was Teuscher and not Paris but I'm pretty sure that I noticed it first at the matinee and then again in the evening performance.

It was Paris, not Teuscher.

I thought Teuscher was underpowered at some parts of the variation, but I am almost 100% sure she did the entrechat six at the matinee, as I remembered seeing it, and then it being a glaring absence in the evening performance.

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canbelto, I really don't think kfw is making a point about Misty's debut in particular. kfw is making a point about language usage (see above posts). The same point could be made (though I wouldn't make it -- because I have no problem with this use of the word "honored") about someone's attending any event of significance for which one has purchased a ticket.

Not everything is a dig at Misty or her dancing!

Thank you.

canbelto, to me the question isn't whether or not Woetzel felt honored - he said he did - but whether he was or not. I think I've explained why.

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Thank you.

canbelto, to me the question isn't whether or not Woetzel felt honored - he said he did - but whether he was or not. I think I've explained why.

If Woetzel said he felt "honored" to be present at Wendy Whelan's farewell or Julie Kent's farewell would you have reacted so negatively?

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I'm so glad this was taped, Xiomara was lovely and Herman and Erica were both just AMAZING.

I completely forgot about this taped performance flowers.gif Amazing and beyond words how wonderful this was, sorely miss all! Thanks for sharing nysusan!

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I have forgotten who did the female roles in the peasant pas on Monday (the male role was definitely Gorak). However, I also noticed that the entrechant six was missing. The dancer just banged her feet together once and that was it.

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It's very likely that Misty completed the 32 fouettes in rehearsal, but strange, unexpected things happen in performances (especially a high-profile debut). The fact that she made the choice to do a pique circle and not totally bail shows quick thinking and professionalism.

And even though City Ballet's SL is not in the Petipa style, Mearns has made the excellent point that the fouettes - while important - are only a portion of the evening. It seems as though Misty's characterization of Odette was strong, which, frankly is the most important part of the ballet. The technical issues can be worked out in the studio.

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It's very likely that Misty completed the 32 fouettes in rehearsal, but strange, unexpected things happen in performances (especially a high-profile debut). The fact that she made the choice to do a pique circle and not totally bail shows quick thinking and professionalism.

I am confused again. I thought Copeland was doing fouettes started to travel, fell out of one and then switched to turns from fifth. Is that the case or did she do pique turns in a circle?

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If Woetzel said he felt "honored" to be present at Wendy Whelan's farewell or Julie Kent's farewell would you have reacted so negatively?

You bet. Like I said, I hear the phrase a lot. It bugs me. wink1.gif In fact I said in my original post that I wish "people," plural, would quit misusing the word.

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I am confused again. I thought Copeland was doing fouettes started to travel, fell out of one and then switched to turns from fifth. Is that the case or did she do pique turns in a circle?

Didn't mean to add to the confusion! I would look at Natalia's (positive) and nysusan's (negative) reviews for context.

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I am confused again. I thought Copeland was doing fouettes started to travel, fell out of one and then switched to turns from fifth. Is that the case or did she do pique turns in a circle?

You are correct. She did not do pique turns in a circle, or at all. She fell out of her fouettes and switched to turns from fifth

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Did she do fouettes during the Washington performances? If so, how many? I'm just questioning why there would be an assumption that she could do the 32 in the studio, but not on stage, unless someone has insider info and observed her working in the studio.

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I don't frequently use 'honor/honored' or 'privileged' in conversation or writing, but have used both of them in the idiomatic way being objected to here and, come to think of it, on this very website. I guess I am grateful I was not taken to task. But...uh...if occasion arises I will do so again.

The extremes of opinion generated by Copeland's career speak clearly enough to insularity in the ballet world. Not all forms of insularity are bad, but some are. The next talented African-American ballerinas who rise through the ranks at ABT will owe Copeland a debt for weathering this firestorm.

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Did she do fouettes during the Washington performances? If so, how many? I'm just questioning why there would be an assumption that she could do the 32 in the studio, but not on stage, unless someone has insider info and observed her working in the studio.

The NYTimes review of that performance notes that they wandered but implies she finished them.

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There have been multiple descriptions of what Copeland actually performed in NYC:

Half fouettes with some doubles for the first half seem to be consensus. There have been multiple descriptions of what she did next:

  • Pique turns
  • Pique turns in a circle
  • Pirouettes from fifth in place
  • Pirouettes from fifth in place, except she traveled
  • Pirouettes from fifth intended to travel and did

Marina Harss wrote, "Most noticeably, Copeland seemed to lose her nerve about halfway through the famous fouetté turns in the coda of the third act pas de deux, opting instead to finish with quick single pirouettes from fifth. That’s a bit like an opera singer deciding not to go for the high notes in a famous aria – not the end of the world, artistically speaking, but people notice."

I think this eliminates pique turns/pique turns in a circle, but Harss doesn't mention the pattern.

Alastair Macaulay wrote, "The only obvious technical feature in which Ms. Copeland can improve is the notorious — and overrated — fouetté turns. She did the first half of the usual quota, though wandering across the stage; then she did a series of quick single turns — a smart alternative since they had more musical dynamics than most accounts of the fouettés."

Pia Catton wrote, "Critics will debate her modification of a famous and traditional sequence of turns, but debate itself is also a ballet tradition."

Sarah Kaufman wrote about her Washington Ballet O/O debut, "She has technical challenges yet to master — controlling her whipping fouette turns..."

I think if Copeland had done fouettes and something else in Washington, DC Kaufman would have mentioned it, but she might have been edited or didn't think it was important enough on which to spend part of her words quota.

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I have forgotten who did the female roles in the peasant pas on Monday (the male role was definitely Gorak). However, I also noticed that the entrechant six was missing. The dancer just banged her feet together once and that was it.

Monday night, it was reported here, was Gorak, Lane and Brandt. I don't recall which of the two variations Lane usually does, but the part in question occurs in the coda and is done by whichever woman dances the 1st variation (Luciana Paris on Wednesday night).

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