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Spring 2015: The Sleeping Beauty


Helene

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well it was a great night to see just about every balletomane in NYC (and Miami!). I had some mixed feelings about the production. I wrote so much on my blog it'd be too long to copy and paste here:

http://poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com/2015/05/ratmanskys-new-new-old-sleeping-beauty.html

But I'll just mention what I missed the most: The "flying" lift that usually ends the Florine/Bluebird pas de deux and the usual hand gestures of Princess Florine

Choreography that just looks awkward on modern dancers: Gillian Murphy trying for the menage of chaine turns and coup jetes in her hard Gaynor Mindens. I have no doubt that dancers of Imperial Russia were able to gain momentum and speed on demi-pointe with their softer shoes but Gillian's variations looked sluggish.

Choreography that really worked: the lower developpes and attitudes. Made sense with the knee-length tutus.

Costumes and sets overall beautiful. Mime from Craig Salstein (Carabosse) and Alexei Agoudine (Catalbutte) clearly articulated and funny.

LOVED the restored Act Three and the partially restored Panorama.

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well it was a great night to see just about every balletomane in NYC (and Miami!). I had some mixed feelings about the production. I wrote so much on my blog it'd be too long to copy and paste here:

http://poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com/2015/05/ratmanskys-new-new-old-sleeping-beauty.html

But I'll just mention what I missed the most: The "flying" lift that usually ends the Florine/Bluebird pas de deux and the usual hand gestures of Princess Florine

Choreography that just looks awkward on modern dancers: Gillian Murphy trying for the menage of chaine turns and coup jetes in her hard Gaynor Mindens. I have no doubt that dancers of Imperial Russia were able to gain momentum and speed on demi-pointe with their softer shoes but Gillian's variations looked sluggish.

Choreography that really worked: the lower developpes and attitudes. Made sense with the knee-length tutus.

Costumes and sets overall beautiful. Mime from Craig Salstein (Carabosse) and Alexei Agoudine (Catalbutte) clearly articulated and funny.

LOVED the restored Act Three and the partially restored Panorama.

This is hard to add on to. Some of the comments I agree totally. Overall, the costumes and sets are quite lovely. Some are over done, for sure, and those headpieces on some are beyond the pale. I want to watch the dancing, not the head gear! Agree about the Queen and her Marge Simpson/Elsa Lancaster wig. Again, I want to see the elegance of the character, not be reminded of someone else in some other role, etc. I did not like the Garland Waltz costumes at all. Again with that hideous green/yellow fabric. It's as if they had lots left over from the previous production and just decided to go with it. Also, they clashed with all the other dancer's costumes. Talk about lack of harmony. This could be said about the "jingle bell" costumes for the attendants for the Rose Adagio.(oh, those tiny suzuki violins so twee!) So distracting. I'm trying hard enough to concentrate on this newer look to the choreography only to have these little elf types intrude.

Back to the Garland Waltz for just a moment. Do we really need ALL THOSE PEOPLE in it? What may have looked great on the old Mariinsky stage eons ago just looks over populated and cramped here. So much fussy garland work and far too much repetitive choreography. My standard is still Balanchine's. Clean, charming, danceable.

As for the Rose Adagio itself, this will take getting used to. The men (again in flamboyant costumes) overwhelm poor Aurora. With this newer, lower, bent knee choreography the dancers tend to look diminutive at times. Less grand. "Fusty" almost. This can work for some, not well for others.

At the Dress Rehearsal in the afternoon, poor Sarah Lane just looked lost and out of sorts.. She doesn't dance in a grand fashion to begin with, so here she looks like a lost child. Admittedly, it was a rehearsal, but I saw little to recommend her for a Principle position. She just doesn't command a stage. So many others in this production (and elsewhere) are far more interesting to watch. Skylar Brandt, Cassandra Trenery, Shevchenko to name just a few. All did stellar work. Gillian was well served by the choreography, I felt. She has obviously worked at this and she came across (mostly) in a new and beautiful way. She continues to grow as an artist and this production just adds to her finishing school! Gomes was an ardent and excellent partner in a somewhat less than wonderful role. Oh yes, he had his grand "Washington Crossing the Delaware" moment in the boat during the Vision Scene, but his bright red costume made him look more like a British Red Coat than (I think) a French noble. Dark blue was the color of the French. I guess I've always thought this ballet was set in France.

As for the Vision Scene itself, it lacked breadth and scope. Seemed cramped and tight. I never felt as it Aurora was weaving in and out of the Prince's sight. (and imagination). It needs to open out more and allow the dancers to move a bit. The role of the Lilac Fairy is a strange departure for us. She gets her moment in the Christening Scene, but then the next we see of her she's in a long, unbecoming "prom dress" with low heels. It's a mime role from here on in and as beautiful as Stella was, she comes across as more of a Major Domo than a Fairy. That stick she carries!

And let's talk just a moment about all those blonde wigs on the women. When they are on the Fairies, they look like they are straight out of the "Hollywood Blondes" section of a third rate production of "Gypsy". (they also looked ill fitting, as if just plopped on the head without thought to the particular dancer's face) On both Stella and especially on Gillian they make both women's faces look harsh and lined. Old! Where once Gillian in her radiant red hair looked fresh and glowing, in the blonde wig for the last act she looked used up and ancient. I guess all those years asleep did nothing for the term "beauty rest". I was reminded of the time I first went to the Soviet Union (back in the evil 60s!). Many of the women then had these horrific "do it yourself" dye jobs on their hair. I think the Russians take to this platinum look, but here it's so distracting.

Many of the costumes worked fine (longer skirts, etc.), but on some the line of the legs and especially the feet are not seen. I saw more than a few of the women confused as to when do they put the foot in the lower coupe' position and when do they go into a full passe'? I'm thinking much of this will work itself out in time. I too took a bit of offense to the stereotypical Chinese look, but hey, it's just a ballet. And who knew that both Cinderella and her Prince were African American? Nifty! Florine and the Blue Bird were enchanting. I loved the cats and "Little Red" and her Wolf. Not so much the "Hop o' my Thumb" kids. By that time I was done with variations. Too cutesy, too late in the evening.

The costumes for the courtiers were almost as bad (and un danceable) as the previous ones. The men here looked like Roman soldiers in white table cloth skirts. Yes, the guys wore skirts AND they were embroidered!. The women had fringed mortar board hats on their heads. Not so attractive. There is much, much more I've missed here.

All in all, a happy night (sort of). After, the shock of the dress rehearsal from the afternoon, things pulled together. I'm convinced the success of this ballet may hinge on who is cast and who dances on any given night. I totally understand why Paloma pulled out of dancing this production for her "farewell". It would not have suited her dance style, nor her personality. Smart woman! As for Osipova (please get well!), I can't imagine her doing this version of "S.B.". Unless of course she did Carabosse! Craig, BTW, was very good in the role and gets my nod for a man dancing this role as opposed to a woman. Not sure I need her back at the finale, but I guess in the vein of forgiveness it works.

As an aside, at the reception following the performance, there were many accolades and "thank yous", of course. David Koch spoke and was gracious in his appreciation of Ratmansky. He said he hoped this was the beginning of seeing many more "Russian" ballets at ABT. WELL! Can "Pavilion d' Armide" be far behind??? Go and see this ballet and make your own conclusions. My guess is it will be split into two camps. As for me, I'm pretty sure Ashton is rolling in his grave and just "dying" to come out and show us how it's all done.

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I just have to add this one point. THE BED! Oi! It looks like the prop department went out to a Sleepys and ordered the "biggest 'perfect sleeper' you got"! Totally unadorned, except for that rather large bird hanging above it. Is this supposed to represent our own worst nightmare? Can't the set dressers at least put a few frills around it? Poor Aurora looks like she just stopped in at her local mattress store to test one out! I'm just sayin'

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Canbelto, you mentioned the Panorama. WHAT Panorama? I didn't see any moving back cloths. A short bit of the Panorama music was played as Stella and Captain Cook moved into the wings on their boat.

Whose idea was it to turn Fairy Violente into such a goof, just standing and staring down the audience for several bars before she proceed to do her pointing with deeply bent arms (swastika arms)???

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Canbelto, you mentioned the Panorama. WHAT Panorama? I didn't see any moving back cloths. A short bit of the Panorama music was played as Stella and Captain Cook moved into the wings on their boat.

rofl.GIF:rofl:

This comment totally made my day.

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Canbelto, you mentioned the Panorama. WHAT Panorama? I didn't see any moving back cloths. A short bit of the Panorama music was played as Stella and Captain Cook moved into the wings on their boat.

Whose idea was it to turn Fairy Violente into such a goof, just standing and staring down the audience for several bars before she proceed to do her pointing with deeply bent arms (swastika arms)???

Natalia a way more detailed description of the production is at my blog, clickable by clicking on my signature.

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I attended last night; one of the prettiest ballets I've ever seen. I really, really enjoyed the historic, stylistic choreography and emphasis on the placement of the arms and feet. Everyone did very well! In addition to the chaine turns on demi-pointe, many pirouettes were in coupé rather than passé. I liked the soft arms in arabesque as well. Gillian did an absolutely stunning backbend in an unsupported balance during the wedding PDD.

I was a little concerned going in, because the costumes and sets looked a little garish in photos, but from the audience, I thought they read pretty well. (I was in the GT.) Headpieces were a little over the top, but didn’t bother me. (Can’t speak for the dancers! :) )

Corps were very well-rehearsed except for the a few bobbles in the Lilac prologue corps. Vision scene ladies were exquisite.

I think it’s a winning production for ABT and displays the company well. It’s unique and on a scale, both in technique and production, that a company of ABT’s size and prestige should be doing.

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I went home and pulled out Ballet's Magic Kingdom. Here is what Akim Volynsky had to say about Mathilde Kschessinskaya, the most famous of Aurora's. This was after he upbraided her about her lack of arch in her foot:

"her dancing -- always on pointe -- produces the impression of a smooth flow of forms, with no springy bending of the knees as she moves and no gentle gracefulness and quivering surge on the surface, and it does so via the powerful and solemn play of its vigorous hues. Her double and triple turns create a whirlwind on the stage. In her solo dancing, in her leaps en avant, which are accompanied by the most difficult cabrioles, Kshessinskaya is unmatched. In her par terre dancing, just as in the dancing constructed on the ethereal rhythm of elevation, Kschesinskaya, for all of the imperfections of the structure of her legs, must be recognized as a great artistic figure of phenomenal power."

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Today's matinee was fine, definitely less spectacular than last night's.

Sarah did a nice job, this role really suits her stature and dancing. A little bobble in the rose adagio final balances, which was unfortunate - especially because she did it perfectly in the dress rehearsal yesterday. Her husband Luis was in the audience and he looked proud.

Herman executed the prince's solo (which is pretty much his only dancing) so wonderfully. That was a treat.

Stella Abera and Blaine Hoven were each excellent as the Bluebird pair.

Devon Teuscher was lovely and technically gorgeous, but i preferred Stella's interpretation with more authority from last night.

I really cannot stand the men's wigs in this production. I think they're distracting and ugly. Also the garland waltz scene is way to crowded and cluttered. There are about 8 couples (8 boys and 8 girls) of JKO students and then 16 couples (16 men, 16 women) of corps dancers. This scene is also pretty boring to me, way too many balancés and waving the garland back and forth (Jody Sawyer was WAY better than that!) I missed the old garland waltz (except for the men's weird short shorts) where the dancers actually moved and jumped and there was only one star couple of young students.

Does anyone know why the fairy attendants are corps women in the first act and then somehow become students later? The female corps must be busy in the vision scene but I still thought that was weird.

At 3 full hours, this production is too long, especially for kids. Some things I would prefer to be shortened:

- the scene with the girls with the spindles in the beginning of Act II seemed to draw out

- the scene with the hunt when the tutor is blindfolded is completely superfluous and boring. And I didn't need to see the peasants dancing.

- didn't really need Bluebeard, Mandarin, Scheherzad to come to the wedding. They didn't dance and they couldn't saved some money not making those crazy costumes

Overall I really like this production. It was a breath of fresh air after the McKensie/Kirkland production and I think it's mostly all tasteful. Disappointed that Prince Desiree dances less though! Except for a little bit of character dancing in act II and the wedding pas de deux, he doesn't dance anywhere else. I believe in the old production he had a small part in the vision scene.

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I thought Sarah Lane had a rocky Rose Adagio, but improved substantially for the rest of the ballet. Sarah started out very strong, but when she had to do the balances there were wobbles, until she finally came off pointe. She immediately got back on pointe. Also, the leg that was in attitude kept moving when it should have been still. Her vision scene was more soulful than Murphy's. Herman and Lane did not do the fish dives in the wedding scene. I did not care for the choreography that was substituted. It was too easy and robbed the wedding pdd of excitement. Herman was stellar in his solo- much better that Gomes performed last night. He is an extraordinary dancer, but an iffy partner. There were some minor partnering issues. I liked Stella and Hoven in the Bluebird section. Devon was fine as Lilac, but she does not have the beautiful port de bras that Stella has.

There was a problem with the boat. You could see that it was stuck for a moment. They finally got it moving into the position where it needed to be. You could see the rope that was being pulled to move the boat.

Last night in the Vision scene, after Aurora is on the pedestal, you could see her running off the pedestal and into the wings because the lighting cue was off. Today that problem was fixed.

Herman needs a new tailor. He looked like he was wearing Gomes' jacket in the vision scene. The sleeves, in particular, looked ridiculously long on him.

I liked Trenary as Diamond, but I thought Boylston had more charisma and authority. Interested in reading any comments on tonight's show.

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I actually thought that what was substituted for the fish dives was quite lovely. Certainly, it robbed us of the opportunity to applaud at that big moment in the music, but it was a beautiful pose nonetheless. It had been previously announced that Lane/Cornejo would do the original (i.e. notated) choreography, while the other casts would do the interpolated fish dives.

Also, Hoven and Abrera did the overhead lift at the end of the first movement of the Bluebird PDD today.

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I thought Sarah Lane had a rocky Rose Adagio, but improved substantially for the rest of the ballet. Sarah started out very strong, but when she had to do the balances there were wobbles, until she finally came off pointe. She immediately got back on pointe. Also, the leg that was in attitude kept moving when it should have been still. Her vision scene was more soulful than Murphy's. Herman and Lane did not do the fish dives in the wedding scene. I did not care for the choreography that was substituted. It was too easy and robbed the wedding pdd of excitement. Herman was stellar in his solo- much better that Gomes performed last night. He is an extraordinary dancer, but an iffy partner. There were some minor partnering issues. I liked Stella and Hoven in the Bluebird section. Devon was fine as Lilac, but she does not have the beautiful port de bras that Stella has.

There was a problem with the boat. You could see that it was stuck for a moment. They finally got it moving into the position where it needed to be. You could see the rope that was being pulled to move the boat.

Last night in the Vision scene, after Aurora is on the pedestal, you could see her running off the pedestal and into the wings because the lighting cue was off. Today that problem was fixed.

Herman needs a new tailor. He looked like he was wearing Gomes' jacket in the vision scene. The sleeves, in particular, looked ridiculously long on him.

I liked Trenary as Diamond, but I thought Boylston had more charisma and authority. Interested in reading any comments on tonight's show.

Skylar Brandt was Diamond at today's matinee

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Well a little digging on Youtube has me watching a mid-70's video of Sleeping Beauty from the Royal Ballet. Merle Park/David Wall are the leads. Anyway it is interesting to see how a lot of what Ratmansky has insisted on as authentic Imperial Ballet style is sort of British classical style. The rounded arms, the low jumps, the low arabesques and attitudes. The 1970's version doesn't have Aurora do her variations on demi-pointe nor does it eliminate the overhead lifts, but it does seem as if a lot of Ratmansky's dictums for his Sleeping Beauty are inspired by the British way of dancing.

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... it does seem as if a lot of Ratmansky's dictums for his Sleeping Beauty are inspired by the British way of dancing.

And/or was that way of dancing closer to the sources to which he is also returning? (At least as he and his collaborators interpret those sources...)

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And/or was that way of dancing closer to the sources to which he is also returning? (At least as he and his collaborators interpret those sources...)

Exactly. Why assume that Ratmansky is inspired by the British rather than that both Ratmansky and the British are inspired by the original source?

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I thought Sarah Lane had a rocky Rose Adagio, but improved substantially for the rest of the ballet. Sarah started out very strong, but when she had to do the balances there were wobbles, until she finally came off pointe. She immediately got back on pointe. Also, the leg that was in attitude kept moving when it should have been still.

I'd just add, though, that Lane did raise her arm during each of the first set of balances, which many dancers do not do. (Some don't even do it during the second set, which IMO is really not okay!)

During the second set, her first balance was unimpressive, but her second was quite long, and I was hopeful. The slip came on the 3rd, and then the 4th was basically still recovery.

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All the complaints about the costumes and wigs are making me laugh. This has to be the most perfectly designed, sumptuous period ballet I’ve ever seen. Richard Hudson has achieved something extraordinary with this production: it was like seeing an early 20th century fairy tale book come to breathtaking life on stage. When the curtain went up for the Prologue, I was overwhelmed with delight. I could have been watching Moliere at the Comedie-Francaise – and the staff there know how to build 17th century costumes and wigs. Those wigs! The wigs are superlative. SUPER-LATIVE. If you don’t know what the Queen had on her head in Act I, google “fontange” and check out some of the images. And in Act III set in the 18th century, I was actually disappointed there weren’t more towering wigs. Well, you can’t have everything. Though Hudson based his designs on the work of Bakst and his orientalism, the costumes reminded me very much of the work of Edmund Dulac, early 20th century illustrator of fairy tales who was strongly influenced by Bakst. Actually, I thought Hudson’s use of the Bakst color palette was rather conservative (I really love deeply saturated hues) but he has a great sense of balance and knew where to draw the line. What a pleasure not having to sit through yet another parade of lollipop-colored tutus! I never want to see that McKenzie production again. As you can see, the dancing was almost an afterthought for me today. This production deserves multiple viewings. Very happy I’ll be going to see Lane & Cornejo again in June and hoping they’ll be over their technical jitters and have a bit more joie de vivre by then. For me, this production belongs to Richard Hudson.

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All the complaints about the costumes and wigs are making me laugh. This has to be the most perfectly designed, sumptuous period ballet I’ve ever seen. Richard Hudson has achieved something extraordinary with this production: it was like seeing an early 20th century fairy tale book come to breathtaking life on stage. When the curtain went up for the Prologue, I was overwhelmed with delight. I could have been watching Moliere at the Comedie-Francaise – and the staff there know how to build 17th century costumes and wigs. Those wigs! The wigs are superlative. SUPER-LATIVE. If you don’t know what the Queen had on her head in Act I, google “fontange” and check out some of the images. And in Act III set in the 18th century, I was actually disappointed there weren’t more towering wigs. Well, you can’t have everything. Though Hudson based his designs on the work of Bakst and his orientalism, the costumes reminded me very much of the work of Edmund Dulac, early 20th century illustrator of fairy tales who was strongly influenced by Bakst. Actually, I thought Hudson’s use of the Bakst color palette was rather conservative (I really love deeply saturated hues) but he has a great sense of balance and knew where to draw the line. What a pleasure not having to sit through yet another parade of lollipop-colored tutus! I never want to see that McKenzie production again. As you can see, the dancing was almost an afterthought for me today. This production deserves multiple viewings. Very happy I’ll be going to see Lane & Cornejo again in June and hoping they’ll be over their technical jitters and have a bit more joie de vivre by then. For me, this production belongs to Richard Hudson.

I wholly agree. I thought the physical production was GORGEOUS!

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All the complaints about the costumes and wigs are making me laugh. This has to be the most perfectly designed, sumptuous period ballet I’ve ever seen. Richard Hudson has achieved something extraordinary with this production: it was like seeing an early 20th century fairy tale book come to breathtaking life on stage. When the curtain went up for the Prologue, I was overwhelmed with delight. I could have been watching Moliere at the Comedie-Francaise – and the staff there know how to build 17th century costumes and wigs. Those wigs! The wigs are superlative. SUPER-LATIVE. If you don’t know what the Queen had on her head in Act I, google “fontange” and check out some of the images. And in Act III set in the 18th century, I was actually disappointed there weren’t more towering wigs. Well, you can’t have everything. Though Hudson based his designs on the work of Bakst and his orientalism, the costumes reminded me very much of the work of Edmund Dulac, early 20th century illustrator of fairy tales who was strongly influenced by Bakst. Actually, I thought Hudson’s use of the Bakst color palette was rather conservative (I really love deeply saturated hues) but he has a great sense of balance and knew where to draw the line. What a pleasure not having to sit through yet another parade of lollipop-colored tutus! I never want to see that McKenzie production again. As you can see, the dancing was almost an afterthought for me today. This production deserves multiple viewings. Very happy I’ll be going to see Lane & Cornejo again in June and hoping they’ll be over their technical jitters and have a bit more joie de vivre by then. For me, this production belongs to Richard Hudson.

Amen. I'll be there in June too. I also want to point out that, correct me if I'm wrong, all other principal casts performed it before. It was the first time for Lane/Cornejo. The NYC Met stage was their first shot at it.

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Amen. I'll be there in June too. I also want to point out that, correct me if I'm wrong, all other principal casts performed it before. It was the first time for Lane/Cornejo. The NYC Met stage was their first shot at it.

i don't believe Whiteside has performed it yet. I think he pulled out of the CA tour

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i don't believe Whiteside has performed it yet. I think he pulled out of the CA tour

Yes, this was the first performance for Lane/Cornejo. They should have been given a show in CA when it premiered.

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