Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Spring 2015: The Sleeping Beauty

Recommended Posts

That is, this production gives the company a Sleeping Beauty that really marks them as a company--with its own vision of a major classic that is not just being tinkered with or idly modernized. I don't love every detail, and I wish they had considered how important scenic transformations were for this ballet in particular, especially conceived of as nineteenth-century spectacle. But on the whole, I am very pleased.

Since I cannot see this production right now I've been even more fascinated with the variety of responses. Underneath all of the personal likes and dislikes, though, I think there is a fundamental question -- is this the "real" Sleeping Beauty? As we get to see more of these reconstructions, we're going to get a bigger and more detailed picture of what these ballets were like at their premieres -- and how they have changed since then. I'm thrilled with these possibilities, but I'm also very curious to see how we are going to respond to the way they challenge what we thought we already knew. Will there come a time when we feel that we need to conserve or protect the 21st century versions of the ballets we are currently working hard to bring back in their original forms?

Link to comment

The seashell contraption is like the hidden hole at NYCB's NUTCRACKER, into which Sugarplum steps as the cavalier "glides" her across the stage!

In Balanchine's Nutcracker, I believe that Sugarplum places her right foot (carefully) in the center of a small square of plastic (called a mouse) which is attached to a wire and is then pulled across the stage by a stagehand. If it's not a smooth pull, Sugarplum is knocked off the "mouse".

Link to comment

Yes, it is a "slide" on which the dancer goes on point and is pulled. A hole would be rather dangerous.

This has always reminded me of the other physical tricks that were developed for theatrical performance -- trap doors and "flying" for magical comings and goings, tear-away costumes for character changes, snow and thunder effects, and so on. Knowing how something works is a double-edged sword. You're part of a special group, but it is a bit like having the Wizard of Oz turn out to be Frank Morgan behind the curtain.

Link to comment

NEWS FLASH #2; 2nd intermission:

Hee Seo & Cory Stearns deliver a gorgeous Vision Scene. Hee balances for FIFTEEN (15) SECONDS thanks to seashell contraption!

Hee's A2 solo goes very well. Diagonal of three 2ble pirouettes very good although, again, a little short of completing the first of the pirouettes.

The Vision Scene really suits Hee.

So far, Teuscher rather disappointing Lilac, not due to technique but due to rushed style, such as the Prologue bows to Carabosse. Stella far more elegant and aristocratic.

**This completes the 2nd NEWS FLASH!!!**

Link to comment

I was at the matinee as well and uh...reports of Seo's incompetence (which had been close to my own view, too, after a decidedly unimpressive Gamzatti a few years ago) seem to me GREATLY exaggerated. She was lovely throughout and in selected passages just gorgeous. I was notably impressed with her airy diagonals in the sequence right before being pricked by a spindle and several beautifully fluid and eloquently shaped passages in the vision scene especially as she shifted between develope front into a supported arabesque penche (can't figure out how to do accents on my tablet...). And she really did dance like a beckoning vision. She danced beautifully throughout the grand pas de deux as well. I also think her rather gentle stage persona is better suited to Aurora than Nikiya. In this production, at least, she has to glow, but she doesn't have to impose herself. (And, of course, her teacher Alla Sizova was one of the all time great Auroras.)

If you go to Sleeping Beauty for the balances in the Rose adagio...well, she bailed early on the first set and was hardly very secure in the final set though she made it through decently. I have definitely seen worse. (I also don't remember her doing the changements on pointe Vishneva and Murphy did--though perhaps someone may correct me on that.) I am not suggesting people rush out to see her in whatever role, but this was a lovely performance. Credit is due...

Link to comment

Right, Drew. That was my point with the "News Flashes." Based on the awful reports on Hee Seo from (mostly) NYC bloggers, I was expecting a comedy of errors. Not at all! Her Seo is not the Queen of Pirouettes but she is basically delightful. Ditto the bad reports on Misty Copeland, coupled with the infamous 60 MINUTES newscast showing Misty falling off pointe as Florine; not at all the case here.

On the other hand, I don't 'get' Skylar Brandt with her flat feet and clunky batterie as Diamond in A3; Boylston 100 times superior at opening night, with her elevation, elan,and gorgeous arched feet...and the presentation of feet is a leitmotif of Diamond.

Link to comment

On the other hand, I don't 'get' Skylar Brandt with her flat feet and clunky batterie as Diamond in A3; Boylston 100 times superior at opening night, with her elevation, elan,and gorgeous arched feet...and the presentation of feet is a leitmotif of Diamond.

Sometimes I think our assessment of dancers depends on who else is dancing in the same performance. On Monday night, Diana V was Aurora, Veronika was the Lilac Fairy and both Sarah and Stella were prologue fairies. Boylston was the Diamond fairy and compared to the refinement and elegance of these other 4 she was well.....very underwhelming and looked inelegant. She has a nice jump but her upper body, especially her arms and hands (those wrists:() are just not up to snuff.. I hate to think what will happen to ABT in a few years when/if Diana, Polina and Gilliian retire.

Link to comment

A preliminary report from my correspondent in the field at tonight's performance:

Boylston is dancing wonderfully, so full of joy. She fills the stage with her presence much more than Lane. And Gorak fills his coat much better than Cornejo!

Part almost fell getting back into the boat at the end of the Vision scene. Don't want her injured before her Swan Lake!!


Lovely Blue Bird pas de deux from Abrera and Hoven. Did the overhead lift at the end of the first movement, as they had done previously. Disappointing grand pas de deux. Supported pirouettes wobbling all over. Don't like it when it looks like the ballerina steps into the fish dives -- but even worse when it looks like she tumbles into them. Last third of Gorak's variation lagged, lagged, lagged. No sense of the music from Boylston in her variation. Left after that to catch train.

Link to comment

Based on tonight's performance I would say Boylston is a dancer with many wonderful qualities, but she is not a wonderful Aurora. She might be able to do more with her strong attack in a different production, but I am a little skeptical ... She's not lustrous.

I am not typically one of Stella Abrera's biggest fans, though I do like her dancing, but she was gorgeous as Princess Florine and together with Blaine Hoven, who was also terrific, danced the best bluebird pas de deux out of the four casts I got to see. I thought they were the absolute highlight of tonight's performance. Sleeping Beauty heaven.

In fact, the staging of this pas de deux is one of my favorite things in this production--one certainly does see her listening to him and aspiring to fly--including the costumes which I had been dubious about when I caught a glimpse on 60 Minutes...and I thought all of the casts, certainly all of the Princess Florines I saw (Trenary, Lane, and Copeland in addition to Abrera) danced well. But Abrera was outstanding--fluid and dancing, as it were, with imagination. THAT is what Sleeping Beauty should look like.

(I was also particularly pleased with Trenary in the role. She definitely danced with the grace of a potential Aurora; Simkin and she looked adorably, sincerely in love and very joyful. I also thought I had never seen Copeland look as good as she did in her variation this afternoon. Liked her better in the role than as Fleur de Farine which is the fairy she dances with some other casts.)

Alas, this is it for me ABT-wise for a long while, though I may try to write more about the production and the dancers. This Sleeping Beauty is certainly something for them to take pride in...

Edited by Drew
Link to comment

I thought sitting far left was better (that is far left when you are looking at the stage). When on the right, I completely missed the stuff that happened in front of the bassinet in the Prologue, missed the King/Queen acting, Carabosse's entrance in Act 1, the big kiss to wake up, etc. Obviously none of these are MAJOR issues, but I saw two from far left and one from far right, and sitting far left was my personal preference.

Link to comment

I totally LOVED Boylston's Aurora. Totally nailed her A1 and A2 solos and Rose Adagio and did them with lightness and charming musicality. Audience went bonkers/loud 'bravi' after Rose adagio.

Gorak is also wonderful and was effective in his one solo of quick batterie. His partnering of Aurora in the adagio was spotty...but both were extraordinary in the coda, esp those dude-by-side backward-traveling arabesques!

Most importantly: Gorak wears the red Capt. Crunch jacket the best among the Princes I've seen so far. (We'll see how Cornejo wears it tonight.)

Marcelo was a hoot as Carabosse and delighted fans with an extra-feminine curtain call that had us whistling. Extra hammy, just for us!

Seeing this production for the first time from front-orchestra was a revelation, as I could finally see the ceiling decorations. The sets no longer appear as flimsy as before (but LA-Z BOY chairs in Prologue still stick out as Cheapo looking). Also, from Orchestra I finally could see and understand the reason for the creepy black bird hovering over Aurora's bed-slab. That bird is Carabosse...with same glowing red eye as we see in Carabosse's make-up earlier. From upper tiers, one can't see that the black bird levitates and flies away while the Prince kisses Aurora. Very cool effect.

Link to comment

Natalia, I'm so glad you posted that you too enjoyed Boylston's Aurora. For me, she was everything an Aurora should be: spot-on technically, charming and -- most of all -- totally in sync with the music. And Gorak was a delight in his wedding pas variation. I really like this "less is more" variation, as it's so perfect for the music. And, yes, Gomes was the best Carabosse I've ever seen -- definitely a must-see. All in all, a very nice evening at the ballet.

Link to comment

I saw both Vishneva's and Boylston's performances. I liked them both in different ways.

Having seen it twice now, I'd like to make a few random comments.

1) I really do love the production

2) the one anachronistic technical aspect that irked me on Monday was the chaine turns on demi. I liked it in theory, and really enjoyed the way that the ones on point in the grand pas de deux became a revelation because of them, but they looked on the whole sloppy. Fast but with wide apart feet. Rather ugly.

This was not the case with several of the dancers on Weds. and it made a huge difference to how I felt. Both Misty and Isabella (and to a slightly lesser extent) Stella did much cleaner, tighter, turns on demi and it looked a lot better.

3) both Florines I saw were great. Trenary is clearly one to watch! And Stella was truly lovely. Speaking of

4) The Violante fairy is not a good role for Stella. It is the one that has been changed the most of the first five fairy variations, and it looked like she was playing it for major comedy. I didn't like it at all. It was much better last night.

5) the production works best with a truly menacing and enchanting Carabosse. That was Gomes. Raffa really didn't have that much presence.

I could talk about both sets of leads but I really enjoyed both sets in different ways. Certainly Monday was the more polished and probably "better" performance but Gorak's solo was superior even if Gomes' partnering was (petite allegro suits Gorak better. His partnering is improving)

Link to comment

Boylston was very assured technically, and her jumps were high, fast and precise. She was also completely in control in the Rose Adagio. She never came off the pointe, and she raised her arm over her head after each suitor. I enjoyed her performance, but I wish she had more fluidity in her upper body. This was a very different performance from Vishneva's both in the level of technique and in the manner of presentation. I wished that Boylston could have taken on a more elegant manner of presentation in the wedding scene,so that you could see a progression of her character from the young Aurora to the mature Aurora. However, the performance was all at one level and on one note - big and bouncy. As noteed above, one of the fish dives looked like Boylston literally tumbled into position. I blame it on Gorak's partnering. He used both arms to get her into fishdive position (unlike Magnificent Marcelo, who uses only one arm for these fish dives). I thought Gorak placed his arm around Boylston's back a little too early when she was doing her backbend. She was perfectly secure just leaning into him, but I guess he feared she might lose balance. Gorak's solo started well, but the energy seemed to fade out a bit toward the end. (The best dancing I've seen of the Prince's variation came from Cornejo.)

Link to comment

Yes, Marcelo's Cabrosse was magnificent! I loved how he mocked the fairies in ACT I and warns the King in Act 3. So many little details to his performance.

I'm a big fan of this production too, particularly how the dancing and pantomime illuminates the music. I also think Ratmanksy brings out the best in the company.

There were aspects of Boylston's performance I preferred to Lane's and vice versa. (Such is the pleasure of seeing multiple casts!) Isabella has the exuberance of a teenager, and her jumps soar. But I thought her performance on the slow variation after the balances (the one that follows the violin solo where she curtsies to all of the suitors) was less luscious and secure than Sarah. I love how Lane did the diagonal hops in that variation, with deep plie and beautiful relaxed arms. Sometimes Boylston raises her shoulders or breaks her wrists and looses her lovely carriage. But only sometimes. I agree her dancing is very musical. Also hops seem to be difficult to perform gracefully when one has very high arches.

I love it when the Act I fairies dance in unison. Veronika Part is probably incomparable as Lilac Fairy in terms of the pantomime and characterization. Insofar as her dancing part in Act I, I thought it looked a bit labored at times.

Skylar Brandt was a magical fairy of joy -- she just flies across the stage. (I also preferred her Diamond Fairy to Shevchenko's.) Misty danced beautifully in the Wheat Flower Fairy variation, and I think she pulls of the demi-pointe chaines really well -- fast with a high demi-pointe.

They closed the curtain to soon before the musical interlude, so the audience missed the beautiful tableau from the first part of Act I.

I observed the shell that holds Aurora's foot during the Act II balance. That part looked weird to me in general last night. Was she supposed to be looking straight down at the ground?

Zhong-Jing Fang stood out as sapphire fairy. I think this style suits her too. Her arms and feet are so well placed.

Stella was gorgeous again. The crowd loves her too.

The fish dives were wobbly and weird. I gasped, but not in a good way. Preferred Lane and Cornejo here too.

It looked like Boylston's Sleeping Beauty sold very well, and the crowd cheered her loudly. I felt like she was the hometown hero. She deserves it too; I think she's really working hard and improving.

I wish I could see every cast in this production. It's so beautiful and highlights the company well. If you don't like the Garland scene, you might be sitting too close. ;)

Also, thanks to these Gifs reproduced in Vanity Fair, I remembered one place I saw Ratmansky use the demi-pointe chaines before: Seven Sonatas. [scroll down -- Julie Kent w/ David Hallberg]


Link to comment

The fish dives were wobbly and weird. I gasped, but not in a good way. Preferred Lane and Cornejo here too.

Hi DeCoster. If you recall, Lane and Cornejo did not do fish dives. They did simplified, alternative choreography instead of fish dives that was much easier than the fish dives.

Also, no Boylston should not have had her eyes looking downward when she stepped on the pedestal in the Vishion Scene. She should have been looking out at the audience. She spent too long looking down at the pedestal, as though she feared she might slip off it.

Yes, sales have been brisk this week for SB.

Link to comment

Hi DeCoster. If you recall, Lane and Cornejo did not do fish dives. They did simplified, alternative choreography instead of fish dives that was much easier than the fish dives.

That's correct, but I too preferred seeing what Lane and Cornejo did. I'd rather see something beautiful and clean, even if it's easier. The fish dives last night were not impressive. The choreography that Lane and Cornejo did gave the impression of a striking shift into frozen tableau that only the best fish dives can really give.

Link to comment

DeCoster, on 11 Jun 2015 - 10:50 AM, said:

Zhong-Jing Fang stood out as sapphire fairy. I think this style suits her too. Her arms and feet are so well placed.

I agreed with you on pretty much everything so my cutting to this was just to second it emphatically as I don't think I mentioned her in my last post.

Fang was lovely. i saw her in both casts and she really shone.

She was also fantastic in Giselle as Zulma. I hope she is given more soon. I'm really impressed by what I've been seeing. There is a lovely plushness and serenity to her dancing. Very musical as well (at least in these shortish variations). More please!

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...