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Spring 2015: La Bayadere


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After the performance on the platform of the 66th Street subway station, a flautist was playing excerpts from the score. Presumably he was sight-reading, and I have to note that he found the first shade variation particularly tricky. He probably didn't suspect that the hack Minkus' oom-pah music might not be as simplistic as it sounds.

I doubt he was sight-reading; he's there every night, playing excerpts from whatever performance has just gotten out on both flute and sax. He's been doing it for years. Must have quite a library!

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Re Copeland's fouette traveling: Julie Kent may have been a beautiful dancer, but I couldn't bear to watch her fouettes. She traveled all across the stage (well, that's an exaggeration, but it sure felt like it - no straight lines the, albeit, few times I saw her do them live).

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I seem to be a minority in liking Cassandra Trenary best among the shades, because she wasn't merely performig a sequence of difficult steps; she was actually dancing.

I also was struck by the 'danciness' of her solo. Looking forward to seeing more of her.

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That flute guy has been playing on the 66th Street platform for years. He always plays something related to the performance that's happening at Lincoln Center that night. A few years ago the NY Times ran a story about him, I think. There is now also a trumpet guy who has muscled in on the flute guy's "territory". Only in New York. kids. Only in New York.

Yeah, he was playing the garland waltz after the sleeping beauty premiere. I love it, makes the wait more festive!

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If you are one the first people to enter the subway station he will ask you which show

had just let out. This cues him which music to play. So if you say The King and I

he'll launch a medley from that show. He is always prepared with the programs

from all 4 theaters. Genius.

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Wow Kim is impressive.

Even though I only moderately like La Bayadere, it's worth seeing it just for Act 2 alone. It may very well be my favorite single act in a story ballet.

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I don't think the danseur should lower his standard to make the ballerina look better. Rather the ballerina must raise her standard of dancing.

I thought that happened this afternoon at the Bayadere with Kim, Seo & Gillian. I thought Seo looked much stronger than Monday. Much better Act 1, better use of her arms, more sensual, more plasticity. OK, yes she fell off pointe about 3 times during the Shades scarf dance but she covered it pretty well. And Gillian seemed energized. Her jumps, fouettes & Italian fouettes were much better than Monday. And boy, can she turn!!! I think she did a quintuple pirouette in the wedding scene. Kim seemed slightly toned down from Monday but still fantastic. His jumps, air turns, whizzing fast chainees are just out of this world! The partnering with Seo looked a little labored again but no such partnering problems with Gillian. I truly hope ABT invites him back next year. He's such a phenomena!!

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I thought that happened this afternoon at the Bayadere with Kim, Seo & Gillian. I thought Seo looked much stronger than Monday. Much better Act 1, better use of her arms, more sensual, more plasticity. OK, yes she fell off pointe about 3 times during the Shades scarf dance but she covered it pretty well. And Gillian seemed energized. Her jumps, fouettes & Italian fouettes were much better than Monday. And boy, can she turn!!! I think she did a quintuple pirouette in the wedding scene. Kim seemed slightly toned down from Monday but still fantastic. His jumps, air turns, whizzing fast chainees are just out of this world! The partnering with Seo looked a little labored again but no such partnering problems with Gillian. I truly hope ABT invites him back next year. He's such a phenomena!!

Glad to hear you say this Amour, because I thought Seo was decent; better than I thought she'd be based off previous reviews and I was thinking maybe I'm just easily pleased. I did see the stumbles you mentioned.

Gillian's Italian fouettes were so sharp and impressive, I wanted to jump out of my seat!

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Tonight was a very good performance, though I think having seen Thursday's makes it impossible for me to be at all passionately excited, as I was then.

Sarafanov was superb, though. He's no longer quite as bravura as in years past, perhaps, but still quite striking and with seeming effortlessness. It was interesting to see him almost fall off balance in a complete nothing moment while on demi-pointe, both feet planted at the back of the stage -- because the rest of it was just excellent, to my eye.

Kochetkova was lovely. Her turns and spins are exceptional -- particularly the long sequence at the end of the shades scene, from upstage left to downstage right. But I just can't get as excited about a tiny little dancer as I can about a tall, voluptuous one (like Veronika). Sarah Lane in Sleeping Beauty was hard enough for me -- I loved her dancing, and it was reasonably okay that she looked like a young girl in comparison to virtually everyone else onstage. But for Nikiya? I need LEGS! Kochetkova's back is extremely flexible, though. (I'm talking almost a 90-degree angle right in the middle of her back!) But again, in comparison to everyone else onstage, she looked like a young girl. This was especially the case in the betrothal scene, where her costume didn't do her any favors.

Isabella Boylston was quite competent, but I figured this would really be a role in which I'd like her a lot, and it wasn't. Her acting in the confrontation scene seemed overly broad, and not at all as convincing as Gillian's. In the betrothal PDD she was solid, particularly in the Italian fouettés -- but I was really expecting some multiple fouettés and she gave only one double to start.

Those wrists, though! I used to think it was just sloppiness, but tonight I began to think maybe she views her flappy wrists as a feature, not a bug. Seriously, I felt like she was really "doing" the flappy wrist thing (the way Nina A. used to "do" her swan arms), not just that it was happening unintentionally. Every extension of the arm had to end in an extra little flap (or, more often, flop). Quite distracting.

By the way, whoever was the guy downstage right in the waltz that opened the betrothal scene, he was a real mess. Why put him in front? Anyone know who that was?

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After the performance on the platform of the 66th Street subway station, a flautist was playing excerpts from the score. Presumably he was sight-reading, and I have to note that he found the first shade variation particularly tricky. He probably didn't suspect that the hack Minkus' oom-pah music might not be as simplistic as it sounds.

Speaking of Minkus, I just have to mention the dream I had last night. I was going to a recital at the Saratoga Springs opera festival of -- wait for it -- Minkus lieder.

I wonder who the soprano was going to be?

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Kochetkova was lovely. Her turns and spins are exceptional -- particularly the long sequence at the end of the shades scene, from upstage left to downstage right. But I just can't get as excited about a tiny little dancer as I can about a tall, voluptuous one (like Veronika). Sarah Lane in Sleeping Beauty was hard enough for me -- I loved her dancing, and it was reasonably okay that she looked like a young girl in comparison to virtually everyone else onstage. But for Nikiya? I need LEGS! Kochetkova's back is extremely flexible, though. (I'm talking almost a 90-degree angle right in the middle of her back!) But again, in comparison to everyone else onstage, she looked like a young girl. This was especially the case in the betrothal scene, where her costume didn't do her any favors.

I agree with you on this. Although I loved both Cojocaru and Kochetkova, I can't help but to think of last year's Vishneva, Smirnova, and Tereshkina. I'd say Cojocaru had more presence than Kochetkova due to her height (still quite short for this role imo). Maria is technically amazing but she's just not right for this role.

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Speaking of Minkus, I just have to mention the dream I had last night. I was going to a recital at the Saratoga Springs opera festival of -- wait for it -- Minkus lieder.

Oh gosh. Now I have to know whether such a thing exists! biggrin.png

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Watching the two Bayaderes back to back today, I have to say that Kochetkova was heads and tails better than Seo, both technically and artistically. I was impressed with Kochetkova and I look forward to her coming back.

Nanushka, we have opposite opinions regarding Murphy and Boylston. I enjoyed them both and while I thought Murphy was better technically, I enjoyed Boylston's characterization a bit better. Boylston's act 3 solo was SUPERB.

Kim and Safranov were both awesome.

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I agree with you on this. Although I loved both Cojocaru and Kochetkova, I can't help but to think of last year's Vishneva, Smirnova, and Tereshkina. I'd say Cojocaru had more presence than Kochetkova due to her height (still quite short for this role imo). Maria is technically amazing but she's just not right for this role.

Totally agree. Very sad to have none of them back this year, especially Tereshkina. As I believe abatt said earlier up thread doing those développes to the back in the death scene while never coming off pointe is something I will never forget.

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About today's matinee, I have to add that Stella Abrera's 3rd shade variation was gorgeous, just GORGEOUS!!! It was 100x better than Luciana Paris (1st variation) or Devon Teuscher (2nd variation). Paris was adequate but Teuscher struggled. But Stella....what an artist. The way she uses her arms, her plastique is just fantastic. To think that she hasn't been promoted and never may be is a crime. Shame on Kevin:(

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Well, my Bayadere weekend was meant to be ballerina-centric, but what I got was three very fine (well, better than very fine) Solors--and a more uneven experience on the ballerina front.

I did find Cojocaru, as noted above, beautiful and deeply moving as Nikiya--she gave a great performance. Seo had lovely moments (at the matinee) and despite rather minor problems with the scarf, a passage which also did not go altogether smoothly for Kochetkova, was much solider technically than I anticipated and she also showed some nice phrasing at times. But I think she needs a stronger stage presence at the least--or this performance did. Kochetkova was rather more secure throughout and Sarafanov lifted her at times as if she were a paper doll which was sort of charming, but Cojocaru is really in a different league from either Kochetkova or Seo. Her ethereal, haunting dancing makes even Bayadere's final Act seem a work of substance.

However, every Solor I saw had remarkable qualities. Cornejo I already wrote about. Here I will add that Kim's large, easy flowing jumps were a pleasure as was his imperious, impetuous characterization of Solor. His height made some of the overhead lifts particularly striking, too, but I am not convinced he moves quite as beautifully as Cornejo or Sarafanov and I could wish his lines were a bit more elegant.

Regarding Sarafanov...I found him dull, dull, dull with the Mikhailovsky, and not the most beautiful entrechats in the world (which he showed off in those performances) could convince me otherwise. Well, now, having seen his Saturday night Solor, I am a fan, fan, fan. Elegant, quality classical dancing infused with warmth. Someone on Twitter characterized his Solor as vulnerable--I think that is right, and it was quite unexpected to me as an interpretation. He truly seemed to adore Nikiya and slightly passively watched his life escaping his control in a way that made him seem very young and very human.

He used his supple upper back in particular to convey his ardor and love at crucial moments including one particularly beautiful exit in Act II. There were even wonderful details of characterization like the way his arm dropped to the floor when he was sound asleep as his dream came to an end at the close of that same Act. And he seemed truly baffled when he awoke. His dramatic style can at times still be a little low key for my taste as in some of the closing melodrama where he seemed more stunned than anything else. But overall I thought this performance showed depth of feeling embodied within the utmost refined 'Mariinsky' classicism and first-rate technique.

The younger Kim does get more air time so to speak, but I think the hugest jumps I saw all weekend were the two absolutely spectacular 'demi-character' leaps over the sacred fire by Head Fakir Gabe Stone Shayer. Really stunning. And if he can do THAT when he takes on classical variations, then 'the sky is the limit' for his career as well as his jumps.

(I continue to find Gamzatti a rather thankless role and had reservations about all three I saw, including Murphy, despite some beautifully centered turns and generally the strongest dancing and miming of all three. The others were Copeland and Boylston. At least Boylston brought some seeming spontaneity to her dancing--in a strange way I enjoyed her the most without thinking she danced the best.)

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What I admired about Kochetkova's performance was that she pointedly eschewed the trappings of a "star" performance. As glamorous as Russian Nikiyas can be, for me some of their performances can resemble one big bundle of mannerisms to dragging tempos. Instead Kochetkova danced it straight and did not mess around with the music. Perhaps some might see this as a lack of originality, but I appreciated her trusting the choreography to speak on its own terms and for having absorbed the Anglo-American concern for musical integrity--even in the case of Minkus.

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Regarding Sarafanov...I found him dull, dull, dull with the Mikhailovsky, and not the most beautiful entrechats in the world (which he showed off in those performances) could convince me otherwise. Well, now, having seen his Saturday night Solor, I am a fan, fan, fan. Elegant, quality classical dancing infused with warmth. Someone on Twitter characterized his Solor as vulnerable--I think that is right, and it was quite unexpected to me as an interpretation. He truly seemed to adore Nikiya and slightly passively watched his life escaping his control in a way that made him seem very young and very human.

He used his supple upper back in particular to convey his ardor and love at crucial moments including one particularly beautiful exit in Act II. There were even wonderful details of characterization like the way his arm dropped to the floor when he was sound asleep as his dream came to an end at the close of that same Act. And he seemed truly baffled when he awoke.

A few things. I totally agree with you about Sarafanov with the Mik. He was exceptionally dull. On Wednesday though, the old Sarafanov I fell in love with from YT showed up. I do think that what distinguishes him from Kim (and maybe Cornejo) is his epaulement and entire carriage of his body. I think Kim has nice enough lines. But Kim is a virtuoso and Sarafanov is an elegant, refined danseur noble. We haven't really seen anyone like Sarafanov basically since Fateyev came in and seemed to be dismantling and undermining Vaganova training by not promoting any of Vaganova trained dancers, except Batoeva. Sergeyev, Stepin, even Yermakov, they are all flatlined. Lucky for Shklyarov he got promoted early or was lucky (he was still a soloist under Vahziev)..

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Sarafanov was trained in Kiev, not Vaganova Academy. He was trained by the same teacher who trained my husband, and also trained many other noteworthy male dancers. I always find it interesting that no one remembers that he danced for the National Ballet of Ukraine for 2 years prior to being invited to join the Mariinsky.

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Sarafanov was trained in Kiev, not Vaganova Academy. He was trained by the same teacher who trained my husband, and also trained many other noteworthy male dancers. I always find it interesting that no one remembers that he danced for the National Ballet of Ukraine for 2 years prior to being invited to join the Mariinsky.

I don't think I ever knew that about Sarafanov -- Kiev is also where Cojocaru got much of her training, yes? (though I assume with a different teacher); I was thinking that I would love to see them dance together someday...at least when he is dancing the way he danced last night. (Cornejo WAS fabulous with her, though as others have noticed elsewhere, has lost some flexibility in his big jumps.)

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An obscure detail I'm curious about: In the Shades in Makarova's staging, each dancer always raises the same leg in arabesque for the entire trip down, with dancers alternating which leg. So dancer #1 raises her right leg, #2 her left leg, #3 right, etc.

But in the Bolshoi version (available on Amazon prime) they do this differently:

http://www.amazon.com/Bayad%C3%A8re-Marius-Grigorovich-Bolshoi-Theatre/dp/B00V40O6LY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433684817&sr=8-2&keywords=bolshoi+bayadere

All of them raise the leg that's away from the audience. As they get to the turn and head down another row, they add one tiny step to make the leg switch. It looks like a way to give the dancers some relief by switching legs all the way down like that.

Does anybody know the story on this? Is Makarova just following Kirov/Mariinsky tradition? Did the Bolshoi "simplify" (if that's what it is) to help the dancers get through this?

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