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ABT in Paris (Opera Bastille) 9/2016

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4 hours ago, angelica said:

This rehearsal footage shows up close the remarkable artistry of Sarah Lane: her quick, light feet; her fluid upper body; her gorgeous arms; her ability to sustain balances; her musicality; all within strict adherence to the Ratmansky choreography. If she isn't promoted to principal dancer in the next year, I will totally lose my respect for ABT's artistic direction.

 

I so agree angelica.  I have always found her upper body and arms among the most beautiful in the ballet world.  I'm sorry to say that I see no indications at all that a promotion is in her future at ABT.

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vipa, do you think this is all about her comments regarding Black Swan? I would love to know the thinking behind what often seem to be bizarre (cleaning up my language here) artistic decisions.

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18 minutes ago, angelica said:

vipa, do you think this is all about her comments regarding Black Swan? I would love to know the thinking behind what often seem to be bizarre (cleaning up my language here) artistic decisions.

I have no insider information but personally I doubt it's Black Swan related.  Lane did a lovely Theme and Variations as a new corps member and an outstanding Aurora (IMO) on her first time out in the old production.  These early accomplishments seemed to do nothing to impress management.   On top of this she was often miscast for the sake of giving a short male dancer someone to partner.  I don't want to turn this into a pro/con Lane thread but those are my thoughts.

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 A short French television feature on ABT Sleeping Beauty in Paris with some rehearsal footage and interviews with Ratmansky and Cassandra Trenary. He emphasizes the importance of the respecting the 'original' tempo of music in addition to going back to early sources on the choreography:

 

http://www.lci.fr/culture/la-belle-au-bois-dormant-un-ballet-qui-remonte-le-temps-2001238.html

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10 hours ago, vipa said:

I have no insider information but personally I doubt it's Black Swan related.  Lane did a lovely Theme and Variations as a new corps member and an outstanding Aurora (IMO) on her first time out in the old production.  These early accomplishments seemed to do nothing to impress management.   On top of this she was often miscast for the sake of giving a short male dancer someone to partner.  I don't want to turn this into a pro/con Lane thread but those are my thoughts.

Thanks, vipa, for your thoughts. And you're right, we shouldn't go off on a tangent in this thread. 

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Those short clips of Trenary look fantastic.  She certainly looks the part.  Really hope I get to see her in this role at some point, though SB might not be back for the Met season with it having gone two years in a row already, right?  

 

If it doesn't come back this spring, I hope they give her other opportunities.  Would love to see her in Giselle.

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13 hours ago, vipa said:

 

I so agree angelica.  I have always found her upper body and arms among the most beautiful in the ballet world.  I'm sorry to say that I see no indications at all that a promotion is in her future at ABT.

Sarah has been the true Aurora IMO, the clip of her rehearsing looks absolutely elegant and fluid, nothing looks forced IMO, something is definitely wrong if she isn't promoted soon. :( I was shocked and saddened to see that she was only given one show and a new coming having and opening and closing night, seems like there are favoritism but then again, the choreographers have their muses. I pray that Sarah will have her day in the sun as she has always been a beautiful dancer in technique and artistry, just need the powers that be realize it!

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Apparently there was much love from the audience for Lane and Cornejo at today's sold-out matinee performance at the Opera Bastille:  

 

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Does anyone know how the SB performances were received and reviewed in Paris?  

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I had the good fortune to see four performances of this production in Paris. It is exhilarating to attend performances of this ballet which are not bogged down by its status as the "ballet of ballets". The combination of being treated as a monument to classical dance and the various "improvements " in technique and consequent tampering with Tchaikovsky's score to which it has been subjected since its 1890 premiere has, in my opinion, had the effect of rendering sections of it difficult to watch with any sense of pleasure. .The speed at which this production is danced, the attempt to reproduce the earliest recorded choreographic text combined with the use of period appropriate performance style has the effect of making the dance flow and turns a monument into a charming entertainment which is almost certainly what Petipa and Tchaikovsky intended it to be.

 

It was fascinating to see it a few weeks after seeing one of Ratmansky's earliest attempts at reconstructing a Petipa ballet and strange to think that had Petipa died before he had completed his work on Sleeping Beauty it would have been the melodramatic ballets d'action like Le Corsaire for which he would have been known. Again what an extraordinary set of circumstances to be able to see Ratmansky's restoration of two of Petipa's greatest choreographic set pieces the Jardin Anime and the Garland Dance within the space of weeks. ABT's Beauty is clearly a far more rigorous attempt to restore a nineteenth century choreographic text than Le Corsaire was. There were elements in this Beauty that were new to me and details which are half hidden in the current text performed at Covent Garden. Perhaps they had failed to register because the Mariinsky's reconstruction  used modern performance style but I don't recall seeing the King banning the use of spindles in his kingdom before. 

 

 It was quite a surprise to discover how much some of the characters had to say for themselves. For once I could believe that the character of Catalabutte was closely modeled on a member of the imperial court and would have been recognisable to members of the ballet's earliest audiences. But one thing that was very noticeable was that the amount of detail the audience saw was very dependent on individual performers.  I am not talking here about the differences in interpretation of two dancers but differences in the amount of the choreographic text the audience actually saw in individual performances. I suspect that these differences have more to do with the amount of work that individual dancers have to do in trying to forget the "traditional" version and remembering to dance the "historic" one than anything else. The dancers were consistent in whether they were supposed to be on full pointe or not,but in the Fairy Variations the finer details of the epaulement were variable. For example towards the end of dancing the Breadcrumb Fairy Gemma Bond showed the audience that she had her hands full of crumbs by clenching her fists and then releasing her fingers as she scattered crumbs where others merely wafted their arms about rather vaguely. Again there were marked differences in the performance of the Violente variation one dancer manged to show the sparks passing between her fingers others did not seem to try.

 

Of the Auroras I saw Trenary was by far the best. When she danced with her suitors looked at them and smiled at them.She danced with elegant technique,musicality and appropriate characterisation. She reminded me of Ann Jenner. Both Murphy and Boylston seemed strong and athletic,proficient rather than charmingly elegant. They were technically assured but neither managed to give the impression of charm and apparent youth which I think are essential to the role In this production the Rose Adagio is not danced as a show stopper but as an integral part of the first act in which Aurora is introduced to her prospective suitors. Murphy seemed to be working hard to disguise her strength.Neither Murphy nor Boylston managed to make the Rose Adagio look normal and natural. During it Murphy stared straight past each of the princes as if they were not there while Boylston managed little better. I wondered whether the problem was that they were too familiar with the "traditional " version to be completely at home in the "historic" one and had too much to forget to be entirely comfortable in Ratmansky's reconstruction.Neither their second or third acts banished the impression of barely disguised power being reined in. I was surprised by Seo's technical problems in the first act particularly during the Rose Adagio. Her second and third acts were better. Is she a good dance actress rather than a classical ballerina? .

 

I saw Whiteside,Gorak, Stearns and Gomes as the Prince but I don't think that any of those that I saw had complete mastery of their third act variation. None of them really managed to make it look elegant and effortless. I never stopped being aware of how many steps were in it. I wonder how many in the audience really appreciated what a technical tour de force the variation is and how much more difficult it must be to dance than the showy " traditional" version that we know so well. As far as the third act fairy tale characters are concerned they all had real charm to them. I even enjoyed Chaperon Rouge et Le Loup when up until now I have been inclined to think that Lydia Sokolova had got it right when she described it as the most boring variation she knew. 

 

As for me I am happy to have had the opportunity to see it. As to what it might turn into when everyone has complete mastery of the choreography and performance style? I think that the answer is that it will be pretty impressive. I hope that someone from the Royal Ballet saw it and that it will lead to some changes in performance practice at Covent Garden beginning with correct tempi and low legs. Petipa is a wonderfully musical choreographer when he is allowed to be.

 

I do not want to create an international incident but I should be grateful if someone could explain what special gifts Misty Copeland possesses. True I only saw her twice as Princess Florine, but while it is a short role it is a role in which a dancer can display her technique and make a real impression without apparently trying. She made hardly any impression and  apart from a rather stiff upper body I barely noticed her.

 

 

 

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I'm not a huge Copeland fan, so I can't answer your last question.  I can say that Seo, in general, is much better in more lyrical roles.  I find her Juliet quite lovely, but will never pay money to see her in a classic again.  I really did not enjoy her in La Bayadere, Swan Lake or Sylvia.  To me, she isn't a strong technical dancer and she has a tendency to get swallowed by the stage in the more technical roles.

 

Thanks for the awesome review though, I really enjoyed reading it.  I love Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty, so I'm glad to see others appreciate it as well!

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9 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

 

 

I do not want to create an international incident but I should be grateful if someone could explain what special gifts Misty Copeland possesses. True I only saw her twice as Princess Florine, but while it is a short role it is a role in which a dancer can display her technique and make a real impression without apparently trying. She made hardly any impression and  apart from a rather stiff upper body I barely noticed her.

 

 

 

Ashton Fan, thanks for your sharp, thorough analysis of the performances you attended.  Your words about the non-verbal language of dance and symbolism in this Petipa ballet are of enormous interest to me, and something I wish to learn more about.  I intend to do much more reading about the history of this remarkable ballet before I see it next, hopefully this coming spring.

 

As a former devoted fan of Misty Copeland’s, I can honestly say that after eagerly attending performances in which she appeared for about seven years, the only real improvement I saw in her was the fact that she lost a tremendous amount of weight.  Her dancing style, or lack thereof, did not really change.  During that time she also acquired a manager and a sponsor, both with ties to the investment bank of Goldman Sachs, who shepherded her rise to prominence.  I’m sure she continues to strenuously apply herself to improving her dancing, but I won’t ever pay to see her again.  

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[Admin beanie on]

 

A gentle reminder not to discuss what's on other discussion boards.

 

Our fellow boards are well-known, and Google translate is a friend to many of us.

 

[Admin beanie off]

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21 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

.......

Of the Auroras I saw .......Her second and third acts were better. Is she a good dance actress rather than a classical ballerina? ............

 

I do not want to create an international incident .......

 

 

 

I wouldn't worry about creating any international incident Ashton Fan as I feel likewise if I mention anyone that may offend other members, we should all understand that fans are fans and we all have our opinion :) As for the Auroras, it was unfortunate you didn't get to see two of the best IMO, Stella and Sarah, but that would mean sitting through two more shows for you. I am not sure if you have seen Sarah in anything in the past but IMO she has been and still is the best of all. I am no ballet aficionado and may noy be using the right wording, but I am a ballet fan and have watched her all these years, she dances with fluidity and grace. The fact that she has yet to be promoted to principal is a sin! Again, IMO the fact that neither Stella or Sarah were given opening night was a slap in the face or worse :( And, I read somewhere that Sarah's show (it may be due to a matinee) was the only sold out one? Well, like yourself I don't want to cause any incident, with any BA members, either by this suggestion :D

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I think the last 3 shows were sold out after the mostly favorable reviews.Too bad ,it was a bit late.

 

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1 hour ago, bingham said:

I think the last 3 shows were sold out after the mostly favorable reviews.Too bad ,it was a bit late.

 

 

Whoever gets opening night, someone else does not. The seniority (and, I think, 'experience' and 'reliability') case would have been for Murphy to have gotten it. But it sounds like Trenary danced very successfully.  And Paris got to see Lane -- and with Cornejo too!

 

(Like all ballerinas, Copeland and Seo make stronger impressions in some roles than in others.) 

Edited by Drew

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 I don't live in France and while I suppose I could have waited until the casting was announced that would have meant taking a chance on the availability of train tickets at a time of day which suited me and finding a hotel room within a short walk of the theatre. The one thing that I was determined to do was to ensure that I got to the performances whether or not the Metro workers decided to go on strike as they do from time to time. I had a very enjoyable time and saw a lot of dancers who, up until now, have merely been names to me.  I saw an approach to Petipa which should at least set stagers, dancers and audiences thinking about current performance practice and its suitability in the context of the few nineteenth century ballets in the standard international repertory. I can hope. 

 

Unfortunately as far as ballet performance are concerned we live at a time when overt technical prowess is esteemed above all else and dancers with loads of artistry and  "enough technique" tend to be overlooked in favour of technicians. I don't think that the tendency over the last thirty plus years to treat the "traditional" text of Beauty in performance as a significant step on the way to abstract choreography by eliminating, or at least downplaying, all the quirky elements in its choreography so that it conforms to an ideal of pure classicism has helped the cause of dancers who don't simply set out to display their technique. Comments on this forum suggest to me that Sarah Lane is experiencing the same sort of problems at ABT that Belinda Hatley did at Covent Garden. In the RB context the director's choice was between the "Rolls Royce" technique but bland interchangeable characterisation of Darcey Bussell in ballets with any narrative content and Belinda Hatley who was a fine Ashton dancer and outstanding in roles like Lise and Swanhilde and made the role of Aurora interesting and nuanced. You know the outcome.

 

I do hope that ABT manage to bring this production to London in the not too distant future. 

 

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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Taste in dancers varies. Agree about the pleasures of Ratmansky's Beauty--though I have not lost my taste for all other approaches-- but want to mention that I saw Bussell dance an absolutely radiant Aurora. The most memorable part of her performance was probably her beautiful smile. Nor was she any kind of mechanical technician when I saw her in ANY role, but always completely in the moment as a dancer. That is, her technique looked natural and spontaneous (which of course technique can't literally be). I found her radiant, but also extremely touching as Ashton's Cinderella as well. Lynn Seymour she wasn't and she was, say, miscast in A Month in the Country...but I don't think Bussell was ever a crude or graceless dancer. (Actually, though I have never seen Lane's Aurora, I would say that, though she is a very different dancer than Bussell, she has some of the same freshness of texture in her dancing.) 

Edited by Drew

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

Taste in dancers varies. Agree about the pleasures of Ratmansky's Beauty--though I have not lost my taste for all other approaches-- but want to mention that I saw Bussell dance an absolutely radiant Aurora. The most memorable part of her performance was probably her beautiful smile. Nor was she any kind of mechanical technician when I saw her in ANY role, but always completely in the moment as a dancer. That is, her technique looked natural and spontaneous (which of course technique can't literally be). I found her radiant, but also extremely touching as Ashton's Cinderella as well. Lynn Seymour she wasn't and she was, say, miscast in A Month in the Country...but I don't think Bussell was ever a crude or graceless dancer. (Actually, though I have never seen Lane's Aurora, I would say that, though she is a very different dancer than Bussell, she has some of the same freshness of texture in her dancing.) 

 

"...freshness of texture," Drew! What a beautiful phrase to describe Sarah's dancing (I've never seen Bussell)! I'm going to steal it from you one day!

Edited by angelica

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I don't think that I said that Bussell was crude or graceless.  She had a beautiful unforced technique but her performances were bland and rather boring. They were interchangeable in a way that Sibley's and Beriosova's never were . I thought that Bussell showed extraordinary promise at twenty but that she stopped developing early on in her career and never really fulfilled her potential.

 

I can't help wondering whether she would have been a more interesting dancer if she had stayed with SWRB for a couple of seasons or whether she would have been the same sort of dancer whatever had happened in her early career. Peter Wright has said that the original plan was that Bussell would go to SWRB  for a couple of seasons to gain experience because she was not thought ready for Covent Garden. She certainly would have had more opportunity to dance and to appear in  a wider range of works than she could have got at Covent Garden. She was with SWRB for about a year and then MacMillan gave her the female lead in  Prince of the Pagodas.The rest is history. 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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