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ABT 2016 Met Season


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We originally had 5 Syvia's for an 8 performance run (Murphy, Semionova, Kochetkova, Seo and Boylston). In fairness to McKenzie, that really should have been enough to cover this run. We have now lost 40 percent of our Sylvia's while the company is only midway through the run of 8 shows.

My thought also.

Of course, I am hoping Murphy (one of my favorites) is not out for too long, though obviously one wants her to heal fully.

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There are two separate time issues: when the dancers might have time, the staging resources often aren't available and/or there's a conflict between corps rehearsals and availability for Principal rehearsals. This is less of an issue for soloists at the larger companies, but could be more of an issue at small and mid-sized companies, where, for example, Swanilda's friends or the six Princesses in "Swan Lake" Act III often have soloists among them.

When dancers are on the threshold of the season, then their workloads and lack of staging/rehearsal resources can make it unlikely for them to get onstage in a new role.

It isn't always the company that has the final say, either. Depending on the power of the stager or choreographer, casts get nixed. It's rare to have the happy ending like fifth-cast Chelsea Meiss in Ratmansky's "Romeo and Juliet" for "National Ballet of Canada, where she and her partner worked like mad to get Ratmansky to change his mind. They had the great advantage that it was Ratmansky calling the shots for his own ballet, that the whole company was focused on that one work, and that it was new, with everyone starting anew from the same place.

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I'll reword my question, in case it was misconstrued...

To clarify, I was not asking about "insider knowledge" but rather about publicly available information on previous performances. For ABT performances in which a principal cannot dance, has the practice ever been to have an understudy (i.e. someone not performing the same role in the same season) jump in, or has coverage generally come from others already slated to perform the role?

I'd be curious to know the same about other companies as well. Is ABT typical in this regard, or at other companies have there been more of the types of understudy jump-ins that have been common, for instance, in the history of opera?

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Does anyone know why Abrera and Forster were dancing the White Swan PDD at the Met today? Numerous ABT dancers posted pics of it on their Instagram accounts, but without context for the occasion.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFUQILWJBer/?taken-by=_xander&hl=en

Murphy is listed as performing excerpts from Sylvia next Monday for the Gala, so I'm wondering if this might be prepared as a substitute, as needed. What a treat, if it is!

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I'm surprised that Hee Seo was not given tonight's performance. When I saw the triple-substitution they'd come up with, I assumed it was because all three of tonight's ballerinas either performed yesterday or were slated to perform tomorrow night. But now I notice on the schedule that Seo's other performances this week are Tuesday and Saturday, so tonight would not have required her to dance two days in a row (as it would for the other two).

Now, I know that subbing in Seo alone tonight would have provoked howls of derision, given the events of past years, but I'm just surprised that wasn't done.

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Does anyone know why Abrera and Forster were dancing the White Swan PDD at the Met today? Numerous ABT dancers posted pics of it on their Instagram accounts, but without context for the occasion.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFUQILWJBer/?taken-by=_xander&hl=en

Murphy is listed as performing excerpts from Sylvia next Monday for the Gala, so I'm wondering if this might be prepared as a substitute, as needed. What a treat, if it is!

maybe, we might get an Abrera Swan Lake debut this season?

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Any reports on Night of the Three Sylvias???

Well, I, for one, thought it a wonderful evening!! This is one of my favorite ballets and to see the three different "casts" tonight was like seeing a mini Gala. Everyone danced as if it was the most natural night of ballet ever. Gomes splendid and ardent. Boylston expansive and powerful and especially moving when she comes back after being injured and does those little backward pointe steps that tell so much about her yearning for Aminta. Pure genius choreography. Maria also fine. Finely traced steps and her acting was also to be admired. But the real surprise was Hee Seo with Bolle. She was all cream and lush movement. Just ravishing. Bolle ever beautiful and also very "on" tonight in both his variation and his partnering. When he carried Hee in on one shoulder in Act III I knew all was right with the World. Simkin as Orion was excellent. A good role for him. Everyone danced especially well. This is such a beautiful production, with sumptuous costumes and scenery, a delicious score and some of the most extraordinary choreography out there. I have to say ABT made a delicious lemonade tonight with what might have been just lemons. I wish Gillian well in her recovery, of course. But tonight was indeed a very special night.

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I'm so glad to read that, mimsyb. I love "Sylvia," and the multiple casts sounded like great fun and a smorgasbord, a taste of everyone.

I'm afraid I've only seen "Swan Lake" shared. Once was in San Francisco, where Anthony Randazzo was injured after he danced the first two acts, the second with Evelyn Cisneros, and then Tina Leblanc and David Palmer danced Acts III and IV. In Seattle, an injured Casey Herd danced Acts I, II, and IV, with Batkhurel Bold dancing Act III. Carrie Imler was Odette/Odile, but it isn't often the Prince is also another person in Act III!

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This does sound rather a fun evening! I've seen Don Quixote shared as a result of cast changes. (Harvey and Tcherkassky split it up--someone can help me here perhaps but I think Tcherkassky did I and III and Harvey II.)

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I'm so glad to read that, mimsyb. I love "Sylvia," and the multiple casts sounded like great fun and a smorgasbord, a taste of everyone.

I'm afraid I've only seen "Swan Lake" shared. Once was in San Francisco, where Anthony Randazzo was injured after he danced the first two acts, the second with Evelyn Cisneros, and then Tina Leblanc and David Palmer danced Acts III and IV. In Seattle, an injured Casey Herd danced Acts I, II, and IV, with Batkhurel Bold dancing Act III. Carrie Imler was Odette/Odile, but it isn't often the Prince is also another person in Act III!

And there was that time a few years back when Hee Seo stepped into Black Swan in "Swan Lake". I think she may have replaced an injured Gillian then also. She turned in a ravishing performance; I never dreamed her capable of doing such a thing. Amazing. The wonder of last night was that the three women and two men really were able to capture the remarkable beauty and structure of Ashton's choreography, while at the same time never losing the story line. In fact, for me, that story line grew in strength as each new dancer took over. It certainly proves to me that ABT has great depth in it's Principles, along with strong coaching and guidance. For all the chatter about pushing the younger generation forward, last night proved that the right choice was made by Kevin to dance last night as a "three play". As a matter of fact, all the smaller roles looked that much more solid as a result of having such a strong roster of lead dancers. Mind you, I'm not advocating this duality as a policy, but when things happen suddenly, especially at the start of a season, it's important to bring the most seasoned and reliable dancers on to make an evening viable. But going forward I'm also not so sure it wouldn't be such a terrible thing to have a multi cast on certain occasions. Last night's house was not full in many areas, but I bet if this "triple play" had been known, many more seats might have been sold. I, for one, had I not had a ticket already would have rushed to buy one just to see those five dancers all in one night. As I mentioned before, it was like going to a mini Gala. Just wonderful!

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This does sound rather a fun evening! I've seen Don Quixote shared as a result of cast changes. (Harvey and Tcherkassky split it up--someone can help me here perhaps but I think Tcherkassky did I and III and Harvey II.)

At the Alonso birthday celebration in June 2010 at the Met, they had three pairs of principals for Don Q, one for each act, and it was great fun to see. I don't remember all the casts, but Gomes did Act I and Osipova Act III.

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Yes I was there two years ago when Hee Seo stepped into the black swan role replacing Gillian Murphy, who was injured in Act 1. Unfortunately, something went out of the performance IMO because Hee Seo did not have the command or bravura of Murphy. But she did step in at the last second-- the intermission was only 10 minutes longer than usual--and Marcelo was grinning ear to ear with gratitude to her at the curtain calls. So hats off to her.

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There also was a "Swan Lake" a few years ago that Julie Kent was scheduled to dance. She ended up splitting it with Irina Dvorovenko - but oddly Irina Dvorovenko danced the white acts and Julie Kent danced the Odile black act. Don't know what happened behind the scenes with that one...

Marcelo and the girls:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFWKjNBiuRt/?taken-by=marcelua

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFVE1NlEUe3/?taken-by=balletrusse

The one thing is that in Act I, Sylvia isn't partnered extensively by either Aminta or Orion, the ballerina has mostly solos with corps and pantomime. Both Aminta and Orion have brief tussles with her which are mostly action staging with her but little dancing. So that is why they could switch up the partnering in Act I with dancers from different casts. In Act II scenes 1 and 2 the ballerina is partnered by Orion in the first scene (hence Simkin, Kochetkova's scheduled partner) and in the final tableau Bolle took over to partner Seo.

It was indeed a fun evening and having seen the ballet on Tuesday it was fun to check out the other two girls and revisit Seo in her best moments.

Boylston was technically very strong with lightning fast chainés, pirouettes and bold attack on phrases. The upper body was less elegant than Seo or other ballerinas I have seen. The martial Amazon Sylvia in Act I brings out her best qualities. Gomes looked in very strong form and danced with passion. Craig Salstein relished both the comedy demi-caractère and classical aspects of Eros. Daniil Simkin's acrobatic showy Russian style and strong personality fit Orion quite well.

Kochetkova I liked a lot in the Act II seduction scene. Kochetkova is tiny but she dances big and has quick, precise footwork and turns. She is very much a petite allegro dancer and the solos were fast and precise. Also she has those flowing Russian arms and understands the "oriental odalisque" style with the supple torso and bent back very well. She was a treat and well-matched with Simkin.

Hee Seo again seemed a little cramped by the pizzicato solo - too many little steps at too great a speed. A little more speed and strength and amplitude and she would be fully convincing. But Seo was ravishing in the pas de deux - creamy and silky. She was helped and inspired by Roberto Bolle who really is dancing like someone ten years younger - I see no diminution of energy, speed, flexibility or technical control.

Everyone seemed to be throwing themselves into it and the show had great energy and élan. Fun night.

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Thanks for the reports from the triple-sub Sylvia. Sounds like a whole lotta fun.

I'm probably not the best person to answer nanushka's question (I can't seem to quote it, for some reason?) in terms of understudies and ABT, but in addition to the obvious example of Stella Abrerra's Giselle last season (not your average understudy, I agree) the first thing that comes to mind is a Met season several years ago (2009?) when Cory Stearns, then still in the corps I think, was thrown into several principal roles for an injured Maxim Beloserkovsky. I remember, in particular, a Corsaire where my mother and I were on the edge of our seats during several partnering passages, afraid he might drop Dvorenko. Although you could see his great potential, he wasn't quite ready for primetime, and it showed. I think the AD had to go to an understudy because the men of ABT were stretched quite thin at the time. I appreciate that this isn't done too often, as I like to see a professional, polished performance, and understudies just don't have the level of coaching (or rest, as others have mentioned) to produce this.

Not to mention that the female lead in Sylvia is one of the most (if not the most) technically demanding roles in ABT's rep.

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Thanks for the reports from the triple-sub Sylvia. Sounds like a whole lotta fun.

I'm probably not the best person to answer nanushka's question (I can't seem to quote it, for some reason?) in terms of understudies and ABT, but in addition to the obvious example of Stella Abrerra's Giselle last season (not your average understudy, I agree) the first thing that comes to mind is a Met season several years ago (2009?) when Cory Stearns, then still in the corps I think, was thrown into several principal roles for an injured Maxim Beloserkovsky. I remember, in particular, a Corsaire where my mother and I were on the edge of our seats during several partnering passages, afraid he might drop Dvorenko. Although you could see his great potential, he wasn't quite ready for primetime, and it showed. I think the AD had to go to an understudy because the men of ABT were stretched quite thin at the time. I appreciate that this isn't done too often, as I like to see a professional, polished performance, and understudies just don't have the level of coaching (or rest, as others have mentioned) to produce this.

Not to mention that the female lead in Sylvia is one of the most (if not the most) technically demanding roles in ABT's rep.

I recall that Corsaire as well, DeCoster. However, this interview with Gia Kourlas seems to suggest that Cory was already slated to perform Conrad during that 2008 run. (I'm fairly certain that the performance in which he danced with Irina was not the Saturday matinee that's referred to there. And I only happen to know that 2008 was the year of the Cory/Irina Corsaire substitution, because that was my first year regularly attending ABT performances.)

And yes, Stella's Giselle is another near-fit, but you're right that it's not quite what I had in mind, since she had prepared the role for scheduled performances in one or more previous seasons.

It could well be that, for numerous structural reasons, ballet and opera just differ in this regard. I'm curious whether understudies are more widely used in other companies, though.

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At the Alonso birthday celebration in June 2010 at the Met, they had three pairs of principals for Don Q, one for each act, and it was great fun to see. I don't remember all the casts, but Gomes did Act I and Osipova Act III.

Osipova danced act III with Carreno then. I also remember a performance in Havana ca. 1993(?) in a celebration of the 150 anniversary of Giselle. The ballet was danced by 7 different couples alternating at all times, and Alonso doing (at 71) three sequences: her signature super fast entrechats in Act II..the Mad Scene and the ballet Finale. The theater was a mad house...people suddenly recognizing their favorite dancers. It was SUCH fun...

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I recall that Corsaire as well, DeCoster. However, this interview with Gia Kourlas seems to suggest that Cory was already slated to perform Conrad during that 2008 run. (I'm fairly certain that the performance in which he danced with Irina was not the Saturday matinee that's referred to there. And I only happen to know that 2008 was the year of the Cory/Irina Corsaire substitution, because that was my first year regularly attending ABT performances.)

2008 -- that makes sense. A Saturday matinee makes absolute sense to me because those are they days I take my mom, and I know she was there for that Corsaire (funny the things you remember). The interview is in May, so it may have been an early season casting change when Maxim pulled out. Notice that he mentions he *might* dance Espada that very season. this implies to me that he wasn't originally cast, although I guess it's not quite the same as an understudy.

Another story that comes to mind is Susan Jaffe's last-minute debut in Push Comes to Shove, that came as a result of Gelsey Kirkland's cocaine habit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1980/12/12/susan-jaffes-dream-debut/fa16a829-c923-4761-a089-cb793e4b1de6/

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Another story that comes to mind is Susan Jaffe's last-minute debut in Push Comes to Shove, that came as a result of Gelsey Kirkland's cocaine habit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1980/12/12/susan-jaffes-dream-debut/fa16a829-c923-4761-a089-cb793e4b1de6/

Jaffee did not debut in Push that night. She debuted in "Pas d'Esclave" with Godunov, replacing the planned PdD for Kirkland/Bissell.

At this point in history, Push was still performed with Tcherkassky and van Hamel. Later, Baryshnikov did it with Elaine Kudo and Jaffee, but not that night. Kirkland never did Push at all. She pulled out early in rehearsals because she thought it was silly.

"Jaffe recalled the events leading to her debut with principal dancer Alexander Godunov in the ABT premiere of "Pas d'Esclave."

"It was about 2 p.m. Tuesday and Gelsey hadn't shown up. I was walking down the hall to rehearsal -- I'm an understudy in 'Push Come to Shove' -- and Charles France [Abt Artistic Director Mikhail Baryshnikov's assistant] pulled me aside and said I was to go on."

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