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ABT 2016 Met Season


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Cast update: Murphy has been pulled from the gala (Kochetkova now doing the Sylvia excerpt) and from Tuesday's Piano Concerto #1 performance (Shevchenko is filling in). She is still listed for her remaining performances.

I really hope she's okay and they're just letting her rest a few more days to be 100% healthy for the remaining of the season/year.

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Caught the performance of Sylvia on Friday. With a cast of Kochetkova, Simkin and Cornejo I came into the theater with really high expectations and excited anticipation, but was left disappointed. I am not well familiar with Ashton's choreography and dramatic composition, but it felt underwhelming and looked primitive (despite being known as technically demanding). Perhaps, it was the overall spirit of the performance that night - monotonous, lethargic, almost wooden - that pervaded the corps, the secondary characters and ultimately transmitted to the main performers, otherwise known for dazzling technical and artistic brilliance. Somehow video clips from the Mariinsky performances of Sylvia offered much more promise than what I ended up seeing at ABT, not sure what accounts for the difference - the stage, the company that seemed to have an off night, or the audience (I found it odd that it repeatedly clapped right in the middle of a variation, even if a dancer did not perform any special technical feats)?

Was very curious to watch the dance scene on Orion's Island, looked to me like it was later heavily "borrowed" from by Grigorovich to create his Aegina/Crassus duo at the feast in Spartacus. So, Ashton's influence on later creations is undeniable.

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I don't think the ABT is a good advocate for this ballet at this moment. For a better idea of what this ballet can be, watch the 2005 DVD from the Royal Ballet. Much stronger performance than I saw from ABT.

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Caught the performance of Sylvia on Friday. With a cast of Kochetkova, Simkin and Cornejo I came into the theater with really high expectations and excited anticipation, but was left disappointed. I am not well familiar with Ashton's choreography and dramatic composition, but it felt underwhelming and looked primitive (despite being known as technically demanding). Perhaps, it was the overall spirit of the performance that night - monotonous, lethargic, almost wooden - that pervaded the corps, the secondary characters and ultimately transmitted to the main performers, otherwise known for dazzling technical and artistic brilliance. Somehow video clips from the Mariinsky performances of Sylvia offered much more promise than what I ended up seeing at ABT, not sure what accounts for the difference - the stage, the company that seemed to have an off night, or the audience (I found it odd that it repeatedly clapped right in the middle of a variation, even if a dancer did not perform any special technical feats)?

Was very curious to watch the dance scene on Orion's Island, looked to me like it was later heavily "borrowed" from by Grigorovich to create his Aegina/Crassus duo at the feast in Spartacus. So, Ashton's influence on later creations is undeniable.

The pizzicato variation that Sylvia performs in Act III has two false endings, musically speaking. It sounds as it the music has ended, but then it begins again. If one hasn't seen this variation performed, one might assume it is over and begin to applaud. It is technically and stylistically very difficult to dance. The key of course is to make it look effortless and perhaps not difficult. The footwork, the bend of the body, the musicality, etc. are all extremely hard to pull off. Not fouettes, but probably more difficult.

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I saw it on Saturday night, and (apart from a lackluster pair of Orion's slaves in Act 2) to my eye the corps looked surprisingly good, especially for a first week at the Met, when they've often in the past looked like they need a few more weeks to get up to speed. I thought the company did very well by the piece. Act 3 seemed particularly strong, with a nice lineup of secondaries: Brandt, Scott, Trenary, Sebastian, Giangeruso, Davis, Post, and someone (not sure who) filling in for Zhang.

As for the applause: it's a challenging variation and the music comes to some natural stopping points. As this is ballet, not opera, it doesn't seem surprising to me that an appreciative audience would applaud a good performance at those moments, even if no particularly dazzling feat had just been achieved.

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I saw it on Saturday night, and (apart from a lackluster pair of Orion's slaves in Act 2) to my eye the corps looked surprisingly good, especially for a first week at the Met, when they've often in the past looked like they need a few more weeks to get up to speed. I thought the company did very well by the piece. Act 3 seemed particularly strong, with a nice lineup of secondaries: Brandt, Scott, Trenary, Sebastian, Giangeruso, Davis, Post, and someone (not sure who) filling in for Zhang.

As for the applause: it's a challenging variation and the music comes to some natural stopping points. As this is ballet, not opera, it doesn't seem surprising to me that an appreciative audience would applaud a good performance at those moments, even if no particularly dazzling feat had just been achieved.

And some dancers get applause just for entering the stage, before they've danced a step!

Not sure what happened to Lauren Post in the 2nd Act in Orion's den. (Sat. PM) She seemed to drop out of sight behind the upstage rock, and then came back on for the final exit when the "rock"moves off stage. Catherine Hurlin looked to be holding her up a bit, but didn't dance with the two slave men in the last section. Lauren was supposed to dance Peresphone in Act III, but was replaced. Hope Post is not injured. Perhaps she felt ill. Not sure who took her place as Peresphone.

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I saw it on Saturday night, and (apart from a lackluster pair of Orion's slaves in Act 2) to my eye the corps looked surprisingly good, especially for a first week at the Met, when they've often in the past looked like they need a few more weeks to get up to speed. I thought the company did very well by the piece. Act 3 seemed particularly strong, with a nice lineup of secondaries: Brandt, Scott, Trenary, Sebastian, Giangeruso, Davis, Post, and someone (not sure who) filling in for Zhang.

I agree that the company as a whole looked excellent on Saturday evening. Sylvia's attendants have rarely looked better. I think the issue may be that the company lacks a lineup of strong Sylvias. All but Gillian were new to the role, and she was injured. Herrera, Wiles and Vishneva were strong Sylvias in the past, and I also loved Part's interpretation. It's always good to see dancers take up new roles, but Sylvia requires a pretty spectacular ballerina to carry the evening.

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Of the three Sylvia casts I saw, Murphy was the best Sylvia, even dancing with an injury. I was disappointed with Boylston's performance. I've avoided her for a few seasons in the hopes that some of her shortcomings would become less obvious with time and training. Boylston had great athletic power in Act I, but her classical presentation is still a work in progress. As some have stated above, there is an inelegance and lack of refinement that needs to be addressed. I was also surprised that Boylston came off pointe at least twice during the final act on Sat evening. In fairness, one of the instances where she came off pointe resulted from a partnering issue. Kochetkova was actually better than I expected.

No contest - Herman was the best of the 3 Aminta's that I saw. Gomes has lots of charisma, but his lack of upper body flexibility was apparent. Parish was fine. It did not bother me that he looked young, since that works in this role. He just doesn't have the same "wow" factor that Cornejo has in terms of technique.

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I was at both Saturday performances, and I agree with Kaysta that the evening crew was discernibly better, almost across the board.

Hee Seo was actually a little stronger than I expected, and seemed to be really going for it in moments, but although I think she can dance Ashton beautifully (I quite liked her Cinderella) I think she is miscast here. I actually find her performance very similar to Paloma Herrera's who I eventually avoided in Sylvia, as she lacked the attack for the 1st act, and tended to be visibly outdanced and outleaped by her Hunt Attendants. Still, like Herrera, Seo milked the musicality and the seductive footwork in the second act beautifully.

I also think Bolle and Seo have perhaps developed a special partnership, as he invited her to take part in one of his gala things, and there is a special warmth between them online. Why no Part as Sylvia this season? (She was favorably reviewed in the role.) Perhaps they couldn't find her a partner :-( *apologies for rampant speculation*

Boylston is a fine Sylvia, in my opinion. I love her intensity, and she can leap for sure! Yes, port de bras is her kryptonite, and her arms and hands can appear unrefined at times. I hope she (with the great coach Irina Kolpakova) can address this going forward, because she is a truly lovely dancer, who is improving as an actress. I also preferred Hammoudi's Orion over Stearns. They seemed evenly matched technically, but Hammoudi does sinister, mayhem much more convincingly. (I also enjoy his VonRothbart)

I look forward to the 1st act Hunt Attendants, as this is such difficult and fabulous choreo. I remember this part being so crisp and dynamic in years past, anchored by some dynamite soloists (Messmer, Boylston, and Ricetto come to mind). The matinee crew looked weak and inexperienced, the evening crew was better, but I wanted more.

ZhongjingFang was radiant in both performances, as Ceres in the matinee and Diana in the evening. (I much preferred her to Melanie Hamrick in the later role.) She and Blaine Hoven are corps members extraordinaire. Their faces radiate to the balconies. I don’t know how one teaches this, or if it just comes with experience, but some of the newer corps members seem to be dancing to the first few rows. One exception is Catherine Hurlin who I can’t help but notice every time she is on stage. I’m not sure if it’s her ballerina presence, her red hair or her beautifully elegant limbs. Either way, I think she’s going to be a big star.

The house wasn’t near full, as others have reported, but those around me seemed delighted, even at the matinee. (The man sitting next to me was overawed by Seo/Bolle’s 3rd act pas.) I always notice a lot of Asian ballet-goers, particularly stylish, youngish women, at Seo’s performances, so I disagree with the comment above that this community does not support the ballet. I’m not sure if they are tourists, immigrants, international students, or Asian-Americans, but they are a visible contingency.

The Russian accents were also noticeable at the matinee. I spoke to a very lovely Russian woman who brought her 7 year old granddaughter to the performance. She said she chose to attend this ballet because of Delibes score and seemed unaware of Seminova’s replacement.

I agree that ABT could market Sylvia better. Their advertisements, which I hear on NPR and PBS, don’t really inspire new audiences. I love the choices of ballets this season, with the exception of Corsaire, and I’m hoping it’s a big success.

Thanks to all of you who corrected my erroneous recollections of the 2008 season. My mom (the 75 year old with a better memory than me) suggested perhaps it was the 2011 season that there were several injuries and Cory kept showing up on our white slips. But I don’t think he was an understudy then, so it’s really irrelevant.

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DeCoster - I agree with you regarding Hoven and Hurlin (I haven't noticed Fang enough outside of typical corps roles to say either way). Hoven seems to be on an upsurge, starting with last year. Perhaps he'll finally make soloist? Hurlin, like you, I notice her every time she steps onstage and I see lots of big potential there. I also believe she's destined for great things!

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I was disappointed with Boylston's performance. I've avoided her for a few seasons in the hopes that some of her shortcomings would become less obvious with time and training. Boylston had great athletic power in Act I, but her classical presentation is still a work in progress. As some have stated above, there is an inelegance and lack of refinement that needs to be addressed.

Exactly my feeling about Boylston. She has so much going for her as a dancer, I don't understand why she doesn't take care of these issues.

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Lovely video with Murphy on La Fille mal Garde at https://youtu.be/Xjct-f3ShV8 .

(Side note: I'm so glad that ABT's videos are beginning to look appropriate to their station. Far from NYCB's caliber, but the content is purposeful and the production values and editing are infinitely better. With judicious cuts and better subtitle fonts, they'll be set.)

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From the company:

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR FIFTH AND SIXTH WEEKS OF

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE’S 2016 SPRING SEASON AT

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE

AMERICAN PREMIERE OF THE GOLDEN COCKEREL

Casting for the fifth and sixth weeks of American Ballet Theatre’s 2016 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

The American Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Golden Cockerel will open the fifth week of performances on Monday evening, June 6, with Veronika Part (Queen of Shemakhan), Skylar Brandt (Golden Cockerel) and Gary Chryst (Tsar Dodon) leading the first cast. On Tuesday evening, June 7, Stella Abrera, Cassandra Trenary and Victor Barbee will debut in the roles of Queen of Shemakhan, Golden Cockerel and Tsar Dodon, respectively. The Wednesday matinee cast on June 8 will feature Hee Seo (Queen of Shemakhan), Sarah Lane (Golden Cockerel) and Roman Zhurbin (Tsar Dodon) performing the roles for the first time, and Wednesday evening’s performance will feature debuts by Misty Copeland (Queen of Shemakhan), Maria Kochetkova (Golden Cockerel) and Alexei Agoudine (Tsar Dodon). Set to music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov with sets and costumes by Richard Hudson, Ratmansky’s The Golden Cockerel is inspired by Michel Fokine’s original production. Anne Holm-Jensen Peyk staged the ballet for ABT. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s folktale, The Golden Cockerel was first presented on May 21, 1914 at the Théâtre Nationale de l’Opera, Paris, with choreography by Michel Fokine and scenery and costumes by Natalia Goncharova. Ratmansky’s choreography for The Golden Cockerel received its World Premiere by the Royal Danish Ballet on September 29, 2012 at the Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark.

The sixth week will feature eight performances of Swan Lake, June 13-16. The performance on Monday evening, June 13 will be led by Gillian Murphy as Odette/Odile, Marcelo Gomes as Prince Siegfried and Cory Stearns as von Rothbart. Swan Lake is set to the score by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky and features scenery and costumes by Zack Brown and lighting by Duane Schuler. This production of Swan Lake premiered on March 24, 2000 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. with Julie Kent (Odette-Odile), Angel Corella (Prince Siegfried) and Marcelo Gomes (von Rothbart). American Airlines is the Official Airline of American Ballet Theatre. 
Northern Trust is the Leading Corporate Sponsor of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. 
ABT is supported, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Tickets for American Ballet Theatre’s 2016 Metropolitan Opera House season, beginning at $20, are available online, at the Met box office or by phone at 212-362-6000. The Metropolitan Opera House is located on Broadway between 64th and 65th streets in New York City. For more information, visit ABT’s website at www.abt.org.

Complete casting follows.

The American Premiere of The Golden Cockerel has been generously underwritten by an anonymous donor. Additional leadership support provided by The Ted and Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund and Linda Allard. This production has been generously supported through an endowed gift from The Toni and Martin Sosnoff New Works Fund. Additional support provided by Michele and Steve Pesner.

Swan Lake has been generously underwritten by R. Chemers Neustein. Additional support for the 2016 performances of Swan Lake generously provided by Seldon Young and The Swan Princess. Costumes for Swan Lake are generously sponsored by the Ellen Everett Kimiatek Costume Preservation Trust.

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Orchestra row K is the best location in the orchestra, IMO. Close enough to see their faces and far enough away to take in the panorama of the stage and not hear the heavy footfalls of the dancers. Also this is about where the orchestra section begins to slope up so if a tall person is sitting in front of you, he might not totally block your view. For years I had season tickets in the center orchestra rows E-G and never liked being practically on top of the stage. Just my take, not everyone will agree with me.

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Casting release:

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR FINAL TWO WEEKS OF

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE’S 2016 SPRING SEASON

AT METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE

GUEST ARTIST ALESSANDRA FERRI TO DANCE THE ROLE OF JULIET IN

ROMEO AND JULIET ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 23

STELLA ABRERA TO CELEBRATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY WITH ABT ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 30

Casting for the seventh and eighth weeks of American Ballet Theatre’s 2016 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

The season’s first performance of Romeo and Juliet on Monday, June 20 will be dedicated to former ABT Principal Dancer Johan Renvall and will be led by Hee Seo (Juliet), Cory Stearns (Romeo) and Craig Salstein (Mercutio). On Wednesday, June 22, Isabella Boylston will debut in the role of Juliet at the matinee performance, and Jeffrey Cirio will debut in the role of Mercutio at the evening performance. On Thursday evening, June 23, Guest Artist and former ABT Principal Dancer Alessandra Ferri will return to the role of Juliet for the first time since her retirement from the Company in 2007, opposite Herman Cornejo as Romeo. Daniil Simkin will debut in the role of Romeo at the Saturday matinee performance on June 25. Set to the score by Sergei Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet features scenery and costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis and lighting by Thomas Skelton. Romeo and Juliet received its World Premiere by The Royal Ballet in London on February 9, 1965 and was given its ABT Company Premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House on April 22, 1985 with Leslie Browne and Robert La Fosse in the leading roles.

The final week of ABT’s 2016 Spring Season will feature eight performances of

The Sleeping Beauty, June 27 – July 2. Monday evening’s performance, June 27, will be led by Isabella Boylston as Princess Aurora, Joseph Gorak as Prince Désiré, Veronika Part as the Lilac Fairy, Marcelo Gomes as Carabosse, Christine Shevchenko as Diamond Fairy, Daniil Simkin as

the Bluebird and Cassandra Trenary as Princess Florine. Devon Teuscher and Jeffrey Cirio will make their New York debuts in the roles of Diamond Fairy and the Bluebird, respectively, on Tuesday, June 28. Cassandra Trenary will make her New York debut in the role of Aurora at the Wednesday matinee performance on June 29. Alexandre Hammoudi and Luciana Paris will perform the roles of Prince Désiré and Diamond Fairy, respectively, for the first time in New York on Wednesday evening, June 29. Stella Abrera will celebrate her 20th Anniversary with the Company on Thursday evening, June 30 debuting in the role of Princess Aurora. Skylar Brandt will make her New York debut in the role of Princess Florine on Thursday evening, June 30. Set to the classic score by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, The Sleeping Beauty has choreography by Marius Petipa and staging and additional choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, with assistance by Tatiana Ratmansky. The production features scenery and costumes by Tony Award®-winning designer Richard Hudson. Hudson’s designs are based on the historic work of Léon Bakst, who created a seminal version of The Sleeping Beauty for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1921. The Sleeping Beauty received its World Premiere on March 3, 2015 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, performed by Diana Vishneva (Princess Aurora) and Marcelo Gomes (Prince Désiré).

American Airlines is the Official Airline of American Ballet Theatre. 
Northern Trust is the Leading Corporate Sponsor of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. 
ABT is supported, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Tickets for American Ballet Theatre’s 2016 Metropolitan Opera House season, beginning at $20, are available online, at the Met box office or by phone at 212-362-6000. The Metropolitan Opera House is located on Broadway between 64th and 65th streets in New York City. For more information, visit ABT’s website at www.abt.org.

Complete casting follows.

SEVENTH WEEK

Mon. Eve., June 20, 7:30 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – Seo, Stearns, Salstein

Tues. Eve., June 21, 7:30 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – Vishneva, Gomes, Scott

Wed. Mat., June 22, 2 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – +Boylston, Whiteside, Simkin

Wed. Eve., June 22, 7:30 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – Murphy, Hammoudi, +Cirio

Thurs. Eve., June 23, 7:30 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET - *Ferri, Cornejo, Salstein

Fri. Eve., June 24, 7:30 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – Seo, Bolle, Cirio

Sat. Mat., June 25, 2 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET – Copeland, +Simkin, Salstein

Sat. Eve., June 25, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND JULIET - Vishneva, Gomes, Scott

EIGHTH WEEK

Mon. Eve., June 27, 7:30 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Boylston, Gorak, Part, Gomes,

Shevchenko, Simkin, Trenary

Tues. Eve., June 28, 7:30 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Murphy, Stearns, Abrera, Salstein,

++Teuscher, ++Cirio, Copeland

Wed. Mat., June 29, 2 P.M.. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – ++Trenary, Whiteside, Teuscher,

Raffa, Brandt, Zhang, Lane

Wed. Eve., June 29, 7:30 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Seo, ++Hammoudi, Shevchenko,

Salstein, ++Paris, Gorak, Boylston

Thurs. Eve., June 30, 7:30 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – +Abrera, Gomes, Part, Raffa,

Shevchenko, Shayer, ++Brandt

Fri. Eve., July 1, 7:30 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Lane, Cornejo, Teuscher, Salstein,

Paris, Cirio, Copeland

Sat. Mat., July 2, 2 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Boylston, Gorak, Part, Gomes,

Brandt, Simkin, Trenary

Sat. Eve., July 2, 8 P.M. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – Seo, Hammoudi, Shevchenko, Raffa,

Teuscher, Hoven, Abrera

*Guest Artist

+Editors please note first time in a role:

Wed. Mat., 6/22 – Boylston (Juliet) in Romeo and Juliet

Wed. Eve., 6/22 – Cirio (Mercutio) in Romeo and Juliet

Sat., Mat., 6/25 – Simkin (Romeo) in Romeo and Juliet

Thurs, 6/30 – Abrera (Aurora) in The Sleeping Beauty

++Editors please note first time in a role in New York:

Tues., 6/28 – Teuscher (Diamond Fairy) and Cirio (Bluebird) in The Sleeping Beauty

Wed. Mat., 6/29 –Trenary (Aurora) in The Sleeping Beauty

Wed. Eve., 6/29 – Hammoudi (Prince Désiré) and Paris (Diamond Fairy) in The Sleeping Beauty

Thurs. 6/30 – Brandt (Princess Florine) in The Sleeping Beauty

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