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

ABT 2016 La Fille Mal Gardee


Recommended Posts

This ballet was the perfect antidote to a tough New York work week and endless bad news in the papers. There are simply times when you don’t want to sit through unhappy supernatural tales of young women betrayed by love, no matter how virtuosic the choreography. I just loved this Ashton homage to late 18th century English country life. Stella Abrera’s beautiful, lyrical dancing on Thursday night was transporting, and coupled with her playful pantomime, I thought she was a truly splendid Lise. This was only the second time I’ve seen Whiteside perform (the first was last fall’s laughably bad performance of Valse Fantaisie with Hee Seo; neither dancer has the speed or technique for Balanchine). Here at least his technical skills were formidable and he pulled off some breathtaking lifts, all successfully. Unfortunately he didn’t appear to be the most ardent of suitors. Physically, his head seems too small for his long torso and his face doesn’t register well across the footlights. I thought Arron Scott as Alain was far more effective, albeit as comic relief. But it was great to see Abrera in the kind of role she should have been dancing for years. It’s too bad there were so many empty seats in the house and I blame ABT for not promoting their own dancers to the fullest. More people should be aware of Abrera and treated to her beautiful dancing before her inevitable departure.

Link to post

Indeed, in the Murphy/Corella dvd of Swan Lake you can see Gomes in the background. Fun to look for dancers in the corps that went on to move through the ranks.

In that DVD, Gomes is Purple Rothbart in the ballroom scene -- one of the few opportunities to see him on DVD, alas. And he set the standard for that role ever after.

Link to post

The Wed evening show w. Copeland and Cornejo was well sold, but not a sell out. In contrast, the Friday evening show w. Boylston and Cirio, which in theory should have sold well because it is a weekend and kids don't have school the next day, was less than 50% sold. There were literally rows and rows of empty seats in the balcony and dress circle.

Link to post

In that DVD, Gomes is Purple Rothbart in the ballroom scene -- one of the few opportunities to see him on DVD, alas. And he set the standard for that role ever after.

For me the standard in that role was set by Malakhov.

I think that many potential ticket buyers don't know WHAT La Fille Mal Gardee is. It hasn't been done by ABT in over a decade, the title is in French, the story doesn't come from a famous literary subject etc. And most people probably have no idea what a great ballet it could be for their children. (Probably better than Sleeping Beauty because shorter and funnier.)

Link to post

Mimsyb, I bet you meant Hallberg and Gomes (instead of Gorak) have "performed" these roles. Indeed, in the Murphy/Corella dvd of Swan Lake you can see Gomes in the background. Fun to look for dancers in the corps that went on to move through the ranks.

No, I meant Hallberg and Gorak. Also, Hammoudi has done the stand still and look brave role in "Bayadere".

Link to post

The ballet had moments that delighted me, but has too much slapstick and repetition for my taste. I'm glad the ABT is fielding home team principals, but ballets like Fille IMO, are problematic in respect to developing dancers. There is nothing challenging for anyone but the leads. The same is true of Romeo and Juliet. It seems to me that a corps member at ABT has to stay very self-motivated to stay in shape, never mind the soloists

The corps happily looked engaged at all three performances of Fille I saw (with two alternating casts as "Colas's friends" and "Lise's friends," assorted poultry, etc.) and the ballet does have a number of featured character parts as well as a few other featured bits like the boy with the flute, and other bits of business for dancers sometimes around the edges of the stage (at one point Colas and the Rooster get into it upstage). It's not Sleeping Beauty of course! And goodness knows the dancers need Sleeping Beauty type opportunities as well -- so I'd agree that it's important the repertory have a certain balance.

But writing not as a friend or fan of dancers, sympathizing with their challenges (though of course I am a fan), but as a lover of classical ballet, I have to say, too, that it's the job of corps dancers to dance with the same commitment and energy as featured dancers. (Think of Broadway dancers performing the same show night after night. They may BE bored, but they certainly shouldn't look bored.) At its best, I think ABT's corps shows that commitment and energy.

Re children: I received a colorful brochure for Golden Cockerel today, and I thought it was nicely done--beautiful photos, lots of information etc. And the company is obviously pitching it as a "whole family" ballet. Whimsical fairy tale, but satire for adults too etc. And it may be that with that pitch in mind ABT felt they couldn't do another, semi-similar family pitch for Fille. I won't be able to see Golden Cockerel this season, but hope it is a huge hit.

Link to post

Re children: I received a colorful brochure for Golden Cockerel today, and I thought it was nicely done--beautiful photos, lots of information etc. And the company is obviously pitching it as a "whole family" ballet. Whimsical fairy tale, but satire for adults too etc. And it may be that with that pitch in mind ABT felt they couldn't do another, semi-similar family pitch for Fille. I won't be able to see Golden Cockerel this season, but hope it is a huge hit.

I saw this in Denmark, and I wouldn't characterize it as a ballet for children.

Link to post

I saw this in Denmark, and I wouldn't characterize it as a ballet for children.

It may be that I was over-reading their pitch--though not so much as a ballet "for" children as something you might want to bring children to see. The brochure does give a lot of historical information/background about the ballet, its music, and designs that certainly seems more aimed at framing it as an artistic 'event.' But I was thinking of the opening sentences: "The magical fairy tale ballet The Golden Cockerel is a visual spectacle for the whole family. The ballet follows the exploits of the foolish Tsar Dodon, the cunning Astrologer and the exotic Queen of Shemakhan." A little further down, the brochure describes Ratmansky's use of mime "as a way to convey the story to the audience, making the ballet fun and easy to follow." I took "whole family" along with "fun and easy to follow" in particular to mean "you can bring your kids" -- but I can't say I really know what they had in mind...or if it was the best approach.

Link to post

I'm pretty sure you read it right, but there are going to be a lot of parents answering a lot of questions if they bring their kids thinking it's going to be anything like "La Fille mal gardee."

Link to post

The corps happily looked engaged at all three performances of Fille I saw (with two alternating casts as "Colas's friends" and "Lise's friends," assorted poultry, etc.) and the ballet does have a number of featured character parts as well as a few other featured bits like the boy with the flute, and other bits of business for dancers sometimes around the edges of the stage (at one point Colas and the Rooster get into it upstage). It's not Sleeping Beauty of course! And goodness knows the dancers need Sleeping Beauty type opportunities as well -- so I'd agree that it's important the repertory have a certain balance.

I agree, Drew, the corps looked very happy and engaged. My only complaint was that it was a bit crowded at times. In fact, on Friday night, in the final corps dance, Sterling Baca, was hit in the face during the cartwheel sequence. He was visibly in pain during the rest of the dance, but did come out and finish. After, I was at the stage door, and I discovered that he had, in fact, broken his nose and was on his way to get it "re-set."

I think it takes people a while to warm up to "La Fille." It is not the usual bravura dancing and the pas work is not the standard pas, male variation, female variation, coda with turns and fouettes. But it is one of the most difficult for the lead dancers to dance, or so I am told. It was quite awhile ago that Boston did this ballet. The first weekend, the ballet was poorly sold. But after the glowing reviews, the second weekend was a sell-out. With ABT's scheduling, this can be a problem.

Additionally, I just wanted to mention that, for me, this was the best I have seen Boylston.

It is very sad that so many of the shows were poorly sold. I am sure yesterday with Misty dancing and last night with Gillian's 20th anniversary performance, there was a bigger crowd.

Link to post

Bigger by a small bit, but still many empty seats. ABT really did a poor job of "selling" this ballet. But for those of us who did see it, what a delight! Absolutely delicious! I suppose not your usual bravura leaps and turns, still there is much to love and wonder at in this ballet. And it is difficult to do. So many fine details to the choreography. Blazing petit allegro and footwork, both from the male and female leads. Brisse' voiles' all over the place!! And much of the choreography is done with props, which is not your usual form. I can't say enough wonderful things about this ballet. It might be too much to hope for that ABT would do this again, given the lack of usual sales, but if properly marketed, this could be a big winner for ABT, especially with families. BTW. Gillian was radiant last night in her 20th Anniversary performance. Cory muffed two little lifts, but nothing serious. And the two looked splendid together. Many beautiful bouquets from some "biggies" at the finale curtain call... but I was a bit surprised that there were a few faces missing. I mean it was for 20 years of dancing with the company! And I have to add also that Boylston was in her element in this ballet. Both she and Cirio were delightful. More please!

Link to post

I saw La Fille last night, 8pm. I just moved to NY, and this is actually my first time seeing any American ballet company. I've seen La Fille a few times at RB, and I love Aston. I actually found this forum because I was looking for guidance about which partnerships I might enjoy seeing, not having seen any of them live before.

My thoughts....

On the whole this performance lacked quickness and sharpness, and also fluidity especially in the back. I've also always thought this was a really bouncy ballet, and this performance felt heavier than others I've seen.

Cory Sterns was a disappointment. He made it look like Gillian weighed 200 pounds, and he fluffed two lifts, once almost dropping her before he finally heaved her onto his shoulder. Their pas de ruban in act 1 looked like they were concentrating so much on the physical side of what they were doing they didn't hide it with the affection and flirting I've seen before. Gillian's acting and mime is great otherwise, she really made me think she was a petulant teen, her mime was lovely too. Generally, he didn't help sell the young love, romantic soppiness I've seen before and his dancing was unremarkable in the solos.

The corps were very nice and together, and good acting especially in the storm scene, I almost felt them getting soaked and blown about. The chickens were great, these are soloist roles at RB, so it's nice to see them going to apprentices and junior corp members here. I thought the 4 of them really projected the characters well (and dealt with a shoe coming off very professionally).

I like pantomine, so don't have a problem with playing it for laughs; I thought Arron Scott was really good both acting and dancing, I'd be happy to come see him again in a non-character role (he came closest to the bounce & energy I was expecting overall). Marcelo Gomes was great; I thought the clog dance was one of the best I've seen, and he's a great character actor.

I was sitting in the Family Circle (only first 3 rows were anything close to full), but moved down to the center B row of the Balcony in the intermission. I thought it was pretty empty overall, and several other people shifted forwards too. The comments here are right, it's a huge theater, and the family circle is not ideal for ballet, but the company on a whole does a good job projecting up (at least in this performance).

I have tickets to La Corsaire and Sleeping Beauty too, and I'm hoping to find nights I can go to the rest of the season.

Link to post

Thank you all for your wonderful and detailed comments about this ballet and the casts. Maybe your praise has changed my mind about what I thought was a silly ballet. I saw it only once, at the Paris Opera Ballet in the company's grand opera house in Paris. My husband and I were so turned off by Act 1, especially the dancing chickens, that we did not stay for the rest of the ballet. Neither did some other tourists we spoke to as we all left. Maybe we should have stayed? So sorry to have missed Gillian's 20th anniversary performance, even if it wasn't one of her iconic roles. As to the continually empty seats, how much do you think is due to the size of the theater--so much larger than the Koch--and how much to the choice of ballets or lack of big-name guest stars? Very interested to hear your answers. Also looking forward to your reviews of The Golden Cockerel. Again, thank you.

Link to post

The Met is not a great theater for dance. The wide horse-shoe shape of the auditorium with the tall, tall ceilig is the gold standard shape if you want good acoustics, but it also means very poor sight lines for dance and in the upper rings, even poorer sightlines if you want to see dance nuances. With that being said, Fille mal gardee's pleasures (comedy, props, charming little village story) plays even poorer in the vast auditorium of the Met since so much of it is about detailed acting and small comic moments.

Link to post

Thank you all for your wonderful and detailed comments about this ballet and the casts. Maybe your praise has changed my mind about what I thought was a silly ballet. I saw it only once, at the Paris Opera Ballet in the company's grand opera house in Paris. My husband and I were so turned off by Act 1, especially the dancing chickens, that we did not stay for the rest of the ballet. Neither did some other tourists we spoke to as we all left. Maybe we should have stayed?

I too was shocked the first time I saw Ashton's version and all the chicken stuff, which coincidentally was also at the Garnier. I was used to Alonso's edition of Nijinska's version which she imported from BT in the 50's to Havana, to the music of Hertel. This version is more "balletic", and doesn't has all the amount of character dancing Ashton's has. I thought about going to the city to watch this run, but decided against it since it really leaves me wanting for more ballet every time I see it.

Link to post

While this was fun to see, it seemed so old fashioned and too "cutesy" by half. A few of the same elements are here in the film as well as in Ashton's version. Spinning wheel, tambourine dancing, etc. But I didn't believe any of the "acting". The ABT dancers seemed more like real people even within the scope of the current libretto. Bring on those chickens!!

Link to post

I do love the traditional Cuban pas de deux of La Fille, which I have seen performed at various competitions and galas. But I love those chickens in the Ashton version, and Roman Zhurbin as Widow Simone!

I saw this comment from Macaulay on his instagram which I thought was interesting:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF9F57jFFG8_EFD1Ns9aLZn2GyeLqgN9zkZhZE0/?taken-by=alastair.macaulay

Link to post

Sorry to read about the relatively poor houses and unsold seats for the two Ashton ballets and the Ratmansky mixed bills. Ballet lovers would rather have this programming instead of the "pop schlock" being presented by other US companies just to stay afloat...the Alices, Draculas, Frankensteins and Peter Pans. I hope that ABT can maintain its high programming standards, perhaps by playing in theatres no bigger than the Koch, in future years? I also think that it's good for ABT to continue to cut back on the use of high-priced outside stars. The non-balletomane public chooses to attend a performance by what's playing (title recognition) and the beauty of the production as seen in posters and promo materials, not the names of principals...other than perhaps Copeland. Mr & Mrs Joe Public don't know who are Vishneva, Tereshkina, Schklyarov, Bolle, Osipova. They really don't, as much as balletomanes (<1% of the American citizenry?) love those outside stars.

Now I understand why regional US ballet companies are grasping at Alice and Peter Pan. I'm sure that a Muppet Ballet or a marketing affiliation with Disney can't be too far behind for ABT. If a gem like Ashton's FILLE can no longer get "tushes" in the seats, it's a sad day for ballet.

Link to post

I do love the traditional Cuban pas de deux of La Fille, which I have seen performed at various competitions and galas. But I love those chickens in the Ashton version, and Roman Zhurbin as Widow Simone!

I saw this comment from Macaulay on his instagram which I thought was interesting:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF9F57jFFG8_EFD1Ns9aLZn2GyeLqgN9zkZhZE0/?taken-by=alastair.macaulay

Love the photo. I thought the moment he describes, when Colas positions himself as if for a grand bit of partnering (Macaulay mentions a fishdive) and then the ballerina just gently nestles her head against him, was just lovely -- all 3 casts I saw, though I think I found Copeland and Cornejo especially tender and beautiful. I also think it's the sort of moment that shows an affinity betwen Ashton and Ratmansky that seems important to the company ABT can be.

Link to post

Although I have been a member of BA since 2000 (some of my posts got cut through a restructuring) and I was even a BTfD moderator for a while, it is rare that I post anything. This is for bingham (and Maga11) who were unable to attend any of ABT's La Fille performances. bingham has been my BA pal and we both have hoping to have a chance to see La Fille again for over a decade now and have been sharing dream casting every year.

You would have loved it bingham! The night was so special, knowing that many of the attendees were there to support Ms. Murphy's 20th anniversary. There were still empty seats on every level but the enthusiasm of the audience made up for it. Their cheers for Ms. Murphy's entrance were immediate and exuberant as was her dancing of Lise. Her rapport with Mr. Gomes' Widow Simone was genuinely familial, acting the young lass wishing to get out of chores, be with her friends and to get away with what she could without setting off her mother.

The chickens tried to leave a lucky chicken foot on the stage as their rooster, Mr. Frennete, lead them in a high stepping dance across the barnyard. The foot was recovered and it and the tambourine in Act 2 were the only glitches I noticed. No noses were broken with sticks like the night before nor were dragged around the stage like Mr. Bragado-Young in 2003. Even the Maypole was wound and unwound without a hitch (only the 3rd time this season in the 7 performances thus far).

Alas, Mr. Sterns' lifts did not go off with the same accuracy but the audience cheered even more fervently letting Ms. Murphy know her dancing was just lovely and all was appreciated. I do have to say that her balance in attitude while holding the carousel-like center of the ribbons that turned her was a moment that gave me chills and brought me happy tears. It was a simple magical moment and I feel that sums up what I feel about this ballet in general. The moments like the maypole dance after a dance with Lise turning in the center of ribbons circling around her aren't repetitive, they echo imagery indeed but are no more like each other than the live pony pulling the cart and Alain riding his bumbershoot.

Repeated imagery is important and sets a theme. If I had to choose a theme for Ashton's La Fille it would be "interlacing." The string play of the cat's cradle created by Colas and Lise, the complicated relationships between the characters and the patterns dances themselves have the audience wondering if all will come out right in the end. Each of them made interesting patterns, some shocking, some thrilling and over all a very enjoyable ballet.


Act two was fresh and the dancers kept the static setting interesting. I applaud the corps for handing so many props of sticks and clogs and sickles and hay bails and making it looks graceful. Ms. Murphy's mime was charming and both she and Mr. Sterns projected a genuine connection. The final pas was breathtaking, Ms. Murphy's solo was most memorable with clean technique and perfect musicality.

Of course the show was Ms. Murphy's and she did not let anyone down. The bows and guests at the end moved the audience to thunderous applause. I never thought I would see Mr. Stiefel and Mr. Radetsky on the Met stage again so yet another treat! A very special evening wrapped up in a beautiful bow of ribbons.

PAmom

Link to post

I do love the traditional Cuban pas de deux of La Fille, which I have seen performed at various competitions and galas. But I love those chickens in the Ashton version, and Roman Zhurbin as Widow Simone!

I saw this comment from Macaulay on his instagram which I thought was interesting:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF9F57jFFG8_EFD1Ns9aLZn2GyeLqgN9zkZhZE0/?taken-by=alastair.macaulay

Thanks for this link its the mom but for whatever reason I cannot open it? When I click on this all I keep getting is "Sorry this page is not available"? Perhaps you can cut and paste what is written or shown for those of us who are less technologically advanced? :flowers:

Link to post

Thanks for this link its the mom but for whatever reason I cannot open it? When I click on this all I keep getting is "Sorry this page is not available"? Perhaps you can cut and paste what is written or shown for those of us who are less technologically advanced? :flowers:

I have the same problem. I tried to sign up to follow his Instagram page, but it requires that he give permission for you to follow him. I haven't encountered that restriction with the numerous ballet dancers and companies that I follow on Instagram, as they seem eager to have more followers. Very strange...

Link to post

Sorry about that. Here is what he says, "In the nuptial pas de deux of "La Fille mal gardée", Colas twice goes down a diagonal with a big gesture as if he's preparing to partner Lise in a spectacular fish dive. Instead, however, she simply nestles into the crook of his arm: it's the most poetically render anti-climax in ballet. Here is Frederick Ashton rehearsing Nadia Nerina and Davjd Blair in this exact moment before the 1960 premiere. Photo: Zoë Dominic. In the forty-one years I've been watching this ballet i've never known this moment so well realised as it has been this week by American Ballet Theatre. (At the Royal they tend to get the heads and arms all wrong.)"

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...