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ABT 2016 Le Corsaire


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I really was surprised by how smooth Simkin's partnering with Lane was. He definitely has improved alot over last two years. I'm looking forward to seeing him as Romeo later this season. His jumps and turns were amazing as always.

Cirio was technically very solid and has very fluid upper body movement. Those attitude turns were breathtaking! Unfortunately, Cornejo's been overshadowed by Cirio's Ali (but then almost every Conrad is overshadowed by Ali). I have this feeling that Cornejo's jumps hasn't been as high as last season.... Is it just me? Maybe they just look lower in my seat. I hope he isn't dancing with an injury.

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I loved Cornejo's Colas this season--to say nothing of his dancing in Ratmansky's ballets--but I'm not sure he is dancing with quite the same spring as I have seen in the past. Still with amazing buoyancy and beauty (he is pretty much my favorite male dancer) but it wouldn't surprise me if his height isn't exactly as it has been or not across the board.

Conrad does tend to be more the "straight man" hero of this production of Corsaire...and in that sense, much of the "sensational" dancing goes to Ali as noted above.

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Yes- I think the only time that I felt Conrad and Ali were equal was when I saw Vasiliev dancing Conrad 3-4 year ago. (Simkin was the equally impressive Ali) I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've always liked Ali much more than Conrad because of those showy tricks....

I've also seen Cornejo in La Fille and he was thousand times a better Colas than Stearns for many obvious reasons. Really, the only difference from last season is his jump. This is my 5th time seeing his performance during this season (Sylvia, Ratmansky trilogy, twice in La Fille and Le Corsaire) and his jumps have been consistently "average" for his standard. As you can tell, I'm also his huge fan and I just hope he isn't injured or anything. Maybe he's reserving his body for the big R&J night with Ferri...

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I really was surprised by how smooth Simkin's partnering with Lane was. He definitely has improved alot over last two years. I'm looking forward to seeing him as Romeo later this season. His jumps and turns were amazing as always.

Cirio was technically very solid and has very fluid upper body movement. Those attitude turns were breathtaking! Unfortunately, Cornejo's been overshadowed by Cirio's Ali (but then almost every Conrad is overshadowed by Ali). I have this feeling that Cornejo's jumps hasn't been as high as last season.... Is it just me? Maybe they just look lower in my seat. I hope he isn't dancing with an injury.

Completely agree. I’ve seen Simkin drop Lane, or at least lose his grip on her, twice in the past. This was the best partnering I’ve ever seen from him and I was very impressed. He seems to be maturing and it looks great. Also agree about Cornejo’s performance, but he did bow out of Symphony #9 a couple of weeks back, so perhaps something has been bothering him and he doesn’t want to push it. Overall, quite a dynamic show tonight from everyone, including the corps, which seemed really energized, as did the audience. Don’t know what the tiers looked like, but the orchestra was packed with people who really enjoyed themselves. There were very few empty seats. Spontaneous applause broke out many times throughout the evening. What a change from last week!

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I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've always liked Ali much more than Conrad because of those showy tricks....

Well, I mean, it is Corsaire, after all. I think the whole point is shameless indulgence!

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Well, I mean, it is Corsaire, after all. I think the whole point is shameless indulgence!

I think that's one of the things I loved best about Doug Fullington's reduction at Pacific Northwest Ballet for the family show -- they had a narrator dressed as a pirate. It isn't too often that you hear Byron read with all the "arrrr, mateys" inserted.

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"Smooth" is a bit exaggerated, imo. I was sitting in the second row (to the stage) of the Orchestra, and I could see the tension and nervousness from both Simkin and Lane every time he had to partner her with anything rather difficult. Yes, he can lift girls high off the ground, but the landings can be a bit unsteady (for the girl). Also the partnered turns were good, but not the most confident and flashy..... This is Corsaire! Yes, Simkin's partnering has improved at no sacrifice to his incredible dancing.... but Herman Cornejo's partnering has greatly improved! He looks very ready for R&J! Cornejo handled the partnering demands, the dancing demands and acting with Masha as if they had danced this ballet together for years. There were nerves here and there.... but that kind of trust takes time.

The guys all danced beautifully and with such masculine power. Cornejo seems to have a more mature, calmer, sexy power these days. It's just a different style from the others, not worse, not better, just different. I loved him. It's got to be difficult for anybody to dance next to or after Simkin. Simkin's a beauty in addition to being a fantastic dancer and wonderful, fully engaged actor.

I thought Shevchenko was gorgeous in the Act 1 (trois girls). She came off pointe during one of her amazing turns, but it was the exception to a very lovely performance from her.

Sarah Lane was lushly beautiful opposite the more schooled, perfect performance of Masha (Maria K.). Masha has all the amazing technique, but, imo, she doesn't radiate joy or act believably, beautifully. She's a wonderful dancer but she doesn't thrill me or make me feel her story. Sarah, like Shevchenko, also came off pointe in a solo or two during a difficult turn sequence, but it didn't ruin Sarah's full of quality performance overall.

Thoughts of Osipova with Vasiliev kept entering my thoughts during intermissions.... What a huge loss to ABT that they no longer dance / guest with this company. Their Corsaire made the house scream with joy so recently. I missed them.

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Just a few comments. I agree with you, sz, that there was still some visible partnering tension between Daniil and Sarah. I was sitting center orchestra and could see it. Also, I do not think any of the men on stage had a problem sharing the stage or following Daniil. I thought they all were beautiful and strong in their own way. Herman did a nice job of partnering Masha, especially in light of the fact that they probably had very little rehearsal time (with Masha's SF duties and being in Iceland). And, at this point, they have danced enough together that it should not be much of a problem. As others have said, they felt that Herman may have not been jumping as high as usual, but I do not think it took away from his performance. I felt that the performance was less "circus-like" which is what I always think of when I think of "Le Corsaire," and, dare I say, when I think of Mr. Vasiliev. The most circus-like aspects were Daniil's 540's and Cirio's triple saut de basque at the end of his variation. But both were tasteful and well-executed. For me, both Masha and Sarah were lovely. They are very different dancers, and each brings something special to the stage. Shevchenko did a nice job as well. My only comment would be for her to not change her face in anticipation of her turns. However, I know how stressful that diagonal can be, so I understand. It was a very entertaining evening!

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Le Corsaire opens tonight. I went to the dress rehearsal this afternoon, the company goes back to the old production.

Yeah! Back to real tutus with proper wiring/boning (stick-out skirts). No more Medora in droopy cocktail dress. Flimsy unreal sets also banished. El Cheapo is GONE!

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I loved the cast last night, especially Maria Kochetkova. Such graceful presence and sterling technique - she studied at Bolshoi? It's the first time I've seen her in a lead role. I'm looking forward to her Swan Lake with Cornejo.

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This was my first ever Corsaire and it was one of my favorite ballet evenings ever. I loved the first two acts but found the third to be rather anti-climactic. Since this is all "seamless indulgence" as aptly noted above, why not move the pas de trois to the last act and let us leave on a high note?

In any event, I loved Daniil and his 540s (thank you to Its The Mom for bringing that up since I never knew what a 540 was until looking it up just now). Cirio was amazing - this guy seemingly came out of nowhere. He is so intensely focused and his dancing is almost superhuman. Herman has always been one of my favorites, though I'd agree he was overshadowed here. It looked to me that he stopped in the middle of his manege and then started again. Sarah was beautiful and Maria K did some super fast turns.

Are we to be believe that Conrad and Medora are madly in love? I didn't feel that, at least as embodied by Maria K and Herman. But so be it. I had a fabulous time.

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Old production? I thought it was the same production with new sets/costumes last time.

Before the current run, the old production was last performed in 2012, the new production premiered in 2013 Met season.

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I was at both opening night and tonight. Though I liked both performances, in totality, I have to say I think Tuesday night was a stronger performance. Although Herman is maybe not what he was a few years ago, I think his Conrad was still virtuosic. Also, as others have noted, his partnering has improved dramatically. I thought Cirio was good but, like sz, I was also remembering the years when Vasiliev did the role. Even Vasiliev's curtain calls had pyrotechnics. While Daniil was good as Lankendem, I was remembering the years when Malakhov danced it. Still, I thought Maria was a strong Medora, Sarah a great Gulnare and Christine Shevchenko a great turning odalesqe.

Tonight we had Mathia Heymann from POB as Conrad, Gillian as Medora and Daniil as Ali, and Stella as Gulare. Out of the entire cast, Daniil blew them all out of the water. Of course, Ali's solos are full of tricks and that's Daniil's speciality. The 540's, triple air tours, etc. were all there in abundance. Gillian also was in good shape, clean footwork and in Act 2 when she starts her fouettés while one the guys is still dancing, she pulled off at least 3 triples and several doubles before finishing with singles. Stella's technique is pristine and she is really a great actress so her Gulnare came across more strongly than Sarah Lane's. Heymann was the surprise. He is a rather small man, about the same height as Daniil (though he looks taller because of his proportions and long legs). His solos were quite nice but I thought his partnering was weak (not something all my friends agreed with). I was sitting quite close, orchestra row E in the center and I could see him visibly struggling with Gillian, grabbing her in the wrong place for a good overhead lift (too high on her rib cage). I held my breath every time she jumped into his arms. And Gillian is not that big. She's not like Sara Mearns at NYCB. So in that respect I felt a bit disappointed. I mean I'd also just seen Cory Stearns and especially James Whiteside get through some very difficult partnering in La Fille Mal Gardée. Luckily, Daniil's solos left me feeling happy leaving theatre.

Also a small note of interest. Maria must have brought her own child size tutu for act 2, because it was a completely different color than Gillian's. Maria's was a very pretty pale blue with beading all over the bodice part. Gillian's was deep purple (think aubergine) with a velvet bodice. I didn't like Gillians's velvet because it's a heavy color and this is the celebration portion of the ballet.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Gabe Stone Shayer was an excellent Lankendem. I really think Kevin should promote Gabe and Calvin stat. These corps dancers have been dancing principal roles and excelling at them, for awhile now. Anyway, returning tomorrow to get another look at the A team.

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According to her instagram, Gillian's tutu actually belongs to Dvorovenko. In fact, it is handmade by Irina's mom!

While Cirio is still an excellent Ali on his own right, I still think Simkin is the strongest Ali in current ABT. Vasiliev is also a great Ali but I'd prefer him in other roles simply because his partnering is way too good to not be displayed. Besides, he can always pull out his "inner Ali" no matter which role he performs. I would see him perform in almost any role, really.

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After reading Zobeide's comments, I'm ready to run over to ABT again to see Gillian and Daniil this weekend. I wasn't sure from ABT's casting / calendar if Daniil would be dancing Ali or if it would be Heymann's turn. Now I know! Can't wait! I'll also be very curious to see Stella in a Principal role.

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Corsaire just isn't as fun as it used to be, in my opinion. Last night I had flashbacks to when Bocca was Conrad, Corella was Ali, Nina Ananiashvilli was Medora and Malhakov was Lankadem. I also fondly remember Vasiliev and Osiipova. While all the performances were good last night, they did not measure up in comparison to ABT's recent past. As noted above, in terms of sheer technical brilliance Simkin stole the show. However, even Simkin, as good as he is, is not at the level of some prior ABT Ali's. It made sense to present this ballet for a week at ABT when they had a stellar roster, but now I'm not so sure that Corsaire is the event it once was.

Added: I was also thinking back to the days when Cornejo and DeLuz alternated as Birbanto. Even this minor role used to be danced with incredible brilliance. Last night Aaron Scott was fine, but not thrilling.

This used to be a ballet where some of the greatest dancers, in their prime, were going for broke and competing against one another in a playful way for audience attention and bravura dazzle. I never got that feeling last night, except for Simkin's performance.

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I totally agree abatt. Those were incredible days (and not that long ago) with Cornejo and De Luz alternating performances. They were also both amazing as Alain in La Fille Mal Gardee.

On another note, attendance appears to be down. The theater has been comparatively empty all season. It reminds me of how empty the theater was in the season after 9/11.

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I totally agree abatt. Those were incredible days (and not that long ago) with Cornejo and De Luz alternating performances. They were also both amazing as Alain in La Fille Mal Gardee.

On another note, attendance appears to be down. The theater has been comparatively empty all season. It reminds me of how empty the theater was in the season after 9/11.

I'm also surprised that night after night, the theater is empty. Last night didn't appear to sell well and it was Gillian, Stella and Heymann from Paris Opera! I can imagine that after the conclusion of the season, the new Executive Director is going to have some major restrategizing to do. I wonder if its the lack of enthusiasm towards programing or the lack of guest artists. As I walked through Lincoln Center towards the Met, I saw how good NYCB's marketing is. ABT does a terrible job marketing itself and certainly does not seem to be appealing to young people. Maybe ABT needs a new marketing team...

As far as last night, I thought Gillian looked great and in better shape than ever. The older costumes and sets looked a little dated and I couldn't help but wonder why Gillian's top in the first act didn't have more support in the cleavage area. I thought Heymann looked good, but to me Le Corsaire is a "Russian" ballet, making him slightly out of his element. I think ABT would be wise to invite him back to tackle ballets that are more in line with his background/strengths. Stella looked incredible, but when does she not. She was technically sharp and a great actress. I really wish ABT would let her dance even more. Simkin was effective at waking up the crowd, but looked a little immature. I was disappointed by the Odalisques. Melanie did well, but the other two were just acceptable. I've always viewed the Odalisques as a place for up and comers to really prove themselves and break from the pack. I didn't really get that last night. I think April (the turning girl) was so focused on doing her triple pirouettes, less on musicality etc, that she ended up psyching herself out. For me, Shayer was technically very proficient/impressive, but looked so young compared to everyone else. It didn't really look like he was "in charge" of Gillian or Stella. Overall, I enjoyed the performance. I've been a little disappointed with ABT this season. ABT, to me, has always been an "occasion". The whose who of ballet! The performances this season have a little of that, but too many gaps in each cast.

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I think that the lackluster audience attendance is due, in large part, to the absence of international stars. I think attendance will pick up for Swan Lake week and SB week. There will also be an uptick for Golden Cockerel as a curiosity. Maybe the high high attendance for Misty's performances is counterbalancing the losses for lackluster attendance for other performances.

I also thought that Heymann would have been much more suitable in other ballets. However, the need was for a Conrad. Also, Heymann is not generally known to American audiences.

I thought Marcelo might have taken those Conrad performances that went to Heymann, but it appears that Marcelo has retired the role from his rep.

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I think that the lackluster audience attendance is due, in large part, to the absence of international stars. I think attendance will pick up for Swan Lake week and SB week. There will also be an uptick for Golden Cockerel as a curiosity. Maybe the high high attendance for Misty's performances is counterbalancing the losses for lackluster attendance for other performances.

I also thought that Heymann would have been much more suitable in other ballets. However, the need was for a Conrad. Also, Heymann is not generally known to American audiences.

I thought Marcelo might have taken those Conrad performances that went to Heymann, but it appears that Marcelo has retired the role from his rep.

Marcelo seems to be retiring many roles lately. I remember a few years ago, after Hallberg got injured, it seemed as if Marcelo was dancing every other day! I hope ABT can develop another Marcelo. When he retires, it will be a huge loss for the company.

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I too, remember the halcyon days of just a few years back for this ballet. No one touches Malakov in the role of Lankendem. Shayer, while OK technically, was just OK. And he needs to bring a higher level of acting to this role. Last night was pretty blah. I guess Simkin did stand out as Ali, but as others have pointed out, it's what he does. Very good at what he does, I grant you that. But there are times when I want something other than his two or three famous steps he does in many other roles. I remember Corella's interpretation and I swoon! (and I have no desire to see Vasiliev do this role, nor do I have any good memories of him as Ali. If I want the circus I go to Ringling Bros.) I actually felt that Arron Scott was pretty good as Birbanto. He does have some acting chops, without going over the top. And his technique was just fine. Odalisques were only so-so. I guess if there was one a bit stronger than the others it would be Melanie Hamrick, but neither April Giangeruso or Katherine Williams had a lick of spark to their dancing. Or musicality. My favorite in the "turn solo" remains Renata Pavam, who nailed the variation every time with style and elan and clean, outstanding technique. Pure joy! Luciana Paris lights up any stage and was here quite wonderful as the Lead Pirate. She's been doing this role for years, so she's perfected it to a tee. Stella was superb! What carries her is her stylish acting, which so complements her exquisite dancing. Had she had a stronger Lankendem her pas would have been ravishing. Gabe just struggled too much and she had to pick up the slack. Which brings us to Gillian and Heymann. My first question would be......why was he brought in? He has no "star" power or recognition as some of the imported stars of the past. ( so, no boost to ticket sales). And really, outside of those long legs that split the air nicely in his jumps, I didn't get him at all. Zero rapport with Gillian who did her customary gorgeous rendering of this role . Did he really care about her at all? And there was no sense of fun whatsoever in Act I when everyone is trying to fool the Pasha. As for loving her, there was nothing to indicate anything going on. Maybe this isn't his kind of role, but there are so many dancers out there better suited to Conrad. This made no sense and sort of spoiled the evening in many ways. Gillian gave her all, but sort of to a blank slate. After the previous week of stellar dancing and pure joyful production values in "La Fille Mal Gardee", this "Corsaire" just looked stogy and limp. By the numbers with little overall enthusiasm in the corps. I know it's still a popular "war horse" and can offer many dancers wonderful opportunities to shine, but last night, for me at least, it just didn't come up to standard. I guess it sold better than last week, but there were still many seats empty. I was in the Grand Tier and was able to move to the front row of that section at first intermission. Marketing? Ticket prices way too high? Lack of foreign stars? All of the above? Hard to say, but this season just hasn't come together yet IMO.

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Marcelo seems to be retiring many roles lately. I remember a few years ago, after Hallberg got injured, it seemed as if Marcelo was dancing every other day! I hope ABT can develop another Marcelo. When he retires, it will be a huge loss for the company.

I had hoped that Sterling Baca might have been groomed for a future dancer that's versatile and strong and good looking! Alas, guess that's not to be.

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Mimsyb, let's not forget Ethan Stiefel as Ali, to me one of the greats in this role. I was fortunate enough to see him in his penultimate appearance in this role in the spring 2012 season, the week he retired and chose this role for his final performance. In addition to his exciting and explosive dancing, his acting was full of life, whether center stage or off to the side conversing in character with another dancer. Would that he were still dancing now!

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