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ABT 2016 The Golden Cockerel (Coq d'Or)

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Ratmansky's The Golden Cockerel premieres tonight with Veronika Part and Skylar Brandt.

Trailer from the Danes:

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Full casting

Queen of Shemaken, Tsar Dodon, Golden Cockerel, Astrologer, Prince Guidon, Prince Afron, General Polkan, Amelpha, Lead Persian Lady, 2 Persian Men

6/6: Part, Chryst, Brandt, Stearns, Cirio, Gorak, Zhurbin, van Hamel, Shevchenko,Royal, Ahn

6/7: Abrera, Barbee, Trenary, Whiteside, Scott, Hammoudi, Salstein, T. Ratmansky, Shevchenko, Frenette, Ahn

6/8 matinee: Seo, Zhurbin, Lane, Whiteside, Scott, Hammoudi, Salstein, T. Ratmansky, Shevchenko, Frentte, Ahn

6/8 evening: Copeland, Agoudine, Kochetkova, Stearns, Cirio, Gorak, Zhurbin, van Hamel, Shevchenko, Royal, Ahn

6/9: Part, Chryst, Brandt, Stearns, Cirio, Gorak, Zhurbin, van Hamel, Teuscher,Royal, Ahn

6/10: Abrera, Barbee, Trenary, Whiteside, Scott, Hammoudi, Salstein, T. Ratmansky, Teuscher, Frenette, Ahn

6/11 matinee: Copeland, Agoudine, Kochetkova, Stearns, Cirio, Gorak, Zhurbin, van Hamel, Teuscher, Royal, Ahn

6/11 evening: Seo, Zhurbin, Lane, Whiteside, Scott, Hammoudi, Salstein, T. Ratmansky, Teuscher, Frentte, Ahn

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Luxury casting for the Princes and Cockerel!

I wish I could see Part in this!

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I read an article in the NY Times last week stating that Ratmansky has added additional dances to this ABT version because the critics felt that the ballet had too little dancing, and too much mime, when it premiered in Denmark.

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Presumably, the black-and-white bits flashing by in the unusually unsatisfactory trailer mussel has posted (no criticism of mussel - little glimpses of it are better than none of it) are from the film mentioned in that June 1st N Y Times article, by Marina Harss, of Fokine's 1937 version, which partly inspired Ratmansky.

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Just back from the premiere, and while there was a lot to like in the piece, it kind of felt like an over-bloated one-act ballet that had been stretched into a full-length ballet with intermission. There wasn't enough -- either dance-wise or dramatically -- to hold my interest over two acts. I think it could have packed a lot more punch if Ratmansky had cut out some of the repetitive and not particularly distinctive corps dances, as well as some of the mime and "funny" interactions between characters, which only received the slightest smattering of laughter across the auditorium. This could have been a delightful novelty as a one-act. As a full-length entertainment, it simply dragged. And this was not Ratmansky's most inventive choreography -- not by a long shot. He relied a lot on cutesy/awkward hand-gestures, stomping choreography for the corps, and repetitive, serpentine and seductive moves for the Queen. I can't say I'm left with remarkable images that will linger in my mind, as with the best Ratmanksy, which can be so akin to Ashton.


Ratmansky is a renowned storyteller -- no doubt -- but I don't think he was at his most authoritative in this ballet. The characters seemed a bit two-dimensional to me (well, they are fairy tale characters after all) and the storytelling aspects felt a bit muddled. What could have been the "big moments" in the ballet's plot didn't really make an impact. I realize that the story ballets of the Ballet Russe often prioritized spectacle over pure dancing, but this ballet lacked that wow factor. A lot of the exotica choreography just felt generic. If you've seen Ratmansky's re-choreographed numbers for the current Aida production at the Met, you get the idea...


The upside: I loved the aesthetic of the scenery and costumes. Almost blindingly bright and saturated in tone. And the dancers were full committed dramatically, and, as always, Ratmanksy brought out their best qualities. Part was perfect for the Queen role -- pure glamour and seduction. Brandt was her typical firecracker self -- so swift and crisp and perfectly birdlike/inhuman. The King was fine, more of a caricature than anything else. Stearns was good as the sorcerer, which is almost strictly a character role, though the prosthetic nose and heavy makeup made it difficult to read his expressions. And it sounded like he was having to breath heavily through the prosthetic nose. (I was all the way back in row M and could hear him breathing.)


That said, I feel it's a ballet worth seeing again. Ratmansky's ballets are filled with so many details -- they are often so multilayered -- but I'm worried this one might be the exception. He's a choreographer who's so wonderful at infusing his characters with heart and humanity (again, so much like Ashton), but with stylized fairy tale characters like those in Cockerel, I found myself searching for the emotional core of the work and coming up empty.

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The most exciting aspect of this ballet is the design elements. The costumes and scenery were breathtaking. I agree w. the above comments - lots of mime, not too many ballet steps. It was definitely a one act ballet stretched to two acts. I wonder - did the RDB version have an intermission? I know the RDB had a second work on the program when it presented Cockerel. Perhaps if ABT had done that, the evening might have felt like a legit evening of entertainment. All of the performers did an outstanding job - there just wasn't enough for them to do.

The evening ended at 9:20 PM, including a 20+ minute intermission.

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I completely agree with abatt and fondoffouettes. This is really a one act ballet stretched (barely) to 2 acts. I wonder how RDB put in another ballet, unless it came first. There is SO much scenery that is involved in the ballet. Even the curtains that separate the wings and the partitions at the top of the stage have either been painted or had fabric stretched over them.

As for dance, there wasn't a lot of it. Gary Chryst mimes his role, as does Martine van Hamel. Veronika Part does a bit of dancing but nothing terribly difficult. My favorite part was when the Princes - Joey Gorak and Jeff Cirio danced. Joey did, I believe, an en dehors attitude turn (2 revolutions, I think) and then just stopped and held his balance in attitude for something like a minute. Very impressive. I also have to admit I'm in awe of Joey's feet. I've never seen such supple, beautifully pointed feet on a man. Jeff was very good, too, just not quite as impressive in terms of control. There was some corps dancing but not a lot. I was supposed to see this 2 more times but I will probably exchange 1 ticket for a Swan Lake.

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Agreed about Cory Stearns. He was unrecognizable in a very good way. He had such presence as the Astrologer.

No surprise about Veronika Part. We've seen this witty, fun side of her before.

And completely agreed about the idea that this really should have been a one-act. I had the same idea about pairing it with Firebird -- though perhaps that'd be overkill?

This season looked interesting and exciting on paper, but I'm finding it disappointing. Between Fille and Cockerel, I'm starving for good old fashioned classical ballet with lots of tutus and pointe work. I feel like the season has only just begun and it's already more than half over!

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Glad to read all the above thoughts since I had my person doubts, and can see online that there are no issues of getting my last minute tickets, but now will save money for the rest of the season!

Somehow after seeing Firebird with all the dark lighting (where these old eyes had a hard time adjusting and seeing the dancers clearly), then seeing the Cockerel bright sets in all the pictures they put up, I didn't know if that was going to take away from the dancers, now I am glad that I made the decision to wait, now I am going to save my money for the rest of the season. I have to agree with nanushka of a lack luster season.

My two cents on the Firebird, Cockerel double bill: I'm not entirely in agreement and strictly IMO and for possibly my own idiosyncrasies, the darkness of Firebird then the brightness of Cockerel, and please know this is totally my old eyes talking. Plus the idea of seeing two birds in one night :lol:

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I'm glad Ratmansky reconstructed this ballet for the sake of dance history. It was one of several Fokine ballets that showed us new possibilities for ballet after Petipa. But having seen it once, I can't imagine going to the trouble of seeing it again. What dancing there was, was boring, with rare exceptions. I hope the cost of the lavish sets and costumes was split with the Danes. It's hard to imagine it will become an audience favorite or even that it will be shown again.

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I'm glad Ratmansky reconstructed this ballet for the sake of dance history. It was one of several Fokine ballets that showed us new possibilities for ballet after Petipa. But having seen it once, I can't imagine going to the trouble of seeing it again. What dancing there was, was boring, with rare exceptions. I hope the cost of the lavish sets and costumes was split with the Danes. It's hard to imagine it will become an audience favorite or even that it will be shown again.

I agree; lots of money. My vote would be to revive Ratmansky's delightful "Bright Stream". More dancing for everyone, a wonderful score, and a just plain fun and funny ballet. Speaking of money. I also wish that ABT had spent more on advertising "La Fille Mal Gardee". Not well known in this country, but such a truly fine ballet. What a shame more people didn't know about it and attend.

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I agree; lots of money. My vote would be to revive Ratmansky's delightful "Bright Stream". More dancing for everyone, a wonderful score, and a just plain fun and funny ballet. Speaking of money. I also wish that ABT had spent more on advertising "La Fille Mal Gardee". Not well known in this country, but such a truly fine ballet. What a shame more people didn't know about it and attend.

I would also love to see Bright Stream revived.

Thanks to all for their comments on Cockerel. I debated on getting a ticket (and was afraid I'd miss out on something great), but am now glad I didn't!

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... What dancing there was, was boring, with rare exceptions...

I agree. Given that Ratmansky was "inspired" by Fokine's original choreography, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the dancing was so different from Fokine's "Chopiniana" and "Dying Swan." I also wish that the costumes weren't so heavy as to obliterate most of the dancers' arms and legs.

That said, I enjoyed the music and vibrant sets. Veronika Part and Skylar Brandt were delightful in their comic roles. But the most interesting aspect of the evening, for me, was the opportunity to compare Cirio and Gorak, both soloists with similar builds, as the Tsar's sons, often dancing the same steps. Cirio seems to be more overtly expressive of the two, while Gorak struck me as more classical in line and deportment. Of course, Cirio's character was more playful compared to the serious nature of Gorak's character, but it affirmed my impression of both dancers after having seen them perform in separate ballets.

I think the main problem with the "Golden Cockerel" is that the "love story" (for lack of a better phrase) was flimsy and not really believable, and the choreography wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention. But I'm glad I saw it once, and kudos to ABT for the new production.

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Thanks for these reports. I am very curious about this production. Golden Cockerel does sounds much as it did in reviews of the production at the Royal Danish Ballet. It's hard for me to know what I would think in the theater--I certainly wish I could see it.

But I wanted to add that with the 6 ABT performances I was able to see, I have quite enjoyed this season. Of course as a visitor I just get a snapshot, but as someone who sees just a handful of performances and has to regret missing others...When I look back over visits to see ABT this century-- I even consider this one of their more interesting and memorable seasons.

I write as someone who unabashedly has loved seeing many of the great guest artists they have invited over the years. And who woudn't mind a chance to see, for example, Osipova or Cojocaru dance with the company again...(What I don't love is the full-length Macmillan/Cranko rep.)

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Yes, you should get tickets. The ballet isn't perfect but it's quite amazing in its way and I can't imagine living in or very near New York City and not taking the opportunity to see it, for the historical aspects, the costumes, some of the scenery and yes, the choreography, particularly in the first act. And I would add most of the dancing, mine, characterization a are first rate. We are blessed to have a ballet mind like Ratmansky living and working in our city.

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Thanks, Olga! I am going to try. I live far enough away that I must plan, but it's not out of the question.

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Having also attended last night's premiere, and to those on the fence about buying tickets, I'm largely in agreement with Olga and Marina Harss and those who found it a little weak, especially in Act II. I'm in agreement too about Part's sense of humor - Harss doesn't praise her that far, but she's been credited here - more agreement - and much less familiar with Part, this Chicagoan was delighted by that. Take it in its own ridiculous terms, and it's great fun - but, yes, maybe just once...

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I was happy last night (Tuesday evening) to sit through all the repetitive pageantry of The Golden Cockerel for the singular opportunity to see Stella dance the role of Queen of Shemakhan. She was so extraordinary, both in her persuasive acting and her exquisite dancing. When will we have another chance to see Stella being seductive and teasing to such a degree? Her big, beautiful eyes projected across the footlights (admittedly I was in Row B Orchestra but I'll bet they could be seen in the Family Circle) and when she batted her eyelashes and beckoned with an outstretched finger, what Tsar wouldn't swoon with delight? Her dancing was utterly ravishing, and the plasticity of her body and arms created long, extended, gorgeous patterns in the air such as I've never seen before. I've been a fan of Stella for over 10 years and I'm beyond thrilled that she's being given the chance not only to dance the classics but also to strut her spectacular stuff.

On Thursday I'm going to see it again with Veronika Part and Skylar Brandt. I suspect it will be equally wonderful.

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I agree. Given that Ratmansky was "inspired" by Fokine's original choreography, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the dancing was so different from Fokine's "Chopiniana" and "Dying Swan." I also wish that the costumes weren't so heavy as to obliterate most of the dancers' arms and legs.

If you look at the whole of Fokine's repertory, the absolute dance projects like Chopiniana and Dying Swan are, if not in the minority, then even with the more elaborate, multi-media works like Cockerel.

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I just got back from The Golden Cockerel and I have to say never again. For me there was way too much theater and way too little ballet. Or maybe too much theater is not what I really mean. If theater is defined as spectacle with fabulous sets, costumes, front and back drops -- there was too much, when accompanied by such little dancing. If theater is defined as the expression of drama, and deep human emotion there was none. In other words, if it was supposed to be a theatrical experience, it failed to touch or move me. As far as dance goes, there wasn't much.

I would have enjoyed a revival of The Bright Stream much more. If we want to go back to a Ballet Russes kind of spectacle, Petrushka would be a better choice IMO. I won't be going to the ABT Sleeping Beauty this year. It's usually one of my favorite story ballets but I can't sit though the Ratmansky version again. I'll wait for NYCB to do theirs next spring.

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