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ABT Sleeping Beauty


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I have never seen the fish dives done any other way than one-handed.

I remember that when the production premiered in California I was similarly surprised by reports that Stearns did not perform the fish dives with one arm. I'm also surprised that a year later that's still the case, because he's big and presumably strong, and because he studied at the Royal Ballet School, where the wedding pas de deux is definitely part of the curriculum of partnering class.

I'm not saying it's a fatal flaw, but I do regard parterning skills as an integral part of the male dancer's technical arsenal, and when I see simplified versions of difficult partnering maneuvers, it does give lie to the perception of inexorable progress in ballet technique. There are things, many things, previous generations of dancers did better.

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Just a quick note as I head off for the airport. So sorry to miss Stella's debut and celebration tonight!! I hope that some of you will add extra applause from me.

And great news about Cassandra Trenary yesterday. It's good for her, for ABT, and for ballet audiences. I can't wait to see her in more featured roles.

I was at Tuesday night's performance, with Murphy, Stearns, and Abrera. This was the first time I have seen this production. I enjoyed the production very much. The music, costumes (so beautiful!!), choreography, and style of dance all seemed in harmony. I look forward to studying it further next year.

Murphy has a mature body for Aurora, but acted with nuance and of course at great ease technically. I enjoyed Stearns more than I often do; he was one-note, but elegant. The princes' costumes were overdone; could barely see those guys under the headdresses, but as always Roman Zhurbin was a standout for stage presence and acting. I've heard a lot of good things about Paulina Waski, but dancing next to Devon Teuscher and Luciana Paris as precious metal fairies, Waski was not as authoritative or musical compared to those two. Catherine Hurlin as the White Cat was marvelous. Her whole body is so expressive; she was funny, vivacious, vivid. Love. Finally this is my first viewing of Jeffrey Cirio, and I was highly impressed with his engaging, wide-open, unforced manner. More please.

Now to the airport! I look forward to reports from tonight.

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That's interesting, abatt. I have never seen the fish dives done any other way than one-handed.

I was curious about this and did some searching on YouTube. If you search: Sleeping Beauty ballet fishdive, you can find plenty of great-looking one-armed fishdives (e.g., Bolle-Vishneva). But I didn't realize that it seems to be common among the Russians to start with a two-handed supported pirouette and then a deep backbend - no fishdive. That passage starts about 2-3 in the various clips. I'm wondering if that's the alternate version that apparently Lane-Cornejo do.

Here's Baryshnikov-Makarova:

Zakharova-Hallberg:

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Even later to the party! There's little I can add to what fondoffouttes, abatt, nanushka, and Birdsall have already posted re Cassandra Trenary's superb debut as Aurora. But what the heck!

Following on to abatt's comments re the empty seats: I was practically alone in row V of the orchestra; I'd purchased my ticket just a few days ago, and had my pick of decent seats. I left the theater convinced that I can kiss buying a last-minute ticket for a Trenary Aurora goodbye. (Just to be clear: I won't sit any closer than row M at the Met. As far as I'm concerned anything in row V near the center of the house is a "decent seat.")
I'd gone expecting a "promising debut" — the kind of performance one might label an "auspicious work-in-progress." Trenary is very young, and, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't been tested in a major role in a major house — and the cavernous, soul-crushing Met is the kind major house that can diminish even a major talent. But no, her Aurora filled the theater: simply put, she was a capital-B Ballerina.
As nanushka has stated far more eloquently, Trenary's performance was all-of-a-piece: her musicality informed her (beautiful!) steps and her steps informed her portrayal of a fully-realized, thoroughly engaging (and engaged) character. Ratmanksy's Beauty pretty much dispenses with the easy éclat of whizzbang effects, but Trenary — who is certainly capable of them — didn't need them to dazzle. (It's a lesson any number of ballerinas might learn to their profit ... but I digress.) And if she didn't make the case for the overall textural effects Ratmansky was aiming at with things like chaînés done on demi-pointe, I don't know who could.
Following on to Birdsall's observations: Trenary knows how to act with her body — she can tell you with the tilt of her head and the line of her shoulders that she's beaming at her partner, even if you can't see her face. (I'm always surprised at how few dancers have this gift; Roman Zhurbin is a sterling exemplar of the art.) And, as nanushka has pointed out, it all looks marvellously spontaneous, even if Trenary spent hours in the studio getting each phrase and gesture just so.
As fondoffouettes pointed out, the rest of the cast was more than solid. I particularly liked Whiteside's Prince Désiré. He seemed genuinely happy to be dancing with Trenary and there was some real stage chemistry between them: they certainly looked like they were having a total blast dazzling the audience with those fish dives. (Whiteside always looks fully invested in turning partnering into real theater, which is one of the things I like best about his dancing.) He did his big Act III diagonal of brises with a kind of folksy lilt that seemed to shout out Happy! Happy! Happy! — a nice effect in what is after all a wedding pas de deux, I think.
I thoroughly enjoyed Devon Teuscher's Lilac Fairy, not the least because she looks fantastic in the costume she has to wear in the later acts. (It's easy to imagine that headdress wearing the ballerina rather than the other way around.) Teuscher looked like she'd be a good Lilac Fairy even when she was in the back row of the corps, and so it has come to pass.
Speaking of looking just right for a role, Alexandra Basmagy's Countess put me in mind of one of Gainsborough's glorious ladies. I very much liked her Violente, too: her fingerpointing was fresh and feisty, without the least hint of agression.
For the record, there were some last-minute substitutions that didn't make it into the printed program: Skylar Brandt replaced Elena Miettinen as the Canary fairy. Roman Zhurbin replaced Duncan Lyle as the Act I Indian Prince; Calvin Royal replaced him as Prince Fortune in Act III. They were all a delight - especially Brandt's Canary.
ETA: By "major role" I mean the kind of lead role that has to carry a whole ballet. Florine is a big role, for instance, but it doesn't make or break the whole evening the way a less-than-optimal Aurora, Odette, Giselle, or Nikiya can.
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Here are some more detailed thoughts from me on the Wednesday matinee performance of "Sleeping Beauty" starring Cassandra (Cassie) Trenary.

Cassie first caught my eye a few years ago in-believe it or not-Agnes de Milles' "Rodeo." She played the girl at the party who is surprised by a kiss, and her shocked and upset reaction seemed so genuine that it left quite an impression on me.

Fast forward a few years, and I had the pleasure of watching Cassie put that expressive face to good use as Aurora. She seems to be a natural-born performer: she engages the audience and interacts with other dancers onstage effortlessly, and her expressions are easy to read and seem heartfelt.

I was especially impressed by the way she seemed to genuinely love James Whiteside's Prince, even though I felt like he was very emotionally remote. I think I would have enjoyed this performance even more if Cassie had been paired with a partner who could reciprocate her displays of affection.

Cassie's dancing was tremendous. Like others, I usually "lower my standards" for debut performances, and I knew that in the past, Trenary has been affected by nerves on occasion (such as in her debut Princess Florine last year). But from the moment she stepped onstage, there was not a single sign of nervousness or trepidation. Just 100% confidence. And I should know-I was sitting in the front row! She looked more confident in the role than some senior ballerinas look in roles they've danced a dozen times. And what a pleasure it was to watch a dancer and not have to worry about her falling out of a turn or losing her balance.

Not only did Cassie meet the considerable technical challenges of the role, but she performed the steps beautifully and effortlessly. There are other ballerinas in the company whom I consider to be "reliable" technicians, such as Boylston and Murphy, but I have some qualms about their artistry. I dislike Boylston's tendency to droop her wrists, and although Murphy can pull off whiz-bang pirouettes, something about her carriage and port-de-bras strikes me as more athletic than graceful. But I have no such complaints about Cassie.

If I had to name one very-minor nitpick, it was that she was a little too crisp and sharp in her solos in Act II and Act III for my tastes. Her fleetness of foot is marvelous, but for me personally, I would like to see a little more languid softness in the more-mature Aurora in the wedding p.d.d., and especially in the dream Aurora in Act II. But this is a very minor quibble.

Overall, Cassie was a joy to watch from start to finish. I hope that yesterday's matinee won her a legion of new fans and impressed the-powers-that-be at ABT. I definitely hope we see her in more leading roles soon.

**
I have to say a few things about the rest of the cast members, who definitely brought their A-game yesterday. Whiteside was definitely more impressive than I was expecting in his Act III solos, though I do wish he would point his feet a bit more. Maybe that is asking for too much, as that solo is fiendishly difficult.

Devon Teuscher also gave a spectacular performance as the Lilac Fairy. She is another technically-reliable dancer I can watch without complaints, and she nailed the very difficult fouette-to-arabesque moves and the pirouettes. I would love to see her tackle Odette/Odile someday.
As others have mentioned, Sarah Lane/Zhiyao Zhang gave a gorgeous performance of the Bluebird p.d.d. Sarah looked as confident and charismatic as I've ever seen her, and Zhang's ballon was quite impressive. It looked like he had enough time to do entrechat dix!

Craig Salstein was amusing as always as the Prince's Tutor, and Nancy Raffa was appropriately menacing as Carabosse.

"Sleeping Beauty" isn't even close to being one of my favorite ballets, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday!

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I was curious about this and did some searching on YouTube. If you search: Sleeping Beauty ballet fishdive, you can find plenty of great-looking one-armed fishdives (e.g., Bolle-Vishneva). But I didn't realize that it seems to be common among the Russians to start with a two-handed supported pirouette and then a deep backbend - no fishdive. That passage starts about 2-3 in the various clips. I'm wondering if that's the alternate version that apparently Lane-Cornejo do.

When the production premiered, I also ran to my library and found that pretty much every prince I had on video did the one-armed version, although not all of them held out their right arms with equal confidence. The exception was Nureyev, who started one-handed, but used both hands to position his partner on this thigh.

Russian productions don't include the fish dives. At the time of the premiere Ratmansky explained that he included them as a tribute to the Diaghilev-era production, where they are believed to have originated. The notated version looks like this, sans backbends:

https://youtu.be/6xpOVN3cfGc?t=4076

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Well, Stella Abrera had a gorgeous and glorious Met debut as Aurora tonight!

While she may not have had Trenary's rock-solid confidence and girlishness in Act 1, she got more and more confident as the night went on and looked absolutely regal by the end. In my opinion, she has the most graceful and beautiful port de bras of all the homegrown dancers.

And of course, it helped that she was dancing with the most charming prince--Marcelo Gomes. While yesterday's matinee was all about Trenary's superstar performance, tonight's show was more of a love story. What a beautiful couple Stella & Marcelo make!

I thoroughly enjoyed tonight's show. Afterwards, many of the principals (and former ABT stars) came onstage to give Stella flowers, and she looked so happy.

Congrats to Stella on her 20th anniversary, and here's to many more happy returns! :yahoo:

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If I had to name one very-minor nitpick, it was that she was a little too crisp and sharp in her solos in Act II and Act III for my tastes. Her fleetness of foot is marvelous, but for me personally, I would like to see a little more languid softness in the more-mature Aurora in the wedding p.d.d., and especially in the dream Aurora in Act II. But this is a very minor quibble.

I completely agree. There wasn't quite enough distinction between Act I and Acts II-III.

This was where I felt Stella really shone tonight.
I was somewhat disappointed by Stella's Act I, strong as it was in certain ways. I really wished I'd seen her before seeing Trenary, as I found the performance a bit of a letdown after Wednesday's exhilarating high. While Stella is very good playing at being girlish (which is a large part of why Lise was such a great fit for her), she's not truly girlish. And playing at being girlish just doesn't work as well for Aurora. It feels too saccharine in this more refined context.
Where Stella really excelled, though, was in creating the otherworldly quality I always look for in Act II. Her dancing here was gorgeous, because she was letting herself be simply gorgeous rather than overlaying it with a girlish manner.
No longer girlish now in Act II, Stella seemed truly a vision (as the act is titled) rather than a flesh-and-blood woman -- which is what she became at the very end of the act, when awoken. The difference from Act I was evident from the very first moment she came on stage. Her qualities of movement were so obviously different from those before. (In particular, I would second Batsuchan's more recent comment about the beauty and grace of Stella's port de bras -- exceeded only by Veronika Part tonight, who was the fullest embodiment of the Lilac Fairy.)
Trenary's Act II, by contrast, was too much of a piece with her Act I, I felt.
BTW a small side note, but I've now seen 5 dancers in this production (Gillian, Isabella and Sarah last year plus Trenary this year) and despite some less-than-stellar balances in the Rose Adagio, Stella certainly had the most impressive balance on the shell contraption: sublimely still.
And one other side note: Sarah Lane writes on Instagram today that she and Cornejo will once again tomorrow substitute the "apparently original version of choreography" instead of the fish dives.
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Tonight was fabulous! I'll have to write more later, but Stella was beautiful, warm and gracious. As Batsuchan commented, she has the most gorgeous port de bras. Her Rose Adagio balances were very brief but her elegance made up for it. I was disappointed that several principals were not there to give her flowers at the end, but Gennadi Saveliev showed up as well as her adorable husband Sascha, of course.

Side note: I'm sure this will be posted in the links section, but there's an interview with Trenary in the Times that was conducted right after her debut:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/arts/dance/cassandra-trenary-interview-sleeping-beauty-american-ballet-theater.html?smid=tw-nytimesarts&smtyp=cur

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I am heading home tomorrow but wanted to say that I rate the Trenary and Abrera performances the best, with extra nods for the excitement at Trenary's amazing show.

Murphy seemed serviceable. Nothing bad, but no magic, in my opinion.

Seo seemed over parted all night. Not a favorite. She can be decent in lyrical moments but for me it looked like a performance at a regional company, not a major one.

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What an evening! So glad my friend had an extra ticket :flowers: Stella… Stella… Stella! It was such a memorable evening, and so glad we were there to celebrate with her 20th and long awaited debate…finally! Sublime indeed and thrilled that it was with Marcelo no less, love was in the air last night! Brava to all for a fabulous evening! :wub:

Everyone showed their support in the company too in the performance, what a wonderful gift to Aurora when the Jewels sparkled, danced by Shevchenko as Diamond, Waski (Sapphire), Giangeruso (Silver) and S. Williams (Gold), they were all about the same height and so together in musicality with clean crisp dancing. Loved the match up here! I last saw Waski and Giangeruso in Swan Lake as the Big Swans and they are indeed a good pair, hopefully we will see these two in soloist rankings soon.

If I was to nit pick about last evening, it would be the “extras”, this was my friend’s first Sleeping Beauty and I had to explain the Act III characters, the Tom Thumb big head puppet and what I call the walk-ons, these may be the original choreography but IMO not quite necessary, wonder how other feels about them?

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To respond to Stuben's question about the Act III characters, for me the entire production was so over the top, what's a few more characters? I hardly noticed. I also want to thank all those who reported in detail about the casts I didn't see (I saw Gillian Tuesday evening). I would have liked to see Trenary and Stella as Aurora but at least I got to see Stella as the Lilac Fairy. I also learned a lot from your comments because you are more learned than I about the technical aspects of ballet. So thank you and I hope ABT will announce soon the schedule and casts for the fall at the Koch.

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To respond to Stuben's question about the Act III characters, for me the entire production was so over the top, what's a few more characters? I hardly noticed...

That is true :D never thought of it that way since I have gotten used to the costumes etc since last year!

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I used to find the final act a complete bore until the final Aurora/Desire pdd but after falling in love with the Mariinsky and seeing their Sleeping Beauty both in person and numerous bootlegs and all other classical ballets they do I now consider the character dances (or in this case fairytale dances) part and parcel of imperial ballet and have come to enjoy the various dances as almost a gala within a ballet. It was interesting to see the Cinderella dance because the Mariinsky doesn't really do it in their Sergeyev SB. They have Cinderella and Prince do more of a walk on...

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To respond to Stuben's question about the Act III characters, for me the entire production was so over the top [ . . . ]

That's an interesting reaction. I skipped the production in D.C. because from what I'd read and seen online I felt the same way. The clips that have surfaced since have only confirmed I made the right decision for myself. But if what Ratmansky has more or less tried to do is to bring back original details in the steps and bring back the 1921 Bakst designs, or the spirit of them at least, I wonder why so many of us in the 21st century, especially those of us with an interest in ballet history, dislike the result. I suppose there is more than one answer, a couple of which vaguely suggest themselves to me. And I see from BA archives that the Bakst production failed to sell as well as expected, so perhaps a lot of people didn't like it then.

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That's an interesting reaction. I skipped the production in D.C. because from what I'd read and seen online I felt the same way. The clips that have surfaced since have only confirmed I made the right decision for myself. But if what Ratmansky has more or less tried to do is to bring back original details in the steps and bring back the 1921 Bakst designs, or the spirit of them at least, I wonder why so many of us in the 21st century, especially those of us with an interest in ballet history, dislike the result. I suppose there is more than one answer, a couple of which vaguely suggest themselves to me. And I see from BA archives that the Bakst production failed to sell as well as expected, so perhaps a lot of people didn't like it then.

I really did try to look past this during the show but I just can't come to be in love some of the characters, Imperial or not :( For me, it might be the puppet heads/masks (or whatever they are called) they are just not appealing, not that everything had to be beautiful since Carabosse is a wonderful character and I do love when Marcelo and all the others are in full makeup, just can't really explain, again this is purely IMO! :unsure:

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For me, it might be the puppet heads/masks

Overall I liked the production and the choreography very much —I was mighty pleased that the design team kept the sequins and spangles to a minimum — but I loathed loathed loathed the puppet heads and animal masks — so you're not alone on that score. I was glad that Cinderella and Prince Fortune got to dance, but if it had been my show, I would have cut the walk-on fairy tale cameos. (For the record: Ogre and Ogress, Bluebeard and Ariana, Porcelain Princesses, Mandarin, Scheherezade, Shah and his Brother.) I might have kept Hop-o'-my-Thumb sans the puppet head to give the kids at the JKO school some more performing opportunities, but as it stands it's relatively charmless. Frankly, I prefer the Puss-in-Boots and Red Riding Hood material that Martins crafted for his version of SB. But I'll keep Ratmansky's Precious Stones, thank you very much.

I prefer a glamorous Carabosse myself, but a more obviously and conventionally scary one may be preferable for the kids in the audience.

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With Stella's exquisite dancing and sublime port de bras, and Veronika's mime in Act II, I could forgive everything I'm not crazy about in this production (others have already posted about this earlier and I agree with them).

I've been waiting 10 years for Stella to dance leading roles, every since that wretched injury caused her to withdraw from the Wednesday matinee of Giselle back in the oughts, and I'm so glad to have lived to see this day. She was fabulous all season in everything she danced, and I'm already looking forward to next season to see her tackling new roles. I would love to see her as Nikiya and Juliet, at the very least. Her upper body sings.

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With Stella's exquisite dancing and sublime port de bras, and Veronika's mime in Act II, I could forgive everything I'm not crazy about in this production (others have already posted about this earlier and I agree with them).

I've been waiting 10 years for Stella to dance leading roles, every since that wretched injury caused her to withdraw from the Wednesday matinee of Giselle back in the oughts, and I'm so glad to have lived to see this day. She was fabulous all season in everything she danced, and I'm already looking forward to next season to see her tackling new roles. I would love to see her as Nikiya and Juliet, at the very least. Her upper body sings.

Absolutely angelica! I agree about this, by no means that I had this thought in mind about lessening the evening :flowers: and as for the mask... glad that Kathleen reminded me these were the Ogre and Ogress :D I forgot their titles but those are the ones that bothered me and no wonder! :lol: :lol: They were supposed to!

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Absolutely angelica! I agree about this, by no means that I had this thought in mind about lessening the evening :flowers: and as for the mask... glad that Kathleen reminded me these were the Ogre and Ogress :D I forgot their titles but those are the ones that bothered me and no wonder! :lol: :lol: They were supposed to!

Stuben, it never occurred to me that you were suggesting a lessening of the evening. Stella's triumph trumped everything else. And I felt the same way about the Ogre and Ogress!

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Stuben, it never occurred to me that you were suggesting a lessening of the evening. Stella's triumph trumped everything else. And I felt the same way about the Ogre and Ogress!

It is all good angelica but thank you for clarifying :flowers:

I was there last night. Sorry to have missed Trenary but she seems destined for great things so I'm sure I'll have a chance to see her next year. Stella's 20th anniversary performance was very beautiful. Complete thoughts here:

http://poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com/2016/07/stellas-20th-anniversary-at-abt-peter.html

Thanks for the share canbelto! Nice review for Stella and agree that this role is long overdue for Stella, agree with Poison Ivy about having this role for her when she was younger too! I saw one error but helped me see whom Waski replaced.. confirmed Hamrick! Jewels were in unison as mentioned :flowers:

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Overall I liked the production and the choreography very much —I was mighty pleased that the design team kept the sequins and spangles to a minimum — but I loathed loathed loathed the puppet heads and animal masks — so you're not alone on that score. I was glad that Cinderella and Prince Fortune got to dance, but if it had been my show, I would have cut the walk-on fairy tale cameos. (For the record: Ogre and Ogress, Bluebeard and Ariana, Porcelain Princesses, Mandarin, Scheherezade, Shah and his Brother.) I might have kept Hop-o'-my-Thumb sans the puppet head to give the kids at the JKO school some more performing opportunities, but as it stands it's relatively charmless. Frankly, I prefer the Puss-in-Boots and Red Riding Hood material that Martins crafted for his version of SB. But I'll keep Ratmansky's Precious Stones, thank you very much.

I prefer a glamorous Carabosse myself, but a more obviously and conventionally scary one may be preferable for the kids in the audience.

One of the MOST GLAMOROUS to dance Carabosse was Merrill Ashley at City Ballet. Oh my! She was enough to want to go over to the "dark side". I always loved the fact that she (Carabosse) was in her way beautiful, as it made more sense that she was indeed one of the "girls" (the other fairies). They are all so lovely, why shouldn't she be also? And it made sense why she would be really upset and angry that she wasn't invited to the Christening. If there was "real choreography" for Carabosse in the ABT version, I could easily see Veronika Part tearing it up. She has a wicked smile and that exceptional gleam in her eye.

As to all the "add ons" in this ballet, I don't object to most of them from the last Act. I do think the two ogres and all those children could be eliminated, however. Did anyone else have a problem with the fact that the Ogre goes after the kids with a meat cleaver at the end of their variation? My main objections come in the Birthday scene. Far too many people on stage, many just roaming around with no purpose. Most pull focus from what is important to the story. The Garland Waltz has the MOST hideous costumes ever! They have no relation to the rest of the decor. When all 48 of those people get going with their endless balance's, I got nauseous I know it's a waltz, but are there no other steps that could be done? Maybe about 12 or so fewer dancers in the dance would also make it more pleasurable to watch. I'm waiting for Balanchine's exquisite "Garland Waltz" come Spring at NYCB. As for those little fiddlers in the Rose Adagio.....geez! Also costumes that totally clash with everything else on stage and all that busy, busy stuff they do is just a mess. The four Princes have sleeves, hats, wigs that detract from the beauty of "Beauty". It's just all too much. There is much to like in this "Beauty", but one has to wade through a lot of dross to get to the wonderful parts.

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Interestingly, Merrill Ashley was originally scheduled to dance Aurora during the SB debut season at NYCB, but due to injury she could only do Carabosse.

Anyway, Lane was magnificent tonight, and Herman was at his virtuosic best. Herman's amazing elevation and speed were quite remarkable. Lane was much improved compared to last season. So sad that she is not given more roles to show what she can do. The audience went nuts when Misty came out for her Florine variation.

I'm pretty sure went to see Herman in every role he did this season. He had a great season, and this is the first time in a few years where he was injury free for the entire season.

Good news. - Herman's red jacket in the second act fits much better. They found a tailor for him.

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