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ABT 2016 Swan Lake


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The pas de deux were ok, but she seemed to be gutting her way through all of them.

He did die exceptionally well.

Just to clarify: these last two refer to Part and Whiteside?

What is "gutting"?

Thanks!

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I'm going to be a contrarian and say that Veronika's performance last night was not as good as her past performances. I thought her back looked stiff. There used to be so many details where she used her supple spine to heighten the choreography that seemed to be missing last night. As an example, there is one section in Act II where Odette is leaning into her partner with her back facing the audience and her partner is holding her lower back. That should have been the spot where Odette curves her back into a deep bend. Uncharacteristically, Part just leaned her head back but her spine remained erect and still. There were many such compromises last night, I thought.

Gomes stole the show. Incredible. He oozes charisma from every cell of his body.

Added: Part had no chemistry w. Whiteside. I never thought I would say this, but I think she is more "simpatico" with Stearns.

I would agree generally about Part's performance. Although brilliant and emotionally moving at times, she just didn't seem to be "on her game" last night as much as previous performances I've seen her do. Still, I think she is one of the best swan queens out there. And I would re-phrase your comment about having no chemistry with Whiteside to read that Whiteside had zero chemistry with her! She was doing her best, but there was absolutely nothing from him in return. But then he didn't have much rapport with anyone on stage last night. Totally a blank slate. Hence his dancing became boring, at least to me. The pas de trois in Act I was very well danced, with Calvin Royale looking especially strong. The Neopolitan duet with Gabe Shayer and Jonathon Klein also very good. The corps was a shambles in many places where they used to shine. First Act Waltz of the Aristocrats was a total mess (why can't anyone in this company do a decent entre chat six? Or for that matter count music?). Swan formations were also raggedy and sloppy. Kathryn Hurlin did stand stand out as one of the "big Swans", and as the Spanish Princess. She is a "comer", for sure. But the stage really only came alive when Gomes arrived as Purple Rothbart. His character has evolved now to one of total brilliance. The stage crackles when he is on it!! I might add that Gray Davis as "Swamp" monster" was only slightly alright. I've seen others in this role (R. Zhurbin, for one) who have made something truly menacing out of it. Not last night. All in all, just an OK performance. And I too don't care if a dancer does 32, 24, or no fouettes. As long as what is done is musical and makes dramatic sense to the role.

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Just to clarify: these last two refer to Part and Whiteside?

What is "gutting"?

Thanks!

Sorry Nanushka! No coffee yet. I'm off to a slow start this morning.

All those comments were about Hammoudi and Boylston.

To elaborate a bit, Hammoudi was far better in the partnering than in the solo sections. And when he didn't have to do a lot of dancing tried to indicate a little emotion (he can't do both at once). But I didn't get much emotionally from them as a duo.

The thing is Isabella is such a strong dancer, that partnering her isn't (one feels) very difficult. There were some parts where you felt that she was doing all the work. This is what I meant about her gutting her way through them. She was doing all the hard muscle work.

One last comment (and not meant as a knock on Boylston) but although she is a strong technician she did not complete 32 fouettes either.

I didn't count but she was behind the beat and finished early. I'd say between 28-30.

His subsequent turns were a mess and finished early.

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About those fouettes---I have seen a few ballerinas go the 'pique turn way' but the one I recall most vividly is Nana Gollner (with ABT in the 40's and 50's) who did 32 Changements (for those not familiar with technical terms, it is one of the easiest steps in ballet...) but she made it exciting. Her elevation was great and she bounced up and down like she was on a trampoline---one felt like shouting "Whew!".

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I was at Wednesday’s matinee performance of Swan Lake with Copeland/Simkin. Of course this is MY personal review of the performance, so others may not agree.

First let me start off by saying that the reason I attended this performance, is because I am HUGE Simkin fan, and I rarely miss any of his performances. He was a wonderful partner yesterday, and of course his solos were spectacular as always. His final leap was breathtaking. I’m used to the wonderful chemistry that he has developed with Boylston, however, there was absolutely no chemistry with Misty.

Now on to Misty. Regrettably I wasn’t crazy about her interpretation of Odette/Odile. I felt no emotion from this Odette. She left me cold. I want an Odette to bring me to tears (which Veronika Part usually manages to do). Misty’s Odile was marginally better than her Odette, but there was not much of a range besides some flashes of a quick evil smile. Don’t hold me to it, but as far as the fouettés, it looked like 23 singles and maybe 2 doubles. She could not hold her arabesques and does not have much back flexibility. There was no suppleness to her spine. She just leaned her head back and looked best when she could lean into Daniil for support.

Nina Ananiashvili set the bar very high for me, and whether it is fair or not, everyone I see is always compared to her Odette/Odile. So feel free to disagree!

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Last night was a very uneven night - some parts were brilliant and others were simply awful.

I agree with others regarding Part last night. This was my first time seeing her O/O but I've seen her dance countless times and have never seen such stiffness in her back before. Some of the iconic O/O moments lost their impact because of this. Her arms, legs and portrayal (especially of Odette) was gorgeous though and the audience loved her. I also don't need to see exactly 32 fouettes (I never count them), but her working leg was turned in and she traveled a lot. There was no fire or attack and she looked rather precarious (I didn't count any doubles as others noticed). Also, her final leap wasn't a leap; she just fell forward off the cliff.

But, I feel for her deeply having had such a bad partner as Whiteside. I was pretty astonished at how awful he was. I think this is the first full-length ballet I've seen him in as the lead (I think he's a good dancer but I don't love him so I try to choose other performances w/ better, in my opinion, male dancers). I didn't realize how bad of an actor he is as I've mostly seen him in pure dance roles. In the first act when Siegfried makes his entrance, that's usually a big moment, but he fell flat. After his mother has told him it's time for him to marry and Siegfried then walks around the stage alone while the corps dances, that's also an important part. Corella did that extremely well: you could really see and feel how conflicted he was, realizing it's time to grow up and accept not only adult but royal responsibilities. Whiteside was utterly blank. In fact, he was blank all the time - in his face, body.... And, I disagree that he was a strong partner to Part. Many of her supported turns were off balance and in one of the lifts she had to put her hand down onto his to support herself (it looked like she was going to fall forward). His technique was fine, even really good in some places like his solo in the first act - his control was impressive. But, overall it was still a very disappointing performance from him. And, totally agree that there was no chemistry between Part and him.

Now...Gomes on the other hand...Yowza. Too bad we can't clone him so he can dance Purple Rothbart and Siegfried at the same performance. This was the first time I really believed that the party-goers and especially the four princesses were under the spell of P.R. What a delicious, evil, conniving (and commanding!) performance. There were so many nuances and wonderful touches - the way he picked up one the ladies and tossed her aside, not even looking at her, to focus on the "entranced" girl who bourrees towards him; how he dismissed the four princesses with a flick of his hand; his command of his cape; his Machiavellian laugh. Magnificent!

The pas de trois was fantastic - Devon Teuscher and especially Christine Shevchenko have really blossomed into ballerinas. Wonderful technique, natural and happy expressions, gorgeous epaulment. If Calvin Royal III isn't promoted this year I'm going to be really upset. He's been performing principal and soloist parts for years now, and extremely well. He dances like a well-seasoned soloist and is a very good partner. It's time!

Catherine Hurlin is an O/O in the making. It is hard to take my eyes off of her and she had a big night last night - the flirty girl, a big swan, and the Spanish princess. She and Royal look beautiful together.

The four little swans were nearly perfect. Gabe Stone Shayer as one of the Neopolitans was great - he excels at big jumps. Jonathan Klein as his partner was also very good.

The night really belonged to the supporting cast, with Gomes as the ring master.

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The night really belonged to the supporting cast, with Gomes as the ring master.

Agreed. Gomes stole the show! While I liked Part, she didn't seem to have much of a connection with Whiteside.last night.

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I agree with most of the comments regarding last night's performances. Part's arms were incredibly expressive, as we've come to expect, with many beautiful details. I thought she looked more comfortable with the technical demands of the role than ever before, and she seemed to dance with more freedom. I wasn't really surprised about the diminished flexibility in her back; I think this has been apparent for the last two or three seasons. She'll be 39 in February, so it's just something I've come to expect as she ages.

I agree 100% with what everyone has said about Whiteside's dramatic abilities (or lack thereof). He was pretty much a blank slate all night long -- not just with Part, but also in the ways he interacted with Benno, his mother, and basically everyone else in the ballet. I was sitting in the first row, and he had the same expression plastered on his face for much of the evening. His body language didn't convey much emotion either. I'm surprised I'm saying this -- but the Part/Stearns partnership actually had more chemistry, though nowhere near the dizzying heights of Part/Gomes or Part/Bolle.

Gomes was as wonderful as ever as Rothbart. The arabesque en demi-pointe and leaps, etc., aren't as technically impressive as in past years, but his interpretation is more deliciously malevolent than ever.

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Yes, abatt. at last! Up to now I believe that he has either ignored Part or damned her with faint praise, e.g., "statuesque."

I do hope that if ABT hires a new male principal from outside the company, as some people on this board were speculating, they hire someone who can partner Part and has chemistry with her. I always feel she has to carry the role of O/O all by herself.

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Yes, abatt. at last! Up to now I believe that he has either ignored Part or damned her with faint praise, e.g., "statuesque."

I do hope that if ABT hires a new male principal from outside the company, as some people on this board were speculating, they hire someone who can partner Part and has chemistry with her. I always feel she has to carry the role of O/O all by herself.

It seems that Part got the most praise, Copeland being immature and Murphy not gripping - according to the review. I haven't seen any SL's, so I thank everyone who reports on this site. You all are more reliable than any critic.

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Just got back from the Gomes/Bolyston matinee today. I enjoyed it very much!

Marcelo was fantastic. He is such a great actor! and his partnering skills are superb. You could tell Isabella trusted him, they had great chemistry. I thought Boylston's Odile was absolutely stunning. She is a sassy fiery Odile. Technical showy stuff first: she made it through her fouettes, though they traveled quite a bit. She held a pretty strong balance during the PDD. I thought her characterization was excellent. I think Gomes really does bring out the best in everyone he dances with.

I thought Boylston's Odette was good, but still needs work. I noticed her arms and hands too much, with the splayed fingers, and it distracted me just a little bit during the white swan pdd. I don't know what the move is called, but it is when Siegfried lifts Odile up like a grand jete but supported? During those lifts, I thought her arms and hands looked splayed and open, which took away from the line a bit. But I still very much enjoyed her Odette, and I thought she improved as the PDD progressed.

The pas de trois was SUPERB! Joe Gorak, Sarah Lane and Skylar Brandt were all fantastic. It was one of my favorite groupings for the pas de trois that I've seen from ABT.

On to R&J next week! I'm super excited because I'm taking my mom to her first ballet and her first trip to Lincoln Center. It will be nice to show her my "happy place!"

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I have a question for those of you who have seen Swan Lake this season. In the recent past I bought tickets to see Alina Cojocaru do SL with ABT because I had confidence that, unique artist she is, she would bring something special to the role, even though I suspected it wasn't the greatest role for her. Unfortunately she cancelled both times. In terms of her replacements, once I saw Maria Kochetkova and was unimpressed, and the second time I saw Hee Seo, and left at the first intermission. So my question is who at ABT is a Swan Lake caliber ballerina? So many of the reviews I've read lead me to believe everyone is a work in progress. Every artist is a work in progress but perhaps you know what I mean.

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I haven't seen SL this season but have seen Gillian Murphy and Hee Seo in the role. No comparison--Murphy is one of the best contemporary interpreters of the role--strong, dramatic, musical and lyrical. Seo is soft, no drama, no projection. Curious to see what others think.

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I wasn't very impressed by Part when I saw her back in 2009 but I changed my mind this week. Other than Part I don't really have any favorite for Odette. I like Gillian as Odile but not as Odette. I know many people will hate me for saying this but I never liked her port de bras in SL.

To me, the gold standard is Nina and no one on current ABT roaster comes close to her.

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I think I do know what Vipa means. Nina was the good old days. The most interesting thing about ABT now is Ratmansky. But Swan Lake sells tickets. As does Misty. ABT has a somewhat different audience than NYCB.

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For me, the reigning swan queen at ABT right now is Veronika Part, although she does not have an adequate Siegfried to show her at her best.

I would like to see how Stella Abrera would dance the role.

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ABT has a somewhat different audience than NYCB.

Olga, this is interesting to me. How would you characterize the differences between the NYCB audience and the ABT audience? I'm definitely an ABT person, but I don't know how to characterize myself, other than to say that I don't go to see ballets, I go to see dancers.

If anyone else would like to join this discussion, Moderators, please feel free to open a new topic.

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I wasn't very impressed by Part when I saw her back in 2009 but I changed my mind this week. Other than Part I don't really have any favorite for Odette. I like Gillian as Odile but not as Odette. I know many people will hate me for saying this but I never liked her port de bras in SL.

To me, the gold standard is Nina and no one on current ABT roaster comes close to her.

I agree about Nina. No one could touch her of that generation. A magnificent and complete artist. How she is missed!! I remember seeing two dancers when I was young who seemed to be the epitome of the dual role of Odette/Odile. They were both from what was then the Sadler's Wells Ballet, now the Royal. They were Svetlana Beriosova and Beryl Grey. Both were stunning. But after seeing many of those dancing the role now at ABT, I would have to say that Gillian has upped her game considerably. We know she can do the dazzling tricks of the Odile character, but I was greatly impressed with her Odette this season. She has grown in this role and now stands above all the others. After seeing her with Cory Stearns (yes!) on Wednesday, I came away breathless. The two of them brought such rapture and passion to their roles. The way he "discovers" her, caressed her arms during the pas de deux, fell into her at times as if truly protecting her and showing great love. I wanted at times to say, "get a room"! It was that passionate. I could see them "falling in love". He too, has upped his game in this ballet. What an amazing soft, giving plie' in all of his dancing. Bliss! I came away from the theater on Wednesday feeling I had seen greatness on many levels. Nina? Perhaps we will not see her likes again, but really it was an incredible evening on Wednesday.

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I think the ABT audience is more conservative in their tastes, and they go for the spectacle of a full length ballet with elaborate scenery and costumes. Neoclassical leotard ballets with no scenery is not for every taste.

Nina was a consistently great Swan Lake interpreter. In the past I have felt that Part was also great in the role, but this season she was a little off. As noted above , unlike Nina, who always had her choice of great partners, Part's partners have often diminished the overall level of performance. Murphy is a stellar technician, but she has never moved me. I'm always dazzled by her technical achievement, but she is not necessarily a gripping dance actress.

I forget what year Nina retired, but other than Nina I would have to say the greatest SL performance I've seen at ABT during the last few years was the epic Part-Bolle SL, which was never again repeated.

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Olga, this is interesting to me. How would you characterize the differences between the NYCB audience and the ABT audience? I'm definitely an ABT person, but I don't know how to characterize myself, other than to say that I don't go to see ballets, I go to see dancers.

If anyone else would like to join this discussion, Moderators, please feel free to open a new topic.

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It's hard to put my finger on the precise differences, and generalizations are problematic. The most fundamental one is the overarching presence of Balanchine's taste, theories and interests, which are reflected in the people who follow NYCB and which inform many of their opinions. City Ballet actually has quite a few full length story ballets at this point, thanks to some extent to Martins. Midsummer (which I would classify as more neoclassical than romantic) and Nutcracker also sell out. Even Martins' Swan Lake did extremely well last year. So it's not just that. I think the full length story ballets at both companies pick up extra, non-core audience, though they seem to go more to the core of ABT at present. Of course, NYCB has a very large rep and a long season(s) so there is still more room for variation. But there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm at ABT for the experimental and even for the neoclassical - which I would define here as a focus on choreographic structure rather than story.

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That being said, while NYCB is closest to my heart, I enjoy seeing a wide range of dance, including the 19th Century romantic classic. I, too, go to see dancers )as well as ballets), and unfortunately at this time there are not too many ABT principals I would put in that category. I personally miss the foreign headliners they brought in in the past. My opinion. They do have some great younger people coming up - we'll see where it goes. So far this season other than the Ratmansky has been uninspired and uninspiring.

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Thanks for your thoughts on this, Olga and abatt.

A big problem for me at NYCB is that I want to pick my casting, and by the time the casting goes up, the house is sold out except for the highest priced seats, which are even higher than the Met seats (except for center parterre, which wins the prize for the least cost-effective seat because even though you can see the entire stage, you are so far away that you can't see the faces of the dancers very well and a great deal of the mime is lost).

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That being said, while NYCB is closest to my heart, I enjoy seeing a wide range of dance, including the 19th Century romantic classic. I, too, go to see dancers )as well as ballets), and unfortunately at this time there are not too many ABT principals I would put in that category. I personally miss the foreign headliners they brought in in the past. My opinion. They do have some great younger people coming up - we'll see where it goes. So far this season other than the Ratmansky has been uninspired and uninspiring.

Yes, they have some great younger people coming up (Skylar Brandt, Cassandra Trenary, Devon Teuscher), which will preclude the need for foreign headliners. I wouldn't mind one or two a season, but more than that takes away from opportunities for ABT's own dancers.

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