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ABT Fall Season 2016- Koch Theater


abatt

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51 minutes ago, abatt said:

Does Boston Ballet do Prodigal Son?  If so, was Cirio cast in the role?

It's listed in the company repertory, but their web site doesn't say how recently it's been performed:

http://www.bostonballet.org/Reps/Prodigal_Son.html

In his ABT bio, they list his rep with other companies, including Boston, but Prodigal is not listed:

http://www.abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=365

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Since I have not admired much of Ben Millepied's prior choreography, I went into last night's performance of Daphis & Chloe with low expectations.  I was completely shocked at the brilliance of the choreography.  It was wonderful.  The flowing and lyrical choreography for the corps was stunning.  Stella Abrera, perfectly cast, danced with lush fluidity.  James Whiteside dazzled in a bravura passage of virtuosity. Trenary was a marvelous temptress.  I thought the scenic design at times interfered, but at other times absolutely enhanced the story.  This ballet is, in my opinion, an excellent addition to the ABT rep.  I hope they bring it back in the Spring, as it is definitely worthy of a full opera house stage. 

 

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Some reactions from this evening's performance. Very much enjoyed the Ratmansky, though I feel like I need to see it again to truly take in all the details. The nearly all-male cast was stellar. Standouts for me were Hoven, Royal and Simkin (doing his virtuosic Simkin thing). The low point of the ballet for me was the pas de deux between Gomes and Teuscher. The choreography for that section was just a bit dull and generic, though Gomes and Teuscher made the most of it. 

 

The Ashton was the masterpiece of the evening, and no surprise there. Royal and Shevchenko were stellar as the central couple. Royal was dancing like a principal. Such presence, and the partnering was spot-on, and Shevchenko was gorgeous as well. I wish their pas de deux could have been a bit more airy and effortless, but everything else was spot-on. The weak link in the cast for me, surprisingly, was Trenary. There was nothing wrong with her dancing, per se, but she just didn't seem to be inhabiting the same world as the other dancers. Her arm and leg positions were all slightly off compared to the rest of the cast.

 

The Millepied. A second-rate choreographer managed to fill an hour of music with pleasant, repetitive, somewhat atmospheric dancing. This was a real disappointment for me. I lost count of how many pas de deux Gomes and Boylston danced. Maybe 5 or 6? They all looked so similar and had no striking, memorable images, so it's hard to say. Lots of swoony schlock. It was clear to me that this is a choreographer with a limited vocabulary and very little sense of how to construct a narrative. The costumes and scenery. Oy! Translucent colored shapes moved around above the dancers and really didn't add much at all. The men were all in PJs -- white ones for the good folks, black ones for the villains. All in all, this piece lacked drama and choreographic inventiveness. The finale was just kind of embarrassing in how it tried to sell itself through bright costumes and the entire cast executing uninspired steps in unison. It was kind of depressing to listen to such an incredible score accompanied by such pedestrian choreography. I can't imagine ABT bringing this piece back anytime soon.

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I saw the Boylston Gomes second cast last night of Daphnis & Chloe, and I found the work much weaker than on the first viewing.  First, the part of Chloe needs someone with a lyrical and fluid upper body.  Unfortunately, Boylston is a great jumper, but completely lacking in lyrical upper body movement.  Therefore, watching her as Chloe was boring as compared to Abrera's performance.  Additionally, Aaron Scott is the dullest pirate leader I've ever seen.  You could see every preparation, and he is not as virtuosic as Whiteside was.  Whiteside was far better in the role.  Additionally, Brandt is an adorable and lovely dancer, but she is not a temptress.  She was miscast in a big way.  (What happened to Gorak. He was taken out of the matinee and evening shows of D&C  on Sat.)  All in all, D&C was not a rewarding experience with the second cast.  The MVP of the season seems to be Blain Hoven, who is looking utterly marvelous.

 

Symphonic Variations looked much better last night than it did on Wednesday, but ABT does not seem to be performing it at the highest level.  Perhaps it needs time to settle in? It seems to be a work in progress at ABT.

 

I'm enjoying Serenade/Plato more than during the spring, but I don't think it's Ratmanksy's best work by a longshot. 

 

Any reports on Jessica Lang's work?

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I was there on Friday evening.  I had high hopes for Daphnis and Chloe, because I am drawn to ballets with some narrative, but I agree with foundofffouettes assessment of the choreography as pleasant, yet repetitive.  Stella was beautiful, but I took away very little from this piece.  When I watch Ratmansky works, even those that aren't my favorite, I always leave with strong images of formations or series of steps, particularly from the corps.  I found Millepied's steps for the corps dull and predictable: Serenade light.

 

On the contrary, the new Lang piece "Her Notes" left me with several images still embedded in my mind.  I need to see it again, and I hope I have the opportunity, but I was really impressed with the choreography.  I thought the use of the setpiece was weird and striking, without distracting terribly from the dance.  The use of floorwork was subtle and beautiful.  I get the sense that Lang is choreographing ballet with some modern elements, versus setting modern dance on classical trained dancers with turnout and pointe work.

 

Gillian stood out in the Tharp and Lang pieces, and it was a treat to see her and Marcelo paired together in both.  My husband is such a fan and being intrigued by the perspective of non-dancers, I asked him why Gillian stands out.  His response was simply "the way she carries herself and the ease in which she moves."  I truly couldn't take my eyes off of her.  Her landings from jumps are virtually soundless.  Her shoulders always open and relaxed no matter how difficult the choreography. 

 

Devon Teuscher and Stephanie Williams stood out to me in the Lang piece too for their perfect side-by-side unison.  Both are beautiful dancers I would like to see more of.

 

In contrast with Gillian's relaxed shoulders, Isabella Boylston can't seem to control her wrists or her shoulders.  It's so frustrating.  From the waist down she is wonderful, and she has speed possessed by few at ABT, but whenever she does anything really technically difficult, her shoulders go up to her ears.  Oftentimes too, her wrists flop and bend, destroying the line that is meant to stretch to the fingertips, and beyond.  It's tragic.

 

I really enjoyed Joseph Gorak and Christine Schevenko partnered together in Brahms-Hayden.  I would have thought she was too tall for him, yet they danced well together, including some tricky partnering.

 

All in all, I had a pleasant evening, although it was a struggle to stay awake for the Millepied.  I hope to hear more folks react to the Lang piece.  I'm lousy at describing or critiquing choreography, but I found it memorable, interesting, and inventive in patterns, staging, and steps.

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The stars were in alignment last night and we were given a double dose of Veronika due to the replacement of the Seo/Hammoudi/Han cast of Monotones 2 with the Part/Forster/Stearns cast.  They brought out the otherworldly poetry of Ashton’s vision beautifully.

 

Monotones 1 was enjoyable, but it was marred occasionally by Boylston’s hunched shoulders. I think Boylston has a lot of potential but how a dancer can ascend to a principal position at a major company without having this type of problem corrected is beyond me.

 

I appreciate how each of the men in Plato’s Symposium is given such distinctive choreography and how each of the dancers makes so much of their assignments – they were all smashing - but I just don’t see it as the greatest new ballet of the 21st century (per Macaulay). I find it to be an enjoyable piece and a great showcase for the company’s up and coming male dancers but not a ballet I want to see over and over again.

 

Its been a very long time since I saw anyone but NYCB do Prodigal Son. As you would expect, ABT takes a very theatrical approach to it, acting it a lot more than NYCB does. Not that it wasn’t also danced well, Simkin’s  technique was in full force but this was no mere technical display. He did a good job projecting the prodigal’s combination of arrogance and naiveté, as well as his harrowing fall and repentance. Veronika may have been the most overtly sexual Siren I’ve ever seen. She had one tiny bit of trouble with her cape at the part when she was on the floor and folding it over herself but aside from that it was a truly commanding performance.  And my goodness, the way those legs parted and sliced through the air was amazing.

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Hee was replaced by Veronika in last night's Monotones II.  Hee wasn't at the open rehearsal yesterday afternoon, Veronika rehearsed Prodigal Son both with Simkin and Cirio.  So I won't be surprised if Veronika replaces Hee in tonight's Prodigal.

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I'm just back from today's matinee. I love Monotones even though both Sarah and Misty were a little wobbly, it's still so beautiful. But the Stearns/Part/Forster trio were to die for - sublime! I enjoyed the new Lang piece very much and would like to see it again. Stella and James were lyrical and passionate. Jamie Kopit replaced Luciana Paris and looked like she was having a blast. Kudos to her for rising to the occasion! The high point for me was Prodigal Son. I was transfixed. I know I've seen it before but can't remember when although it had to have been NYCB. In any case, I was leery about Hee Seo in the role of the Siren but I was totally won over. She used her gorgeous legs and feet for maximum effect. (It didn't look from the 2nd Ring as if she was wearing the white tights with the serpent-y black lines. Am I wrong?) Cirio was simply stunning - this is a perfect role for him, he was arrogant and pathetic and touching. An acting tour de force. Bravo!

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On 10/23/2016 at 1:21 AM, fondoffouettes said:

The Millepied. A second-rate choreographer managed to fill an hour of music with pleasant, repetitive, somewhat atmospheric dancing. This was a real disappointment for me. I lost count of how many pas de deux Gomes and Boylston danced. Maybe 5 or 6? They all looked so similar and had no striking, memorable images, so it's hard to say. Lots of swoony schlock. It was clear to me that this is a choreographer with a limited vocabulary and very little sense of how to construct a narrative. The costumes and scenery. Oy! Translucent colored shapes moved around above the dancers and really didn't add much at all. The men were all in PJs -- white ones for the good folks, black ones for the villains. All in all, this piece lacked drama and choreographic inventiveness. The finale was just kind of embarrassing in how it tried to sell itself through bright costumes and the entire cast executing uninspired steps in unison. It was kind of depressing to listen to such an incredible score accompanied by such pedestrian choreography. I can't imagine ABT bringing this piece back anytime soon.

 

So I finally saw this last night, and I agree with pretty much everything (except about the costumes, which I didn't mind, but agree the bright ones at the end were a "I've run out of ideas! I need a finale" move). I'm also not sure I could call the dancing pleasant past a certain point (due to the extreme repetitiveness you noted)

 

I didn't think Arron Scott was poor (as did someone else--Abatt I think?). But his dancing was one of the small bits of enjoyment I found in this (though the whole pirate section was derivative of Corsaire and Birbanto's choreography).

 

Alistair McCauley is always going on about how choreography should show the music in a new way...

By those standards it was "effective" because I'd never felt how schlocky some of that score is, or can be at least.

The entire thing felt like an overlong dream ballet in a musical (think Oklahoma). It had cheesy music, schematic story telling, silly plot twists and exaggerated happiness and sadness.

 

Except that Agnes deMille was a good choreographer. And if I'm going to see a temptress in that sort of thing, I'd much rather see Cyd Charisse.

 

It was also MUCH too long. The person next to me walked out, as did the person in front of me. At that point (about halfway through) I thought, "well it isn't good but it isn't bad enough to walk out on." A bit later, I really wished I had joined them.

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I only saw the Part Simkin Prodigal cast.  Part was magnificent.  She used her extremely long legs to maximum effect.  Sexy and bold.  A great role for her.  Simkin danced well, although I expected even more explosiveness in his opening solos as the angry young man.  Still, he was terrific in the early sections of the ballet.  He also did an excellent job in the pdd partnering Part.  The part that I felt was weak was the final sections.  He was too robust in the final scenes, in my opinion.  There is no need to slam yourself on the floor so hard that the people in the last row of the fourth ring can hear the sound of your body slamming the stage.  It's overly forceful and makes the performance less credible.  Less is more.  I don't recall Peter Boal or Damian Woetzel, both incredible Prodigals, ever doing this. 

 

I was enjoying the new Lang ballet until the dancers started manipulating the screen.  It took me right out of the ballet, and the gimmick overwhelmed everything else from that point forward.

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Thought I posted last night - must have not hit submit.  I was there Sat. night and found it a rather disappointing evening.  Monotones was the highlight.  Simon/Copeland/Lane were fine in the first.  I didn't see any of the wobbles that Barbara reported seeing in the afternoon.  Stearns/Part/Forster were a treat in the second section.  Part's arabesque lines and beautiful proportions are shown to great advantage in the piece.  It was wonderful to see the ballet again.  My last viewing was many years ago.  The musicality, structure and atmosphere of the piece are a great pleasure.   Ashton knew how to give everything time and space.

 

I enjoyed the Lang piece while I was watching.  The set and lighting are inventive.  I can't say that anything else stayed in my mind, and I don't think it showed off the dancers particularly well.  C. Trenary replaced L. Paris, but I can't imagine it made much difference one way or the other.

 

Daphnis and Chloe is IMO terrible.  Like every Millepied ballet I've seen, I get the feeling that the choreographer is just filling up music, long after he's run out of ideas.  The shapes moving in and out didn't add anything.  That said Marcelo Gomes' solo was the highlight.  His technique, fluid movement quality,  and masculine yet beautiful port de bras are always wonderful.  His partnering always looks effortless.  Isabella Boylston showed her beautiful lines, airy jumps and solid pointe work.  For me the problem with Boylston comes during quiet moments, particularly when she is standing still.  She reverts to pedestrian, by that I mean she brings no drama, weight or even a sense of alertness to the moment.  

 

I'm looking forward to seeing "Vale" next weekend.

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In NY for 'non ballet' reasons I was able to catch Sat afternoon. I was especially looking forward to Monotones. Unfortunately, in Monotones I all three dancers (Simkin, Lane, Copeland) fell short of the poise and security the choreography needs; occasionally I thought I caught glimpses in Copeland of qualities of legato extension/stretch through the movement that I think can be quite lovely in this ballet. I agree that Monotones II received a stronger performance from the trio of Part, Forster, and Stearns, but it remained a little earthbound for me. It did give me the chance to notice once again what a beautiful dancer Forster can be. I don't know why he has failed to develop (or, perhaps, not been developed?) into taking on more standard male lead roles. I really like watching him.

 

I had difficulties with the Lang on a very basic level--it didn't use a scrim but between the grey costumes and the shadowy lighting it almost might as well have. I understand the choreography was often deliberately contrasting group silhouettes with more brightly lit dancers, but the more brightly lit dancers were still kind of shadowy. I saw the cast led by Abrera and though I saw much lovely dancing from everyone, I enjoyed Boylston and Royal rather more than the others, because they brought some much needed shots of energy to the stage. Actually, my main reaction to the ballet was to be particularly impressed by the overall quality of male dancing (Royal, but also Whiteside, Hammoudi, and Scott), but I was never really able to get a handle on what Lang was doing. Possibly the problem is my aging eyes (seriously)--brighter lighting and more color would have helped me. As it was, the ballet seemed like the ghost of a memory, but not terribly haunting.  Nor am I convinced that it pairs well with the Ashton.

 

I have mixed feelings about Prodigal Son as a ballet: at times it almost seems to me more artifact of a past era than genuine masterpiece and yet I would absolutely hate to see it lost from repertory.  Cirio's dancing in Prodigal was wonderful, and by the end of the ballet I found him rather touching as well. But in the opening scene I felt he doesn't (yet?) convey anything like the urgency and anger that fuels the prodigal's decision to leave his home. As beautiful as his dancing was--the woman next to me understandably gave a mini gasp-sigh at one point--it seemed almost too "beautiful," too evenly polished. Seo was not my idea of Balanchine's Siren and the scenic effect with the revelers, the boat, and her body as prow and sail seemed sort of muted too (the lighting again perhaps?). I'm an ABT fan and certainly they have very fine dancers, but it was a decidedly lackluster afternoon for me.

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None of the dancers are really in performance mode in these two Instagram clips, but you may find them interesting. (I don't admire Abrera in everything, but she and Gorak were mesmerizing in Monotones I when I saw it last fall. I didn't see Copeland in performance, but I think the latter half of that clip shows some of the stretch that you mention.)

 

 

and

 

 

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