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ABT 2016 Nutcracker Casting


AB'sMom

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7 hours ago, vipa said:

I think the torch lift is flawed choreography if the point is to make a fluid movement.  The woman is running towards the man.  Her forward momentum won't help the lift.  She has to stop so she can be lifted upwards and change her facing.   There is no way to run into the lift to make it smooth, the point is the result.  I can't see a fluid way into it.  I think it is old style Soviet, which can have a great impact if the transition is fast and the lift works.  That's my opinion, I'm sure others will disagree.

A year ago, several of us posted clips of Bolshoi (and  Bolshoi-trained) dancers doing that lift, and it can be really amazing, but I've never seen it done well by others. Given Ratmansky's tenure at the Bolshoi, it seems he was trying to inject some of that Bolshoi pizzazz into his new production. But it amazes me he hasn't seen the problems, helped with the coaching, or even replaced the move so it isn't such an eyesore.

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Yes, I agree.  In my opinion it's the choreography, not the coaching.  You can see it below at the 3:50 forward mark.  And that is pretty much a dead lift for the men.  The whole pas de deux is so packed with choreography and so difficult that it is not enjoyable to watch.  (Again, my opinion.)  I am also not a huge fan of the grand pas couple having to do the Snow Pas (I know it is part of the story in those versions).   However, I enjoy watching a separate couple.  

 

 

It has been fun seeing some of the instagrams of the dancers:

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN7SEcQhZr8/?taken-by=jamesbwhiteside

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOEO3zhggzQ/?taken-by=stellaabreradetsky

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOBKEZgB0jB/?taken-by=isabellaboylston

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOHGxWdDntd/?taken-by=sarahlaneps103

 

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Thanks for posting that clip, which I hadn't seen before. So strange...if you look back at the clips from Bolshoi (and Bolshoi-trained) dancers from a year ago, they have the same running entrance, but she makes a fast turn so there's no break in momentum and he pushes her up. Surely they have looked at tapes of the Bolshoi dancers. Why the dead stop? Is it that difficult to learn how to make this a continuous movement with a turn?

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It would be interesting to know Ratmansky's thinking on this. I'm sure he realizes they are not able to execute. The clip of Vasiliev and Maximova was thrilling. Thanks for posting - I now see the whole ballet with them is on YouTube. 

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They have performed this every December since 2010. Ratmansky isn't trying for a reconstruction here - he claims credit for the choreography - so why leave in a move almost nobody (in ABT) can do after all this time? He was an accomplished dancer and then directed the Bolshoi Ballet for five years, so he surely knows what it takes to do those moves. There is plenty of challenging choreography in that PdD already, but perhaps he thought this would challenge the ABT dancers and raise their performance levels. Perhaps so much time has passed that he has decided it's too late to revise without everybody noticing. It's turned into a 32-fouette-like test of principal dancers -- everybody in the know is watching for it.

 

On another matter: are the costumes the same as at the 2010 premiere? The tutu on Copeland in that clip doesn't look like the longer ones they wear now.

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I pretty much agree, California. It may also be that the lift is so much in his mind, so associated for him with the ballet, etc,  that even though he isn't doing a reconstruction he doesn't want to take it out. Maybe one day they will have someone who can do it. Of course all of this is speculation. 

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Oh not to beat a dead horse , but what I was agreeing with in California's post is the challenge for the dancers part. The fact that he doesn't take it out after all this time says something and its that something that would make it interesting to know his thinking, as I said. 

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12 hours ago, California said:

A year ago, several of us posted clips of Bolshoi (and  Bolshoi-trained) dancers doing that lift, and it can be really amazing, but I've never seen it done well by others. Given Ratmansky's tenure at the Bolshoi, it seems he was trying to inject some of that Bolshoi pizzazz into his new production. But it amazes me he hasn't seen the problems, helped with the coaching, or even replaced the move so it isn't such an eyesore.

Very interesting California.  I'm going to take a look on youtube and see if I can find the lift done by Bolshoi.  I agree that it's amazing that, with so many people missing it, the lift stays.

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I just wanted to add that I haven't seen this version of Nutcracker since the first year it was done in Brooklyn.  I saw it twice that year.  I didn't like the pas in general, not just that lift.  I feel it is so packed with steps that there is no breathing room, no time to really fill the music.  After a while it looked to me like a lot of steps with music playing in the background.  There were sections of the ballet that I did like, but that wasn't one of them.

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I think I'm in the minority, but I love the pas.  I find it extremely musical when done well.  I will agree that the Torch lift can look exceedingly clunky if not done right.  And if no one at ABT can do it, maybe it should be changed.

 

I also get why some don't like the pas.  As discussed in the Tschaikovsky thread, maybe such amazing music doesn't need to be filled with so much choreography.  But I still love how the steps so beautifully coincide with the flourishes in the music.  Wish I could see it again live.

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I've only seen the choreography in the video California posted above, but I rather like it also--and more and more as it went along. However, I agree the entrance to the lift looks labored which spoils the effect (and from what I read I take it that's a common problem at ABT).

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Well, the Bolshoi dancers don't always handle the torch lift seamlessly either. Here's a clip from 2015:

 

This is much better:

 

But look at how the work is cast at the Bolshoi. It's always a very petite, slight ballerina with a much taller, stronger partner. At ABT the casting policy is usually to pair taller males with taller females/medium-height ballerinas and shorter females with shorter dancers. I wonder how this torch lift might look on say, Marcelo Gomes with Sarah Lane. Because that's closer to how the Bolshoi casts this ballet.

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Thanks for adding to the collection of clips, canbelto! Yes, the 2015 Bolshoi is pretty awful -- indeed, it looks just like the ABT version! Maybe that's the clip the ABT principals have been studying. The Maximova clip takes the prize - and it's one-armed, unlike the other two Bolshoi clips.

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55 minutes ago, California said:

Thanks for adding to the collection of clips, canbelto! Yes, the 2015 Bolshoi is pretty awful -- indeed, it looks just like the ABT version! Maybe that's the clip the ABT principals have been studying. The Maximova clip takes the prize - and it's one-armed, unlike the other two Bolshoi clips.

It's Vasiliev. He is one of the greatest dancers of all time. A totally different league. 

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I've never seen the Ratmansky Nutcracker and do love Nutcrackers like WB with a child or young teen on pointe Clara, Snow King and Queen, Sugar Plum and Cavalier, Dewdrop, candy cane-Russian-Frontiersman -Gopak .  WB's  Anacostia [Arabian] has the on floor press lift-no hands.

 

 If I remember correctly Washington Ballet has a torchlift in Snow - done perfectly by B Mack and E Lee.  Mack was downstage L facing upstage R for the approach.  I don't know if J Kent added the torchlift.  On the 3 Bolshoi clips Maximova is more on the side of Vasiliev [almost facing the wing].   The other Bolshoi clips have him partially facing downstage. 

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Olga said:

I pretty much agree, California. It may also be that the lift is so much in his mind, so associated for him with the ballet, etc,  that even though he isn't doing a reconstruction he doesn't want to take it out. Maybe one day they will have someone who can do it. Of course all of this is speculation. 

There are plenty of men who are good partners.  If it was choreographed with the jump, they could do it.  

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That may very well be, It's the Mom. My comment about Vasiliev being in a different league was made in response to a specific post. As I said originally, it would be very interesting to know what is in Ratmansky's mind about this and he would have to tell us that - anything else is speculation. I personally think -again, pure conjecture- the answer would be telling, about larger views, and that it is not just a choreographic mistake. But maybe it is. I can't imagine though that there is any possibility Ratmansky doesn't see that it's not working well. I think I've said more than enough and even repeated myself so my apologies. 

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I wish we had some clips of ABT's best partners, especially Marcelo. If anybody finds some, please post.

 

I saw the opening night a year ago with Marcelo and Gillian (filling in for Veronika Part, who cancelled for the Nutcracker season) and my memory is they did this quite well. At that point, we had already seen (and discussed) a rehearsal clip with Marcelo and Part, but it doesn't include the run-up. He is strong enough to hoist her up from a position standing still. But he does seem to use maximum effort and an unusually fast shuffling-run to keep her balanced.  And it never looks sufficiently secure to make it one-armed.

 

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Stella really kind of ran and leapt yesterday afternoon. It came out as a swift kind of lift to shoulder height and a second lift to get her higher, but it was still much better than the awkward stop. She was so beautiful I'm going back tonight. 

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1 hour ago, AB'sMom said:

Stella really kind of ran and leapt yesterday afternoon. It came out as a swift kind of lift to shoulder height and a second lift to get her higher, but it was still much better than the awkward stop. She was so beautiful I'm going back tonight. 

 

This was posted in last year's Nutcracker thread, I recall:

 

Stella leaps into her partner's arms and then they sort of pop her up into position. It's more akin to the Bolshoi versions that have been posted here.

 

It seems to me that each couple must have decided in rehearsals whether to do the running leap or the deadlift approach. The deadlift can't just be a spur-of-the-moment substitution, I don't think. I also don't think the deadlift version has to look terrible. The Baca/Copeland one does look terribly clunky, but I didn't seem to mind it the several times I saw Part and Gomes do it. I'm guessing Hallberg and Murphy probably did it as a deadlift too?

 

I'm curious to know whether the lifts that have completely failed to launch, so to speak, were the running leap versions or the deadlift versions. I've only seen one go really wrong (a Lane/Gorak one a few years ago), but I can't recall if it was because they attempted the leap or not. 

 

I wish I had been attuned to the nuances of the lift when ABT was back at BAM, but the pas always made me so nervous that I couldn't really focus on details like that.

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