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ABT Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center Jan 2017


abatt

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I admit, I'm starting to get SL fatigue, and am glad to only have one more performance.  I almost though about picking up a last minute NSO ticket for Shostakovich's 8th symphony and skipping the evening SL performance, but I decided to soldier on (mostly because I'm cheap!).  The fantastic thing about seeing five back to back performances is that I really get to see the differences in how each dancer tackles the role of O/O.  Here are my thoughts on yesterday:

 

I'm going to start with Boylston, who danced O/O last night.   Boylston is another interesting dancer to me, who often draws very mixed opinions from serious ballet fans.  I've seen her O/O before, and have enjoyed it, but have never found her memorable.  I found last night, especially her 3rd act, to be memorable.   The thing I've learned watching Boylston after seeing three other O/O's, is that she throws herself into every step, no matter the situation.  She is a plucky little fireball of energy, sometimes at detriment to the moment.  Because of this energy, she can sometimes come across a bit unrefined, which is more noticeable in the second act lake scene.  But it is this energy that serves her Odile so well.  Plus, she is the most technically accomplished (maybe Devon is close) of all the O/O's I've seen.  She can handle the fouttes and the balances.  She is a fantastic turner.  She gets excellent height on her supported jumps.  And her acting skills are fantastic for Odile.  Her Odette is still a work in progress, and I thought she sometimes overdid the movements (an example is when Odette leaves the stage for Act 2, she does the arabesque then moves up stage and turns her back to Siegfried while she bourees off the stage (returning to Swan form).  Boylston attacks this area a bit too much, so that her arms become flappy and energetic, and not refined and beautiful.  But, despite these moments, I found myself very much appreciating the passion with which she dances with.  I am a fan.

 

Veronika Part tackled O/O for the afternoon and she was fantastic in both roles (though, like Misty, she has some technical issues that are most noticeable in the black swan coda).  But Veronika has such artistry that I can completely overlook any technical miscues, because she sells both characters so well.  I believe I've now seen every current ABT O/O (have seen Gillian, Hee and Kochetkova previously) and outside of Devon, Veronika is the most complete O/O.  She, like Devon, has a beautiful port de bras.   She lacks some pliancy in her back, but she has such a beautiful upper body, she doesn't need it.  I only wish I could have seen her dance with Marcelo (no disrespect intended to Whiteside) because I think he would have brought out even more from her. 

 

And not to get on the fouette trip again, but what I appreciate about Veronika is that she only attempted singles and was able to get through them (though she traveled a bit).  I think most of the dancers feel the need to rile the crowd up with doubles, but the singles actually fit the music better ( and the crowd was definitely riled up watching Veronika dance).  

 

Few more brief thoughts:

- Lendorf had his Siegfried debut.   After seeing this version 3 times in two days, I could tell he was new as he missed a few minor "acting" cues (ex. he was late going up to the swan corps where they abruptly change position on seeing him with is bow, so they changed positions when he was still across stage).  But, overall I enjoyed his performance and think he's a great addition to ABT.  He's technically efficient and shows pretty good emotion on stage.  While I still prefer Marcelo or Herman, I certainly will not shy away from his performances during the Met seaon (and I enjoy him more than some of ABT's other male principals).

- Forster (the Sat evening PR) was a much better Purple Rothbart than Stearns.  Stearns drives me crazy.  He is so handsome and talented, and I want to love him, but I feel nothing watching him.   I feel bad saying that. 

- Both PdTs were great, and I'm always appreciative when I get the chance to see Sarah Lane dance.  She has such purity of movement.  I cannot wait to see her Giselle in the spring.

- Still immensely enjoying the work of the Swan corps.  ABT's short rehearsal time periods can sometimes show up in the movement of the corps (especially when it calls for synchronization) but it is not showing up in this run.  The sappy ending has brought tears to my eyes 3/4 times, not because of the lovers in the clouds, but because of the beauty and precision of the Swan corps ladies.  (Also the little swans have been ON, all four performances). 

 

One last performance to go, Devon/Marcelo part 2, with Calvin Royal's debut of PR.  Definitely looking forward to today (also looking forward to going home and sleeping in my own bed tonight!).  I thought about skipping this one so I could head home early, but I cannot miss the chance to see Royal's debut, as he is one of my favorite corps dancers.  That man needs a promotion.

 

Though tiring, I've enjoyed this run of SL and have learned a lot.  I've learned that O/O is truly a very difficult role, and that very few ABT ballerinas currently excel at both parts (though I have enjoyed them all, and respect all of the hard work they put into their craft).  As most of them are young, they will hopefully continue to grow and limit their weaknesses.  The exciting thing for the future of ABT is that, to me, the most complete O/O (outside of Part) is Devon Teuscher, and it was only her debut.  Which means she's only going to get better.  If you have a chance, try to see her at the Met, I do not think you will be disappointed.  I can't wait to see her tackle other leading roles.

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5 hours ago, Kaysta said:

 

Veronika Part tackled O/O for the afternoon and she was fantastic in both roles (though, like Misty, she has some technical issues that are most noticeable in the black swan coda).  But Veronika has such artistry that I can completely overlook any technical miscues, because she sells both characters so well.  I believe I've now seen every current ABT O/O (have seen Gillian, Hee and Kochetkova previously) and outside of Devon, Veronika is the most complete O/O.  She, like Devon, has a beautiful port de bras.   She lacks some pliancy in her back, but she has such a beautiful upper body, she doesn't need it.  I only wish I could have seen her dance with Marcelo (no disrespect intended to Whiteside) because I think he would have brought out even more from her. 

 

 

I sort of fell into this discussion, not until now really following it, because I'm such a fan of Veronika Part that reading about her reminds me that I'm not actually there when I really would like to be. Thank you very much for your comments, Kaysta.

 

I've seen six of Veronika's Swan Lakes. Not living near New York I haven't seen nearly as many as I would want, but I have timed and routed trips elsewhere just to do this.

 

I consider Anna Pavlova (based on all I've heard and one video clip) and then Galina Ulanova to be perhaps the two greatest ballerinas ever. Many ballerinas today have immense beauty of dance, but something that these two had, in addition, is what might be called 'transcendence.' Several of today's ballerinas have a similar quality. Veronika Part is perhaps at the top of the list. I would also loosely include Simone Messmer (Miami City Ballet, formerly ABT) and the Bolshoi's Olga Smirnova as she develops from her very young age.

 

One interesting thing that I would like to relate is from the last time that I saw a Veronika Part Swan Lake about three years ago. Cory Stearns was her partner and he had progressed greatly in a year. For the first time ever, I sensed that Veronika Part was very intentionally stepping back somewhat to highlight her partner, perhaps out of respect or affection for what he was doing. For me, she so completely commands the stage, even with Marcelo, but this one time she seemed to step back. Her performance, as always magnificent, would probably have shone even more if not for this. I considered it to be a very generous gesture.

 

[I apparently confused Cory Stearns with James Whiteside and corrected the name]

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Stand outs of the Saturday Matinee (In my Humble Opinion):

 

VERONIKA!  As I mentioned in an earlier post, she was absolutely beautiful!  She commanded every moment she was on the stage.  She IS O/O!   

I find myself almost without words describe it. To try to say more would spoil it. 

 

James Whiteside.  I felt that  he was trying to be an attentive partner.  He seemed very concentrated on being there for Veronika.  I didn't sense a chemistry between them just yet, but I saw him try to gaze at her and I'm not sure she noticed it.  I felt like she didn't expect it and therefore was not Looking for it.  I found his approach to some of the movements interesting.  I am not proficient with ballet terminology so I won't attempt to describe some of the steps that caught my eye.  At certain points he seemed to think, stop, move.  I was sitting in the fourth row so I could really see him working.  Not in a bad way though.  He just seemed very thoughtful about the way he moved.

 

Calvin Royal!  OK, I really liked him a lot.  He shines. He moves beautifully and elegantly and he also commands the stage.   I hope he does get promoted soon.

 

Katherine Williams - She danced beautifully and had an infections smile.  She made me feel happy.

 

Cortney Lavine -  She was  the Spanish Princess.  It's not a big role, but  I thought she sparkled.

 

Christine Shevchenko - She was the Italian Princess.  Again, not a big role but there was something very 'present' about her.  I saw her in Sleeping Beauty last year. She was the Diamond Fairy for my performance.  She seemed to have a whole other way about her this time though.  Much more elegant.

 

Gabe Stone Shayer  - In the Neapolitan Dance.  He was a burst of energy and such fun to watch; a joy actually. 

 

Jamie Kopit - She's got a nice comedic side to her.  I can always pick her out on stage.

 

And finally...THE SWANS!  They were really a pleasure to watch. Excellent performances for all of them! Brava!

 

Thank you ABT for a truly enjoyable afternoon!

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I got so caught up in the highlights of the Saturday Matinee that a forgot to voice my one complaint:  The Bows.  The entire cast never came out and I thought that was a shame.    There were also no flowers.  Veronika certainly deserved them!  Entirely too brief and understated in my opinion.  

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On January 28, 2017 at 1:30 AM, maps said:

We always enjoy Stearns-Seo  and Forster.  WP review: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_danc/ballerina-thrills-as-both-odette-and-odile/2017/01/26/a4c7247e-e3f2-11e6-879b-356663383f1b_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-arts%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.e2273a947821#comments

This run is my first Mackenzie ABT SL.  The PR role is brilliant sinister seduction:   entrance at top of stairs, interplay bewitching the queen drawing her off  the dais, kissing hands, bounds to throne, later leans on wall, and princesses-1 lured towards him specifically, special effects [smoke and explosion] when he leaves and morphs into Lakeside. In white SL sequence of alabesque lifts-arms faster on up and softly down.  None gave the impression of beating him with the wings.  There's 2 or 3 turns with support where she does an extra movement [not in Mariinsky] with the head and upper body-multiple arches in the same turns-smoothly executed.

 

I love the costumes, Maypole [ending with 2 guys shoulder lifting the prince], sets.  I do not miss the jester but wish it ended with a lift as the sun rises after a forced leap of LR.   In Mariinsky  O/S are still alive and they do the lift from the  swan corps double diagonal, move downstage, chase Rothbart.  ABT does a lift in the double diagonal formation, go upstage, then along the front swan diagonal after changing to arabesque. 

 

A star was born from the moment at open rehearsal when Teuscher entered with PR Lendorf at the top of the stairs and sous soused.  

 

Wow! I don't remember the WP dance critic ever raving on a particular dancer.

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Back in Philly.  The afternoon performance was just as great as Thursday night (actually, I think it was better, as you could see Devon had less nerves to start).  She is officially my favorite O/O.  In fact, she may be my favorite ABT dancer at this point, I thought she was that good.

 

Royal made a great Rothbart.  He really got into the character, he has great acting skills.  Who knew he could do evil so well?  I hope this is a stepping stone for meatier roles.

 

Glad to hear others enjoyed Veronika's performance.  Hope to hear more reviews if anyone else made the trip to DC?

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9 hours ago, LadyBubbles said:

Apparently Boylston and Lendorf performed instead.

Wow, the audience must have been upset,  no disrespect to the 2 above.  But given Misty's celebrity, I'm sure some come specifically to see her.

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The Washington Post reviews of Boylston, Teuscher, Copeland:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_danc/a-show-of-virtuosos-swan-lake-shimmers-with-strong-women/2017/01/29/e17c35e8-e664-11e6-acf5-4589ba203144_story.html?utm_term=.8edf8ffcbac7#comments

 

Unfortunately I did not see Boylston-Lendorf except at open rehearsal.   Exquisite WS.  Lendorf was  a strong seductive PR.  Kaufman notes the energizing effect [like a great quarterback] O/O has on a performance.  Part gave me the impression she had a physical issue effecting suppleness, arms, pliancy.  Whiteside had good saves, dynamic trajectory, high tight speed chainnes.  Part relaxed into her roles connecting with Whiteside after the fouettes [started late-remained in the plie prep for pirouette, reduced number, secure finish].

 

 

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Thanks for posting the Washington Post review.  Looking forward to Devon's NYC debut, although I doubt the performance will be at the same level when it reaches NYC due to her assigned partner for her Met debut.

 

The Washington Post review was among the most forthright reviews I've ever read.  Lots of respect for the author.

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2 hours ago, maps said:

 

I'm very glad to see a respected critic suggest that Copeland find a substitute for the fouettes and cite Plesitskaya as a model. This isn't a new problem, for sure.

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7 hours ago, onxmyxtoes said:

what did Copeland do for the fouettes in her performance in DC. Curious minds inquire.

She got halfway through then did about five pirouettes in fifth (a la Kitri), stumbled out of that, stood there for a few counts, grand jeted to the side of the stage and stood there for a few counts.

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didn't Julie Kent have alternative choreo for that section?  Deems like it would be better to do steps she can confidently achieve and sell the bravura moment rather than struggle and let down the audience.? 

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Both times I saw Kent -- well before the end of her career -- she did what I recall as 27/28 fouettes with somewhat uncontrolled traveling towards the end of the sequence (one reason she cut it short I assume). Kowroski at NYCB did not do the fouettes at all when I saw her, shortly after the company first premiered the Martins version, and she was in very many ways a beautiful and striking Odette and Odile. NYCB has a different relation to 19th-century classics than ABT, but Kowroski's Swan Queen is one I am very glad not to have missed.

 

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7 minutes ago, Drew said:

Both times I saw Kent -- well before the end of her career -- she did what I recall as 27/28 fouettes with somewhat uncontrolled traveling towards the end of the sequence (one reason she cut it short I assume). Kowroski at NYCB did not do the fouettes at all when I saw her, shortly after the company first premiered the Martins version, and she was in very many ways a beautiful and striking Odette and Odile. NYCB has a different relation to 19th-century classics than ABT, but Kowroski's Swan Queen is one I am very glad not to have missed.

 

I saw Kowroski to Drew and agree, but your point that NYCB had a different relation to 19th century classics than ABT is an important one.

 

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In the past week I've seen multiple dancers capable of executing 25+ fouettes, in character before/during/after, filling the music, etc.  The Kennedy Center is selling a LHBH DVD Plisetskaya and a preview includes her  fouettes. 

 

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8 hours ago, cinnamonswirl said:

Oh dear. As Merrill Ashley told Sara Mearns when she was first learning SL, "you have to have a plan" for when the fouettés don't work out.

That's true.  Better to have a plan when the fouettes go wrong at the performance. However, Misty's plan seems to be that she will not even attempt doing more than a certain number of fouettes.  Her plan is apparently to stop at approximately halfway through and do something else for the rest of the music. It's not a backup plan, but a plan on how to proceed from the moment her fouette music begins.  She has stated that after her long injury a few years ago and the surgery she had, there are certain things that she cannot do anymore.  It appears that those limitations are permanent. Since Misty is, in my opinion, critic-proof as far as attendance of her audience is concerned, the WP's criticism is irrelevant to McKenzie's bottom line.

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12 hours ago, Jayne said:

didn't Julie Kent have alternative choreo for that section?  Deems like it would be better to do steps she can confidently achieve and sell the bravura moment rather than struggle and let down the audience.? 

 

This is what I would like to see.  I agree with Abatt, in that Misty is going to be cast regardless if she can handle all of the technical requirements necessary for a role (O/O, Kitri).  I'm ok with that, because even though she is not my preferred dancer, I understand she has a lot of fans and sells out her performances (and I can just choose to see someone else).  There is a demand to see her, and with arts funding being what it is, I don't blame ABT for utilizing her popularity to their advantage (though I do disagree with jacking up the price on her performances).  And I don't mean to diminish Misty, as I don't hate her as a dancer.  I'm still new enough to ballet watching that I pretty much enjoy any performance.

 

My main issue is as stated above--lack of a backup plan.  She really did let the air out of what should have been a triumphant moment for Odile.  I think most folks who go to the ballet are not nearly as knowledgeable as everyone on this site, and may not even know that something was substituted for the fouettes, if planned for appropriately by Misty.

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Dear Kaysta, re Misty :  had never seen her in a full ballet, saw telecast of her Juliet vs Bolle at Scala couple

of weeks ago and really appreciated her performance :

I accept Swan Lake (not my fav ballet) is a different ball game - have seen 3 different casts of Balshoy during past 18 months,

and watched 9 DVDs and I must say I really to my mind have not seen a dancer who can get both Odette and Odile right. Saw

webcast from Paris last and thought Amandine Albisson was OK as Odette but was not Odile.

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11 hours ago, mnacenani said:

Dear Kaysta, re Misty :  had never seen her in a full ballet, saw telecast of her Juliet vs Bolle at Scala couple

of weeks ago and really appreciated her performance :

I accept Swan Lake (not my fav ballet) is a different ball game - have seen 3 different casts of Balshoy during past 18 months,

and watched 9 DVDs and I must say I really to my mind have not seen a dancer who can get both Odette and Odile right. Saw

webcast from Paris last and thought Amandine Albisson was OK as Odette but was not Odile.

 

mnacenani, if you haven't seen the DVD of Nina Ananiashvili dancing O/O at the age of 29 with the State Ballet of Perm, I highly recommend that you do so because I think you'll find what you're looking for. Her partner, Alexei Fadeyechev, alas, is extremely dull, but Nina is extraordinary. I learned later that she didn't even know they were filming her that night. The DVD is probably available on Amazon and also from that web site that sells many ballet videos, I think it's Kultur.

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13 hours ago, mnacenani said:

Dear Kaysta, re Misty :  had never seen her in a full ballet, saw telecast of her Juliet vs Bolle at Scala couple

of weeks ago and really appreciated her performance :

I accept Swan Lake (not my fav ballet) is a different ball game - have seen 3 different casts of Balshoy during past 18 months,

and watched 9 DVDs and I must say I really to my mind have not seen a dancer who can get both Odette and Odile right. Saw

webcast from Paris last and thought Amandine Albisson was OK as Odette but was not Odile.

Not to get off topic, but I have seen Misty's Juliet live last year at the Met with Simkin and I thought she did a fine job.  I find her much more suited for Juliet than O/O, though.

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