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ABT 2017 Giselle

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I saw Misty Copeland NY debute tonight, it was sold out.  She's a good actress but needs to work on her technical department.  Her hop on point was too careful too conscious, looking down at her foot most of the time, and hops didn't travel far.  All in all not a bad debute.  Devon Teuscher was fantastic as Myrtha, with a very fluid upper body. Her borree across the stage was very floaty.  The corps were wonderful in 2nd act, very in synch.

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I was at the Copeland-Lendorf-Teuscher Giselle on Friday as well.  In my opinion, one of the primary problems w. casting Misty as Giselle lies in the fact that at this point in her career her jumps are frequently  low to the ground.  Since the primary motif of Giselle is floating buoyancy, this limitation becomes a significant impediment. As mussel said, in Act I her hops en pointe barely advanced forward at all.  In fact, she didn't even fill out the entirety of the music for that section - she ended the hops early and started swirling her skirt and making goo goo eyes at Lendorf to fill out the rest of that music.  Also disappointing was her failure to hold her arabesque in Act I, in the section where she rolls down off pointe on one foot while raising the other leg to arabesque.  The whirling circuit of turns around the stage in Act I were also a bit slow, because the music was played a bit too slow.


Her spinning arabesques upon her entrance in Act II were well done and fast.  Also nicely done were the entrechat quatre, where she criss crosses her feet.  Her rapid, backward bourees as she exited the stage after dropping the flowers in Lendorf's vicinity in Act II were impressive. Lendorf's partnering was so strong that he was able to make it seem like she was floating. However, her vertical soubresauts were not high.  She also had problems with the section where she has to rotate 360 degrees in Act II on one foot with the other  leg held in arabesque.  It looked rough.  All in all, it was a respectable debut, but not a performance to savor.


The main reason I went to this show was to see Lendorf.  He is much more suited to Albrecht than to Basilio.  His classical style and placement were spot on.  He was also a very strong and reliable partner. As noted above Teuscher did beautiful, impressive work. Perhaps more comments later....


PS- It looked to be a sold out show.

Edited by abatt
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I saw Lendorf dance the role of the Prince in Sleeping Beauty when he was a guest artist at ABT a few years ago.  I thought his performance was very good.  I never saw him dance Basilio but it is a much different role than Albrecht or the Princes in Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake.  I will be seeing today's matinee performance of Giselle.  I'm not sure about Sarah Lane in the title role.  When I saw her dance Aurora in Sleeping Beauty in 2015, I thought  the scale of her dancing was rather small in scale. .  But I will keep my mind open and see what happens today.  I am especially looking forward to seeing Simkin as Albrecht.  I will try to post about it tomorrow or Monday.

Edited by Colleen Boresta
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4 hours ago, abatt said:

As mussel said, in Act I her hops en pointe barely advanced forward at all.  In fact, she didn't even fill out the entirety of the music for that section - she ended the hops early and started swirling her skirt and making goo goo eyes at Lendorf to fill out the rest of that music. 


I guess these are the "real acting chops" that Gia Kourlas was lauding and that Misty herself said she's come to rely on:


“I used to muscle through these things. I can’t do that anymore. There needs to be something more, something else.”

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Yes, me, too. Except the bus from Albany has broken down outside Kingston since 10:45am - no new bus yet - don't think I'm going to make the first act. And I splurged on a close, expensive seat since my husbsnd gave me a gift card for Christmas. 

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9 minutes ago, KarenAG said:

Yes, me, too. Except the bus from Albany has broken down outside Kingston since 10:45am - no new bus yet - don't think I'm going to make the first act. And I splurged on a close, expensive seat since my husbsnd gave me a gift card for Christmas. 

Karen, I am so sorry!  I hope you get a new bus soon and can make it here.

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42 minutes ago, KarenAG said:

Thank you - it looks pretty unlikely I'll make the first act at this point. I will look forward to reading your posts about the performance. 


Ballet travel can be harrowing when things go wrong. Hope you make the second act safely and the performance is beautiful...

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What a magnificent performance this matinee. Sarah Lane was a breathtakingly beautiful Giselle. Vulnerable, elegant, dreamy, ethereal.  Daniil Simkin and Christine Shevchenko were very impressive in their debuts as well.

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I most enjoyed le petite Giselle cast, as I kept calling them, at today's matinee.  Here are some scattered thoughts.  Excuse the typos.


It was wonderful to see Melanie Hamrick back on the stage.  She makes that quick footwork for Giselle's friends look so light and effortless.  (Others don't.  Ahem.)  Blaine Hoven wasn't quite at his best in the peasant pas.  He had a noticeably shaky landing to his knee at the end, but I felt it was little lackluster throughout.  Cassandra Trenary, his partner, dance well.


I was impressed with the physical partnering between Lane and Simkin.  He has improved as a partner immensely, and everything felt secure and easy.  Their courtship was an especially youthful and playful one, their chemistry more fleeting and perhaps less deeply passionate than some other pairs, but I thought they danced well together, and I think they'd make a perfect Romeo and Juliet.  Sarah tackled the first act choreography with no difficulties.  I was proud of her today.  Her grand jetes seemed to soar a bit higher than normal, and her extensions, not something she is known for, seemed higher, particularly in the adagio section in act 2.  The hops on pointe were easy-breezy, with her elegant, relaxed port de bras riding on top.  But I was most impressed with her characterization.  Her mad scene was wonderfully moving.  More on the understated side, I suppose, if compared to say Vishneva, but really well done.  I was less impressed with Simkin's characterization.  Perhaps its unfair, but it is still hard for him to overcome his impish appearance.  Thus I think it's tricky for him to move from a flirty youth to a remorseful prince.  (It didn't help that the ACT 2 cape dwarfed his small frame.)


But his technique!  His batterie is without compare (maybe Herman?), brises that glide horizontally as if by magic, whisking the floor, showing off his gorgeous arched feet and tight fifth position.  When he hit that first big tour jete in Act 2 he got such air and made an amazing picture as his legs scissored.  Each tour landed in a perfect pillowy plie in tight fifth.  There are maybe 2 or 3 regular priouettes in Albrecht's choreography, but Simkin milked them for all they were worth, spinning to infinity.  His Act 2 was just a show of technical perfection, wonderfully on the music, nothing overdone or wasted.


Sarah's act 2 was impressive, if not as technically perfect.  She started the act with immense energy, spinning in arabesque at great speed.  I felt that she struggled a bit in the section with the repeated jumps in fifth (entrachat quatres?), not getting much height.  I also thought her body position in the overhead lifts seemed weird.  Is it me, or are Giselle's ankles supposed to be crossed there?  It looked like her legs were too spread and her torso wasn't raised enough.  Her balances and penches were all secure though.  And overall I was so happy to see her dance so confidently that she was able to bring an abundance of passion and drama to the stage.


Christine Schevenko was a formidable, strong, ice-cold Myrta, another great debut.  (For what it's worth, my husband disagrees, but I think he is just obsessed with Gillian in this particular role.)  I saw Schevenko's Kitri the other day, and what a season she is having!


Craig Salstein danced the heck out of Hiarion.  (I almost didn't recognize him in the fake beard.)  His chaine turns are so incredibly fast.  Respect.


Moyna and Zulma were Paulina Waski and Zhong-Zing Fang respectively.  Fang is such as lush dancer, and she milked every phrase beautifully.  She made Waski look a bit robotic and stiff in contrast.  Also, how does Fang land every jump completely soundlessly?  This is so impressive and truly adds to the illusion.  My guess is that her feet are so strong she is able to wear very soft pointe shoes.  I adore her dancing, and wish I could see her in more featured roles.


The corps wasn't their best today, and I was disappointed to see some sagging arabesques as the lines criss-crossed, and that beautiful part where they turn in groups of four and do the grand jetes in attitude upstage was totally sloppy.  


But I was moved to tears watching Sarah Lane in her long overdue NY Giselle debut.  What a star!  Anyone know why she received two bouquets at the curtain call?


One pet peeve: both Lane and Schevenko wing their feet too much in my opinion, especially in arabesque penche.  It causes them to appear almost flexed, particularly from a side angle (I was a bit on the side of the dress circle).  (Simkin doesn't do this at all, thus his arabesque is so pure and beautiful, from any angle.)  They both have excellent turnout, and it is unnecessary.



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I agree, the performance was fantastic.  Sarah Lane was a fantastic Giselle.  In Act 1, she was sweet and endearing with Albrecht.  Her and Danil had great chemistry.  She had some very minor bobbles, which were probably nerve related, but it didn't take away from her performance.  Her mad scene was an emotional wallop.  It made me cry, it was so hauntingly beautiful.  If the New York Times wants to highlight a dancer who can act, I hope they saw Sarah's debut.


While I enjoyed her act 1, I thought it was her act 2 that really shone.  She has a lovely upper body with beautiful arms and back.  She may not have the highest jumps, but the softness and pliancy of her upper body makes up for it.  When she stretched her arms out in front of Albrecht to protect him, it was powerful.   


Danil did a great job.  I was impressed with him today because I think he did a good job letting Sarah shine.  Their act 2 pas was stunning.  I know it's part of the choreography , but I was a wee bit disappointed he chose to do the brises instead of entrechat six.  But that's just because I love those entrechats there with that music.  


Overall, it was very enjoyable debut performances and I'm so happy for Sarah Lane.  I really feel her promotion is coming this year, and she most definitely deserves it.


On a non-ballet note, the chocolate babka at Breads across the street may be the best thing I've ever eaten.

Edited by Kaysta
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I say this cautiously because I know that Sarah Lane has an ardent fan base here, but I have mixed feelings about her Giselle. My issue is with her forced and tense facial expression. For most of the first act, where she is happy-in-love and smiling, she was overly bright and stiff. When the natural and unaffected Cassandra Trenary came onstage for the peasant pdd, the contrast was marked. In the parts where Lane didn't have to smile (everything after the big reveal), I liked her characterization much, much more (although even then, something about her facial expression never seems completely natural). The mad scene left me teary. And technically, she was totally up to the choreography, looking secure and confident. Her arms are way more fluid than I ever noticed before. 

Simkin still looks young, but it struck me that he looks more mature and somehow more weighty over the years. Not that he's gained weight, but somehow he had more heft and more depth, and I mean that in a really good way. I was impressed with his characterization. And technically he was brilliant, yet always retaining that beautiful form. Great job, Daniil!

Shevchenko looked gorgeous and danced with the authority of a principal. As mentioned previously, Cassandra Trenary made a beautiful impression with her lightness and naturalness. I am so happy about this promising group of soloists! Blaine Hoven looked quite noble, but was a little sloppy, heavy, and there were a few partnering bobbles. 

On to Hallberg and Murphy!

ETA: Forgot to add that I enjoyed Craig Salstein's Hilarion. He made this a more sympathetic and likeable character than I've ever seen before. I couldn't help but wonder why Giselle didn't go for such a good, decent guy. Usually he's aggressive-angry-creepy. 

Edited by cobweb
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22 minutes ago, DeCoster said:

But I was moved to tears watching Sarah Lane in her long overdue NY Giselle debut.  What a star!  Anyone know why she received two bouquets at the curtain call?






I believe she got 3, actually. Two big ones and a smaller one. It's not that unusual for ballerinas to get more than one bouquet on stage, although it doesn't happen that often anymore. All the big stars who guest with ABT usually get 2.

I remember a few years ago Veronika Part got 3 bouquets on stage after a Swan Lake performance.  

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2 hours ago, cobweb said:

I say this cautiously because I know that Sarah Lane has an ardent fan base here, but I have mixed feelings about her Giselle. My issue is with her forced and tense facial expression. For most of the first act, where she is happy-in-love and smiling, she was overly bright and stiff.

I thought the Lane's Giselle was wonderful. Her mad scene really moved me in a way few have. Cobweb that is an interesting comment about Lane's smile. Truthfully I think that is just her and the way she looks. When she did an incredible Aurora years ago (I don't remember the date, but it was her first) the Times criticism was summed up by a "plastered on smile." I've looked for it since and have concluded that she smiles in a way that some would call overly bright! That seems to be her. That said, she was more than up to any technical challenges and her upper body is IMO the best in ABT. I wish she'd be promoted but I don't see it happening. Her talent has been ignored for years. 

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Sarah Lane needed to change the way people perceive her onstage as a dancer.  That she succeeded so tremendously today is a great testament to what was assuredly many months of hard work and hopefully, coaching outside of ABT.  I kept thinking about the song from the musical Hamilton:  I am not throwing away my shot.  I believe that is what we saw on stage this afternoon:  with younger, talented soloists nipping at her heels, and 8 or 9 years of built-up frustration, she is a seasoned dancer who knows this is her shot, and she has to make it work.  That Cheshire cat grin from her Sleeping Beauty debut in - what? 2006? - is gone now, and so is that performer.  Lane has suddenly been transformed into an amazing ballerina, giving a performance that no one was expecting.  She has it all, the technique, the acting, and much of the confidence she lacked before.  Her mad scene was truly astonishing, beautifully paced to the music and truly frightening.  I was sitting near the front of the orchestra, and I couldn't believe the range of emotions that played across her face in Act I, as Giselle interacted easily with other characters, including Simkin as Albrecht (her performance was far better than his), then slowly turned into a raving madwoman.  Frankly, I think Gia Kourlas interviewed the wrong dancer last week. 


Both Lane and Simkin were great in the second act (his virtuoso dancing is nonpareil), and the only issue I saw was his shakiness (once again) with the two lifts. But both he and Lane held on and made it work.  They were a tremendous team today, working in tandem as beautifully as they did in Whipped Cream.  Everyone I spoke to today was blown away by Lane's performance:  at intermission, after the show, on the subway home, and then again in the lobby at this evening's performance (yes, I went to that one too).  I'm sorry that the only people I've heard from today who had issues with Lane's performance are posters on this board, but you know, the only person whose opinion really matters is the one who, hopefully, was watching today's matinee from the back of the theater, and we won't know what that person thinks until July.  


By the way, I thought Lane's first act was far better than Gillian Murphy's this evening.  Murphy seemed rather lackluster until Act II, when she and David Hallberg turned on the beautiful bravura dancing.  Perhaps her injured hip was still bothering her, and she didn't wish to push herself too fast, too early.  Their performance ended on a tremendous emotional high, with two curtain calls rather than the one curtain everyone else has been allowed.  Stella Abrera was magnificent as Myrta, with the great authority the role demands, which Christine Shevchenko (at the matinee) doesn't quite have yet (Shevchenko's dancing was wonderful, though).  I thought Craig Salstein as Hilarion was far better than Tom Forster this evening, and Joseph Gorak and Skylar Brandt were every bit as good in the peasant pas as Hoven and Trenary this afternoon.  I'm now officially on a two-day break from ballet, but I'll be back at the Met on Tuesday for Marcelo Gomes' anniversary show with more Abrera and Murphy!  


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I was at both performances today. DeCoster's post really sums up exactly how I felt about the matinee performance, so I won't add too much. Lane gave a very detailed, naturalistic performance and really inhabited the role. She's a naturally sunny dancer so the smiling doesn't really bother me at all. Her powerful mad scene really caught me off guard -- it's the most moving one I've seen in recent memory and I'm glad she didn't overly milk it, like Vishneva has done in recent seasons. Overall, it felt like an artistically mature performance; I would have never guessed it was her debut. The praise for all of Simkin's gorgeous leaps and spins is 100% justified! 


There was a lot of energy in the house for the evening performance, with Hallberg's return to a princely role. He was the beautiful dancer I remember, impossibly gorgeous feet and all. I got the sense that he was maybe being a bit cautious with some of the jumps, but it's difficult to say since it's been such a long while since I've seen him as Albrecht, and it almost didn't really matter. His interpretation of Albrecht felt a bit dark, melancholy, introverted, as if he didn't know what he had gotten himself into with the ebullient Giselle of Murphy.


Murphy's Giselle was robust and full of life in the first act, but I have to say I was disappointed overall in her performance (I may be in the minority here, given the strong reaction of the audience). Her characterization in the first act was pretty one-note, and I think she missed a lot of opportunities to add details to her acting. Technically, she was super solid, and her solo was perfect -- with lovely hops on point and a super fast manege of turns at the end. But is Giselle really supposed to be about super fast turns? Her mad scene was the low point of the act for me. She seemed overly concerned with her hair, first making sure it was distributed properly and then making sure it didn't get in her face. And then she went about the standard motions, just acting sort of sad throughout. Murphy started out pretty well in Act II (nice spinning arabesques), but she looked rather leaden in many of the leaps/hops. The ones right after the spinning arabesques actually looked really odd and I wondered if she might be injured. Murphy pretty much danced the entire Act II as a zombie -- not a lot going on in terms of characterization. Hallberg's dancing was beautiful -- with entrechat six that went on forever! I'm just not convinced his pairing with Murphy was ideal from a dramatic standpoint. It never really came together for me.


The highlight of the evening for me, Hallberg's exciting return aside, was Abrera as Myrtha. It's probably the single most beautiful Myrtha performance I've seen at ABT. Her port de bras was to die for -- everything you'd want in a Romantic ballerina. And she didn't let a single moment go by without infusing it with drama and personality. An absolutely authoritative interpretation of the role. She really brought me into the world of the Wilis; I'm afraid Murphy brought me out of it. And David was along for the ride with his beautiful, super noble dancing. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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Hallberg's characterization of Albrecht has improved so much since I saw him last time back in 2014. I liked the fact that his Albrecht had remorse on his face when everything is revealed in 1st Act. His Albrecht used to look impenetrable and somewhat heartless but now he is showing more vulnerable side. Overall his acting felt way more sincere than before. I got teary eyed after thead scene not because of Gillian's acting but because of Hallberg's reaction. I hope he stays healthy throughout the season.

For the matinee I think everyone has already said everything. I hope to see Simkin and Lane partnership more often... hopefully in R&J!

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I agree that Lane's performance was stronger than Murphy's but I still greatly enjoyed the night cast.  It was so emotional to see both Hallberg and Murphy in those roles.  And Abrera is on fire this season.  She is dancing at such a high level right now.  Definitely the best Myrta of the bunch (and her Giselle is pretty amazing as well).

Edited by Kaysta
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I concur with everything laurel said above. I thought Sarah Lane had a triumphant debut as Giselle! I like Gillian very very much but I think Sarah was more poetic, more vulnerable, the picture of romanticism. She did seem like a different dancer today. This performance was fully formed; where did it come from? I don't recall if she's danced it elsewhere while waiting for her shot in her own company. Bravo to her! Please pay attention, Mr McKenzie.  

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38 minutes ago, LadyBubbles said:

IIRC, Sarah Lane has only danced Giselle once with a small company (LakeCities Ballet perhaps?) many years ago. I don't recall her performing it again after that.


In April, Lane and Murphy both danced Giselle with ABT in Oman.  

Very enjoyable to read about these performances.

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