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ABT 2017 Corsaire

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I attended this evening's Corsaire with the petite cast, and it offered a lot of what you look for in a thrilling, silly Corsaire. First off -- brava to Skylar Brandt for a very strong debut. Since she's such a small dancer, I wasn't sure she'd have enough presence to carry the role, but she was luminous and high-spirited and showed no visible nerves. As ridiculous as it sounds, my favorite part of her Act I was how adorable she acted toward the Pascha. Those big expressive eyes!  I could be completely wrong, but I thought perhaps she elected to do fewer leaps than others do in this act? Others on this board will know much better than I. She was very strong in Act II. Probably the biggest shocker (in a good way!) were the lightning-fast supported pirouettes that she and Cornejo executed. They did two extraordinary sets of supported pirouettes -- one during the main pas de deux and the other at the beginning of the bedroom pas de deux. It looked like Brandt was spinning like a top; both the speed and number of revolutions were like nothing I've seen. Ultra-fast supported pirouettes are something I associate with ballet videos from the 1950s to 70s -- and something I wish we saw more of today. Brandt's variation had a significant bobble in one of the turns (in that series that travels downstage), but she recovered quickly and didn't seem fazed. Her fouettes were quite strong, with many doubles thrown in; the traveling was quite pronounced, but she never seemed out of control. And she ended with what looked like a perfectly controlled quadruple! 

 

Cornejo seemed to be holding back a bit when he first came onstage in Act I, but it was exceptional dancing by any standard. One quibble about his Act I -- he barely articulated Conrad's gesture in which he puts both arms to the side, with hands pointed up at right angles. His upper body in general kind of seemed like a bit of an afterthought, which isn't surprising given his recent calf injury. All of his partnering of Brandt was exceptional. And if he held back at some points, he also knew when to bring out the astounding leaps.

 

The bedroom pas de deux was quite lovely, though the overhead lift looked as awkward as it has with most other Corsaire casts in recent years. She was pretty much parallel to the stage, rather than vertical (like Julie Kent is in the classic video). But it was clean; just not particularly attractive. 

 

Simkin was his usually gasp-inducing self! He did two 540s at the end of his variation and brought the house down. Not too much to add -- just imagine everything Simkin usually does, and with perfect finesse.

 

Lane was SO beautiful. Her elegance and regal bearing actually seem a bit out of place in Corsaire, which can devolve into a trick-fest. She was beautiful in the first section of the pas de deux, despite a veil that came half undone and draped over her face in an awkward manner. And to my eyes, her variation with the fouettes thrown in was flawless. And such airy leaps. There's been a lot of talk recently about what roles would suit her. Maybe this is a bit of a wild card, but how about Raymonda, in the unlikely event ABT brings it back anytime soon? I kind of see her in the Aurora/Raymonda vein when it comes to Petipa ballets, though I'd certainly look forward to her O/O, as well.

 

The Odalisques were Cassandra Trenary, Katherine Williams and Catherine Hurlin (I think this is the first time I've seen her do a variation). They didn't look perfect together as a trio, especially in the first section, but individually they were quite lovely, despite a bobble here and there. Hurlin did the variation with all the turns, which seems like it must be a real beast. She managed to keep her composure, even as one turn kind of got away from her. 

 

Salstein as Birbanto and Zhurbin as the Pascha brought much welcome humor to their roles.

 

I left before the last act (not because the performance was lacking in any way), so I look forward to reports of the jardin anime.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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9 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

They did two extraordinary sets of supported pirouettes -- once during the main pas de deux and the other at the beginning of the bedroom pas de deux. It looked like Brandt was spinning like a top -- both the speed and number of revolutions was like nothing I've seen. Ultra-fast supported pirouettes are something I associate with ballet videos from the 50s to 70s -- and something I wish we saw more of today. Well, Cornejo and Brandt delivered. . 

 

 

 

Cornejo circulated some rehearsal video in which they do the supported pirouettes:

 

 

Edited by Drew

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I don't have a detailed review particularly, I'll just add that I thought it was--from the entire cast--as spectacular show.

 

There were bobbles here and there, but none diminished from the performance and everyone really brought their A game.

I agree the Odalisques weren't totally in unison in the first bit, but they were not jarringly out of sync and looked good.

As a note they were a replacement cast in full as the original group included Skylar (hah) with Luciana Paris and Christine Shevchenko..so they were replaced en mass with an alternate C(K) cast of Cassie Trenary, Katherine Williams and Catherine Hurlin.

Cassie was perfect in the first variation--I mean super crisp and stunning.

I saw the tiniest of bobbles if one wanted to nitpick in both K/Catherine's variations but they were really excellently done.

Catherine esp. was lovely, this was the first time I'd seen her in a featured variation and as noted, this is such a hard one.

They also all looked beautiful in the "coda" after their solos where often everyone looks rather spent and things tend to get rather sloppy.

 

As an aside, I'm assuming they just pulled them as a group as they'd rehearsed that way, but has anyone seen Luciana Paris of late? I've been supposed to see her several times this season and every time she's  been replaced.

 

Sarah Lane was beautiful-- really confident gorgeous dancing from her.

Simkin was great but I wish he would do the really deep plies I remember others doing as Lankendem.

 

Salstein is the best in the rather thankless and unbelievable role of Birbanto (I'm your best friend! suddenly I'm going to kill you because I want the slave ladies!). he had one little fall at the end of a passage, but he is such a great character actor he played it off.

 

Cirio had the unenviable task of dancing Ali in a cast where he was probably the 3rd most bravura dancer in the role that usually goes to the most bravura man? And he killed it. He didn't try to beat Simkin or Cornejo for tricks, he did beautiful leaps and turns with more elegance and glamour than either of the others. This was a clean gorgeous performance. There have been more throat catching renditions of the variation but it was a stunning one and sat well in the pas de trois.

 

Which brings us to our leads!

 

Cornejo has probably lost a bit since his heights, but he is such a great dancer, that isn't damning too much. His slight diminishment as a soloist, has, moreover been offset by a massive increase in his partnering skills over the years which lets face it, were never a great strength.

He now, not only seems a secure partner, but a devoted one.

I thought his dancing excellent last night, if somewhat less clean and elegant than in the past. What really impressed me was the partnering. The superfast pirouettes mentioned by fondoffouettees were stunning and the lifts were also easy and without tension of anxiety. I know what was meant about that lift but it was done with such ease I didn't find it awkward, but it was a sort of tabletop position.

This was a very happy partnership. She is a great size for him and they seemed to have a really fantastic instinctive working relationship.

In the "bedroom" grotto scene I kept thinking I'd like to see them do R&J.

 

And lastly, Skylar! Wow!!

No obvious nerves, just joy. She took this opportunity and ran with it. As noted, she had a slight difficulty with one turn in her variation in the pas de trois, and in the jardin animee, if i remember correctly, she came out of a pirouette early (came down to half pointe, not a big deal). otherwise no technical difficulties. She was in character (as much character as this ballet calls for) throughout. it really was a triumphant debut.

 

I don't know if they'll all be quite as amped up on Thursday when it isn't Skylar's debut, but I don't think anyone should hesitate to go out and grab a ticket. In fact I'd advise you do.  I felt like I saw the start of something spectacular.

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34 minutes ago, aurora said:

I don't think anyone should hesitate to go out and grab a ticket. In fact I'd advise you do.  I felt like I saw the start of something spectacular.

 

I totally agree. Skylar's last-minute substitution for the injured Maria Kotchetkova was a phenomenal success. She was technically secure and radiant throughout, handling the most difficult passages with ease and aplomb. Yes, aurora, you surely "saw the start of something spectacular," and I think with this performance Skylar is poised to rise to the very top of ABT's principal dancers.

 

What are we going to do about this sudden outburst of spectacular ABT women--Sarah, Skylar, Cassie, Devon? Can we promote them en masse to Principal?

 

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Boy, do I wish I could have been there! Thanks for the great reviews.

 

And, how about this - she was asked to learn the role last Friday!

 

 

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17 minutes ago, angelica said:

 

 

What are we going to do about this sudden outburst of spectacular ABT women--Sarah, Skylar, Cassie, Devon? Can we promote them en masse to Principal?

 

 

Thanks for all of the reports thus far. Another performance that I wish I could have seen but, alas, I live down in "The Swamp" a 4-hr bus ride down I-95.

 

Agree that ABT has an abundance of fabulous ladies primed for promotions. I truly hope that it's this "home team" that will be elevated, rather than - ahum - you know what I mean...outsiders brought in...

 

I hope to see all of these up-and-comers in featured roles when I'm back in NY for some of the "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" performances in early July. Maybe by then the promotions will have been announced?

 

Lastly - Was America's new Superhero, Gray Davis, on stage last night as a pirate? I hope that he was noticed & cheered in some way. :clapping: 

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20 minutes ago, angelica said:

What are we going to do about this sudden outburst of spectacular ABT women--Sarah, Skylar, Cassie, Devon? Can we promote them en masse to Principal?

 

 

What a wonderful problem to have with so much talent! :)  Though I'd remove Sarah from that list as she's been spectacular for awhile (her long-awaited Giselle propelled her forward even more). And, I'd add Christine Shevchenko to the list of incredible soloists.

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1 minute ago, ABT Fan said:

 

What a wonderful problem to have with so much talent! :)  Though I'd remove Sarah from that list as she's been spectacular for awhile (her long-awaited Giselle propelled her forward even more). And, I'd add Christine Shevchenko to the list of incredible soloists.

 

Hi ABT Fan, the reason I included Sarah in the list, although ITA she has been spectacular for some time, is that she's on the short list for promotion--and she did move to another level in her Giselle performances. I agree that Christine is another incredible soloist. I think my omission was an oversight because I didn't see her in DonQ, alas.

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Agree with most of the above.  Was a really fabulous show.  Only a few comments:  I think Simkin was a little more subdued, which I actually liked.  He did his usual 540's, but he seemed more controlled than usual.  (I also like Lankendem with the deep plies, but realize how hard that can be on a dancer's knees.)  I was sitting with another dancer who commented that it was more enjoyable to see him this way - less is sometimes more.  Herman looked a bit reserved at first, but I agree that he and Skylar looked beautiful together.  Skylar had an amazing debut and I believe she will only get better.  Her joy was palpable.  Cirio slipped in one of his jumps in the coda, but made up for it.  His variation finished with a triple saut de basque.  Sarah Lane was lovely and even better than last year.  I would love for her to perform the Medora role.  Cassie was my favorite of the Odalisques - clean and beautiful technique.  My biggest complaint about many of the women in the corps de ballet is their arms.  I felt that both of the other Odalisques could have improved in that regard.  Overall, this was a wonderful performance.  I, for one, am excited about the future of the company with so many wonderful up and coming artists.  

 

P.S. Gray Davis was back on stage as a Pirate.  Good to see him back!

Edited by its the mom

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6 minutes ago, angelica said:

 

Hi ABT Fan, the reason I included Sarah in the list, although ITA she has been spectacular for some time, is that she's on the short list for promotion--and she did move to another level in her Giselle performances. I agree that Christine is another incredible soloist. I think my omission was an oversight because I didn't see her in DonQ, alas.

 

That makes sense!

 

I cannot wait to see le petite cast on Thursday!

Edited by ABT Fan

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1 hour ago, ABT Fan said:

Boy, do I wish I could have been there! Thanks for the great reviews.

 

And, how about this - she was asked to learn the role last Friday!

 

 

 

Exactly!  So last year when some were defending KM's decision to fill in Seo (or guest artists) for every injured dancer, IT IS possible for their own dancers to step up in emergencies.  I don't know Skylar personally, but I'm sure (as stressful as it may have been) that she was thrilled to have the opportunity to dance Medora.   Congrats to ABT for promoting their young dancers and giving them opportunities to be seen.   I wish I could see this cast, but it's too hard to get there on a work week.

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Brandt has done the Medora pas on tour before with Bolle's touring group. That's not the same thing as the full-length ballet of course, but at least she's performed the pas before. I am also thrilled to see ABT pushing their own dancers this season. What a wonderful time for the company!

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casting update from ABT:
 

Veronika Part and Gillian Murphy are injured and will not perform in Le Corsaire this week. Please note the following cast changes.

 

Tuesday EVE, June 6 - Medora will be danced by HEE SEO

 

Wednesday MAT, June 7 - Medora will be danced by CHRISTINE SHEVCHENKO*

 

Friday EVE, June 9 - Medora will be dance by CHRISTINE SHEVCHENKO

 

Saturday EVE, June 10 - Medora will be dance by CHRISTINE SHEVCHENKO

 

June 7 will be Shevchenko’s debut in the role.

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Casting Update....Shevchenko is now replacing Murphy as Medora at the matinee tomorrow!

 

Murphy is still scheduled to dance Friday night (though that'll probably change as well, I suspect).

 

http://www.abt.org/calendar.aspx

 

**I see rg and I were typing simultaneously.

 

ABT's site only lists Shevchenko for tomorrow, so I guess that's still being updated. Wow - three performances for her!!

 

In light of these injuries, what is going to happen next week for Swan Lake???? (I have a feeling that Teuscher is going to get a second performance, at least!)

Edited by ABT Fan

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Wow. Three performances in 4 days for Shevchenko?! She is having a BIG year!

 

I don't think I can remember a time in the last 10 years at least when Part has pulled out of a full-length due to injury. She's always seemed blessedly impervious.

 

I really hope she's back for Swan Lake next week. I already fear how few of those we have left to see from her. I'm glad she's not scheduled until Saturday.

 

 

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Happy for Shevchenko.  I'd much rather see her than have a return to the days of Hee Seo Ballet Theater.

 

 

Edited by abatt

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42 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

I don't think I can remember a time in the last 10 years at least when Part has pulled out of a full-length due to injury. She's always seemed blessedly impervious.

 

Part cancelled on opening night of Nutcracker at Segerstrom in December 2015. Murphy subbed and did her own performance a couple of days later.

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Hmm with Boylston injuring her ankle in Giselle (hope she is recovering speedily) and Kotchetkova, Part & Murphy pulling out of shows with injuries, Swan Lake week could get interesting! 

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Yay! I get to see Shevchenko on Sat night!  Will miss seeing Part though but hopefully she'll be ok for Swan Lake.

Edited by Kaysta

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4 minutes ago, vipa said:

Hmm with Boylston injuring her ankle in Giselle (hope she is recovering speedily) and Kotchetkova, Part & Murphy pulling out of shows with injuries, Swan Lake week could get interesting! 

I'm counting on it!  I suspect Teuscher and Hee Seo might get additional SL assignments next week.Wondering if they will debut a new O/O.   Fingers and toes crossed for a Lane or Abrera debut.

Edited by abatt

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I'm going to write a letter to ABT to let them know how pleased I am with their soloists.    Probably won't matter to them, but I find these debuts so exciting!   It's so wonderful to see their own talent being given opportunities.

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15 minutes ago, abatt said:

I'm counting on it!  I suspect Teuscher and Hee Seo might get additional SL assignments next week.Wondering if they will debut a new O/O.   Fingers and toes crossed for a Lane or Abrera debut.

 

      Maybe, Sarah was not given a Medora as she is preparing O/O.

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I wouldn't count on ABT giving Lane O/O. Pretty sure one of the main reasons she wasn't picked to dance Medora is because she was already scheduled to dance Gulnare. And then, who would have dance Gulnare? Copeland could have (only other Gulnare short enough for Simkin) but her schedule is very busy this season. So now, why have TWO people learn a role in three days when you have just one learning a new role?

 

Speaking of which, the fact that Brandt was asked to learn the role (learn, not rehearse) three days prior to opening night confirms that they did not have a back up plan for the short cast. Way to go ABT (not).

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Darn, I wish I was seeing Shevchenko! I was going tonight just for Part, the rest of the cast is not exactly thrilling. Sub Seo for Part and I wish I could get my money back but I guess its too late for that. Fingers crossed that she's recovered for her SL.

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They did seem caught off guard for the short cast, but with Part and Murphy also out that makes it pretty unavoidable for someone new to step in unexpectedly. Murphy just posted that she needs more time to heal and that Shevchenko was also given only a few days notice to learn the part. She included a little clip of Shevchenko and Simkin rehearsing below. I wonder if Boylston was understudying one of the roles, since she's the only female principal who wasn't scheduled to dance in this ballet, but with her own injury she couldn't step in.

 

 

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