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ABT 2017 Swan Lake


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18 hours ago, laurel said:

Unfortunately, this afternoon's performance felt more like a typical Wednesday afternoon matinee than an important New York debut.  So many things seemed "off."  The audience where I was seated in the orchestra was filled with the elderly folks who were upbeat and happy to be there, far preferable to the mothers with very young children, who could not concentrate and insisted on whispering through Act II, (was grateful when they departed at intermission); and the five year-old next to me who insisted on tunelessly humming along with that dreadful violin in Act III; and a fidgety woman in front of me who removed her shoes and stretched out as if she were on a lounge chair at the beach.  This kind of environment made the performance even more disappointing than it might have been.

 

 

laurel - I take great offense to your comment “The audience where I was seated in the orchestra was filled with the elderly folks who were upbeat and happy to be there, far preferable to the mothers with very young children”.    How nice that I didn’t interfere with your afternoon.  I made a point of going to see Teuscher on Wednesday afternoon.  I also happen to be a recently retired senior who has been attending ballet performances (both in the US and Europe) for over thirty years.  I am not a once in a while balletomane, but as others on here, I am someone who goes frequently just to see different casts.   My age does not negate all of my knowledge, ballet or otherwise.  You too will become a senior one day.   I doubt it would please you to be characterized the same way as you’ve described seniors at the ballet.

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18 hours ago, nanushka said:

Yeah, a group of four older people by me decided to change rows during the Siegfried/Benno scene at the start of Act II, just in order to be able to sit maybe 3-4 seats closer to the center. This involved forcing at least 3 people in the new row to stand up for them to pass. After that, the candy wrappers, zipping bags and cell phone lights seemed only minor inconveniences!

 

nanushka - As far as older people changing their seats, I see it happening all the time regardless of age.  Just recently an usher had to yell at some younger adults from moving around for better seats as the lights were dimming.  Oh, and a thirtysomething  stepped all over me yesterday because he couldn’t even wait for the house lights to come on to get out of his seat.  

 

It is not just older folks.  I see a complete cross section of age groups doing plenty of annoying things at almost every performance.   

 

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Being an older grumpy, no-longer-physically-Metro-NYer, but always a Jersey girl temperamentally, I, too, am offended that someone might think me "upbeat and happy to be there."

 

There reason many of us, including us older folks, point out when older people are rude, is that many older people live in glass houses, but throw stones anyway when it comes to appropriate behavior in the theater.  I assume anyone my age or older, especially people who've been going to the theater since they were young, should know better -- I admit that's my bad -- but it incenses me to hear the same people complaining about "young people these days."

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4 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

 

nanushka - As far as older people changing their seats, I see it happening all the time regardless of age.  Just recently an usher had to yell at some younger adults from moving around for better seats as the lights were dimming.  Oh, and a thirtysomething  stepped all over me yesterday because he couldn’t even wait for the house lights to come on to get out of his seat.  

 

It is not just older folks.  I see a complete cross section of age groups doing plenty of annoying things at almost every performance.   

 

No disagreement here, NinaFan. I've experienced horrors at the ballet committed by members of every demographic!

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46 minutes ago, Helene said:

It's not just power over casting:  it's the power to make decisions about what goes on stage.  Most people mistakenly believe that meritocracy has to do with the talent and ability of the dancers, who aren't the ones deciding what's best for the rest of us, based on their talent and ability.

 

Edited to add:  Meritocracy is still a paternalistic idea, that people rule based on talent and ability, as opposed to heredity, for example.

So is your point a semantic one, that it's incorrect to use the term "meritocracy" to refer to a system in which dancers are promoted based on talent and ability, because they are not at the top of the system?

 

The Wikipedia article you cite goes on to state:

"Advancement in such a system is based on performance measured through examination and/or demonstrated achievement in the field where it is implemented."

 

This suggests to me that meritocracy is a term referring to the system as a whole ("Advancement in such a system..."), not just to those who end up on top (and are ADs even really on top?). After all, most soloists were once corps; most principals were once soloists, and many ADs were themselves once principals. The whole system, if it's one in which promotion is based on talent and ability, would rightly be referred to as a meritocracy. Is that incorrect?

 

I'm sorry if im being obtuse in not following your point.

Edited by nanushka
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12 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

I'm sorry if im being obtuse in not following your point.

You are not obtuse.  I'm not following it either, but I'm too busy at work for further involvement in the discussion. 

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16 minutes ago, nanushka said:

So is your semantic point that it's incorrect to use the term "meritocracy" to refer to a system in which dancers are promoted based on talent and ability, because they are not at the top of the system?

It's not a semantic point to point out that there's a general misunderstanding and misapplication of a term that underlies a national myth that is myopic in the best of cases.  But like in many American myths, the idea that the founding American concepts actually apply to everyone are wrong.  For a simple example, we can start with who could vote or own an animal.

 

In theory, the only dancers who are promoted based on talent and ability through examination are Paris Opera Ballet dancers until the rank of etoile, and that is a jury system, which is representative of various factions.

 

Dancers who are promoted through the ranks at other companies represent a combination of taste, judgement and need of the Artistic Directors, who are presumed to be in charge due to talent and merit, constrained by taste, judgement, need, and money, as well as pressure exerted from a variety of sources, most of which they ignore.

 

Some of that need is transparent to the public as it views the product and the conditions under which the company operates, ie, the need for people to work together, the need to take dancers into the company from the school, or they won't get the best candidates at the school, for a mix of type and fach, for reliability -- physical and emotional -- for the ability to learn quickly, to work on different stages, to mentor, to travel, to project in large theaters, to look polished close up in small theaters, for height, for partnering abilities, for versatility, etc. 

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I am very curious about the reviews from tomortow's performance with Hee Seo.  I was completely captivated to a degree that I could not take my eyes off her when Marcello was on stage- i did not think that was at all possible!!!

it cannot be only a credit to his partnering...

I used to avoid performances where she was cast but I will not do so in the future.

i am a neophyte to ballet but her movements carried to what seemed to me perfect completion the extensions, and made time stand still. I finally understood the comments about the beuty of the back bends.  It also seemed she was much better when Marcello was with her and so I wonder to what extent it is a cofidence problem.  Perhaps she should star parachuting like downhill racers! 

Watching her gave at me such pleasure that I can live with the messed fouettes - and can only feel sorry that with this quality of dancing she cannot get a grasp.  

I also would like her to show a wider range of emotion in the final scene -. There should be some escalation whether it be anger or despondency before the suicide.  But perhaps alter the missed fouettes she had no resources.  Anyway from where I sat the scene seemed dominated by the corps.  Or is it the choreography?

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20 minutes ago, Helene said:

In theory, the only dancers who are promoted based on talent and ability through examination are Paris Opera Ballet dancers until the rank of etoile, and that is a jury system, which is representative of various factions.

 

Dancers who are promoted through the ranks at other companies represent a combination of taste, judgement and need of the Artistic Directors, who are presumed to be in charge due to talent and merit, constrained by taste, judgement, need, and money, as well as pressure exerted from a variety of sources, most of which they ignore.

 

Some of that need is transparent to the public as it views the product and the conditions under which the company operates, ie, the need for people to work together, the need to take dancers into the company from the school, or they won't get the best candidates at the school, for a mix of type and fach, for reliability -- physical and emotional -- for the ability to learn quickly, to work on different stages, to mentor, to travel, to project in large theaters, to look polished close up in small theaters, for height, for partnering abilities, for versatility, etc. 

 

This is an excellent explanation of why the dance world is not a meritocracy (and I suspect that few on here would argue with that!) –– but it does not follow that, if one erroneously believed that "examination and/or demonstrated achievement in the field" were the only factors considered when dancers get promoted, one would be misapplying the term by referring to that as a "meritocracy." The latter is what I understood you to be saying. Again, sorry if I wasn't following your point.

Edited by nanushka
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16 minutes ago, Helene said:

It's not a semantic point to point out that there's a general misunderstanding and misapplication of a term that underlies a national myth that is myopic in the best of cases.

 

Just a note to clarify that I edited that part of my post before you responded but apparently after you hit "quote," simply because I didn't want to give the impression that I was calling it a semantic point in the demeaning sense. In my profession, semantic points are just as valid as any other sort! :)

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, Natalia said:

 

Speaking of Murphy...Last night, I rewatched her as O/O in that wondrous 2005 DVD of ABT's SWAN LAKE, opposite Corrella's Siegfried. During the bows, a little swan stands just behind & to the left (audience view) of Murphy. It is Sarah Lane. Toi, toi, toi, Sarah!

 

Adding to the above: in that 2005 film, Sarah Lane can be spotted among the "aristocratic ladies" in A1(blue gown), then among the swan corps during bows, just behind Murphy. Dreams come true tonight, as she becomes the star of this very production! Please report, lucky attendees. :) 

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1 hour ago, NinaFan said:

 

nanushka - As far as older people changing their seats, I see it happening all the time regardless of age.  Just recently an usher had to yell at some younger adults from moving around for better seats as the lights were dimming. 

 

Now this I can commiserate with. The Met Opera House is just not built for ballet. It's built fine for opera when seeing is not absolutely necessary. I recently sat in the orchestra for Giselle and while I admit I am a very petite person, the woman in front of me was tall and had a huge mop of curly hair to boot which dwarfed my view of the stage. I spent the entire performance leaning right and left trying to see around her and it was incredibly frustrating and had I had enough gumption, I would have changed seats. There is not enough of a pitch to the floor, it's pretty much level. So if you have a big person in front of you, you are screwed.

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9 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

Now this I can commiserate with. The Met Opera House is just not built for ballet. It's built fine for opera when seeing is not absolutely necessary. I recently sat in the orchestra for Giselle and while I admit I am a very petite person, the woman in front of me was tall and had a huge mop of curly hair to boot which dwarfed my view of the stage. I spent the entire performance leaning right and left trying to see around her and it was incredibly frustrating and had I had enough gumption, I would have changed seats. There is not enough of a pitch to the floor, it's pretty much level. So if you have a big person in front of you, you are screwed.

 

This is why I only sit or stand in the grand tier or dress circle.  I had a fairly nice orchestra seat (row L) that I got through the rush program for Don Q, and I found I still prefer the cheaper seats in the dress circle because of the pitch and the perspective.

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10 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

Now this I can commiserate with. The Met Opera House is just not built for ballet. It's built fine for opera when seeing is not absolutely necessary. I recently sat in the orchestra for Giselle and while I admit I am a very petite person, the woman in front of me was tall and had a huge mop of curly hair to boot which dwarfed my view of the stage. I spent the entire performance leaning right and left trying to see around her and it was incredibly frustrating and had I had enough gumption, I would have changed seats. There is not enough of a pitch to the floor, it's pretty much level. So if you have a big person in front of you, you are screwed.

 

Yes, and if you're in the Grand Tier you have a huge pitch, or rake, but in the center of that section you are so far away from the stage that you can barely see the facial expressions and the acting without binoculars, which ruins the experience. If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times: for ballet, every single seat at the Met is a compromise.

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1 hour ago, Natalia said:

 

Adding to the above: in that 2005 film, Sarah Lane can be spotted among the "aristocratic ladies" in A1(blue gown), then among the swan corps during bows, just behind Murphy. Dreams come true tonight, as she becomes the star of this very production! Please report, lucky attendees. :) 

Also at the end of act IV after Rothbart dies and the swans do their final dance and bow to the sun. I remember watching the video and saying "who is that tiny ballerina in there"? :D Years later I rewatched and realized "OMG it's Sarah Lane".

 

In not so great news, I just watched Lane's Instagram story and apparently she's sick with a cold (but will dance tonight). I hope she finds something that makes her feel better, but not something that will make her drowsy (*ahem* honey and lemon in warm water work wonders). I second all the toi toi toi Sarah!!!

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I don't know...I hear all this about "not every Principal needs to master all roles", and I really can't fathom the idea. There they are... all the way go the top, and dancing with OBVIOUS and very exposed limitations. It can be that I got so used to the ultra harsh Cuban ranking system of:

1-Corps B

2-Corps A

3-Coryphee

4-Soloist

5-Principal

6-Primera ballerina

...that one knew that every single one of those #6's was completely capable to dance absolutely everything. 

I don't think I want to settle for less. Copeland and Seo's were mediocre performances.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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5 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I don't know...I hear all this about "not every Principal needs to master all roles", and I really can't fathom the idea. There they are... all the way go the top, and dancing with OBVIOUS and very exposed limitations. It can be that I got so used to the ultra harsh Cuban ranking system of:

1-Corps B

2-Corps A

3-Coryphee

4-Soloist

5-Principal

6-Primera ballerina

...that one knew that every single one of those #6's was completely capable to dance absolutely everything. 

I don't think I want to settle for less. Copeland and Seo's were mediocre performances.

 

We don't have that ranking system.

We don't have prima ballerina as a ranking.

They are principals.

 

And that IS their rank whether or not one agrees. Not that we can't disagree of course!

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Just now, aurora said:

 

We don't have that ranking system.

We don't have prima ballerina as a ranking.

They are principals.

 

And that IS their rank whether or not one agrees. Not that we can't disagree of course!

 

Oh...you got me wrong. I am not disagreeing with the ranking system whatsoever. Actually...little the ranking system has to do for a Prima-(your equivalent of Principal...just the name I am used to...same meaning)- being incapable of performing Odile's fouettes. ?

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Just wanted to chime in and thank everyone for their reviews; I read them eagerly! Wish I could be seeing all these wonderful debuts. I saw on Lane's instagram that she thanks either/both Irina and Max for the help in the last few days. Good to hear about them coaching especially with the seeming bad blood.

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I think the bad blood that Irina and Max may feel is only towards ABT, not towards any particular dancer such as Sarah.  Also, they may have been giving her advice and help as a side project based on their friendship, rather than in an official capacity. 

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Great comments, everyone.  For me, it was not the best performance I've seen, but it had many good things in it.  I'll post my thoughts soon.        

 

Thinking of Sarah all day today and wishing her the very best tonight, and now I read she has a cold.  Oh, I so hope she has a good night.      

  I can't wait to hear all about it.  Sarah, be blessed!    

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