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ABT 2017 Tchaikovsky Spectacular

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Here's a thought: If Part doesn't want to publicly announce her retirement until the last minute, or make a big fuss over it, it might make sense for all the announcements to be made after company class that Saturday -- her retirement + promotions.

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20 minutes ago, California said:

Here's a thought: If Part doesn't want to publicly announce her retirement until the last minute, or make a big fuss over it, it might make sense for all the announcements to be made after company class that Saturday -- her retirement + promotions.

 

So we still have to wait a whole week? I thought it would be any day now, at least from Wednesday on.

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I realize Part is not a big user of social media (her Instagram doesn't have a lot of followers nor does she post a lot) so I can understand her not announcing her plans on her page (plus she seems to value her privacy), but she still has a fan base who would rally to buy tickets to see her retirement if they knew about it in advance. So, along with the recent re-org of the program, this seems like a rather last minute decision which strikes me as odd. I hope she is happy. 

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Oh my...I just now noticed that Part's final Mozartiana on July 8 has been shifted to the END of the program. AfterEffect now opens the show. (Didn't see AlexL and others' earlier posts til now.)

 

 

Wasn't Michele Wiles' farewell a rather hasty affair too? Somehow I don't recall it having been announced well in advance. Definitely not in any season brochure.

 

Ana Sophia Scheller's recent farewell from NYCB was also rather hasty (to SFco). Ditto Maria Alexandrova leaving the Bolshoi, for freelance dancing.

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There was no announcement regarding Wiles's farewell.

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That's right. as I recall, the announcement was made after the performance, when she received her bouquet. And that's all. I think that's the way she wanted it--no fanfare. I thought it rather odd. Then shortly thereafter she announced formation of her own small dance company. 

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14 hours ago, Natalia said:

Ana Sophia Scheller's recent farewell from NYCB was also rather hasty (to SFco). Ditto Maria Alexandrova leaving the Bolshoi, for freelance dancing.

Scheller's departure might be a little different. I don't know what the advance notice was, and a principal dancer leaving one company to become a principal dancer in another company has a different feeling for me. Scheller got a nice send off with company members applauding, flowers etc. It was beyond ordinary bows, but less than a huge pre-planned send off. We have to remember though, that she was making a career move, not retiring from dance or ballet. Presumably SFB was offering her more opportunities than NYCB or she had other personal reasons. I guess I'm saying that all goodbyes are not equal and Part (who has never been a favorite of mine) is not getting what she deserves.

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The "Veronika Part: Divided Opinions" thread in the Dancers section of this forum shows some public (Facebook) statements from Part indicating that she's leaving against her own wishes. She also mentions sponsorship (presumably for her position) being turned down by ABT. Just because a donor offers sponsorship doesn't mean ABT has to accept it and continue the dancer's contract, but it would take the "financial burden" issue out of the equation. However, perhaps ABT hopes to redirect that donor's money to another purpose.

 

This situation is awful. However they choose to handle Part's farewell, I just hope they do it in a way that preserves her dignity. Ideally, bouquets from Kopalkova and Gomes (who will be performing earlier in the program), with McKenzie's presence downplayed. If I had to guess, I'd say they would do slightly more than they did for Wiles, but nowhere near as much as the whole theatrical bouquet after bouquet with confetti, etc. I can't believe McKenzie essentially fired her.

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53 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

The "Veronika Part: Divided Opinions" thread in the Dancers section of this forum shows some public (Facebook) statements from Part indicating that she's leaving against her own wishes. She also mentions sponsorship (presumably for her position) being turned down by ABT. Just because a donor offers sponsorship doesn't mean ABT has to accept it and continue the dancer's contract, but it would take the "financial burden" issue out of the equation. However, perhaps ABT hopes to redirect that donor's money to another purpose.

 

This situation is awful. However they choose to handle Part's farewell, I just hope they do it in a way that preserves her dignity. Ideally, bouquets from Kopalkova and Gomes (who will be performing earlier in the program), with McKenzie's presence downplayed. If I had to guess, I'd say they would do slightly more than they did for Wiles, but nowhere near as much as the whole theatrical bouquet after bouquet with confetti, etc. I can't believe McKenzie essentially fired her.

 

I wasn't always the biggest Part fan but I also think this "transition" is very graceless and she still had a lot to offer to the company. Would have loved to see her in La Bayadere one more time (IMO her best role). 

Edited by canbelto

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7 hours ago, vipa said:

Scheller's departure might be a little different. I don't know what the advance notice was, and a principal dancer leaving one company to become a principal dancer in another company has a different feeling for me. Scheller got a nice send off with company members applauding, flowers etc. It was beyond ordinary bows, but less than a huge pre-planned send off. We have to remember though, that she was making a career move, not retiring from dance or ballet. Presumably SFB was offering her more opportunities than NYCB or she had other personal reasons. I guess I'm saying that all goodbyes are not equal and Part (who has never been a favorite of mine) is not getting what she deserves.

 

I was at what turned out to be Scheller's farewell and it was very downplayed. Just two bouquets and a nice solo bow. No Peter Martins. No past partners. No company coaches or other staff. No speeches or words of appreciation. I'm sure that most in the audience didn't understand what was going on unless one of us "ballet fans" whispered it to them. It wasn't even in the last ballet of the afternoon.

 

By the way, we don't know what Veronika may have up her sleeve. She may have worked something out with another employer once she learned that she wouldn't be continuing with ABT past the Met season. Don't most companies give dancers of any rank proper notice time so that they can start looking for positions with other employers? We don't know what has happened. Of course, we wish her well, no matter the outcome...hoping to read good news about her circumstance in the coming days and weeks. 

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I signed the petition and will pass it on to other dance lovers.  Not to be cynical, but I don't think the petition will have any influence.  The AD has already shown his lack of regard for Part in numerous ways.

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Part was radiant in Mozartiana and exceeded my expectations in a ballet I wasn't sure was a great fit for her (with the exception of the Preghiera, which I assumed would fit her strength in adagio). Some strain evident in her injured leg/ankle. But really a beautiful and incredibly emotional experience. Blaine was fantastic in solos and partnering. More to come later. One would never expect Part were a ballerina on her way out. Lots of individual flowers thrown from front orchestra. Part was visibly moved.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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So glad that I was able to get a ticket to Part's penultimate performance.  She danced beautifully as did Blaine and Daniil.

 

The house was packed. I was surprised at how many tickets were sold since this morning.

 

Next to Mozartiana, my favorite piece was Souvenir d'un lieu cher with Stella, Marcelo, Sarah, and Alban.  

 

There was some impressive dancing in AfterEffect, but it comes across as a muddled work. I had not seen it before. James Whiteside and Zhiyao Zhang were standouts.  I feel like it had everything but the kitchen sink. I hated the part where the Man (Whiteside) sat downstage with his back to the audience, watching everyone dance. There were repeated intonation problems in the orchestra, especially within each string section. I found it painful at times. I wish they had performed the music as a string sextet although that's probably not the sound they wanted.

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There must have been several Veronika fans in the audience tonight.  They cheered loudly after the Prayer section of "Mozartiana," and many people threw flowers at the stage when she took her bows.

 

Part looked regal, elegant, and as free and confident as I've ever seen her (aside from a few awkward partnering moments), but it was not enough for me to enjoy this ballet.  I'm generally pretty indifferent to Balanchine, and I usually dislike Mozart music, so this is probably just never going to be my cup of tea, no matter who is performing.

 

I think I saw Part do the Prayer section at an ABT gala years ago, but I don't think I've ever seen the whole piece before, so I can't really judge how well Hoven or Simkin or the rest of the ensemble performed.  I guess Hoven and Simkin looked ok?

 

In contrast, I really enjoyed "Souvenir d'un lieu cher" -- I love that piece of music, and the solo violinist sounded great.  There were still several Ratmansky cliches--parts where the lead women slide across the floor on pointe, and a few moments of silliness--but I still enjoyed it.  I just love how Marcelo just devours space when he's dancing, and of course, his partnering is magnificent.  He set up Stella for a lovely extended balance, and he seemed to do it so effortlessly.  Abrera, Lane, and Lendorf were all excellent too.

 

Tchaikovsky p.d.d. - well, I guess this turned out better than I expected?  I've decided that I like how Boylston uses her legs and her feet: I particularly love how she lowers her leg slowly when she battements it up to her ear; that shows great control.  However, her use of her arms and her wrists remain distracting.  She, however, seemed comfortable with the pace and the content of the dance, while poor Gorak looked to me like he might collapse at the end.  He's not the most athletic dancer, but he has great flexibility, so his legs really fly open in his jumps.  Gorak usually has beautifully-centered turns, but today he struggled with them, and I think it may have been due to a lack of stamina.  I really worried that he might drop Boylston at the end, and they did the fish dives very cautiously.  Still, for the most part, Gorak looked like he was having fun.

 

AfterEffect - Yes, perhaps this piece goes on a little too long, but I felt engaged the whole time.  Okay, I loved it!  I was expecting the crowd to burst out with applause when Misty appeared onstage, but they didn't!  (And yet the house was packed.)  There were so many soloists in the cast in the ensemble that I felt almost spoiled--Brandt, Zhurbin, Paris, Shevchenko, Teuscher, Scott, and Hoven.  Among the solo variations for the women, Shevchenko drew applause for her perfectly-centered fouettes a la seconde (with the leg extended).  (Speaking of which, when can we see her in "Swan Lake"??  I'm sure SHE can do all 32 counts of fouettes.)  Zhiyao Zhang looked great, and I appreciated Whiteside's commitment to the character and the movement.  I'm curious how Stearns will handle it.  (I probably have seen him in it but I can't remember for sure.)

 

All in all, I enjoyed the show--much more than last week's "Whipped Cream," when I had a hard time staying awake and didn't even bother to comment...

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Mozartiana is a piece I really love, but, apart from the preghiera, I hadn't thought if of it as a particularly natural fit for Veronika Part; so in addition to the intense disappointment of learning that she was leaving ABT, I was also disappointed that this (and not, say, Odette/Odile or Nikiya) would be her final role. I shouldn't have been. I completely agree with Batsuchan:

 

10 hours ago, Batsuchan said:

Part looked regal, elegant, and as free and confident as I've ever seen her (aside from a few awkward partnering moments)...

 

As it turned out, I felt that this was a perfect final piece to see Veronika dance. (I haven't yet gotten a ticket for Saturday; I'm worried the event would just be too upsetting for me, and the two performances I've seen from her this season have been so fulfilling that I might just leave it at those.) Between the preghiera, the tema promenade, the four solo variations, the two-part PDD, and the finale, Balanchine has devised so many differently toned ways of having his ballerina move through space that by the end you feel you've seen the complete catalogue of her finest attributes artfully and musically deployed by a true master. Even if you were to watch this ballet only from the dancers' waists up, there's enough variety and expressivity in the ports de bras to be endlessly engaged.

 

Veronika was of course utterly gorgeous in the preghiera –– that kneeling back bend with the arms spread in communion with the heavens was a true sight to behold. The complete serenity of this first movement was exactly what I needed after the days of frustration, anger and disappointment I'd experienced in learning of her situation.

 

I have to admit I wasn't able to fully register Simkin's performance in the gigue, being so affected by what came before, so I'm glad that I'll be seeing him again in it on Wednesday. My sense is that he restrained himself to the clarities of the Balanchine style more than I'd expected, though he was also less buoyant than I'd hoped.

 

I was very impressed by Blaine Hoven's performance in the male variations. He seemed not to tire in the least, and those can be real killers. It's essentially 45 seconds on / 45 seconds off, for the entire stretch. The steps were clean and crisp throughout.

 

Veronika smiled quite a lot during her variations, and I can imagine this annoying some viewers. (I read about this in some old BA posts on here, from previous ABT runs, in which it was suggested that Calegari may have even coached the lead ballerinas to do something like this.) For me, there's so much inventiveness in the choreography that I can't help smiling myself when seeing much of it, even for the umpteenth time, so it didn't particularly bother me.

 

The first portion of the PDD, before the menuet girls run around, was one part that didn't work as well for me. It seemed a bit too studied and careful, whereas the effect of the pair's sinuous turns and twists around the stage can really be heightened by playing up the illusion of spontaneity –– especially since true spontaneity is so obviously impossible here, given how complicated the timing of the counterpoint is between the two bodies.

 

The main PDD, to the violin solo, was quite lovely, with those arcing lifts particularly standing out. Supported pirouettes were on the whole fairly secure, and the various points at which chaînés, piqués and other turns are deliberately given in slower motion were particularly effective. The only really major problem spot was on the final pose, back-to-back, with the ballerina in supported arabesque. Veronika was clearly straining here (possibly supporting herself on her recently injured ankle?) and had to bring her leg down for a moment before raising it again. She looked quite shaky and uncomfortable, and I actually wish she had just kept the leg down at the end to maintain the final brief restfulness of the pose.

 

Numerous critics have commented on the replications and mirrorings in the roles of this ballet –– the four little girls as versions of the four menuet girls as versions of the single ballerina, not to mention the contrasting male roles –– but it's Arlene Croce's description (reprinted in Going to the Dance) of the ballet's finale that best sums up for me why this felt like a perfect (if bittersweet) ending for Veronika's years of giving superb performances on the Met stage:

 

As she returns, strolling at the end of the ballet, the cast assembles for the first time, its tiny ranks expanding with cosmic implication. Thus does the master choreographer aggrandize the gifts and presence of a ballerina. Thus does he reveal her, sovereign in her kingdom of ballet –– the one among the many who are one.

 

 

Edited by nanushka

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I thought the new Ratmansky ballet was fine, but definitely not among his best.  With only four dancers, it looked swallowed up on that gigantic stage.  It might look better at the Koch.  Loved the dancers, though.

Tschai pdd- I thought Boylston looked good, except that she opted for the easier version of the fouette section.  Gorak was not impressive. (Simkin should have been doing the Tschai pdd, not Gorak.)  The fish dives were so safe they were boring.  

 

Part was ethereal in Mozartiana.  Hoven keeps surprising me.  He seems to be ready for bigger assignments.  Simkin looked like a little boy in that costume, but he danced well.

 

I decided to skip AfterEffect, since I will see at Veronika's farewell on Sat afternoon.

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56 minutes ago, abatt said:

Tschai pdd- I thought Boylston looked good, except that she opted for the easier version of the fouette section.  Gorak was not impressive. (Simkin should have been doing the Tschai pdd, not Gorak.)  The fish dives were so safe they were boring.  

3

I pretty much agree with this assessment. I don't mind when dancers opt for the "easier" fouettes, with the step down between turns (it goes better with the light, twinkly music), but Boylston just looked so tentative and awkward. It almost seemed like she hesitated too long when putting her foot down between turns. Also, I believe she ended early, making it even more anticlimactic, earning a smattering of tepid applause. 

 

I'm sure this video has been shared to death on these forums, but if you're going to opt for the step-down fouettes, they'd hopefully look something like this.

 

 

Gorak didn't bring the bravura dancing one would hope for in this ballet, and he opted for the simplest steps in most places. (Does the Balanchine trust give dancers a variety of options for how they perform each solo in a ballet like this, where dancers usually take some liberties?) Partnering was OK, though it looked like he could barely get Boylston off the stage in that overhead lift that ends the ballet. And ditto what abatt said about the fish dives.

 

Boylston was exciting in the backward hops en arabesque that she does on a diagonal toward the back of the stage. She did a ton of them, and very quickly, though they sort of bore no relation to the music after at a certain point. (Is razzle dazzle worth it when it's unmusical?) It was a very high-energy performance from Boylston, though she's not the most musical dancer and the upper body is pretty unattractive. She doesn't seem to be maturing much as an artist, so I think I'm going to take a few years off from seeing her in any full-lengths.

 

Despite the shortcomings of the Tchai PDD, I still enjoyed it much more than the one I saw this past season at NYCB with Gonzalo Garcia and a dancer from the corps. That was a total snooze-fest. 

 

Nanushka sums up much of what I felt about last night's Mozartiana, so I won't really a lot more. However, there's been a lot of talk on here about which Balanchine ballets are appropriate for ABT. I think this is certainly one of them (provided they don't fire the rest of their regal ballerinas). The small cast makes it easy for ABT to find at least four strong soloist women who can dance crisply and in synch. And it provides a lovely opportunity for four girls from the JKO school. (They were great last night, by the way!) And ABT is never without a short bravura man who can round out the cast. 

 

The Ratmansky was fine but probably one of the less distinct works I've seen from him. There weren't really a lot of memorable moments I could recall, though the dancing was superb all around. The first movement was filled with a lot of purposely opaque moments of romantic intrigue (hands offered and not taken; whispering; making eyes at one another.) This added nothing to the ballet for me, and it just seemed gimmicky. And there were some definite modern ballet cliches here and there; the sliding across the floor en poinet schtick, for example. I wish the costumes had been more distinct from other Ratmansky ballets, as well. Color-washed velvet dresses for the women; velvet tights and textured pleather sleeveless T-shirts for the men. Velvet (especially for tights) just looks so dated and unattractive to me in most ballets. Or is Ratmansky evoking Soviet aesthetics of yesteryear yet again?

Edited by fondoffouettes

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24 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I pretty much agree with this assessment. I don't mind when dancers opt for the "easier" fouettes, with the step down between turns (it goes better with the light, twinkly music), but Boylston just looked so tentative and awkward. It almost seemed like she hesitated too long when putting her foot down between turns. Also, I believe she ended early, making it even more anticlimactic, earning a smattering of tepid applause. 

 

I'm sure this video has been shared to death on these forums, but if you're going to opt for the step-down fouettes, they'd hopefully look something like this.

 

 

Gorak didn't bring the bravura dancing one would hope for in this ballet, and he opted for the simplest steps in most places. (Does the Balanchine trust give dancers a variety of options for how they perform each solo in a ballet like this, where dancers usually take some liberties?) Partnering was OK, though it looked like he could barely get Boylston off the stage in that overhead lift that ends the ballet. And ditto what abatt said about the fish dives.

 

Boylston was exciting in the backward hops en arabesque that she does on a diagonal toward the back of the stage. She did a ton of them, and very quickly, though they sort of bore no relation to the music after at a certain point. (Is razzle dazzle worth it when it's unmusical?) It was a very high-energy performance from Boylston, though she's not the most musical dancer and the upper body is pretty unattractive. She doesn't seem to be maturing much as an artist, so I think I'm going to take a few years off from seeing her in any full-lengths.

 

Despite the shortcomings of the Tchai PDD, I still enjoyed it much more than the one I saw this past season at NYCB with Gonzalo Garcia and a dancer from the corps. That was a total snooze-fest. 

 

Nanushka sums up much of what I felt about last night's Mozartiana, so I won't really a lot more. However, there's been a lot of talk on here about which Balanchine ballets are appropriate for ABT. I think this is certainly one of them (provided they don't fire the rest of their regal ballerinas). The small cast makes it easy for ABT to find at least four strong soloist women who can dance crisply and in synch. And it provides a lovely opportunity for four girls from the JKO school. (They were great last night, by the way!) And ABT is never without a short bravura man who can round out the cast. 

 

The Ratmansky was fine but probably one of the less distinct works I've seen from him. There weren't really a lot of memorable moments I could recall, though the dancing was superb all around. The first movement was filled with a lot of purposely opaque moments of romantic intrigue (hands offered and not taken; whispering; making eyes at one another.) This added nothing to the ballet for me, and it just seemed gimmicky. And there were some definite modern ballet cliches here and there; the sliding across the floor en poinet schtick, for example. I wish the costumes had been more distinct from other Ratmansky ballets, as well. Color-washed velvet dresses for the women; velvet tights and textured pleather sleeveless T-shirts for the men. Velvet (especially for tights) just looks so dated and unattractive to me in most ballets. Or is Ratmansky evoking Soviet aesthetics of yesteryear yet again?

 

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46 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

Partnering was OK, though it looked like he could barely get Boylston off the stage in that overhead lift that ends the ballet. And ditto what abatt said about the fish dives.

 

Boylston was exciting in the backward hops en arabesque that she does on a diagonal toward the back of the stage. She did a ton of them, and very quickly, though they sort of bore no relation to the music after at a certain point. (Is razzle dazzle worth it when it's unmusical?) It was a very high-energy performance from Boylston, though she's not the most musical dancer and the upper body is pretty unattractive. She doesn't seem to be maturing much as an artist, so I think I'm going to take a few years off from seeing her in any full-lengths.

 

Agreed on many points. There were some very nice moments from both dancers during this, but also a lot that was disappointing. Those backward hops of Boylston's were impressive but tasteless. If you're not going to pay attention to the music when dancing Balanchine, of all choreographers, what's the point? This is Tchai Pas, not Grand Pas Classique.

 

The final lift was quite anti-climactic. It would've been better if they'd have just jetéd offstage and called it a night. And the fish dives –– especially the first one –– were quite unimpressive. He may as well have just lifted her straight up and tilted her on her side.

 

13 hours ago, Batsuchan said:

Tchaikovsky p.d.d. - well, I guess this turned out better than I expected?  I've decided that I like how Boylston uses her legs and her feet: I particularly love how she lowers her leg slowly when she battements it up to her ear; that shows great control.  However, her use of her arms and her wrists remain distracting.  She, however, seemed comfortable with the pace and the content of the dance, while poor Gorak looked to me like he might collapse at the end.  He's not the most athletic dancer, but he has great flexibility, so his legs really fly open in his jumps.  Gorak usually has beautifully-centered turns, but today he struggled with them, and I think it may have been due to a lack of stamina.  I really worried that he might drop Boylston at the end, and they did the fish dives very cautiously.  Still, for the most part, Gorak looked like he was having fun.

 

It's true that Gorak did look much livelier than he has at other points this season. His sideways jumps with développé (don't know the term for them) were lovely. And yes, Boylston's unfortunate "crab claw" arms were back, especially during the manège of piqué turns. But you're right, Batsuchan, that lowering of her leg was quite impressive –– almost as impressive as Bouder in this video (at the 6:20 mark) that stuns me every time I watch it:

 

 

Edited by nanushka

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Well, one only has to look at the expansiveness of McBrides arms and upper body (as well as her legs) to see the difference.  Boylston dances too much internally still.  But I'm not sure she even has the upper body openness needed to do this work.  And Mischa, even though small, dances so big!!  I always feel as if this work should look "dangerous", and I use that term in the sense that the dancing should look as if it may not happen, but always does in the very best way imaginable!   Videos are hard to judge by at times, but it seems to me the tempos in the video were more correct.  Last night they seemed to lag a bit, as if to suit the dancers inability to "dance on top of the notes".   I wanted a "rush" where there was none. 

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8 minutes ago, mimsyb said:

I always feel as if this work should look "dangerous", and I use that term in the sense that the dancing should look as if it may not happen, but always does in the very best way imaginable!

 

EXACTLY! So well put.

 

And to add yet another dimension to the seemingly impossible achievement, it must be musical even so!

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