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ABT 2017 Tchaikovsky Spectacular


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9 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

Few can match the dancers of NYCB in Tchai Pas, most notably Tiler Peck who plays with the music so gloriously. 

Yes, and I have also seen Bouder and Megan Fairchild work magic. I saw Ashley Isaacs at NYCB do it, and it was far less satisfying than the others mentioned, but the performance left me with the idea that she had a musical framework and intent, even if it was unfulfilled. It was Isaac's first shot at it, and she is a soloist not a principal. Boylston has been a principal at ABT for a while now so I would expect more. Of course I am judging by a video, in all fairness I haven't seen her perform the piece live.

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1 hour ago, vipa said:

She didn't seem to have a plan musically and her arms were kind of flung about.

 

Your description here is Boylston to a T.

 

I remember reading numerous people on here in the year or so after she made principal saying things like, "Why isn't she getting better coaching to correct some of these problems?" For a young principal it seemed borderline excusable. Now it's really just gone on too long; I don't feel that she's developed much at all since her promotion. With Vishneva and Part gone, she will be the third most senior female principal (after Gillian and Hee). She has some very nice qualities as a dancer, but these problems are becoming unacceptable.

 

But I suppose if she sees the sort of praise she's been getting in the Times and if she sees a dancer like Part, with very different qualities, getting fired, maybe she just thinks she's on exactly the right track?

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To my surprise, today's highlight for me was Shevchenko in Phregiera section (she wasn't particularly musical in the following parts) and Seo in Nuts pas. I think Seo really needs to consult with a mental coach so that she can perform like tonight in every single performances.

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Just back from the Tchaikovsky Spectacular. As I've noted above, Murphy and Whiteside were a huge improvement over Boylston and Gorak, to say the least. They luxuriated in the music so much more in the pas de deux, and they looked so at ease in the partnering. Both were spectacular in their solos. Murphy has so much more innate musicality than Boylston, as well as an openness in her upper body that others have noted is lacking in Boylston. And Murphy's fouettes, with the step down between turns, were swift, light and everything they should be, as opposed to Boylston's incredibly awkward attempt. I know some City Ballet dancers thrown in multiples (and God knows Murphy would have no trouble doing so), but her perfectly executed step-down ones are what I'd prefer to see. Her hops en arabesque were swift and musical without distorting the choreography like Boylston's. The leaps into Whiteside's arms weren't quite the launching effect we all want, but they were far, far better than Boylston and Gorak.

 

Ugh, not the harp on Boylston's shortcomings, but she's been showing no signs of improvement. I think I'll check back in five years and see if she's worth viewing in any of ABT's full-lengths. 

 

Mozartiana was danced well by all tonight, but it didn't quite come together for me. Shevchenko's dancing can't be faulted; she executed everything quite well. There just wasn't a sense of grandeur about it, and her preghiera was lacking in gravitas. It's hard for me to say what exactly she could have done differently. It doesn't help that she's not particularly statuesque. Hallberg was in good form, though a few of his turns looked a bit tentative. His legs articulated the choreography so beautifully. I just think he probably would have complemented one of ABT's taller ballerinas (Teuscher, Seo) much better. His presence kind of dwarfed Shevchenko at times. Simkin was pretty similar to earlier this week; quite understated for him. 

 

I loved Seo and Gomes in the Nutcracker pas de deux. Seo's dancing was so lyrical and free and expressive, and of course she looked completely comfortable in Gomes' arms. It was nice to see both dancers have the big Met stage (as opposed to BAM). They were really able to take full advantage of the space and the pas de deux ended up looking much grander in scale. I loved seeing how Seo ate up the stage with her leaps. They didn't go for the leap into the torch lift; in fact, it had one of the slowest and most deliberate setups I've ever seen in this pas de deux. Oh well. The lift itself was beautiful once she was up there. I've been taking a break from Seo, but maybe next season is the time to see her again in Swan Lake.

 

I was looking forward to Aurora's Wedding more than anything else in this program, but for some reason my interest really started to wane as all the divertissements proceeded. Outside the context of the complete reconstruction, this act just failed to excite me and I'm not sure exactly why. In any case, all the dancing leading up the the pas de deux was fine, with Lane and Shayer's Blue Bird pas de deux being the standout. The choreography for the Three Ivans is so much more lively and interesting than the goofy dance they do in Ratmansky's Nutcracker. The one part where Roman Zhurban does a breakdancing-style move (not sure how else to describe it) where he's crouching and spins his leg around under himself just looked slow and awkward. The Chinese dance did nothing for me. The women are in pointe shoes but theri panniers are so wide that they can't do much real dancing. And the Asian-style face makeup was borderline offensive. Definitely yellowface territory.

 

The pas de deux started out quite well. The part where Gorak holds Trenary's hands over her head and then release them, while she balances and does a backbend was STUNNING. In face, you could say Trenary was stunning through the entire pas de deux, and it made me anxious to see her again in the entire ballet. The biggest glitch was in fish dives. The first one was stronger than I expected; Trenary rotated with great force, and Gorak managed to get her into position very quickly, though using two hands. Then the second one seemed to get away from him a bit; not a complete diisaster, but he seemed to lose his footing a bit as she went down in the dive. The third one was just fine. Also some iffy supported pirouettes throughout. Gorak's solo was fleet-footed and among the best I've seen; he only started to flag toward the end.

 

I left wanting more Trenary, please! (And also with renewed interest in Seo.) I forgot to write in about this, but Trenary's Princess Praline the other evening was just as astonishing as in the NYT video.

Edited by fondoffouettes
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There was a lot to appreciate in Wednesday's Mozartiana, and I'll readily admit that my criticisms may be unfair, given my investment in Monday's performance, but it just didn't all come together for me in the same way as the earlier performance had.

 

Christine's preghiera was indeed quite beautiful. The effect was marred at the very end by applause that began before the radiant final three notes of the piece, but I can't really blame people who don't know the music, because it does sound like it might be over at that point. (That said, if that had happened at Veronika's performance on Monday, I might have lost it.)

 

I was able to focus more on Simkin's gigue this time and I found it surprisingly unimpressive. As I noted on Monday, I felt it lacked the necessary energy and buoyancy, particularly in signature moments like the side-to-side steps and "T" jumps in the sequence at about 6:02 here:

 

 

The menuet (Basmagy, DeGrofft, Hurlin, Whalen) was fine, though Monday's (Fan, Giangeruso, Waski, Williams) seemed better to me. Last night's seemed a bit like going through the motions; the révérences looked particularly perfunctory. On both nights, though, the développé balances (around 9:05 in the video) were quite well done.

 

I agree with alexL above that Christine's performance in the T&V was less satisfying than her first movement. In particular, I wanted to see her legs more strongly articulated, in Mozartean style. Her steps seemed a bit too fluid and legato to me, as if she were dancing Odette (a role I'd love to see her in). (As a side note, I have always loved the Mozartiana hair, but Christine had one curl that kept flopping about in a most distracting manner.)

 

I don't think this is particularly good role for David, and I was more impressed by Blaine Hoven on Monday night. David's long, shapely feet just don't look right to me when he's dancing Balanchine's footwork here, and he's more prince than cavalier/consort. (I don't want to sound too much like a critic who shall remain unnamed, but I also found David's facial expressions to be off-putting. Sometimes he comes across as "having airs"; sometimes that works.)

 

Tchai Pas was much improved from Monday night. Watching Whiteside, I just kept thinking, "This is why Joey Gorak is not a principal." The performance was not without some problems, but it definitely had that "dangerous" quality, on the part of both dancers, that mimsyb described above. (The solo trumpet was having some serious problems, though. The orchestra's been sounding quite decent this year; let's not go back to the bad old days of wince-worthy ABT brass.) The fish dives were better, though still somewhat unexciting. In his solo, Whiteside's series of jumps from stage right to stage left almost kept going right off into the wings. That's the sort of big dancing I like to see. He's been looking very good this year. In the past I've been resistant, but he's been winning me over.

 

Marcelo and Hee both looked gorgeous in the Nutcracker PDD. This is a perfect role for her. Some aspects of the choreography were odd out of context (particularly the parts where the two dancers are reveling in their new, adult freedom to dance), but this highlighted how well-made Ratmansky's choreography is for its context. None of the great PDDs are interchangeable; each fits its narrative context in a distinct and effective way.

 

I'll skip to the Aurora's Wedding grand PDD (with just a side-glance at Luciana Paris's excellent Diamond Fairy and Gabe and Sarah's gorgeous Bluebird PDD):

 

There was very good partnering here, for the most part, considering the late substitution. Cassandra's balanced backbend, facing Désiré upstage, was long, slow and gorgeous –– a real standout moment. The first fish dive was quite good, so far as two-handers go. But then the second was almost a disaster; she got into position just fine, but then once he had her there Joey nearly lost it and dropped her. He came back with one of the best variations I've seen in Ratmansky's production, though. His legwork was crisp and lively (except the final diagonal sequence, which lagged somewhat), and he looked beautiful in the costume, with very nicely toned calves. After what I'd thought about him while watching Whiteside earlier, it was particularly good to see Gorak give what, to me, looked like his best performance of the season.

 

Edited by nanushka
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Although Balanchine created the role on a tall dancer (Victor Castelli), it has become a thing on both sides of the plaza to cast shorter male dancers (Simkin, Scott, Ulbricht, etc) in the Gigue -- and I think they start off at something of a disadvantage. A lot of the off-axis accents and flourishes simply read better on a taller dancer, as do the little fillips of casual aristocratic insouciance Balanchine built into all three of the lead roles. (The ballerina's variations are just loaded with these little touches.) 

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Although Balanchine created the role on a tall dancer (Victor Castelli), it has become a thing on both sides of the plaza to cast shorter male dancers (Simkin, Scott, Ulbricht, etc) in the Gigue -- and I think they start off at something of a disadvantage. A lot of the off-axis accents and flourishes simply read better on a taller dancer, as do the little fillips of casual aristocratic insouciance Balanchine built into all three of the lead roles. (The ballerina's variations are just loaded with these little touches.) 

 

"Insouciance" is just the word. I think that's the quality I was most missing in David's performance especially. He has many fine qualities but insouciance is not among the strongest. He's more Ballet Imperial than Mozartiana.

 

I didn't realize that Castelli was a particularly tall dancer. Croce wrote of Ib Andersen's "slightness in comparison to Farrell" and then went on to say this: "You might think that Balanchine would cast [the second man] in contrast to Andersen, but in fact it's Victor Castelli, another lightweight" (Going to the Dance 404-405). And in her article "Assoluta" in The New Criterion (a must-read for Veronika Part fans, by the way!), Laura Jacobs writes that the gigue is "always cast with a slight young male virtuoso" –– but the latter was in 2004, so Jacobs may be reflecting a more recent trend. I wasn't around to see Castelli dance.

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Hallberg was often behind the music last night in Mozartiana, trying to catch up. Maybe being off stage has impacted his stamina and speed.

 

Loved Seo and Gomes in Nutcracker.  Also was very happy w. Murphy and Whiteside in Tchai pas.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

I didn't realize that Castelli was a particularly tall dancer. Croce wrote of Ib Andersen's "slightness in comparison to Farrell" and then went on to say this: "You might think that Balanchine would cast [the second man] in contrast to Andersen, but in fact it's Victor Castelli, another lightweight" (Going to the Dance 404-405). And in her article "Assoluta" in The New Criterion (a must-read for Veronika Part fans, by the way!), Laura Jacobs writes that the gigue is "always cast with a slight young male virtuoso" –– but the latter was in 2004, so Jacobs may be reflecting a more recent trend. I wasn't around to see Castelli dance.

 

Anderson and Castelli were "slight" in the sense of ... hmmm ... "reedy" maybe, but neither was short in the way that Simkin, say, is short. I remember Anderson and Castelli as being approximately the same height, and Anderson was tall enough to partner Farrell quite comfortably.

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7 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

Anderson and Castelli were "slight" in the sense of ... hmmm ... "reedy" maybe, but neither was short in the way that Simkin, say, is short. I remember Anderson and Castelli as being approximately the same height, and Anderson was tall enough to partner Farrell quite comfortably.

 

That makes sense. It's easy to imagine how the shift to smaller virtuoso dancers would settle in over time even if, as you suggest above, it's not the best decision. I'll be curious to see if Cirio does better with the role on Friday.

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Just to be clear, I don't think it's a given that a shorter dancer can't deliver a satisfying Gigue - Anthony Huxley certainly has done so, for instance. I just think a shorter dancer is at a greater risk of looking cutesy or puckish -- or at least of being perceived that way -- than a taller dancer might be. 

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

Hallberg was often behind the music last night in Mozartiana, trying to catch up. Maybe being off stage has impacted his stamina and speed.

 

Loved Seo and Gomes in Nutcracker.  Also was very happy w. Murphy and Whiteside in Tchai pas.

 

 

 

I don't think it's stamina. I think ABT dancers have a really hard time capturing the on-the-note musicality that Balanchine demanded of his dancers. In fact since the NYCB is right across the plaza and there's a lot of socializing of the dancers between the two companies I'm puzzled at why ABT performances of Balanchine look so clueless. 

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6 minutes ago, alexL said:

And the NYT article states that Boylston is a natural Balanchine dancer. Ummmm.... excuse me??

I had the exact same reaction.  Remember, this is written by the same critic who thinks Misty is a great actress. 

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Seeing that NYT video of Boylston reminded me of this gem that showed up in my Instagram feed the other day. Lorna Feijoo's musicality, attack, suspensions... this is what comes to mind when I think of the Tchai Pas variation. 

 

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9 minutes ago, 83firefly said:

Seeing that NYT video of Boylston reminded me of this gem that showed up in my Instagram feed the other day. Lorna Feijoo's musicality, attack, suspensions... this is what comes to mind when I think of the Tchai Pas variation. 

 

Oh wow. Now that's grace. And yet there's still such crispness too. Thanks so much for sharing the video!

Edited by nanushka
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Boylston has great speed and attack in footwork, and a high, big jump.  However, those positive attributes are often overshadowed by her other numerous problems, which have already been discussed in this forum. I liked her very much in Don Q this season, which I thought showcased her strengths.  SL, on the other hand, highlighted her problems.  There are so many ABT ballerinas who have part of the overall package, but are sorely lacking in some areas.  If we could combine Hee Seo's lyricism with Boylston's attack, we would have a complete, wonderful Ballerina.

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2 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

Oh wow. Now that's grace. And yet there's still such crispness too. Thanks so much for sharing the video!

 

Isn't that amazing? You're very welcome! The only thing that bothers me a bit is how dead her pointe shoes look in that last pique diagonal -- like she can't quite get up on her right shoe. But I haven't seen her dance very much, so maybe that's just how she likes her shoes. :lol: The last developpe before the gargouillade, though -- so lovely the way she lingers!

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The July 7 program has changed.  Nutcracker pas replaced by SL pas from Act II, with Herman and Misty.  No jumping required for Herman, just partnering.  Gorak replaces Herman in Aurora's Wedding on July 8 evening.

Edited by abatt
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1 hour ago, abatt said:

The July 7 program has changed.  Nutcracker pas replaced by SL pas from Act II, with Herman and Misty.  No jumping required for Herman, just partnering.  Gorak replaces Herman in Aurora's Wedding on July 8 evening.

 

This has certainly been quite an eventful season, hasn't it?

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

The July 7 program has changed.  Nutcracker pas replaced by SL pas from Act II, with Herman and Misty.  No jumping required for Herman, just partnering.  Gorak replaces Herman in Aurora's Wedding on July 8 evening.

 

You scared me with that SL Act II. In some companies. Act I has two scenes, so Act II is the ballroom scene, with Black Swan pdd. For a moment there, I thought that they were giving Misty another chance at the 32 fouettés. Not so. Whew!

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Saturday has Cassandra Trenary dancing in the matinee and then twice in the evening. Can that be right? I don't know how intensive "Souvenir" is, but I do know Aurora's wedding pas de deux isn't a walk in the park.

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