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Fall 2017 Season

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On ‎10‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 11:20 AM, RUKen said:

The ABT site shows Boylston/Shayer dancing the Ratmansky premiere (Songs of Bukovina) on October 20th and 21st.  Lendorf is still (as of this minute) scheduled for Other Dances on the 27th and Plato on the 29th.

Cory Stearns is now scheduled to perform Other Dances with Isabela Boylston on the 27th.  Lendorf has also been replaced in Plato on the 29th, though I'm uncertain which dancer is taking his place.

Edited by RUKen
Corrected the spelling of Stearns' first name
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I only found one performance in the ABT fall season that interested me and fit my schedule. But I was so happy I did attend as it was simply wonderful. The absolute stand-out was Other Dances with G. Murphy and C. Stearns. They were both playful, charismatic, and danced beautifully. It deserved the ovation it got! I've never seen Cory allow his personality to shine through like this. Gillian brought out the best in him. For me the second stand-out was T. Forster's dancing in Seranade/Symposium. Absolutely riveting. Really all the men were fantastic but I've been noticing Jose Sebastian more and more lately. Would love to see him and Gabe Shayer (long overdue!) promoted to soloist and please, Tom Forster to principal! It takes me awhile to warm to Ratmansky's work so I look forward to another showing of Bukovina to let it sink in. It was enjoyable and well danced but didn't leave a lasting impression. I love anything/everything by Ashton but have never seen Symphonic Dances done by any other company but ABT. Thus without a comparison to the Royal it's hard to say if the dancers were in the proper Ashton form. It looked lovely to my eye with J. Gorak seeming the most classical and comfortable in the piece.

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I'm shocked, but I actually enjoyed tonight's (Tuesday's) performance way more than I was expecting to!


First, Her Notes -- I know I saw this last year, but it made no impression whatsoever, so I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it tonight.  Maybe it was because it gave me a chance to admire Tom Forster's gorgeous feet and his excellent partnering skills.  Also, I thought the two female duos--Cassie Trenary/Skylar Brandt and Stephanie Williams/Devon Teuscher--were exceptionally well-matched, which was fun to see.


Symphonic Variations --- I'm also not sure what this piece should look like, but it seemed well-danced to me tonight.  I thought Shevchenko & Royal looked very regal and elegant together, and Gorak's solo was flawless.


Elegy p.d.d. --- I usually avoid seeing Hee Seo at all costs, but I will admit that she can look beautiful when someone else is carrying her, and tonight she milked Zhurbin's strong partnering for all it was worth.  She looked gorgeous, and some of the lifts where he swung her up and around his body were gasp-worthy.  This piece got a huge applause.


Thirteen Diversions --- this piece got the biggest applause of the night and a standing ovation.  Seo looked great again, this time with Cory's help, and Stella and Tom Forster were also gorgeous.  Catherine Hurlin and April Giangeruso also danced very well together (though they lacked the twinning effect that we saw in "Her Notes").  Zhiyao Zhang filled in for Alex Hammoudi and I could not tell he was a sub at all; he matched Jose Sebastian step-for-step and had beautiful elevation in his jumps.


I'm going back for a few more shows with different rep...hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised by those too...

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I ended up being in NYC for a professional conference during the last weekend of ABT's NY run at the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. My wife and I bit the bullet and purchased 2 last-minute tickets to see the performance on the evening of Friday, October 27, even if it included the new Millepied. Or should I make that plural - two Millepieds, if we count the intermission synchronized aerobics by JKO students and ABT Studio dancers ?


The ballets on the main program included two Ratmanskys (the new Songs of Bukovina and relatively-new Serenade on Plato's Symposium), one well-known Robbins work (Other Dances) and the new Millepied (I Feel the Earth Move).


Hate to report that my/our instincts were correct with the Millepied which may have been created to appeal to a few millennials, if not classical traditionalists. First the good:  the lighting was cool, particularly in the 2nd movement of Rockette-style synchro moves by three female principals (Copeland, Seo, Teuscher) and an all-female corps of twelve.  Also good, if one loves Phillip Glass:  the repetitive, minimalist score that included a large piece also used at the end of Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, with a female chorus thrown in. The not-so-good:  Utter waste of talent of all the dancers, including (eek!) the usually-fantastic three males on stage -- Hallberg, Cornejo and Stearns. The darn thing gave me a headache but at least it was not as loud and hideaous-sounding as the score for Peck's recent The Times are Racing.


The three other ballets on view were so superior to the Millepied that I'm so happy to have been there that night.


Ratmansky's new Songs of Bukovina, to a solo-piano score by one of my favorite living composers, Leonid Desiatnikov, is a gorgeous hit, to be savoured over and over, whenever it may be repeated.  It is a tribute to the culture and moods of Ukraine. Ten couples in colorful costumes alluding to folk elements dance at a village celebration, led by a couple in red -- stellar Christine Schevchenko (her feet!) and Calvin Royal III (so aristocratic in manner). The four corps couples are also magnificent; I most loved lithe redhead Catherine Hurlin and Jose Sebastian, a veritable hero of the night, also impressive in the Plato.


I've seen better performances of Robbins' Other Dances throughout the years but Isabella Boylston and Cory Stearns were still lovely, performing with great musical sensitivity. The staging, by former POB etoile Isabelle Guerin, ensured correct phrasing and spirit.  The lad, Cory Stearns, danced with elegance and more facial excitement than I've seen from him in a while. Isabella Boylston truly floated in her slow mazurka variation, displaying a grand range of emotions and sensitivity, be it slapping the floor or waving her arms in lyrical port de bras. Delicious! The timing of the high lift-into-quick-drop in the mazurka coda (music made famous in Les Sylphides jete variation) was on the money. Exhilarating!


And finally to Ratmansky's Serenade on Plato's Symposium, to Bernstein piece for full orchestra and solo violin (yes, we finally had an entire orchestra in the pit with the final ballet of the night).  I see why most balletomanes love this clever, intellectual piece for seven solo males and one female who appears in one of the last movements but...not exactly something for the general paying public. (If ABT only presented ballets like Plato, it would become bankrupted very quickly.) Like Bukovina, it is a Ratmansky ballet to be seen many times to be truly appreciated, savouring every clever solo. OK, the designs were a bit blah; did we need the word "SYMPOSIUM" emblazoned over the proscenium at the start, just in case we forget where we are? But moving on to the positives - the dancers. It began with one of the great up-and-comers in the corps, Zhiyao Zhang - ten steps and this tall, elegant dancer had me eating out of his hands! And it only got better. Hammoudi, Sebastian, Gorak, Maloney (incredibly fast feet!), Scott and Forster...impossible to select a favorite among them, all brilliant!  (Is ABT the current great company of magnificent men, much as the Danish were in my youth? Seems that way.)  Nothing to add -- just GO SEE THIS and enjoy every step. And if it is not to your liking at the start, keep going back. It will become embedded in your soul. Guaranteed.



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Really late to the party here. I saw the Friday show on the 20th, and it was a fairly disappointing evening.


Songs of Bukovina - I really don't think I'll want to see this again. This piece finally made me question, "What is it with Ratmansky frequently using music that is so un-danceable?"  I don't need Tchaikovsky to be satisfied, but the scores he chooses just don't work for me. Apparently, he hears something I don't. I wasn't sure of the point of the piece either (one minute the cast is somber, then they're all big smiles dancing to an upbeat tempo, then they're melancholic, they they're big smiles again dancing quirky/funny choreography, and all in the same movement.....what?). Despite all of that, Boylston was gorgeous. She is much more musical and has luxurious phrasing. She projects such confidence and authority. Shayer, in a last minute substitution for an injured Lendorf,  did exceptionally well under the circumstances. Strong, secure technique and good partnering. However, I didn't like the two of them together, which may just be a result of the limited rehearsal time. Boylston needs an equally confident/strong partner and Shayer is not there yet, but he was still very good. Even so, this man needs to be promoted and I hope that finally happens in the spring/summer. Lastly, the four corps men - Whiteley, Ahn, Lyle and Frenette - were exceptional. Whiteley is a tall, strong guy with gorgeous port de bras and upper body carriage and possesses strong technique, but his footwork was sometimes sloppy. ABT, please invest in this guy. And, Lyle, someone I rarely see out of the typical back-of-the-scenery corps work, really stood out and also has untapped potential. Always love seeing Frenette who always catches my eye (still think about his Wilfred).


Her Notes - there was some really lovely choreography, but it was mostly forgettable. The dancing, however, was worth it. And, it was so nice to see three out of the four recently promoted dancers on stage together (Lane, Royal and Shevchenko). Lane was gorgeous - what a ballerina she has become. As someone else noted, when Lane, Brandt and Trenary were dancing together, they were such a well-matched trio. I would also love to see a piece created for the three of them (or even just one section in a ballet). Royal was regal, but he always is. Those arms and legs of his that he stretches out fully and his confidence has skyrocketed (I'm sure his well-deserved promotion helped); just amazing. Whiteside is a bit of a puzzle for me. In this piece, and in any non-classical piece I'm finding, he's extraordinary. He commands the stage and dances with a fullness and an awareness that I never see in his princely roles. He was mesmerizing. I had to force myself to stop watching him so I could focus on the others.  He's always had the technique and is a very good partner (and his partnering and relation to his partner continues to improve), but when I saw him as Siegfried, he disappeared and had no presence. Frankly, he looked bored. It's as if I'm watching two different dancers.


Thirteen Diversions - why does this piece get so much hype? Again, some nice, even beautiful parts, but overall it was blah. Seo and Stearns had some truly lovely moments (I could imagine their R&J, which I've never seen), but Seo fell off of pointe a few times during their pas. Zhang, who partnered Brandt, is another corps man who needs to be pushed and put in the spotlight more. There's a lot of talent waiting to burst out in bigger roles. Bell kept catching my eye. And, it was really nice to see Luis Ribagorda back on stage after 2 years. And, overall, really fine dancing from Gorak, Lane, Murphy, Hoven and Brandt.


Despite the ballets themselves being disappointing, it's always terrific to see so many soloists and principals in one evening and often in the same piece. So, I am grateful for that.

Edited by ABT Fan
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On 8/21/2017 at 8:06 PM, miliosr said:

I sometimes think that Kevin McKenzie wants ABT to be any kind of company except the company that it actually is. How else to explain Wheeldon and Millepied and Scarlett? Does ABT's audience have some unquenchable thirst for this stuff that I'm not aware of?


McKenzie could put together a dream season consisting of Ashton, de Mille, Fokine, Morris, Ratmansky, Robbins, Tharp and Tudor. (In other words, all the things ABT does well.) He could even supplement it by picking up those pieces that his old employer, Robert Joffrey, lovingly restored to repertory in the 70s (and which Ashley Wheater has tossed aside.) But then, that wouldn't be "hip" and "happening".


Judging from McKenzie's press release he wants to focus on newer ballet choreographers. The list above is lovely, but only Morris, Ratmansky and Tharp remain among the living, and Ratmansky is well represented this fall. For better or worse he's looking to the future. I don't think it has to do with "hip" or "happening."  Perhaps he wants the dancers to be in a situation of creating ... not recreating. 

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Hmm judging from performances I in fall seasons past maybe the emphasis on new works is to cover up for some serious limitations in the ABT roster right now. I saw ABT dancers (not all, but a lot) really struggle with the demands of Stars and Stripes pas de deux, Symphonic Variations, Monotones, and Prodigal Son. 

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