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SFB 2018: Sleeping Beauty


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Sleeping Beauty casts for first three performances.

 I’m curious to see André in the Bluebird PdD: I don’t really think of her as a ‘tutu’ dancer and she’s certainly not the fluttery type.   On the other hand, she’s never, ever boring.  Wei Wang should be good.

 THE SLEEPING BEAUTY

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

 Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 7:30 pm

Conductor: Martin West

 Aurora: Maria Kochetkova†‡
Prince Desiré: Joseph Walsh†‡
Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Wei Wang
Enchanted Princess: Dores André


Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:30 pm
Conductor: Martin West

 Aurora: Sasha De Sola
Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno†‡

 Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:30 pm
Conductor: Martin West

 Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller†‡
Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco†‡

LEGEND
†Denotes premiere in role in Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty.
‡Denotes premiere in Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Dores Andre danced a perfectly beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker in December. Her carriage and port de bras were very ballerina-like, her dancing musical and precise. I was more than pleasantly surprised, as I can't recall that I have seen her in a tutu since she was promoted to soloist. 

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This is interesting: Sasha De Sola is now dancing on opening night (with Scheller and Greco on the following night).

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

I don't think Kochetkova has any injury issues after the gala - does Joe Walsh?
I expected Scheller and Greco to be the first couple given all the publicity around them, but maybe this is an hierarchy thing - new dancers don't get to go first.  ;)

Edited by pherank
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7 minutes ago, pherank said:

This is interesting: Sasha De Sola is now dancing on opening night (with Scheller and Greco still on the following night).

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

I don't think Kochetkova has any injury issues after the gala - does Joe Walsh?
I expected Scheller and Greco to be the first couple given all the publicity around them, but maybe this is an hierarchy thing - new dancers don't get to go first.  ;)

Also to note in the updated casting:  Friday night has Kochetkova partnered by Carlo Di Lanno.

At last night's gala prior to the start, there was a change in the evening's program announced.  Because of the noise, all I could make out was Joseph Walsh.  Of course, I was a bit alarmed as he was supposed to partner Frances in the Robert Binet piece.  But he did dance with Frances.  When I looked at the casting sheet, he was also listed in Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes (as part of the male quintet).  When that piece came on, it was Jaime Garcia Castilla dancing in place of Walsh.  I do hope he is OK and hopefully will be able to dance Sleeping Beauty towards the end of the run.

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Updated casting as of Friday 1/19 (https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting):

In the event of injury or illness, casting is subject to change.

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY


Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 7:30 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Sasha De Sola
Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno
Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Wei Wang
Enchanted Princess: Dores André

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:30 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller
Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco
Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Max Cauthorn

Enchanted Princess: Lauren Strongin

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:30 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Frances Chung
Prince Desiré: Vitor Luiz
Lilac Fairy: Jennifer Stahl
Carabosse: Katita Waldo
Bluebird: Hansuke Yamamoto
Enchanted Princess: Julia Rowe

Friday, January 26, 2018 - 8 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Maria Kochetkova
Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno

Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 2 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller
Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco

Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 8 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Mathilde Froustey
Prince Desiré: Luke Ingham

Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 2 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Sasha De Sola
Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno

LEGEND

*Denotes premiere in ballet.
†Denotes premiere in role for current production.

 

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1 hour ago, sf_herminator said:

Also to note in the updated casting:  Friday night has Kochetkova partnered by Carlo Di Lanno.

At last night's gala prior to the start, there was a change in the evening's program announced.  Because of the noise, all I could make out was Joseph Walsh.  Of course, I was a bit alarmed as he was supposed to partner Frances in the Robert Binet piece.  But he did dance with Frances.  When I looked at the casting sheet, he was also listed in Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes (as part of the male quintet).  When that piece came on, it was Jaime Garcia Castilla dancing in place of Walsh.  I do hope he is OK and hopefully will be able to dance Sleeping Beauty towards the end of the run.

Toi toi toi. If he danced at all, it's likely a minor problem that will hopefully be gone in 2 or 3 weeks. Toi toi toi.
[I'm enclosing this jinxy statement in hex-banishing quotes ;) ]

Edited by pherank
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Well, I suppose it's good to hear about an opening night change this far in advance so I can mentally adapt. Can't deny feeling some disappointment, and also concern for Joe. Crossing fingers that if it's an injury, his recuperation will be brief. 

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A fascinating short video of Sasha performing at the dress rehearsals. Notice all the 'important' folk sitting in chairs at the front of the stage. I can see Helgi's white hair, but it's hard to make out who the other, presumably ballet masters/mistresses, are. [EDIT: Larisa Lezhnina is presumably there as well.] Talk about pressure. You can tell the staff is looking over every detail of the production.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeJSPwrFWfw/?taken-by=sashadesola

Edited by pherank
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And I just noticed on the SFB's casting webpage that both Natasha and Wona Park will be dancing the Enchanted Princess in various later (Fri pm, Sat pm) performances. Very interesting, particularly the latter, in her first year with the company. 

Edited by Terez
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7 hours ago, PeggyTulle said:

Whoa, amazing for Natasha! The student matinee is usually abbreviated, right? And that casting isn't normally posted is it? 

I assume so, but I don't have any experience with student matinees. I found this student matinee description on the SFB website:

Each educational 75-minute interactive program includes:
    An introduction to ballet as an art form
    Performances by SF Ballet professional dancers and pre-professional Trainees from the SF Ballet School, accompanied by the SF Ballet Orchestra
    Excerpts of some of the Company’s most extraordinary works
    Insights into the career of a professional dancer with SF Ballet

4 hours ago, Terez said:

And I just noticed on the SFB's casting webpage that both Natasha and Wona Park will be dancing the Enchanted Princess in various later (Fri pm, Sat pm) performances. Very interesting, particularly the latter, in her first year with the company. 

More great opportunities for the young ones. But I wonder if Tomasson is also trying to figure out how to spare the principals from overwork and injury. Somehow everyone has to make it through the end of the Unbound Festival.

 

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Wow, Pherank, is that gorgeous!! I was so impressed with the pirouette-into-fish dive passage on opening night - it seemed almost risky, the way he grabbed her from the turn and hauled her into a perfect fish dive, but as he did the same thing three (four?) times, picture perfect each time, I guess that's the "daring" Italian side of Petipa's choreography coming in to play. 

The photo alludes to the only complaint I had about the performance, and it's a small complaint: Carlo was so serious-faced through so much of the ballet, when it would seem he should be more engaged and/or smiling from the middle, onwards. You compare the two dancers' expressions in the photo above.

That's being nitpicky, though. Overall, I loved the performance, loved the Act I costumes (I was actually rather "meh" about the Act III dresses for the women. I know it was period-specific and correct, but... meh), loved the sets in both the 17th century act and the 18th century act. I guess they are new to the SFB (the Act III set and not Act I), purchased from the Royal Danish Ballet, which apparently Tomasson staged in 1993 and used the same set/costume designer. Since I didn't see the 2007 run, I can only nod when I hear other reviewers comment that the costumes, while similar (identical?) in design, are much richer. The staircase in Act III was amazing.

So much good dancing, the orchestra was phenomenal, everything seemed to go well on opening night. Sasha was a delight to watch. I was so impressed, so happy for her. She did everything right. Okay, not a heroically long unassisted pose for the Rose Adagio, but certainly on the level of highly competent. But she really nailed the excited sixteen-year-old princess mood, and the more somber dancer in the "vision" scene, and that right mix of youthfulness and regal in Act III. She and Carlo did great in their Act II and III pas de deux and solo variations. 

Great show. I'll be attending Saturday matinee as well, so I'll get to see Ana Sophia and Angelo. Oh, and I really liked Sarah Van Patten's Lilac Fairy. The perfect touch of elegant, reassuring, nothing flashy, but beautiful dancing, and stellar pantomiming. And the other 5 fairies in the Prologue were great, in all the ways they were supposed to be, each one with their own little distinction. Jana Frantziskonis' "Playfulness" was quite funny, w/o ever seeming over the top, which was my attitude when I watched a YouTube Mariinsky performance of it. (Surely that was Helgi's touch, keeping it fresh and not too 19th century over-the-top?) Wona Park was "Courage" and she is indeed a marvel when you consider it's her first season and all the other fairies were soloists, and she meshed right in with them. Impressive.

Edited by Terez
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2 hours ago, Terez said:

Wow, Pherank, is that gorgeous!! I was so impressed with the pirouette-into-fish dive passage on opening night - it seemed almost risky, the way he grabbed her from the turn and hauled her into a perfect fish dive, but as he did the same thing three (four?) times, picture perfect each time, I guess that's the "daring" Italian side of Petipa's choreography coming in to play. 

The photo alludes to the only complaint I had about the performance, and it's a small complaint: Carlo was so serious-faced through so much of the ballet, when it would seem he should be more engaged and/or smiling from the middle, onwards. You compare the two dancers' expressions in the photo above.

That's being nitpicky, though. Overall, I loved the performance, loved the Act I costumes (I was actually rather "meh" about the Act III dresses for the women. I know it was period-specific and correct, but... meh), loved the sets in both the 17th century act and the 18th century act. I guess they are new to the SFB (the Act III set and not Act I), purchased from the Royal Danish Ballet, which apparently Tomasson staged in 1993 and used the same set/costume designer. Since I didn't see the 2007 run, I can only nod when I hear other reviewers comment that the costumes, while similar (identical?) in design, are much richer. The staircase in Act III was amazing.

So much good dancing, the orchestra was phenomenal, everything seemed to go well on opening night. Sasha was a delight to watch. I was so impressed, so happy for her. She did everything right. Okay, not a heroically long unassisted pose for the Rose Adagio, but certainly on the level of highly competent. But she really nailed the excited sixteen-year-old princess mood, and the more somber dancer in the "vision" scene, and that right mix of youthfulness and regal in Act III. She and Carlo did great in their Act II and III pas de deux and solo variations. 

Great show. I'll be attending Saturday matinee as well, so I'll get to see Ana Sophia and Angelo. Oh, and I really liked Sarah Van Patten's Lilac Fairy. The perfect touch of elegant, reassuring, nothing flashy, but beautiful dancing, and stellar pantomiming. And the other 5 fairies in the Prologue were great, in all the ways they were supposed to be, each one with their own little distinction. Jana Frantziskonis' "Playfulness" was quite funny, w/o ever seeming over the top, which was my attitude when I watched a YouTube Mariinsky performance of it. (Surely that was Helgi's touch, keeping it fresh and not too 19th century over-the-top?) Wona Park was "Courage" and she is indeed a marvel when you consider it's her first season and all the other fairies were soloists, and she meshed right in with them. Impressive.

Great report, Terez. I think it was Allan Ulrich who wrote that Carlo was too serious and not showing his dramatic chops. I have to guess that nerves make him more serious and less emotive and he needs to make a conscious effort to "be the character". Scheller has a serious 'game face' too, so it will interesting to hear if she's able to get beyond herself and inhabit the role as intended. Di Lanno needs to be given credit for dancing the lead 3 times this week due to Joe Walsh having to withdraw.

I'm glad you mentioned Jahna Frantziskonis because her name was missing from the main roles this week. Perhaps we'll see her in something more high-profile next week?
But then there's been no main role for Sylve (not even as Carabosse), or Ishihara, only one appearance for Strongin, nothing for Devivo yet. WanTing Zhao as Carabosse was an unexpected choice.

Here's the latest added casting date:

Friday, February 2, 2018 - 8 pm

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Ming Luke

Aurora: Mathilde Froustey
Prince Desiré: Luke Ingham
Lilac Fairy: WanTing Zhao
Carabosse: Ludmila Bizalion
Bluebird: Wei Wang
Enchanted Princess: Dores André

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Koto Ishihara danced the Fairy of Generosity and the Diamond on January 23 and 24. Isabella Devivo was the Fairy of  Serenity in those two performances. Both were lovely, especially Isabella—she has wonderful fluid arms and beatiful soft wrists.

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3 hours ago, pherank said:

WanTing Zhao as Carabosse was an unexpected choice.

 

 

I really enjoyed her dancing on opening night - as one of the fairies, but particularly as the White Cat. Oh my goodness, she was having fun with that role. Which makes me eager to see her as Carabosse. I have a feeling she's going to take and run. I still say no one can compete with her in Arabian Dance - her performance stole my breath when I saw her last year, and the year before (I think it was). There is an intriguing depth to her interpretations of these more unique roles. Or, shall I say, I hope to see that intriguing depth in her Carabosse on Sat afternoon.

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Haute Living magazine reports on a side of the ballet world that the general audience doesn't see much of -

SF Ballet Hosts Intimate Dinner In Honor Of The Sleeping Beauty
http://hauteliving.com/2018/01/sf-ballet-sleeping-beauty/650341/

"The Green Room was elegantly set with circular tables covered in sumptuous purple cloths and gorgeous floral arrangements. During dessert, the ballerinas discussed the privilege of dancing the role of Aurora. Froustey said the first thing she thought when she saw her name listed next to Aurora was “oh my god.” The part is transformative to a dancers career because it is a long and difficult ballet."

I presume this is all about money-raising, or at least making big donors feel special; although I wonder if the dancers don't feel a bit like trick ponies trotted in for the event.

Fortunately, Froustey appears to have survived her Aurora debut in one piece. I wasn't the only one to worry that it might be too much too soon for her after missing most of last season. She's been taking the rehab very seriously though, and worked with a number of different trainers to build her strength back. If anyone can report on last night's performance that would be appreciated - how did Luke Ingham and the other dancers fare?

 

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Yes, I saw both performances yesterday (1/27).  I've been trying to gather my thoughts - there was a lot to like and a few things that made me gnash my teeth in frustration.  

 January 27, 2 pm

Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller
Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco
Lilac Fairy: Ludmila Bizalion
Carabosse: WanTing Zhao*
Bluebird: Wei Wang
Enchanted Princess: Dores André 

Scheller:

-       Perfect ballet physique, gorgeous lines, strong technique, excellent turns.

-       Definitely more of an adagio than allegro dancer.  Opening variation in Act 1 lacked joyous spontaneity and crispness; had a distinct coolness – got a vibe:  “Hello.  I’m a Princess and you’re not.”

-       Hard to explain, but there seems to be a lack of nuance in her dancing, at least in this role.  Little phrasing, no ‘here’s a moment’ inflection.  Made the evening rather flat, despite her excellent technical skills.

-       Rose Adagio went well, although the balances were brief, which is perfectly fine as long as they are comfortable and relaxed, which these were not.  Given the flatness of the rest of her performance, there seemed to be an understandable but unexpectedly visible tension during the balances:  let go, get that arm up, grab the next suitor’s hand, whew, made it that time.

-       Much more suited to the Vision scene and wedding PdD, although, again, little or no phrasing – beautiful but slightly dull.

Greco:

-       As expected, strong, secure, sometimes thrilling. 

-       Desiré doesn’t provide the acting opportunities of other male leads, but Greco brought enough personality to the character to at least keep him watchable.  I’d like to see him partner someone who brings a little more to the relationship.

Bizalion (Lilac Fairy):  I haven’t noticed her before in the corps de ballet.  Beautiful arms and upper body, although she doesn’t yet have the sweep and presence needed, but still she held her own well.

André/Wang (Blue Bird Pas de Deux) – This was a bit of a disappointment.  André was lovely and delicate, but Wang, who I’ve always liked, was underpowered and earthbound, not at all as I remember him.  He was the same at the Gala; I thought he just needed time to settle in, but no improvement at all.  I’ve seen him enough before to know he has a big jump and good ballon, but none of that was on display here. 

 Zhao (Carabosse, called The Dark Fairy in the program):  Zhao is rapidly becoming a favorite soloist.  She can dance and she can act:  Very clear mime and a very vivid character.

 And a word for The White Cat and Puss in Boots (Kamryn Baldwin and Sean Bennett).  Played broadly for laughs without going overboard; very funny and endearing.

January 27, 8 pm

Aurora: Mathilde Froustey*
Prince Desiré: Luke Ingham*
Lilac Fairy: WanTing Zhao*
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Lonnie Weeks*
Enchanted Princess: Wona Park*

Froustey:

-       I was worried about her too, but she got through just fine.  I wonder if it’s her left foot that was injured:  I thought it looked a little wobbly at times, although she held her pointe with no apparent problems, and no obvious sign of favoring one side.

-       She isn’t a flawless dancer, and she doesn’t ‘dance big’, but more than makes up for it with personality and that glorious musicality and phrasing, both fully on display last night. 

-       Act I opening variation a delight, all the sparkle you could want.

-       The Rose Adagio, no problems, but this brings me to my main beef with Froustey:  she milks her balances shamelessly (she milks bows after a variation too, but that’s a different issue).  Yes, she can balance, but she does it by finding her ‘spot’ and then visibly wavering back and forth while holding that balance; nothing serene or relaxed about it.  Absolutely drives me up a wall.  It’s probably OK in a showpiece, but the Rose Adagio is a crucial part of the ballet, it’s part of telling Aurora’s story, and Aurora isn’t a showoff.  Naturally, the teenagers in the audience when ballistic.  I just rolled my eyes.

-       She’s a very good, if sometimes unconventional, actress, so it's not surprising that she created a rounded character:  lively, youthful in Act I, ethereal, slightly mysterious in Act II, matured and regal in Act III. 

-       I’ve got a ticket for 2/3, but don’t yet know casting.  If it’s not De Sola, I’ll probably trade to 2/2 just to see Froustey again.

Ingham:  I’ve tried hard to like Ingham in these danseur roles.  He’s excellent in contemporary ballets, e.g., Ratmansky’s Symphony No. 9, Pita's Salome.  But I suppose because he’s tallish and good looking, and a competent actor, that makes him ideal for this type of traditional ballet.  He has a big, airy jump – not beautiful but definitely big – but other than that, he can be very sloppy, and last night he visibly tired during the GPdD.  Having said that, he and Froustey seem to be cast together frequently, and they do have good chemistry and are physically well suited.  But I really wish they’d stop casting him in ballets that don’t play to his considerable strengths.

Park/Weeks (Blue Bird Pas de Deux):  This was the kind of showpiece performance Blue Bird should be.  Weeks’ ballon and batterie more than fulfilled expectations.  And keep an eye on Ms. Park:   a wonderfully charming performance with solid technique and sterling balances. 

Zhao (Lilac Fairy):  I wonder how many dancers have performed Carabosse in the afternoon and the Lilac Fairy in the evening.  A very good Lilac with the needed dignity and presence and lovely dancing.

 

 

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1 hour ago, PeggyR said:

Yes, I saw both performances yesterday (1/27).  I've been trying to gather my thoughts - there was a lot to like and a few things that made me gnash my teeth in frustration. 

Wow, that's a long day, PeggyR - I think that would have left me in a lump on the floor.  ;)

I agree with many of your general observations. I think we'll have to remind ourselves that Scheller isn't practiced in traditional story ballets like SB [though she did apparently dance in NYCB's (Peter Martins) Sleeping Beauty and enjoyed the experience]. But that's about as far as it goes. I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons she came to SFB was to learn how to dance in that manner (and learn some mime acting). But that doesn't mean she's figured it out yet. I'm not surprised that she needs time.

The Rose Adagio can be ruinous for a ballerina, so I was worried about Froustey having to train and perform for that in particular. You mentioned that she visibly finds her spot (I'm paraphrasing) but I have to wonder is there any other way for someone with a chronic foot issue? Such a dancer can never really be anything but careful (and that's going to have a visible effect on how they dance particular steps/variations). I think Tomasson gave her the role as a gift to her, but if things go awry this early in the season, I would rather Froustey had skipped SB completely and danced in the mixed rep programs - and had a season. This is why there's a place for Justin Peck sneaker ballets.  ;)

Thanks for the feedback about Luke Ingham. He's a fairly big man (as danseurs go). And he's got the strength for lifts that we don't always see in the younger men. I would agree that in the traditional danseur roles he can sometimes seem a bit sloppy or not fine-tuned enough. But I still remember his excellent portrayal of Tybalt in R & J. Tomasson used to pair Froustey with Helimets, and Di Lanno but he's been changing things up quite a bit lately regarding partnering. This doesn't strike me a s a perfect fit.

Glad to hear that Weeks and Parks looked great - I think Weeks is near the front of the line to be made a soloist.

I still remember when I first saw WanTing Zhao in the Corps and thought she had great lines and nice finish. She's being given a lot of opportunities now too. If she has real acting talent then Tomasson will be very, very happy.

Edited by pherank
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15 minutes ago, pherank said:

The Rose Adagio can be ruinous for a ballerina, so I was worried about Froustey having to train and perform for that in particular. You mentioned that she visibly finds her spot (I'm paraphrasing) but I have to wonder is there any other way for someone with a chronic foot issue? Such a dancer can never really be anything but careful (and that's going to have a visible effect on how they dance particular steps/variations). I think Tomasson gave her the role as a gift to her, but if things go awry this early in the season, I would rather Froustey had skipped SB completely and danced in the mixed rep programs - and had a season. This is why there's a place for Justin Peck sneaker ballets.  ;)

 

Sorry, it's hard to explain what I'm trying to describe; I'll try to find some video.  I didn't mean to imply that the balancing issue has anything to do with her injury; she's been pulling the same stunt since she came to SFB.  It's very admirable that she can balance that long, but she's too good a dancer to need to milk it.  That wavering back and forth to hold on to the balance completely ruins the moment, especially in the middle of a story ballet.  I've seen a few other dancers do the same thing, and it's just as annoying.  

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11 minutes ago, PeggyR said:

Sorry, it's hard to explain what I'm trying to describe; I'll try to find some video.  I didn't mean to imply that the balancing issue has anything to do with her injury; she's been pulling the same stunt since she came to SFB.  It's very admirable that she can balance that long, but she's too good a dancer to need to milk it.  That wavering back and forth to hold on to the balance completely ruins the moment, especially in the middle of a story ballet.  I've seen a few other dancers do the same thing, and it's just as annoying.  

Oh, I understand what you are saying about "milking" the step. And I don't doubt the teens in the audience were thrilled.  ;)
[If she took a selfie in the middle of the adagio there would no doubt be squeals of delight. Thank goodness that isn't likely.]

Given the casting for Sleeping Beauty, I wonder if we'll get to see more of Strongin or Frantziskonis in Program 2? Who besides Sylve (of the women) will dance in Rodeo I wonder?

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I agree with what PeggyR wrote about Froustey’s performance in the Rose Adagio but want to add a couple of details. Knowing that Froustey went through a long rehabilitation process after what seemed to be a serious injury I worried if she would be able to hold those balances. She was very solid in the first two balances which lasted the “normal” amount of time—that is Aurora briefly lets go of her Cavalier, quickly brings her arm into the third position and lowers it right away to get support from the next Cavalier. The third balance was a moment to behold because it lasted just a few beats longer than usual but it was so perfect and calm and unexpected that I had to gasp—it looked as if she had fallen under a spell and got frozen in time. At first, I thought something happened to the fourth Cavalier Steven Morse that he couldn’t  make it on time to offer Froustey his hand.  I was watching through my opera glasses and couldn’t see what else was going on around the stage. But when he finally appeared  I realized that this exceptionally long balance was intentional.  I wished Froustey would have stopped at that but she obviously got encouraged by how well she could balance and decided to go for a kill. Her fourth balance just ruined the magic of the previous moment. It was unnecessary long, shaky and unsightly. It turned into a scene from Don Q. 

I also did not particular like the scene when Aurora pricks her finger—Froustey overdramatized it by bringing in some elements from Giselle’s mad scene. 

But overall I thoroughly enjoyed this performance as it was a major deviation from the pure classical style demonstrated by Sasha de Sola and Ana Sophia Scheller. 

Unlike many on this thread I don’t have much praise to shower on WanTing Zhao. I think she still has a long way to go, she needs to work on her port de bras to soften her arms and wrists. They are to stiff for my taste and broken wrists do bother me a lot in Petipa’s ballets.

 

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