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SFB 2018: Sleeping Beauty


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11 hours ago, pherank said:

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.

Please know that I am always grateful to read the reviews from the west coast, as I am not able to travel there just for ballet.  First, I would like to say that I am glad to hear Weeks is doing well.  I watched him as a younger dancer and was impressed then.  I know he had a setback with an injury, so it is such good news to hear that he has made a comeback.  About Ana Sophia - she has had numerous opportunities to dance full-lengths as a guest artist.  She also has performed classical pas in numerous galas, so she is not unaccustomed to these roles.  I very seldom post in NYC Ballet's thread because I do not watch their performances as much as I do other companies, so I do not feel qualified to comment.  However, the few times I have seen her dance, I felt a coldness from her.  I was struck during World Ballet Day at her rehearsal of SB with Greco.  She did not look happy at all, and seemed to be annoyed with him.  I agree that her technique is impeccable, but I would not purposely pay to watch her dance, as I feel nothing when I watch her.  But, hopefully she will improve in the acting area as time goes on.

I may have missed it, but in relation to the pictures above with Hernandez and Sheehan, did anyone see them?  I love his dancing!  

 

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4 hours ago, its the mom said:

Please know that I am always grateful to read the reviews from the west coast, as I am not able to travel there just for ballet.  First, I would like to say that I am glad to hear Weeks is doing well.  I watched him as a younger dancer and was impressed then.  I know he had a setback with an injury, so it is such good news to hear that he has made a comeback.  About Ana Sophia - she has had numerous opportunities to dance full-lengths as a guest artist.  She also has performed classical pas in numerous galas, so she is not unaccustomed to these roles.  I very seldom post in NYC Ballet's thread because I do not watch their performances as much as I do other companies, so I do not feel qualified to comment.  However, the few times I have seen her dance, I felt a coldness from her.  I was struck during World Ballet Day at her rehearsal of SB with Greco.  She did not look happy at all, and seemed to be annoyed with him.  I agree that her technique is impeccable, but I would not purposely pay to watch her dance, as I feel nothing when I watch her.  But, hopefully she will improve in the acting area as time goes on.

I may have missed it, but in relation to the pictures above with Hernandez and Sheehan, did anyone see them?  I love his dancing!  

 

 

re Scheller, She seemed a little cool and just a bit grand for a 16 year old. I’d be interested to see her as Myrta, which I don’t think she has danced.

Re Lonnie Weeks I was surprised he didn’t make soloist during the last round of promotions butI didn’t know he’d been injured.  He’s looking very good, though.  Fingers crossed for his promotion soon.

they just posted casting for the rest of the run (I’m on an iPad and donT thing I’m up to copy paste with this awful keyboard).  I had bought a ticket for 2/3matinee without knowing the cast, but lucked out with Chung/Luiz.  Hernandez and Sheehan will be dancing BB at that performance, and I’m looking forward to it.  He did dance as an Act III cavalier on Saturday and was very good.   I’m sorry to miss out on De Sola.

Edited by PeggyR
Trying to fix all the stupid things this keyboard makes me do!
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The casts for the remaining four performances of the Sleeping Beauty:

Friday, February 2, 2018 - 8 pm

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

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 2 pm

Aurora: Frances Chung
Prince Desiré: Vitor Luiz
Lilac Fairy: Jennifer Stahl
Carabosse: WanTing Zhao
Bluebird: Esteban Hernandez
Enchanted Princess: Natasha Sheehan

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 8 pm

Aurora: Ana Sophia Scheller
Prince Desiré: Angelo Greco
Lilac Fairy: WanTing Zhao
Carabosse: Ludmila Bizalion
Bluebird: Lonnie Weeks
Enchanted Princess: Wona Park

Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 2 pm

Aurora: Sasha De Sola 
Prince Desiré: Carlo Di Lanno
Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten
Carabosse: Ludmila Bizalion
Bluebird: Max Cauthorn
Enchanted Princess: Koto Ishihara*

 

De Sola and Scheller each got three shows, Chung and Froustey--two. No second run for Kochetkova which doesn't surprise me as she looked very mismatched with Carlo Di Lanno as her Desire.

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Wow, what fun to read these comments about the 1/27 shows - thanks, PeggyR! And others, for the informative replies. I saw the matinee on 1/27 as well, and I didn't have any complaints about Scheller's performance - I enjoyed it. But I'm nodding with what you said, PeggyR, about the "here's a moment" thing, which Froustey, for one, always excels at. So do Sarah VP and Sofiane.  I was a little concerned that the hand-gripping in the Rose Adagio just before balancing was a little too... grippy. Martin West had to slow down the orchestra not once but twice, and I had this flash of vicarious anxiety of "what if the female simply can't let go?" I wonder if that goes on in their heads, of, "OMG this is taking way too long, I'm blowing it." But Scheller held the final arabesque en pointe nicely solid, for an extra two beats, as if to say, "There, see? I've got this." I agree that Greco's personality is strong enough to overcome the inertia that seems to dog every one of the males dancing the prince. Can anyone report on seeing a really dynamic Prince Desiré? I wonder if I would have felt "meh" about the role, seeing Davit Karapetyan perform it? Alas, not going to happen.  Was wondering if Tiit Helimets might be the one to hit all the right marks there? But I was nonetheless happy with Greco's performance, and I thought they did a "vision" pas de deux and Act III grand pas.

One thing I was so impressed with were the feather-soft landings by Wei Wang in Bluebird. It made me think that both Di Lanno and Greco might have had softer landings (again, I'm thinking, "Karapetyan would have aced those.") I thought WanTing Zhao was a fabulous Carabosse and she might very well be my new dancer-of-interest to watch. I was disappointed that Jen Stahl didn't dance Lilac Fairy, and I thought Ludmila B was competent but not exceptional. In fact, it seemed rather wrong for Lauren S. to be dancing one of the other fairies in the same performance. I didn't look to see where else she was on the cast list for this run, so maybe she was dancing that role another time. She certainly has the right grace and sensibility for the role. I do think, however, that Sarah VP's opening night performance of Lilac Fairy was exemplary, though. Fun to see Norika Matsuyama as one of the fairies, agreed that Lonnie Weeks is very much ready to be promoted to soloist, and it was fun seeing Madison Keesler both performances as the Countess. Her pantomime and body language was so easy to read without it ever being too obvious. Those ENB years taught her how to do this well, I imagine. Fun to see Thamires Chuvas dancing as Gold Fairy and Kamryn Baldwin as White Cat - haven't seen either of them dancing soloist roles before. 

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43 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

De Sola and Scheller each got three shows, Chung and Froustey--two. No second run for Kochetkova which doesn't surprise me as she looked very mismatched with Carlo Di Lanno as her Desire.

It's a shame Joe Walsh wasn't able to perform the role. This may be it for SB (given the expense), unless SFB plans on a limited run at, say, The Kennedy Center in the summer. But if there are any tour dates, I would think performing some of the Unbound Festival ballets would be more likely. If anyone is left standing by summer time.

Edited by pherank
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Through some weird coincidence, Froustey just commented on an interview she did with Cloud & Victory dancewear that I was reading last night (when I was trying to figure out/remember which of her feet had the chronic issue). I suppose it speaks to some of our comments.

"Here how I really felt when I arrived in the US few years ago…"

Cloud & Victory Dancewear Interview – Mathilde Froustey, San Francisco Ballet
http://sessions.cloudandvictory.com/interview-mathilde-froustey-san-francisco-ballet/

'...Now that I am a principal dancer, I know. Once I was rehearsing Don Q. I was Kitri. It was late and everyone was tired. The corps was around me, but not in the right frame of mind. So I stopped the rehearsal told them “Listen guys, I know you are tired but I need you. If you are not with me, I cannot dance. So I would rather stop. But if you could just help me a little, not dancing but just acting and looking at me, that would be amazing.” I was scared they would take it badly, but they were really happy that I stopped the rehearsal and talked to them. It showed them that I thought and cared for them, and so they considered me. Without the corps, the principal can’t dance.'

On the flip side of that, being the principal dancer allows you to take up that leadership role and there is that pressure for you to be the face of the company as well.

"Yeah, that is true. Because the corps works very hard, they only accept perfection from the principal dancer and nothing else. That is a little bit of pressure some times. But that is still great because you feel like the audience came to the ballet to see you.

For example, if I am in a good mood and I’m Kitri in Don Quixote, I set the mood for the whole evening. The corps would react to me, and vice versa. On the contrary, if I’m a little off and tired today, then the whole show is going to be really long. As the principal, it is like hosting a dinner. If you are in a good mood and welcome the people with open arms into the house, the whole dinner will be great."

Edited by pherank
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Like it or not, well executed balances (long or short) are necessary for a successful Aurora.  Just like Odile’s foettes Swan Lake.  I’m ok with some panache in 19th century story ballets.  Who is offended by slowly luxuriating the famous solo of Raymonda?  Not I!  

Froustey sounds like a fun performance to witness.  

The over extensions reported at PAB for Serenade bother me much more. 

Edited by Jayne
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That was a beautiful interview with Mathilde Froustey. I appreciated her introspective look back on her training and her time at POB and SFB with respect to the different work cultures...very insightful and honest. Thank you for posting, pherank :)

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Aww, I like Froustey so much - this just confirms [one of the reasons] why. You really see that honest, honorable intention coming across when she dances, too. Well... I do. Thanks for posting, pherank!

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9 hours ago, kylara7 said:

That was a beautiful interview with Mathilde Froustey. I appreciated her introspective look back on her training and her time at POB and SFB with respect to the different work cultures...very insightful and honest. Thank you for posting, pherank :)

Thank Ms. Froustey.  ;)
I wasn't originally going to mention the interview, but I was surprised to see her link to the same article on Instagram yesterday that I had just re-read the night before.

It can be difficult to tell when she is generalizing and when she is thinking of specific people and incidents, so I just take all statements with a grain of salt. As I'm sure Froustey would acknowledge, speaking in a non-native language forces the speaker to rely upon certain stock phrases and standard jargon (that they've managed to memorize) that don't necessarily provide much nuance or insight - there's often so much more the speaker would like to be able to express but they're left with a relatively small vocabulary with which to express everything about anything. It can be very frustrating for the person trying to detail their thoughts and feelings. As she mentions: "I didn’t speak English, but I had to learn all their ballets in English. They would tell me to go the right, and I would always go to the left. They thought I was dumb. It would take me a whole day to learn a 5 minute solo because they gave me notes and corrections in English. And I could see in people’s eyes that they didn’t believe in me." Now, she may have been overthinking things when she assumed that the other dancers or staff thought she was "dumb" or that they "didn't believe in her". There is certainly a lot of competition for roles at any company, and I'm sure there are going to be long-time company members wondering, "why bring in this person who knows nothing of our repertoire when I could be dancing the lead role?" That's life. [Btw, there are French-speaking members of the company that Froustey could ply for information.]

Try to imagine what Yuan Yuan Tan went through at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart - she didn't speak or write German, or English (used by many companies as a 'shared' language), and those languages bear no relationship to the Shanghai Chinese dialect of her home city, or Mandarin Chinese for that matter. It had to have been something of a nightmare to learn roles and take class, and then there's finding an apartment and shopping for food and clothing. It may have been an easy decision for Tan to accept Tomasson's invite to come to SF given that the Chinese-American community was well-established there.

This all just reminds me that most companies do not have very good support networks for new company members. It's all pretty much a 'sink or swim' approach to personnel. If there was more money perhaps H.R./Personnel matters would get more attention. Perhaps, but probably not.

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pherank - I am not sure about other companies, but Boston Ballet has an English as a second language teacher for their dancers from other countries.  She also helps them with everyday tasks, like apartment finding, shopping, etc., if need be.  I know her personally, so I do know this for a fact.  I hope that other companies do the same.

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17 minutes ago, its the mom said:

pherank - I am not sure about other companies, but Boston Ballet has an English as a second language teacher for their dancers from other countries.  She also helps them with everyday tasks, like apartment finding, shopping, etc., if need be.  I know her personally, so I do know this for a fact.  I hope that other companies do the same.

I do too! It would be great to hear some more details on this. It would make a good subject for an article in Dance Magazine or the Fjord Review.  ;)

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

The Froustey interview about the POB training really makes me wince. She's not the first dancer to talk about how relentlessly harsh the training is. I hope things have changed.

When she refers to "my generation's director," I'm fairly certain she's referring to Claude Bessy.

Bessy certainly provokes strong feelings. Aurelie Dupont has made no secret of her dislike for Bessy but then there are others who love her (or at least respect her):

 

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7 hours ago, canbelto said:

The Froustey interview about the POB training really makes me wince. She's not the first dancer to talk about how relentlessly harsh the training is. I hope things have changed.

Yes, it changed. The level dropped dramatically, children may be more happy though.

Incidentally, I read the report on the "Sleeping Beauty" (the link provided above), and was surprised to find that the author discovered herself what seems to be a tabu for journalists writing on dance, namely that Modern kills Classics. My impression of the San Francisco Ballet has been that they are good in Modern and mostly incompetent in Classics (I exclude from this assessment Maria Kochetkova, who is wise to control her artistic destinies herself rather than to follow general trends). This is what happens if you deprive ballet artists of their daily contact with academically classical dance: they become incompetent in classical repertoire. We are seeing this degeneration of standards accelerating in Paris.

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14 hours ago, Laurent said:

Yes, it changed. The level dropped dramatically, children may be more happy though.

Incidentally, I read the report on the "Sleeping Beauty" (the link provided above), and was surprised to find that the author discovered herself what seems to be a tabu for journalists writing on dance, namely that Modern kills Classics. My impression of the San Francisco Ballet has been that they are good in Modern and mostly incompetent in Classics (I exclude from this assessment Maria Kochetkova, who is wise to control her artistic destinies herself rather than to follow general trends). This is what happens if you deprive ballet artists of their daily contact with academically classical dance: they become incompetent in classical repertoire. We are seeing this degeneration of standards accelerating in Paris.

The character and characteristics of ballet are ever in flux. Always. The same sort of lament has been heard in NYCB circles every since Balanchine, and Robbins, passed away: that the old techniques aren't being transmitted to the dancers in the correct manner (meaning, "in the way I remember it"); that the dancers don't understand the moods and inflections of the original performances, etc. (and in many cases there are no films to document what went on). But the physiques of the dancers are different now to some extent too. And at the same time that aging balletomanes or former dancers complain about the manner in which the roles or steps are performed they concede that the young dancers of today can do things physically that were never possible in the past (many of them being far more 'athletic', or flexible, or versatile, than NYCB dancers of the 1950s, for example). How much of this is real, and how much is imagined, I can't say, but present day ballet choreography and narratives definitely emphasize different things from decades-old ballets, not to mention Romantic era story ballets. And the young dancers have to work with what is in the current repertoire - they don't have a personal reference to Petipa-era ballet. When Balanchine and Danilova both passed away there was virtually no one in the U.S. left who had any memory of ballet at the Mariinsky in the time of the last Tsar. It was all gone for ever.

On the 'glass half full' side of things: everything one doesn't like about ballet today will eventually be replaced - utterly and completely.  ;)

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Here' a couple stage shots that provide a good view of the sumptuous costumes: the top one shows Sarah Van Patten as the Lilac Fairy, and the bottom one Sasha De Silva as Aurora. Claudia Bauer thought SVP's tutu appeared "garish in a color as translucent as lavender tea". I personally don't have a problem with 'jewel tones' (which tend to be deep, saturated or opaque color), as opposed to pastels, and washed-out colors (which I suppose some people would say is more 'feminine'). But the palette is fairly dark which isn't going to appeal to everyone.

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Closeup of one of the Sleeping Beauty tutus - worn by Emma Rubinowitz:

26869852_423827528034439_488541921780275

Edited by pherank
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Mathilde Froustey shows us the process of affixing Aurora's blonde wig:

"How to become a married blond princess ... thank you so much to my hair fairy [Erica Villanueva] for the great time spent together during those two shows !
All the amazing people who work backstage during the show specially dressers and hair dressers are so important for the artists. We are sharing together emotions stress and happiness and they are taking care of us at our most vulnerable moments."

https://www.instagram.com/p/Beu3MvbH2Vl/?taken-by=lapetitefrench_

Maria Kochetkova dancing in Sleeping Beauty (it isn't clear when this was taped though):

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeuBzoLBukU/?taken-by=balletrusse

Edited by pherank
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3 hours ago, Dreamer said:

One of the comments indicates it was a performance from many years ago at the Bolshoi Theater of Belarus.

Thanks Dreamer, I missed that comment. It definitely looked to be a much younger version of Masha.  ;)

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In today’s (February 4) performance of Sleeping Beauty, Ludmila Bizalion danced the role of the Lilac Fairy instead of Sarah Van Patten and Luke Ingham was a last minute replacment for Carlo Di Lanno. According to Sasha De Sola’s Instagram they only had 15 minutes to rehearse.  This, however, was not obvious to us, the audience, as they both were flawless.

 

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I hestitated to see this production of "The Sleeping Beauty," as I had seen the Mariinsky's version (Vasiev's?) here in the Bay Area ten years ago with Vishneva, Zelensky and Korsakov (Bluebird) and still had some pleasant and not completely faded out memories of it. 

But I did enjoying seeing this "Sleeping Beauty" Saturday night. The company looked handsome in it, Ana Sophia Scheller was lovely, her dancing clear, and Angelo Greco was especially good in the vision scene. 

To Claudia Bauer's point, it did seem as if there were two ballets or stories – that of the sets, heavy and baroque (like the gold rush-monied lobby of the Fairmont Hotel), too much, and the pearl encrusted costumes, all wanting to be admired – and the story itself and the delicate choreography which needs no apology. It would be interesting seeing the ballet set against light Tiepolo drawings or Jacques Callot etchings or the kinds of sets Christian Berard did for the orginal "Mozartiana" in 1933.

Which would be a great match for the wonderfully complex (and kind of radical) choreography of the Fairies' variations, which were the heart of the show for me. And where you feel the past is being transmitted, not in the expensive surrounds.

I did miss the great transition of the kingdom into a sleeping one, into being overgrown and abandoned and Prince Desire coming across it and seeing all of it, as in the Maryiinksy version. This lacked that overview, was too interior.

I also thought (with Bauer) that the change of Princess Florine's name to Enchanted Princess was all wrong. She is not an enchanted princess, but rather he is an enchanted prince (Prince Charming) who has been changed into a bluebird by an offended third party. Princess Florine is kept in a tower and the Bluebird visits her secretly at night bringing her little presents. Some of that melancholy backstory is somewhere in the choreography. (I also like productions where there are wavy sleeves and loosened feathers.)

Those quibbles aside, it was a very happy evening.

Edited by Quiggin
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24 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

I hestitated to see this production of "The Sleeping Beauty," as I had seen the Mariinsky's version (Vasiev's?) here in the Bay Area ten years ago with Vishneva, Zelensky and Korsakov (Bluebird) and still had some pleasant and not completely faded out memories of it.

Oh, I traveled down to see that and still remember it!

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