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ABT 2018 Giselle

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I flew into NYC just to see Bolle's performance last night, what a performance it was! I can't believe how great he looks physically, he commands such a stage presence just by standing there. Compared to his 2005's Giselle with Zakharova (DVD), I see very little deterioration technically, maybe a slight amount of balloon in the jumps, but his landings are so soft and silent, I don't know how he does it. I tried to count how many entrechats but I applauded too much and lost count 😋. It was a magical night for me anyway. The way he is going, he can dance another 3 years at very high level I hope.

I have never given too much focus on the acting part, after all it is a dance performance and the emotions were supposed to be conveyed via the music and dance, but I was impressed by both their acting last night (facial and body). Hee Seo was lovely also, although I wished slight higher extensions.

Don't know if anyone noticed, the big bouquet of lilies in the 2nd act were real, I think his fan club sends the flowers every time Roberto performances Giselle, anywhere in the world. 

I went to the stage door with a crowd of fans, he came out after 20 minutes so or, smiling, very modest and approachable, signed many autographs and took many selfies, including mine  😋😍

 

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19 minutes ago, Outside said:

Hee Seo was lovely also, although I wished slight higher extensions.

It strikes me that there have been numerous comments on a variety of dancers' low extensions throughout this thread.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

It strikes me that there have been numerous comments on a variety of dancers' low extensions throughout this thread.

I'm not a stickler for high extensions (in fact i think a lot of dancers overdue it), but Myrtha's deep penchées look weird when they're only at 90 degrees. I've actually never seen them as low as Teuscher did them last night. It was odd.  

This year's crop of Myrthas (played by dancers who have been fabulous in other roles), was really underwhelming. I didn't see Katharine Williams' debut and reports about her were few and far between. For those who've seen her, could she carry the torch when Gillian & Stella bow out of the role? 

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1 hour ago, California said:

For all the Bolle fans I'm reading, I suggest that you follow him on Instagram. You see a lot of his physical fitness routine there - arduous! 

He does a lot of fashion modelling, too: http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/wiki/roberto-bolle

What can you say, the man has a beautiful face, Greek god body, and HARD WORK!

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It has been a pleasure reading reports of nearly all the Giselle casts. Thank you everyone!!

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2 hours ago, Inge said:

This year's crop of Myrthas (played by dancers who have been fabulous in other roles), was really underwhelming. I didn't see Katharine Williams' debut and reports about her were few and far between. For those who've seen her, could she carry the torch when Gillian & Stella bow out of the role? 

I thought Katherine Williams danced a wonderful debut as Myrtha. As I said earlier, I think she set the gold standard for bourrees, and I wish she could have done them again the other way across the stage, as is done in many productions. I also enjoyed Christine Shevchenko's Myrtha, despite a teeny bit of wobbling in her opening balances (rare for her). But she came tearing out of the wings like a Wili on the warpath towards the end of act II, landing beautiful grand jetes with her back leg high in attitude.

Both Katherine and Christine are ready to carry the torch when it needs to be passed on.

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19 minutes ago, angelica said:

I thought Katherine Williams danced a wonderful debut as Myrtha. As I said earlier, I think she set the gold standard for bourrees, and I wish she could have done them again the other way across the stage, as is done in many productions. I also enjoyed Christine Shevchenko's Myrtha, despite a teeny bit of wobbling in her opening balances (rare for her). But she came tearing out of the wings like a Wili on the warpath towards the end of act II, landing beautiful grand jetes with her back leg high in attitude.

Both Katherine and Christine are ready to carry the torch when it needs to be passed on.

I didn't see Katherine Williams in her debut, but I completely agree with you that I'd love for the company to add a second set of bourrees. I went back to the Martine van Hamel video, and it's SO lovely. I forgot that in adding a second set, it allows Myrta to gradually lift her arms overhead and remove her own veil. I don't like how in the current ABT production, Giselle goes offstage, has her veil pulled off, and then appears downstage right for a big reveal with arm lifted overhead (which seems to beg for applause). The version below is so much more poetic and subtle. Plus, the way the eery strings repeat themselves in the score seems to call for a second iteration of the bourrees. I'm curious if anyone knows which version is considered truer to the original ballet.

And I felt the same way about Shevchenko. There were those uncharacteristic bobbles in the arabesques, but overall I thought she has the potential to be a great Myrta. Her characterization is already fully there for me.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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54 minutes ago, angelica said:

I thought Katherine Williams danced a wonderful debut as Myrtha. As I said earlier, I think she set the gold standard for bourrees, and I wish she could have done them again the other way across the stage, as is done in many productions. I also enjoyed Christine Shevchenko's Myrtha, despite a teeny bit of wobbling in her opening balances (rare for her). But she came tearing out of the wings like a Wili on the warpath towards the end of act II, landing beautiful grand jetes with her back leg high in attitude.

Both Katherine and Christine are ready to carry the torch when it needs to be passed on.

Oh, good to hear! I saw Christine last year and loved her intensity, but this year's reports were more muddled. 

Hopefully Waski gets her chance soon as well. That injury must have been heartbreaking. 

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One thing that prevents me from enjoying Shevchenko is that her feet look really sickled. In fact sometimes it looks like her ankles are bent over in a way that makes me think they'll snap. 

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12 hours ago, Inge said:

Oh, good to hear! I saw Christine last year and loved her intensity, but this year's reports were more muddled. 

Hopefully Waski gets her chance soon as well. That injury must have been heartbreaking. 

Christine did a great job last year as I recall as well, she commanded the stage then so the reports this year are interesting to read. I always try to give dancers like her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she was under the weather or just over rehearsed or used? I wasn't at her shows so I can't speak to that but hope she will have a better rest of the season.

As for Waski, I am gathering that her injury must have happened right before the season, as seen here right before the season started in April😳 I agree Inge that this must have been heartbreaking especially it seems she was so looking forward to her debut on this post from April 😥 

<https://www.instagram.com/p/BhIJHiHFHpa/?hl=en&taken-by=powi295>                                  

I can see on another thread that she is returning but wonder which shows she will be back in, guess I will just have to take my chances to see her perform this year. Skipping this week though since one Firebird was one too many IMO and not quite sure how I feel about Afterite.

Edited by stuben
Trying to insert URL and didn't work, technically challenged and would love any advice for future posts. Thank you in advance.

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Shevchenko's wobbles on the opening arabesques at the matinee were, from what I've seen, very uncharacteristic of her. I saw all three of her Myrta's last year and even in that first performance, her debut, she was rock solid. And, I love her characterization. I haven't noticed any sickled feet on her, as someone else mentioned. I'm glad to hear that Williams' debut went well; I wish I could have seen it. And, hopefully Waski will get her Myrta debut next year (assuming they do Giselle next year - please!). 

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Hi, thanks to the ingenious suggestion of a friend I figured out I could change the blog title and URL and thus make it harder for kids to find my blog. So therefore my new blog url is: http://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com

So for example the review of SuperGiselle is here:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2018/05/robbins-festival-ends-supergiselle-at.html

Edited by canbelto

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I was out of town this whole weekend and therefore did not get to the Friday night "Super Giselle" (I have seen both Hallberg and Osipova in this ballet several times) nor any of the others.  I did however see Abrera on Thursday night.

Giselle Thursday May 17, 2018:

It is really a shame that it took ABT so long to cast Stella Abrera as Giselle until she was nearly forty.  I hope Catherine Hurlin, Paulina Waski, Katherine Williams et al. don't have to wait that long to get their chance.  In some ways this was the most stylistically pure and genuinely Romantic interpretation of the entire run.  But diminished technique (due to age and possibly a recent injury) limited Abrera's otherwise superb achievement.  First of all, unlike Seo and Copeland, Abrera has a lovely arabesque.  Her use of the arms is wonderful.  Though not young, she plays young very naturally onstage and her Giselle was particularly naive and vulnerable.   Act I was fine until the notorious Spessivtzeva variation where the descents off of pointe in the diagonal of hops on pointe looked preplanned this time and were timed to the music.  It was disappointing but understandable but at least it was planned and Stella knew her limitations.  On the final circle of turns Stella landed too hard and nearly tipped over to one side on the final chord reaching out her arm to steady herself.  This was unfortunate since it was the final image and kind of sealed the variation as a failure.  Otherwise, there were a lot of beautiful things to see there.  Stella's mad scene was moving: her Giselle was lost in a shifting haze of her own emotions and though understated, was convincing and realistic.  Throughout Cory Stearns was a very handsome attentive partner and the way that he finishes movements with elegance was a consistent source of pleasure all night.    His Albrecht was not a cad or roué but a sincere and noble young man who gets in too deep with a game that turns serious.   Joseph Gorak and Skyler Brandt danced the peasant pas de deux - he was much improved and she was a consistent delight with buoyant jumps and steady balances and crisp footwork.

Act II was much better though it was obvious that Stella was dancing with some caution.  Jumps weren't too high.  In the opening adagio of the pas de deux the développés were good with only one or two jerky milliseconds but in the final pose Stella opted not to go into a deep arabesque penchée.  I guess this was due to back problems and again looked planned out beforehand.  The rest was really exquisite - the entrechats were light and feathery.  Her arms were a vision of beauty every moment.  Her use of the back and the torso was flexible and soft.  Stella really gets the Romantic style with the soft landings, floating arms and flexible torso.  

Cory Stearns looked every inch the handsome prince as Albrecht and he really showed a pleasing command of the role.  No dizzying heights of virtuosity or dramatic bravura but convincing, noble and beautifully danced from beginning to end.  He was not dead behind the eyes and I felt he was connected to his partner and the character throughout.Katherine Williams initially seemed a bit girlish as Myrtha but her skimming bourrees showed that she can dance the role with real power.  As the Wili grand pas continued she gained in authority.  She still lacks icy command but this was a more than promising debut.  

Edited by FauxPas

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Stella's Giselle did indeed have some lovely qualities, but overall I felt that there were so many technical flubs and limitations that it would have been better for her to have withdrawn than to dance the role in such a diminished way.  Since her promotion two years ago, there has been a precipitous decline in her technique.  Her Giselle last year was also diminished, but this year it was far worse. 

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51 minutes ago, abatt said:

Stella's Giselle did indeed have some lovely qualities, but overall I felt that there were so many technical flubs and limitations that it would have been better for her to have withdrawn than to dance the role in such a diminished way.  Since her promotion two years ago, there has been a precipitous decline in her technique.  Her Giselle last year was also diminished, but this year it was far worse. 

This is probably when an AD needs to step in and have a difficult conversation, but apparently that didn't happen. I love Stella, and have admired her for years, but it sounds like she wasn't well enough to go onstage.

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1 hour ago, FauxPas said:

It is really a shame that it took ABT so long to cast Stella Abrera as Giselle until she was nearly forty.  I hope Catherine Hurlin, Paulina Waski, Katherine Williams et al. don't have to wait that long to get their chance. 

I enjoyed your review very much and totally agree with your sentiment here. It is worth noting, however, that Abrera was cast as Giselle 10 years ago in 2008 and then suffered a terrible injury which scuppered that opportunity, kept her from dancing for almost 2 years, and clearly put her out of the promotion track for years.

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44 minutes ago, aurora said:

I enjoyed your review very much and totally agree with your sentiment here. It is worth noting, however, that Abrera was cast as Giselle 10 years ago in 2008 and then suffered a terrible injury which scuppered that opportunity, kept her from dancing for almost 2 years, and clearly put her out of the promotion track for years.

I know but Stella didn't have to be basically stalled for another 7 years in soloist roles and also why did she have to wait until she was thirty to be cast as Giselle?  In Russia, talented soloists are given a shot at Giselle or Odette-Odile at age 18 (sometimes earlier).  We sat through years of Paloma Herrera and aging Julie Kent as Giselle when we could have had prime Stella.  Only at ABT, nowhere else in the world do they keep dancers waiting until their thirties to dance the great classics.  Lane, Schevchenko (I think close to thirty), Teuscher and Copeland are all learning the great classic ballerina roles in their thirties.  Anywhere else they would have been dancing them for a decade or wouldn't be considered prima ballerina material.   I also hope that Cassandra Trenary and Skyler Brandt also don't have to wait a decade before dancing Giselle, Kitri and Odette-Odile.

As for Stella on Thursday, to me you either concentrated on what she had or what she didn't have.  She probably lacked about three or four classic steps.  Throughout she had lovely line, style and expression.  Copeland on Tuesday also flubbed some steps in the variation but her arabesque was low, she had no jump, she had no Romantic style and she never suggested a Wili in Act II.  She was lacking throughout in line, expression and style.  Misty also came to Giselle in her thirties after a lot of injuries in her feet.

 

Edited by FauxPas

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I didn't see one GREAT Myrtha this season. They all had problems getting their penchees right. To be honest, all the MCB Myrthas I saw during their last run of Giselle were far more proficient. 

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4 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 Only at ABT, nowhere else in the world do they keep dancers waiting until their thirties to dance the great classics.  Lane, Schevchenko (I think close to thirty), Teuscher and Copeland are all learning the great classic ballerina roles in their thirties.  Anywhere else they would have been dancing them for a decade or wouldn't be considered prima ballerina material.   

 

 

This is the main problem ABT needs to address and frankly, unless it is resolved properly, McKenzie should be out on his keyster. The 10-15 years of  relying on the sensation of Guests Artists hurt ABT immensely and it is just now slowly starting to dig itself out of the hole. But the effects of it will be felt for years. 

Edited by Fleurfairy

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ABT is also the only ballet company that performs 8 consecutive weeks of mostly full length classics in a 3,800 seat house.  The major European companies have a system where opera and ballet are performed simultaneously at the same venue .  It is very difficult to have a stable of lead dancers who can perform without injury for 8 consecutive weeks.  It is also difficult to attract audiences to 8 consecutive weeks of ballet, particularly when your main competitor is performing a few feet away.  Also, European opera houses are much smaller and therefore easier to fill than the huge Met auditorium.  All these factors have weighed into ABT's use of guest artists.  Moreover, the guest artist invitations at ABT started a long time ago, before McKenzie ever took over.  

During the golden age of Carreno, Corella, Ananiashvilli and so on, they were not guest artists. They were full company members who performed with ABT during the entire Met season and for the most part during all ABT tours.   I don't think the vast majority of principals now at ABT come close to the skill level and artistry level of the dancers we saw during the golden age.  And I don't believe that situation is caused by lack of past opportunities to hone their skills.  For example Seo and Stearns were both promoted at a relatively young age, got major roles as soloists, have been principals for years and have danced the classics many, many times.  Neither one will ever be at the level of  Nina Ananiashvilli or Angel Corella. 

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I did not go to Abrera's Giselle this year as I found her performance last year to be disappointing (some lovely moments, but not great). That said, I am still a devoted member of the Stella fan club and am looking forward to seeing her Pierrette and Mercedes in a few weeks.

I have a hunch though, that she knows her technique isn't what it used to be, and that's why she pushed through an apparent injury to keep her Giselle performance. People who saw her last year as well as this year have noted even more of a decline in that one year, so perhaps she concluded that she better do whatever it takes to get on that stage because who knows what will happen next year. 

I'd say that the guest artists of the past 5 or so more years (post "golden age" that abatt references) did Abrera the most disservice. However, McKenzie chose to give principal roles to Seo and Boylston (the few roles that were given out to the core ABT dancers) during that time instead of Abrera. Abrera had that terrible back injury about 10 years ago, but she was healthy for several years after that and spent that time dancing peasant pas instead of getting new roles. So, it wasn't just the guest artists, per se, it was the AD choosing other homegrown dancers over her, and much younger dancers, who, IMO, could have waited a year or two to get Giselle or Juliet. 

I've been trying to figure out why he's loaded up Teuscher so much this season, more than any other female principal. I've thought that perhaps he sees her as "Murphy's replacement", a dancer with exceptional technique who can do practically any principal role. Teuscher turned 29 recently. I'm guessing Shevchenko is around that age. Although, I don't like the fact that he's overlooking other dancers (and is opposed to shorter dancers in many roles, on both the female and male side), perhaps he's figured out that he needs to make up for lost time and start pushing Teuscher and Shevchenko now before they're nearly 40 and past their prime!

Hopefully, Brandt and Trenary won't fall into soloist purgatory like Lane and Abrera did, but given the AD's dislike for short dancers, who knows what their trajectory will be like. I'm cautiously optimistic. They both have the goods and I believe they're both around 25 (?). I hope they don't have to wait another 5+ years for the plum parts and a promotion.

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I haven’t followed Katherine Williams’ career very closely, but she’s been in the corps for 10 years now and just now got her first major role (and by all accounts, had a very strong debut). It makes you wonder how much untapped potential there is in the corps. 

Kevin McKenzie has seriously screwed up the talent pipeline and is now trying to rectify it. I don’t see the company bouncing back for a while, though. 

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7 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I didn't see one GREAT Myrtha this season. They all had problems getting their penchees right. To be honest, all the MCB Myrthas I saw during their last run of Giselle were far more proficient. 

Having not seen any of the MCB Myrthas, and not knowing whether any of them were debuts, I cannot speak to their proficiency. However, having seen Shevchenko's debut last year and two performances this year, wobbles notwithstanding, I truly believe she has the promise of greatness in this role. I would say the same for Katherine Willliams. Both of them accomplished soaring jumps, beautiful landings, and firmness in the drama of refusing to release their captives.

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3 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

 

Hopefully, Brandt and Trenary won't fall into soloist purgatory like Lane and Abrera did, but given the AD's dislike for short dancers, who knows what their trajectory will be like. I'm cautiously optimistic. They both have the goods and I believe they're both around 25 (?). I hope they don't have to wait another 5+ years for the plum parts and a promotion.

I was highly disappointed when I saw that neither of them got an opportunity at a major classical role this year. I am terrified about Trenary particularly, since I remember she was given the opening night in their SB tour in Paris. I really hope she did well bc if by any chance the artistic team of abt was not pleased, I am quite sure that it will take years for her to get another shot. For references, Wiles was given opening night in SL in London,  it didn't go well, and from there on was a downfall that did not stop until she left.....Lane was given a shot also with the old SB production, they weren't happy and she was "punished" for that for quite a few years, in addition to the humiliation of having the role being taken away from her. On the opposite sides, Boylston and Seo were given big roles and quickly were given more and then promoted. I really hope Trenary doesn't go through what Lane, Wiles, Abrera, Part and some others went through.....My guess is they are both the relay of Murphy and Abrera, so sadly it will probably depends on when these two retire  for them to have a chance at promotion.

Brandt, in my opinion has all the ingredients to become a star dancer, its not only about the quaility of her dancing and her promising artistry, she is fearless and that is key, in my opinion, to succeed. She gave a tremendously strong performance on Le Corsaire last year in a short notice replacement...Her peasant pdd on the Super-Giselle night was amazing, she threw two long long balances that lasted for ever, the whole variation was impecable, clean and strong. Those balances to me were an statement of "I am here and ready", with a full house, on the night of these two mega-stars , having no fear, going the extra mile in the little chance that you have been given, is remarkable. She is hungry and that is great, that kind of personality in a dancer produces a lot of excitement in me. in the middle of the depleted quality of the prinicipals that we have now, she is screaming for a chance !!!!

On another note, I went to Osipova and Hallberg super-giselle. I found it to be an epic night. This was not only about the exceptional and unique quality of both dancers, each in their own style, but about the chemistry of the partnership, that is to me what brought the performance to a different level. I totally agree with Macaulay's review, Osipova maintains a freshness in her portrait of the role that is absolutely admirable. I also think she has been polished big time in the RB, and this together with her unreal technical skills that are also a perfect fit for this role, makes it an unforgettable Giselle. David danced with less bravura, understandable considering  where he is coming from. However, I still enjoyed his Albretch as no other, his landings are so soft, he is so elegant and his lines are to die for, I could watch him dance for ever.

I also attended Seo/Bolle. I have also been a very strong critic of Seo's performances in the past. I saw her in SL last year and was very impressed, particularly her Odette was magnificent, I think she is the best Odette that abt has right now by far (particularly after Part's departure). Last Friday she delivered a magnificent show. No mistake were made, she looked secure and very much in control. I wasn't particularly thrilled with her Act 1, some minor steps were simplified, the hopes were short lived and the madness scene was "ok", I would say...but still, overall I thought it was really good Act 1. In Act 2 she definitely took the performance to a different level. First, her jumps are truly amazing, with great balloon and quite high, but what really impacted me the most was how she kept her upper body so relaxed, the shoulders, her arms, no visible tension, it was really beautiful, ethereal. This is the second time in a row that I see her giving a high quality performance in a major classical role, I think she has become stronger and more secure. Maybe she has had now enough time to digest the many roles that she was given before, most of them at the same time  in a season that is so short. More rehearsal time have clearly paid off.  

Roberto, boy what else can we say ??? at 43 he looks and dances as if he were in his early 30s, with those endless legs, gorgeous face and greek-god body and look, I wish he never retires !!!! He was such a great partner for her, they looked very confortable together. 

 

 

Edited by Classic_Ballet

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