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Don Quixote Spring 2018


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 Grateful for the suggestions on this board to see Lane's debut.  This casting was perfect, including the happy addition of Forster.  I love his wit and intelligence as many good dancers are so regretfully bland.   I wish he were made principal, i dont get this moaning about lack of men leads, if the problem is the management.  

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mazurka
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49 minutes ago, lostatthemet said:

Forster is great.  I cannot for the life of me understand Whiteside and Stearns as principals, but not Forster.  Stearns is a non-entity onstage, and Whiteside is actively terrible.

True on all counts.  Stearns is flat,  Whiteside is too but differently--just not there.  I saw a lot of W. in Boston and he was technically one of the most proficient.  Are they principals in part because they're tall?

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23 minutes ago, Marta said:

True on all counts.  Stearns is flat,  Whiteside is too but differently--just not there.  I saw a lot of W. in Boston and he was technically one of the most proficient.  Are they principals in part because they're tall?

Stearns is very handsome, has perfect ballet proportions, and a beautiful ballet line. I'm going to guess that McK expected that Stearns would develop in the acting realm, which, unfortunately, he has not.

I cannot, for the life of me, begin to guess why McK hired Whiteside, although your supposition that it was because he is tall is the only one that makes sense. "actively terrible" is a good description for him.

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3 minutes ago, angelica said:

Stearns is very handsome, has perfect ballet proportions, and a beautiful ballet line. I'm going to guess that McK expected that Stearns would develop in the acting realm, which, unfortunately, he has not.

Part of Stearns' problem is that he does not have a face that reads well from onstage. (Granted, he doesn't do very much to use what he's got, but he's starting from a deficit.) I passed him on the street the other day and even up close his face just projects blankness. His eyes kind of just disappear.

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I've heard that said of Stearns before, but I just can't make my peace with it. I've seen him act brilliantly, with his face broadly smiling, in a studio rehearsal. I would guess that he is naturally shy, and is afraid to show too much emotion on stage for fear it will be seen as over-acting. If he could do on stage what he does in the studio, his face would read to the audience.

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Do these ballet dancers videotape themselves? I'd love to see them work with an acting coach who tapes them. Sometimes, people think they're showing emotion because they're feeling it inside, but their faces are masks. A good acting coach can show them the footage and work with them to maximize their facial expressions.

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I've heard of Stearns giving good performances (acting-wise), so he may just need an acting coach to help him do it consistently.  It doesn't help that he has small facial features, and is dancing in a huge house.  I don't dislike Stearns, I'm just indifferent.  Whiteside, I just find intolerable.  He's either blank/smirking/melodramatically running around with his mouth open.  He's an OK dancer, it'd be fine if he were a principal in a regional company, but so many performances at ABT??  Dear God.  He's the charisma-free male equivalent of Boylston.  I don't want to watch either of them, but they keep getting teamed up with dancers I DO want to see.  

Edited by lostatthemet
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Off the top of my head I can't remember which director (Adrian Noble?) said that a (stage) actor needed a big nose, big hands and a big voice. (The big nose and big voice often go together.) Stearns' deep-set, squinty eyes, hollowed-out cheek bones, full lips and fine teeth serve him well as a fashion model, but on stage the small eyes and short nose are a disadvantage. Dancers with large eyes and long noses have a much better chance of being "read" at a distance. Are small eyes and noses fatal for dancers? Of course not. No one ever suggested that Sara Mearns lacked expression or failed to project. But small eyes, inadequate eye makeup and an immobile face all work against Stearns, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't seem to be doing enough to compensate, especially since what he dances are primarily narrative ballets.

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13 hours ago, lostatthemet said:

... Whiteside is actively terrible.

You must have missed his Harlequin. Whiteside was magnificent in that. Actually, I’ve seen only fine performances by him...wonderful in Tchai pdd with Boylston last year, great Symphony in C opposite Hee Seo in DC a few years ago, etc.

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4 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

But small eyes, inadequate eye makeup and an immobile face all work against Stearns, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't seem to be doing enough to compensate, especially since what he dances are primarily narrative ballets.

This has been going on for years. Why doesn't the Artistic staff do something about it?

 

4 hours ago, CharlieH said:

You must have missed his Harlequin. Whiteside was magnificent in that. Actually, I’ve seen only fine performances by him...wonderful in Tchai pdd with Boylston last year, great Symphony in C opposite Hee Seo in DC a few years ago, etc.

I think he was magnificent in Harlequin because he had a face mask on. But if you think Boylston is great, then we obviously have different standards for greatness.

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6 hours ago, CharlieH said:

You must have missed his Harlequin. Whiteside was magnificent in that. Actually, I’ve seen only fine performances by him...wonderful in Tchai pdd with Boylston last year, great Symphony in C opposite Hee Seo in DC a few years ago, etc.

I never expect to like Whiteside, but somehow I always end up liking him just fine. Heck, I even liked his Prince Désiré. The last time I saw Symphonic Variations, I thought he and Betsy McBride were the only two dancers on stage who looked genuinely at peace with the choreography. 

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2 hours ago, angelica said:

This has been going on for years. Why doesn't the Artistic staff do something about it?

"Because he gets the job done" has been good enough for ABT for years, sadly. He's dependable, yet boring. I've also seen him close-up in person and he's as handsome as can be, but his face doesn't do him any favors onstage. If there's one thing that I think should define ABT, it's the Theatre in their name; they have a long tradition of great dramatic dancers, and a few can be found in the current crop of dancers. It sounds like the dancers often look outside the company to get the dramatic training they need, though. 

I've seen some very good performances from Whiteside. I wouldn't seek him out, but I wouldn't avoid him either, if he's paired with a ballerina I like. He's probably best in comedic roles, like Espada and Colas (I didn't see his Harlequin). Given that he also does drag, I imagine hamming it up in comedic roles may come more naturally to him than portraying a love-lorn prince. But I at least appreciate that he's always much more of a presence onstage than Stearns. 

I hope that any roles ABT was thinking of giving to Hammoudi next year will go to Forster instead. His presence onstage as Espada blew me away, and it's not exactly a role I'm usually that invested in. By the time the tavern scene comes around, I'm often more than ready for intermission. But Forster actually made me enjoy that scene. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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I saw four Don Q’s this week (Boylson/Simkin, Shevchenko/Whiteside, Boylston/Simkin, and Lane/Cornejo).   All were excellent and well danced.  My favorite was Monday night’s performance with Boylston/Simkin, however all of the Kitri’s and Basilio’s  were sensational. 

We had some pretty great supporting casts which have already been mentioned in previous posts.   Gabe Shayer was the Lead Gypsy at all four of our performances and he danced brilliantly.  It just breaks my heart that he wasn’t promoted to soloist this season.  I also wanted to give a particular shout out for Luis Ribagorda who made an impressive Gamache.  He was extremely funny, and must have had a ball playing Gamache opposite his wife on Saturday.

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3 hours ago, angelica said:

This has been going on for years. Why doesn't the Artistic staff do something about it?

 

I think he was magnificent in Harlequin because he had a face mask on. But if you think Boylston is great, then we obviously have different standards for greatness.

I don’t like Boylston in everything  but she was out of this world as Columbine. Whiteside/Boylston stood out among four very strong casts of Harlequinade.

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57 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I've seen some very good performances from Whiteside. I wouldn't seek him out, but I wouldn't avoid him either, if he's paired with a ballerina I like. He's probably best in comedic roles, like Espada and Colas (I didn't see his Harlequin).

I agree.   I saw Whiteside in several ballets this year, and he danced and partnered well, just as he has done in previous years. 

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8 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Off the top of my head I can't remember which director (Adrian Noble?) said that a (stage) actor needed a big nose, big hands and a big voice. (The big nose and big voice often go together.) Stearns' deep-set, squinty eyes, hollowed-out cheek bones, full lips and fine teeth serve him well as a fashion model, but on stage the small eyes and short nose are a disadvantage. Dancers with large eyes and long noses have a much better chance of being "read" at a distance. Are small eyes and noses fatal for dancers? Of course not. No one ever suggested that Sara Mearns lacked expression or failed to project. But small eyes, inadequate eye makeup and an immobile face all work against Stearns, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't seem to be doing enough to compensate, especially since what he dances are primarily narrative ballets.

I've thought of starting a thread on stage makeup asking about changing styles of makeup over the years.  My observations are based on seeing dancers faces from photos and from a distance in the audience.  Over the years I noticed that the faces in the dance photos I saw were more and more natural looking and imagined that this was done for the photoshooots.  However, personal experience and opinions expressed here about faces not being readable from the audience and lack of acting skills in dancers leads me to wonder if the blank faces are really due to lack of eyeliner and contouring. 

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

"Because he gets the job done" has been good enough for ABT for years, sadly. He's dependable, yet boring. I've also seen him close-up in person and he's as handsome as can be, but his face doesn't do him any favors onstage. If there's one thing that I think should define ABT, it's the Theatre in their name; they have a long tradition of great dramatic dancers, and a few can be found in the current crop of dancers. It sounds like the dancers often look outside the company to get the dramatic training they need, though. 

I've seen some very good performances from Whiteside. I wouldn't seek him out, but I wouldn't avoid him either, if he's paired with a ballerina I like. He's probably best in comedic roles, like Espada and Colas (I didn't see his Harlequin). Given that he also does drag, I imagine hamming it up in comedic roles may come more naturally to him than portraying a love-lorn prince. But I at least appreciate that he's always much more of a presence onstage than Stearns. 

I hope that any roles ABT was thinking of giving to Hammoudi next year will go to Forster instead. His presence onstage as Espada blew me away, and it's not exactly a role I'm usually that invested in. By the time the tavern scene comes around, I'm often more than ready for intermission. But Forster actually made me enjoy that scene. 

Stearns was utterly fantastic as His Friend in The Moor's Pavane years ago. He was paired opposite Zhurbin as The Moor. Their sparing was electric and I was shocked at how good he was. That was the only time I saw him come alive and actually inhabit a character, with real visible emotion. So, he's obviously got it in him. Why can't/doesn't he harness that for everything else that he does? He shouldn't need someone like Zhurbin to play off of.

Whiteside is very good in non-story ballets, and at times, even excellent; he can dance, and has very good technique. But, after seeing him with Part in SL a few years ago, and being so utterly bored and disappointed with his interpretation, I vowed never again. I've missed out seeing some women I'd like to see as a result, but I can't come to terms with paying good money for a good seat to see someone I really don't want to see. 

That said, I do appreciate the fact that they've both been reliable and dependable and are the MVP's for this season. With the male principal situation being that it is that many of us have written about ad nauseum, imagine if even one of them hadn't been around? I don't think that would necessarily have translated into ABT giving Forster or Hoven a chance at a leading role (or maybe it would have if Stearns/Whiteside had gotten injured at the last minute, but then how much rehearsal time would they have had, and they'd still be judged on a less-than-great performance?). Sure, many of us may have preferred that, or even a guest artist, but nevertheless, they've been full-time principals, unlike a few others, and have stepped up to the plate. Lastly, I'm trying to give the AD a slight benefit of the doubt here: Lendorf's continued absence/injury probably took him off guard. He just had knee surgery but maybe he tried other non-invasive procedures first before it became evident that he had to have surgery. McKenzie also expected Hallberg to dance more initially, until one by one his name was taken off of the casting for Bayadere, Whipped Cream, and I forget what else. By that point, it may have been too late to line up any guest artists to fill in for Hallberg and Lendorf (or to prepare Forster/Hoven to take over). And, as much as I wanted to see Cirio given more, and he should have been, he is limited in who he can partner due to his height. So, he could not have done SL with Seo or Murphy, for example, relieving Whiteside.

And, I couldn't agree more that I hope they give Forster a leading role in one of the full-lengths next year. I'm still thinking about how good his Espada was. It's time to see if he's capable and we won't know until he's truly tested. He's 32, so it's now or never and I think he deserves a chance. My one complaint about Forster (which I forgot to include in my previous review) is that he raises his shoulders a lot. That's usually due to stamina, so I hope he can work on that.

Edited by ABT Fan
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16 minutes ago, lmspear said:

I've thought of starting a thread on stage makeup asking about changing styles of makeup over the years.  My observations are based on seeing dancers faces from photos and from a distance in the audience.  Over the years I noticed that the faces in the dance photos I saw were more and more natural looking and imagined that this was done for the photoshooots.  However, personal experience and opinions expressed here about faces not being readable from the audience and lack of acting skills in dancers leads me to wonder if the blank faces are really due to lack of eyeliner and contouring. 

That's interesting. In older photos and videos, I've definitely noticed more pronounced makeup on men. But like you said, they could use more naturalistic makeup for photo shoots these days. 

I've noticed Kaho Ogawa does what I think of as the old-school bottom eyeliner, which is completely separate from her eye. It's not something you see so often these days (I believe), but I feel like I've seen it more often in old photos.

 

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18 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Whiteside is very good in non-story ballets, and at times, even excellent; he can dance, and has very good technique. But, after seeing him with Part in SL a few years, and being so utterly bored and disappointed with his interpretation, I vowed never again. I've missed out seeing some women I'd like to see as a result, but I can't come to terms with paying good money for a good seat to see someone I really don't want to see. 

 

I had trouble seeing Part dance Swan Lake with anyone other than Gomes, so I do understand.  But Whiteside did an excellent job in Swan Lake with Shevchenko this year.  You may want to give him another try rather than missing out of on some pretty exciting debuts/performances.

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The NYCB women are way more into the contouring makeup. Sometimes they overdo it. For instance Sara Mearns wears so much makeup onstage I once had difficulty recognizing her offstage.

 

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I think I finally undestand McKenzie’s ukase banning filming - if you could post on youtube brilliant performances by people held back from promotions there would be pressure to change the artistic direction at ABT, while sales would fall for performers  not based on merit. 

How does this policy affect “fresh blood”?  Is it NYC that has such pull that people disregard the difficulty or does hope spring eternal?

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