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ABT 2018 Swan Lake


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3 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

If anyone sees Shevchenko’s and Bell’s debuts this week, please report. Though I’ll have the day off, I dont think I can stomach seeing Whiteside in this again.

That's exactly why I'm not going to Shevchenko's O/O. Whiteside has kept me away from several performances this season.

 

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Tesucher was glorious tonight. She's been a little low energy this season and it seems like she was saving it up for this. 

Once Gillian retires, Teuscher will be the runaway crown jewel of ABT Odettes. Her port de bras was so lush, and her pantomime was lovely. She clearly knows this is her signature role. 

The jury (well, my jury) is still out on Odile, especially since Shevchenko hasn't had her turn yet. Teuscher's Odile was less polished but still a joy to watch. In a year or two I'm sure she'll completely conquer it. The only downsides were that her arabesques were a little leaden and she had a habit of looking down a lot during the pas de deux. 

I wish someone would just tell her to do single fouttés. She almost spun out of those weirdly-timed doubles, which weren't even necessary. People were already completely on board with her solid technique and star power. Why don't people like single fouttés anymore? I love them. Nina Ananiashvili's lighting fast ones. Yuriko Kajiya's slow ones that look like a little bird on its perch. I miss solid singles. 

But overall she was a pro from start to finish. The kind one doesn't expect to see at ABT anymore. 

Edited by Inge
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Teuscher has really grown a lot in this role from last year. I'll start with Odile, since I actually think it is her strong suit, not Odette. Her interpretation was great -- firey and bold with a glint of evil in her eye. She really threw herself into the choreography and took a lot of risks, I thought. This was possible, in part, because Sterns was such a rock-solid partner in this section. Her variation was great; she tossed off triple pirouettes with ease. Her approach to the fouettes was to do all doubles up until around the point when there's the shift in in the music, and then she did (fast) singles. The doubles almost seemed to get away from her before transitioning to singles. All her fouettes were very fast, so I wouldn't mind a set of crisp, single, fast fouettes. She did travel forward a lot, especially during the doubles. 

I was less keen on her Odette, though she's grown tremendously since last year. Her lovely arms and range of expression were great. I think she mentioned in an interview last year that Odette's arabesques aren't completely comfortable for her, and it shows. For many of them, she didn't fully get into the iconic positions, and some of them had a sort of clipped quality, not really held for long. Her extensions are odd in that one side of her body is quite good, whereas on the other side, she can sometimes barely get her leg above 90 degrees. I know dancers always have a better side, but I've rarely seen such a stark contrast. I do think her back lacks flexibility, but she sort of masks this with her gorgeous arm movements. I was disappointed that we got barely any swan arm motions for her exit at the end of the act. She started quite far stage left and the curtain quickly covered her up. They weren't particularly striking, so perhaps this was intentional.

Stearns' partnering was great, as was his solo dancing, but he did nothing for me emotionally (big surprise). A friend of mine who only goes to the ballet once or twice a year said it looked like he was wearing a mask for much of the performance. He hardly even seemed entranced with Odile. He finally came to life in Act III, when his regret and love were palpable. 

Royal was improved from his debut last year, but a few parts looked sloppy and he seemed to be holding back a bit.  Last year, he didn't hold the arabesque balance on demipointe at all, and this year he only did marginally better. He hesitated a lot in setting it up and only held it briefly. It still didn't read at all like a moment, as it should. His characterization is getting there, but his dancing was a bit underwhelming. I wish he had danced more all-out.

April Giangeruso was a beautiful big swan. I hope we get to see a Swan Queen from her someday. 

Teusher is definitely still a work in progress in this role, at least in my opinion. I wasn't moved at all by this performance, which could in part be due to Stearns' inert stage presence, despite some great dancing throughout. 

I'll be seeing Shevchenko's debut, despite my reservations about Whiteside. I miss Siegfrieds that truly felt present, and full engaged dramatically, onstage, like Corella, Gomes, Bocca and Carreno. I bet Cornejo is quite good, but I can't stomach seeing him with Copeland.

Edited by fondoffouettes
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23 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Stearns partnering was great, as was his solo dancing, but he did nothing for me emotionally (big surprise). A friend of mine who only goes to the ballet once or twice a year said it looked like he was wearing a mask for much of the performance. He hardly even seemed entranced with Odile. He finally came to life in Act III, when his regret and love were palpable. 

Stearns' frantic grasping at her at the end of Act IV was so moving. It's a shame that it took so long for him to get there. He really let her shine though, which is a fine quality in a Siegfried. 

Honestly the hottest moment of the whole ballet was that brief interlude between Royal's Purple Rothbart and Giangeruso's Polish princess. 

Also, shout out to Duncan Lyle's bit in the Spanish Dance. It was the very best of all the manufactured 'Spanish flair' I've seen on the ABT stage in a while. 

Edited by Inge
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24 minutes ago, Inge said:

Stearns' frantic grasping at her at the end of Act III was so moving. It's a shame that it took so long for him to get there. He really let her shine though, which is a fine quality in a Siegfried. 

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I almost wonder if he couldn't let himself be present dramatically until he had gotten through the ballet's most taxing technical requirements. I also found the way he climbed up on the rockface upon Odette's entrance to be very moving. It's hard for me to say how exactly it was different from other Siegfrieds, but I loved how he did it.

Yes, I don't mind a Siegfried who fades into the background a bit and really lets O/O shine. There were just some basic elements that seemed to be missing. I can't even remember if he seemed excited to receive the crossbow from his mother. I guess he was; it just wasn't a moment that registered for me. 

Also, I realized the best solution for McKenzie's weirdo interlude between the ball scene and the final lakeside scene is to simply keep my eyes closed and enjoy Tchaikovsky's glorious music. It was more effective for me than watching the swans do that filler choreography in front of the curtain. 

And yes -- Duncan Lyle was really giving his all in the Spanish Dance and looked like he was having a great time! 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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23 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Yes, I don't mind a Siegfried who fades into the background a bit and really lets O/O shine. There were just some basic elements that seemed to be missing. I can't even remember if he seemed excited to receive the crossbow from his mother. I guess he was; it just wasn't a moment that registered for me. 

If this were someone's first ballet, I'm sure they were confused by the crossbow because Stearns looked at it like it was something from an alien planet. 

I can't even think about Act I. I've always said that ABT's current Swan Lake (Act I + the prologue) reinforces a lot of bad stereotypes people carry around about ballet. It's a rare dancer that can make that scene (& its duller than dull choreography) exciting. Even Gomes could barely lift it. 

Kudos to Roman Zhurbin for keeping a straight face while stroking the swan puppet 🙄

Edited by Inge
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20 hours ago, Inge said:

Kudos to Roman Zhurbin for keeping a straight face while stroking the swan puppet 🙄

#trueartist. The fact that Roman can do the role year in and year out without making it more of a cartoon than it already is takes true skill and mastery.

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As I've said somewhere else on this board, I think Ratmansky's next task should be to bring Acts 1 and 4 in SL up to the level of Acts 2 and 3. The opening of Act 4 is really a snooze-fest, as I believe someone said above. And those heavy costumes in Act 1 don't really go too well with dancing around a Maypole.

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1 hour ago, angelica said:

As I've said somewhere else on this board, I think Ratmansky's next task should be to bring Acts 1 and 4 in SL up to the level of Acts 2 and 3. The opening of Act 4 is really a snooze-fest, as I believe someone said above. And those heavy costumes in Act 1 don't really go too well with dancing around a Maypole.

I do really like how Act III runs right into Act IV without an intermission. I just wish there were some way they could handle the scenery changeover so that the swans wouldn't have to dance in front of a curtain. But maybe that's just not possible. I'd almost rather have them treat the music as an interlude, with no dancing, rather than have the swans do that blah choreography in front of the curtain. (They cut most of that section fom the Murphy/Corella DVD, which says something.)

On the upside, I'm glad ABT doesn't include the interpolated music that I think Petipa added to Act IV (I seem to remember it being in the Ratmansky reconstruction). That music doesn't sound like it belongs in the score, and the addition of extra music and dances really defuses the tension for me. I prefer the ballet to be brought to a swift and dramatic conclusion. But I guess the problem is that if you do take an intermission before Act IV, the act would feel really skimpy without those extra dances.

I wouldn't even mind if the forgiveness pas de deux, or whatever you would call it, were cut from Act IV. But at least that music comes from somewhere in the original score (I forget exactly where). For me, Act IV as composed by Tchaikovsky is sheer perfection and could work so well dramatically without any interpolations. Does anyone know if Act III ran right into Act IV, without pause, in the 1877 version? I know the 1877 version is irrelevant for staging the Petipa, but I'm just curious whether the composer originally intended the acts to be experienced together. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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What a debut (so far) for Shevchenko. Aside for a few little off moments in her variation, I thought she was fantastic. It felt like a fully realized interpretation, and she’s so wonderfully musical. Her back is much more flexible than Teuscher’s and she’s able to hit those beautiful iconic arabesque poses. Her arms are also gorgeous, and the swan arms she did for her final exit were a lovely mix of ripples and soft flapping. I think this could become one of her signature roles. Can’t wait for Act III with Bell!

Edited by fondoffouettes
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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

What a debut (so far) for Shevchenko. Aside for a few little off moments in her variation, I thought she was fantastic. It felt like a fully realized interpretation, and she’s so wonderfully musical. Her back is much more flexible than Teuscher’s and she’s able to hit those beautiful iconic arabesque poses. Her arms are also gorgeous, and the swan arms she did for her final exit were a lovely mix of ripples and soft flapping. I think this could become one of her signature roles. Can’t wait for Act III with Bell!

I so much wish I could have seen Shevchenko in this performance. I didn't buy a ticket because I can't bear to watch her partner.

 

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19 hours ago, spinning2night said:

#trueartist. The fact that Roman can do the role year in and year out without making it more of a cartoon than it already is takes true skill and mastery.

Roman is truly amazing.  He was my favorite Tybalt last week.

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Shevchenko brought the house down with her technical mastery in the 3rd act. She perfectly performed the 32 fouettes alternating some doubles, triples, a la seconde turns followed by the fast singles then ending in a quadruple pirouette. The turns weren't out of sync with the music like Devon's 15 double pirouettes-Shevchenko was technically strong enough to change the speed of her pirouettes so that all her turns would look musical and perfectly in sync. Also her turns barely traveled on stage unlike Teuscher who traveled a lot to the stage left. The only problem for me was that she opened her mouth quite a bit during the black swan pas de deux. She didn't do it during her solo so I'm guessing she was just extra nervous during the pas. 

I do believe she deserves to be cast more like Teuscher as to me she is a more complete dancer both artistically and technically.

I didnt mind Whiteside at all as Swan Lake is all about O/O. I can stomach a bad Sigfried but not vice versa. I happen to have a ticket for tonight's SL to see Cornejo but I am a little worried for Misty.

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Thank you very much for the reports. I'm glad things went great for Shevchenko. I never doubted that she'd be a great O/O. And of course, I never doubted her fouettes. Open mouths during black swan PDD is something I've seen among new O/O around the world (including experienced ballerinas as well as complete rookies). I think people think of "open your mouth and throw your head back" as portraying confidence, and perhaps nerves make an O/O debutante do that more than she should. I'm sure she'll find her comfort zone in the character and will be even stronger next year.

If you can, please let us know how Copeland and Cornejo do tonight. I really hope I can catch Cornejo's Siegfried some day.

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When Shevchenko came on stage and did her first balance, her supporting leg was trembling, and I thought, "oh no, please don't let this be la Bayadere all over again."  Her first few arabesque balances on pointe were hurried, as if she didn't trust herself.  Which makes her performance all the more amazing because once she started the pas de deux, the nerves went away and she owned that stage.  Her white swan pas de deux was really beautiful.  Previously, I have thought of her as a somewhat aloof dancer, but she was beautifully sensitive and eloquent with her whole body.  She really has the back, the arms and the lines for Swan Lake, but it's also how she used them.  I also thought she didn't overdo the swan arms, which can sometimes happen.  They were a natural and organic part of her movment, and they were especially beautiful when she boureed off the stage.  (Her bourrees were also gorgeous.)

In Act III, all I could think was that she was born to dance this role.  She was the most gleefully evil black swan I've seen.  She teased Sigfried and tormented him, coming close and then putting a hand up to stop him, and every gesture was perfect.  She was evil seduction incarnate.  And the dancing - well, it fit perfectly with the character, full of dazzle.  How could Siegried be anything but mesmerized?  The audience certainly was.  Yes, the fouettes were amazing, but the variation before them was just as incredible.  On her fouettes - I just have to say in addition to all the triples, arms raised, leg extended thrown in, they were incredibly fast.  And her supported pirouettes throughout were also extremely fast and just great.  I feel sorry for Whiteside because when he came out for his variation, I had clean forgotten about him.  Usually, it's the male variations that draw the big applause, but not this time, even before the fouettees.  I definitely think Swan Lake will (and should) be one of Shevchenko's signature roles.  I found her performance truly exciting, especially in Act III, and this has been tough to find at ABT this season.

If I had one criticism of Shevchenko, it would be to echo alexL.  Even when her body is beautifully expressive, her face doesn't always reflect this.  I didn't notice her open mouth, but in the white swan pas de deux, she sometimes looked blank.

Whiteside was sort of irrelevant, which was fine.  He certainly made her shine in the partnering, which was the important part.  But I don't think I looked at him once while they were dancing together.  When I did look at him during the court scenes, he always seemed to have a smirk on his face, and he had the same expression much of the time during Romeo and Juliet.  I think he's much more suited for comic roles.  He's a "gets the job done" dancer, not someone you get excited about.

Aran Bell did well as Purple Rothbart, although I will always hold Gomes at the gold standard.  His dancing was lovely, and he had hints of the seductive mannerisms required.  He's just so young that it was hard for him to look convincing as the master seducer.  His arabesque balance was a little shaky - he looked like he was trying to find his balance with a very low extension and then finally got it up to arabesque very briefly.  But other than that, I really enjoyed his dancing.  

I thought the four cygnettes were much better today than what I have seen in past years.  Their pas de chats were in unison, which is usually the place where I feel like they fall apart.  It was Calvin Royal, Fang and Giangeruso in the peasant pas de trois.  Seeing both Royal and Aran Bell on stage made me wonder what they would be like as Siegfried.  I think they both have that princely demeanor.  

 

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Shevchenko didn't just deliver an astounding debut; she delivered one of the best O/Os I've seen at ABT in recent years. While I enjoyed Teuscher very much on Monday, and thought she'd perhaps be the one to take on Murphy's mantle as a leading O/O of the company, I have to say Shevchenko eclipsed her performance in many ways. In a debut, I'm used to a ballerina simply making her way through the technical requirements, but Schevchenko's interpretation was so particular; there were so many unique flourishes and musical choices. Both her Odette and Odile were fully fleshed-out and compelling interpretations, backed up by incredible finesse, technique and lyricism.

Her Odile was a total stunner. In the adagio, some of the supported pirouettes at first looked a bit mechanical and not entirely comfortable. But then she and Whiteside started doing these turbo-pirouettes, with many revolutions, which reminded me of how Cornejo and Brandt executed supported pirouettes in last year's Corsaire. She was spinning so quickly I thought they were going to lose control, but they pulled it off perfectly. Her variation was incredible. She did her pirouette into attitude turns as double-doubles. She also did at least one of her a la seconde turns as a double, which I can't recall ever seeing. The fouettes were so fast, and most importantly, musical. I lost track of what extras she threw in. I actually didn't care for the raised arms. She held them in a sort of weak V shape, whereas I think something like this may be what she's going for, with the wrists pulled in closer to each other. If that's not possible, could she just hold her arms in fifth position above her head? I think that -- or no overhead arms -- would look better.

I wasn't very impressed with Royal as Rothbart on Monday or in today's pas de trois. I know he has the princely look, but his dancing was somewhat low-impact. Giangeruso looked leaden in her jumps. Fang had a lovely light, musical quality to her dancing, her turns got away from her at several points.

I agree that Aran Bell did very well, and a fuller characterization will hopefully come in time. 

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I 1000% agree with all of the praise for Shevchenko.  I knew she would be good, but she just blew me away today!

I have seen at least a dozen ABT performances this season, but I haven't felt excited enough about any of them to bother writing on the forum--at least not until today.

Some moments that I thought were noteworthy that haven't already been mentioned:

1) I loved her swan arms as she was exiting the lake scene at the end of Act II were gorgeously done

2) The little rond-de-jambs into the extensions to the side in the Act II white swan variation were so secure, with sky-high extensions

3) she had some very impressive arabesque balances in her variations, and one extended one in the middle of the black swan p.d.d.--I think she actually could have held it longer but Whiteside took her arms on the music

4) As for the pirouettes a la seconde in the variation, I actually think she did most of them as doubles, and maybe a triple as the last one?  It was jaw-dropping for sure.

In some of her other performances this season (Firebird, Bayadere), I felt like they were a very technically solid, but it seemed like she was holding back a little bit.  I felt like I could feel her thinking about what was coming next, and her dancing felt a little too cautious.  However, today, I felt like she was really going for it; she just exuded confidence.  It made me think of having a Ferrari and finally getting to take it out on a race track.

I really enjoyed the lightning-fast supported pirouettes--I hope they do that again in DQ next week, though I really wish Shevchenko had another Swan Lake show so I could see her again!

As for the others--I agree that Aran's debut as Purple Rothbart was promising.  Maybe next year he can be Shevchenko's Siegfried! 😁

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I thought that Christine Shevchenko was absolutely phenomenal today in her Odette/Odile debut. I've always liked Christine. Even when she was in the corps, I couldn't help but notice her. Her technique has always been top-notch. But in addition, she also has that indescribable “something” that made her stand out from the rest of the corps women. She is now my favorite female principal. I’d go to see her in anything.

Aran Bell was also quite impressive this afternoon as von Rothbart. Yes, Marcelo is the gold standard (oh, how I miss him!!). But Aran was really, really good. While he may be young and perhaps a little green, he definitely wowed me. What a debut! I am so, so glad that I didn't miss today's matinee. So far, I'd call it the highlight of the Met season, at least for me. 

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I had written a lengthy review about Copeland/Cornejo then my phone somehow blew the entire thing. I'm too tired to rewrite the whole thing but simply put, while Copeland performed better than I had expected I still don't think she deserves 2 slots of SL. Cornejo still has his skills and his epaulement superior to Whiteside's. In case anyone is wondering Copeland did a series of chaines instead of the fouettes. She didn't have the stamina to keep up her speed until the end. Given her history maybe this was the better option.

This evening's Pas de trois(Cirio, Lane, Brandt) was way superior to the matinee's(Royal, Giangaruso and Fang). Cirio, Lane and Brandt are over qualified for this-Brandt even did entrachat quatres in her solo. Lane looked lovely with her soft port de bras and effortless footwork. Very sad to see Cirio leave- hopefully he'll get to dance the principal roles more often at ENB.

Edited by alexL
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