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ABT 2018 Swan Lake


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7 hours ago, balletlover08 said:

I follow Brandt on instagram, and her latest story today had the caption "When Basillio shows off for kitri" and she was sitting off to the side. It seems like she is at least understudying Kitri? (Does she not have a performance of Kitri?)

In that video, Boylston is sitting in front of the camera with her back to us. She's paired with Simkin in Don Q so I believe that's who she's referring to. Brandt isn't cast as Kitri, but she could always be an understudy.

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I believe that Brandt has studied/coached Kitri with the Maryinsky at some point?  There are several other soloist roles in "Don Quixote" including the two Flower Girls, Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads (not in Brandt's rep) and Amour/Cupid.  We will be seeing Brandt in some of these roles I am sure which is what she was probably rehearsing with Simkin and Boylston.

Given that the technically taxing "Don Quixote" is being given the next to last week of the season, it would be wise of McKenzie to give Brandt some cover rehearsals and extra coaching on the side, just in case.

Edited by FauxPas
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23 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

I believe that Brandt has studied/coached Kitri with the Maryinsky at some point?  There are several other soloist roles in "Don Quixote" including the two Flower Girls, Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads (not in Brandt's rep) and Amour/Cupid.  We will be seeing Brandt in some of these roles I am sure which is what she was probably rehearsing with Simkin and Boylston.

Given that the technically taxing "Don Quixote" is being given the next to last week of the season, it would be wise of McKenzie to give Brandt some cover rehearsals and extra coaching on the side, just in case.

Throughout last summer and fall, she periodically posted pics and videos of her rehearsing Don Q, sometimes partnered by Aran Bell. Irina Dvorovenko was often credited as the coach. I remember she traveled to the Mariinsky with Shayer, but I can't remember what pieces they worked on there. Given how well she was able to step into Corsaire last year, I imagine McKenzie is keeping her on deck for Don Q.

Edited by fondoffouettes
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Speaking of that pirouette-attitude turn combination from the Black Swan variation (mentioned re: Shevchenko on an earlier page of this thread), Gillian currently has an IG video story up of her doing it after class as a triple-quad! She writes that it's "the most attitude(s) I've ever had." 

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This is my first post at BA, though I have been reading posts here for quite sometime. Sadly, I am only able to make it to NYC for an ABT show once a year. I envy those of you that can go to several! This year I chose Swan Lake (it's literally been 30 years since I've seen it) with Teuscher, Stearns and Zhurbin/Forster at the helm. Here's what I thought...
 
First, someone in a previous post had mentioned a swan puppet? I had no idea what that meant until the prologue. I've never seen von Rothbart wrestle a swan before and have to say I spontaneously chuckled. Fortunately, I caught myself before I actually made a noise! Someone also mentioned a "snooze fest" in Act 1 and some other parts of the ballet, which I was surprised by but have to admit, I found myself quite bored in sections. The costumes were beautiful though in some scenes looked quite heavy? Sets were lovely. Orchestra had a rocky start in the very beginning but settled well and played great. I absolutely love this music!
 
Now for the dancing...From my experience in the ballet world, arms are among the last to develop and not everyone truly masters them. Devon Teuscher, however, has with a vengeance. From the center of her back to the tips of her fingers, every bone and ligament was used. I was mesmerized by her Odette due to her use of her arms more than anything else. I had seen an interview of her once talking about her difficulty with long, luscious arabesques and unfortunately she is still struggling with them, which was a tad disappointing. Many of them didn't even reach 90 degrees. Her Odile was exciting, with a stark contrast to Odette as expected. Being a turner, she had no trouble with her fouettes, except I think they traveled way too much and the musicality could use improvement.  That said, her quad pirouette at the end wasn’t shabby! She was also doing something with her acting towards the audience; giving these "ah ha, I'm fooling him" looks. Unfortunately, I don't think it worked. It was distracting, if not comical. Overall though, she is a lovely dancer and I really look forward to watching her mature.
 
Cory Stearns was not impressive to me at all. His physique and acting were good but he seemed heavy, too close to the ground in his jumps. His turns were a bit off as well. I was not impressed and even disappointed after I saw Tom Forster as purple Rothbart appear in Act 3. Wow! Why wasn't he Siegfried? His jumps soared, bravado shined. He commanded the stage for the short time he was on it. Hoping he gets more attention from KMc!
 
Stephanie Williams and Zhong-Jing Fang danced the big swans. The contrast was striking. Fang was light and airy. She held balances (attitude half turn) and had a gorgeous line. Williams however did not look good to me and was distracting in her heaviness (not talking about weight). I was a bit surprised for ABT, even corps members. The Cygnettes did a very good job; tight and clean. Catherine Hurlin, Katherine Williams and Blaine Hoven were up for the Pas de Trois and it was lovely. I do hope Hurlin makes soloist soon, would love to see what she is capable of over her career. The rest of the cast was good but I thought there was a lot of disparity among the dancers. Some were fresh, light on their feet, beautiful lines, clean turns, gorgeous feet, overall lovely technique. Others seemed heavy (again, not weight), bored maybe, a tad sloppy in parts. Could it be lack of rehearsal, rehearsal notes or attention?
 
 I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am glad I saw the show. Can't wait to see more!
Edited by Amicos
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33 minutes ago, Amicos said:
This is my first post at BA, though I have been reading posts here for quite sometime. Sadly, I am only able to make it to NYC for an ABT show once a year. I envy those of you that can go to several! This year I chose Swan Lake (it's literally been 30 years since I've seen it) with Teuscher, Stearns and Zhurbin/Forster at the helm. Here's what I thought...
 
First, someone in a previous post had mentioned a swan puppet? I had no idea what that meant until the prologue. I've never seen von Rothbart wrestle a swan before and have to say I spontaneously chuckled. Fortunately, I caught myself before I actually made a noise! Someone also mentioned a "snooze fest" in Act 1 and some other parts of the ballet, which I was surprised by but have to admit, I found myself quite bored in sections. The costumes were beautiful though in some scenes looked quite heavy? Sets were lovely. Orchestra had a rocky start in the very beginning but settled well and played great. I absolutely love this music!
 
Now for the dancing...From my experience in the ballet world, arms are among the last to develop and not everyone truly masters them. Devon Teuscher, however, has with a vengeance. From the center of her back to the tips of her fingers, every bone and ligament was used. I was mesmerized by her Odette due to her use of her arms more than anything else. I had seen an interview of her once talking about her difficulty with long, luscious arabesques and unfortunately she is still struggling with them, which was a tad disappointing. Many of them didn't even reach 90 degrees. Her Odile was exciting, with a stark contrast to Odette as expected. Being a turner, she had no trouble with her fouettes, except I think they traveled way too much and the musicality could use improvement. She was also doing something with her acting towards the audience; giving these "ah ha, I'm fooling him" looks. Unfortunately, I don't think it worked. It was distracting, if not comical. Overall though, she is a lovely dancer and I really look forward to watching her mature.
 
Cory Stearns was not impressive to me at all. His physique and acting were good but he seemed heavy, too close to the ground in his jumps. His turns were a bit off as well. I was not impressed and even disappointed after I saw Tom Forster as purple Rothbart appear in Act 3. Wow! Why wasn't he Siegfried? His jumps soared, bravado shined. He commanded the stage for the short time he was on it. Hoping he gets more attention from KMc!
 
Stephanie Williams and Zhong-Jing Fang danced the big swans. The contrast was striking. Fang was light and airy. She held balances (attitude half turn) and had a gorgeous line. Williams however did not look good to me and was distracting in her heaviness (not talking about weight). I was a bit surprised for ABT, even corps members. The Cygnettes did a very good job; tight and clean. Catherine Hurlin, Katherine Williams and Blaine Hoven were up for the Pas de Trois and it was lovely. I do hope Hurlin makes soloist soon, would love to see what she is capable of over her career. The rest of the cast was good but I thought there was a lot of disparity among the dancers. Some were fresh, light on their feet, beautiful lines, clean turns, gorgeous feet, overall lovely technique. Others seemed heavy (again, not weight), bored maybe, a tad sloppy in parts. Could it be lack of rehearsal, rehearsal notes or attention?
 
 I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am glad I saw the show. Can't wait to see more!

Welcome to Ballet Alert Amicos, and thank you for your insightful review.   I missed Devon’s O/O this year, but I did get to see her debut last year.   It is so difficult to choose just one performance from an eight week season, but it sounds like chose carefully and enjoyed the performance. 

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Whiteside may not be the greatest actor in moments of high drama, but he was the only Siegfried I saw this week who brought life to Act I. He brings such a sly, dissatisfied air to his spoiled Prince, a man who is looking for excitement and destined for trouble. It added some much-appreciated foreshadowing that is very present in Tchaikovsky’s music, but not McKenzie’s terrible choreography. He also was an excellent partner for Murphy. *shrug* I really like his Siegfried. 

And of all the Odettes I saw this week (note: I couldn't make Shevchenko's performance) Gillian Murphy was the only one who made me cry. She brings the most suffering and depth to the role, as if she has been a captive for over a century. Her interactions with Whiteside were more tender than the other Odettes, and her protection of him much stronger. Love her frozen stare at the sky the moment when Rothbart possesses her at the end of Act II. Her Odile was not the speeding bullet of five years ago, but she seemed the most relaxed in the role. Overall, this has been a good year for O/Os. 

I didn't love Aran Bell as Rothbart. He's technically superior to Royal, but very flat in characterization. I didn’t expect a 19-year-old to convincingly play Odile’s seductive sorcerer father, and I'm sure he will improve with time. I suppose it was to be expected that he would look like a teenager wearing a silly costume. 

Has anyone seen enough of Zhong-Jing Fang to know why she's being held back from more soloist work? She's been a breath of fresh this whole season, and has such movie star glamour. She never treats small roles like small roles. She and Duncan Lyle have both been dancing everything with such gratitude and joy. Corps members like them are a blessing.

I also couldn't take my eyes off Kaho Ogawa's swan. There is something so beyond-her-years in the way she tilts her head to catch the light, as well as her clean lines and accomplished swan arms. 
 

Edited by Inge
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1 hour ago, Inge said:

Has anyone seen enough of Zhong-Jing Fang to know why she's being held back from more soloist work? She's been a breath of fresh this whole season, and has such movie star glamour. She never treats small roles like small roles. She and Duncan Lyle have both been dancing everything with such gratitude and joy. Corps members like them are a blessing.
 

2

I think she's actually been fielding a fair share of soloist work this season -- shades trio in Bayadere, peasant pas de trois and a big swan in Swan Lake, a harlot in Romeo and Juliet, Zulma in Giselle, and Mercedes in Don Quixote. Maybe we'll also see her as the pink champagne character in Whipped Cream.

About ten years ago, I remember thinking she was one to watch and would perhaps be promoted to soloist some day. But I remember it being reported in these forums that she sustained a serious injury and that it sidelined her career for a while. It could be the injury mentioned in this article: https://www.pointemagazine.com/the-actors-edge-2412903570.html.

Luckily, it seems like ABT is making up for lost time and giving her more roles again.

Edited to add: I just came across this video where she discusses the injury (at around 6:00). She says it prevented her from dancing for two years.

 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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Fang is also dancing Mercedes (and, hopefully, the Queen of the Dryads — though it's been said on another thread that Cassandra Trenary is apparently rehearsing the latter, though she's not listed as Mercedes on any dates) for the Tuesday and Thursday Don Qs.

(As background, last year Luciana Paris was listed for a Mercedes, but Veronika Part danced QofD that night.)

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21 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

 

About ten years ago, I remember thinking she was one to watch and would perhaps be promoted to soloist some day. But I remember it being reported in these forums that she sustained a serious injury and that it sidelined her career for a while. It could be the injury mentioned in this article: https://www.pointemagazine.com/the-actors-edge-2412903570.html.

 

That makes sense. I have seen her in soloist roles but she's been with the company since 2003! That seems like a long time to remain a corps member considering what a great presence she has. An injury would definitely explain it (unfortunately). 

Edited by Inge
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3 hours ago, Amicos said:
This is my first post at BA, though I have been reading posts here for quite sometime. Sadly, I am only able to make it to NYC for an ABT show once a year. I envy those of you that can go to several! This year I chose Swan Lake (it's literally been 30 years since I've seen it) with Teuscher, Stearns and Zhurbin/Forster at the helm. Here's what I thought...
 
[…]
 
Cory Stearns was not impressive to me at all. His physique and acting were good but he seemed heavy, too close to the ground in his jumps. His turns were a bit off as well. I was not impressed and even disappointed after I saw Tom Forster as purple Rothbart appear in Act 3. Wow! Why wasn't he Siegfried? His jumps soared, bravado shined. He commanded the stage for the short time he was on it. Hoping he gets more attention from KMc!
 
[...]
 
 I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am glad I saw the show. Can't wait to see more!

Welcome to Balletalert Amicos — I very much enjoyed reading your post. And I had been especially hoping to read about Forster’s performance as Rothbart. I am not a New Yorker and not seeing ABT at all this year. But the times I have seen them in recent years, Foster’s dancing has been something of a stand out. 

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How lucky I was to have experienced Gillian Murphy’s emotional powerhouse of a performance in “Swan Lake” last night (Friday).  I was astonished at this unexpected gift from such an amazing dancer, because even at the end of a long and successful career, Murphy showed that there is always much more that can be discovered.  Murphy is no longer dancing “full out,” but she has danced this ballet longer than any other woman currently at ABT, and has Odette and Odile in her soul, and instead was able to channel everything into emotional interpretation, filling every move with meaning and complexity.  Murphy knows exactly when to move, how much to move, and whether to move with the music or to anticipate it.  Everything melded together to create a kind of emotional volcano, which had me in tears three times – and that was just Act I.  Her Odile, of course, is peerless, and though her 32 fouettes did travel downstage somewhat, they were brilliant and mesmerizing nevertheless; a perfect manifestation of the character. 

Her Siegfried, sadly, was Whiteside, capable but plodding, and though he provided her with good support throughout, he was never on her level throughout the performance.  He was like a tall telephone pole, whose only job is to hold up the wires which sizzle with electricity above him.  His attempt at “acting” in Act IV, as Siegfried frantically runs to the lake to find Odette, consisted of his usual hammy vaudeville-style eye-rolling and head tossing.  I’m really very tired of his constant presence on stage. 

After all the great reports last week about Aran Bell, including a NY Times puff piece as well as a brief review, I anticipated seeing a kind of young Rudolf Nureyev performing as last night’s Purple Rothbart.  Alas, it was not to be.  What I saw instead was the same blank-faced boy who couldn’t handle the Ratmansky choreography in last year’s “Whipped Cream.”  He appeared to have been very carefully coached as Rothbart, and performed the choreography well, with energy and a high jump.  However, his dancing was emotionless, and the only sign of a facial expression came from the heavy makeup painted on his face.  He was more like a cute boy at frat party, rather than a dangerous sorcerer at a royal ball.  Perhaps he understood and was able to identify more easily with Romeo, but he didn’t have a clue about Rothbart or how to portray him.  He was also unfortunate in having to dance alongside Gillian Murphy.  Her sly, seductive Odile was the focal point of Act III, and it was quite clear that this sophisticated woman was the stronger, scarier of the two characters and the real manipulator of events, not Rothbart.  Which turned the entire action of the scene upside down.

I'm not looking forward to seeing Aran Bell in any principal roles in the near future, but I'm certain management has other ideas.  He is no prodigy, and was way out of his depth as Rothbart.  There are currently four and possibly five men in the soloist level who are capable of dancing this role and, more importantly, principal roles, and should have been cast in them this season.  It would have added some excitement to the spring and more variety on stage.  This has been the dullest season in some time and it's almost a relief that the end is near.

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Thank you so much, Laurel, for this review. Oh I wish I had been able to see Gillian Murphy one more time as O/O. The last time I saw her in this role she had to retire after Act 1 with an injury (2014). She has truly matured as an artist. 

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21 hours ago, Amicos said:
This is my first post at BA, though I have been reading posts here for quite sometime. Sadly, I am only able to make it to NYC for an ABT show once a year. I envy those of you that can go to several! This year I chose Swan Lake (it's literally been 30 years since I've seen it) with Teuscher, Stearns and Zhurbin/Forster at the helm. Here's what I thought...

I agree with EVERYTHING you’ve written here, Amicos, and I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts. 

Devon Teuscher’s Odette is wonderful. She’s still developing her Odile, and you can see moments she’s developed — I expect that in a couple more runs, we’ll get to see those moments add up to an sense of seduction and deceit that lasts through the entire Act III.  Would love to see her paired with a Siegfried who could carry some emotional weight. 

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13 hours ago, laurel said:

After all the great reports last week about Aran Bell, including a NY Times puff piece as well as a brief review, I anticipated seeing a kind of young Rudolf Nureyev performing as last night’s Purple Rothbart.  Alas, it was not to be.  What I saw instead was the same blank-faced boy who couldn’t handle the Ratmansky choreography in last year’s “Whipped Cream.”  He appeared to have been very carefully coached as Rothbart, and performed the choreography well, with energy and a high jump.  However, his dancing was emotionless, and the only sign of a facial expression came from the heavy makeup painted on his face.  He was more like a cute boy at frat party, rather than a dangerous sorcerer at a royal ball.  Perhaps he understood and was able to identify more easily with Romeo, but he didn’t have a clue about Rothbart or how to portray him.  He was also unfortunate in having to dance alongside Gillian Murphy.  Her sly, seductive Odile was the focal point of Act III, and it was quite clear that this sophisticated woman was the stronger, scarier of the two characters and the real manipulator of events, not Rothbart.  Which turned the entire action of the scene upside down.

Are you me? I thought no one else felt the same way. 

What Bell lacks is intensity. Some naturally have it (Jonathan Klein does), and some develop it. I hope Bell can. Also he's 19, which cannot be covered by any amount of makeup or even strong characterization. I think the fault here is in weird casting. 

Edited by Inge
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32 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

These reviews of Murphy make me realize what I’ve missed in other Odettes — palpable tenderness and love toward Siegfried in Act I. 

I didn't see any of that on Monday night.

Granted I had fairly high expectations, given what I've seen of Teuscher previously (though this was the first time seeing her lead a full-length) and what I've been reading about her, but she and the rest of the principal cast fell drastically short.

I apparently never noticed before that she has a very low extension and arabesque and a rather stiff back. Or, the ballet's I've seen her in earlier it didn't matter as much. Most of the iconic O/O poses and symbolic choreography were lost. Unless she's getting over or dealing with an injury (but not that I've read) this aspect of her dancing probably won't improve at this point. I don't favor sky-high extensions, but in SL getting your leg past 90 degrees (and a few of her arabesques barely or didn't even make it to that) is important to the choreography, in my opinion. Her side developpes were also low. At times her arms were quite lovely, but missing the swan elements. Her exiting bourrees in Act II were devoid of any swan-like arms. Her fouettes in Act III were not great. I didn't count how many she did, as the actual number is less important to me, but they were unmusical and she traveled a great deal. Traveling forward in and of itself isn't problematic to me, but after moving forward she then traveled back and then to the side and I was worried she'd lose control. Her working foot moved up and down in her passé and flopped around. She did have some good balances and in other places her technique was solid. Her characterization was fairly flat, but hopefully in time that will improve since this is only her second year in the role. There wasn't enough yearning or feelings of love as Odette, and her Odile lacked evilness and attack (she did have a few glaring eye moments in Act III that were great).

Stearns was predictably bland. He partnered Teuscher well but his dancing was just there, no excitement or passion. 

Royal faired better than Stearns, but he has a long way to go to make his Purple VR what it should be. He didn't dance big enough or command the stage and he had a few issues with his cape. His scissor jumps lacked explosiveness and his balance in releve was brief.

The pas de trois was with K Williams, Hurlin and Hoven. Hoven's jumps were heavy but he partnered the ladies well. Both of the women danced exceptionally, esp Hurlin. The four little swans were excellent: Trenary, Brandt, McBride, Graniero. Graniero started to lose it on the diagonal pas de chats but regrouped quickly. I hope to see more and bigger roles given to McBride who continues to impress and stand out.

I agree with others that Lyle really worked the Spanish dance with flair.

I wish I had gone to Shevchenko's SL instead.

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13 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Royal faired better than Stearns, but he has a long way to go to make his Purple VR what it should be. He didn't dance big enough or command the stage and he had a few issues with his cape. His scissor jumps lacked explosiveness and his balance in releve was brief.

I too was a little disappointed in his performance on Monday, but by Wednesday he seemed to have shaken off whatever was holding him back. He really, really tore into the role that night. 

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6 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

I didn't see any of that on Monday night.

Granted I had fairly high expectations, given what I've seen of Teuscher previously (though this was the first time seeing her lead a full-length) and what I've been reading about her, but she and the rest of the principal cast fell drastically short.

I apparently never noticed before that she has a very low extension and arabesque and a rather stiff back. Or, the ballet's I've seen her in earlier it didn't matter as much. Most of the iconic O/O poses and symbolic choreography were lost.

I saw Teuscher/Stearns on Thursday night and those were my impressions, too.  Watching her as Odette I could not get over how stiff her back was, and how low her extensions were. Plus there was something I really didn't like about the way she held her shoulders and head. I thought her Odile was much better. While it does bother me when someone travels that far forward doing the fouettees there's no denying that quadruple at the end was very impressive.

Stearns was a non entity, Williams & Hurley were both lovely with Hoven in the pas de trois.

Forster was FABULOUS as Von R, so commanding and those jetes were fierce. He's done a lot of second lead roles like Von R, Hilarion etc, I really hope they give him a leading role in a full length next season. Just one - Albrecht or Siegfried or Solor or Romeo - its time to let him show us what he can do.

 

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6 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Has Copeland danced in this run...?

Yes.  Twice.  There are some comments about her shows earlier in the thread.  She has now completely dropped the fouettes from her performance and substitutes chaine turns.   Saw my first and last Copeland SL last week.

How was your trip?

Edited by abatt
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18 minutes ago, abatt said:

Yes.  Twice.  There are some comments about her shows earlier in the thread.  She has now completely dropped the fouettes from her performance and substitutes chaine turns.   Saw my first and last Copeland SL last week.

How was your trip?

Oh geez...well, at least she's finally aknowledging her inability to to them. So I would say...same with Kitri...?

My trip is still on, dear! I'm off to see Lohengrin in a few minutes at the Staatsoper! 🤗

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17 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Oh geez...well, at least she's finally aknowledging her inability to to them. So I would say...same with Kitri...?

My trip is still on, dear! I'm off to see Lohengrin in a few minutes at the Staatsoper! 🤗

Enjoy the opera!

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19 hours ago, rg said:

at the Saturday matinee SWAN LAKE Copeland did a manège of successive chaîné turns alternating with piqué turns.

I stumbled across something interesting in a 1967 tape of Baryshnikov and Eleonora Kuvatova in Don Quixote: She doesn't do the 32 fouettes, but instead does a series of -- wait for it -- chaîné turns alternating with pique turns. (It starts at 4:34) The other ladies in these clips all do the fouettes. So I suppose Copeland can claim some precedent for this alternative approach..

 

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