Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Winter 2019


Recommended Posts

Last night was my first time seeing City Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

First of all the dancing last night was pretty lacklustre and really not very clean. After so enjoying Sterling Hyltin in Mozartiana a few weeks ago, I went last night specifically to see her as Aurora, but it was a bit disappointing. Not sure whether she was having an off night or if it’s just not her role but she seemed to be struggling through most of the ballet. The strongest part for her was the coda of the grand pas which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Russell Janzen did a good partnering job, but I really can’t say much for his dancing. He seemed to struggle also.

One always hears how agile City Ballet dancers are, but I can’t say that I felt that way last night. Everyone really seemed to be struggling to keep up and many movements felt incomplete to fit them in. The Prologue Fairies fared especially poorly. So many of these variations rely on port de bras and it seemed as though no care was given to the coaching of the port de bras - just a “do it quick and it will be exciting” feeling. 

The whole production was very amateurish. The projections at the beginning of each scene (still images which fade into another) and projections for the backdrops were particularly irksome. While I appreciated that the designs actually shot forward 100 years for Act III (which Richard Hudson’s for ABT don’t), I found the decision to dress the third act in the 18th century but give only half of the characters powdered wigs (and not the King and Queen!) to be jarring.

The details just really aren’t there. The King physically assaulting Catalabutte for a cheap slapstick comedy moment. The King not being horrified with embarrassment at the begging Queen dropping to her knees. The Queen touching the baby. The Queen greeting Aurora like a best friend with a kiss on each cheek. The King and Queen actually running in front of Carabosse to try and block her. Several characters putting their hands on their hips in frustration. The Countess having a tantrum at the Prince. The hunting party sitting on the floor.

Peter Martins’ additional choreography is also quite awful. He “jazzes up” a lot of things that don’t need to be. I particularly disliked the jewels pas de quatre and the cat pas de deux (which usually has sexual undertones, but in Martins’ version these become blatant over tones with some… rapey undertones?). I also found Martins’ choreography for the nymphs overdone, unmusical and distasteful.

I was extremely shocked to see Ashton’s Act II variation for Aurora show up in this production despite being credited to Martins after Petipa. I’m sure nobody in this company is even aware that this variation is by Ashton and not Petipa. But I wonder if anyone from the Ashton Foundation is aware?

Perhaps most problematic for me was Taylor Stanley appearing as a character called “Africa” in Act I. Not the “African Prince” but “Africa”. The suitors are all pretty nondescript anyway, but why on earth are they each representing an entire continent (Europe, America, Asia, Africa)? It comes across instead as representing a race. They could easily just be “Four Suitors”.

 

Edited by BLalo
Link to post

I saw the performance of Sleeping Beauty last night and really enjoyed it. Sterling Hyltin was so fluid in her upper body and radiated joy on stage. She was a very beautiful, effervescent, youthful Aurora. The only time she ever showed any work was during the balances during the Rose Adagio - otherwise, she made it all look so easy. She did raise her arms to fifth position during all 8 of the balances. Tess was a stately and authoritative Lilac Fairy. I enjoyed Kristen Segin's fairy variation as well - definitely the best of the bunch.  Of course, the children were a delight in the Garland Waltz. The Von Enck sisters, Baily Jones, and especially Maira Nadon really stood out in the corps. Ms. Nadon looks like a future Lilac Fairy to me. I don't believe Aurora has to be short, and I would love to see her Aurora too, although that will probably never happen at NYCB. Rus Jensen's prince needs some work - he was pretty stone faced and seemed to struggle with some of the technical demands of the Act III variation. No chemistry between him and Hyltin whatsoever - and that's entirely on him because she as just beaming the whole time. He did a good job of being invisible during the wedding pas, but I would have liked him to bring something to the table.

After all the slamming of this production on BA, I expected it to be a lot worse than it is. The costumes are fine. The courtiers and the jesters have garish colors on their costumes, but the majority of the costumes are absolutely beautiful. My main knock on the program is that there isn't actually a lot of dancing for Aurora!

ETA: I saw on Ashley Hod's instagram that she visited Andy Veyette some place and he is "working on himself." Does anyone have any info on this? She almost made it sound like he was in some kind of rehab.

Edited by chicagoballetomane
Link to post

I don't remember seeing this version in the theater, although I had seen the TV production long ago and never felt any special inclination to see it. Still, I'm in town for some meetings, so I thought it was worth checking out.

The highlight for me is Martin's use of Balanchine's Garland Dance. I had seen that before as part of a mixed bill for some special occasion. So many dancers on stage in such interesting formations. Students, corps members. It really is delightful and a reminder of Balanchine's genius for moving large groups of people around.

I saw the dress rehearsal Tuesday night for friends. It's not fair to comment on that, but I was surprised that Hyltin seemed to be dancing mostly full out, with little marking. I wondered if that wouldn't be exhausting just 24 hours before the opening. I wasn't very impressed at the actual opening. Fortunately, the suitors steadied her in several places in the rose adagio and she did raise her arm after each turn. Before the third fish dive, she did something odd -- an overwrought arm gesture (sort of like: here we go - just one more of these things and we're done!). She was off-position on that one, but Jenzen got her into position. He was utterly lacking in presence or anything special otherwise. 

A detail I loved that was probably inspired by Balanchine's stories about how his performances as a child inspired him to pursue ballet: lots more children than we see in other productions. Red Riding Hood was a tiny little girl who was a delight. Little kids carrying gifts for the fairies in the Prologue. Two little ones holding the robes of the king and queen. The Garland Dance, as noted. 

I liked those projections of the trip to the castle. Different and effective. 

Link to post
44 minutes ago, chicagoballetomane said:

My main knock on the program is that there isn't actually a lot of dancing for Aurora!

I don't recall, as I've only seen this production once — what from the most traditional versions is missing for her?

Link to post
2 hours ago, BLalo said:

 

Perhaps most problematic for me was Taylor Stanley appearing as a character called “Africa” in Act I. Not the “African Prince” but “Africa”. The suitors are all pretty nondescript anyway, but why on earth are they each representing an entire continent (Europe, America, Asia, Africa)? It comes across instead as representing a race. They could easily just be “Four Suitors”.

 

This makes the point that Aurora is being courted by the regal heads of state from around the world.   Referring to them as four suitors does not convey their high statures.

Link to post
38 minutes ago, rg said:

there's mention above from California of a tv production of this staging: can anyone provide particulars on this?

I'm not home at the moment, but I had a memory of seeing this long ago televised somewhere. Now I can't find anything with Google. It's possible I'm mixing this up with something else! So sorry!

Link to post
25 minutes ago, abatt said:

This makes the point that Aurora is being courted by the regal heads of state from around the world.   Referring to them as four suitors does not convey their high statures.

Yet in the program they are referred to as “Suitors” and then subsequently “Asia”, “Africa” etc. Nothing to indicate as in other productions that they are princes or have “high stature”. 

Regardless, the point I was trying to make was that their costumes are fairly nondescript and choreographically there is no difference between any of them (most royal Ballet productions have the French Prince do most of the “extra” partner work as Aurora would already probably be familiar with him - but at City Ballet they all take turns doing the extra stuff). They could easily be referred to as “Four Princes” (to convey their high stature).

Edited by BLalo
Link to post
2 hours ago, chicagoballetomane said:

ETA: I saw on Ashley Hod's instagram that she visited Andy Veyette some place and he is "working on himself." Does anyone have any info on this? She almost made it sound like he was in some kind of rehab.

Yeah, not sure. Here's the post from Ashley Hod's account for anyone who isn't on Instagram. And Veyette has deleted all past posts from his own account. Now that I look at the casting sheets, I see he wasn't cast in anything this winter season. I guess I assumed that they were phasing him out of roles that no longer suited him, but I didn't realize he'd been completely absent. 

 

Link to post

Re any lackluster performing, I am always willing to give dancers a pass on a few performances, especially in February. I work in a school and we are riddled through and through with the flu, strep and a gastrointestinal virus. Add a dance environment and you've got just the right mix for illnesses to breed. Any time a bunch of people sweat together en masse in a warm environment, viruses and  bacteria run rampant, especially in deep winter. 

Edited by vagansmom
to correct an autoincorrect
Link to post
18 hours ago, Rock said:

I also saw the live stream and I'm afraid I have to agree - the dancers did well considering what they were up against, but those tempi took all the charm and singing beauty out of that amazing score. It became dry and tick-tock. I don't understand what those conductors are trying to prove. That that's how Tchaikovsky wanted it? Seriously doubt that. 

The tempo was probably not entirely at the discretion of the conductor. I recall that when this production was new it was described as being done "our way" (NYCB's way) and found this on their website:

"...Martins' version is streamlined into Two Acts, that combine the drama and beauty of the original choreography with the speed and energy for which New York City Ballet is known."

The music has always been played at breakneck speed, especially the fairy variations. For me this is always the low point of the production because it robs the variations of their meaning and often makes the dancers look ridiculous. Its just impossible to keep up with those tempos and the fact that NYCB always ignores the port de bras is just insult packed upon injury. 

Over all though, I like this production. I like the projections, I like the costumes, I like the use of children and, of course, I love the Garland Dance!

I recall seeing Means the Lilac fairy role several times and she was always amazing & expansive. Also Bouder dispatching the Rose Adagio like it was the easiest thing on earth.

I'm going to my first performance tomorrow night & very much looking forward to it. 

Link to post
11 minutes ago, nysusan said:

The tempo was probably not entirely at the discretion of the conductor. I recall that when this production was new it was described as being done "our way" (NYCB's way) and found this on their website:

"...Martins' version is streamlined into Two Acts, that combine the drama and beauty of the original choreography with the speed and energy for which New York City Ballet is known."

The music has always been played at breakneck speed, especially the fairy variations. For me this is always the low point of the production because it robs the variations of their meaning and often makes the dancers look ridiculous. Its just impossible to keep up with those tempos and the fact that NYCB always ignores the port de bras is just insult packed upon injury. 

Over all though, I like this production. I like the projections, I like the costumes, I like the use of children and, of course, I love the Garland Dance!

I recall seeing Means the Lilac fairy role several times and she was always amazing & expansive. Also Bouder dispatching the Rose Adagio like it was the easiest thing on earth.

I'm going to my first performance tomorrow night & very much looking forward to it. 

I saw the production when it was new and after one viewing I never wanted to see it again.  As  Rock said, those tempi made this beauteous score into something very different.  There's no sense of breath or air in the music,  I really missed the port de bras and epaulement despite  that I know NYCB is not known for dancing with the upper body.  Maybe Martins should have streamlined some other classic with "speed and energy".  I did like the garland dance and the many children, but no amount of lovely costumes or clever projections would draw me to a ballet.  

 

Link to post
1 hour ago, nysusan said:

The tempo was probably not entirely at the discretion of the conductor. I recall that when this production was new it was described as being done "our way" (NYCB's way) and found this on their website:

"...Martins' version is streamlined into Two Acts, that combine the drama and beauty of the original choreography with the speed and energy for which New York City Ballet is known."

The music has always been played at breakneck speed, especially the fairy variations. For me this is always the low point of the production because it robs the variations of their meaning and often makes the dancers look ridiculous. Its just impossible to keep up with those tempos and the fact that NYCB always ignores the port de bras is just insult packed upon injury. 

Over all though, I like this production. I like the projections, I like the costumes, I like the use of children and, of course, I love the Garland Dance!

I recall seeing Means the Lilac fairy role several times and she was always amazing & expansive. Also Bouder dispatching the Rose Adagio like it was the easiest thing on earth.

I'm going to my first performance tomorrow night & very much looking forward to it. 

I agree. The tempi in this production have always been problematic. It's Peter Martin's ballet so I don't expect it to change. I haven't seen it yet this year, but in the past I admired the dancers for valiant attempts to look gracious and squeezed in a bit of musical phrasing, instead of just trying to keep up.

On the other hand I dislike the Ratmansky restoration version. I saw it once, and never again. I hated the old, Gelsey Kirkland, ABT version. Some parts of it were just batty. So as a NYC dance goer, NYCB is my favorite version. If they could take those tempi down a hair it would make it so much better.

Link to post

I enjoyed the performance last night - I thought Sterling Hyltin was rather wonderful - but Russell Janzen appeared near collapse by Act II.  He was visibly tiring through his manege around stage during the Grand Pas; he somehow dragged himself through the rest of it, but it was a distressing sight.  The tempo was speedy throughout the performance but at the end of Act II, like a crazy comedy show, it suddenly picks up from double time to triple or quadruple time.  I found it rather nutty; it made zero sense.  It reminded me of a scene in the film version of the musical Bye Bye Birdie.  The "Russian Ballet" is appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, but their lugubrious performance runs too long and the rock star's appearance is cut from the show.  Someone spikes the Russian orchestra conductor's drink with an amphetamine; his eyes begin to roll, he speeds the music's tempo to a ridiculous pace; the Russian ballet onstage begins to race around like the silent movie Keystone Kops; they speed through the ballet so quickly there's now time left for the rock star to appear on the show.  That's what the NYC Ballet production seemed like to me, a ballet on benzedrine.

Link to post

I was at both last night and tonight's performance. I agree that Russell Janzen just about gave up trying to dance by the end of Act 2. At one point he stood at the side of the stage gasping for air before finishing the coda. He was marking the steps more than dancing them.

Tonight Tiler Peck unexpectedly had some wobbly moments in the Rose Adagio. In fact the first set of balances was more of a quick arm up arm down thing than a true balance in fifth position. Her final balances were better but they were still much shorter than what I'm used to from her.

As for Ashley Laracey, I hate to comment on this but I barely recognized her she looked so thin. I had to do a double take. She danced beautifully but it was actually uncomfortable to watch her because I thought she looked scarily thin.

Link to post
14 hours ago, BLalo said:

Perhaps most problematic for me was Taylor Stanley appearing as a character called “Africa” in Act I. Not the “African Prince” but “Africa”. The suitors are all pretty nondescript anyway, but why on earth are they each representing an entire continent (Europe, America, Asia, Africa)? It comes across instead as representing a race. They could easily just be “Four Suitors”.

I paid closer attention to the suitors' costumes Thursday night after reading this. Small details seemed to be an attempt to tie them to their respective continents. Africa had silver bands wound around his lower arms half way to his elbows- sort of like the bands you sometimes see as necklaces. Asia had shoes with turned up toes and a turban thing. America seemed more like the British Beefeaters and made no sense at all - did we ever have suitors who would have travelled to court Aurora? It would be better not to try, I think, than to impose these stereotypes so clumsily. 

Link to post

In NYCB's production, the American suitor is costumed to evoke a Native American. In past productions the dancer performing the role has worn a long black braid, a few conspicuous feathers in his headgear, and a fringed cape and tall beaded boots evocative of haute buckskin. (Ahem, and also darkened his face.) You can get a pretty good look at the four costumes in this footage of Ashley Bouder's Rose Adagio. I believe Ask La Cour is America, Taylor Stanley is Africa, Zachary Catazaro is Asia, and Jared Angle is Europe (I think.) I've always assumed that Asia is supposed evoke Ottoman or South Asian royalty.

https://www.facebook.com/nycballet/videos/10158366933385529/

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
Link to post
On 2/13/2019 at 1:42 PM, fondoffouettes said:

Sean Suozzi seems to be another soloist who has been completely absent, and not cast in any Sleeping Beauties. Is he injured?

I've been wondering the same thing.  I haven't seen him all season.

Link to post
12 hours ago, canbelto said:

I was at both last night and tonight's performance. I agree that Russell Janzen just about gave up trying to dance by the end of Act 2. At one point he stood at the side of the stage gasping for air before finishing the coda. He was marking the steps more than dancing them.

 

I hope he's okay.  I saw him in rehearsal of "In the Night" last week Friday and he seemed just fine.  But then it's not a full length ballet, and there were lots of the usual rehearsal breaks/pauses, so plenty of time for him to catch his breath. 

Link to post
48 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

I hope he's okay.  I saw him in rehearsal of "In the Night" last week Friday and he seemed just fine.  But then it's not a full length ballet, and there were lots of the usual rehearsal breaks/pauses, so plenty of time for him to catch his breath. 

I've never seen the male principal struggle to get through Sleeping Beauty from a stamina standpoint. The variation in the wedding act is of course devilishly difficult and fast, but the rest of the role is mostly partnering, and he doesn't even appear until the hunt/vision scene. I'm not saying it's a walk in the park, but the ballet is so much more of an endurance test for the ballerina. I can't remember if the NYCB version throws in extra solo dancing for the man, though; does it?

Edited by fondoffouettes
Link to post

I was trying to figure out why Janzen was standing around at the side of the stage during the vision scene.  Is that part of the choreography?  At the end of Aurora's solo variation, Desire runs across the stage to run after her upon her exit.  Did Janzen arrive too early for his cue?  It was truly bizarre and distracting to have him stand around at the side of the stage. I don't recall that happening when I've seen this production in prior years, but I could be wrong. 

It was not Hyltin's best performance.  Most of  her performance was well done, but she was obviously struggling with some of the choreography.  There were too many uncharacteristic little stumbles. A friend/co worker of mine who rarely attends ballet performances but took ballet classes during her youth asked me if there was something wrong with Hyltin's foot.  This was a very astute observation.

Janzen definitely needs improvement, but he did manage to do the fish dives well.  His partnering was strong, and I thought he did a fine job in supporting Hyltin.  There was one fish dive where she appeared to tilt off center and he immediately was able to bring her into the correct position to execute the fish dive.  In the hands of a lesser partner, that would have turned into a disaster.    

Maria was vivid in her acting as Carabose, although I wish that someone at NYCB could give this character some dignity.

I thought Reichlin was a bore as Lilac Fairy. She executed the steps well enough, but I rarely felt that she radiated warmth or dominated the action when she was on stage.

The precious metal and jewel dances were marvelous, especially Huxley.   Ulbricht's Bluebird was also a highlight.

 

 

Edited by abatt
Link to post

With its gigantic cast, a run of NYCB’s production of The Sleeping Beauty—notwithstanding the fact that full-length/story ballets are not its specialty—probably affords the best overall opportunity to view the entire gamut of the company’s roster of dancers at a given time. More importantly, it is generally an extremely fetching production which serves the immortal fairy tale sufficiently. Three segments of the ballet of paramount significance and beauty—The Vision; The Awakening; and the denouement of The Wedding—came off superbly during Thursday evening's performance. This was primarily due to the stirring Aurora of Tiler Peck, but also to Ashley Laracey's enchanting turn as the Lilac Fairy and Tyler Angle's as Prince Désiré. It is of vital necessity at the ballet for dancers to seem prepossessing in the roles in which they are cast, and that is certainly the case with all three of them in The Sleeping Beauty. (How regal and cognizant of the gravity of the moment Angle appeared during the coronation!) This made the interactions between their characters persuasive and gripping at all key points of the work.

Although not to be taken for granted, Tiler Peck’s dancing—with incomparably gorgeous turns and an extraordinary display of strength, skill and gracefulness while moving on pointe—was expectedly phenomenal, particularly during The Vision and The Wedding scenes. Minor mishaps in the dancing of Angle and especially Laracey hardly marred the sweeping effectiveness of their performances. In terms of partnering as well as his solos, the former is one of the most accomplished male dancers of the company. Even though she is not distressingly thin, it does look as if Laracey has unfortunately lost some weight. The delicate symmetry of her long, lovely limbs which—along with instinctual and cultivated artistry—lends her movements and poses an engrossing ethereal beauty remains nevertheless intact.

In addition to a bewitching performance by Sara Mearns as the Fairy Carabosse, pleasing ones by (among others) Emilie Gerrity as Emerald and Brittany Pollack as Princess Florine, and wonderful debuts by Harrison Ball as Gold and Unity Phelan as Diamond, were all icing on the cake Thursday night.

 

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...