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ABT 2019 Jane Eyre

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Starting the topic. I'm going to the Saturday matinee (Boylston/Forster) but look forward to reading impressions on all casts.

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Same here. I am going solely to see Thomas Forster finally get a crack at a full-length lead role on the Met stage. I don't have high hopes for the piece, but I do look forward to hearing what others think of it.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Same here. I am going solely to see Thomas Forster finally get a crack at a full-length lead role on the Met stage. 

And, same here. I’m not interested in any of the female leads, but Forster is my big draw. And, very curious to see Granlund.

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16 hours ago, nanushka said:

Same here. I am going solely to see Thomas Forster finally get a crack at a full-length lead role on the Met stage. I don't have high hopes for the piece, but I do look forward to hearing what others think of it.

Add me to the list! Booked this specifically for Forster. I might have cast Teuscher with him but who knows how these decisions are made. I will continue to put thoughts out the universe of a Forster/Shevchenko Swan Lake. 

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1 hour ago, Barbara said:

Add me to the list! Booked this specifically for Forster. I might have cast Teuscher with him but who knows how these decisions are made. I will continue to put thoughts out the universe of a Forster/Shevchenko Swan Lake. 

I'm looking forward to the Boylston/Forster cast in Jane Eyre, but I'm very happy to continue seeing Shevchenko/Whiteside in Swan Lake.  They were marvelous together last year.  That being said, the AD moves partners around a lot,  so you may get your wish.

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1 hour ago, Barbara said:

 I will continue to put thoughts out the universe of a Forster/Shevchenko Swan Lake. 

I would definitely buy a ticket for that, and tell all my friends to do the same.

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I'm going tonight, mainly because Whiteside impressed me so much in On the Dnieper and I wanted to see more of him. I usually find his aura a little too broody (it almost seems like anger or darkness is below the surface with him), but needless to say that kind of aura would be perfect for Mr. Rochester. Very much looking forward to seeing more of Hurlin as well.

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4 hours ago, mille-feuille said:

I'm going tonight, mainly because Whiteside impressed me so much in On the Dnieper and I wanted to see more of him. I usually find his aura a little too broody (it almost seems like anger or darkness is below the surface with him), but needless to say that kind of aura would be perfect for Mr. Rochester. Very much looking forward to seeing more of Hurlin as well.

I agree, Whiteside should be terrific as Rochester.  I can't make it tonight, but will try for his next Rochester which I believe is on Thursday.   Have fun tonight!

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Well, it was definitely not my cup of tea.

Marston's Jane Eyre is light on sustained passages of ballet dancing and heavy on dramatic walking, inscrutable mime, and impassioned writhing and yanking. The most actual ballet we got was a pique arabesque now and then.

On the bright side, Whiteside was good as Rochester (or as good as he could've been, given that choreography). Many critical reviews praised Marston's storytelling abilities, but I found the details of the story (which I assume were contained in the aforementioned inscrutable mime and/or writhing and yanking) to be very muddy indeed.

Interested to hear what others on this board think.

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2 minutes ago, mille-feuille said:

Well, it was definitely not my cup of tea.

Marston's Jane Eyre is light on sustained passages of ballet dancing and heavy on dramatic walking, inscrutable mime, and impassioned writhing and yanking. The most actual ballet we got was a pique arabesque now and then.

On the bright side, Whiteside was good as Rochester (or as good as he could've been, given that choreography). Many critical reviews praised Marston's storytelling abilities, but I found the details of the story (which I assume were contained in the aforementioned inscrutable mime and/or writhing and yanking) to be very muddy indeed.

Interested to hear what others on this board think.

Well, that doesn't sound promising.

How were the other lead dancers?

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

How were the other lead dancers?

I liked Stella -- her brief pas de deux with Whiteside was one of the few passages of actual ballet dancing last night.

I was sitting in Row T of the Orchestra and I just did not feel that Teuscher was projecting that far. I felt like I was squinting the whole night to see her.

Lane's role was very light on dancing and was mostly comedic relief, but she made the most of what was there.

Hurlin was effective as Young Jane.

Trenary was nicely creepy as Bertha when she was in the shadows, but when light was shining on her I found the creepiness to be significantly lessened. I did like the foreboding music that foreshadowed Bertha's appearances.

None of them stirred any emotions in me at all, though, except for Whiteside now and then. He conveyed Rochester's attraction to Jane, torment about keeping Bertha hidden and her eventual death, and general broodiness well.

Edited by mille-feuille

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There's an article in The Times about Marston setting this work on ABT. See link below.

Interestingly, Marston was initially supposed to create a new ballet for their fall season, but as McKenzie says in the article "Then a crisis loomed. A full-evening program planned for this year's Met season fell through".

Hmmm. Since he says "program" and not ballet, sounds like another evening of rep ballets was supposed to be planned. Either way, wonder what that was supposed to be???

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/arts/dance/jane-eyre-cathy-marston-american-ballet-theater.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

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I was there too. Honestly while Hurlin was good they really should have cut out Jane's childhood altogether, it made for a very plodding experience. It would have been better as a more conceptual ballet starting with Jane's arrival at Thornhill, with Hurlin as the lead instead of Teuscher. And if you hadn't read the book, as was seemingly the case with many near me, the first act would not have made much sense. Stella Abrera was wasted in the small part of Blanche Ingram, though she was very good. I felt like Cassandra Trenary did as much as she could with what she was given, but I felt like the choreography made Bertha into too much of a one-note horror villain, when I feel like she could have been made into much rounder of a character. I was actually surprised this wasn't the case given the feminist hype ABT put out surrounding this ballet. James Whiteside was very good but his choreography seemed very limited and too simplistic. 

The whole thing seemed very dreary and bleak- maybe this was the intent? 

 

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31 minutes ago, mille-feuille said:

Well, it was definitely not my cup of tea.

Marston's Jane Eyre is light on sustained passages of ballet dancing and heavy on dramatic walking, inscrutable mime, and impassioned writhing and yanking. The most actual ballet we got was a pique arabesque now and then.

On the bright side, Whiteside was good as Rochester (or as good as he could've been, given that choreography). Many critical reviews praised Marston's storytelling abilities, but I found the details of the story (which I assume were contained in the aforementioned inscrutable mime and/or writhing and yanking) to be very muddy indeed.

Interested to hear what others on this board think.

This is why I did not get tickets. It didn't look in the previews like there was any actual ballet dancing. 

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I reviewed this for bachtrack (you can click on the link in my signature for the review) but I thought it was dreadful. I lost track of how many upside down lifts there were in EACH pas. Ballet steps limited to limb flailing, upside down lifts, and being dragged around by shoulder sockets.

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Posted (edited)

Loved nearly every minute of it, and my adult daughter, who has also seen a lot of dance and other theater, did, too.  We had an interesting discussion, as I would describe it ballet-influenced “modern dance,” while my much-younger daughter saw it as still “ballet.”   The cinematic music, written for it, was quite wonderful and appropriately dramatic .  We enjoyed the various theatrical devices employed, not commonly used in ballet  (Rochester’s “horse” and his aggressive riding style, for instance, were depicted by dancers). All the acting and dancing were excellent.  

The evocative scenery and drab costuming, while furthering the mood and story line, no doubt contributed to the feeling of “squinting” mentioned above, in the further rows. Especially in a house that large, lightening up the stage would probably have been a good idea, though we were looking through the haze of dream and memory.  Stella Abrera’s flirtations to get the attention of Rochester were definitely ballet, appropriately charming, but a bit incongruous in style, as a result. Zimmi Coker had a lot of fun playing Rochester’s young, playful ward.  Looking forward to seeing more of her.

it was fun to see Aron Bell, whom we had known as a mischievous, athletic, little boy, successfully appear to be 40, not 20, and exhibiting lovely classicism and line.  

We also enjoyed seeing Julie Kent in the aisles, chatting. 

As we were leaving, we heard several people say, “That was the best thing I’ve ever seen.”  So, there you go. 

 

Edited by Arizona Native
Spelling correction

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

Wow -- that's tantalizing. In my dreams it would be the Tudor one-act Romeo and Juliet (since they aren't presenting the MacMillan this year) paired with Ashton's The Dream (with Cornejo dancing Puck one last time!). A Shakespeare Evening, if that helps to sell it. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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Thank you to all those who reviewed this ballet in detail. I had seen a preview trailer some time ago, a pas de deux with Teuscher and Whiteside that was all writhing and tangling limbs for 10-15 minutes, and based on that I decided to skip this ballet. Glad I did. It’s too bad there was so little real ballet in this piece. 

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Oh my.....with the exception of Arizona Native's exceptional review, the rest of the reviews don't sound very promising.  I only have tickets for one cast, so as of now I'll probably just leave it that way.   Hopefully I'll enjoy it.  

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Such a shame there have been so few good reviews! There seemed to be quite a bit of promotion and excitement around it. 

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Our own canbelto has already weighed in, and Robert Greskovic's review is also up (behind a subscriber wall, alas).  Links to their reviews and the NYT review.

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30 minutes ago, dirac said:

Our own canbelto has already weighed in, and Robert Greskovic's review is also up (behind a subscriber wall, alas).  Links to their reviews and the NYT review.

Given the relative brevity of Greskovic's treatment of The Seasons — which I think is a major new work by a major contemporary choreographer (unlike Jane Eyre, based on most reports) — I find it unfortunate that he spends a quarter of his words on the piece praising Boylston (who seemed to me to be the weakest link in that cast) and another quarter criticizing the costumes (which, sure, weren't great — but did it really matter that much?).

Just my opinion, of course, and a critic must focus on what he or she found most pertinent — but I think there was so much going on there that was so much better and more important than those two elements.

 

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This ballet’s not good, but it’s not that bad, either.  I’ve seen much worse at ABT.  The problem, as everyone has pointed out, is the choreography.  The ceaseless repetition, the lack of variation, the attempt to embody character via spare physical movement – it doesn’t work.  You just keep on wishing that there were some real dancing happening.  A real pas de deux, please!  I thought the score was wonderful, combining modern sound with lush orchestration and themes redolent of Chopin and chamber music.  If only the choreography could have matched it’s quality.  I thought the costumes were rather wonderful.  They appeared to have been made using historic Regency patterns, then details were stripped so that what remains is just an impression of the era.  With the exception of the Rochester family, all were made in neutral shades.  Mr. Rochester, in dark blues, his ward, in pink, and Bertha, in deep red tatters, appeared like bursts of color on stage – obviously, each important to Jane in some psychological way. 

Other than freedom from men’s control, I’m really not certain what kind of feminist interpretation of the novel this production is supposed to offer, but Skylar Brandt, who performed as Young Jane tonight (replacing Breanne Granlund), tore across the stage in an emotional fury, fighting her way to adulthood.  Brandt was great, and reminded me of the way she performed in the modern pieces on the Big Ballet Russian TV show last year. 

This ballet is well suited to dancers like Boylston and Copeland, who are problematic in classical ballets (especially Petipa), but do well when precision, lyricism and aesthetic beauty is not the objective.  Boylston’s unattractive port de bras was nowhere to be seen, and her rather plain face was perfect for a woman who appeals to a man not through looks or money, but through strength of character.  I’m no fan of hers, but for the first time, her performance, such as it is, worked for me.  At the same time, the choreography allows more skilled dancers to shine, especially Skylar Brandt, Duncan Lyle (as St. John Rivers), and of course, Tom Forster.  With his great height, Forster physically looms over the other characters when he makes his late entrance, and dressed in a long, dark blue redingote, he visually seizes the stage from the washed-out neutral-colored dancers around him.  The weird, repetitive movement can’t mask his lyricism.  Forster has a natural expressiveness which makes it easy to follow Rochester’s character growth, since the choreography does not make it clear.  Though they both worked hard, I thought he stole the show from Boylston.

I wouldn’t recommend this ballet to anyone; it’s far too long and frustrating.  Unfortunately, after all the recent publicity, I have the feeling it’s going to be a part of ABT’s annual repertoire over the next few years, so there will be many future opportunities to see it, hopefully with better casts.  I much prefer the work of Ratmansky to this choreographer’s, but there are some good things to be found in it.  But one viewing is enough for me. 

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