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ABT 2019 Jane Eyre


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I'm not sure they count as "worsts," but I consider The Merry Widow and Othello to be some of the most lackluster full-lengths I've ever seen. The Millepied Daphnis and Chloe was a pretty bad piece, too. 

Was The Snow Maiden one of ABT's flops? 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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21 minutes ago, Josette said:

Out of curiosity, I just read four reviews from 2016 by British press of the Northern Ballet's production of Marston's Jane Eyre, which reviews are on the whole positive.  

Good point.  I just read several reviews, and yes, they are positive for the most part.  I have to assume Marston was satisfied with ABT's interpretation and dancing.  So what's changed? 

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I think that if you go into this expecting to see ballet because, you know, it's called American Ballet Theatre, you will be disappointed.  If you are willing to accept the "modern dance" aspects of this choreography (push me, pull me, roll on the floor) you are more likely to enjoy the performance.  I'm wondering what the expectations are when people go to see Northern Ballet of England, as opposed to their expectations when they go see ABT.

For me, trying to dismiss the poor choreography by calling it a psychological ballet or "expressionistic" is not a valid pass. As pointed out in the NYTimes, there are many psychological ballets that are great (A Month in The Country, Lilac Garden).  They use the classical idiom as their mode of expression.

 

Edited by abatt
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2 hours ago, abatt said:
2 hours ago, abatt said:

I think that if you go into this expecting to see ballet because, you know, it's called American Ballet Theatre, you will be disappointed.  If you are willing to accept the "modern dance" aspects of this choreography (push me, pull me, roll on the floor) you are more likely to enjoy the performance.  I'm wondering what the expectations are when people go to see Northern Ballet of England, as opposed to their expectations when they go see ABT.

For me, trying to dismiss the poor choreography by calling it a psychological ballet or "expressionistic" is not a valid pass. As pointed out in the NYTimes, there are many psychological ballets that are great (A Month in The Country, Lilac Garden).  They use the classical idiom as their mode of expression.

 

 

We didn't really know what to expect from this work but most of the audiences really seemed to enjoy it.

This was created for a Northern Ballet mini-tour to smaller theatres and premiered in Doncaster in May 2016 (I was there).  It was such a successful tour that it was a main scale tour last year, when it was also very well received.

At the premiere a friend told me that Jane Eyre was her favourite book and that she was disappointed in how the story was told.  As the tour last year continued she changed her opinion quite a lot.  Other friends, who teach literature to university standards think it is a very fine interpretation of the novel.

Fans of Northern Ballet are used to seeing interpretations of literature and perhaps not conventional classical ballet.  The company is chock full of dance actors.  Javier Torres created the role of Rochester and was, basically, born to dance the role.  We all loved the foot motif that he used so very expressively and which is almost pastiched by Jane in the final duet (we would refer to them as duets rather than pdd).

Of course, with any piece it takes time to bed down and by the end of last summer we were seeing intensely emotional and moving performances.  In respect of Bertha, she was created by Victoria Sibson (now retired) who was an incredible dance actress with an amazing stage presence - she certainly presented a demented but rounded characterisation.

In its first run due to injury problems the role of adult Jane was dually created by Hannah Bateman and Dread Blow.  Abigail Prudames also danced the role of Jane.  Rochester was danced by Javier Torres and Mlindi Kulashe.

Although I love this production I can see why it may not be a good fit with ABT because it was created for (very) small stages and a half-sized company.  There were only 19 dancers in each performance.  I would almost have described it as a chamber ballet.  I was surprised that the production had not been expanded for the main scale tour last year.

I suppose the dance content/choreography depends on what you are used to seeing and NB specialise in this type of production rather than full-on classical works - which does not mean to say that the company does not have the classical chops to do a more conventional classical production.  Yoko Ichino produced a glorious, traditional production of Giselle several years ago (sadly only seen in Leeds) and, having seen many traditional productions from the Royal Ballet to the Mariinsly, Bolshoi, ENB, BRB and beyond Northern Ballet did the production proud.  They also won great acclaim for their recent MacMillan tribute programme, particularly for Gloria.

I suppose it's horses for courses.

Edited by JMcN
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51 minutes ago, JMcN said:

We didn't really know what to expect from this work but most of the audiences really seemed to enjoy it.

This was created for a Northern Ballet mini-tour to smaller theatres and premiered in Doncaster in May 2016 (I was there).  It was such a successful tour that it was a main scale tour last year, when it was also very well received.

At the premiere a friend told me that Jane Eyre was her favourite book and that she was disappointed in how the story was told.  As the tour last year continued she changed her opinion quite a lot.  Other friends, who teach literature to university standards think it is a very fine interpretation of the novel.

Fans of Northern Ballet are used to seeing interpretations of literature and perhaps not conventional classical ballet.  The company is chock full of dance actors.  Javier Torres created the role of Rochester and was, basically, born to dance the role.  We all loved the foot motif that he used so very expressively and which is almost pastiched by Jane in the final duet (we would refer to them as duets rather than pdd).

Of course, with any piece it takes time to bed down and by the end of last summer we were seeing intensely emotional and moving performances.  In respect of Bertha, she was created by Victoria Sibson (now retired) who was an incredible dance actress with an amazing stage presence - she certainly presented a demented but rounded characterisation.

In its first run due to injury problems the role of adult Jane was dually created by Hannah Bateman and Dread Blow.  Abigail Prudames also danced the role of Jane.  Rochester was danced by Javier Torres and Mlindi Kulashe.

Although I love this production I can see why it may not be a good fit with ABT because it was created for (very) small stages and a half-sized company.  There were only 19 dancers in each performance.  I would almost have described it as a chamber ballet.  I was surprised that the production had not been expanded for the main scale tour last year.

I suppose the dance content/choreography depends on what you are used to seeing and NB specialise in this type of production rather than full-on classical works - which does not mean to say that the company does not have the classical chops to do a more conventional classical production.  Yoko Ichino produced a glorious, traditional production of Giselle several years ago (sadly only seen in Leeds) and, having seen many traditional productions from the Royal Ballet to the Mariinsly, Bolshoi, ENB, BRB and beyond Northern Ballet did the production proud.  They also won great acclaim for their recent MacMillan tribute programme, particularly for Gloria.

I suppose it's horses for courses.

JMcN - Thank you so much for all of the background information on this ballet.  My husband and I are going to see it on Saturday.  After reading your post, I'll be going with a different frame of mind (and reference!).  Thanks again for weighing in on this.

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11 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

JMcN - Thank you so much for all of the background information on this ballet.  My husband and I are going to see it on Saturday.  After reading your post, I'll be going with a different frame of mind (and reference!).  Thanks again for weighing in on this.

I hope you enjoy it.

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On 6/6/2019 at 1:42 PM, NinaFan said:

Good point.  I just read several reviews, and yes, they are positive for the most part.  I have to assume Marston was satisfied with ABT's interpretation and dancing.  So what's changed? 

I agree with JMcN that a lot of it may be down to expectations from US audiences and critics vs English ones. From what I see (as an American who travels to Europe a few times a year and sees ballet when I’m there), European companies more often break from classical idiom and present more experimental work than American companies generally and certainly ABT. I think of the ENB’s “class war” version of Giselle for example, or Matthew Bourne’s New Directions productions which blur the lines between theater and ballet and takes direct inspiration from pop culture. Or POB, which commissions avant-grade work like Alexander Ekman’s Play.

 

I can certainly see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and could be disappointing if you were showing up wanting to see something like one of ABT’s current story ballets, but I found a lot to like and admire in Jane Eyre.

It REALLY captures the novel and its characters, for one. I was so impressed by how quickly and clearly Marston established who each character was through their choreography. She is good at developing choreographic leitmotifs for each character that recur and deepen in meaning—for example, Jane’s crossing of her arms over her chest, with her hands covering her ears beautifully conveys how Jane protectively shuts down in the face of her childhood tormentors, but then the same gesture recurs with Rochester and you see how her early defense mechanisms are preventing her from embracing love. 

I wasn’t sure about the “d-men” at first (male corps dancers who represent Jane’s inner demons) but came to feel those passages powerfully embodied what it’s like to struggle with trauma and feel the past erupt into the present. I found it to be a very moving ballet, in this respect and others. 

I also found myself moved by how the ballet depicted female friendship (between Jane and Helen especially). It struck me that it is SO rare in ballet to see relationships shown between women that aren’t romantic rivalries, and to see stories that aren’t purely love stories. While obviously Jane eyre contains a love story, the novel is much more than that and Marston’s ballet honors that. It’s wonderful to see that in ballet. 

Thursday’s cast was quite good. James Whiteside, who I don’t usually enjoy in story ballets, was great as Rochester, capturing his journey from swaggering machismo to emotional tenderness. He’s having a good season. There were moments where I wanted more emotion from Devon, but overall it was a strong, committed performance. 

One of the pleasures of the ballet are that there are lots of interesting soloist roles. Stella Abrera as flirty, haughty Blanche Ingram, Zimmi Coker as giddy, girlish Adele Varens, Sarah Lane as the officious and tormented Mrs Fairfax, and Calvin Royal as the villainous Mr Brocklehurst all were fantastic and made a lot out of relatively small roles. I thought Cassandra Trenary could have given more dimension to Bertha Mason. Her dancing definitely captured the wild, unhinged aspect of the character effectively, though. 

Audience reaction on Thursday seemed very positive, from what I overheard from those seated near me. I may be in the minority here, but I hope Jane Eyre stays in ABT’s rep. It is quite unique in their repertoire and is such a rich dramatic ballet that I would enjoy seeing how different dancers embody the roles. I think there is also a lot of meaning and intelligence in the choreography and the way motifs echo across the ballet that it would be interesting to unpack in another viewing. 

 

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50 minutes ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

I agree with JMcN that a lot of it may be down to expectations from US audiences and critics vs English ones. From what I see (as an American who travels to Europe a few times a year and sees ballet when I’m there), European companies more often break from classical idiom and present more experimental work than American companies generally and certainly ABT. I think of the ENB’s “class war” version of Giselle for example, or Matthew Bourne’s New Directions productions which blur the lines between theater and ballet and takes direct inspiration from pop culture. Or POB, which commissions avant-grade work like Alexander Ekman’s Play.

 

I can certainly see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and could be disappointing if you were showing up wanting to see something like one of ABT’s current story ballets, but I found a lot to like and admire in Jane Eyre.

It REALLY captures the novel and its characters, for one. I was so impressed by how quickly and clearly Marston established who each character was through their choreography. She is good at developing choreographic leitmotifs for each character that recur and deepen in meaning—for example, Jane’s crossing of her arms over her chest, with her hands covering her ears beautifully conveys how Jane protectively shuts down in the face of her childhood tormentors, but then the same gesture recurs with Rochester and you see how her early defense mechanisms are preventing her from embracing love. 

I wasn’t sure about the “d-men” at first (male corps dancers who represent Jane’s inner demons) but came to feel those passages powerfully embodied what it’s like to struggle with trauma and feel the past erupt into the present. I found it to be a very moving ballet, in this respect and others. 

I also found myself moved by how the ballet depicted female friendship (between Jane and Helen especially). It struck me that it is SO rare in ballet to see relationships shown between women that aren’t romantic rivalries, and to see stories that aren’t purely love stories. While obviously Jane eyre contains a love story, the novel is much more than that and Marston’s ballet honors that. It’s wonderful to see that in ballet. 

Thursday’s cast was quite good. James Whiteside, who I don’t usually enjoy in story ballets, was great as Rochester, capturing his journey from swaggering machismo to emotional tenderness. He’s having a good season. There were moments where I wanted more emotion from Devon, but overall it was a strong, committed performance. 

One of the pleasures of the ballet are that there are lots of interesting soloist roles. Stella Abrera as flirty, haughty Blanche Ingram, Zimmi Coker as giddy, girlish Adele Varens, Sarah Lane as the officious and tormented Mrs Fairfax, and Calvin Royal as the villainous Mr Brocklehurst all were fantastic and made a lot out of relatively small roles. I thought Cassandra Trenary could have given more dimension to Bertha Mason. Her dancing definitely captured the wild, unhinged aspect of the character effectively, though. 

Audience reaction on Thursday seemed very positive, from what I overheard from those seated near me. I may be in the minority here, but I hope Jane Eyre stays in ABT’s rep. It is quite unique in their repertoire and is such a rich dramatic ballet that I would enjoy seeing how different dancers embody the roles. I think there is also a lot of meaning and intelligence in the choreography and the way motifs echo across the ballet that it would be interesting to unpack in another viewing. 

 

Thanks for writing this up!

I really enjoyed it as did everyone I was with--ranging from experienced ballet goers to relative neophytes.

I agree with basically everything you said, and would like to second just how enthusiastic the crowd response was. Comments I overheard were also very positive.

Going into it expecting it to be modern/ballet vs. Ballet was helpful I think.

I too would be happy for it to stick around.

Edited by aurora
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56 minutes ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

I also found myself moved by how the ballet depicted female friendship (between Jane and Helen especially). It struck me that it is SO rare in ballet to see relationships shown between women that aren’t romantic rivalries, and to see stories that aren’t purely love stories. While obviously Jane eyre contains a love story, the novel is much more than that and Marston’s ballet honors that. It’s wonderful to see that in ballet. 

So interesting to read this. I wonder: are there any other story ballets that might pass the Bechdel test?

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54 minutes ago, nanushka said:

So interesting to read this. I wonder: are there any other story ballets that might pass the Bechdel test?

I honestly can’t think of one! Curious if anyone else can. 

For those not familiar, the Bechdel test refers to whether or not, in a movie, two or more female characters (with names) have a conversation together that is not about a man. 

Edited by MarzipanShepherdess
Clarity
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On 6/6/2019 at 1:42 PM, NinaFan said:

Good point.  I just read several reviews, and yes, they are positive for the most part.  I have to assume Marston was satisfied with ABT's interpretation and dancing.  So what's changed? 

I think what's different is that British reviewers and Americans have different criteria and ideas about what a good contemporary ballet inspired by literature  is. That was my impression from reading those reviews.  It's possible too that American balletomanes who love NYCB  simply don't love these story ballets.  I'm not trying to say that all American dance lovers are City Ballet partisans.  I didn't see Jane Eyre and had no desire to see it even before I read the responses here. I'm just not a fan of new ballets with literary sources.

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On 6/6/2019 at 1:42 PM, fondoffouettes said:

I'm not sure they count as "worsts," but I consider The Merry Widow and Othello to be some of the most lackluster full-lengths I've ever seen. The Millepied Daphnis and Chloe was a pretty bad piece, too. 

Was The Snow Maiden one of ABT's flops? 

The only time my friends and I have left in the middle of a ballet was with The Snow Maiden. I don't think it's been back since.

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Well I'll be darned, I did not expect to like Jane Eyre at all, but I really did.

I have to thank @MarzipanShepherdess and @JMcN, as I think your comments here really helped me to go into it with the right mindset to get the most out of it — viewing it not as a ballet, really, but as a piece using expressionistic dance, movement and gesture to convey characters (often really vividly and immediately, as noted above) and to tell a story (very clearly and effectively, I thought).

It's not a piece I feel the need to see again anytime soon. If ABT keeps it in rep, I might go back in 3 or 4 years. But I wouldn't mind at all if ABT were to do one piece of this sort per Met season, assuming it were of similar quality. The literary spirit of the piece, and the use of movie score-style Mendelssohn (both) and Schubert melodies, made it quite appealing. I'd be interested in seeing more of Cathy Marston's work. There were, as others have noted, a lot of PDDs/duets, but I found that they really developed in tone, style and movement content over the course of the piece, to illustrate the development of Jane's relationships. I think there could be more variety in styles of lifts, but the gestural vocabulary was surprisingly rich — and not only with the hands/arms. (Thomas Forster's feet! No wonder they kept stopping Jane in her tracks.)

I particularly liked Marston's use of stage space, as many scenes seemed to move across and down/up the stage in meaningfully patterned ways. This was apparent right from the start, as Jane attempts to make her way from upstage left to downstage right, inhibited in various ways by the D-Men. They, I thought, were also very effectively used throughout the piece.

It's true the set was fairly grim, though I did quite like the costumes. The lighting was often rather stark, but this made the very last moment of the piece — when Jane steps forward into a final illuminated pose — quite affecting.

Skylar Brandt again stepped in for Breanne Granlund this afternoon, and she was excellent. (I'm curious to see Granlund sometime, as I don't have any particular memories of her from past performances, and it's always interesting to see which corps dancers get their first billed roles on the calendar.)

Isabella Boylston was great as well; the role really suits her. And Thomas Forster was everything I'd hoped. I really want to see him get a few more leading roles next Met season (I'm a broken record on that). Even if Kevin never ends up giving him a Siegfried, an Albrecht, or the like (though I'd love that!) — at least some more roles like this one or like Dnieper. In the past year he's also gotten Symphonie Concertante (including at City Center for the big Balanchine series) and Nutcracker, so I do have some hope.

Cassandra Trenary was wonderful as Mrs. Fairfax, and I also really liked Erica Lall as the pupil/ward Adele. I particularly loved the early encounter between Jane and her, when Jane seems to show her young new pupil, who is full of energy and spirit (as was the young Jane), how to channel and express those qualities in a more effective manner.

Edited by nanushka
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37 minutes ago, nanushka said:

really want to see him get a few more leading roles next Met season (I'm a broken record on that).

He and Bella were fantastic together today! And yes, I'm a broken record on that too. 

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I was at today's matinee - while I normally don't care for Boylston, I thought she was excellent in this!  I bought my ticket to see Thomas Forster in a leading role, and he didn't disappoint.  Trenary was so funny as Mrs. Fairfax!  I wasn't expecting that at all.

The people sitting around me kept grumbling about the lack of dancing, and some left at intermission.  But I loved the book as a teenager, and enjoyed watching this adaptation.  It's definitely worth a look.

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I also loved this ballet this afternoon. I can understand why some people don’t care for it. It’s not classical ballet so if that’s what you’re looking for it’s not going to be your taste. Yes there is ballet, but with heavy modern influences. I thought the story was quite clear throughout and did not think the choreography was repetitive in a bad way. I also did not think the choreography consisted of dragging the women around by their shoulder sockets. There was a lot of very inventive choreography with yes, plenty of overhead lifts. It worked. 

The dark and dreary sets and lighting were appropriate. This IS a dark and dreary story after all. I was sitting in row D in the orchestra so I realize that for others sitting further back it may make it difficult to see the action. They could light it up a bit more. The D-men’s purpose was very clear and they served to move the story along in creative ways.  As the program noted, they were Jane’s inner demons, but they also manipulated the scenery and props, were the props themselves at times, and later played the party guests. Jonathan Klein in particular stood out among them.

To my surprise, Boylston was fantastic. Quite perfect actually. (I strongly disliked her Juliet last year because I felt her acting was contrived and unbelievable.) Her acting as Jane was natural and clear and her dancing strong. And, since this wasn’t Swan Lake, for example, her arms and hands weren’t an issue. Forster, unsurprisingly, was also fantastic. He is an exceptional actor and his technique and partnering abilities have been overlooked by management, I think. They had a great chemistry that I wasn’t expecting. I would love to see them paired up in other things.

Brandt filled in for Granlund as Young Jane again. Is Granlund injured? Too bad she was unable to dance as this was her first big assignment. Brandt was mostly very good but I thought she overacted at times. She has very big and expressive eyes, and at times it seemed like she was too aware of that.

Trenary was funny and wonderful as Mrs. Fairfax. I look forward to seeing her in big roles someday soon, like Giselle, that will show off the dramatic abilities that she clearly possesses. 

The rest of the supporting cast was very commendable: Hoven as Brocklehurst, Lall as the precocious Adele, Lyle as St John Rivers, and Stephanie Williams as Bertha (she was also a surprise). 

I thought it was very clear at the end that Jane was finally confronting and fighting off her demons, the D-men, one by one, until she had conquered them. She rescued herself. Then she was able to rescue Rochester. Her stepping into the spotlight alone was a perfect ending. 

Edited by ABT Fan
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I attended the Saturday evening performance with Devon Teuscher as Jane Eyre and James Whiteside as Mr. Rochester. I wanted to like this ballet, but it was just too dark and depressing for my tastes. And when I say “dark,” I mean two things: A very dark story, yes... but also a very dark stage with very little lighting. It was literally hard to see what was happening on stage. Both the music and dance steps are very monotone. At least with a tragic love story like Romeo and Juliet there are highs and lows. Jane Eyre, however, is mainly one big low. I also thought here was too much rolling around on the floor and too many sharp angles, and it seemed like the same movements were repeated over and over again.

As for the dancers themselves: Devon was fine in a reserved sort of way. Sarah Lane didn’t have much to do as Mrs. Fairfax. I loved Cassandra Trenary as Bertha, the crazy wife, and Zimmi Coker almost stole the show as young Adele. But for me, James Whiteside was the best part of the evening. When he first joined ABT, I didn’t care much for James, but I’ve really grown to appreciate his versatility and acting/dancing skills. He really made me feel for Mr. Rochester, especially during the final scene. In my opinion, he saved the show.

Unlike me, most of the people around me seemed to love the ballet. While the performance wasn’t sold out, there were a lot of people in the audience. The dancers, too, seemed like they had a really good time on stage. Yes, Jane triumphs in the end, but overall, I found the ballet too downbeat and grim. I think it’s good that ABT is branching out with new ballets, but I have no desire to see this again, even if it is brought back again next year. Once was enough for me.

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I was also at the Saturday matinee.  Interesting how those that saw it with Forster/Boylston liked the work and those who saw the Whiteside/Teuscher cast disliked it.  I think this work depends a lot on the performers.  For example, in the first night cast every critic and commenter singled out Stella Abrera as Blanche Ingraham - her incredible presence and projection.  On Saturday afternoon, Hee Seo danced the role and it was a blank.  Pleasant but unmemorable and didn't seem important.   Agree that Thomas Forster made a very persuasive leading man.  The foot thing seems a witty visual gesture to suggest Mr. Rochester's offhand but domineering personality and his way of imposing his strong personality when dealing with others.  It is in the book but hard to capture without dialogue - Marston found a clever visual analogue.

Regarding the ballet itself:  I had a similar reaction to the others - I don't feel a strong attraction to see the work again but I found Cathy Marston's fusion of ballet, modern dance and expressive mimetic gesture interesting.  I think in the last century or more in ballet we are focusing too much on footwork and steps in the lower body and not enough upper body dancing, port de bras and expressiveness.  This is why I think "Jane Eyre" and Cathy Marston might be a great thing for this generation of ABT dancers.  The use of upper body expression and movement was consistently fascinating and full of subtle detail and psychological insight.  Also Marston got some excellent dramatic acting from dancers we don't expect that from.   But that is what is lacking in today's young dancers and what Marston managed to elicit from this cast.  The actual ballet steps were really basic and not very diverse.  Elaborate ballet steps and jumps and turns project better in a big house.  If you are in a 5,000 seat opera house you will lose the small details in the upper body and the expression in the faces.   ABT Fan was sitting in row D and probably got more out of Marston's choreography because they were close to the stage.  "Jane Eyre" looks like it belongs on the City Center stage, not the Met.  Even the Koch/NY State Theater would be better.

Did anyone see the Copeland/Stearns cast?

Edited by FauxPas
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2 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

I was also at the Saturday matinee.  Interesting how those that saw it with Forster/Boylston liked the work and those who saw the Whiteside/Teuscher cast disliked it. 

I think you are mistaken. Both MarzipanShepherdess and I saw the Whiteside/Teuscher cast and liked it, as you can see above, where she wrote an extensive review.

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As it turned out, I decided to use my Amtrak ticket and attended the Saturday matinee. I'm happy that I went, to witness the magnificently moving performance by Thomas Forster as Mr. Rochester. Wow - simply wow! I was hoping that Kevin McKenzie would come out to promote him to Etoile on the spot, as they do at POB. Forster is a true gallant - great acting, gorgeous feet, wonderful partnering and, from what I've seen in other ballets, a fine classicist. Time for promotion!

As for the work on view, the least said the better. It's a two-hour parade of gestures. A story told mostly in mime. The only recognizable dancing parts were the 4 or 5 duets for Jane and Rochester - the first and last ones being absolutely sublime! - and the scene of the party guests that opened A2. (An audience member sitting beside me sighed, "Finally, some real dancing!" My other neighbor never made it back to his seat after intermission.) It's good that the very best segment ends the ballet, thus ensuring the standing ovation.

The dreary set with grey-on-grey scrims was depressing and on the Economy Plan side. The costumes were serviceable. The lighting was dreary; I could barely make out the action at times & I had a great seat in the first row of Grand Tier-Center...$130 bucks to strain my eyes through opera glasses and still see barely half of the action! The only good thing that I can say about the backdrop of wavy lines evoking rolling hills, is that it made me think a bit about the  backdrop of Ashton's Symphonic Variations...only in shades of grey.

I surely hope that ABT doesn't misinterpret the standing ovations as approval of the overall piece. It would be horrendous if the company acquires more issues of "The Cathy Marston Classics Illustrated Collection" of digested books.

Le Corsaire ushers in four consecutive weeks of true ballet. It can't come quickly enough.

Edited by Roberta
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10 minutes ago, Roberta said:

Le Corsaire ushers in four consecutive weeks of true ballet. It can't come quickly enough.

Well said. 

It is strange that they loaded the more recognizable ballets like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty into the final weeks of the season.  They may get their biggest audiences after the school year is finished, so maybe they believe that the best way to capitalize on that market is to offer the well known classics during the late June-early July time period.

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I was at the Saturday 8p show. Can’t say I enjoyed it nor can I say I didn’t like it which is the problem. I can’t say I felt much of anything. The ballet was just gray, literally (costumes, sets, even the chair!) but also gray emotionally. The lighting, sets and costumes certainly contributed to that but more than anything it was the monotonous, angular, repetitious choreography that prevented me from attaching to any of the characters in any meaningful way (with the exception of the role of Adele played/dance by Zimmi Coker). I know the story of Jane Eyre well, though I found myself thinking...what’s going on there? Perhaps, if there was more actual dancing to break up the (odd) mime, or brighter scenes, or something?! 

All of this said, there were a few times in the long one hour acts (one intermission...ack!) that I thought were quite nice; the music overall was enjoyable especially the scene with Young Jane and her friend. I enjoyed the dancing in that scene too (Catherine Hurlin and Anabel Katsnelson). I also thought the first PDD (Devon Teuscher and James Whiteside was nice, the music especially). I thought both fire scenes were very well done and Cassandra Trenary was really really good. I did like the scene with her and Whiteside near the end. Speaking of Whiteside, as others have said, I thought he did a great job as Rochester. Teuscher was also good but again, the choreography was so boring to me, my eyes just wandered. The last scene was a bit moving between Jane and Rochester but I thought it could have been so much more. I like Sarah Lane a lot but did not like her choreography at all. The party scene, or whatever that was, could have been deleted without much notice. Zimmi Coker was a breath of fresh air every time she was on stage, such energy and presence. My only complaint was that I wish the choreography had more actual dancing. I’m definitely going to be looking out for her. 
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I apologize in advance for my very negative reaction, which is that if I never see this theater piece again, it will have already been one too many times. But I have always been a confirmed balletomane, with a taste for Twyla Tharp and a few outliers, and can't wait for the rest of the season. On the positive side, my son and his family, who drove all the way down from New Hampshire to see it, loved it a lot. I loved the book. I just wanted to see classical dancing. But--I was prepared, and happy to give my offspring an enjoyable afternoon. 

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7 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 This is why I think "Jane Eyre" and Cathy Marston might be a great thing for this generation of ABT dancers.  The use of upper body expression and movement was consistently fascinating and full of subtle detail and psychological insight.  Also Marston got some excellent dramatic acting from dancers we don't expect that from.   But that is what is lacking in today's young dancers and what Marston managed to elicit from this cast.  The actual ballet steps were really basic and not very diverse.  Elaborate ballet steps and jumps and turns project better in a big house.  If you are in a 5,000 seat opera house you will lose the small details in the upper body and the expression in the faces.   ABT Fan was sitting in row D and probably got more out of Marston's choreography because they were close to the stage.  "Jane Eyre" looks like it belongs on the City Center stage, not the Met.  Even the Koch/NY State Theater would be better.

Did anyone see the Copeland/Stearns cast?

I saw the Copeland/Stearns cast tonight. I really enjoyed the performance, much to my surprise.

To be honest, I usually avoid these two—they're not my favorites in most of the rep. But they were really, really great tonight. Copeland displayed great depth and used her upper body in an extraordinary way, with breath and range and a fluidity I'm not used to seeing out of ABT. I usually find Stearns entirely flat and boring, and thought that, with his model looks, he'd be miscast in the role, but he was wonderful, with clear character and projection in his first scene and real tenderness emerging later on. It was this cast's third performance of the production, and the roles looked "lived-in." (It was also really, really wonderful to see more of the company get a chance to shine. Lots of great dramatic work throughout many short soloist roles, lots of growth.) Brandt was also really wonderful as Young Jane, and I think she'd be great in the lead someday.

I was not expecting to enjoy this production, particularly given the reviews earlier on this thread. But I saw characters, relationships, structure, and interest, and even would like to see it again. For what it's worth, I was sitting in Orchestra Row L, and I did a thorough prep of the source material before attending the performance—both factors that may have helped me appreciate the ballet. Whatever it was tonight, it was worth it.

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