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ABT 2019 Swan Lake


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Thanks for writing, @Victura. I've never thought of Sebastian as a potential prince-type lead, but his getting the Rothbart debut is part of what led me to get a ticket for tonight — Bell being the other. Good for him for being the only one to really handle the balance out of the first four performances, even in a debut.

Royal is looking great this year. He's really building further on the early promise he showed. I can see him making principal in another few years. There's a need for some greater consistency and refinement first, and a few good showings in full-length leading roles in the classics.

ETA: It sounds like Sebastian may have filled in for Hammoudi last night, so he’s getting three shots at the role in his debut run, which is great. Unfortunate that Hanmoudi may be injured, given that he was perhaps having a potentially revitalizing season. (I’m not certain that’s the case but he at least looked better in Dnieper than I’ve seen him in years).

Edited by nanushka
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The last time I saw ABT perform a classic was probably a decade ago, and Sebastian was one of the dancers who really caught my eye.  I'm glad to see he's getting a great chance.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Royal is looking great this year. He's really building further on the early promise he showed. I can see him making principal in another few years. There's a need for some greater consistency and refinement first, and a few good showings in full-length leading roles in the classics.

ETA: It sounds like Sebastian may have filled in for Hammoudi last night, so he’s getting three shots at the role in his debut run, which is great. Unfortunate that Hanmoudi may be injured, given that he was perhaps having a potentially revitalizing season. (I’m not certain that’s the case but he at least looked better in Dnieper than I’ve seen him in years).

I saw on Fang's Instagram story curtain calls that showed Sebastian as Purple Von Rothbart last night. Royal replaced Hammoudi on Tuesday, so he's clearly out with something.

I agree with what you said about Royal, although I'm uncertain about his principal potential. He definitely needs more refinement, first. I really like how he's developing so far and I was very impressed by his V.R. this time around. 

 

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1 minute ago, ABT Fan said:

I agree with what you said about Royal, although I'm uncertain about his principal potential. He definitely needs more refinement, first. I really like how he's developing so far and I was very impressed by his V.R. this time around. 

Completely agree. I can see it happening — either because he really ends up fully deserving it or because they really need male principals and/or because he’s favored  by administration. Whether it really does happen I’m not sure.

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Tonight's performance (Teuscher / Bell) was a bit of a mixed bag. Having seen the absolutely mind-blowing  Shevchanko show on Tuesday and knowing that couldn't possibly be beat, I still tried to go in with an open mind. 

First off, Bell was excellent, especially considering he's such a young and inexperienced corps member!!! His jumps were high, his dancing was expansive, and he was a very good partner. He landed his double tours in perfect 5th in the Act III coda. Towards the end of Act I he seemed to lose his center a little in the sequence where Siegfried does a series of attitude-to-pirouettes around the stage (some minor stumbling), but that was the only flaw I noticed in his dancing. His dramatic acting needs work, but I think he has the potential to be a great dance-actor with time and practice. He certainly brought out the naive boyishness in the character whereas Whiteside, on Tuesday, seemed to channel his drag-queen alter-ego at times (and I mean that in the best of ways).

As for Teuscher, I didn't care for her Odette. Her presentation felt flat and, as many have said, her lower torso and legs don't have the right flexibility for this role. Part of it is really just her anatomy and nothing that she's doing wrong. She had some truly beautiful moments though -- she's at her best when turning, and I thought her phrasing with the diagonal with piqué and chainé turns was lovely. But overall, whereas Shevchenko completely lit up the stage by articulating absolutely every motion down to the smallest wrist movement, Teuscher just kind of did the steps at times. 

That said, she was MUCH better as the black swan with strong, stable fouettés (so many triples and doubles thrown in) and was convincingly seductive and coquettish. She is a fantastic technician and I think she does have charisma in the right roles, just not so much as Odette. 

Jose Sebastian was OK as Rothbart -- not nearly as good as Royal the other night in the acting department (nor the dancing for that matter). He did the arabesque, and his first few jumps were really good, but the evil and "sliminess" didn't really come across after his initial entrance. While Royal was funny throughout and looked like a total sleaze seducing the princesses, Sebastian didn't have that effect at all. Then he seemed to tire out at the end of his solo. 

The PDT tonight  was Melanie Hamrick, Stephanie Williams, and Royal. I thought Hamrick was much better than Williams, who did fine but looked a little sloppy and didn't have even close to the pinprick precision of Brandt the other night. Royal's leaps were beautiful as always but he had some problematic landings to his pirouettes and especially the double tours. 

Edited by JuliaJ
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What a ray of sunshine Aran Bell is! He was absolutely fabulous in every regard tonight. Beautiful line. High, fully stretched, beautiful jetes. Perfectly executed, precisely landed double tours. And what command of the stage - his Siegfried was a young, excitable prince, but every inch the prince. His acting was natural and very effective, he was completely engaged with everyone he interacted with on the stage. 

He had great chemistry with Teuscher, and that made a world of difference in her performance. I still had problems with some of her choices (or limitations) as Odette - the stiff back and torso and low, unstretched, barely held arabesques. But lots of her positions were lovely and she made great, expressive use of her head, neck and arms. It seemed that Bell brought her out of her shell, there was a palpable connection between them as opposed to the distant, bloodless performance she turned in with Stearns last season.
 
Her Odile was great. In fact, the whole black swan pdd was great. Her fouettés were fast & crisp with the first half performed sur la place. She started traveling forward with the second half but forward only, not to the side. And in the pdd after the fouettés she held some practically Cynthia Gregory-like balances.
 
Calvin Royal was Benno and did the pdt with Hamrick & S. Williams. K.Williams & Hurlin were the big swans - all did well.  Jose Sebastian looked great as purple VR (unfortunately I was distracted right as he took the arabesque but I caught the end and it looked like he held it).
 
All in all it was a very satisfying performance and even though I much preferred Shevchenko to Teuscher, I preferred the combination of Teuscher/Bell to Shevchenko/Whiteside. I still have issues with her plastique, but Teuscher & Bell made me believe.
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I went into last night not expecting too much, but with much curiosity. I've been lukewarm on Bell; I like Teuscher in some things but not particularly as O/O; I was curious about Sebastian in a major role. It was my third performance of the week and I didn't expect to be wowed. I wouldn't say I was, exactly — but I did really enjoy the performance overall, and am glad I went.

Bell will probably never be a particular favorite of mine; his particular physique (I love tall dancers, but he also seems rather broad) and his general onstage affect are not my ideals, but it all works as a pretty complete package nonetheless. Act I had some impressive moments, though also some sloppiness (as mentioned above) in the final introspective solo.

The Hamrick/S.Williams/Royal PDT was only so-so, with Royal as by far the strongest. Williams lacks buoyancy and Hamrick was uninspired.

Interestingly, Gabe Shayer was front and center among the aristocrats in the waltz, but he was really just phoning it in. He looked really unimpressive, especially next to Ribagorda.

Overall, I was impressed with Teuscher's Act II. I've come to accept her particular physical limitations (described above) that make her unideal for Odette, but setting those aside I found her performance to be thoughtful, accomplished, and even moving. I didn't like her mime, but her dancing was strong and often quite beautiful — again, with the above-mentioned reservations. She and Bell had very strong chemistry, and as others have observed previously on this thread, he seems to bring out the best in her (and especially some real warmth).

Compared with Shevchenko, one real strength of Teuscher's performance was much crisper beats throughout the act, so important in this role. (I almost found her beats during the supported turns at the end of the adagio to be too fluttery — almost manic.)

Shevy's exiting swan arms were far superior, though. Teuscher was clearly trying to do the thing where shifting the elbows from pointed up to pointed down gives the impression of wings, but it just looked jagged and awkward. Still, she did give the impression of a creature possessed, which is always dramatic.

Trenary, Paris, Lall and Brandt were the cygnettes, and theirs was the strongest of the three I saw this week. (Monday was the same group but with Graniero for Lall.) They did well even on the pas de chats to stage right, though they got one full beat behind over the course of them (which was actually much better than gradually just getting like 3/4 of a beat behind and being completely out of time with the music).

Katherine Williams and Cate Hurlin were very well matched as the two swans, and Hurlin looked especially great.

In Act III, Gorak and Klein gave an excellent performance in the Neapolitan dance, even stronger than theirs on Monday night.

Sebastian had some rough edges in his Rothbart solo, but he did better than Forster in managing the partnering of the four princesses, and he had the strongest balance of the three I saw in this. It was there, but it wasn't particularly beautiful, and a bit shaky. His sissones were particularly crisp and impressive. He was making some attempts at the dramatic acting, but it wasn't coming across too strongly, and he needs to keep working at it. It's also true, as mentioned above, that he appeared to really tire at the end.

The Black Swan PDD was overall excellent. Bell gave a very strong performance in his variation, with impressive jump combinations in the final progression downstage. One thing that I really didn't like, though, was that after each combination he chose to go down on one knee; that seems like a rather odd choice in the middle of a variation, since it's a pose that I so strongly associate with the end of a solo. I don't see a strong artistic reason for punctuating a solo in that way; it seemed showy, and I'd rather see more continuous dancing. (That variation, especially in the fuller orchestration used by ABT, is about Siegfried's bursting passionate excitement for his beloved — why would he stop to pose?)

Teuscher's solo was excellent — no surprise, since she's such a strong turner, and that's what it's really all about.

I did not see any triple fouettés; I think she began with a triple pirouette into the fouettés, then did solid doubles until the B section, when she shifted to singles. They were very strong, though she did travel (I thought not only in the B section but also toward the end of the A section, and I thought not only downstage but also a bit to stage right — but I could be wrong). My one quibble (I don't begrudge a little traveling, as long as it's mostly downstage and not extreme) is that the doubles weren't done in any obvious connection with the music. Granted, it's pretty much impossible to do doubles strictly on the beat, but the whole sequence ended up just being pretty independent of what was happening in the orchestra, other than the timing of the shift from doubles to singles.

Her backward hops in arabesque at the end of coda were stunning — those balances between each set were superb.

Act IV was another strong sequence, with very solid partnering from Bell on those lifts, and with a dramatically strong performance from both.

I was a bit too far to the right to see all but the start of Bell's leap at the end, but it must have been stunning because it got a lot of applause. I know many have complained about how unseemly it is for the audience to applaud at that point, but the way I see it is if a dancer is going to do something that's so obviously calculated to impress, one can hardly blame the audience for being impressed and spontaneously expressing that. If anyone were showing a lack of taste or tact at that point, it'd seem to be as much the dancer as the audience — but I don't really think that's the case.

I'm very glad I went last night. It was not a Swan Lake for the ages — or even perhaps one that will stick in my memory for years to come — but there was a lot to enjoy.

Edited by nanushka
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By the way, in the comments of Sarah Lane’s Instagram post showing her bows on Wednesday night, someone asked if she will be dancing Saturday night.  Sarah Lane replied “No, I won’t be” with an emoji that looked like a raised eyebrow blowing a kiss.  

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49 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

By the way, in the comments of Sarah Lane’s Instagram post showing her bows on Wednesday night, someone asked if she will be dancing Saturday night.  Sarah Lane replied “No, I won’t be” with an emoji that looked like a raised eyebrow blowing a kiss.  

If I peer into my crystal ball, I see Christine Shevchenko "on standby" for tonight... 

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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

Overall, I was impressed with Teuscher's Act II. I've come to accept her particular physical limitations (described above) that make her unideal for Odette, but setting those aside I found her performance to be thoughtful, accomplished, and even moving. I didn't like her mime, but her dancing was strong and often quite beautiful — again, with the above-mentioned reservations. She and Bell had very strong chemistry, and as others have observed previously on this thread, he seems to bring out the best in her (and especially some real warmth).

...

I'm very glad I went last night. It was not a Swan Lake for the ages — or even perhaps one that will stick in my memory for years to come — but there was a lot to enjoy.

Generally I agree with nanushka about this performance, with minor caveats/things to add.

I'm rather more enthusiastic about it. Particularly on Bell who, I felt not only brought out the best in Teuscher, but also acted very well on his own--He made a much more believable character of Siegfried than just about anyone I've seen in a long while (I also had no problems with the tours to one knee--its show offy, but the entire PDD is about showing off).

l'd also like to call attention to not only Teuscher's incredibly emotional performance, which I found very moving, but also to her phrasing, which I thought was excellent. She played with the music, drawing out some movements, dancing with almost syncopation at others. There were no little stops before end poses in pirouettes and other partnered bits as I saw in the (excellent) Shevchenko SL the other night. It was a very well thought out and executed performance. The way she caressed his hair in act IV as she forgave him was really moving.

 

The only point on which I'd strongly disagree is on Devon's mime--which was strongly executed and clear.

I loved Shevchenko's performance on Tuesday, but in act II when she said that if someone loves her and swears then she will be a swan no more---she glossed over the no more, it was not clear nor visible and lost its meaning.

Teuscher's mime was more legible, elegant, and the emphasis with which she proclaimed death in Act IV was chilling.

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On 6/26/2019 at 8:20 AM, ABT Fan said:

Yeah, it's too bad that Royal had such a hard time with it. I was sitting far on the right side, so he was partially cut off from my view (note to self, never sit so far on the side again for SL!). Just speaking from a dancer's experience, the arabesque balance is more difficult than it looks. It is supposed to be done slowly obviously, so to start from two feet, then have to shift your weight while raising your arabesque all while not letting your upper body and/or lower body lean back or sideways towards the standing leg, which your body is going to want to do to compensate, or coming off of your demi pointe. And, of course, maintaining your arm positions, etc. To do this slowly (and do it well) takes a lot of control and it's not a common step for male dancers, so they don't get much practice doing this in other ballets (not in ABT anyway). To say you need a very strong core (back, obliques, etc) to do this well is an understatement.

Yes, unfortunately, you've just been unlucky with your tickets because he has been cast a lot: Pierrot in Harlequinade (which I didn't like), the lead in Songs of Bukovina (he was fabulous), The Seasons, Prince Coffee, leads in all of the Tharp Trio pieces, Lescaut, and some other supporting roles. I'd also like to see him as Siegfried, though I think some of the choreography (esp in Act III) might give him trouble.

 

>>>>Is anyone attending this afternoon's matinee? I really want to hear about Bell's debut.

The POB male dancers do this a lot more with more success than failure. Nureyev's staging of Don Q and Nutcracker features this . I'm not sure if it is done in their Swan Lake. It is also done by Kitri in the DQ PDD adagio.

 

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59 minutes ago, bingham said:

Any reports on the Boynston-Simkin SL?

Spectacular in every way!  Just coming off three days of Swan Lakes  (Shevchenko/Whiteside, Teuscher/Bell and Boylston/Simkin), and trying to catch up on non ballet related stuff, so I'm keeping this short and sweet. 

Boylston and Simkin have a wonderful rapport, and they performed Swan Lake ballet beautifully.   I've seen all of their Swan Lakes over the years, and they continue to outdo themselves.  Boylston is a very strong dancer, and both her Odette and Odile were stunning as were her thrilling fouettes.  You'd never have known Simkin was coming off an injury as he danced exquisitely.   I was so happy to see him back after his injury.

BTW- Hammoudi was out again, this time with Sebastian subbing for his Von Rothbart (Royal subbed on Tuesday night).  Sebastian appears to be getting more comfortable with the role.  It was a gorgeous performance by the leads and supporting cast.  

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3 hours ago, aurora said:

The only point on which I'd strongly disagree is on Devon's mime--which was strongly executed and clear.

I do agree, actually. It wasn't to my taste — some of the styling and emphases seemed off to me — but it was most definitely clear and strong in intention.

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If anyone went this afternoon, I'd love to hear how Forster's second shot at ballroom Rothbart went.

And if anyone has news (that's fit to post here) about tonight, I'd love to hear that as well.

Thanks!

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8 hours ago, DPell said:

Unsurprisingly, no fouettés from Misty tonight. David was spectacular.

Last night Misty didn't even attempt the fouettes, she just did a menage. I found last night boring, boring, boring. David still has beautiful line and while he did impress in his second 3rd act solo, watching him through most of the ballet I thought he's really lost a step. And he no longer finishes his jumps in a clean, tight fifth.

I saw nothing to recommend in Misty's Odette. Her arabesques were low and not held long, her back was inflexible. She barely used her arms, let alone her head & neck. And there was no chemistry between her & Hallberg. Except for the lack of fouettes, her black swan was better but still nothing to write home about.

Gorak, Brandt & Trenary did the pdt again, and they were wonderful.

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25 minutes ago, nysusan said:

Last night Misty didn't even attempt the fouettes, she just did a menage. I found last night boring, boring, boring. David still has beautiful line and while he did impress in his second 3rd act solo, watching him through most of the ballet I thought he's really lost a step. And he no longer finishes his jumps in a clean, tight fifth.

I think this is a smart move, if she's going to continue to dance the role — to do something she knows she can finish.

Too bad about Hallberg. I wonder what's up with him these days — e.g. was this just an off night? not giving it everything he has? something else?

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Too bad about Hallberg. I wonder what's up with him these days — e.g. was this just an off night? not giving it everything he has? something else?

I found him lacking in Manon as well.   He just isn't the dancer he was pre-injury.  That being said, he's still a wonderful and caring partner.

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On 6/29/2019 at 12:06 AM, JuliaJ said:

...... whereas Whiteside, on Tuesday, seemed to channel his drag-queen alter-ego at times (and I mean that in the best of ways).

IMO Whiteside was an ideal and handsome prince.  He partnered beautifully and danced his solos with clarity and finesse. 

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For me the big news of the week of Swan Lake was Shevchenko and Aran Bell. Both are exquisite artists. How is it even possible that the young Mr. Bell is so marvelously polished at age 20?  

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33 minutes ago, abatt said:

For me the big news of the week of Swan Lake was Shevchenko and Aran Bell. Both are exquisite artists. How is it even possible that the young Mr. Bell is so marvelously polished at age 20?  

I agree.  He is quite amazing for his age.  He was gorgeous as Romeo last year, and he just keeps getting better.  Looking forward to his Sleeping Beauty.

As far as Shevchenko, Wow!   And to think,  we could have been seeing these gorgeous performances with her instead of a her being wasted as a flower girl year after year....

I also loved Boylston/Simkin's SL, and was so happy to see him back on the stage! 

Edited by NinaFan
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