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ABT Fall 2019 NY season

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The music at ABT for Balanchine ballets is always played at a glacial pace compared to NYCB. 

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17 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

What am I missing here? (Honest question.) I don't read anything here that points to Lane having a bad night. The music was slowed down, not in her control, and Gorak flubbed a lift (typical of him). Her turns were too slow at the end, is that it?

Yeah, I also don't see anything reported here that suggests Lane was showing her nerves onstage. Some of us may may have recollections of her doing that on past occasions, but did she do so last night?

I've certainly seen numerous dancers get the timing wrong for the turns at the end of that second variation, just before the PDD. (If that's the part @laurel was referring to — the report said "in preparation for her exit," but the dancer doesn't exit there — the male dancer comes on.)

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Personally, I didn't notice any significant problems in Lane's performance last night, except that there were a few moments when she was off the music.  I thought she did quite well in the role overall.

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I did not see problems with Lane's performance last night, except for poor partnering from Gorak. She seemed relaxed and danced well. There were a few areas where she could have done better - I thought her phrasing was a little brittle at the beginning of the pdd and she did not radiate the joy that you see from Peck or Bouder - but I don't know that a performance like that is even possible with ABT's staging. 
 
Was the music slower last night than on opening night? I wasn't at opening night so I don't know, but ABT has always taken the music at a funereal pace and the orchestra just stops and waits for the dancers to position themselves for each new movement - which sucks all the life out of T&V.

The real disappointment for me was Gorak. He is such a beautiful dancer, my eye is always drawn to him but he did not make a good case for himself last night. You'd think by this time he would have taken the initiative to build some upper body strength but he is still unable to partner even tiny dancers like Lane. And his solo variation was shockingly bad. Its a real disgrace for ABT to put a dancer who can't do the steps onstage in this iconic ballet. Especially when there are so many others who can.
 
I liked the new Tharp - didn't love it but I found it interesting and am looking forward to seeing it again.
 
The Seasons was the hit of the evening for me. I still find the costumes incohesive, but I just love everything else about the ballet and all of the dancers looked great in it.

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3 hours ago, abatt said:

Aside from Gorak's error at the very end when he was unable to lift lane to his shoulder, his double tours were sloppy.  I think he did about  4 and gave up.  There was still plenty of music left when he should have been doing additional double tours.  Instead, he raised his arms and lowered himself to one  knee to assume the final position of that section of the choreography.  His performance explains why he will never move up to principal  Awful.  If ABT doesn't have men who can handle the demands of a ballet, they should not perform the ballet.  How this company has declined.  Their male roster used to be the best anywhere.

I've been curious: in performances of T&V (at ABT and NYCB), do they always insert the repeat of the music for the double-tours, which isn't in the Tchaikovsky score? Or have some men decided to do four tours (without the musical repeat) and others have decided to do seven or eight (with the repeat), as Baryshnikov does in the video below.

That's unfortunate about the final lift. I've definitely seen performances in which the man looks like he barely has any steam left to do the lift; a Hallberg/Wiles T&V from years ago, in which Hallberg looked as if he was going to pass out by the time he had to lift Wiles onto his shoulder, comes to mind. 

 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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What I have read about lifts is that some ballerinas might be tiny but hard to lift because they refuse to "push off" and hold themselves up with their own core strength. Someone said the tiny wraithlike Alicia Markova used to be very difficult to lift for this reason, as was Gelsey Kirkland. 

I once saw the very not-tiny Viktoria Tereshkina lift HERSELF higher in a press lift. 

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27 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I once saw the very not-tiny Viktoria Tereshkina lift HERSELF higher in a press lift. 

Kimin Kim did mention in an interview that Tereshkina is the easiest one to partner among the primas because she knows how to "sync" perfectly with her partners. He said something similar regarding Somova as well. Both are very considerate of their partners.

I'm not alluding that Lane is inconsiderate of her partners...it was just an off night for both of them. 

Fyi, McKenzie used to ask the male principals who's their favorite to partner- I know that partnering business is trickier than this but this actually used to(and sometimes still does) happen. If you thought you were seeing certain dancers keep showing up on the cast&substitution list, that's the reason....

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Gorak had trouble lifting Xiomara Reyes in a Cinderella performance years ago.  This is a continuous issue for him. 

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nysusan:

“I did not see problems with Lane's performance last night, except for poor partnering from

Gorak. She seemed relaxed and danced well. There were a few areas where she could have done better - I thought her phrasing was a little brittle at the beginning of the pdd and she did not radiate the joy that you see from Peck or Bouder.

……ABT has always taken the music at a funereal pace and the orchestra just stops and waits for the dancers to position themselves for each new movement - which sucks all the life out of T&V.”

 

No pressure!

After Kevin’s clumsy speech announcing Alicia Alonso passed, and that Alica had originated

the T&V ballerina role that Sarah with Joe Gorak were about to perform honoring her.

 

laurel:

“Her major issue came at the end of the slow woodwinds sequence, when she joins hands with all the corps women as they support her through the arabesque penchee, all the while twisting in and around themselves…….  Near the end, however, she has to perform a series of pique turns moving downstage right, in preparation for her exit.  The turns were far too slow, and she completed them after the music had ended.” 

 

Actually those turns are not pique turns.  The ballerina starts out moving across the stage (stage left to right) with pas de chat jumps into a spin into a double pirouette from fifth position plie, repeating several times before she continues moving with spinning in fifth position turns on pointe alternating feet in a tight fifth position concluding with step up double pirouette landing in a big fourth position.  Got that?! Whew!  A hairy sequence for any ballerina I’ve seen. 

 

But, conductor Charles Barker decided to erratically change to a very fast tempi just as Sarah was in the middle of her last pirouette.  Ugh!  Sarah could not have predicted that or the many other erratic moments of Barker’s conducting last night….whether too slow or too fast.  I find him awfully unpredictable in all the wrong places.  On that note, I do not believe he caters to any dancers, but he certainly lacks sensitivity. 

 

Conductor David LaMarche is far better working with dancers and creates a much finer atmosphere for ballets and their dancers. 

 

Joe Gorak I hope will find more confidence in this ballet.  He does have the princely look and beautiful lines, style, I love to see.  He lacks strength, but btw, Daniil and Herman, in the past, have had a hard time with that last shoulder lift, actually failing it completely.  Gorak held Sarah on his chest as long as he could……Her legs were in a fish, fifth position at a sideways angle. Kind of pretty, but not the choreography. 

 

 

Finally, yes, I too am very disappointed that Sarah is not dancing Apollo with Herman. I had hoped it would be Herman, Sarah, Skylar and Cassandra. Ah, when will Kevin listen to us??!! HaHa!

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I was at Tuesday night's program of T&V, new Tharp, and Ratmansky's Seasons. While I thought Sarah danced beautifully in T&V, and covered her slight trouble with the turns well, I can also see why a previous poster felt she might have nerves. It's very tricky choreography and I got the feeling she was concentrating intently. That meant her performance wasn't transcendent the way some of hers can be. But, her technique and grace were so lovely it was still a very good performance. I noticed that I love the way she holds her hands in fifth position in turns - her hands always continue the roundness of the arm shape, or create another pretty flourish. So many dancers flatten the raised hands at the wrists while turning - and touching fingertips - which make me think of hardboiled eggs with the tops sliced off. Gorak started off beautifully with nice control and poise and, as others have noted, later not only had trouble with his tours but wasn't able to cover up his mistake so the audience wasn't aware. I agree that this point in his career he should be able to pull that off better. However the final lift difficulty was covered up enough that my husband didn't realize there was a problem. I didn't know what the lift position was supposed to be, and it was a nice save with Sarah adopting a pretty pose, but I could see that he was struggling to hold her up until the curtain came down. It's too bad because he started off so well.

I thought Skylar Brandt stood out as one of the four T&V soloists. She projects energy upward and out, all the way to the balconies, and is neat and quick. Kudos to the violin soloist. She was superb, as was the quintent in the Tharp piece. I thought parts of the Tharp ballet were good, and I wished I could have seen it without the distracting costumes. There were too many different blingy costumes and some of them were unflattering to dancers. Herman's costume, from the the third ring, looked like a cheap Halloween silver skeleton costume. I saw on Instagram that there was sequinned detail to it but that really didn't read onstage under the lights; it looked like silver bones. Two costumes I liked were Blaine Hoven's unitard dress with long black sparkly skirt (he rocked it and danced with all-out passion), and Shevchenko's floaty bell-bottomed floral jumpsuit. I also felt there was a storyline for the ballet that all the dancers knew but wasn't clear to the audience, maybe designed to make the dance richer; sort of the way that Method actors will develop a whole backstory to a character in a play to give more depth to their interpretation of their lines. But if the story is too opaque, this unclear story can leave the audience feeling like they don't understand what's going on, and I was a little confused. Herman's dancing was, of course, sublime. Cate Hurlin was very fine - I can see why she is moving up the ladder.

The Seasons. I absolutely loved Winter, enjoyed Spring, and started losing enthusiasm around Summer but regained it for Autumn. Winter was witty, beautifully costumed, and gorgeously danced by all - Aran Bell, Katherine Williams, Devon Teuscher Catherin Hurlin and Luciana Paris. Easily my favorite part of the evening. Spring was very nice - James Whiteside, Zimmi Coker and Skylar Brandt were terrific. Summer went on way too long, I thought. The youngsters who were dancing the Poppies were charming at first but then had far too much stage time - they were great on pointe for their age but simply aren't as good dancers as the company members. The costuming of the different  groups in Summer all seemed to clash with each other when onstage together. But the Cornflowers' blue/purple knit dresses were gorgeous. Isabella Boylston isn't my cup of tea. Her legs and feet are spectacular but her port de bras tends toward a very bent wrist which breaks the line and her hands and fingers are often held distractingly wide and flat. Blaine Hoven was in wonderful character as a feisty Faun. Of all the (non-Herman) dancers I thought the night belonged to Hoven. The final season, Autumn with Cassandra Trenary and Calvin Royal III, wasn't very memorable choreography but gave me a chance to again appreciate Trenary's clean finish. Especially in more difficult choreography, she has a way of creating clear images in the steps that puts me in mind of some of the best NYCB dancers.

All in all, a nice night with some fine dancing, but I wasn't given the high that I get from the best ABT performances.

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10 hours ago, canbelto said:

I think the issue is when Lane makes a mistake or is "off" everyone can see it. Her body language and facial expressions change. Some dancers can hide an obvious mistake with a big smile and confident body language. I remember a Swan Lake where she fell off pointe towards the very end of her sequence of fouettes. Instead of finishing them and then holding her arms in fifth the way I've seen many ballerinas do when their fouettes also didn't go as planned, Lane looked crestfallen and sort of stood around until the music stopped. 

It's a shame because when she's on she lights up the entire auditorium. 

Yeah, that is a shame. I remember forever ago an AD of mine said...if you make a mistake, nobody will know except the dancers in the wings unless you draw attention to it...most of the time, that’s absolutely true. I hate to hear Lane struggle with this, she really is one of the most lovely dancers ABT has. That said, I’d still rather see her than some of the others ABT has to offer these days, mistakes and all. And yes, when she’s “on” no one can touch her (i.e., Manon)

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13 hours ago, griffie said:

So many dancers flatten the raised hands at the wrists while turning - and touching fingertips - which make me think of hardboiled eggs with the tops sliced off.

Thank you, griffie! I’ve noticed this too and seems done by several of the most accomplished dancers. I’ve thought perhaps it was a new and accepted style that I wasn’t aware of. So glad to hear Sarah is carrying on the more purely classical arm positions. 

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Newish poster here. I also attended Thursday night’s performance. My sense was that Lane was fine, even despite the turns, but because the tempo was slow it lacked the thrilling energy you want to see, as others have said. And Gorak was so sadly disappointing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at the end when the final lift fell short. I also felt that their interpretation of the pas de deux was odd. Their movements seemed very punctuated and thus at odds with the music. It really missed the mark for me in terms of lyricism and lushness, despite moments of beauty.  And there seemed to be partnering problems then too. You could tell the audience knew it was a lackluster performance because the applause was so tepid afterward. 

The energy improved immediately once the Tharp started. 

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Pretty underwhelming T&V tonight. Those tempi are just awful — everything ends up so disconnected, step pause step pause step. No sense of the phrasing, which was especially deadening in the PDD.

Gorak looked seriously underpowered. Ronds de jambs with the top of the leg angled way down, double tours that were really one-and-a-halves (cheating on both ends), two-handed lifts that should have been just one, etc. He got her up at the end but his leg almost buckled a few times before the curtain came down.

Lane was lovely and looked plenty secure, but especially at such a slow pace the whole performance just didn’t make a big impact. 

I do really like ABT’s costumes for the ballet, and I like it done against a black backdrop.

The Tharp I just found annoying. Too much running off and onstage, nothing really settled. The best part is a still-too-short duet for Cornejo and Brandt during the second movement, when for once there’s actually a connection made and a chance to settle into some dancing.

The choice of the Brahms quintet doesn’t help, imo.

The Seasons, on the other hand — I could watch that piece every night.

Edited by nanushka

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Gorak looked asleep. The whole ballet seemed to have a very mechanical quality to it as well- no joy or energy. I felt like Lane was as good as she could have been under the circumstances, I didn’t see any issues with her dancing or nerves. I did also enjoy ABT’s costumes. Are they the original design for the ballet?

 I liked the Brahms, it was the best thing about the Tharp. I think maybe the dancing would have looked better if the costumes weren’t so awful. For the record, Blaine Hoven was not wearing a dress, but rather an ugly unitard with a tulle train tied around his waist. There were lots of nice jumping opportunities for Cornejo, which the audience largely enjoyed.

The Seasons was the best performance of the night, and I like it a lot better at the Koch than at the Met, which I think is just too big for modern, setless ballets. Maybe ABT should expand their fall season at the Koch in response to the shortened Met season? They can do their mixed bills during the fall and then just do full-lengths in the summer. In any case, Catherine Hurlin in Winter and James Whiteside were particularly good tonight. I will say that the poppy costumes are appalling, especially given the age of their wearers. The red with the black tights looks garish and cheap in the absolute worst way.

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5 minutes ago, Leah said:

The whole ballet seemed to have a very mechanical quality to it as well- no joy or energy. I felt like Lane was as good as she could have been under the circumstances...

I completely agree with both of these ideas.

I like the Brahms music — just not for dancing. I can see the appeal in theory, but in practice I don't think it works well as a basis for a ballet.

I did quite like Shevchenko's costume; the others, not so much.

Edited by nanushka

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I thought Lane was gorgeous in T&V tonight, but I wish she had a better partner. As nanushka said, Gorak lacked gusto. Lane couldn’t luxuriate in some areas since Gorak seemed to pull her back or off of her leg. His tours weren’t really there. Trenary made an impact as one of the soloists. She’ll be grand in the lead one day. And, I thought the corps looked great.

Someone wrote that Cornejo deserved a better piece than the new Tharp for his anniversary and I couldn’t agree more. What a mess. He looked great and at least his choreography was catered to his strengths. But, I never need to see this again. The characters’ names made no sense and the choreography was only so-so. At least half of the costumes need a do-over: Hoven’s dress (yikes) and Williams’ fluffy skirt were just in the way; Bell’s bike shorts and Cornejo’s cape at the end. However, Royal looked fabulous in his silver jacket and Shevchenko as well in her bell-bottomed unitard. The music was dreadful and didn’t work at all. It would have been so much better with a more powerful score. Imagine Upper Room to Brahms. Not saying this needed a pounding Philip Glass score, but this was all wrong.

The Seasons was as wonderful as at the Met’s debut. I still wish there was a backdrop to tie everything together, including the costumes. Coker as the Rose is one to watch. She has a big future ahead of her. She doesn’t dance like a new corps member. 

 

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Compared to what I saw on Thursday evening, I thought the performance of T&V tonight (Saturday) was much improved. This was the kind of performance I’d been hoping to see on Thursday!  The tempo seemed faster, the theater was better attended than on Thursday, and this time, people finally applauded throughout.  The whole feel of the performance was changed.  Gorak was still underwhelming, but Lane appeared confident, relaxed and smiling, not stoic-faced.  Her dancing flowed like water, smooth and clean.  The entire company was “on.”  Skylar Brandt and Tyler Maloney had so much energy they seemed near to bouncing off the stage.  Gorak finally achieved the near-impossible (for him) task of lifing Lane onto his shoulder at the ballet's end.  He was not comfortable holding her there, but he needed to accomplish this lift, and he did.  Though this company will never dance like NYC Ballet, nonetheless this was a fine performance tonight from all involved, very Balanchine in feel, and not a watered-down or mangled through the ABT meat grinder version. Very grateful I was able to see it again!

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The partnering in T&V was uncomfortable to watch. I kept waiting for something awful to happen. Poor Lane... she is not a natural Balanchine dancer but she looked very good; she deserves a much better partner. Gorak looked so weak and low-impact. And then to watch Whiteside effortlessly lift Boylston way over his head with one hand in the Seasons, and also carry Coker and Brandt around the stage at the same time! 

I thought the Tharp piece was awful. Not much to add here. The dancers were strong (Hurlin stood out the most other than Cornejo) but what a mess of a dance. String quartets generally do not make great dance music; this was no exception. Costumes were unfortunately timely with Halloween.

Despite its sometimes-bad color palette the Seasons was fantastic. Ratmansky brings out the best in these dancers and I wonder what he would have made for Cornejo if given the 20th-anniversary commission. (I generally like Tharp's work but this was just bad.)

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12 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

But, I never need to see this again.

It feels very pièce d'occassion (even if it wasn't intended or commissioned as such), so we may not need to worry.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Pretty underwhelming T&V tonight. Those tempi are just awful — everything ends up so disconnected, step pause step pause step. No sense of the phrasing, which was especially deadening in the PDD.

I just got back tonight. I'm going to use a word to describe T&V that I rarely use when describing a performance - bad. This from a long time Sarah Lane fan.  As nanushka said - awful tempi and unnecessary stops and starts have a deadening effect and take the driving pulse out of the piece. Performance wise the trouble started in the opening theme when Lane somehow moved downstage so much that she was far from in line with Gorak. She tried to correct but couldn't, so the little bow they do to each other, before exiting, had no connection between them, because they weren't next to each other. The tone was set! Gorak approached the whole thing with determination. I give him credit for executing the pirouette/double tours sequence well, after reading it was a problem in the last performance. Still he danced everything as if he was getting through the steps. He didn't cover space, have breadth, musicality or elegance - just getting through. It was pretty much the same for Lane. To me it seemed a joyless performance - getting through the steps. It was OK until the solo after the adagio with the girls supporting her. The solo started OK but, in the diagonal, she did some weird catch steps to keep going. The biggest problem was the traveling across stage step with the pas de chat - pirouette. She didn't finish the turn front enough so had to face front with the pas de chat (sorry if I'm getting too much into specifics). It got worse each time until she stumbled slightly. The finishing turns into a big fourth had a stumble too. Then came the pas de deux. Don't these people have coaches? Lacking in musicality, shaping, dynamics - just step after step. At the very end, Gorak barely got Lane up into the shoulder sit. She was on the edge of his shoulder. I could go on and on about the missing moments that make this piece amazing. I'll just say there were a lot.

A Gathering of Ghosts - I'm not sure why there were named characters. Cornejo looked great and I found myself wishing Tharp had just choreographed a solo for him. Not a memorable piece IMO.

Seasons - I always find this delightful (if a bit too long). I missed Sarah Lane as Rose. She brings something special to it. Everyone looked good. I wish Boylston would do something about her port de bra. Brandt continues to impress and Trenery continues to have a delightful performance quality.

All in all not a great night at the ballet!

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I'm reviewing this for bachtrack but will say that if you've seen Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz storming through the finale of T&V with the speed of light (as I have) then last night's T&V was just about unwatchable.

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17 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I'm reviewing this for bachtrack but will say that if you've seen Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz storming through the finale of T&V with the speed of light (as I have) then last night's T&V was just about unwatchable.

As I’m reading all the critical posts from last evening’s performance, I’m thinking the very same thing, canbelto, about the very same NYCB dancers. Or substitute several other NYCB dancers as well. How did the ABT coaches let this happen—from the comments of the last few T&V performances more than once? 

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Wow, all these reports of T&V are very discouraging, even depressing. What is going on at ABT that they would allow such an unprepared, subpar T&V to be presented? I still haven't seen Seasons, so I've been trying to find a performance that includes it, that I actually want to see the other pieces on the program. I would have expected Lane to shine in T&V, but I was very doubtful about Gorak so I avoided those performances. And while I like Teuscher, watching Stearns is so boring. But, it sounds like that's the couple to see, so maybe I will go on Tuesday night to see them and Seasons.  

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I tried to watch last night's T&V without comparisons to NYCB and just judge it on its own terms and find different things to appreciate, but it was still pretty bad, even with lovely moments from Lane, the demisoloists, and the in-sync corps. (Also noticed Trenary -- I've always thought she could be good Balanchine material, by ABT standards at least). The casting for the T&V performances was announced months ago, so you'd think the company would have ample time to coach the dancers properly and/or come to the realization that Gorak should not be dancing this. I saw a less-than-fabulous performance of T&V with Gonzalo Garcia and Megan Fairchild in the spring, but even that show put last night's to shame. You really learn to appreciate what makes NYCB dancers exceptional in Balanchine choreography when seeing ABT attempt it. 

But, I imagine Teuscher is decent in T&V because she's excellent with fast footwork and difficult turns. And she has the benefit of a solid partner.

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