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ABT 2019 Sleeping Beauty

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I think the demi-pointe chaines look better on dancers with small feet. Long or big feet tend to look like floppy fish. Ditto those dancers who wear Gaynor Mindens -- on the whole, they aren't a flattering shoe in demi-pointe. 

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8 hours ago, bingham said:

How were the fairies in the prologue?

And regarding the fairies in Act III, if you consider them fairies, I was really surprised by the degree of sloppiness in spacing, synchronization, and uniformity in how high legs were raised (which is a big focus in this reconstruction) among the sapphire, silver and gold fairies. They were Melanie Hamrick, Courtney Lavine, and I forget the third and unfortunately don't have my program with me. Lavine particularly seemed to lag behind and seem a bit sloppy in her poses. I've always seen this section danced so cleanly and sharply, but it was really off last night. Teuscher, however, was stellar as Diamond. It's true luxury casting to have dancers like her and Shevchenko cast in the role. 

1 hour ago, JuliaJ said:

II would also trim a few things for length... notably the mime-centric spinning-wheel scene, the peasants in the beginning of Act II, and probably a couple fairy-tale characters (Cinderella, the guy with the giant head with all of the kids...). Having sooo many wedding guests made the bows at the end of the show go on forever, when all you wanted to see was Lane and Cornejo come out with the audience still there. 

Yes, it really starts to drag when you have the blah Cinderella choreography followed by the ogre running around with the children. The Cinderella section could be retained but with the music cut a bit; it goes on far too long. And the part where she uses the bellows on the prince just seems idiotic; she's running around looking for her shoe and then when the prince presents it to her, she fends him off with bellows? I believe that bellows could be an erotic symbol in the 18th century ("stoking the flames of love") but that's not how it is used here. And yes, the peasant dance at the beginning of Act II is probably some of the weakest ensemble choreography in the whole work. But I guess if it's truly a reconstruction, you have to sit through all of it; and it does give you a sense of the full fabric of the work. 

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9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

I'm curious what other changes have been made to the vision and wedding pas de deux based on the new sketches that have been found. I'ts been too long since I've seen the full ballet for me to determine what has been changed. Perhaps others will be able to detect the changes.

I noticed some angular poses in the vision scene partnering that were also a bit reminiscent of the pose replacing the conventional fish dives (i.e. Aurora in various poses off the perpendicular). Granted, these may have been there before, and I may simply not have remembered them — but given that the changes were based on the Gerdt sketches and that Ratmansky says it's specifically the partnering that was recorded in the drawings, I suspect some of those were added.

Edited by nanushka

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

(There were a few substitutions announced before the program, including Keith Roberts for Nancy Raffa as Carabosse; I didn't hear the others that followed and it's possible one might have been a fairy, but I don't think so.)

I think 2 women were announced as changes (or maybe x replacing y, so only one change).

The other announced change was that Alexei Agoutine (sp) replaced K. Roberts as Catalbutte.

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

And regarding the fairies in Act III, if you consider them fairies, I was really surprised by the degree of sloppiness in spacing, synchronization, and uniformity in how high legs were raised (which is a big focus in this reconstruction) among the sapphire, silver and gold fairies. They were Melanie Hamrick, Courtney Lavine, and I forget the third and unfortunately don't have my program with me. Lavine particularly seemed to lag behind and seem a bit sloppy in her poses. I've always seen this section danced so cleanly and sharply, but it was really off last night. Teuscher, however, was stellar as Diamond. It's true luxury casting to have dancers like her and Shevchenko cast in the role. 

Brittany DeGrofft was gold.

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A surreal moment when Christine Shevchenko appeared on stage. Lovely dancing in every way but in that blond wig with the hair pulled back tightly, I blanched: She looked just like Ivanka! Absolutely NOT the image I wanted to intrude on a lovely ballet.

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7 hours ago, nanushka said:

Blaine Hoven did indeed dance Bluebird. (See below.) I too missed the other announced replacements, though.

I suspect it was Zimmi Coker who caught your eye, as she often has mine in the past few years — and not only due to her striking red hair.

 

Very pleasantly surprised by Blaine's first-rate Bluebird. I always prefer a smaller danseur in this part, and he's a very big guy. Never you mind--birdlike arms, soft landings, excellent partnering. Bravo, Blaine.

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I hope Bell doesn't run out of steam dancing Sleeping Beauty tonight and then again tomorrow's matinee.  Fingers crossed that he still makes it to Saturday as that's his only performance I can make this week.

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I agree with all of the wonderful things that have already been said about Lane/Cornejo in SB. Lane is a quintessential Aurora. She was like a hummingbird: light, airy, delicate, lovely, spritely. Cornejo gave no hint of a recent injury. His petite allegro was outstanding. The vision scene was by far the best for them - so romantic. And the backbend described above was unreal. And, it was so charming to see Lane’s husband be her number one suitor. 

Shevchenko was a gracious, lovely, regal Lilac. She had a few minor bobbles with some turns but otherwise she was technically strong. I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything that wasn’t an outstanding performance.

I was happy that Keith Roberts subbed for Carabosse. He was menacing and stole the spotlight. The prologue fairies were just ok with the exception of Brandt as Canary. It’s too short of a solo for someone as perfectly cast as her. Giangeruso tried her best as Violente but she doesn’t possess the quick footwork. Tom Forster was wasted as a Fairy Cavalier. 

Teuscher was surprisingly charming as Diamond. Technically she was predictably excellent, but she projected much more personality than usual. However, I like this role better on Boylston for her big jumps. Hoven was terrific as Bluebird - yes, not the typical size for this but his arms and footwork were beautiful. K Williams was also terrific as Florine. She’s really blossomed this season since being promoted and has become another one of my favorites.

Despite the excellent performances, this SB is like Harlequinade for me now - twice was enough. I appreciate the historical reconstruction, but some of the choreography is too old fashioned: chaine turns on demi (awkward looking),  the low passes, men preparing a pirouette in a half second position instead of in fourth (this one really irks me). The repetitive waltzes and folk dances, esp in Act I...oy. And, poor Bluebird in his padded diaper. I really hope Ratmansky doesn’t do any more reconstructions for ABT.

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36 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

I hope Bell doesn't run out of steam dancing Sleeping Beauty tonight and then again tomorrow's matinee.  Fingers crossed that he still makes it to Saturday as that's his only performance I can make this week.

Good grief - what a schedule! Is there no one else who could substitute? On Instagram, the morning after his Swan Lake, Hallberg said he felt like he had been hit by a truck. 

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12 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I appreciate the historical reconstruction, but some of the choreography is too old fashioned: chaine turns on demi (awkward looking),  the low passes, men preparing a pirouette in a half second position instead of in fourth (this one really irks me).

The one stylistic element out of these that I truly love, in aesthetic terms, is the low passés (at least in this particular context). They look so gentle and elegant; they really suit the flavor of the work, to my eyes.

The others are historically interesting, I think, but not particularly appealing in and of themselves.

Edited by nanushka

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18 minutes ago, California said:

Good grief - what a schedule! Is there no one else who could substitute? On Instagram, the morning after his Swan Lake, Hallberg said he felt like he had been hit by a truck. 

Yes, it's quite a schedule, but I imagine it's a much less exhausting role than Siegfried. Desiree has just one variation (albeit a doozy) but the rest is mostly partnering, with very few lifts (and none overhead). 

Was anyone at today's matinee? I'm very curious to hear how Trenary did after her stunning debut a couple years ago.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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19 minutes ago, California said:

Good grief - what a schedule! Is there no one else who could substitute? On Instagram, the morning after his Swan Lake, Hallberg said he felt like he had been hit by a truck. 

Bell is only 20 years old, so he’s got youth (and more energy) on his side vs a mid-30’s Hallberg who has several injuries behind him. Still, four is a lot. I guess Whiteside is still injured or sick. I wonder why they didn’t have Gorak take one, esp since he’s done this ballet with Boylston before. I suppose this is a good test for Bell - to see how he handles (last minute) pressure. Although, I believe his promotion is inevitable regardless and I suspect only days away.

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

The one stylistic element out of these that I truly love, in aesthetic terms, is the low passés (at least in this particular context). They look so gentle and elegant; they really suit the flavor of the work, to my eyes.

Oh I love those low passés too! There are any number of things I'd tweak in Ratmansky's staging (Hop o' My Thumb would go right back to the museum ...) but not those lovely, lovely passés. 

Where Ratmansky's version stumbles for me is storytelling. When you find yourself losing the thread in Sleeping Beauty, something is amiss. And things like having the Lilac Fairy more or less bestow Aurora on Desiré rather than requiring him do something to prove he is worthy of her—like chopping down a forest of briar with his sword—seems like a basic violation of fairy-tale norms. 

I'd ditch the white wigs, too. They flatter almost no one.

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28 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Where Ratmansky's version stumbles for me is storytelling. When you find yourself losing the thread in Sleeping Beauty, something is amiss. And things like having the Lilac Fairy more or less bestow Aurora on Desiré rather than requiring him do something to prove he is worthy of her—like chopping down a forest of briar with his sword—seems like a basic violation of fairy-tale norms. 

But she refuses to tell him how to wake her — and this part felt particularly significant on Tuesday, with the freshly invigorated mime. His (very small) task is to figure it out for himself.

I take your point, but by its very nature and since its premiere (except when heroic episodes have been interpolated, as in the Kirkland staging IIRC), Sleeping Beauty has differed from many of Petipa's other works in eschewing the melodramatics of plot.

The basic developments of typical Romantic/Classical ballet plots are there — e.g. we have an Act I followed by a "mad scene" (the pricking of Aurora, comparable to Giselle's mad scene or Nikiya's snakebite), followed by a vision scene (comparable to Albrecht's night in the forest or Solor's opium dream) — but everything is gentler, subtler, with more of the emphasis on the pure dance. The plot unfolds almost without the need for human motivation and energy; there's just a pang of desire, a token gesture of masculine ingenuity ("Ah — kiss her!") — and otherwise the fairies do all the work.

Like those passés, it's all more courtly and elegant and understated than in other productions, and in other ballets. That's innate to the work, I think, and Ratmansky gets us back to it. He helps us see how this ballet is truly unique. (And, very much like its original audience, we may be both intrigued and put off by that.)

Edited by nanushka

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I'm reviewing the performance for bachtrack but just wanted to say that Cassandra Trenary's Aurora was absolutely beautiful and well worth catching on Saturday night for those who don't have tickets. 

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Who knew Keith Roberts was such a cut-up? And a truly creepy/touching Carabosse! New respect. 

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9 hours ago, canbelto said:

I'm reviewing the performance for bachtrack but just wanted to say that Cassandra Trenary's Aurora was absolutely beautiful and well worth catching on Saturday night for those who don't have tickets. 

Yes! She and Joe Gorak were perfection together in this 1800’s style. They looked like they stepped out of a child’s music box. A total delight!

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15 hours ago, nanushka said:

I take your point, but by its very nature and since its premiere (except when heroic episodes have been interpolated, as in the Kirkland staging IIRC), Sleeping Beauty has differed from many of Petipa's other works in eschewing the melodramatics of plot.

The basic developments of typical Romantic/Classical ballet plots are there — e.g. we have an Act I followed by a "mad scene" (the pricking of Aurora, comparable to Giselle's mad scene or Nikiya's snakebite), followed by a vision scene (comparable to Albrecht's night in the forest or Solor's opium dream) — but everything is gentler, subtler, with more of the emphasis on the pure dance. The plot unfolds almost without the need for human motivation and energy; there's just a pang of desire, a token gesture of masculine ingenuity ("Ah — kiss her!") — and otherwise the fairies do all the work.

 

Ratmansky's staging of Act II, Scene iv does follow the original scenario for Tchaikovsky's ballet, which itself departs from Perrault's tale in any number of ways, including prudently lopping off its second half, which covers what happens to the Prince and Princess after they marry (in secret!), have children, and deal with the Prince's Ogress Queen Mother, who wants to cook the kids up for dinner. Nor is the Prince led to the Princess by a fairy: he spies her hidden castle during a hunt, learns of the Princess sleeping within from an old man who recounts a tale told to him by his father, and sets off through the brambles to find her.  Perrault himself makes substantial changes to his folk and courtly romance sources, in many of which involve the Princess being impregnated by the Prince while she sleeps. 

There's no point in demanding fidelity to Perrault or any of his sources, of course, and I take your excellent point about the ballet's softening of some of the Romantic conventions that feature in other works (which one can also find in opera; every diva wants a mad scene.) I found Ratmansky's version a little inert, possibly because he pared down the panorama so much. 

But I'm probably just being too old-school meritocratic: aristocrats should EARN their privilege, darn it! 

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4 hours ago, Barbara said:

Who knew Keith Roberts was such a cut-up? And a truly creepy/touching Carabosse! New respect. 

Keith Roberts came onto my radar screen when a few seasons ago he completely stole the first act of R&J as the Duke of Verona.  He was powerful and dramatic; everyone else was anemic.  I’ve had mad respect for his acting skills since then, and I knew his Carabosse would be great.  It was.

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There are a few ABT roles that Marcelo Gomes still owns, despite his absence, including the ballroom Rothbart and Ratmansky's Carabosse. Roberts may well be taking over the latter.

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45 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Nor is the Prince led to the Princess by a fairy: he spies her hidden castle during a hunt, learns of the Princess sleeping within from an old man who recounts a tale told to him by his father, and sets off through the brambles to find her.  Perrault himself makes substantial changes to his folk and courtly romance sources, in many of which involve the Princess being impregnated by the Prince while she sleeps. 

:offtopic:This is how Radu Poklitaru staged his version, to Tchaikovsky. Aurora is awoken not by the Prince's kiss, but by the sucking of her newborn infant. To describe it as disturbing is an understatement.

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