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ABT 2019 Sleeping Beauty

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Posted (edited)

Bell danced in today's matinee, but they deleted Desire's big solo in the Wedding Act.  Very disappointed.  Boylston was outstanding.

Edited by abatt

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4 hours ago, aurora said:

Whiteside has now posted on IG about why he was replaced in Sleeping Beauty:

 

 

Maybe he caught the flu from Misty!

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52 minutes ago, abatt said:

Bell danced in today's matinee, but they deleted Desire's big solo in the Wedding Act.  Very disappointed.  Boylston was outstanding.

!

This was my first time seeing Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty and I did notice there seemed to be a remarkable lack of dancing for Desire. Honestly it took some of the wind out of my sails for Lane/Cornejo tomorrow.

I’m happy to hear this was an accommodation (it seems) for Bell, and not standard. Looking forward to tomorrow with all the more enthusiasm. 

(And I agree—Boylston was lovely.)

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

Bell danced in today's matinee, but they deleted Desire's big solo in the Wedding Act.  Very disappointed.  Boylston was outstanding.

To anyone who saw Bell’s earlier performances, was this a first or had they deleted this sequence before? 

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2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

To anyone who saw Bell’s earlier performances, was this a first or had they deleted this sequence before? 

I saw him on Monday and he danced his solo at the wedding (his petit allegro full of beats). Unless I am missing something, is this what was deleted from your performance? 

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17 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

: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.

😳 

Admittedly, that particular flavor of awakening does occur in some of the earlier sources. And I actually might like to see a dance take on some of the less Disney-ready versions, but maybe not to Tchaikovsky. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, BrazilianBAllet said:

I saw him on Monday and he danced his solo at the wedding (his petit allegro full of beats). Unless I am missing something, is this what was deleted from your performance? 

Yes, this is what was deleted from the performance that I saw at the Thursday matinee.  I understand why they did it - he is dancing four Desire performances.  However, it is nevertheless unfair to the audience and another indication of mismanagement at ABT.  They should have had a backup available so that Bell didn't have to perform 4 shows.  Cory Stearns knows the role.  Why didn't they call upon him?  Why couldn't the two dates for Whiteside be split between Gorak and Bell so that each had 3 shows instead of two?  No, instead the choice was made to give the Thursday audience less than the full ballet.

 

I might also add that this placed extra stress on Boylston, because as soon as the initial portion of the pas was completed, she had to come out and do her solo variation.  The pas is a lot of work for Aurora, but only involves partnering for Desire.  The portion where Desire comes out for his big solo is a rest period for Aurora.  No rest for Boylston.

Edited by abatt

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1 minute ago, abatt said:

Yes, this is what was deleted from the performance that I saw at the Thursday matinee.  I understand why they did it - he is dancing four Desire performances.  However, it is nevertheless unfair to the audience and another indication of mismanagement at ABT. 

I’m puzzled as to why Bell is the only one available to cover this part. Honest question: does the company only allow one additional dancer to learn a principal role and be available to cover? If a second dancer was interested in learning a role would they have to do that with private coaching? 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Barbara said:

I’m puzzled as to why Bell is the only one available to cover this part. Honest question: does the company only allow one additional dancer to learn a principal role and be available to cover? If a second dancer was interested in learning a role would they have to do that with private coaching? 

I'm not convinced he is the only one available. We've seen this before from ABT — e.g. those years when Hee See was the one to fill in for virtually every opening that arose due to injuries, etc. Management seems to fixate on a particular dancer as the newest solution to all their problems. Sometimes the dancer is more worthy than others (e.g. Bell in comparison with Seo), but regardless it doesn't seem like a very good approach, even for the dancer who's getting all the "opportunities." And as @abatt points out, it can be unfair to the audiences. The prince has one big solo all night, and it's quite an exciting highlight of the piece; it's really unfortunate that Bell has been so overworked that he couldn't perform it.

(We don't know, of course, whether that was the plan going into the evening or whether he decided partway through the performance that he needed to drop the solo; either way, the fatigue of this week, at the end of a long big season for him, was almost certainly a factor.)

Edited by nanushka

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Can I ask why everyone seems to dislike Hee Seo so much? She wasn’t fantastic in Manon this year, but she wasn’t bad by any means. I thought last year she was wonderful as Giselle, Nikiya, and Juliet, especially the latter.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Leah said:

Can I ask why everyone seems to dislike Hee Seo so much? She wasn’t fantastic in Manon this year, but she wasn’t bad by any means. I thought last year she was wonderful as Giselle, Nikiya, and Juliet, especially the latter.

Personally, I think she's lovely in some of her roles — e.g. her Odette this year was excellent, I thought (though not her Odile; the fouettés were kind of a disaster, leaving her at one point just hopping around on the ball of her foot). But she has some serious technical deficiencies that she has never really been able to overcome. So there are many roles for which she's partly well-suited (e.g. Giselle), but that have certain variations or elements (e.g. the pas seul) that can really give her trouble. Other roles are overall better fits for her (e.g. Juliet, I've heard — though I haven't seen her in it). While she's a lovely dancer, she's also a bit cool, and so even roles such as Manon that don't give her major technical challenges can be dramatically not a great fit.

I don't dislike her overall, I just think she has (more in the past than nowadays) been vastly overused, almost as if she were an all-around superb dancer (which she's not — she has strengths and weaknesses, like all but the most exceptional stars).

Edited by nanushka

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Hee Seo -

In addition to what Nanushka wrote (the obvious strengths and weaknesses related to her performing abilities), Hee was promoted ahead of "long-time audience favorite" soloists like Sarah Lane and Stella Abrera, who fans had been expecting would've been promoted first. It was all unfortunate.

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I'm curious to see how Seo manages Aurora tomorrow, because while I've heard she's quite good in the role I have trouble really believing it (especially after watching Sarah Lane on Tuesday). I've avoided her in it in past years, but as the Met season draws to a close I often find myself collecting tickets for a few extra performances in anticipation of the long summer without NYCB and ABT in season, so I decided to do a double-header tomorrow, particularly to see Bell (really hope he does the variation!) and Abrera at the matinee.

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Back to Bell and the availability to cover a part: is it not also an issue of who can partner whom?  Some pairs are more suitable together than others, or should ABT just throw anyone who is available on stage.

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25 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Personally, I think she's lovely in some of her roles — e.g. her Odette this year was excellent, I thought (though not her Odile; the fouettés were kind of a disaster, leaving her at one point just hopping around on the ball of her foot). But she has some serious technical deficiencies that she has never really been able to overcome. So there are many roles for which she's partly well-suited (e.g. Giselle), but that have certain variations or elements (e.g. the pas seul) that can really give her trouble. Other roles are overall better fits for her (e.g. Juliet, I've heard — though I haven't seen her in it). While she's a lovely dancer, she's also a bit cool, and so even roles such as Manon that don't give her major technical challenges can be dramatically not a great fit.

In general I agree, and I do think of her as a dancer with technical weaknesses.

That said, her rehearsal of Act II of Sleeping Beauty on Monday was very very strong. It might be less technically challenging than Act I, but it certainly has its difficulties, and she looked secure through all of them. She held the balance on the seashell device impressively long and with total confidence. It was one of the best executions of that trick that I've seen.

Of course a rehearsal is not a performance and perhaps nerves result in a less clean performance when she's actually doing the ballet. Still I was very impressed!

 

I have seen her as Juliet with Marcelo (2 years ago I think? Maybe 3) and she was fabulous.

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On 7/4/2019 at 11:27 AM, volcanohunter said:

: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.

The original folk/fairy tales were often quite grim (no pun intended!)  One thing I try to remember, when looking at a dance that is "based on" another artwork, is that the choreographer is not necessarily making a point-for-point translation of the source work -- they are often using it as a jumping-off point.  So Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty can peacefully exist in an alternate universe from Marius Petipa's -- they can make each other more clear by being more true to themselves.

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On 7/3/2019 at 6:11 AM, CTballetfan said:

My overall impression is that this production was stuffed to the gills, especially the Prologue and Act I. Too many groups of ballerinas to appreciate each group.   Waaay too crowded. But my eye was caught by one corps member, a redhead who danced so beautifully in a group of six in the Prologue. Who was she?

I appreciate your observation, but I have to say I think that is what the original was like.  When you look at the photos from those foundational productions, and especially when you look at the cast lists from SB, they are just packed full.  An incredibly dense stage picture, and all those astonishing names we conjure with.  Our 21st century eyes have been trained by all those pared down ballets that Balanchine (and colleagues) made during the heyday of the 20th century, where they made a virtue of spareness.

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On 7/4/2019 at 10:33 AM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

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

Your comment reminded of an observation by Alexandra Tomalonis, a number of years ago.  I think it's somewhere on this board, but I don't have the wherewithal today to rummage for a link, so here it is plain:

"I think that's the key to the Princes. They're heroes.  They don't have biographical details. They have destinies."

If we go back to the Romantic model, the hero is not necessarily the action guy -- he's distinguished by his sensitivity.  I agree that in an artform where kinetic drive is used to convey all kinds of personality traits, it's harder to show qualities that don't necessarily involve physical dynamism, but there it is -- we work with what we have.

(and I do love your insistence on meritocracy coming on July 4!)

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On 7/1/2019 at 3:01 PM, fondoffouettes said:

Abrera has posted a lovely rehearsal video of her executing that tricky arabesque-turn sequence from the Lilac variation. It’s nice to finally have a visual record of this.

 

Thank you so much for posting this -- I don't use Instagram, and so wouldn't have seen this.  I've always said that the Lilac Fairy is doing the hardest steps in the world to the loveliest music, and here it is!

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52 minutes ago, sandik said:

(and I do love your insistence on meritocracy coming on July 4!)

Yeah, I was in A Mood. 

I don't know how far into the 19th century the idea may have persisted, but there was quite a long period of time during which an aristocrat was expected to have mastered the fighting arts, and to use them. Even Victoria's grandchildren flattered themselves with uniforms.

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19 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I don't know how far into the 19th century the idea may have persisted, but there was quite a long period of time during which an aristocrat was expected to have mastered the fighting arts, and to use them. Even Victoria's grandchildren flattered themselves with uniforms.

Maybe that gets covered when the prince hits the bullseye. 😁

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4 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Maybe that gets covered when the prince hits the bullseye. 😁

Not as good as dragging an actual dead critter back to the castle from the hunt, but it'll do!

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Posted (edited)

Stella in for Shevchenko tonight and she’s beyond divine! Knocked the variation out of the park (and had to dance it at a faster tempo than in the rehearsal clip). Lane just as gorgeous as Tuesday. More to come later.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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I don't have a whole lot to add about tonight's performance beyond what I wrote about Tuesday evening's performance. (Lane and Cornejo were so stunning on Tuesday that I had to get tickets to see them again.) Once place where they may have surpassed their Tuesday performance was in Cornejo's variation; he seemed to dance it with even greater verve, with incredible elevation. I also felt the fish dive was executed with more fluidity; it was a beautiful flourish at the end of a stunning adagio. 

Another highlight for me was Hurlin's Florine. Her phrasing and musicality was outstanding. It was just about perfect; I can't think of a more ideal Florine for this particular production. Ahn had a couple shaky moments but was otherwise a very strong Bluebird.

Abrera's characterization as Lilac Fairy is the gold standard for me. She exudes benevolence through her expressive face, gorgeous port de bras and perfectly executed mime. And she absolutely nailed her variation, which was great to see, as I recall it caused her some issues in a previous revival of the production. It was just as good as the rehearsal video, but unlike the video, I think she did a double rather than single for the second pirouette. 

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