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ABT 2019 Sleeping Beauty


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Saw Lane and Cornejo tonight with a surprise Lilac Fairy sub from Stella! 

Stella just owns that role. Stunning execution of her tricky prologue solo and the most exquisite port de bras all throughout. Crystal clear mime that was by turns funny, tender, and regal. I want her as my good fairy! 

Cornejo also shone—obviously the Prince doesn’t have much to do in this version until his Act III solos but he was stunning when it counted, such perfect batterie and princely mien.

Lane was excellent with Aurora’s intricate footwork and her turns. Beautiful elevation, particularly in her first Act I variation which was gorgeous. Good balances though not the most assured tonight at least. As strong as she is technically, I feel like she is still developing as an actress/artist, though. Her Aurora is pretty one-note: you don’t see the progression from young girl in Act I to regal bride in Act III that great interpreters of the role like Alina Cojacaru or Diana Vishneva showed. To my taste, Lane’s Act I Aurora lacks girlish high spirits: she seems too mature and serious already (though I recognize this could be a considered interpretation of the role that just doesn’t resonate with me). I found her facial expressions to be strained at times and there are moments she seems to miss in terms of dramatic/character impact: like interacting with the suitors, or delivering the roses to her parents. I would see her in this role again, though.

Catherine Hurlin was an Act III standout as Florine and I hope we get to see her Aurora someday! She certainly seems to be developing the technical chops yet also is so strong dramatically. Isadora Loyola subbed as White Cat and was super-charming and perfectly slinky. Diamond Fairy substitute was very good as well but didn’t catch her name as it was announced just before the program. 

Don’t miss the fish dives in Act III.  Aurora’s arms en courounne repeat the ballet’s solar motif in a satisfying way and to me make more sense in terms of the ballet’s symbolism than the angular, almost to the ground fish dives. I do find the reconstruction really interesting and rewarding to watch. I’m glad this isn’t the only version of SB we have, but I’m also glad we have this window into the Petipa style as it was in the 1890s. To me it’s a much more compelling look into the past than Harlequinade and I do find it really beautiful. I feel like the restraint of the choreography (by contemporary standards) helps me to notice the beauty of every step more, because it’s more subtle. 

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I attended last night with Mr. cobweb, our second time seeing this production. Herman Cornejo was absolutely stunning, overwhelming almost. The minute he comes on the stage he commands attention and brings a whole new level to the proceedings. What had seemed somewhat light and frivolous becomes serious and searching. He is a great artist. And that's even before he does any dancing! The beauty of his variations in the wedding scene is hard to fully describe, honestly I was overwhelmed. Blistering speed and intensity and elevation, along with scrupulously formed shapes, you could clearly read every position in the air and on the ground. Note to self/note to all - on to Apollo! 

Sarah Lane danced beautifully, I found her especially fleet in the wedding scene, and I loved the repeated low arabesque motif. Beautifully shaped. I agree with MarzipanShepherdess about her strained facial expression, and her characterization could show more of a development arc. Still, I'd gladly choose to see her again (especially as compared to some of the other current Auroras).

I was disappointed not to see Christine Shevchenko as Lilac, but happy to see Stella Abrera, dancing with radiance and commanding authority. 

This is my first time seeing Catherine Hurlin this season, and as others have noted she looks outstanding. She is gifted with a body beautiful and expressive for ballet, and a wide open face. Very exciting to watch. 

9 hours ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

Diamond Fairy substitute was very good as well but didn’t catch her name as it was announced just before the program. 

This was a lovely, musical Luciana Paris, looking very secure and strong. 

My thoughts about the production are mixed. In many ways it is beautiful and I appreciate the restraint and modesty. But it is overstuffed (a couple of the wedding divertissements really should be axed IMHO), seems unnatural for many of the dancers, and is not in step with the expectations of modern audiences. I question the thinking behind pouring scarce resources into a historical reconstruction. Will this really appeal to audiences year after year?

I also felt that the demeanor of some of the dancers undercut the grandeur of the music and the production, particularly in the Prologue. The Fairies especially, in their variations, seem to be coached to dance with a bright smile, which made them seem generic and shallow, more like modern youngsters than regal fairies. Mr. cobweb, a (retired) musician who played with plenty of ballet orchestras back in the day, felt the conducting was grossly out of step with the dancers, and he lamented the bygone days of John Lanchbery. 

That's a wrap to the season. The Joyce's Ballet in August beckons like an oasis for the ballet-thirsty, a stopover on the way to the fall NYCB season. 

 

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9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

 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.

 

Yes, I agree that Herman was even more thrilling on Friday evening than on Tuesday.  His performance of his solo was thrilling and astonishing.

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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

Mr. cobweb, a (retired) musician who played with plenty of ballet orchestras back in the day, felt the conducting was grossly out of step with the dancers, and he lamented the bygone days of John Lanchbery.

David LaMarche strikes again.

(At least, he was scheduled, according to the Met site.)

He wreaked some havoc on the Seo/Stearns Swan Lake I saw as well. I think he's the weakest of the three ABT conductors and seems often inattentive to the dancers.

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Bell danced the solo this afternoon.  He did a wonderful job, but Cornejo was in a class by himself in that solo.  I  was not impressed with Gorak's performance. He has no elevation and his footwork is not clearly articulated.  

 

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I agree @abatt's assessment of Gorak's solo tonight. I was worried that perhaps my back-to-back Cornejo performances had set the bar too high, but Gorak's lack of both elevation and well-articulated footwork would have been apparent even if Cornejo weren't fresh in my mind. On the plus side, his partnering was solid throughout, and he and Trenary were able to pull off super fast, one-armed supported pirouettes. (If Cornejo attempted one-armed pirouettes, they weren't very apparent; Gorak's were flashy). There was one turn that almost got away from them but they righted it and ended with a flourish. In some parts of the adagio and coda, I felt Gorak and Trenary brought more dynamism than Cornejo and Lane (Trenary's angular pose with her upper body to the side, at the end of the coda, comes to mind.)

Trenary is very much an ideal Aurora, like Lane. In her role debut, I remember her being so at ease in the Rose Adagio, so it was a bit of surprising when her first set of balances were short and tense. There was also a supported turn with one of the suitors that was a bit wonky. But Trenary danced beautifully throughout the rest of the adagio and her second set of balances was just as I'd remembered them from her debut -- she was so calm and secure, and she gently nodded at each suitor as she took his hand. She was also lovely in the vision scene, though I wish she hadn't tried to hold on to the clam shell balance so long, as she was wobbling quite a bit.

Abrera was just as wonderful she was last night. 

I can't say who is better as Carabosse -- Salstein or Roberts. Both are beyond fabulous, and I think it was wise for ABT to pull Raffa and have the two of them alternate in the role.

I was pretty unimpressed with Shayer's Bluebird. He didn't have great elevation and his brisé volés seemed low and not well-articulated. Brandt, on the other hand, was fantastic.

The divertissements following the bluebird PDD are pretty much of no interest to me, but I so impressed by how expressive Zimmi Coker was as Red Riding Hood. BTW, could the costume department have designed a red hood that doesn't require tons of bobby pins to be applied, at all sorts of angles, along the front edge. They are visible even from mid-orchestra. It looks pretty amateurish.

There were some super impressive examples of demi-pointe chaine turns this evening (Brandt comes to mind), so I really don't mind them.

Edited by fondoffouettes
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8 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

Abrera was just as wonderful she was last night. 

 

I thought she was by far the worst of the Lilac fairies I saw (Shevchenko and Teusher being the others).

I didn't see her previous performances this year in Lilac, so I thought it must have just been an off night, but if people who saw multiple ones are saying she was wonderful this evening, I guess they just saw something I didn't.

Her solo was very insecure, and jerky, and she had a lot of trouble with the move seen in that instagram video.

 

Edited by aurora
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I had a similar take on last night's performance to what's described above. Trenary was undeniably the centerpiece of the evening; her Aurora was excellent and as good as Lane's was. I found Lane more graceful and elegant overall but enjoyed the way that Trenary punctuated her movements. She had a bright, youthful energy that made her entirely convincing as Aurora. Also, she was able to hold her last few Rose Adagio balances impressively long. 

Brisé volés are unfortunately one of the only steps that allow men (Desiré and Bluebird) to show off bravura dancing in this production, and neither Gorak nor Shayer did them with much height or finesse. Cornejo (duh) and Hoven were much better at the other show I attended. 

I thought Abrera looked fine in the Lilac Fairy solo if not 100% in control. Her miming and acting were strong throughout. 

Other dancers of note: the "Jewels" fairies were good, with Paris subbing for Shevchanko. The other three, Giangaruso, Waski, and Stephanie Williams, were very much in sync, more so than the dancers on Tuesday. Catherine Hurlin looked great as the "pointing" fairy in the prologue. 

I do like this production but I hope that overtime Ratmansky will be open to revising some of the less palatable elements -- remove some of the drawn-out miming scenes and cut some fairy-tale characters, and maybe add another solo for Desiré? (Wishful thinking, for sure). I don't mind the 19th-century stylized dancing so much; the show just needs to be condensed. NYCB's production may be less sophisticated in some ways but at least it's action-packed and under 3 hours. 

Edited by JuliaJ
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Of the four Aurora's, I thought Lane and Trenary were very similar in approach and stylization.  They are both petite dancers.  Boylston, in contrast, approaches the role in a much more athletic, aggressive way.  She covers much more space when she moves, she jumps higher, and she moves with greater speed.  Hee Seo was a beautiful, delicate Aurora.  Yes, some of her balances in the Rose Adagio were shaky, but the rest of her performance was excellent.  It was refreshing to see the role performed by someone with longer limbs.

I thought Stella had the best characterization of Lilac Fairy, but the best dancing of that role was from Shevchenko.

 

Edited by abatt
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I saw yesterday's matinee and the first half of the evening performance.

Seo gave a very creditable performance as Aurora. Both she and Trenary did standard, more delicate pas de chats in their entrance, rather than the "baby goat" leaps that Boylston described in her IG video and that Lane very strongly executed. I agree with @abatt that it was nice to be reminded that Aurora doesn't have to be performed by a petite dancer (Part, after all, gave some excellent performances in the previous production, especially once she became more technically secure in the second phase of her ABT career). That said, while I tend to be most drawn to tall dancers, Aurora (unlike e.g. Odette or Nikiya) is a role in which a shorter dancer can really give me everything I'm looking for.

The biggest trouble spot for Seo was her rose adagio balances, both sets; that said, she redeemed herself with a stunning balance in the final arabesque pose. Even when the attitude balances are long and secure, that's truly rare to see, and it was an exciting conclusion. She also handled the seashell balance in the vision scene superbly. Her foot knocked the device as she was stepping up into it, but that didn't throw her off in the least, and she filled the music with a long, graceful balance, completely at ease — a true vision.

Another highlight of the matinee was Brandt's Diamond Fairy. There are certain roles in which she can play up her sharpness to great effect, and this is one.

K. Williams and Hoven weren't as strong in the Bluebird PDD as they were on Tuesday, Williams especially. Hoven was fine, just not quite as crisp, while Williams seemed less refined and a little tired.

I could also sense the fatigue from Bell, particularly in his variation. Granted, my immediate comparison was Cornejo, who on Tuesday gave perhaps the best performance of it that I've seen. Bell's was certainly impressive overall, but I could see that he was powering through by the end. With his height and breadth, he looked almost as good as Gomes in the Act II costume.

Tatiana Ratmansky was the queen at the matinee, and she has a wonderful stage face — so warm and expressive. Much better than Claire Davison, who's been used a lot this year in those sorts of roles (the SL and SB queens, and the SB countess), and who I find to be kind of a chilly blank (not a problem for the countess, but both queens need more).

Marshall Whiteley also gave a dynamic performance as the wolf — unsurprisingly, as he always makes the most of even the smallest role. As a pirate downstage left in Act II of Corsaire, he kept drawing my eye away from the PDT with his enthusiastic reactions to the dancing.

While I was only able to stay through Act I of the evening performance, it was a nice end to the season. Of the three Auroras I saw, Trenary gave the most spirited characterization in this act. Her demi-pointe chaînés were fast and tight (as were Hurlin's, the fairy Violente). As noted above, her first set of rose adagio balances were unimpressive, but in the second set she seemed much more at ease.

After seeing the same lineup of fairies (Waski / S. Williams / Richardson / Brandt / Giangeruso) at my first two performances, and finding them generally unexciting (besides Brandt), I was glad to see a different lineup this time (Hamrick / Paris / McBride / Katsnelson / Hurlin). Overall, this group was stronger, with Hurlin and Paris especially so. There's a video from the production's first year on YouTube with Teuscher, Paris, Lane, Brandt and Abrera, though (Part as Lilac) — now those were the days!

(As an aside, I wish McBride would tone down her stage face a bit. When she danced the flirtatious aristocrat who dances with Benno and Siegfried after the PDT in Swan Lake, she was really overdoing it. She's a very nice dancer, but even in the Met she tends to come across quite loud.)

Teuscher was the afternoon's Lilac Fairy, and while she lacked some of Shevchenko's warmth she was perhaps even more technically secure in the variation (especially the pirouettes with arms in fifth). Abrera gave the overall strongest characterization (but I only saw her in the first half), though I agree with @aurora that she looked a little insecure in her variation. That variation is just completely packed with steps; every note of the music gets filled. That's what I love about it — it's one of the most exciting revelations of the Ratmansky production for me. But many dancers struggle to make it all seem fluid and musical. Shevchenko and Teuscher this year really mastered it in a way I don't think I've seen before.

I was sorry to have to miss Acts II-III, especially Brandt's Florine and the rest of Trenary's performance, so thanks to those who've reported on them here.

The second half of this season turned out to be really quite satisfying. I'm already excited for next year. Shevchenko is really becoming a star; Teuscher seems to be warming up, to complement her technical mastery; Whiteside has really been growing on me; Abrera is still dancing really, really well; Murphy should hopefully be back; Forster has been getting more opportunities (Symphonie Concertante at both Koch and City Center, Nutcracker in California, Sergei and Rochester here); Hurlin is clearly on her way up; Bell is already there; Trenary and Brandt are looking great as always. There's really nothing quite like the ABT Met season, and I just hope after 2020 and the calendar (and possible venue) shifts they work out a way to maintain the special spirit of this time of year.

Edited by nanushka
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One thing I noticed and was wondering about - the girls (children) of the Garland Waltz were wearing pointe shoes. I believe that in Le Corsaire also, I noticed the children wearing pointe shoes. It seems to me that at NYCB, girls of roughly the same age are in slippers, including the Garland Waltz and in other ballets. For example, the four girls of NYCB's Mozartiana appear to be more or less the same age as in ABT's Sleeping Beauty Garland Waltz, but they are in slippers. I prefer it that way - it heightens the contrast with the adult dancers and, to me, adds to the poignancy and sweetness of having children on the stage. Is anyone able to comment on this, is there any rhyme or reason to the difference and why would a company do it one way or another?

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3 minutes ago, cobweb said:

One thing I noticed and was wondering about - the girls (children) of the Garland Waltz were wearing pointe shoes. I believe that in Le Corsaire also, I noticed the children wearing pointe shoes. It seems to me that at NYCB, girls of roughly the same age are in slippers, including the Garland Waltz and in other ballets. For example, the four girls of NYCB's Mozartiana appear to be more or less the same age as in ABT's Sleeping Beauty Garland Waltz, but they are in slippers. I prefer it that way - it heightens the contrast with the adult dancers and, to me, adds to the poignancy and sweetness of having children on the stage. Is anyone able to comment on this, is there any rhyme or reason to the difference and why would a company do it one way or another?

Given that this was a reconstruction and that the two pieces you mention from NYCB are Balanchine’s, I assume at least part of this is due to the preferences of the original choreographers, and perhaps not so much an ABT vs. NYCB issue. (Though NYCB at least somewhat = Balanchine, so there’s that.) I don’t recall a discussion of the pointe question in the (not terribly good) book about Balanchine’s creation of Mozartiana, but I’ll have to take a look.

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My sense is that NYCB can more easily cast younger dancers in true dance roles (e.g., the four little girls in Mozartiana), given the pool of talent at SAB. I think the girls in NYCB's Mozartiana may be too young to have already gone up on point, though I'm really not sure. On the other hand, when ABT last danced Mozartiana, they cast older girls who I think must already be dancing on point, but the company adhered to the choreography and put them in slippers. See this photo of Part with the girls, some of whom are already above her shoulders. I think it's possible that ABT is also casting older for things like the Garland Waltz and Corsaire, as well. The JKO School may not have enough very young dancers who are ready for these pure dance roles. 

But I somewhat agree with you about the aesthetics. I sometimes think young dancers look gawky on point, but I know they also need the stage experience. 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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That's interesting about the different talent pools, and the little girls in NYCB's Mozartiana do seem quite young (definitely younger than in that photo with Veronika). But even if girls are on pointe in their training, they could still appear in soft slippers on stage. 

Edited by cobweb
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5 minutes ago, cobweb said:

That's interesting about the different talent pools, and the little girls in NYCB's Mozartiana do seem quite young (definitely younger than in that photo with Veronika). But even if girls are on pointe in their training, they could still appear in soft slippers on stage. 

Which I think must be the case. These girls look definitely old enough to be on pointe: https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/m/mozartiana.aspx

It is kind of interesting, considering Balanchine's insistence that women do classes entirely on pointe.

Even in the intermediate levels at SAB (a million years ago) we were told to wear de-shanked pointe shoes for regular class instead of ballet slippers.

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I attended the two Lane-Cornejo performances of the Sleeping Beauty this past week, as well as Saturday’s Trenary-Gorak performance.  For me, regarding this company at least, Lane and Cornejo are the nonpareil interpreters of Aurora and the Prince.  I think it helps that these two dancers connect personally and always propel one another further.  As reported earlier, Lane did have some balance problems in the Rose Adagio, but she never fell off point, and her dancing was gorgeous as always.  In the petit allegro following, her feet were flying, as if she were weaving cloth out of air.  Her pin-prick collapse scene was as realistic and (almost) as startling as her Giselle collapse.  Cornejo’s ferocious brise variation in Act III was as astonishing as everyone has said.  One of the things I love about these two is their incorporation of logical character development throughout a performance.  Lane’s Aurora travels from buoyant teenager to yearning dreamer to more mature royal ruler.  Bored and unhappy, Cornejo’s Prince is pulled from ennui by the Lilac Fairy and Aurora’s vision to happiness at last, embodied by that magnificent pas de deux.  On both nights, this gave their Act II Vision Scene a special poignancy, with the Prince unable to reach Aurora, and she unable to let him do so.   It was fantastic.  

I haven’t seen Trenary in this role before now, but on Saturday she was as light and fresh as I’d imagined.  She’s a fine actress, and likes to give herself bits of business to develop character.  In this instance, however, her choices may have been a bit much, because her Aurora appeared a rather knowing girl, tossing flirty glances to her suitors.  In Act II’s vision scene, her image of Aurora flirted with the Prince.  Trenary’s dancing is very crisp and clear, but she, too, had difficulty with the balances, both in the Rose Adagio as well as the Act II seashell pose, in which she swayed back and forth in order to maintain balance.  Gorak’s performance was very good, though it seemed rather one-note.  His Prince appeared to be having a good time during the hunt, and not at all yearning for love.  Though he did fine work in the grand pas de deux, his brises was nowhere near as furious and complex as Cornejo’s.  (How could they be?  He’s not Cornejo.), and his jumps were low.  But his partnering seems to have improved; he did not lose his grip nor drop Trenary or anything remotely close to it. 

What troubles me is the nonstop critical reportage, both from fans and alleged professional writers, of this beautiful production, which has continued nonstop since its premiere four years ago.  No one likes the reconstruction, it’s too old fashioned, it isn’t exciting, the costumes are bulky, the costumes are ugly, etc. etc.  I adore this production; I love the pageantry, the grandeur, the attempt to place you and your mind in a time capsule and give you a view of a different way of dance and life.  Possibly that’s too much to ask of people these days, when imagination is a scarce commodity.  I’m also sorry people do not understand the language of clothes, as the costumes contain information regarding character which, alas, is of no concern to audiences.  By the way, many if not most of the wigs appear to be new, made of natural colors, and cut in styles more pleasing to the modern eye.  I guess no one noticed this either.  My concern is that the AD will use all the criticism for this production to return to the old one, the one with his name on it, or even a more modern one, but I hope Ratmansky’s reputation will negate this idea.  I could attend another week’s worth of performances of this production and never be bored. 

Did anyone else spot Paloma Herrara in the front row of the audience on Tuesday night?  She looked wonderful, and was doing a lot of meeting and greeting and appeared to be having a great time.  I don’t think I’d ever seen her smile during her performance days (she was so stoic on stage), at least not this broadly.  On Tuesday her face was alight with enjoyment.

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30 minutes ago, laurel said:

What troubles me is the nonstop critical reportage, both from fans and alleged professional writers, of this beautiful production, which has continued nonstop since its premiere four years ago.  No one likes the reconstruction, it’s too old fashioned, it isn’t exciting, the costumes are bulky, the costumes are ugly, etc. etc.  I adore this production; I love the pageantry, the grandeur, the attempt to place you and your mind in a time capsule and give you a view of a different way of dance and life.  Possibly that’s too much to ask of people these days, when imagination is a scarce commodity.  I’m also sorry people do not understand the language of clothes, as the costumes contain information regarding character which, alas, is of no concern to audiences.  By the way, many if not most of the wigs appear to be new, made of natural colors, and cut in styles more pleasing to the modern eye.  I guess no one noticed this either.  My concern is that the AD will use all the criticism for this production to return to the old one, the one with his name on it, or even a more modern one, but I hope Ratmansky’s reputation will negate this idea.  I could attend another week’s worth of performances of this production and never be bored. 

Laurel,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I, too, love this production of Sleeping Beauty. Honestly, I never cared that much for any Sleeping Beauty ballet... until Ratmansky's reconstruction. I really appreciate all the care and thoughtfulness that has gone into this production. I like some of Ratmansky's ballets, but certainly not everything he’s done. But this version of Sleeping Beauty is so unique… in my opinion, it's a masterpiece in many ways. I’ve seen it about 10 times since it premiered in 2015. And the more I see it, the more there is for me to appreciate. Oh my goodness… I really hope that ABT doesn't return to another version of SB anytime soon.

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48 minutes ago, laurel said:

What troubles me is the nonstop critical reportage, both from fans and alleged professional writers, of this beautiful production, which has continued nonstop since its premiere four years ago.  No one likes the reconstruction, it’s too old fashioned, it isn’t exciting, the costumes are bulky, the costumes are ugly, etc. etc.  I adore this production; I love the pageantry, the grandeur, the attempt to place you and your mind in a time capsule and give you a view of a different way of dance and life.  Possibly that’s too much to ask of people these days, when imagination is a scarce commodity.  I’m also sorry people do not understand the language of clothes, as the costumes contain information regarding character which, alas, is of no concern to audiences.  By the way, many if not most of the wigs appear to be new, made of natural colors, and cut in styles more pleasing to the modern eye.  I guess no one noticed this either.  My concern is that the AD will use all the criticism for this production to return to the old one, the one with his name on it, or even a more modern one, but I hope Ratmansky’s reputation will negate this idea.  I could attend another week’s worth of performances of this production and never be bored. 

THANK YOU for this. I second every single word. I hope ABT doesn't change a thing in this production as long as they can. 

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On 7/6/2019 at 10:15 AM, cobweb said:

I attended last night with Mr. cobweb, our second time seeing this production. Herman Cornejo was absolutely stunning, overwhelming almost. The minute he comes on the stage he commands attention and brings a whole new level to the proceedings. What had seemed somewhat light and frivolous becomes serious and searching. He is a great artist. And that's even before he does any dancing! The beauty of his variations in the wedding scene is hard to fully describe, honestly I was overwhelmed. Blistering speed and intensity and elevation, along with scrupulously formed shapes, you could clearly read every position in the air and on the ground. Note to self/note to all - on to Apollo! 

Sarah Lane danced beautifully, I found her especially fleet in the wedding scene, and I loved the repeated low arabesque motif. Beautifully shaped. I agree with MarzipanShepherdess about her strained facial expression, and her characterization could show more of a development arc. Still, I'd gladly choose to see her again (especially as compared to some of the other current Auroras).

This is my first time seeing Catherine Hurlin this season, and as others have noted she looks outstanding. She is gifted with a body beautiful and expressive for ballet, and a wide open face. Very exciting to watch. 

Thanks cobweb for your thoughts about Friday night's performance. I agree almost completely.  Cornejo commands the stage simply by appearing on it.  His variation was out of this world!  The elevation, ballon,  speed, clarity, were stupendous.  He is a great artist and the  greatest current male classical dancer.  He and Sarah Lane are fantastic individually and together.  I was astounded by ... everything. She has beautiful line, a light buoyant jump,  fast feet, lovely slow arms.  That she may have looked strained occasionally didn't disturb me.

Hurlin was astonishing. I had never seen her and can't wait to see more of her. Joo Won Ahn was new to me also and a sensational Bluebird.  Yes, it's uncool to say so but I could do without all the divertissements after Bluebird PdD, particularly Red Riding Hood and the Ogres.  However, I do think Ratmansky's work is exceptional.  It was my first time seeing this version and while there are definitely aspects of it I dislike, I accept it for what it is: a glimpse into the past creatively rendered with imagination and deep knowledge of the art form.  No, I did not love the chainés on demi pointe, but the low passés, lower extensions, etc.  are part of the whole.  I did dislike most of the costumes especially for the ensemble dances. They are ugly and bulky and the individual tutus for the fairies for example, are sometimes lovely, but all together don't look harmonious.  I did think Aurora's tutus were beautiful.  I think the stage picture is visually overstuffed. If I were the decider, I'd remove some of the ensemble dances.   I'd be surprised if Ratmansky yielded to some of our balletomane opinions about what should go!  It would be fascinating to see his interpretation of Swan Lake.

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On 7/8/2019 at 1:03 AM, laurel said:

What troubles me is the nonstop critical reportage, both from fans and alleged professional writers, of this beautiful production, which has continued nonstop since its premiere four years ago.  No one likes the reconstruction, it’s too old fashioned, it isn’t exciting, the costumes are bulky, the costumes are ugly, etc. etc.  I adore this production; I love the pageantry, the grandeur, the attempt to place you and your mind in a time capsule and give you a view of a different way of dance and life.  Possibly that’s too much to ask of people these days, when imagination is a scarce commodity.  I’m also sorry people do not understand the language of clothes, as the costumes contain information regarding character which, alas, is of no concern to audiences.  By the way, many if not most of the wigs appear to be new, made of natural colors, and cut in styles more pleasing to the modern eye.  I guess no one noticed this either.  My concern is that the AD will use all the criticism for this production to return to the old one, the one with his name on it, or even a more modern one, but I hope Ratmansky’s reputation will negate this idea.  I could attend another week’s worth of performances of this production and never be bored. 

I could not agree more. Modern audiences have come to expect ballet to deliver “a psychological journey" or "gymnastics" (misnamed as "dancers are so much better these days": as someone who has watched many dozens of hours of recordings, official and unofficial, of British dancers performing many different versions of Sleeping Beauty from the 1930s to the present day, the experience is far more one of a gradual decline in technique, pace, musicality and meaning).

This combination of (ahistorical) expectations produces a rather simplistic and low-grade set of metrics for judging performances when set against the more sophisticated audience of St Petersburg in the 1890s, still in touch with the roots of ballet in Louis XIV and his court, and able to catch the many and various allusions packed into the text of Sleeping Beauty. Ratmansky's experiments are probably the most serious attempts in the world today at re-educating dancers, managements and the public. Bravo!

Edited by Sebastian
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My trip to NYC on Friday was worth it for that extraordinary Act III solo by Herman Cornejo as Prince Desire. Oh my...I screamed my head off yelling "Bravo!" from the second that he took his final pose. The entire house erupted. It's a highlight of my ballet-going life that I won't forget any time soon. What a disservice is done against American ballet (not just ABT) if this isn't professionally filmed for PBS or cinemas or whatever.

Sarah Lane was exquisite - a perfectly adorable, petite Aurora, as Russia used to love them ca-1890. Her Rose Adagio, in particular, was much sharper than her unfortunate summer 2015 performance, when she had real problems. Her three soli were are brilliant as ever.

I was a bit disappointed with the announcement that Schevchenko was being replaced by Abrera as Lilac but, in the end, I cannot complain one bit. Abrera nailed her Prologue solo like never before.

I like the latest emendations by Ratmansky - the elegant and flirty little walks-on-pointe by the White Cat, in place of the vulgar rubbing of backs...as well as the changes in the Aurora-Desire adagio. Those cantilevered poses in place of the fish dives were "tah-dah!" musical.

 

Someone else mentioned that Paloma Herrera was in town. I'm wondering if perhaps she was checking up on the post-injury progress of Cornejo, who's set to star in the Colon's upcoming La Sylphide in August (with Misty Copeland announced to be his Sylph)?

Edited by Roberta
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On 7/8/2019 at 4:18 AM, Sebastian said:

I could not agree more. Modern audiences have come to expect ballet to deliver “a psychological journey" or "gymnastics" (misnamed as "dancers are so much better these days": as someone who has watched many dozens of hours of recordings, official and unofficial, of British dancers performing many different versions of Sleeping Beauty from the 1930s to the present day, the experience is far more one of a gradual decline in technique, pace, musicality and meaning).

This combination of (ahistorical) expectations produces a rather simplistic and low-grade set of metrics for judging performances when set against the more sophisticated audience of St Petersburg in the 1890s, still in touch with the roots of ballet in Louis XIV and his court, and able to catch the many and various allusions packed into the text of Sleeping Beauty. Ratmansky's experiments are probably the most serious attempts in the world today at re-educating dancers, managements and the public. Bravo!

I have joined this forum expressly for seconding this opinion! Both Sleeping Beauty and Harlequinade are TREASURES! We are so lucky to have them, lovingly (and expensively) reconstructed. They have so much to teach us about Petipa, about classical style and technique, about all that Balanchine learned from that tradition. Petipa was a great choreographer. We should respect his works as we do Balanchine’s, not try to bring them « up to date » with little tweaks. Other companies have more modern SBs. ABT is so lucky to have the original and we should all rejoice!

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While I love Sarah and thought she was wonderful in Sleeping Beauty, I think Cassandra Trenary is the best Aurora. She has a lightness and a youthfulness that just lights up the stage. I didn't notice any balance problems from where I was sitting (in the cheap seats). Perhaps Sarah was more technically proficient. I really can’t say, but in my opinion, Cassandra is simply radiant in this role. I'd love to see her as Juliet.

As for Prince Desire, Herman was by far the best. I'm so happy that I got to see Aran Bell dance this role twice. In some ways, he makes me think of a young Marcelo Gomes. However, there's currently no other man who can compare with Herman.

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