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ABT 2020 Giselle D.C.

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On 8/23/2019 at 2:57 PM, Fleurfairy said:

I'm surprised Abrera was cast as Giselle again -- during the 2018 season, there were quite a few reviews on this forum that she looked very wobbly and unsure in that role. I think she has aged out, I think Murphy has too TBH. 

I think it's true that she's never matched her Met debut performance, but in her most recent outing, she was dancing through an injury, wasn't she? I'd be curious to see her in the role again, without injury. 

I think Giselle can be a congenial role for an older ballerina (e.g. Ferri, Ananiashvili), but I'm not sure how well it will suit Murphy, who never really struck me as a natural Giselle. I consider Myrtha to be one of her signature roles, though, and I wonder if the D.C. casting indicates that she has retired the role. I hope that's not the case.

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I've seen Murphy and Abrera's Giselles. Murphy is technically stronger but lacks the winsomeness and delicacy needed for the role. Abrera has some technical glitches (at least the two times I've seen her) but captures the Giselle spirit beautifully. Agree that Trenary and Brandt would be wonderful Giselles, as would Shevchenko I think.

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On 8/20/2019 at 10:30 PM, vipa said:

The problem with ABT is that we waited way too long to see Abrera's Giselle, and then waited too long to see Lane's (one of the greatest I've seen). Management has to make a choice. They can do what they are doing or take Giselle shows from Abrera and Murphy to give more shows to Lane (while she is still in her prime) and offer chances to Trenary & Brandt. Someone is going to lose either way. Kent hanging on for so long was a problem IMO, as was the guest artist policy. A corrective is needed which will have winners and losers. It's nice that Abrera finally got to do Juliet, but perhaps Lane should have gotten that chance. 

Isn't it a question of there just not being enough performances to go around? ABT's seasons aren't all that long and the rep has SO many full-lengths meaning there are only two or sometimes three principals per performance. There are never going to be enough opportunities in a company that size, imo. I remember this same conversation from the 1970's with a critic commenting that the ballerinas were either "dying to get into a role or dying to get out."

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43 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

Isn't it a question of there just not being enough performances to go around? ABT's seasons aren't all that long and the rep has SO many full-lengths meaning there are only two or sometimes three principals per performance. There are never going to be enough opportunities in a company that size, imo. I remember this same conversation from the 1970's with a critic commenting that the ballerinas were either "dying to get into a role or dying to get out."

I agree that the rep and number of shows is part of the problem, BalanchineFan. There was a time when ABT did long tours. They were tough, but dancers had opportunities to perform a role numerous times and I know one former soloist who got some Swan Lakes on tour (she never did it in NY). ABT's current reality is what it is. Casting decisions are hard when there is so little to go around. I still question the wisdom of the current system. IMO Abrera is a wonderful dancer who missed her prime, with a late promotion. Lane is in her prime. Brandt is more than ready. Should Murphy really come back to Giselle? I guess I'm glad I'm not an AD!!

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7 hours ago, vipa said:

Should Murphy really come back to Giselle? I guess I'm glad I'm not an AD!!

This has come up a few times here, and it makes me wonder — Is this a question now because Murphy was never a great fit for Giselle to begin with? or because of her age?

If the latter, had her dancing really shown such clear signs of age-related deterioration pre-maternity that it would seem time for the AD to be encouraging her to retire such roles?

(Obviously, having had a baby presents its own further complications, but we really don't know now in what shape Murphy will return from that; it's my understanding that some dancers do better with this than others, and Murphy seems pretty strong and hard-working.)

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In response to the discussion of Gillian Murphy’s return, I am a big fan and I hope she is able to resume all the demanding roles she excels in for as long as she feels she can execute them to her own high performance standards. Hoping to see her in the spring! 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, nanushka said:

This has come up a few times here, and it makes me wonder — Is this a question now because Murphy was never a great fit for Giselle to begin with? or because of her age?

I'm a Murphy fan, but she always reminds me of Martine van Hamel -- a natural-born Myrtha who wanted to do Giselle and never looked the part. Technique, for sure, but not the frail image you want to see in Giselle.

Edited by California

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Martine's Giselle also crossed my mind when reading these later posts. Like Murphy, Martine had some difficulty persuading that she might be in fragile health.

Nevertheless I wouldn't have missed her Giselle for the world. So beautifully danced; so exquisitely musical; so steeped in the style. Gorgeous.

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15 hours ago, nanushka said:

This has come up a few times here, and it makes me wonder — Is this a question now because Murphy was never a great fit for Giselle to begin with? or because of her age?

If the latter, had her dancing really shown such clear signs of age-related deterioration pre-maternity that it would seem time for the AD to be encouraging her to retire such roles?

(Obviously, having had a baby presents its own further complications, but we really don't know now in what shape Murphy will return from that; it's my understanding that some dancers do better with this than others, and Murphy seems pretty strong and hard-working.)

For me, Murphy is not a natural Giselle, but I recognize that she can bring a lot of technique and stage smarts to the role. The question for me is, is it wiser for an AD to give a 40 year old ballerina coming back from maternity leave another shot at Giselle, or should he give another shot to Lane (a natural Giselle in her prime in the role) or first shots to Brandt or Trenary. There are winners and losers, but I come down on the side of not giving Murphy the role, and going with one of the other possibilities. Murphy has had a long career and has danced both Myrtha and Giselle. 

I've heard Sara Mearns talk about giving up Lilac Fairy. One of the things she said was that it was time for younger dancers to get a chance at it. Granted NYCB is a different animal - more shows, more rep, more to go around. 

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12 hours ago, vipa said:

The question for me is, is it wiser for an AD to give a 40 year old ballerina coming back from maternity leave another shot at Giselle, or should he give another shot to Lane (a natural Giselle in her prime in the role) or first shots to Brandt or Trenary. There are winners and losers, but I come down on the side of not giving Murphy the role, and going with one of the other possibilities. Murphy has had a long career and has danced both Myrtha and Giselle.

I agree. Murphy has been a principal for 17 years (!), although the role of Giselle came late to her. It’s time to retire a role or two.

For the DC run, I’d rather see Lane/Simkin get a second performance (Murphy’s show), and give the Sunday TBA to Brandt or Trenary.

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30 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I agree. Murphy has been a principal for 17 years (!), although the role of Giselle came late to her. It’s time to retire a role or two.

I guess I'm just uncomfortable with the idea that Gillian should retire roles merely because of those numbers (that she's 40, that she's been a principal for 17 years, etc.) in and of themselves. (Similar for her coming back from maternity leave.)

If the quality of her dancing has deteriorated, I think that should be the determining factor. But just because she's hit certain numbers or had a baby — obviously, those details may relate to a loss of technique, but they don't in and of themselves indicate it.

That's why I'm more comfortable with the argument that Gillian has perhaps never been a natural Giselle in the first place.

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29 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I guess I'm just uncomfortable with the idea that Gillian should retire roles merely because of those numbers (that she's 40, that she's been a principal for 17 years, etc.) in and of themselves. (Similar for her coming back from maternity leave.)

I agree with this completely.  At PNB, Kaori Nakamura was around the same age, had her baby in March, and was a fabulous Giselle in PNB's first priduction about three months later.  It was the new production based on research and newly found sources; even had she guested in Giselle and/or danced it in a previous company, it would have been new to learn/relearn/unlearn.

Murphy has the advantage of having done the production before, but whether a dancer can comeback that quickly is surely dependent on work ethic and strength, but also on how each mother's body responds after birth to the specific demands of ballet, and, sometimes, that takes longer than expected or wanted.  

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Murphy has only danced Giselle at ABT once or twice.  Even Stella got  to perform the role before Murphy at ABT.   Just as it is rather appalling that Lane only got one shot at SL at ABT and has never been assigned the role again, it would be equally unfair to take the role away from Murphy just because she's older/is coming back from maternity.  It is wrong to make assumptions about her level of ability.  Although she is older, she has always been far more secure technically than certain other ladies at ABT who are younger.  I was not moved by Murphy's Giselle and feel that she is much better as Myrta. However, I'm certainly open to seeing her again in the role.  

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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I guess I'm just uncomfortable with the idea that Gillian should retire roles merely because of those numbers (that she's 40, that she's been a principal for 17 years, etc.) in and of themselves. (Similar for her coming back from maternity leave.)

If the quality of her dancing has deteriorated, I think that should be the determining factor. But just because she's hit certain numbers or had a baby — obviously, those details may relate to a loss of technique, but they don't in and of themselves indicate it.

That's why I'm more comfortable with the argument that Gillian has perhaps never been a natural Giselle in the first place.

I don't disagree but I believe an AD also has to be realistic about how many more years a dancer has, and what opportunities younger dancers are being given in order to develop. This should play a role in casting decisions. As has been stated before, ABT has particular challenges because so much of the rep is comprised of full lengths and there are not a lot of performance opportunities.  Given all of that, I see nothing wrong with an AD reducing Murphy's rep to give younger dancers opportunities, if that's what makes for a healthy company in the long term.

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As an audience member, I'd much rather see Abrera, Lane, Brandt, Trenary, or Shevchenko as Giselle, rather than Murphy. This has nothing to do with how strong Murphy returns from maternity leave or any strategy for developing the company for the future, just which dancers I feel more interested in seeing. I hate to say it, but I feel the same way about Murphy's Swan Lake. At a certain point, which honestly was several years ago now, I felt I had seen her in that role enough times, and didn't need to see it any longer (unless I heard reports she had significantly changed or deepened her approach to the role). I'd rather see a fresh interpretation by a, not necessarily younger dancer, but a different one. 

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Aran Bell just posted some Giselle rehearsal footage with Skylar Brandt on his Instagram story. Seeing them together make me want Brandt's Giselle so much! Wish Bell was dancing in D.C. with Brandt instead of Boylston. They were just okay as a partnership in SB this past met season, in my opinion. 

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2 minutes ago, Lena C. said:

Wish Bell was dancing in D.C. with Brandt instead of Boylston. They were just okay as a partnership in SB this past met season, in my opinion. 

To be fair, he was replacing Whiteside (who got the flu) very last-minute, I believe — though I too would rather see Brandt than Boylston as Giselle, given the choice.

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8 minutes ago, nanushka said:

To be fair, he was replacing Whiteside (who got the flu) very last-minute, I believe — though I too would rather see Brandt than Boylston as Giselle, given the choice.

Yes that is true-more rehearsal time would have reflected a better partnership between Bell and Boylston. Regardless I'd rather see Bell with Brandt in D.C. Though they haven't performed together (to my knowledge), their extensive rehearsals with Irina and Max have undoubtedly bolstered a very promising potential partnership. Even from that brief clip on Bell's Instagram story looked exciting.    

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