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ABT 2020 Giselle D.C.


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This is going to be a LONG review. I'm still on a high from Lane and Simkin's cathartic performance.

Lane and Simkin were breathtaking. Truly, in my opinion, the best partnership to portray Giselle. Simkin had some truly wowza moments of his own. The height of his jumps! The stamina! How far he could bend his back! I'm still a new ballet fan so I don't know the correct ballet terms of what he did. But man, he really delivered. I didn't feel like his tricks were to just display his ballet prowess. They were like the brute force he was made to dance to save his life. The extremes he had to endure to fight to live. And Lane! Thoses hops were jaw  dropping unbelievable. I've never seen her do them better. And the fast spins she has to do right after being summoned...OMG she looked like a spinning top! She was fighting just as hard as Simkin to save his life. 

 At the same time, Simkin was very generous towards Lane as his partner. She simply flew in his gentle arms. While a ballet like R & J has passion in its portrayal of romance, Giselle has a more simple, innocent purity in its romance. The lovers don't even kiss. Lane and Simkin really captured that pure, rather spiritual romance together. I truly felt their love and forgiveness in the final moment when she kind of floats in his arms before departing. 

I can only describe Lane's mad scene as haunting. It truly jarred me. She has gone to new depths, farther than she ever has before. You could see her heart breaking as she descended into her own hysteria. I felt like she was going to rip her own hair out. Or claw out her heart, she was in so much pain. 

The only slight hiccup I noted was the overhead lift. The first overhead lift was a little unsteady and Simkin quickly brought Lane down. But it still looked fine, Lane didn't put a hand on his shoulder to steady herself like she's done before. The second lift lasted much longer, almost as if they were trying to make up for the unsteady first one. It looked stunning. 

Hurlin was a regal, ice cold Queen. One of the best I've seen. She reminded me of Part, in my opinion the best Queen. She was going to make Simkin FIGHT for his life. Her own dancing was amazing. So fast yet every inch a graceful Queen. 

And finally Lane. My goodness. I am at a loss for words. She took me to another place tonight. Her Giselle was like a religious experience. It felt very spiritual and sacred. Holy. I felt like Lane was bringing to life the hymn "Amazing Grace." She was a heavenly angel sent to save Albrecht. "Amazing Grace/ how sweet, the sound/ that saved a wench, like me/ I once was lost/ but now I'm found/ was blind, but now I see/ My chains are gone/ I've been set free/ My God, my savior's ransomed me" This is my favorite version of this song and I truly felt it come alive tonight in Lane. She was Albretch's amazing grace. She chose to save him from Hurlin's chains. When Simkin knelt before her in anguish, the way that Lane gently  poured flowers upon him wa like she was caressing him with her love and forgiveness. In the final moment, Lane gave Simkin a last flower before departing. Simkin lay on her grave for a moment, then he gathered all of the flowers, stood up and walked slowly backwards, away from the grave. He stopped to hold the flowers up to his face for a moment then he let them fall from his hands as he walked toward the audience with his hands outstretched at his side. It was like he could finally see. 

Simkin is his most mature with Lane in Giselle. They both bring something extraordinary out of each other in this ballet. Simkin is known for his tricks but here he does them in service to the story. It isn't Simkin the dancer showing off what he can do. It is Albrecht fighting to save his life, right next to Giselle. 

I only came to D.C. for this performance with Lane and Simkin. I took a five hour greyhound bus there and back to NYC. A lot of travel but this was so worth it. If you've made it this far into my review, I'm impressed! As you can probably tell, I'm still on a high from this performance. Ahhh what a night! 

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4 hours ago, Lena C. said:

This is going to be a LONG review. I'm still on a high from Lane and Simkin's cathartic performance.

 

Thank you for this review! I love both Simkin and Lane and this sounds like a wonderful experience for all. Fortunately, they are doing Giselle again in NYC on Saturday, June 13 at the matinee. Stella's retirement is that evening. I suspect a lot of us will be at both. 

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I can only concur with Lena C. It was an amazing performance last night. Lane has truly blossomed and matured as an artist in the last few seasons, and she brings out the best in Simkin. Her Giselle was heartbreaking, and technically amazing, and his Albrecht a perfect match.

Hurlin was a great Myrta, especially for such a young dancer. She has an amazingly fluid port de bras, so avoided the stiffness that plagues other dancers in this role. Beautiful jumps, great acting, she had it all.

The corps was much better than in previous performances I have seen of Giselle at ABT - clearly, they have been doing some serious rehearsing, and it showed throughout Act II.

The peasant pas was the only slight let down - Blaine Hoven was very good in his variations, but looked visibly tense partnering Betsy McBride, and she wasn't particularly musical or impressive, I thought. Overall though, a wonderful performance.

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I just received an email about a ticket discount: "Select orchestra seats from $59". There's no indication of what seats are considered "select". Since it doesn't specify otherwise, it presumably applies to any performance other than tonight (Thursday), which as of 11:20 EST was listed as sold out (I doubt that anyone needs to check to see who is dancing Giselle tonight).

The discount code is 390821

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2 hours ago, lacdescygnes said:

The peasant pas was the only slight let down - Blaine Hoven was very good in his variations, but looked visibly tense partnering Betsy McBride, and she wasn't particularly musical or impressive, I thought. Overall though, a wonderful performance.

I guess that I didn't notice the lack of musicality from McBride, perhaps because she was an improvement over the ballerina on Tuesday. If both ballerinas struggled with the part, perhaps some of the blame can be pinned on the choreography/staging.

Otherwise, I basically agree with what the others have posted about the Wednesday performance. Hee Seo was better than I expected on Tuesday night, perhaps being even more convincing as a (presumably) mid-teens girl than Sara Lane (even if perhaps not quite as fluid). But the main reason that I took in the Tuesday performance was to see Devon Teuscher as Myrta (Myrtha?), and I wasn't disappointed.

As usual, I have complaints about the costumes. Berthe looked more like Giselle's grandmother than mother and Bathilde looked too old to be marrying Albrecht.

Edited by YouOverThere
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1 hour ago, YouOverThere said:

I guess that I didn't notice the lack of musicality from McBride, perhaps because she was an improvement over the ballerina on Tuesday. If both ballerinas struggled with the part, perhaps some of the blame can be pinned on the choreography/staging.

I'm not privy to the casting. Who danced the peasant pas on Tuesday? 

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2 hours ago, YouOverThere said:

I guess that I didn't notice the lack of musicality from McBride, perhaps because she was an improvement over the ballerina on Tuesday. If both ballerinas struggled with the part, perhaps some of the blame can be pinned on the choreography/staging.

Maybe....though it would really depend on the nature of the struggle. Was there anything in particular that made it look like the choreography or staging might be at fault?

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KC ABT Giselle is 1 open rehearsal and 7 performances with 7 leads.  Unusual.  Met is 8 with 6 of the KC 7 plus Shevshenko-Royal, Osipova-Hallberg minus Brandt-Ahn.  Other KC casting in performance order with "debut week" in italics:

  • ABT OR: Act 1 Boylston-Bell-Whitley, peasant Trenary-Maloney [extra partial McBride-Hoven].  Act 2-Brandt-Ahn-Hurlin-Ishchuk [partial Whitely+ Williams].
  • Peasant [2 at 2 + 3 singles]; Paris-Shayer, McBride-Hoven, Brandt-Gonzalez   ?, Trenary-Maloney ?, Hurlin-Sebastian Brandt-Gonzalez, Paris-Shayer, Trenary-Maloney.
  • Hilarion [1 at 3, 2 at 2] : Zhurbin, Ishchuk, Ishchuk, Whitely, Zhurbin, Whitely, Zhurbin.
  • Myrtha [3 at 2 and 1]:the 1 is Shevshenko in the CopelandBrandt-Cornejo.   
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Has anyone else noticed that Skylar Brandt has been cast as Giselle in tonight's KC performance opposite Herman Cornejo?  That's two performances this week for Brandt!  Go, girl!

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8 minutes ago, laurel said:

Has anyone else noticed that Skylar Brandt has been cast as Giselle in tonight's KC performance opposite Herman Cornejo?  That's two performances this week for Brandt!  Go, girl!

Unfortunately for Carlos Gonzalez, this means he can’t debut in the Peasant PDD with Brandt as planned, per Copeland’s announcement.

Edited by nanushka
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I so wish I could be in DC tonight!  Reports please.

At this point, I'm pretty sure Copeland cancels more shows than she performs in, at least if it involves a classical role.  

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, abatt said:

I so wish I could be in DC tonight!  Reports please.

At this point, I'm pretty sure Copeland cancels more shows than she performs in, at least if it involves a classical role.  

I don’t envy Brandt making her debut in these circumstances (earlier than expected, disappointed crowd, new partner). But I have a feeling she’s got nerves of steel anyway.

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10 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I don’t envy Brandt making her debut in these circumstances (earlier than expected, disappointed crowd, new partner). But I have a feeling she’s got nerves of steel anyway.

Brandt has danced with Cornejo before, so she may be comfortable with the change.  The audiences probably are not going to be rude, although I wonder what her fans will  post on Copeland's social media about the cancellation.  Many of her fans have been down this same road before.  If memory serves, she also previously cancelled a SL in DC a few years ago. 

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4 minutes ago, abatt said:

Brandt has danced with Cornejo before, so she may be comfortable with the change.  The audiences probably are not going to be rude...

Oh I’m sure they won’t, but performers can often sense the feeling of an audience, and that can have an impact.

And yes, I just meant new partner in this particular role. And on very short notice (though who knows when she first got word it was a possibility.)

Edited by nanushka
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46 minutes ago, abatt said:

I so wish I could be in DC tonight!  Reports please.

Though there are now several dozen seats available (presumably) because of Copland's cancellation, the Kennedy Center is still charging premium prices ($119 for the seats in the area that I paid $59 the last 2 nights), so I doubt that I will go.

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I just looked as well now that there are suddenly tickets available. Those prices are steep!

As much as I’d like to see Cornejo, I am so glad I was there last night to see the fantastic performances by Lane, Simkin, and Hurlin. 

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I am devastated to be missing Brandt and Cornejo. If only it had been announced sooner. I gulp at the steep tickets but it's worth it to see these two together. Who knows when Cornejo will dance Giselle with someone other than Copeland. 

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Lane is the other small ballerina who has danced Giselle with Herman but she danced it the night before.   Brandt and Cornejo have been rehearsing I am sure for the past few days.   

Also, Brandt wants to make principal badly, this was evident in the NY Times interview/profile.   This is her test for which she has been preparing for months.   Giselle was also the role that broke through for Abrera and Lane to make principal rank.   Brandt will seize the opportunity and nail it, Mark my words.

 

Edited by FauxPas
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I am sure Brandt will do well tonight. She has proven being able to handle last minute shows like with Medora and Columbine, except with Giselle she's been rehearsing that for months unlike those other roles. 

I was thinking this all along yet didn't voice it, but I think Copeland's cancellation tonight is exactly why Brandt is now debuting as Giselle. I thought it was circumspect that Shevchenko wasn't cast as Giselle in DC, since ABT usually has the dancer debut the role on tour before their Met debut. But with Copeland's frequent cancellations and Lane and Cornejo no longer being cast together (at least for now...)  they need another dancer who is ready to fill in last minute to dance with Cornejo (and I'm guessing that Lane will no longer be the understudy). If Lane was still dancing with him, she'd be filling in tonight and wouldn't have been chosen to do Swan Lake with Stearns in Richmond Friday and Saturday.

That said, I am in no way implying that Brandt doesn't deserve this opportunity. I just think it was expedited due to necessity. McKenzie telling her "to keep an eye out on Giselle" per the NY Times article, tells me that he was trying to plan for this exact situation, but perhaps didn't want to take away Shevchenko's opportunity to debut on tour. Why else did that TBA sit on the calendar for so long?

I hope Brandt has a great performance tonight and hope that someone on this board will post about it.

Now, the other question is who will be Copeland's newest understudy for O/O?

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I would have preferred to see Trenary as Giselle if the choice were between she and Brandt. I just think she’s a much more well rounded dancer so I hope she doesn’t get left behind. 
 

As for Copeland’s Swan Lake understudy, I hope they don’t have the gall to call Lane again. She should settle for nothing less than her own slotted Swan Lake. But I don’t picture Copeland ever being able to do Odile again. Her abilities seem to be spiraling rapidly. 

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I don’t think I’d recommend for any principal dancer who wants more opportunities to refuse his or her director when asked to perform for an almost guaranteed sold-out house at the Met.

Lane is a professional dancer. I don’t think she’s a diva.

Edited by nanushka
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