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Don Quixote ABT 2022

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I did.  The gala opening night multi-cast "Don Quixote" was a celebration of the ABT's new bunch of home grown principals, several of whom were trained at the JKO School.  Several of whom were promoted in 2020 and then sidelined for nearly three years.

There was a lot to be thankful for and many positive things to report from the opening night.  All the various couples danced well in each act.  The corps and soloists were in fine shape and well-rehearsed - it was a cohesive ensemble.  Nothing ragged or out of shape.  Bright lights are emerging from the corps de ballet - a few new to the company.  Even the orchestra played well which was not always the case in the past - especially in the early weeks of the season when NYCB musicians were not available when the seasons overlapped in May.  There were three different (staff) conductors leading the orchestra for each act.

Andrew F. Barth, chairman of the board, made an opening speech praising Susan Fales-Hill and Kevin McKenzie.  Then corps dancer Erica Lall came out to praise Susan Fales-Hill, trustee.  Mrs. Fales-Hill then spoke movingly about her mother, the singer and actress Josephine Premice, and the need for diversity and support for minority artists in the community.  Then Skyler Brandt introduced Kevin McKenzie and spoke about how she decided at age 8 to become an ABT Principal Dancer and how her dreams came true over many years in the summer intensives, studio company, apprentice program and then joining the company and rising through the ranks.  McKenzie was aware that the audience came for dancing and not him speaking and kept his comments brief and focused with discussion of his long career at ABT, first as a dancer and then as the director thanking all the dancers past and present he worked with.

Now for the show:

Act I:  Cate Hurlin and Aran Bell as Kitri and Basilio.  The standout here was Catherine Hurlin who was a bold, spitfire Kitri with big jumps, powerful attack, speed and abandon.  She turned fast, kicked her leg to the back of her head and leapt across the stage like a gazelle.  Bell was especially good as a partner but he is tall and long-legged and I have seen faster spins and turns from shorter demi-caractère virtuosos like Bocca, Corella and Cornejo in the past.  He had a nice easy going playfulness with Hurlin and leading man charm.  He danced well in general and held Hurlin over his head while walking across the stage.  Naturally as an offstage couple, they have great rapport. 

Thomas Forster was decent as Espada but needed to rehearse more with his cape - it fell over his face and he almost tossed it into the wings at one point.  Marcelo was unbeatable as Espada and I miss him - Forster didn't have that over the top Latin machismo self-parody.  Devon Teuscher was good as Mercedes in her solo. 

The real bright lights were two recent additions to the corps as the Flower Girls - Chloe Misseldine (watch out for her!) and SunMi Park.  Roman Zhurbin was back in character mime action as Lorenzo, Kitri's grumpy father.  Clinton Luckett was Don Quixote.  The production looks exactly the same as it always did with a lot of familiar faces in their old places.  Very reassuring.

Act II:  Hee Seo and Joo Won Ahn in the leads.  Calvin Royal III as Espada and Katherine Williams as Mercedes.  Devon Teuscher as the Queen of the Dryads.  Whole act stolen by the sparkling Amour of Léa Fleytoux.  Fleytoux just dazzled with her quick turns, radiant smile while holding long balances and bounding across the stage scintillating with every step.  The audience couldn't stop applauding even during her solos.  Hee Seo was actually lovely and technically secure - she even managed a decent set of sauté hops in her solo and held some balances in arabesque.  She had a lovely graciousness as Dulcinea in Quixote's Dream.  Her Kitri in the inn scene was vivacious and endearingly spunky.  This act at least, plays to her strengths. 

Joo Won Ahn knocked out a lot of strong pirouettes and got to show off a bit with the gypsies and later in the inn scene.  He is a solid, technically proficient dancer - only lacking defined stage personality.  Teuscher was competent but dull as the Queen of the Dryads - her merely adequate arabesque and rather limited flexibility with her back meant that she didn't really create dynamic shapes.  She lacked stretch and flexibility though she has all the steps.  Luciana Paris and Jonathan Klein were the gypsy couple and he was very good and Paris is good at character dancing at this point.  No pointe work roles like this show her at her best.  Williams had not much to do in this act but did it well while Calvin Royal III shone in his tavern solo.

Act III:  Christine Shevchenko as Kitri and new Brazilian guest artist Daniel Camargo subbing for Cory as Basilio.  Chloe Misseldine knocked it out of the park with her bridesmaid's solo.  Great flexibility and huge jumps and lots of  authority.  Big applause during and after her solo.  A name to watch for the future.  SunMi Park also did very well in her solo and looked happy to be onstage.  Gabe Stone Shayer and Cassie Pearl Trenary had not much to dance as Espada and Mercedes but did it their bits well.  (Gabe darkened his bleached hair). 

Shevchenko had more charm than in her first Kitris several seasons ago with a warm smile and gracious authority.  No problems (as usual) with her dancing - solid balances, fast high pirouettes and a solid 32 fouettés in the coda with several multiples.  Not much traveling and she ended with the music striking a pose.  Very few ballerinas - even Nuñez and Osipova these days - could dance this act better from a technical standpoint. 

Camargo made a somewhat equivocal impression on me.  His hair is longish is now and he is handsome.  Strong stage presence and some charisma.  He is a strong partner - he easily held Shevchenko in an overhead lift and held it extra.  His solos had him launching into cabrioles and turns with a lot of attack and panache but his landings were a bit loose and not secure.  He also added little oddities to his turns and finishes that bordered on mannerism.  Again, I have been spoiled by a lot of the best from ABT's Basilios over 30 years.  He is good.  We'll see how Camargo does as he goes into full performances that require acting and bravura dancing.

So the bright shining lights for me were Cate Hurlin, Chloe Misseldine and Léa Fleytoux with very strong showings from Shevchenko and Joo Won Ahn.  Best news is that the whole company seems to be in good shape and that includes the orchestra and the corps de ballet.  The whole production looked pretty fresh.

Edited by FauxPas
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I agree with most of what Faux Pas said above.  Hurlin was very impressive and I can't wait to see her in more roles.  She has very strong technique and her partnership with  Bell was an excellent pairing.  Misseldine is definitely someone to watch as she rises through the ranks. She made a big impression in her role as a flower girl.  So do Fleytoux as Amour.  I liked Camargo much more than Faux Pas.  I thought he was exciting.  

I thought that most of the house looked considerably undersold.  That was the most depressing aspect of the evening.  In the old days, opening night of ABT used to sell very well.

Edited by abatt
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1 hour ago, DPell said:

How were Brandt and Cornejo tonight?

Good!  I’ve seen them both deliver more jaw-dropping performances in the past, but tonight was a solid run overall and well worth the price of a ticket.  (Both have an excellent baseline, so even when they’re not pushing superhuman limits, they’re pretty fantastic.)  Brandt’s not a natural jumper in the same way that she’s a natural turner or balancer, but she maximizes what she has and certainly doesn’t feel earthbound; Cornejo’s doesn’t have quite the power that he used to but he’s certainly no slouch.

Trenary was a luscious Mercedes/Dryad Queen (though she had to fight for her Italian fouettés), and Shayer was clearly enjoying Espada (though I, too, miss some of the stylish Espadas past).  Zimmi Coker and the young apprentice Elwince Magbitang—boyish in a way that reminds me of young Simkin—were more than serviceable as the Gypsy Couple.  Overall, corps was clean, but I do wish that they’d bang the shoes a bit more beforehand to quiet them down.

Edited to add:  I might be imagining it, but it seemed as if they’ve either refurbished or deep-cleaned some of the costumes this season; colors seem a bit brighter than seasons past (in a good way).

Edited by tutu
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Brandt and Cornejo brought down the house. I thought they were pretty close to perfect. The level of polish and finish Brandt brings to her dancing is just stunning, in addition to her amazing technical abilities. There is a fluid, Russian-like quality to her upper body movements that stands out when she's on stage next to the other ballerinas. A really exciting performance all around. Elwince Magbitang (as gypsy man) is one to watch. Betsy McBride and Breanne Granlund were the flower girls and they were both very good. My one complaint is the male corps (in the blue matador costumes) looked a little sloppy in Act I. 

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I thought Cornejo was really great. Yes, he's lost a step but he still dances wonderfully - much better than any of ABT's other male dancers except Simkin - and I was happy to see those gorgeous lines, amazing turns and that refined technique. His partnering skills have improved greatly, and that was something that really bothered me earlier in his career. In his solo work he seemed completely in control rather than trying to push for more. And of course there was the Cornejo charm & swagger - not much else you could want in a Basilio.
To me Brandt was good, maybe even very, very good but not great. Its funny, I always saw her as a soubrette and was blown away at her amazing Giselle. Now in a soubrette role I liked her best in classical mode in the Queen of the Dryads scene. In the other acts she showed solid technique, great balances, fast secure turns but there was something missing. Maybe attack & fire. I just don't think she was at the same level as my favorite Kitris but considering this is her NY debut I think she did very well.
I have not been a big Trenary fan lately but she was an excellent Mercedes/Dryad Queen. Shayer was an ok Espada but I thought he lacked line and elan.
Coker and Magbitand were great as the gypsy couple.
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I agree with NYSusan regarding Herman Cornejo last night - only in comparison with his superhuman younger self did his work fall short.  Otherwise, all was beauty, charm and technical ease, command and elegance.  

Brandt was still a bit of a work in progress.  The Kitri Act I solo with the castanets and kick to the back of the head was a touch disappointing.  She lacked height in her jumps and the kicks to the back of the head barely got above her waist and nowhere near her head.  Skyler is a good turner so the diagonal chainé of pirouettes was very successful.

The Dulcinea solo in Act II Quixote's Dream sequence was wonderful with a diagonal of sautés that spanned nearly the whole stage.

The Act III pas de deux was disappointing as her balances were not terribly secure or held for long.  However the solo was charming and well danced and the 32 fouettés in the coda were a knockout with a lot of multiples.

So she had her ups and downs - high kicks front and back, balances and jumps need some work.  Turns and spins like pirouettes and fouettés and the hops on pointe are consistently impressive.

Rachel Richardson subbed as Amour and did a lovely job.  Good work from Breanne Granlund and Betsy McBride as the flower girls/bridesmaids.  

Edited by FauxPas
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16 hours ago, JuliaJ said:

The level of polish and finish Brandt brings to her dancing is just stunning, in addition to her amazing technical abilities.

Agreed, and I think the NYT review does a good job of describing the seamlessness and polish she brings (especially in transition steps — she’s so crisp in the in-betweens):  “She’s tiny, but her dancing is so fleshed out that she isn’t exactly diminutive; Brandt doesn’t just hold shapes vibrantly, she expands them, gliding from one step to the next with a fluidity that allows her to indicate the trick without commenting on it.”  

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51 minutes ago, abatt said:


Here is a review of opening night and the Brandt-Cornejo Don Q.

I didn't attend Monday's gala, but these galas often feel all over the place dancing wise whether they're fitting as many dancers into one piece as possible or fitting as many pieces as possible into one night. As boring as the speeches may be, that's kind of what you sign up for when you go to a gala performance, so I think complaining about them in a review is a bit much. I do think quality dancing will do more for fundraising than any speech, but if all you want is quality dancing, you can go on other nights.

I really enjoyed the performance. I thought that the jumps didn't look especially high, but I wasn't sure if it was the dancing or the angle from the Family Circle. Thanks to everyone's commentary, I'm thinking it might have been a little bit of both.

On a non-Don Q note, I wish ABT had a plain old pdf calendar available. The calendar on their site can be so slow to load.

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Just back from the Boylston/Simkin matinee. Simkin superb in every way: pure flowing line, astonishing technique, comic flair and tons of charm. And of course the crazy jumps and spins he is known for drew gasps and applause. But it's his playful musical timing that makes him one of my very favorite dancers. (Cornejo has always had this in spades, too.) Simkin's still in his prime years and his dancing is glorious.

This is one of Boylston's best roles, I think. She handled the technical aspects of the role very well: leaps were high, stretched and dramatic, fouettes were fast and secure (though I think all singles), plenty of energy and personality. Her legs and feet are just beautiful. But I'd have liked more Spanish style in her carriage; and the too-straight elbows, bent wrists and splayed fingers that I find mar the lines of her port de bras in pure classical roles were still very much in evidence.

Devon Teuscher's Mercedes/Dryad Queen was outstanding. Her Mercedes really had great Spanish style in her hands and posture. As Queen, her hops on point were very secure and covered lots of ground; her jetés had remarkable height.  I don't know if Teuscher has danced Kitri yet but I do hope she will soon - she'll be splendid. Her partner Calvin Royal, subbing for Forster, handled his cape well and had good bravado, but sitting in orchestra I was surprised to see that his feet weren't always fully pointed in jumps.

Jonathan Klein impressed as the Gypsy leader. I had not seen him in a featured role before and he has great presence. Katherine Williams and Paulina Waski were both excellent and delightful flower girls. Strong work from everyone in supporting roles.  Cast looked well-rehearsed. I'm fairly certain that Luigi Crispino was the dark-haired toreador who caught my eye for his over-the-top Spanish machismo and panache. He was having so much fun that I began watching him specifically in the toreador ensemble numbers. Overall a wonderful afternoon performance and when this same cast gets to do it again, and pulls out all the stops on Saturday night, it'll take the roof off!

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I was in the house too , and I second Griffie’s statement. I haven’t seen much of Boylston, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw I really enjoyed her Dulcinea variation. I would like to add Lea Fleytoux was outstanding as Amour. 

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I'll bite.  Hurlin was SENSATIONAL!  She has propulsive forward momentum in her dancing and incredible attack.  She is also flexible with high extensions.  Her jump is more notable for covering a lot of space than for great height but that works for me.  Act I was just as good as on Monday night.  She is a vivacious sparky actress and was very coquettish and bold as Kitri.  She can act. There were people who saw her "Don Q" at the Kennedy Center who said she had problems with the hops on pointe in her Act II "Dream" solo and struggled with the fouettés in the coda of the Act III pas de deux.  Not so last night - she rocked!  The hops on pointe started conservatively but with good form and then Hurlin got more confident and covered more ground with each hop.  The fouettés were incredible - fast, high and tight with multiples timed with the music working the fan.  She did not flag and finished with a Spanish dancer pose.  The audience screamed.  The only problem was with the Act III balances in the pas de deux.  No disaster but the first wobbled back a bit before she grabbled Ahn's hand and the second was better but very short - hardly a balance at all.  However, I have noticed that dancers who are tall, willowy and flexible are not as good at balancing as those who are shorter and more balanced and muscular in their physique/plastique.  It's a static step and the willowy flexible dancers are built for movement.  

Ahn danced really well - lots of pirouettes which he is really good at.  He hasn't a big personality onstage though he did act.  He needed both hands to hold Hurlin aloft over his head but the lifts were secure.  His partnering is good.  He is valuable and in something like "Theme and Variations" where acting/personality is not a big requirement and pure classical form is a huge requirement, he will do well.  Standard prince/danseur noble stuff with the white tights will work well for him.

Zhong-Jing Fang was Mercedes/Queen of Dryads.  Like several other beautiful dancers like Luciana Paris, Stella Abrera and possibly a few others, she was promoted too late in her career by Kevin McKenzie.  She was a sensual and flirtatious Mercedes in Acts I and III but fell off pointe once in her dance with the darts in Act I.  Her Queen of the Dryads solo began well with gorgeous port de bras but again, she fell off pointe for the last Italian fouetté but quickly got back on it.  Lively applause after.  Blaine Hoven was Espada and he is a known quantity in the role.  He was in good form but not exciting.  SunMi Park and Chloe Misseldine returned as the Flower Girls and were terrific.  Erica Lall was broadly smiling, happily leaping and gamboling across the stage as Amour.  Garegin Pogossian was an eye-catchingly bold, high flying Gypsy Boy with sassy Betsy McBride as his Gypsy Girl.  

A young new apprentice dancer called Cy Doherty was wonderful as the titular Don Quixote - he is very tall and lanky and got very dreamy around Kitri and the vision of Dulcinea and made something moving of the role.  I honestly thought he was an elderly actor or retired dancer.  Also, surprisingly, Tom Forster was recruited as a principal male dancer to do the elderly mime role of Kitri's interfering father Lorenzo.  Also, John Gardner was a very amusing Sancho Panza but looks very different from his days as a soloist with ABT - was it that long ago???

The audience stood up and cheered after the grand pas de deux in Act III for Hurlin and Ahn.  It ended up being a very exciting evening.  I say that Hurlin will be promoted to principal sooner rather than later - she seems poised to take over from Murphy as the company's lead virtuoso technician.

Edited by FauxPas
Doherty is a dancer and a young one
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I saw Cate’s Kitri too, and after reading about the DC performances, I’m glad she seemed to improve. I did enjoy Ahn as well, he’s not as flashy as Daniil, but he did have a nice technique. Regarding Cy, he is actually an apprentice with the company. I’m sure we’ll see more of him in dancing roles through out the season.

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I mostly agree with Faux Pas. Hurlin was excellent. Very different from Brandt, she didn't have Brandt's polish but was very high energy. There was room for improvement but her performance was great overall and will only get better.
Her 2nd act hops on point were not the springiest and she didn't cover as much of the stage as Brandt, but they were perfectly respectable. Her 3rd act fouettes were absolutely spectacular. She did multiples interspersed with singles and alternated opening the fan over her head and at chest level - all in perfect time with the music.
I have to say that Ahn to me is just a great big blank. His technique is solid but not outstanding and I find his line & musicality lacking. I also cannot get over the fact that he had to use both arms to hold Hurlin up in the "one arm" 1st act lifts. Geesh, if Cornejo & Simkin can do it, he should certainly be able to do it. I wish she had been dancing with Bell as originally scheduled.
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21 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

. . . Ahn danced really well - lots of pirouettes which he is really good at.  He hasn't a big personality onstage though he did act.  He needed both hands to hold Hurlin aloft over his head but the lifts were secure.  His partnering is good.  He is valuable and in something like "Theme and Variations" where acting/personality is not a big requirement and pure classical form is a huge requirement, he will do well.  Standard prince/danseur noble stuff with the white tights will work well for him.. . . 

The audience stood up and cheered after the grand pas de deux in Act III for Hurlin and Ahn.  It ended up being a very exciting evening.  I say that Hurlin will be promoted to principal sooner rather than later - she seems poised to take over from Murphy as the company's lead virtuoso technician.

No disagreements with the praise from others. Hurlin was terrific. I was startled to see the standing ovation right after the wedding PdD. It was led by a group in the center orchestra, but others quickly followed. I don't recall seeing that before. Another standing ovation at the end. I had the sense throughout that Hurlin had a big cheering section. What did seem a little odd was that the earlier pairs (Cornejo/Brandt and Simkin/Boylston) were also outstanding, but didn't trigger that sort of response. I think this was Brandt's NYC premiere, as it was for Hurlin. 

Ahn does not have the larger-than-life presence of others and none of the over-the-top tricks of Simkin. The usual one-armed lifts in Act I were two-handed, as noted -- right arm at her waist and left holding a leg. She had no trouble with Bell in these at the gala, but perhaps these two have not had as much experience performing together to work that out. He did extend one leg in arabesque during the first one, so that was something. 

Let me mention: at the matinee, Simkin not only held Boylston aloft for a LONG time in both one-armed lifts, he also went up on the balls of his feet at the end of the first one. You don't see that very often.

Edited by California
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Wow, great reports on Hurlin in Don Q.  Thanks to all.  Sorry to have missed it, but we opted to see the Met Orchestra at Carnegie, featuring Christine Goerke in Act I of Die Walkure.   Great performance.  So many important artists on NY stages.


Can't wait to see what Hurlin will do in Swan Lake. 

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