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Don Quixote ABT 2022

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Brandt and Cornejo were fantastic this afternoon! But, Cornejo was truly exceptional. At 41 with a long history of injuries, he was in truly magnificent form. He pulled off multiple pirouettes with ease, leaped high with no strain, and his swagger, charm, dramatic and comedic abilities are unparalleled. Only a few times did his age show - in Act III his jumps to arabesque gave away a reduced flexibility in his back and leg but it didn’t matter. He also dances with intelligence but no ego - maybe twice I saw him attempt a crazy turn that you could tell he couldn’t quite complete or at least complete cleanly but he quickly shifted gears and ended the turn with a flourish and additional step or two that beautifully covered it up without it being obvious. The one arm overhead lifts, and all overhead lifts, were effortlessly and beautifully done.

Brandt was also exceptional but there was something missing which I can’t quite articulate. She had some amazing balances which drove the audience wild. Hops on pointe covered the entire stage with ease. But her Plisetskaya jumps were a bit sloppy and she didn’t hit the shape. She’s really turned into a marvelous actress. She and Cornejo had some funny, natural moments. Her maturity really comes through now, she’s an intelligent dancer with lots of confidence but I think sometimes she vears too close to boasting. She also juts her head out a lot which breaks her alignment. 

McBride and Granlund were lovely flower girls, but McBride needs to ease up on her megawatt smile. More soloist opportunities for Granlund please.

Trenary was a gorgeous, sexy, commanding Mercedes and a beautiful Queen of the Dryads with secure Italian fouettés. Shayer was ok as Espada. He lacked Spanish flair and bravado; he did really well with the cape though. He has extreme flexibility but he needs to reign that in at certain moments. 

Coker was a lively and sassy gypsy lady and her partner, Magbitang, wow! I see him as the next Cornejo - technique, charm and great stage presence. Incredible that he’s only an apprentice and probably still a teenager. Always great to see Ribagorda as the hilarious Gamache. Rachel Richardson was a last minute sub for Amour; she was spritely and charming. Luigi Crispino caught my eye in the background- he has a very animated face and fabulous technique. He’ll make a great Basilio some day.

The company really looked great and  I almost couldn’t believe I was finally back at the Met after 3 years. I did miss the extra supers on stage, especially the man with the bushy white beard who used to super in all the full lengths.

Edited by ABT Fan
Endless typos
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Boylston and Simkin blew the roof off tonight! They got an even bigger reception than Brandt/Cornejo at the matinee. This is a great role for Boylston: she has a big, high jump, great extensions and a vivacious personality. Fast turns, good hops on pointe (though Brandt’s traveled much further) and fast fouettés, though she nearly lost it at the end. Simkin brought his usual bag of tricks: 540’s, endless pirouette revolutions, beautiful, high jumps, plus charm, wit, and impeccable timing. Overhead lifts were solid. 

Teuscher was an underwhelming Mercedes; no sass, spirit or flair. Such a contrast to Trenary’s fiery interpretation at the matinee. Her Queen of the Dryads was lovely but her lack of an arabesque muddled some lines. Forster was a very good Espada. Williams and Waliski were fine flower girls. Klein was outstanding as the lead gypsy - so glad he’s getting Mercutio, he needs to be featured more. Coker and Granlund stood out in the corps, both need to be promoted. Crispino again caught my eye; he was a Toreador and played it up magnificently.

A wonderful double-feature day at the ballet.

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7 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

 Simkin brought his usual bag of tricks: 540’s, endless pirouette revolutions, beautiful, high jumps, plus charm, wit, and impeccable timing. Overhead lifts were solid. 

Just a few things I'd add about the evening program: for the two one-armed lifts in Act I, Simkin ended both by going up on the balls of his feet - the only Basilio to do that all week. At the start of the first one, he had a tiny wobbly moment getting the position, but it worked out beautifully and they held it for a long time. 

When he did the three 540s across the front of the stage, it almost looked like he would end up too far forward onto the stage edge. 

Simkin really seemed to be enjoying himself. I so hope they can bring him back next season as a guest!

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15 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

She had some amazing balances which drove the audience wild. . . .

Coker was a lively and sassy gypsy lady and her partner, Magbitang, wow! I see him as the next Cornejo - technique, charm and great stage presence. Incredible that he’s only an apprentice and probably still a teenager.

Just a few more details I really liked: In Act III, Cornejo turned Brandt around in attitude, then let go while she balanced They lasted so long, he actually pulled his arm back both times as she didn't need to grab him. Amazing. Boylston also held those for a long time, but was very wobbly trying to stay on pointe - the struggle was painfully obvious. 

EDITED TO ADD: This morning, Brandt has added a huge number of images and video clips in her Instagram Stories. Toward the end there's video of both of these turns and balances: skylarbrandt

I was also impressed by Magbitang, who threw in two 540s across the front of the stage. 
Edited by California
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Agree that Boylston is a natural Kitri re: "feistiness" and jumps, but after seeing both her and Brandt's performances this week, I personally prefer Brandt's more elegant, detailed approach.

Boylston was best in Act I and fine in Act III. She struggled a bit with the Act III pas de deux balances but held on. Fouettes were all singles... fast and powerful but not very "pretty" IMO. Her shortcomings in the port de bras / hands department were most on display in Act II... it's kind of a problem when Kitri is artistically outshined not only by the Queen of the Dryads but also by Amour (the wonderful Léa Fleytoux). Not to say it was a bad performance, overall Boylston was impressive and brought the right go-for-broke energy.

Simkin wasn't only outstanding for his tricks but also his classical finesse. Never a crooked line or unpointed foot. He was the reason I attended this performance and he did not disappoint. 

Really liked Katherine Williams as the one flower girl but thought Paulina Waski was low impact and lacking in precision or jumping height. 

It was nice to be around such an enthusiastic audience. Maybe TOO enthusiastic as you couldn't even hear the music over the applause at times! 

Edited by JuliaJ
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Simkin is now at the apex of his powers, and last night he was an incredible Basilio.  As mentioned above, he can do technical feats that nobody else in this company can do.  Simkin was having the time of his life up on that stage. But it was all done with perfect classical technique.  Every blindingly fast spin  was perfectly center.  Every gravity-defying jump was perfectly landed.  It was a jaw dropping performance, and certainly equaled my memories of ABT's best Basilio's of yesteryear - Bocca, Carreno and Corella.  Boylston's best role definitely is Kitri because she has always had a tremendous jump.  She is also much more effective in comic roles than in dramatic roles.   I hope we see Simkin again, but I tend to doubt it.

I saw the matinee also, and I thought it was very good but not nearly as wonderful and the evening performance.  Cornejo's current level is nowhere near what it used to be.  His spins are slower, and his jumping is now conservative.  He has beautiful classical style, but he has lost a lot to age and injury.  Brandt was very good, but she doesn't have the kind of huge jump that makes a big  impression.  I would see her again in future seasons, but this may not be her best vehicle.  I will note also that in Act II both Brandt and Boylston did hops across the entire diagonal of the stage filling out the entirety of the music.  At the  gala, even though Hee was only doing Act II, she did a few hops and then substituted something easier to fill out the rest of the music.  Hee is definitely not a natural Kitri, and I have no idea why she is cast in that role.  Also need to mention the brilliant, superhuman  balances of Brandt. 

I thought Gabe was wonderful in the characterization of Espada, but the Espada choreography looks much better on a tall man.

Magbitang is definitely one to watch. 

So without Simkin and with Cornejo probably moving into the late autumn  of his career, who will be our next virtuoso Basilio.  I like Bell a lot, but the best Basilio's have been shorter, compact men.






Edited by abatt
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What a gift to have been able to see Simkin last night! His technical level has been world-class for a long time, but what struck me seeing him last night was how he's now reaching even further heights than just a few years ago, when he was obviously already a well-established international star. The last thing I saw him in was ABT's 2019 Le Corsaire, where he did jawdropping 540s. Last night, he did jawdropping 540s AND THEN, at the end of his final 540 manège, what I can only describe as three "540+" leaps. He did something that felt similar in spirit with some of his turns: super-fast, then decelerating into what you thought would be the end of the turn but instead actually picking up speed again to do another series of fast revolutions before ending with perfect control. He always goes for MORE but you never see the effort and it always look superbly beautiful and precise. I so admire how he continues to push himself as an artist. PLEASE do whatever it takes to bring him back, Susan!

 I agree with others here who say Kitri is Boylston's best role. She nails all the acting and brings a lot of fun, vivacious energy, and has the big jump and fast fouettés. Great hops, all across the stage. I noticed, like others, that there was visible effort in the balances, but I admired how she really went for them full out even though they were obviously challenging her: choosing to transition into doing them unsupported and holding them for quite a while. I'd rather see that in a Kitri than see a ballerina just do a brief, wobble-free balance. To me, Isabella got stronger as the evening went on. In Act I, I was disappointed in her Plisetskaya jumps. She doesn't seem to have the flexibility in her back to really bend to create that iconic shape. 

I appreciate how Don Q, more so than a lot of ABT's rep, has juicy roles for lots of dancers including soloists and people in the corps. Of these, Léa Fleytoux stood out to me as a gorgeous, crystalline Amour. Very precise, very spritely, very charming. One to watch, who definitely seems like a good candidate to fill out the thin soloist ranks. I was also impressed by Jonathan Klein as the gypsy king: big jumps, big presence. Don't think I've ever seen him in a featured role before. Luciana Paris had just a few minutes as the gypsy queen, but threw herself into it 110%. And Sung Woo Han was excellent as Gamache, great comic timing, great mime, drew your eye. 

Thomas Forster and Devon were solid as Mercedes and Espada but just didn't quite have the oomph or flair I wanted. It wasn't lack of technique: I kept thinking of how much I enjoyed Stella Abrera as Mercedes (who Devon certainly outshines as a technician); Stella just had this sparkle and verve and playfulness as Mercedes that I wanted more of from Devon. 

A promising start to the season, though the number of empty orchestra seats for a Saturday night with an A list guest artist did not seem to bode well ticket sales-wise.

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I am not sure where this article from Pointe Magazine should go but since there was discussions up thread about Waski's stamina during Don Q? I thought this latest interview Pointe did with her might help us all understand a bit better:


It actually is quite touching too as she mentioned her mother's health, plus her short time to actually rehearse what she had to jump in to do, while so many within the company had months to do. Hopefully she will get the opportunities she mentioned this fall as it looks like she has done quite a bit of contemporary work while in Boston Ballet.

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