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National Ballet of Canada 2023-2024 season

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National Ballet of Canada just announced their 2023-2024 season: https://national.ballet.ca/Tickets/Next-Season

(Onegin - I'm so jealous!)

Emma Bovary & Passion

November 11 – 18, 2023

Emma Bovary


November 22 – 26, 2023


The Nutcracker

December 8 – 30, 2023

The Nutcracker

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

March 6 – 17, 2024

Alices Adventures in Wonderland

New William Yong & islands & Suite en Blanc

March 20 – 24, 2024

New Work by William Yong

Don Quixote

June 1 – 9, 2024

Don Quixote


June 15 – 22, 2024


Edited by California
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Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage is notably absent.

Onegin hasn't been done in Toronto since 2016. The previous production of Don Quixote was last presented a really long time ago. And to be honest, I'd much rather see Helen Pickett's one-act take on Madame Bovary, than Cathy Marston's full-length Victoria, which was canceled by Covid.

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31 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage is notably absent.

I did not realize that OLAR was a co-production! Interesting...https://fr.national.ballet.ca/Media-Room/News/2020-21/Alexei-Ratmanskys-Of-Love-and-Rage

You might remember that Ratmansky's disastrous Tempest was also a co-production by these two companies, but it never appeared in Canada. Instead, they staged some of his Trilogy.

I actually thought OLAR was more of a success -- certainly than Tempest!

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I agree. There are no dud programs. I'm not the biggest fan of Alice's Adventures, but it is a chance to see Svetlana Lunkina's zany Queen of Hearts.

I am a little worried about whether the company has enough convincing Basilios.

Since I have to travel for the performances, I am sorry there is a big gap between Don Quixote and Jewels.

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I just watched a short interview with Hope Muir discussing the new season.   Kudelka's Passion will be Piotr Stanczyk's retirement ballet and his last performance will probably be the Saturday night show - that's usually the case.   Don Q is the Carlos Acosta production he did originally for the Royal Ballet and, if I remember correctly, it didn't get great reviews at the time.    From what I've read about the man Lifar appears to have been a dreadful person, but I've seen a bit of his Suite en Blanc and it does look interesting so, despite my opinion of it's choreographer,  I'm looking forward to seeing the whole production. This could be a wonderful season as they are doing so many of my favourite ballets.   I'm already guessing casting possibilities and which of the "up and comers" will get a chance at a career boosting role.

Edited by Rosie2
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11 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Suite en Blanc is very demanding technically, and since the company's technical standards have slipped conspicuously over the past five years or so, I suspect the ballet is intended to get them back up.

Much the same as Etudes - provides a snap shot where the company is technically at the moment.    Sleeping Beauty last year was sloppy technically in many ways so this should be a useful measuring stick to see how far they've come back.  I know they're all working hard and I'm hoping to see it pay off.

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Exactly. The last run of Sleeping Beauty before the pandemic was also a bit ragged, though I thought the one before that was excellent. 

Symphony in C will also be a big test.

Etudes is more straightforward and possibly less pretentious. Suite en Blanc is more "artistic" and the music is more sophisticated. It also has a lot more soloist roles, there basically is no corps; everyone gets a demi-soloist role at minimum. Both ballets coexist just fine at the Paris Opera Ballet. 

Edited by volcanohunter
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I've only seen Suite en blanc live eight times, danced by POB and SFB, and I recall a corps de ballet of about 12 women, as well as a male corps de ballet, but there are many soloists involved.  It is highly stylized choreography where there is simply no way to hide  if you can't get through it, and fascinating when danced with confidence.  POB was amazing when I saw them dance it several times in 2012 in Chicago and the audience went crazy.  It was a triumph for the company. 

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Yes, that's true. There's an ensemble of 12 women and 8 men. Plus 9 female and 8 male soloists/demi-soloists in the POB version.

I also saw it performed by the Australian Ballet years and years ago, and there may have been a some doubling up of soloist roles.

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David Briskin, Music Director and Principal Conductor

Emma Bovary

Emma Bovary
Hannah Galway
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Jenna Savella
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Heather Ogden
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

Charles Bovary, Emma’s husband
Donald Thom
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Josh Hall
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

Madame Bovary, Emma’s Mother-in-Law
Jordana Daumec
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Alexandra MacDonald
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Chelsy Meiss
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

Felicité, Emma’s Maid
Tirion Law
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Arielle Miralles
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Emerson Dayton
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

Berthe, Emma’s Daughter
Ross Allen or Albjon Gjorllaku, Emerson Dayton or Emma Ouellet, Sophie Lee

Rodolphe Boulanger, Emma’s Lover
Siphesihle November
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Harrison James
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Christopher Gerty
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

Monsieur Lheureux, Fancy Good’s Salesman
Spencer Hack
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Kota Sato
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)
Ben Rudisin
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)

David Preciado or Scott McKenzie

Felicité’s Boyfriend, Justin
Alexander Skinner

Opera Singer
Jordana Daumec
(November 11, 17 at 7:30 pm/ November 12, 18 at 2:00 pm)
Chelsy Meiss
(November 16 at 2:00 pm/ November 18 at 7:30 pm)
Alexandra MacDonald
(November 15, 16 at 7:30 pm)

Lheureux’s Sales Team
Brenna Flaherty, Jason Ferro or Ross Allen, Keaton Leier, Scott McKenzie or Noah Parets, Clare Peterson, Isaac Wright

Townspeople/Guests of the Ball
Isabelle Bratt or Isabella Kinch, Emerson Dayton or Miyoko Koyasu, Selene Guerrero-Trujillo, Monika Haczkiewicz, Ayano Haneishi, Tirion Law or Arielle Miralles or Emerson Dayton, Sophie Lee, Arielle Miralles or Connor Hamilton, Emma Ouellet, Tene Ward

Ross Allen or Christopher Waters, Jason Ferro, Josh Hall or Albjon Gjorllaku, Peng-Fei Jiang or Trygve Cumpston, Larkin Miller or Oliver Yonick, Noah Parets or Kota Sato, David Preciado or Scott McKenzie, Alexander Skinner, Konstantin Tkachuk, Aidan Tully

November 11, 15, 16, 18 at 7:30 pm


Donald Thom and Chelsy Meiss, Isaac Wright and Monika Haczkiewicz

Isabella Kinch, Clare Peterson, Ayano Haneishi, Connor Hamilton, Miyoko Koyasu

November 12 at 2:00 pm/ November 17 at 7:30 pm


Oliver Yonick and Isabella Kinch, Konstantin Tkachuk and Tene Ward

Emma Oulette, Tirion Law, Emerson Dayton, Sophie Lee, Arielle Miralles

November 16, 18 at 2:00 pm


Kota Sato and Brenna Flaherty, Albjon Gjorllaku and Hannah Galway

Emma Oulette, Tirion Law, Emerson Dayton, Sophie Lee, Arielle Miralles

All casting subject to change.

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Casting for Onegin, November 22-26

Eugene Onegin
Guillaume Côté (November 22, 24 at 7:30 pm)
Naoya Ebe* (November 23 at 2:00 pm/November 25 at 7:30 pm)
Christopher Gerty* (November 23 at 7:30 pm/November 26 at 2:00 pm)
Larkin Miller* (November 25 at 2:00 pm)

Jurgita Dronina* (November 22, 24 at 7:30 pm)
Koto Ishihara* (November 23 at 2:00 pm/November 25 at 7:30 pm)
Heather Ogden (November 23 at 7:30 pm/November 26 at 2:00 pm)
Svetlana Lunkina (November 25 at 2:00 pm)

Tina Pereira* (November 22, 24 at 7:30 pm)
Emerson Dayton* (November 23 at 2:00 pm/November 25 at 7:30 pm)
Genevieve Penn Nabity* (November 23 at 7:30 pm)
Tirion Law* (November 25 at 2:00 pm)
Jeannine Haller* (November 26 at 2:00 pm)

Harrison James (November 22, 24 at 7:30 pm)
Keaton Leier* (November 23 at 2:00 pm/November 25 at 7:30 pm)
Isaac Wright* (November 23 at 7:30 pm/November 26 at 2:00 pm)
Siphesihle November* (November 25 at 2:00 pm)

Prince Gremin
Josh Hall* Ben Rudisin (November 22, 24 at 7:30 pm)
Ben Rudisin (November 23 at 2:00 pm/November 25 at 7:30 pm)
Peng-Fei Jiang* Ben Rudisin (November 23 at 7:30 pm/November 26 at 2:00 pm)
Donald Thom* (November 25 at 2:00 pm)

Madame Larina
Stephanie Hutchison (November 22, 24, 25 at 7:30 pm/November 23 at 2:00 pm)
Alexandra MacDonald* (November 23 at 7:30 pm/ November 25, 26 at 2:00 pm)

Chelsy Meiss* (November 22, 24, 25 at 7:30 pm/November 23 at 2:00 pm)
Stephanie Hutchison* (November 23 at 7:30 pm/ November 25, 26 at 2:00 pm)

* Debut

So far the top ring has been opened for the last three performances, and not in its entirety. Not that I recommend sitting there except in case of dire need. :speechless-smiley-003:


Edited by volcanohunter
cast changes
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Grrrrr!  Why does the casting have to be announced so late?  I so want to see Lunkina and there's nothing left in the orchestra  - at least anything I could see the stage from (shall we just say I'm vertically challenged) - and the best I can do is Ring 4.  I had to climb up to Ring 5 to see her Swan Lake (again late casting announcement) and it was dreadful.   Four is not much better but I guess it's there or nowhere.   I would like to see Tirion Law as well so guess I'll grumble and just do it.   Lunkina and Larkin Miller -  hmm, that's not a casting combination I'd have predicted.   Also, I'm not sure about Tina Pereira as Olga - I have her in one of my performances so I'll see.   I'll have to get a big, fat pillow so I can see over the ring four balcony - something else to complain about.

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Passion & Emma Bovary Opening Night:


Emma Bovary: Hannah Galway as Emma Bovary, Donald Thom as the husband, Siphesihle November as the lover, Spencer Hack as the salesman


I did not expect much but fell in love with Helen Pickett and James Bonas' interpretation of Madame Bovary. The psychological accuracy of choreography is at the same level of Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale and Cathy Marston's The Cellist. Helen Pickett is not so ambitious or inventive as Wayne McGregor in choreographic language and stage presentation, but ends up clearer and more approachable to the average ballet audience like me. I talked to the old couple next to me and they also adored it. Michael Gianfrancesco's set and costume design helped a lot on showing the psyche of Madame Bovary, without being too showy. Peter Salem's original score, modern but pleasant enough, works properly with the atmosphere.

Hannah Galway was amazing in the title role, showing a combination of aa dreamy girl and a passionate woman. I imagine that she could be better if she extends her back more. Siphesihle November was playful and charming as the lover. Spencer Hack was definitely a highlight of the show. The salesman was a seducer (as he described in World Ballet Day) and a wizard. Spencer danced it mesmerizingly. There was a technical pause near the end, but it gave me the chance to watch the confrontation part between Madame Bovary and the salesman again.

Helen PIckett did not made the choreography very technically challenging and gave space for dancers' emotional acting. She definitely know how to use the dancers to their advantages. The corps part was beautiful and atmospheric too.

I will go for another show of a different casting (Jenna Savella and Harrison James) next week. 


I've always hated James Kudelka's choreography. I can tolerate some small pieces he choreographed for National Ballet School of Canada as it was more for practice of students. But his works for NBoC (Nutcracker & Cinderella) are just miserable and a waste of talents. A quote of New York Times on Kudelka's Cinderella "He succeeds in creating a fairy-tale ballet entirely devoid of charm, a “Cinderella” that is for neither children nor adults and that somehow misses nearly every theatrical moment in the familiar story." 

Anyway, the neoclassical choreography of the second couple (James & Skalnik) and the corps does not speak to Beethoven's music which is passionate and pounding. The choreographic language is flat and cliched. The major duet of the dramatic main couple (Stanczyk & Lunkina) was about 5 minutes long, but the couple stayed on the stage for the other 25 minutes repeating duet material in bits and playing hide and seek between / behind the corps wearing romantic pink dress. 

I still enjoyed Svetlana Lunkina's beautiful and expressive dancing, even though the piece did not do her or any NBoC dancer justice.

The video is of Houston Ballet's world premiere of Passion.


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Thank you Xiaoyi for your very detailed review. I totally agree with you about Emma Bovary and predict the Rolex and a promotion for Hannah Galway.  

I am not a hater of Kudelka; I am his admirer. His choreography speaks to me and touches me a lot. I always find logic and ideas in his ballets. I also love Lunkina and Stanczyk very much. Maybe my expectations for Passion were too high, and I was a little disappointed. The long walking of the leading couple on stage looked emotionless from the 3rd ring. I believe there was flirtation between them, but I didn't see their facial expressions because I wanted to see the whole stage and didn't use my binoculars. I think there was supposed to be a contrast between a formal classical dance and a very emotional contemporary performance, but unfortunately, it didn't happen for me. Anyway, I was very glad to see Svetlana and Piotr. The orchestra sounds very fine this time, and I especially want to mention pianist Andrei Streliaev. By the way, my husband was very impressed by Passion; he told me that the finale was very moving for him.

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Passion & Emma Bovary Thursday Night:


Emma Bovary: Jenna Savella as Emma Bovary, Jack Bertinshaw as the husband, Harrison James as the lover, Kota Sato as the salesman


With a second viewing of the program from an orchestra seat, I got a better experience with Kudelka's Passion. I gave up staring as the leading couple and looked at the big picture like @Raina did, since I knew the major duet would be danced without the corps near the end.

The classical part was not special but still beautiful with pink tutus. I liked Harrison James (classical lead) and Issac Wright's (classical demi) elegance. Calley Skalnik (classical lead) was outshone by Chelsy Meiss' (classical demi) fluidity. Isabella Kinch (corps) was very beautiful in her jetes and port de bras and she will be a future lead of NBoC, like the quick rising of Genevieve Penn Nabity.

I could see the facial expressions more clearly this time but there was not much when the leading couple was playing hide and seek in corps. Kudelka did not assign them much room for flirtation except some hand holding / pushing.


The second casting of Emma Bovary was not so impressive as the first.

With a stronger facial and bodily feature, Jenna Savella looked more mature and worldly to me than Hannah Galway. Her emotional acting was  less nuanced for the multi psychological layers Helen Pickett wanted to portray. (It could also be the fault of close-up seat.) Kota Sato did not present the wickedness of the salesman with so much charm and courtesy as Spencer Heck did.

However, Arielle Miralles as the maid did a better job than Tirion Law, with clearer facial expression and more motherly warmth towards Madame Bovary's puppet kid.

Edited by Xiaoyi
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I also attended on Thursday, once again on the third ring, but on the other side. I decided to watch only the main couple in Passion, the other artists were the background. This time Kudelka's work moved me to tears. I saw many interesting nuances and experiences in the dance of Svetlana and Piotr. It created a completely different impression. Apparently, this ballet needs to be watched several times.

Emma Bovary was good and well done. But I agree that the dancers did not achieve the nerve and psychological credibility of the first cast.

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As soon as Passion began I thought of Balanchine's comment about the un-danceability of Beethoven: "I love Beethoven, but you can't do anything to it. You're not supposed to do... Now you could dance Mozart, but Beethoven you can't, unless it's walking. The sound produces a certain type of enjoyment, and if anybody moves, they will just disturb, and you don't add anything." Unlike a majority of choreographers, James Kudelka went ahead and choreographed to Beethoven, but as if proving Balanchine correct, the dancers walked and walked and walked some more. Even the choice of the piano transcription of the first movement of Beethoven's violin concerto seemed deliberate; being a percussion instrument, the piano emphasized the music's rhythm. ("Beethoven's little hammers" is what I always think when I hear his piano music.) If the corps did most of the rhythmic walking, the "contemporary" couple conveyed the voice of the solo violin/piano, but even during the crazy candenza at the end of the movement, the timpani interrupted to emphasize the rhythmic pulse. I guess in this scheme the "classical" couple and demi-soloists fulfilled the role of "just disturbing and not adding anything," while working very, very hard.

The connection between Svetlana Lunkina and Piotr Stanczyk was incredibly potent. Unlike the rest of the dancers, they spent the entire ballet on stage, and their concentration never wavered. At the final performance the order of the pieces was reversed and Passion was performed last. When the curtain came up, Stanczyk stood in the downstage left corner, and Lunkina stood in the center looking toward him. In the silence before the music began, she placed her hand over her heart, and I almost started crying then and there.

So Passion had structure, if not necessarily, well, passion, but to my mind Helen Pickett's Emma Bovary was a bit of a mess. It struck me as mostly derivative. Roland Petit had a similar mimed dinner scene in La Chauve-souris. There was a puppet child in Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly for the Metropolitan Opera. Radu Poklitaru had a scene of flying sexual ecstasy in his version of Viy, but there the character was a witch, hence she flew, and he employed video projections rather than a harness (which looked mostly cheesy). Rubbing silky fabric against one's face is a very old ballet cliché. The mountain of chairs at the end reminded me of Rushes by Inbal Pinto, Avshalom Pollak and Robby Barnett. (Except that version walked, so it was more interesting.) After Emma's scene with her husband, Rodolphe, Lheureux and the Abbé, later joined by the men's corps, I thought the ballet went off the rails. This version eliminates the character of Léon, so instead of the opera being the place where he resumes his relationship with Emma, it looked more like Anna Karenina's doomed attempt to re-enter society. And what's the deal with Whistler's Mother?

A smaller irritant was the fact that the bodices and skirts of the corps women's ballgowns seemed to separate at the waist, and I couldn't tell whether this was deliberate or not.

Jack Bertinshaw played Charles as mostly shy, whereas Josh Hall made him physically awkward. Christopher Gerty played Rodolphe as Onegin-lite. He and Heather Ogden made the more convincing pair of lovers, while Harrison James did a better job of the choreography. Kota Sato made Lheureux vaguely vampirish, while Ben Rudisin went full-out Rothbart, the problem being that this made him a completely repellent salesman. As Emma's mother-in-law Alexandra MacDonald was stern and formidable, while Chelsy Meiss was more fussy, which contrasted with her sheer rage at the end. I didn't see Hannah Galway as Emma, and I presume there was a reason she was first cast. Ogden did convey the giddy thrill of illicit romance and gluttonous shopaholism, but Jenna Savella mostly faded into the background.

I wouldn't be inclined to revisit Emma Bovary in future seasons.

Edited by volcanohunter
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Nutcracker casting, December 8-30

Peter/The Nutcracker
Harrison James (December 8, 12, 23 at 7:00 pm / December 16, 29 at 2:00 pm)
Naoya Ebe (December 9, 21 at 2:00 pm/ December 15 at 7:00 pm / December 27, 31 at 1:00 pm)
Christopher Gerty (December 9, 13, 19 at 7:00 pm / December 17 at 1:00 pm)
Kota Sato (December 10 at 1:00 pm/December 17 at 5:30 pm / December 21, 30 at 7:00 pm)
Siphesihle November (December 10 at 5:30 pm / December 16, 22, 29 at 7:00 pm)
Larkin Miller (December 14, 20 at 7:00 pm / December 23 at 2:00 pm / December 27 at 5:30 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw (December 24 at 1:00 pm / December 28 at 7:00 pm / December 30 at 2:00 pm)

The Sugar Plum Fairy
Jurgita Dronina (December 8, 12, 23 at 7:00 pm / December 16, 29 at 2:00 pm)
Tina Pereira (December 9, 21 at 2:00 pm / December 15 at 7:00 pm/ December 27, 31 at 1:00 pm)
Heather Ogden (December 9, 13, 19 at 7:00 pm / December 17 at 1:00 pm)
Koto Ishihara (December 10 at 1:00 pm / December 17 at 5:30 pm/ December 21, 30 at 7:00 pm)
Tirion Law (December 10 at 5:30 pm / December 16, 22, 29 at 7:00 pm)
Genevieve Penn Nabity (December 14, 20 at 7:00 pm / December 23 at 2:00 pm / December 27 at 5:30 pm)
Calley Skalnik (December 24 at 1:00 pm / December 28 at 7:00 pm / December 30 at 2:00 pm)

Snow Queen
Genevieve Penn Nabity (December 8, 21 at 7:00 pm / December 17 at 5:30 pm / December 29 at 2:00 pm)
Calley Skalnik (December 9 at 2:00 pm / December 12, 16 at 7:00 pm / December 27 at 5:30 pm)
Chelsy Meiss (December 9, 22 at 7:00 pm / December 16 at 2:00 pm / December 24 at 1:00 pm)
Alexandra MacDonald (December 10, 31 at 1:00 pm / December 15 at 7:00 pm / December 23, 30 at 2:00 pm)
Svetlana Lunkina (December 10 at 5:30 pm / December 13, 19, 30 at 7:00 pm / December 17 at 1:00 pm)
Jenna Savella (December 14, 20, 28, 29 at 7:00 pm)
Isabella Kinch* (December 21 at 2:00 pm / December 23 at 7:00 pm / December 27 at 1:00 pm)

Stephanie Hutchison (December 8, 9, 12, 13, 19, 23 at 7:00 pm / December 16, 29 at 2:00 pm / December 17 at 1:00 pm)
Chelsy Meiss (December 9, 21 at 2:00 pm / December 10 at 5:30 pm / December 15, 16, 29 at 7:00 pm / December 27 at 1:00 pm)
Selene Guerrero-Trujillo* (December 10, 24 at 1:00 pm / December 17 at 5:30 pm / December 21, 28 at 7:00 pm / December 30 at 2:00 pm)
Jordana Daumec* (December 14, 20, 22, 30 at 7:00 pm / December 23 at 2:00 pm / December 27 at 5:30 pm / December 31 at 1:00 pm)

Uncle Nikolai
Spencer Hack (December 8, 12, 15, 23 at 7:00 pm / December 29 at 2:00 pm)
Jack Bertinshaw (December 9, 16, 21 at 2:00 pm / December 27, 31 at 1:00 pm)
Ben Rudisin (December 9, 13, 19 at 7:00 pm / December 17 at 1:00 pm)
Jason Ferro (December 10 at 1:00 pm/ December 17 at 5:30 pm / December 21, 30 at 7:00 pm)
Donald Thom (December 10 at 5:30 pm / December 16, 22, 28, 29 at 7:00 pm / December 24 at 1:00 pm / December 30 at 2:00 pm)
Josh Hall (December 14, 20 at 7:00 pm / December 23 at 2:00 pm / December 27 at 5:30 pm)

* debut

Edited by volcanohunter
casting for additional show
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A very interesting review, volcanohunter. I agree that we didn't see any new ideas in Helen Pickett's Emma Bovary. I also thought about Madama Butterfly and Anna Karenina during the performance. Anyway, the first cast did a great job. It was like a gripping thriller for me. Next time I would go to see this ballet only with Hannah Galway as Emma.

I think the flight of Emma wasn't a scene of a sexual ecstasy; it was her dream about love and passion.

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Onegin Opening Night:

Guillaume Côté, Jurgita Dronina (debut), Harrison James, Tina Pereira (debut), Ben Rudisin

It was a brilliant performance with the first curtain call at NBoC in my viewing experience.

Both Guillaume Côté and Jurgita Dronina gave convincing and nuanced acting.  The timing was perfect so they looked like really reacting to each other's moves rather than carrying out the designed ones. Their musical phrasing was super beautiful. I was awed at the Cote's partnering skills in the mirror duet. He made those difficult lifts effortless. 

Harrison James was very elegant and poetic as Lensky, with stable as ever techniques. Tina Pereira was lovely as the cheerful and flighty Olga. 

Ben Rudisin supports Jurgita well in the stunning ball duet. 

The corps looked better than ever in this show. Noah Parets was a standout in the peasant dance. He exudes a joy of dance which reminded me of Skylar Campbell.

Edited by Xiaoyi
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Onegin Opening Night.

Guillaume Côté, Jurgita Dronina, Harrison James, Tina Pereira, Ben Rudisin.

I really enjoyed the performance of Onegin on the 22nd. Jurgita and Guillaume made a wonderful duet. I want to highlight the extraordinary performance of Harrison James. I'm a longtime fan of his and always enjoy his dancing, but his performance on the 22nd blew me away. He had an excellent understanding of his hero's character, and his technical performance was brilliant.

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This is interesting, because I saw this cast on Friday, and my impression was entirely different. I thought Guillaume Côté's dancing looked labored, his arabesque was pretty much gone and he pitched his torso far forward in an attempt to lift his leg higher. To me his Onegin was devoid of allure, his partnering was extremely bumpy, carrying Jurgita Dronina around like a sack of potatoes, and he tried to compensate by throwing his head around a lot. (I take a dim view of hair-tossers.) During Tatiana's duet with her husband he seemed mostly indifferent. Technically the third act was stronger, perhaps because the "Onegin's dreams" section was adjusted to allow him to turn to the left, and because the partnering of the final scene doesn't have to look smooth. I was surprised, though, that during the big leap from the floor, Dronina didn't actually lie down, but remained standing on one knee. Karen Kain and Xiao Nan Yu used to do this, but they are about 5'7" tall and big-boned by ballet standards, while Dronina is tiny. Perhaps Côté needed an additional day off between performances.

Dronina is the best Olga I have ever seen, a complete and entirely believable person on stage, so my expectations for her Tatiana were extremely high. I was surprised to find her characterization was quite conventional. Her duet with Gremin was truly ravishing, but otherwise her interpretation wasn't especially imaginative or revealing. I don't believe that any ballerina resembles Olga in real life; she couldn't succeed in her profession with that sort of personality. But perhaps Dronina is a bit too extroverted to make Tatiana resonate convincingly. Her most individual stamp came at the end of her variation in the second act, because her final leap in the direction of Onegin's card table already looked like a cry of despair, rather than coming a second later, when he bangs his hands on the table and she runs off in tears.

In her first-act duet Tina Pereira as Olga seemed to be dancing more for the audience than to her partner, which seemed odd given the solicitude of Harrison James, but in the second act she was definitely actively engaged with her onstage colleagues. 

The strongest performance came from James as Lensky. He wasn't Jeremy Ransom-class, and technically he wasn't quite Daniil Simkin-class either, but he was better in dancing between the pirouettes than Simkin, and certainly a superior partner.

Originally this run was to have featured four Gremins, but for whatever reason, Ben Rudisin, who debuted in the role during the last run 7 years ago, will end up dancing every performance but one. If he had little time to rehearse with Dronina, it didn't show. My only quibble would be that after Tatiana's second-act variation ends in humiliation, Rudisin's Gremin gave Côté's Onegin a decidedly disapproving look as Gremin exited the stage. It seemed a little odd that several years later Gremin should have invited Onegin to his home, while neglecting to mention that, by the way, he married that young woman.

Chelsy Meiss is being shunted into character roles: mothers-in-law, ex-nannies and grandmothers. Frankly, she's too young for this, and her doddering looks unconvincing. This was largely true of the elders at the second-act party as well, now that the company has shed all its character artists.

Conductor David LaMarche raced through the music in spots, and the corps in the quasi-folk dance at the end of the first scene couldn't keep up with his tempos.

Sorry to say that ultimately this performance left me unmoved. I had avoided Côté's Onegin up until now, and evidently I should have avoided his last performance of the role, too.

P.S. I still think Santo Loquasto's redesign, particularly the color of the backdrops, is a disaster, conspiring to make the dancers, especially Lensky, invisible.

Edited by volcanohunter
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