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ABT-Le Corsaire: June 17

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It's late, so just a few remarks...

WOW, WOW and WOW!!!!!

This goes down as one of the best nights of ballet I've seen. It almost felt like a gala night with many dancers from NYCB, and the few ABT dancers not dancing in the audience. I suspect that with Corella, Reyes, Acosta, Herrera and deLuz all in major roles, that many of the other Spanish and Latin American dancers & familiies were on hand to watch and cheer.

It started out with Wiles, Murphy and Riccetto as powerhouse Odilesques (sp). Though they were a tad off in the group work, the solos were first rate! I think Murphy may have started the pirouette sequence with a quintuple or more-I counted four revolutions in her third or fourth pirouette. Then came Xiomara Reyes with out of this world speed on her turns-fastest I've ever seen on any stage.

Then came Herrerra, her usual brilliant self.

And then came Acosta and Corrella. Corrella, Herrera and Acosta brought down the house during the pas de trois. Acosta has the most incredible height on his jumps, spin speed to rival (and beat) Corella and when he does the circles of angled tour jetes (I don't know the right term, but they are leaning, bounding turns), he finishes off with what appears to be 1.5 or 2 revolutions in the same position. There was an audible gasp from the audience every time he lept into the air.

Acosta is not a very tall dancer, but has a huge presence on the stage, and appears to be a very solid partner.

Corrella took up the challenge and met it-huge high delayed split jumps, those crosslegged, bent knee pirouettes which start in second postion and seem to last forever-this time completely cross-legged to the very end and one after the other. Then Herrerra kept on foutteing and fouetting and fouetting.

Standing ovation (many people were leaving early-grrr...at least wait for the main bows to end) and at least three curtain calls for Acosta & Herrera.


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I rather enjoy ABT's Corsaire, but I can't see it too many times in a year. It's amiable and silly. I remember gritting my teeth and biting my tongue when my father, with whom I'd seen Corsaire in Washington earlier this year (Dvorovenko, Belotserkovsky, and I forget who was the slave) said "This is what a ballet should be! All that exciting dancing." I refrained from raining on his parade with comments about how all it needs are dancing bears and popcorn vendors. And I suppose if it gets people to the theater and helps pay ABT's bills (and those superstar salaries), why not? I'd rather see people exposed to something that's at least vaguely classical than Yet Another Eurotrash Ballet.

Although there's certainly a place for bravura, I would like to think there's a bit more to ballet than tricks and dancing girls, though.

I might try to see Acosta and Herrera the next time they do this; or I might just save my money for Giselle (but I'm not buying any more Giselle tickets until the Dream casting at NYCB goes up!).

PS: Sneds, I think you were referring to what I would call a manège of jetè coupès.

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I too was at last night's Corsaire and enjoyed it very much. The "competition" between Corella and Acosta made great fun for the audience: you kept expecting each to outdo the other for the audience's favors. Yes, you could say it was a bit like a circus. But that sort of thing is great good fun once and a while.

But I would like to ask those dance historians on this list about the garden scene in the last act.

The Delibes music is some of the same music that Balanchine used for La Source. Each time I see ABT's Corsaire, I keep wondering: Is this what Balanchine saw as a child? In other words, is this relatively authentic Petipa? There is one moment in La Source which I particularly love -- where the corp girls have their backs to the audience and are boureeing toward the front of the stage. In the Petipa version, the scene is so static -- very, very pretty (lots of people on stage, including children) but I keep thinking of what Balanchine did with that music. For me, he filled and matched that music with just a handful of corp girls.

I'd really like to hear from the experts about the differences.

Another question: were those children from SAB or ABT's school? And aren't they awfully young to be on pointe?

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In terms of delivering a performance, instead of tricks, the company looked really quite good last night, especially Reyes as Gulnare and Malakhov as the slave owner. The pas d'esclave was so lovely, so expressive, it really seemed to be about loss of freedom (though not overly melodramatic.) Of course, she seems perfectly happy the rest of the ballet, but she is supposed to. Malakhov didn't try the deep plies up to a jump, but his dancing was so expressive, he created a real character, just a mass of cowardly greed. Acosta is a very good actor, I think. The confrontation scene with Birbanto was played straight and really quite dramatic. I too was suprized that he seemed on the short side dancing with Herrera, he really does seem to tower over everyone. His dancing, though, seems more energetic than elegant, and he went for too many fancy jumps that he couldn't finish cleanly. To me, a real hero shouldn't be competing with his slave. And I think that the production does Birbanto a real diservice by having him come on and jump and jump and jump right after the Ali pas de trois. He really should be able to mime, to establish his character as something different and powerful, though de Luz certainly tried to make something of it.

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Manhattanik-it was not a series of normal coupe jetes-Acosta's jetes were done with his body leaning back so that his feet actually ended up higher than or at the same level as his head. Almost a helicopter-like effect with the legs. I don't have the Le Corsaire video with me in NY, but I think it's the normal choreography, only I've never seen someone add an extra rotation to the final jete.


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ABT looked great tonight too! (June 18)

My favorite performance was given by Gillian Murphy, but all members of the cast were a delight.

Maxim Belotserkovsky, Marcello Gomes, Jose Manuel Carreno, Michelle Wiles, Xiomara Reyes, Stella Abrera (pretty), Anna Liceica and the ensemble (yes! the ensemble!), were great!

Is it just 'Le Corsaire', or is the company looking good in everything?

I'll try to see 'Giselle' for sure!

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Yes, those were barrell turns! I knew I'd heard another term for those turns before, but was totally stumped.

The performance was reviewed by Anna Kisselgoff in today's NYTimes and she described the level of dancing as "ultra spectacular". The article is accompanied by a fabulous picture of Acosta high in the air in a grand jete, legs at a pefect 180 angle!


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sneds wrote:

ABT does not have its own school, so I'd guess the student were all from SAB. I also thought the girls seemed very young to be on pointe.


A young friend of ours was one of the girls in Act III. She is a student in her first year at SAB, but not all the children are students there. The audition call was for short girls who could dance on pointe. Our friend (Ellany Abbott - look out for that name in future) is twelve years old; I believe most of the other girls are of similar age.


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A special treat on Wednesday afternoon, the 19th, was seeing Maria Bystrova dance one of the First Act "Slave Girl" variations -- Bystrova got the one with all the emboitee steps.

It's the most prominent moment I've seen her cast in at ABT and I'm happy to see it. There has always been something contradictory about the idea of Bystrova in a Corps de Ballet -- She is so Grand and "Ballerina" in style and presence, clearly not one to vanish in a crowd. This being the first chance I've had to see her "dance" since her Studio Company days, one remarked a particularly beautiful physical development in her shoulders, neck, and upper body and a totally different maturity in her stage presence.

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Last night as we watched Le Corsaire - and really enjoyed pretty much the same cast as you, glebb - we kept thinking about a certain piece of music in the Pasha's dream scene "Jardin Animee" in Act III, and racking our brains to figure out where we knew it from!?

Well, I think Bobbi hit on it earlier on this thread:

But I would like to ask those dance historians on this list about the garden scene in the last act.  

The Delibes music is some of the same music that Balanchine used for La Source. Each time I see ABT's Corsaire, I keep wondering: Is this what Balanchine saw as a child? In other words, is this relatively authentic Petipa?...

Of course, Bobbi was asking some more specific questions than my brain even thought about. :) I, too, would love to get some feedback as to whether or not you "all" think that George Balanchine was inspired by this particular piece of music in Le Corsaire when he created La Source? I really love that music. :)

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I remember reading somewhere, though I can't place it, that Danilova once suggested to Balanchine that he put on the Jardin Animee, and he said no, because then everyone would realize how much he had taken from it! Balanchine certainly took thinks from Petipa, lots of the white swan, and certainly Raymonda's hand clapping solo look similar, though of course Balanchine changed certain accents. There is of course nothing underhand about it--Petipa reworked lots of Romantic ballets, too.

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