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Le Corsaire Los Angeles July 11th

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This was a great night for ballet in Los Angeles.

We were treated to an incredible cast and gorgeous dancing all around. I (and several others I talked to) liked this performance so much more than the one I saw in Orange County a few years ago. I don't know if it's because the company overall is stronger, the production has become more seasoned, or if I have suspended my opinion of the plot!

Angel Corella of course stole the show as Ali, briefly eclipsing the spectacular dancing and very good acting by Carreno (Lankendem) and Bocca (Conrad.) Joaquin de Luz made a very sly and charming Birbanto.

Nina A. was regal but warm as Medora. Gillian Murphy was Gulnare. To me, Murphy's dancing can always be described as crystalline. Last night was no exception but you could tell she was a little distracted when part of her hair came down during the first act pas de deux.

The Odalisque variations by Maria Riccetto, Michele Wiles and Stella Abrera were the real revelation of the evening. If we could only have more ballet like this in Los Angeles!

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Chiming in late, but better late than never, right? I hadn't originally planned to attend any of these performances, but by chance was able to catch those of July 11 and 12.

As Jacqueline mentioned, the opening night cast was quite an assemblage of talent and the audience absolutely ate it up (Giannina would've hated all the clapping and whooping...)! Corella deservedly brought down the house with his exciting pyrotechnics and joy. I felt that Ananiashvili and Bocca danced well, but not with the oomph and commitment that I've seen from either of them in other performances. Many have commented on Murphy's recent improved characterization of roles, but I still do not see it, personally. Technically, of course, she is solid. I agree that Birbanto was well-danced and acted by Joaquin de Luz.

On the second night, I felt that Ethan Stiefel was "over the top" as Conrad, and he seemed to really be pushing the bravura steps in "competition" with Gennadi Saveliev's Lankendem. Saveliev did a move I'd never seen before – kind of a barrel turn with an extra whip of a leg over the other before landing (yes, audience was gasping in surprise and then roaring), and he did the deep plies. Although the excitement level was high, I think both got out of control at points, lending to some sloppiness. I was more pleased with both lead women – Paloma Herrera danced well as Medora (this role seemed to suit her temperament, and she looked good physically), and Xiomara Reyes was a pert Gulnare. Herman Cornejo danced a very satisfying Birbanto. On both nights, the corps looked quite good; unison and clear patterns were evident.

Saving the best for last, my favorite performances, far and away, were Jose Manuel Carreno's. He danced Lankendem on the 11th and Ali on the 12th. As usual, he greatly impressed me with his elegant, solid technique and expression_– as crazy as it may seem for the roles, I felt he brought a degree of dignity to them both. And, quite simply, the quality of his movement takes my breath away...

At any rate, while I had wished that ABT brought something other than Le Corsaire to Los Angeles (considering they'd danced it in Orange County in the recent past), I was glad to see the company again, and perhaps the success of the short run may be a positive step in the direction of bringing more major ballet to L.A. The Disney Hall is scheduled for completion in little more than a year, and that will supposedly open up the Dorothy Chandler for more dance/ballet. I know that the two friends who went with me to the performances really enjoyed the ballet and would probably go more often if it were more readily accessible. We can hope, at least (and must start somewhere)!

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