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American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count
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Author:  Azlan [ Sun Dec 16, 2001 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

[img]../../../abt2001/abt-sl-swans3c.gif[/img] <P>American Ballet Theatre will open the Orange County Performing Arts Center's 2002 International Dance Season with "Swan Lake" February 12-17.<P>Casting, as announced by OCPAC:<P>Tue, 2/12 eve Julie Kent/Jose Manuel Carreno<BR>Wed, 2/13 eve Ashley Tuttle/Ethan Stiefel<BR>Thu, 2/14 eve Paloma Herrera/Marcelo Gomes<BR>Fri, 2/15 eve Nina Ananiashvili/Julio Bocca<BR>Sat, 2/16 mat Gillian Murphy/Jose Manuel Carreno<BR>Sat, 2/16 eve Irina Dvorovenko/Maxim Belotserkovsky<BR>Sun, 2/17 mat Nina Ananiashvili/Julio Bocca<P>For tickets, visit <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A><p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited December 16, 2001).]

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Dec 22, 2001 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I have my tickets for ABT's performance at Orange County Performing Arts Theater for February 16th, 2002.

Author:  laraH [ Sun Dec 23, 2001 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

And my tickets are for Thursday the 15th. What I find interesting in this casting line-up is the absence of Susan Jaffe or Amanda McKerrow. Especially Jaffe. Murphy is not a principal but is dancing with Carreno - who must be one of the best Sigfrieds around - who has opening night. Where is Jaffe?!

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Jan 02, 2002 11:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

LaraH, ABT casting has always been interesting to me. I think AD Kevin McKenzie isn't one who's afraid of putting soloists and corps dancers in prominent parts. I don't know what's the deal with Jaffe but will see what I can dig up.<P>I myself am looking forward to catch as many performances as I can to compare the casts. It seems I have some kind of cosmic connection with "Swan Lake," with always a big production coinciding with decisive moments of my personal life. The melodramatic deaths at the end of the ballet can take on so many different interpretations, depending on the cast, sometimes even bringing chuckles to audience members if not coached properly.<P>For me though, the deaths always seem to represent the end of a journey and the birth of another. Depending on how things go, I may be spending a special Valentine's at ABT's "Swan Lake" with new bonds in my life.

Author:  evagation [ Sat Jan 19, 2002 11:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

Does anyone know if Ethan Stiefel's old injury (a knee one, I believe) has been acting up, or has he suffered from a new injury? Because he's been taken off the casting schedule on the ABT website and replaced with a "TBA."<P>Not that I'm such a geek that the only reason I wanted to see this wonderfully classical ballet is because of Ethan Stiefel. I'm still excited to be seeing it, no matter what.<P>Katie.

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Jan 20, 2002 6:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

Hello Evagation - welcome to the board - it's great to have you join us.<P>I can't answer your question. However, in a previous interview with him, he did mention his knees.<P>Here is the interview if you wish to read it:<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>Interview - Ethan Stiefel</B></A>

Author:  Jeff [ Wed Feb 06, 2002 10:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

In preparation for ABT’s upcoming run of “Swan Lake,” I’ve been brushing up a little. I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned. Could there possibly be anything “new under the sun” about this well watched ballet? Hmmmm….<P>I have a copy of “Why a Swan? Essays, Interviews, & Conversations on ‘Swan Lake’” compiled by Janice Ross and Stephen Cobbett Steinberg. This little gem is San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum Journal No. 1 from 1989 and is basically the papers from a symposium of the same name (“Why a Swan”) held in conjunction with the premiere of Helgi Tomasson’s production of “Swan Lake” in their 1988 season. <P>I’ve only started reading this (squeezing it in between my homework readings) but I’ve liked it so far. It’s 11 essays with such juicey titles as “The White Swan Adagio” (John Mueller), “Pattern and Meaning in Tchaikovsky” (Roland John Wiley), “Twenty-One Years of ‘Swan Lake’” (Cynthia Gregory), and so forth.<P>Here’s from “Beauty as a Moral Wish” by Joan Acocella.<P>“Ballet people often a talismanic ballet, a ballet where they feel they received the call to become a ballet person…. For me, however, it was “Swan Lake,” danced at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco…. ‘Swan Lake’ is still, for me, the archetypal ballet, because it deals directly with a tragic sense of life and the relationship of tragedy to pure beauty.<P>“Other ballets have other messages for us. “The Sleeping Beauty” is a very reassuring ballet; it says that goodness will win…. “The Sleeping Beauty” also says that your government is good... It glorifies power and equates power with goodness. “Coppelia” is a much more democratic and bourgeois ballet. Its message is that the world is a good place, that your town is a good place to live in, and that if you play your cards right, you can make a happy life for yourself. “Coppelia” glorifies wit, curiosity, and individuality. It also glorifies enterprise, the business of making things go your way.<P>“ ‘Swan Lake’ on the other hand, says that life is not going to work out….The ballet glorifies our ability to project an ideal. It also glorifies the sorrow that is built into life in consequence of our failure to achieve the ideal.”<P>“ ‘Swan Lake’ make this clear. Siegfried is restless; he turns away from what is reasonable and possible the approved princesses. Instead, he sights this mysterious swan maiden and pledges himself to the irrational. Then comes his failure and the double death. And, finally, in the barge rising, we see the hope of finding some truth beyond the grave—the hope, indeed, that some truth exists, of the kind we could imagine and care about on this side of the grave.”<P>Acocella then goes on to discuss how the ballet medium itself repeats the sense of continuous striving towards a perfect but unattainable ideal or image of perfection. Here’s more:<P>“Or consider Odette’s allegro passage in Act II: the passes and the beats and then the pirouettes and chaine turns and then, snap, the final arabesque. It seems to me that this passage is a perfect little conquest, an image of perfection. Balance is a similar miracle—to hoist all that up and hold it there, on one small point.”<P>“My point, then, is simply that in ballet, by virtue of the dance alone, beauty becomes a moral force, a promise of meaning, the fulfillment of a moral wish”….<P>We see it in Pavlova’s legacy of romantic morbidity…the dying swans, the languishing chrysanthemums, the girls on their way out because life is not right. Indeed, this idea of the separation between what we have here on earth and what we feel we should have had is responsible for most of ballet’s clichés. At the same time, it underlies what is best in ballet. And ‘Swan Lake’ is my favorite ballet because that is what it is about, directly, overtly, and because it was in ‘Swan Lake’ that I first saw these things.”<P>This contemplative response is an insightful perspective on a beautiful ballet. I like how she goes from an emotional reaction to an understanding of how the ballet is, in a way, not really about swans and princes, but about ballet itself. “Swan Lake” shows us our very human selves striving after perfection. Failing but also winning by virtue of the act of trying.<P>I think Acocella’s insight goes further than the Greenbergian formalism of David Michael Levin to a flirtation with post-structuralism. Arlene Croce suggests that we go see “Swan Lake” time and again (excuse me if I accidentally included a few “Swan Lake” haters in “we”) in order to see the “ballet behind the ballet” – the “ideal” of “Swan Lake” that lies behind our experience of every production of the ballet. In this sense, much of the moral force of the striving for perfection that lies at the heart of “Swan Lake” –and the ballet dancer’s art as well—is also our struggle as ballet watchers. A search for the ideal… or perhaps, the Ideal. By the very logic of its every step, “Swan Lake” traps us with within its uncanny aesthetic logic.<P>BTW, I found this slim volume used at McDonald’s bookshop in San Francisco for only $3.50 (sans cover though). Amazing what that place has.<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Feb 07, 2002 6:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I differ on several points.....<P>The entire Romantic Era concept, as I understand it, was based on striving after an ideal and not attaining it, or not attaining it in the manner originally conceived. Siegfried wants the Swan, he doesn't get her in life, but he gets her in death. But did he really strive after an ideal? He met her by accident. And then another woman comes along and moves her arms similarly, and he is fooled. Silly man. Anyone can see the Odile is not Odette.<P>I think he rejects the proffered princesses because he wants to find his own, not someone else's idea of what he wants. And, he is obviously bored.<P>As for Coppelia, I don't agree that it is a happy comfortable ballet. The last Coppelia that I saw showed me the sorrow and longing of Dr. Coppelius, his loneliness and his attempt to assauge that loneliness. We have all been there, I think. <P>Another ballet that is similar to Swan Lake, at least in basic concept is La Sylphide. James rejects what everyone expects, runs after a wraith, tries to capture her and ends up empty handed. He is a bit less sympathetic than Siegfried, since Siegfried really believed that Odile was Odette. Though I don't see how. He didn't know the woman beneath the undulating arms.<P>How one can view Sleeping Beauty and arrive at the concept that 'your gov't is good' elludes me, entirely. I think it says 'goodness will triumph'....but the goodness was in the person of the Lilac Fairy, and she is not gov't.<P>I enjoy Swan Lake because of the beauty of the dancing, the pathos of unattainable love, the wonderful music and the demands on the dancers to convince me of the reality of the whole thing.<P>But who am I to argue with Acocella?<P>By the way, according to the previews I read in the publication put out by the Orange County Performing Arts Center, "Revue" January 2002, this is a new production for ABT. It is MacKenzie's vision. It premiered in March 2000. Kisselgoff called it "the blockbuster production of the dance season." Which I assume means she liked it.

Author:  Jeff [ Thu Feb 07, 2002 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I’m not sure I agree with everything in Acocella’s essay, either. But, it is well written and provides an understanding of one ballet watcher’s passion for “Swan Lake” among all the other choices. Fortunately or unfortunately, I can only provide excerpts to suggest the main points. I find intriguing the notion that a ballet finds its theme within by the very act of presenting itself.<P>I’m sure that Acocella has more complex understanding of “Coppelia” and “Sleeping Beauty” and simplifies those ballets in order to help underline that Siegfried and Odette inhabit a moral universe that is fundamentally different from that of Swanilda and Aurora in its hostility and indifference.<P>Of course “La Sylphide” is a natural comparison; but what about “Romeo and Juliet”? Though their world lacks the supernatural overtones of “Swan Lake” and “La Sylphide” theirs, too, is also fundamentally hostile and they, too, die as a result of a mistake that isn’t really theirs.<P>Here’s another selection from “Why a Swan?” This essay “The Possible Dream” by Deborah Jowitt takes the New Historicist angle, but she does touch on issues Basheva has raised about Siegfried. Her basic message is that though “Swan Lake” is the ballerinas ballet, it is Siegfried’s story … and in more ways than one.<P>“But Siegfried (like Solor in “La Bayadere”) is flawed, immature: he cannot tell good from evil, true from false. He can’t seem to see how Odile misappropriates Odette’s steps—that her backbends and swoons, her arabesques and flutterings on the floor, her developpes into arabesque are too quick, too harsh. (Today’s Siegfried’s, faced with today’s Bette Davis-Odiles, really need Benno, who was once, according to Vera Krassovskaya, active during the pas de deux as a counter-advisor to Rothbart…).<P>“What’s wrong with Siegfried? Well, the larger-than-life allure of both Odette and Odile—which is translated for us as ballerina sheen—confronts him with the only challenging woman (women?) he’s ever met outside of his mother. Perhaps he finds it hard to believe that two such exciting creatures could exist.<P>“However, one of the buried, enigmatic subtexts of “Swan Lake” seems to me to related to fin de siecle decadence. Odile is rarely played as the helpless pawn of the sorceror; she’s more like a decorous version of the Salomes, the Salammbos, the Cleopatras, and all those “femmes fatales” of nineteenth-century art and literature…who were so vital to Diaghilev repertory.”<P>“To this scenario which grips us despite its inconsistencies, Odette brings another dimension. Something besides vestiges of the otherworldly, insubstantial nymph colors her image. She is a victim, powerless to achieve her own salvation, dependent on the clear sight and pure heart of a man who loves her. Yet neither her dancing nor her behavior are weak, nor are the actions of her companions. The natural fierceness of pointe technique as well as Ivanov’s endowment—the rippling arms, powerful back, diving penches and steady hopped arabesques that give the effect of gliding, the force of those echappes and passes—do not suggest passive acceptance of her fate. (If the ball hadn’t begun in the afternoon, before darkness released her from her spell, she’d have been a contender).”<P>I love that term, “ballerina sheen.”<P>Also, the notion that Odette might have been a “contender.” She is indeed a powerful figure. I recollect that we first see Odette placing herself in front of Siegfried’s hunters to shield her swan maidens. Though a queen, she does not hesitate to sacrifice herself for her flock. Siegfried could have learned a sense of responsibility from her.<P>I didn’t, however, understand the reference “Bette Davis-Odiles.” Can anybody explain?<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Feb 08, 2002 6:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I can only give you my personal view/feelings of Bette Davis. To me she always had an undercurrent of malevolence, a dark force. I am not intending to say this about the woman's real character as I don't know her, have never had in any way any contact with her, nor even read much about her. But, in her portrayals that is the feeling I always got from her. I could never picture her playing a simpering wimp.<P>I am still thinking about the phrase 'why a swan?' and the answer I get is 'why not a swan?' Swans have a number of attributes we admire. Certainly the natural grace of the body shape. The serenity they seem to exude. We see the smooth glide upon the water, but not the feet busy paddling underneath. And, then there is the beautiful counter-swan image in the reflection upon the water - making it even more surreal.<P>The lake I ride my bike around has swans and I have spent a good number of years watching them. They never seem to make an awkward move - as long as they are in the water. And every once in a while, just as the viewer is utterly mesmerized by the picture of perfection it is utterly ruined when they turn upside down to investigate under the water. I usually find at that point, I turn away unwilling to have that impressed upon my memory.<P>As for the hostility of the world toward Siegfried and Odette, between Romeo and Juliet, I find that fairly consistent throughout time and culture. "Everyone loves a lover" is untrue. The world is often dead set against the fruition of love. <P> Many cultures have fairly complex rituals to keep the lovers separate until the society/family deems the time right. Of course one can cite economic, moralistic and other reasons for this, but the result is the same - a slowing down, or even disruption, of the natural bent of love and fruition. Unless it is within society's rules. <P>But I wander. Forgive me.<P>

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Feb 09, 2002 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>Ripples of Change in ABT’s 'Swan Lake'<BR>Make-overs include more dancing for the sorcerer Rothbart in the version planned for Costa Mesa.</B><P>By CHRIS PASLES, Times Staff Writer<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>With a new introduction and new choreography for Acts 1 and 4, audiences will be seeing a very different "Swan Lake" on Tuesday when American Ballet Theatre dances at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.<BR> Artistic director Kevin McKenzie says the biggest make-over will be given to the role of the evil sorcerer Rothbart. A largely non-dancing part in other productions, the character will actually have solos. During the overture he'll be seen seducing Odette and turning her into a swan and he will be a dominant force in the ballroom scene. The part will be double-cast with one performer as an acting Rothbart and another as a dancing Rothbart.<BR> "He's a huge controlling force in the story," McKenzie said recently from company studios in New York. "I wanted to establish right off, yes, he was the bad guy, but also he was a supernatural being. He had control over mere mortals.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF=",1419,L-LATimes-Theater-X!ArticleDetail-51239,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A>

Author:  Jeff [ Sat Feb 09, 2002 9:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

Basheva, I can forgive you for wandering because I’ve had so much practice excusing myself … in case you haven’t noticed. Image Also, thanks for the clue-in on Better Davis.<P>In case we haven’t gotten far enough away from the main topic of this thread, I’m going to follow Deborah Jowitt just a little further.<P>After ruminating about Siegfried’s chuckleheadedness and Odette’s strength of technique like strength of character, Jowitt then switches gear to discuss how Russian historical developments that were occurring at the same time as the Ivanov-Petipa “Swan Lake” might provide a different slant on the ballet.<P>The Tsarevitch (the heir apparent) turned 21 the year after the premiere of the Ivanov revival of Act II. Also, at about that time Tsar Alexander II’s health began to suffer and that all objections were lifted to the Tsarevitch, Nicholas’, marriage to Princess Alix of Hesse.<P>“Alexander III died on October 20 [1894]; the marriage of the new Tsar took place a month later; the complete “Swan Lake” was first performed on January 27, 1895.”<P>“…the ballet makers were, of necessity, responsive to the climate in which they functioned. The dilemma of “Swan Lake,” a slightly unconvincing one to us, yet capable of tearing at our hearts, has to do with the loss of a possible kingdom. Sugary apotheosis notwithstanding, the ballet gently warns its spectators that Siegfried was unprepared to rule—not because he was a dreamer and idealist (that was right; that was why he refused to consider any of the six waltzing clones as brides), but because he was too easily seduced from duty, because he broke his word, because he failed to save that valiant snow white soul of Russia from her enemy.”<P>If you’re like me—rusty on your Russian history, Jowitt is referring to the teaching that Nicholas II, the last Tsar, and his wife, Alexandra, were frivolous and Nicholas was indecisive and ineffective ruler. That bit about the Tsar’s family objecting to the Tsarevitch’s marriage to Princess Alix (afterwards, Alexandra) was because she was from a small German state, Hesse; but Nicholas really loved her and was determined to have his way. As Tsar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, these are the rulers who let Rasputin into court. Talk about chuckleheadedness…<P>In the world of the Imperial Russian court, the betrothal and marriage of the heir apparent was not just a matter of tabloid and fashionable speculation. The very security of the land depended upon a smooth transition of power and no land had more experience of civil war, pretenders and usurpers of the throne, etc than Russia. When he rejects the 6 “approved princesses,” Siegfried risks much more than his mother’s despair. Like James in “La Sylphide,” Siegfried plunges into the darkness where his fate awaits him in all its grandeur.<P>But, to return to the topic of this thread … question: how did Orange County get so lucky to have the new and amazing von Rothbart? I’m under the impression that Orange County is a conservative area … listen, its airport is named after the Duke … is this really a good idea?<P>I’m afraid this will really test my open-mindedness way more than Sylvie Guillem’s “Giselle” did—and I liked her “Giselle.” Even more than the unicorns in the McKenzie “Nutcracker.” My understanding of the story ballets like “Swan Lake,” “La Bayadere,” “Coppelia,” etc depend in part upon the distinction between the characters of mime (like von Rothbart, Grand Brahmin, Coppelius) and those of pure dance (Odette/Odile, Nikiya, Swanilda).<P>But, that’s the magic of a living art.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited February 09, 2002).]

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Feb 10, 2002 6:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I think that it is the mime characters that hold the story together - they are the sinews beneath the dance embroidery.<P>Name a ballet in which the mime character is not the deus ex machina (in many cases mostly negative rather than positive).<P>How did Orange County get so lucky? First of all through the generosity of many private donors like the Segerstrom's. And hundreds of others. But this is true in many places like the mainline aristocracy of Philadelphia.<P>Is it an accident that a conservative area would enjoy - foster - donate to - attend - nourish - the ballet? Not at all. I myself am guilty of being both a dance lover and a conservative.<P>Shall I commit hari-kari now?

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Feb 10, 2002 6:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

I would like to return to the hypothesis of Swan Lake occuring at the same time of Nicholas's coming to the throne in Russia. It is certainly true that his father suspected he was not fit for governance or perhaps even producing an heir. Hence, Mathilde Kschessenskaya.<P>There has always seemed to me some questions about Swan Lake....well, that is once one accepts the inherent fantasy - there are questions remaining.<P>Why does the Queen so quickly, without question, not only allow the presence of these strangers, Von Rothbart and his daughter, to come into her court and take a seat beside her?<P>Why no king? Tsar Alexander was a powerful monarch. So, if we put this ballet into the political time frame of its creation, why no king in Swan Lake?<P>Would the story be different had there been a king? <P><BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Feb 14, 2002 5:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' in Orange Count

From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>February 14, 2002<P>DANCE REVIEW<BR>Steps and Missteps<BR>The American Ballet Theatre's performs Kevin McKenzie's streamlined vision of 'Swan Lake'</B><P>By CHRIS PASLES, Times Staff Writer<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>For a few moments, Kevin McKenzie's new "Swan Lake" ventures into deep, dangerous and fascinating waters. The American Ballet Theatre artistic director shows the evil sorcerer Rothbart dominating the court in Act III through his sexual magnetism, evoking the irrational power of erotic attraction by luring away the four princesses from their cavaliers. <BR> McKenzie prepares for this moment by staging the introduction to the ballet, which Tuesday opened a six-day run at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. We see Rothbart first as a ram-horned creature who transforms himself into a handsome courtier to attract, abduct and change the heroine Odette into a swan. (Rothbart the creature and Rothbart the courtier are danced by two different dancers.) How much her own desire makes her complicit in the change may be a moot point. Innocence, as we will also see in the case of the ballet's hero Prince Siegfried, is pretty helpless in this world of passion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF=",1419,L-LATimes-Theater-X!ArticleDetail-51452,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A> <BR>

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