CriticalDance Forum

American Ballet Theatre - 2007 Met Season
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Author:  balletomaniac [ Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:30 am ]
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Kate -- Just a quick follow-up to what Cygne wrote - Not only did the Times run the inteview with Vishneva without mentioning the illness that caused her to cancel her performance on the 9th - she also, I found out yesterday, cancelled her performance this past Tuesday. On Wednesday, when the Times actually decided to print the interview that ran in Thursday's paper (again, it was an evergreen - it could have run virtually anytime), they had to have known about the cancellation on the 9th, and also had to have known by that time that she'd cancelled two performances. Indeed, they might have inserted the interview in space that might have been reserved for a review of her Tuesday performance. So this wasn't a question of not being aware of it, or not thinking that it mattered, this was an intentional avoidance of mentioning the subject. And it has nothing to do with privacy issues - not when a sold out house pays to see her, and it's been disclosed to everyone at the Met that she's ill. Not even mentioning the illness that's kept her out of two performances in an article about her is, at best, astonishingly poor judgment. But the illness should have been reported at least by Tuesday (assuming that they don't do any real work over the weekend); at the least, it might have alerted last-minute and standing room ticket buyers of the situation.
I hope she recovers by tonight; I have tickets. :)

Incidentally, last night's Manon performance was wonderful. But not just Ferri. Where did Bolle come from? [Kate, maybe you're familiar with him.] For a guy who's disgustingly good-looking (they should just put a cape on him, stamp an "S" on his chest, and be done with it), he's a superb dancer. More if I get time later. [No, that's not a threat...:)]

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:06 am ]
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Here is a link to Roberto Bolle's biography from Teatro alla Scala in Milan:

Roberto Bolle - La Scala

Bolle has been Alessandra Ferri's most frequent and preferred partner. I have a wonderful tape of their R&J from ten years (or so) ago.

Author:  balletomaniac [ Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:31 am ]
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Thanks, Francis. Nice resume. It shows. But 31 or 32? He doesn't look a day over 25. It'll be interesting to see whether ABT tries to capitalize on him even without Ferri. Based on what I saw last night (for a virtual unknown here to have bouquets thrown at him - I couldn't tell by what gender - is quite unusual, if not unprecedented), he's the ballet equivalent of a rock star.

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:18 pm ]
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I am very jealous - I consider Bolle very drool-worthy and never have had the chance to see him in person. He danced in the opening ceremony for the Turin Olympics, but the choreography and costumes were pretty hideous, so it didn't show his talents off very well.

I think he's just brought in for Ferri, as he's never - to my knowledge - been scheduled for an appearance that wasn't intended to be opposite Ferri.


Author:  ksneds [ Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:11 pm ]
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Casting for the seventh and eighth weeks of American Ballet
Theatre¹s 2007 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House was announced
today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

On Monday, June 25, the Company will give the first of eight
performances of Swan Lake, with Irina Dvorovenko, Maxim Beloserkovsky and
David Hallberg in the leading roles. Choreographed by Kevin McKenzie after
Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Swan Lake is set to a score by Peter Ilyitch
Tchaikovsky and features scenery and costumes by Zack Brown.

The season will conclude with eight performances of James
Kudelka¹s Cinderella, beginning Monday, July 2, led by Julie Kent and
Marcelo Gomes. At the matinee on Wednesday, July 4, Guest Artist Guillaume
Côté will reprise his role as Her Prince Charming, opposite Xiomara Reyes as
Cinderella. Côté made his debut with ABT in the same role during the 2006
Met Season. Cinderella is set to music by Sergei Prokofiev and features
scenery and costumes by David Boechler.

Countrywide Financial is the National Sponsor of American Ballet
Theatre. Superfund Asset Management, Inc. and Northern Trust are the
sponsors of ABT¹s Metropolitan Opera House Season. The 2007 Metropolitan
Opera House season is also made possible with public funds from the National
Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state
agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tickets for American Ballet Theatre¹s 2007 Metropolitan Opera
House season, priced $24-$110, are available at the Met box office, online,
or by phone at 212-362-6000. The Metropolitan Opera House is located on
Broadway between 64th and 65th streets in New York City. For more
information, visit ABT¹s website at <> .

Complete casting follows:


Mon. Eve., June 25, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky, Hallberg

Tues. Eve., June 26, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Vishneva, Gomes, Radetsky

Wed. Mat., June 27, 2 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Kent, Carreño, Pastor

Wed. Eve., June 27, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Murphy, Stiefel, Saveliev

Thurs. Eve., June 28, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Ananiashvili, Corella, Gomes

Fri. Eve., June 29, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Wiles, Hallberg, Pastor

Sat. Mat., June 30, 2 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Part, Gomes, Radetsky

Sat. Eve., June 30, 8 P.M. SWAN LAKE ­
Herrera, Corella, Saveliev


Mon. Eve., July 2, 8 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Kent, Gomes

Tues. Eve., July 3, 8 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Murphy, Hallberg

Wed. Mat., July 4, 2 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Reyes, Côté

Wed. Eve., July 4, 8 P.M. NO PERFORMANCE

Thurs. Eve., July 5, 8 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Kent, Gomes

Fri. Eve., July 6, 8 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Murphy, Hallberg

Sat. Mat., July 7, 2 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Kent, Gomes

Sat. Eve., July 7, 8 P.M. CINDERELLA ­
Reyes, Côté


Author:  balletomaniac [ Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:31 pm ]
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American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center
New York, NY
June 14 and 15, 2007

As a semi-professional balletomane for more years than I care to remember, I’ve been privileged to witness many extraordinary performances; performances that will endure as treasured memories as long as what passes for my brain still functions. But I cannot recall having previously seen two consecutive performances that were at such a level of intensity, and brilliance, as the June 14 and 15 performances of “Manon” by, respectively, Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle, and Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes.

Ferri and Vishneva are similar dancers. They appear comparable in size and general appearance, and dance with a sort of ‘controlled abandon’ that enables their performances to transcend steps. They dance what their roles compel them to do, not just what the choreography compels them to do. And both are “hot” stage personalities. By that I mean that they are able to transmit their intensity to the audience, so that the audience doesn’t just watch them dance, the audience feels what they feel, and lives the performance with them.

Ferri is ideally suited to dance Macmillan, and Vishneva is ideally suited to dance anything at all, including Macmillan, so it is not surprising that their performances as Manon were similar as well, and similarly moving. But these two performances took the Macmillan choreography to another level. Simply put – they did not just deliver two of the best performances as Manon that I have seen (comparing them to, say, Sylvie Guillem, whose Manon was extraordinary in its own right, is like comparing apples and oranges); they gave two of the finest performances of anything that I have seen..

Macmillan, as I recall, was frequently criticized for treating his lead ballerinas like objects to be manipulated and pushed and pulled and lifted and tossed through space like sacks of potatoes – the movement as much acrobatic as balletic. But to me his choreography, at least in the tragedies of Romeo & Juliet, Manon and Mayerling, demonstrates something else entirely – movement that percolates rather than simply pulses, in which the characters’ passion ignites the stage as if gasoline had been poured on already flaming embers. The steps are ballet steps; the moves are ballet moves, but they’re strung together at a feverish pace that makes the whole much more than the sum of its parts. And although, at times, the choreography pushes dancers to incredible demonstrations of athletic skill, this athleticism is always within the confines of artistry, with the purpose not of showing off, but of using the ballet vocabulary to amplify and magnify, as well as reflect, the beat of the passionate human heart.

For Manon, Macmillan took the successful ‘formula’ he used with Romeo & Juliet, and distilled it. Instead of balcony, bed and bier, we have bed, bed, and bayou. And he took the youthful passion he had choreographed with Romeo & Juliet, and distilled that as well. Manon and Des Grieux are not just young lovers exploring, through movement, their feelings for each other; they are exploring passion’s complexities and their own complexities as well.

But whatever one thinks of Macmillan’s choreography, it is the performances that make the piece. Both Ferri and Vishneva danced and acted (they both are extraordinary actresses, as well as extraordinary dancers) and pushed themselves beyond what any dancer would seem to be capable of. Vishneva’s exhilaration during the Act I bedroom scene and her palpable exhaustion at its conclusion, was echoed, if not surpassed, by Ferri. And Ferri’s extraordinary death scene in the Louisiana bayou in Act III was echoed, if not surpassed, by Vishneva. Perhaps one way to describe the difference in the performances is that, with Ferri, the audience watched in disbelief, wondering how much more this ballerina could possible give without completely losing control. With Vishneva, the audience watched in disbelief, wondering how much more of Vishneva’s performance they could possibly take without completely losing control.

At times both Ferri and Vishneva seemed to abandon any semblance of control, moved as if possessed, and trusted their partners to always be there. Their partners always were. These two performances were not just about the ballerinas. Roberto Bolle and Marcelo Gomes gave extraordinary performances as well – and in the case of Gomes, perhaps the best he’s ever done.

Roberto Bolle, whom I had not previously seen, was ‘imported’ by Ferri to partner her for Manon and Romeo & Juliet during this ABT season. I was aware that the two danced together regularly at La Scala in Milan, but I had no idea that Bolle was as good as he was. He is a large man (or perhaps, next to Ferri, appearing larger than he is), and he’s disgustingly good-looking, with a disarming and charming ‘country-bumpkin-ish’ smile. [During the curtain calls, and the well-deserved applause, he broke into a grin that would have melted steel.] If a ballet of “Superman” were ever created, it should be choreographed on him; he even looks a little like Christopher Reeve

Bolle manipulated Ferri like he’s been doing it all his professional life (which, apparently, he has). But more than just being able to toss her around like, well, a sack of potatoes, he also has a purity of movement, a clean line, and unusual ballon for a man his size. He may not be a danseur noble (he’s still a little rough around the edges), but he’s a super danseur. It remains to be seen whether ABT will attempt to capitalize on his instant, and obvious, popularity after Ferri retires. Although ABT has a strong group of male dancers, a 31 year old who can partner the tallest ballerinas and sell tickets as well might be worth adding to the roster.

But perhaps the most remarkable performance of all came from Mr. Gomes. As has been noted previously, Mr. Gomes is having an extraordinary season. His performance with Vishneva, however, was beyond extraordinary. Gomes has no rough edges; he appears to have pushed himself beyond what his natural abilities may have enabled him to do, and now ranks as one of the richest talents on the ABT stage. Though he shows less pyrotechnics than others, Gomes has evolved into is a classicist with a heart, and the most selfless of partners. He seems to know instinctively that when he’s on stage with a ballerina, he looks good as long as she looks good, and to a large extent whether she looks good depends on him. And for Vishneva, who had just recovered from an unspecified illness that caused her to miss two scheduled performances earlier in the week (and who looked even more thin and pale than usual, though with Vishneva that’s just a question of degree), he had to be more than just a considerate partner. She relied on him to carry her through, and he delivered.

Thursday’s performance was also balanced beautifully with Herman Cornejo as Lescaut, and Gillian Murphy as his courtesan/mistress. Each danced with consummate skill. On Friday, the roles were taken by Gennadi Saveliev and Michele Wiles. I’ve seen Mr. Saveliev dance Lescaut before, and although he cannot match Cornejo, this isn’t a competition, and Saveliev’s gave a thoroughly accomplished performance. Ms. Wiles, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have a clue as to the role she was playing. Though she danced the steps proficiently, she was as seductive as a girl scout.

When it was over, the June 14 audience stood and cheered and would not let Ferri and Bolle go. Of late, the Met has not seen fit to allow curtain calls to be milked more than once or twice. With Ferri, I lost count. Knowing, as everyone in the house did, that this was Ferri’s last scheduled Manon made the tribute to her even more poignant. And Ferri, exhausted as she was (this was her third Manon in four days), responded with the warmth and graciousness that has marked her performing career.

And when the June 15 performance was over, the curtain opened to Vishneva and Gomes wrapped in each other's arms as if they’d collapse in exhaustion if they let go, and looking at each other in weary wonder at the miracle that they knew they’d accomplished. Their mutual gratitude (particularly Vishneva's for Gomes) was as moving as their performances. And I suspect that the roar of the audience that began immediately when the curtain opened could be heard outside the Met, throughout New York, and into whatever realm exists in which performances of a lifetime are celebrated, recorded, and remembered

Author:  Rosella [ Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:00 am ]
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balletmaniac here is Bolle's official website:

He has the fame of a rock star in Italy and, in spite of that, he is very humble and generous. Recently Petit has reconstructed "Le jeune homme et la mort" for him and Darcey Bussell. It was a great success. In the gallery of his site there are varius pictures of the piece.

Author:  Rosella [ Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:19 am ]
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oopps, sorry for the mispelling, balletomaniac...

Author:  balletomaniac [ Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:00 am ]
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Thanks Rosella. So he really is a rock star. And the description of his humility and generosity fits with what I sensed when he took his bows. Any comparisons to Superman in Europe too?

For those in the NY area, Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg did a very, very good R&J yesterday afternoon. She was able to do what she's had a little bit of difficulty doing in the past - showing emotion and connecting with her partner and the audience. For only a second Juliet (I understand that her debut was during ABT's recent season in Chicago) it was quite remarkable. This was her only scheduled performance at the Met- but I see that she (and Hallberg) has been added tonight to replace Xiomara Reyes. I recommend seeing her before she get to be too perfect. :)

Author:  Rosella [ Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:35 pm ]
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Not that I know, but I see what you mean about his face and body, he would be a very good Superman, in a way he is already a super dancer. Actually I was at the performance on Monday, will soon post something about it, I agree with everything you said about both Bolle and Ferri, they are a great couple on stage. Now that I am back in Italy I may be able to catch the gala they are going to perform towards the end of June in Macerata in the beautiful and long stage of the town arena. For more info check the Civitanova Danza website:

Author:  Rosella [ Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:18 am ]
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Returning to a Favorite Role for an Almost-Final Goodbye

June 13, 2007
New York Times

Alessandra Ferri has given many riveting performances in the title role of Kenneth MacMillan’s “Manon,” a near-perfect vehicle for the dramatic intelligence and physical gifts that have made her one of the great ballerinas of the last two decades. ... 32&ei=5070

Author:  Rosella [ Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:27 am ]
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Ferri and Bolle Triumph in ‘Manon'

June 13, 2007
The New York Sun

Alessandra Ferri was the star of the show at American Ballet Theatre's first "Manon" of the season Monday night. Later this month, Ms. Ferri will retire after 22 years with ABT; she dances "Manon" again this week and then "Romeo and Juliet" on June 23.

Author:  Rosella [ Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:37 am ]
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American Ballet Theatre, New York, Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, 11 June 2007

The poster portraying Alessandra Ferri in “Manon” is a beautiful photograph by her husband, Fabrizio Ferri who curiously has her same surname. They met in Pantelleria about ten years ago and they fell in love with each other. Out of their encounter came a splendid book of photographs, “Aria” [air], where Ferri is portrayed naked in black and white photographs against the dark rocks of the Sicilian island. This Manon photo is equally evocative and it shows Ferri’s tonic and flowy body in a cambré with her pointed shoes horizontally pressed to the floor.

Manon is a complex character who is often compared with Carmen because of her malicious choice of lust over love and maybe because she is an outcast after all. However, the two characters are very different. Carmen is born an outcast, while Manon becomes so after she is deported to Louisiana. Carmen is a Gypsy loyal to her people, Manon is alone with her mistakes. Carmen is a free woman who loves who she wants to love, Manon’s only love is Des Grieux. Carmen is killed by her lover, Manon dies in her lover’s arms.

Manon is one of Ferri’s favourite roles and one that particularly suits her interpretative and technical qualities. Created in 1974 by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, it is a ballet in three acts inspired by Abbé Prevost’s 18th century novel. The novel was considered a scandalous work and the ballet reflects its explicit eroticism especially in the love duets of the two protagonists.

Tonight Ferri will dance with Roberto Bolle, étoile at La Scala Ballet and often her partner in numerous international ballet productions. The Met is starting to fill up with people. Together with the programme, the audience is given a brief written message stating that for tonight Manon’s brother will be danced by Ethan Stiefel and not by Herman Cornejo. Stiefel will prove an excellent Lescaut, full of brio in his opening solo and particularly funny in his drunken pas de deux with his mistress in act II.

When Ferri enters the stage a warm applause welcomes her, her movements are gracious and measured. In this part of the story she is Lescaut’s sister whose destiny is a life in a convent. Soon she notices the young Des Grieux, interpreted by a superb Roberto Bolle and their encounter gradually turns into a burning passion. MacMillan has the cinematic ability to structure different storylines running parallel to each other. Often the main storyline, that is Manon and Des Grieux’s love affair, takes place in the back or in a corner of the stage while Lescaut’s duet with his mistress goes on or while secondary scenes develop centerstage. It is an excellent device and it creates a special atmosphere of anticipation. Then when the two protagonists do perform their beautiful pas de deux the climax is reached.

Bolle and Ferri have a special affinity, he is tall and well built and he perfectly masters his jumps and pirouettes. She is fluid and subtle and her technique is sublime. After Manon decides to be Mosieur G.M.’s partner, her character changes. She becomes more assertive and self-confident, she recalls the Black Swan Odile but her change is not so clear cut and it certainly is not the result of an evil spell. Manon is more fragile and human. During the intermission between act I and II, the couple who sits beside me enquires about the ballet. They have never seen as ‘strange’ passages as those performed in the pas de trois by Manon, Lescaut and Monsieur G.M.. I tell them that this is not a 19th century ballet, it is a more recent ballet which benefits from a wider vocabulary than that used in works like “Giselle” or “Swan Lake”. And it is true, MacMillan’s articulate footwork and his unusual use of lifts highlight a modern approach to ballet, one that gives it an exciting twist.

In their final duet Bolle and Ferri are particularly intense and the audience repays them with an outburst of acclamations and applause. This is Ferri’s farewell season at the Met. At 44, at the height of her fame, she has decided to retire and dedicate her time to her family. It is a very courageous decision for a person who has given everything to dance and has received so much from it. During the curtain call, Ferri recurrently waves good-bye to the audience and symbolically to one of the roles that made her a star.

Author:  balletomaniac [ Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:59 pm ]
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American Ballet Theatre
Romeo and Juliet – Ferri Finale
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center
New York, NY
June 23, 2007

In a way, I’ve grown up with Alessandra Ferri. Already a confirmed balletomane, attending the Royal Ballet’s heralded return visit to New York in 1981, its first in many years, was de rigueur. I don’t recall how many Royal performances my wife and I attended, but I recall that overall the Royal seemed more stolid than I’d anticipated, like it was preserved in aspic. Except for a few of the stars (of course Antoinette Sibly and Antony Dowell, Lesley Collier, and one dancer who performed a superb Odette – I think it was Monica Mason), I don’t recall being overly impressed, particularly with the dancers at the soloist level.

But even then, we spent as much time watching the corps dancers as the leads. One corps girl stood out not just for her excellence in performing the steps she was supposed to do, but in a quality of joy, of spirit, that she carried to the stage with her. The fact that she was pretty didn’t hurt either. By process of elimination, we determined that her name was Alessandra Ferri. And we’ve been watching Ms. Ferri ever since. Indeed, when we had the opportunity to visit London in 1985, and found that she was scheduled to dance “Romeo and Juliet” while we were to be there, we bought tickets – only to find out later that this was to be her final performance with the Royal, and that she would be joining ABT. Before we went to London, we bought tickets to her first performance with ABT.

Both the performances were the stuff of legend – her last with the Royal, and her first with ABT.

That warm September evening in New York when Ms. Ferri made her ABT debut in “Romeo and Juliet,”, I recall standing near a relatively short older gentleman, quite nattily dressed, who I overheard talking to some other persons in the Met plaza before the performance began. I don’t recall how I came to conclude that he was Ms. Ferri’s father, but that was my understanding. In halting Italian-soaked English, obviously astounded at the throng of people flocking to the Met to see his daughter, I heard him say: “…but she’s such a leeetle girl….”

That ‘leeetle girl’ brought the house down on September 4, 1985. And she did so again on June 23, 2007, as she has done countless times in between, in a career that places her firmly in the pantheon of Italy’s greatest ballerinas and gifts to the world, from Carlotta Grisi to Carla Fracci. And through it all, the same joy and the same spirit that was evident over 25 years ago, remains both a hallmark of Ms. Ferri’s dancing whether she dances Juliet, or Manon, or Mary Vetsera, or Giselle, or any of the other roles for which she has been justly acclaimed. More than anything else, it is this joy and spirit, this emotional intensity that permeates her performances, and that will be her legacy.

Last night’s performance was no less remarkable than her last Juliet with the Royal, or her first with ABT. The prodigious ballet technique and dramatic acting ability was still there, from the soaring extensions in her still-extraordinary balcony scene to her cradling of Romeo’s head during her death scene, including a scream that still manages to send shivers up and down my spine even though I know it’s coming and I’ve seen it many times before. Ably abetted by her Romeo, Roberto Bolle, this final ABT performance before a completely sold out house (including all levels of standing room, and all box seats) was an Event that would have been memorable even if the performance itself hadn’t been as memorable as it was.

The Event was hyped more than any other such performance within my recollection, but since this performance has been sold out for some time, the hype was not to sell tickets, but to honor a great ballerina. Every Met Playbill for every performance features Ms. Ferri on the cover, and the annual company program morphed this year into a Ferri souvenir program, comprised of photographs of her (taken by her husband Fabrizio Ferri). And for this performance, the grand Met stairway was graced with oversized photographs of Ms. Ferri and Mr. Bolle, most of which appeared to be taken at various locations in New York, including stunning photographs taken from the roof of a New York building at sunset.

But when it was over, the Event concluded, and the Celebration began. The house, studded with current and past (and future) ABT dancers, erupted into sustained and repeated thunderous ovations, as one by one principals past and present presented Ms. Ferri with flowers, kisses, and applause. The stage was blanketed first with flowers, and then by a shower of sparkling gold confetti.

Ultimately, Ms Ferri was joined on stage by her two children, and the three of them provided a post-performance performance that only added luster to Ms. Ferri’s already extraordinarily human image. It is unlikely that anyone in attendance will soon be able to forget the image of Ms. Ferri and her daughters, who looked about ages 9 and 4, one blonde and the other brunette and both as beautiful as their mother, as Ms. Ferri repeatedly tried to take her final bows and goodbye waves to the audience. As the girls were busy picking up the flowers that had fallen to the stage floor, almost (but not quite) oblivious to the cheering audience, Ms. Ferri watched her daughters, looked at the audience with a happy, teary, and somewhat glazed expression, and seemed to say: “…but they’re only leeetle girls…”

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:47 pm ]
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The NY Times on Ferri's final performance: ... 5ferr.html

And Alistair Macaulay lets 'er rip on ABT's "Swan Lake" - it's so nice to have a critic who is honest about what he thinks and sees. I think I'm probably not the only one who has thought for many years what he's finally put down on paper: ... 7swan.html

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