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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:47 pm 
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In the New York Observer, Robert Gottlieb reviews "Lady of the Camellias" and Natalia Osipova's performance in "Don Quixote." (Scroll down.)

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:57 am 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the all Ashton program ("Birthday Offering," "Meditation from Thais," the Awakening frm "The Sleeping Beauty" and "The Dream) on Tuesday, June 8.

NY Times

Apollinaire Scherr reviews the program in The Financial Times.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:14 pm 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the mixed bills presented at the Wednesday, June 9 matinee and evening performances: Twyla Tharp's "Brahms-Haydn Variations," Paul Taylor's "Company B," Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free" and Alexei Ratmansky's "On the Dnieper."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:42 pm 
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Interesting news...

Roberto Bolle has apparently still been dancing despite withdrawing from the ABT performances on June 21 and July 8 "due to injury". Apparently he performed in Mats Ek's version of Giselle on June 9, 10 and 11 and is still scheduled to start his Roberto Bolle & Friends tour on July 19. (As a note, he did dance in ABT's gala in mid-May and was photographed a fashion show in NYC on June 1, so he's been healthy enough to dance and 'jet set' around in recent months).

It's my understanding that Bolle was injured earlier this year, and I don't know anything about the technical difficulty of the Albrecht role in Ek's "Giselle", so Bolle may well have been trying to reduce his schedule to avoid tweaking a recently healed injury. Thus the announcement may have been more or less correct. However, it makes ABT look very foolish to have issued a press release on June 8 informing the public of his withdrawal, only to have him be onstage with another company the next three nights. ABT may have been in hard position here - perhaps Bolle did just decide later on that he didn't want to do the two ABT dates or had a very personal reason for withdrawing. In that case though, perhaps it would have been better to either be honest (for the former) or not give a reason (the latter).

I'm curious as to what people think about such announcements of principal/guest star casting changes? Should companies give more detailed reasons? Or, if the reason can't be made public, just not give a reason at all? Or should they just change the online casting and provide reminders to ticket purchasers that casting is not a guaranteed and they should check online or at the theatre for any updates. Or do companies like ABT, who decide to issue casting way in advance and sell tickets based on star appearances, just have to take the risk of looking foolish once in a while?

Personally, I am a bit conflicted. Certainly, dancers are entitled to their private lives, and sometimes there's no one/simple reason for a change in casting since one change may precipitate a number of chain-reaction changes. In that case, I'd prefer an announcement not to use a fake reason, but just to stay that the dancer will not be appearing.

However, at the same time, I think that once dancers do rise to principal level and especially when they make contractual commitments to appear as guest stars, that they do take on a greater responsibility. If a company is selling tickets based on your name, then perhaps you give up some privacy and need to be more open if you have to back out of a performance. I certainly wouldn't think any less of a dancer who was honest enough to say - oops, I took on too much, and it's better for all involved if I withdrew from some performances.

Anyway, I hope all is well with Bolle and wish him the best.


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:20 pm 
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Daniel Wakin reports on a street mugging of ABT guest star Natalia Osipova following her attendance at a performance of "Sleeping Beauty" at the Met in the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:22 pm 
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Roslyn Sulcas reviews the Monday, June 14 performance of "The Sleeping Beauty" in the New York Times.

NY Times

Leigh Witchel reviews the same performance in the New York Post.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:13 pm 
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In the New York Observer, Robert Gottlieb reviews ABT's performances of Ashton's "The Dream," Twyla Tharp's "Brahms-Haydn Variations," Paul Taylor's "Company B" and Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free."

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:58 am 
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In the New York Times, Natalia Osipova is profiled by Roslyn Sulcas.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:44 pm 
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This is reply to the Roberto Bolle post::
This is ALL new to me...ballet and opera...I am tired of what is on Broadway ,so headed over to Lincoln Center and it has been a real learning lesson for me. I first saw Roberto last summer(2009) in "Romeo & Juliet" cause my dance teacher said to go watch him. Well then I joined ABT ,making sure that all my performances were the ones with him in it...VERY wrong way to approach ballet, as I later learned. Now he did "Giselle" in Italy, not a month before setting his feet on the ground of the USA. Now if anyone saw parts of that performance, it's the one that was all over the internet cause he goes nude at the end..I did not care cause I was going to see him in a couple of weeks and knew he was dancing and he was WELL!... he danced that "Giselle"! WELL, the first ballet was "La Bayadere", my first time seeing it and he was "injured".I said "How can he be injured, he hasn't danced anything yet and just danced an entire ballet in Italy?" I even went up to the manager to maybe change tickets, he says. he may be out longer than that!..so I stayed and Marcelo Gomes danced his behind off in that incredible ballet! So I come to the second one and it was "Lady of the Camellias"..I saw Roberto but that was about it. It just so happened we had 4th row seats on the side where he SITS for about 15 minutes out of that ballet in the corner...and then I realized, he did this knowing he was not going to have to DANCE that much! and he did not dance...it was a non dancing ballet as far as I was concerned..and I knew right there, that was the last time I would see him cause "Swan Lake" you CAN NOT SIT IN A CORNER!...very disappointing and never will I do that again..follow a ballet dancer...but you must check out the schedule in JULY 2010 in Italy that he has...he may not be dancing an entire ballet but he's dancing...so this "injury" should have been made allot clearer to all of us. We pay huge amounts of money to go to Lincoln Center and this whole ordeal is so distasteful, that I will just stick to opera next year.

Cheers..
Tony(NYC)


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:30 pm 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the matinee and evening performances of "The Sleeping Beauty" on Saturday, June 19 with Alina Cojocaru and Jose Manuel Carreno in one performance and the debut of Natalia Osipova as Aurora paired with David Hallberg in the other.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:54 pm 
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The New York Times also has a photo gallery from "The Sleeping Beauty."

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:27 pm 
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I joined ABT as I mentioned above:::..so what happens??..tonight I saw "Swan Lake" and of course Bolle is OUT due to"injury", well his replacement tonight was Marcelo Gomes..HE SICKED OUT!!..what gives here?? but I do not know the ballerina that played the lead...she was MIND BLOWING THAT ENTIRE BALLET and THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SEE!!...and all the women on stage were...I thought about it and this is a women's ballet cause you really don't NEED THE MEN!...as Bourne did, with the all male version and only version I saw..I loved that one also..but where do they find people to do an entire ballet when TWO have "sicked" out...how many do we have to go through before we hit "the BOTTOM"?
feel better Marcelo!

Cheers..
TONY(NYC)


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:53 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay ("New York Times") started his review of "Sleeping Beauty" with these very kind words for Alina Cojocaru.

"The most astonishing part of the two performances was Ms. Cojocaru’s account of the first act, shaped with such powerfully expressive detail that it made me temporarily forget every other ballerina I have seen in the role over 35 years."

Brava, Alina !


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:53 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York
June 14, 16E, 19E
“The Sleeping Beauty”


American Ballet Theatre’s current production of “The Sleeping Beauty,” which featured ‘additional choreography and staging by Kevin McKenzie, Gelsey Kirkland, and Michael Chernov,' premiered at the Met on June 1, 2007, and was reprised the following year with some relatively minor tinkering. This year’s presentation, which has just completed a week-long run at the Met, has undergone still more changes. While the production overall still maintains its welcome modern pace while maintaining the essential Petipa framework, the changes are notable. I’ll get to them later in this review.

First, however, a regret.

Unfortunately, I was unable to see Alina Cojocaru’s Aurora at yesterday’s matinee performance. The last time I saw her dance was the last time she appeared with a company in New York (in July, 2004, with The Royal Ballet in a performance of “Cinderella”). In my review of that performance, I complained of feeling cheated because Ms. Cojocaru's visits here had been so infrequent. But six years between New York engagements is far far worse, and inexcusable.

Ms. Cojocaru’s stage persona has an engaging sweetness to it – coupled with impeccable technique, and when I last saw her she awakened memories of Lis Jeppesen. [Those of you who may have seen Ms. Jeppesen with the Royal Danish Ballet know the performing quality to which I refer.] I’m told by reliable sources that Ms. Cojocaru’s Aurora was “great.” I don’t doubt it. And I hope that ABT brings her back again soon, and frequently.

But I was able to see Natalia Osipova’s debut as Aurora.

Ms. Osipova had the great bad fortune of being mugged near Lincoln Center earlier last week (apparently an assault and purse-snatching). She did not fight back which was a wise decision (although I’m convinced, having seen her steel legs, that she would have done them serious damage if she had), and whatever injury she may have suffered was minor and did not appear to affect her performance in any way. But it was ‘great’ bad fortune in that now everyone in New York, and possibly the rest of the country, has heard of Ms. Osipova. And it seemed as if they all attended last night’s performance-the place was packed.

ABT’s press release indicates that this was Ms. Osipova’s first performance as Aurora. I find that difficult to believe, but if it’s true, it makes her debut all the more remarkable. While not perfect, whatever that might mean, it was nevertheless very memorable, and very good.

Ms. Osipova played it straight. By that I mean that she didn’t embellish the choreography by appearing to leap into orbit or spin faster than she should have or hold balances longer than they should have been held (at least, not so frequently that she appeared to be showng off). Adding her own virtuoso impact to the role will come over time (and, with time, perhaps the conductor will be able to gauge her pacing better).

Technically, it almost goes without saying that Ms. Osipova was sublime. Aside from a bit of perhaps nervous hesitation in the critical section of the Rose Adagio where she balance en pointe in arabesque and is turned full circle by each suitor– she wasn’t as rock-solid as, for example, Gillian Murphy was at Monday’s performance – she executed the rest of the Rose Adagio, and the entire remainder of Act I, exquisitely.

As I’ve observed previously, Ms. Osipova needs to rein in her tendency to overdo the acting and particularly the emotional facial gestures – and the open-mouth ecstatic ‘wow’ that she often displayed during Act III was unnecessary and annoying. But for this performance those lapses were exceptions. Overall, she was able (particularly in Acts I and II) to vary her acting so as not to show any single permanently-engraved facial expression.

However, she made great use of her acting prowess, without unnecessary embellishment, during the post-spindle-prick portion of Act I. She turned the reactive dance into a sort of ‘mad scene’ (perhaps a ‘how could-that-nice-old-lady-do-this-to-me-omg-what’s-happening-to-me-I-feel-really weird scene’ would be a more appropriate, albeit more cumbersome, description), turning those few seconds of pre-coma dancing into a fabulous little vignette – unquestionably the most dramatic and most successful mini-performance of that mini-scene that I’ve seen. To this viewer, her interpretation elevated the scene to a higher level of significance, and her performance of that little scene has now become the standard by which I will measure others.

I expected her partnering with David Hallberg to be a mismatch. I was wrong. Mr. Hallberg, as I’ve written previously, is a particularly engaging Prince Desire, and his performance last night was even better than it was in 2007. Boyishly ebullient and confident, he perfectly nailed every leap and turn. And his partnering was attentive and considerate – he is that rare apparently self-absorbed danseur who has developed the skill to partner effectively but unobtrusively – which is exactly the type of partnering that Ms. Osipova, who tends to dance better on her own that with a partner – might be able to rely on. While I don’t sense any particular chemistry between them, surprisingly that is not critical in “Sleeping Beauty” where, most of the time, the two of them are essentially doing their own thing.

The performance was complemented by Michele Wiles’s Lilac Fairy, and by the ‘Bluebird’ pas de deux of Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin. As I’ve previously observed, Ms. Wiles does a superbly animated “Lilac Fairy,” and her performance on the 19th was even better than I remember. It’s a role she’s clearly very comfortable with, and it’s a welcome respite from her less sympathetic characters. Ms. Lane's Princess Florine and Mr. Simkin’s Bluebird were smoothly and engagingly executed by both. It is a natural consequence of the choreography for this pas that the Bluebird gets more attention than Princess Florine, and that was the case on the 19th (as well as when the two of them danced these roles earlier in the week). But Mr. Simkin’s Bluebird was truly extraordinary – even more so considering it was his debut in the role. Simply put, his Bluebird was perfectly executed in every way, as well as exciting to watch. [I held my breath, though, at the end of the coda when Ms. Lane jumped onto him and he carried her offstage – his hold looked precarious at both performances. Mr. Simkin has much better control of things when he only has himself to control.] The evening’s Carabosse, Maria Bystrova, was virtually unrecognizable with the frighteningly ghoulish make-up. But she performed the role well, and needs only to improve her timing.

Ms. Murphy’s Aurora, at Monday’s performance, and Veronika Part’s Aurora on the 16th, were as finely performed as they were when I saw them dance these roles three years ago. Ms. Murphy is more than an exceptional technician; her acting is refreshingly understated. She doesn’t have to show off what she can do, or how she’s feeling – she just does it. But I did notice for the fist time that, during the Rose Adagio, she seemed to pull her shoulders up while maintaining her balances. Since, technically, Ms. Murphy never appears less than perfect, this was surprising. Perhaps it was the result of my view of the stage from where I was sitting.

As her Prince, Jose Manuel Carreno displayed his usual strong partnering skills, and still turns to perfection. But, to this viewer, he was a relatively detached Prince – one who perhaps had been a bachelor for too long.

As good as Ms. Osipova and Ms. Murphy were, however, my preference of the three I saw was Veronika Part. Ms. Part had a tougher time on Tuesday than I recall from her previous Auroras; she was clearly working very hard (which I subsequently learned may have been the result of an injury). But her most significant quality, to this viewer, is the expansiveness of her movement quality, which she displayed to perfection as Aurora. Ms. Part uses her arms expressively and lyrically, seemingly stretching every gesture beyond possible limits. The result is a graciousness to her movement that seems to invite the audience in. She’s not showing off – she’s dancing for us.

And with a Prince of the caliber of Marcelo Gomes, it’s difficult not to have a superb performance. While not the most aristocratic of princes, Mr. Gomes is always profoundly real. And in addition to doing whatever he was supposed to do with panache, he also does it, as I’ve previously observed, with an infectious gleam in his eye. For example, the orchestra frequently, and hopelessly, overled the dancers at the three performances I saw (like a quarterback who leads the pass receiver too much). But Mr. Gomes was somehow able to adjust his speed and, incredibly, ‘caught the pass’ – and ended the sequence with a special celebratory flourish, as if to declare that he’d overcome the challenge, beaten the conductor and, as usual, was in complete control. It was such a gloriously and characteristically ‘Gomes’ moment that several audience members within earshot joined me in an under-the-breath laugh of recognition. It’s one of those ‘little things’ that Mr. Gomes does that make his performances so consistently memorable.

The Bluebird and Princess Florine for this performance were Sascha Radetsky and Isabella Boylston. Both performed admirably. I find Ms. Boylston to be a very interesting dancer – she doesn’t appear to be constrained by conventions. By that I mean that where many Princess Florines I recall seem to have frozen characterizations, Ms. Boylston is very real, and almost mercurial, and she moves with a sense of controlled abandon. In short, she’s not a cookie-cutter dancer (and her quality of appearing not to take things too too seriously I find engaging). Though she needs to develop more technical security (in other words, the execution wasn’t as clear or as strong as it should have been), she’s so much fun to watch that it almost doesn’t matter.

At each of the performances, Karen Uphoff was a perfectly aristocratic but accessible Countess. I recall the late Jennifer Alexander bringing life to this ‘minor’ role during the 2007 series of performances (and also recall finding Prince Desire’s melancholy difficult to understand, given Ms. Alexander’s attractive accessibility). Ms. Uphoff dances the role toi a similar effect. And the dynamite choreography for the Prince and his friends that opens Act II was enhanced by the performances of each of the four sets of friends. Also noteworthy were all of the Fairies, but particularly the Fairy of Charity of Renata Pavam, who consistently dances with impressive crispness and clarity (Charity was also beautifully executed by Leann Underwood on the 19th), and Yuriko Kajiya’s Fairy of Joy on the 14th. Ms. Kajiya doesn’t need to do much to make the role come alive – she can just do the choreography and the joy comes naturally. You can’t help but smile whenever Ms. Kajiya dances. Luciana Paris and Christine Shevchenko danced the same role on the 16th and 19th, and both danced it well, but they needed to act the part (and Ms. Shevchenko, was technically superb, but needs to work on the ‘joy’). Attention also must be paid to Gennadi Saveliev, who seemed to be everywhere on the 14th and 16th, carefully partnering, and protecting, each night’s Aurora.

And then there is Nancy Raffa, who portrayed Carabosse on the 14th and 16th. I remember Ms. Raffa well from her early dancing career with ABT. A former Prix de Lausanne Gold Medal winner (the first American to do so), she was one of ABT’S most accomplished dancers, and one of its most idiosyncratic. But I was unprepared for how good she was as Carabosse. Now an ABT Ballet Mistress, Ms. Raffa was in total command of her character, and of the stage, whenever she appeared (which alone doesn’t make her so different from the other wonderful ABT Carabosses). But she didn’t need to overly rely on make-up – she was very recognizable to me, and the fact that she wasn’t buried in paint made her the most beautifully bad and lusciously evil of the Carabosses I’ve seen. One could almost see how she had perhaps once been a beautiful fairy like the others, but had somehow fallen from grace. A fallen angel of a wicked witch fairy. Super.

Finally, back to the beginning. When I first reviewed this production, I confessed to liking it a great deal. But I recognized what I saw as some problems. The current revisions, to a large extent, have addressed these concerns.

Princess Florine is no longer brought on stage in a cage (I had observed that if either of them should have been caged, it was more appropriately the Bluebird). But the cage is itself gone, and the cuteness of having a caged character is completely gone as well. The audience's introduction to the Bluebird and Princess is now more ‘open’, but it has lost something that made it fun. Bring back the cage – and put the Bluebird in it – just long enough for the Princess to release him.

In Act II, the exciting introduction to the Prince and his friends seemed to gnash unnecessarily with the ‘aristocratically boring’ festivities. And I thought that Prince Desire’s melancholy was overdone, and slowed the pace unnecessarily. It’s possible that I’ve just gotten more used to it, but this diversion is now gone, and – though still jarring – the transition into the scene, and the scene itself, moves more realistically, and certainly more quickly.

Most importantly, the “spider” trap in Act II has been significantly chagned. Although it had been tinkered with during the production’s second year, it now has been completely reimagined. In connection with Carabosse’s attempt to prevent the Prince from reaching Aurora, the previous staging had the spider contraption downstage right, from which at various times either the Prince or Carabosse was entangled. And eventually, Carabosse became hoisted by her own petard, and, to my recollection, died enmeshed in the web. The scenic plot is still the same, but the effect has been watered down considerably. Gone is the downstage web. Now the web is moved back toward the castle wall, as if preventing entry. Carabosse still gets entrapped into it, with help from the Lilac Fairy, but she melts into it to her death.. [But if the Lilac Fairy could simply have wiggled her finger and made Carabosse disappear, why didn't she do it sooner?] The result is a confrontation scene that its more distant, and perhaps less scary to children. I reserve judgment as to whether it’s an improvement.

There probably were more changes that I’m not as certain of. [Do the princes still march through the garlands as the Garland Dance begins? I thought that was an inventive touch, but I don’t’ recall seeing it in the current incarnation.] Regardless, the fact that the piece is still being played with is a good thing. Overall, it’s one of the better Sleeping Beauty productions I’ve seen, and I look forward to its return – perhaps with more tinkering. [Could you get rid of the skeletons trapped in the curtain? It still looks like an excerpt from Indiana Jones, and that the Lilac Fairy tried other princes who didn’t make it to the promised kiss. Please?]


Last edited by balletomaniac on Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre - 2010 Met Season
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:02 pm 
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Posts: 328
Location: New Jersey
American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center,
New York, New York

June 21, 2010
“Swan Lake”


The first time I saw Veronika Part dance was with the Kirov in New York, as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. She wiped me out. Sitting next to me was a woman of Russian descent, obviously knowledgeable about the Kirov (no longer called that, of course – now its back to being the Mariinsky Ballet), who said that it was a good thing I liked her, because she had just signed with American Ballet Theatre.

Since her defection to ABT in 2002, she has gradually become one of ABT’s most consistently reliable dancers. And after seemingly spending forever in soloist purgatory, she was finally promoted to principal last year.

Ms. Part is relatively tall, with arms and legs that go on forever. She has a performing persona that is both expressive and expansive, and always lyrical - and she dances as if possessed by an inner force over which she has no control. She’s an Art Nouveau ballerina. You see her character in her eyes, in her gestures, and of course in her dancing. Aside from Diana Vishneva, who's ability to wreak havoc with an audience's emotions is incomparable (and who will dance the role tonight – a performance that unfortunately I will not be able to see), I am aware of no ballerina who draws an audience into the performance better than Ms. Part. You don’t just watch Ms. Part; you’re there. She’s dancing for you, and perhaps with you (and, of course, hundreds of other people). What a wonderful quality! [And what an incredible one-two puch; Part and Vishneva on successive nights.]

Although I’ve seen her dance Swan Lake with ABT previously, Ms. Part continues to improve beyond what I thought could not have been improved upon. Her Odette, hypnotically lyrical, sensual, emotional, and tragic, is still what makes her performance. And as I’ve written previously, probably ad nauseum, no one dances pathos better than Ms. Part. And her Odile continues to show steady progress. Technically, she’s as fantastic an Odile as she is an Odette (including ending the fouettes with a triple). But Ms. Part is not a natural seductress, and being seductive to me is essential for the role. But she’s been working on it and improving it; developing a captivatingly wicked smile, and even a sexiness that I hadn’t seen previously. It is a wonderfully balanced performance – that it, it is wonderfully balanced on the highest possible level.

Ms. Part’s Siegfried was Cory Stearns, making his New York debut as a substitute for the injured Marcelo Gomes (who himself was supposed to subbing for an injured Roberto Bolle). I anticipated disaster. But he was very good, and they worked surprisingly well together. And most importantly, he partnered Ms. Part well enough so that any miscues were hardly noticeable. To some extent Mr. Stearns came across as a young man playing a young prince. But this boyishness was not inappropriate – and it added a different and disarmingly real quality to the part that was neither better nor worse than other characterizations – and it was right for Mr. Stearns. And in that sense, Mr. Stearns was able to add his own unique dimension to the role. Whether he’ll eventually outgrow this boyish charm remains to be seen, but it’s a nice change. [And Mr. Stearns’s genuinely displayed thrill at getting his birthday present crossbow from his mother was priceless.]

The performance was enhanced even more by one of the best Pas de Trois I can remember. Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, and Jared Matthews (subbing for Daniil Simkin) were wonderful. Ms. Lane was crisp and clean and sweet and exactly what her role should have been. Mr. Matthews was a surprise to me, after his disappointing Espada. Here, he was excellent both on his own and as a partner. [He and Ms. Lane seemed to work together very well. Hint.] But, as good as they were, and they were very good, Ms. Kajiya stole it. She is an incredible sprite of a dancer who conveys boundless joy with whatever she does. And her part in this Pas de Trois had her bouncing like a rubber ball on a trampoline. One cannot watch Ms. Kajiya without breaking into an ear-to-ear grin. I don’t know if Ms. Kajiya can do the major roles, but I wouldn’t bet against her. [Ms. Lane certainly can – she probably can do Juliet blindfolded (and I'm aware that she's danced Giselle elsewhere). She’s Juliet now, Kevin. Give her the opportunity to grow, and the audience an opportunity to watch her grow. Soon.]

The current ABT production, which debuted in 2000, is, in this writer’s opinion, the best work that Kevin McKenzie has done (of course, his additional choreography is ‘after’ Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov). It is no museum recreation. It lives, and it moves, to a modern pace and contemporary sensibility. It is a “Swan Lake” for the 21st Century. While McKenzie may have taken some liberties with the staging, particularly in Act IV (and the transition thereto), it all works both as ballet and as theater.

And everyone seems to get showcased. It would take an entire review just to recognize the dancers I took notice of – because they all had something to do, and none of them were simply cogs in a machine. [Though as a group, the corps was fantastic – without doubt (and with the exception of “La Bayadere,” which probably had Natalia Makarova cracking the whip through rehearsals), it was the best rehearsed first-performance-of-the-season that I’ve seen in a long time.]

As I have previously indicated, Mr. McKenzie’s von Rothbart (the one who’s not in the lizard suit) is an especially exciting creation, deliciously performed by Gennadi Saveliev, who devours the role and has honed it to perfection. And the choreography for the princesses, with both Siegfried and (particularly) with von Rothbart, is inventive and interesting. Each of the princesses is given a particular persona - they're real people, not just cardboard princesses – and the interaction between the princesses and von Rothbart is great fun to watch.

Joseph Phillips and Craig Salstein lit up the stage with the Neapolitan Dance. Their timing was perfect (they were mirror images). The dancers in the Mazurka were buoyant and alive. The Czardas back-up dancers were joyously ebullient, and a welcome contrast to the dour demeaner of the ‘leads.’ And, of course, it was good to see Freddie Franklin again as the prince’s tutor.

“Swan Lake” will be performed at the Met through Saturday. No matter who the leads may be (and every one is world class), the performances will be memorable to a great extent because the ABT 'supporting' dancers are as strong as they are, and because the choreography that McKenzie has given them is as strong as it is.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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