CriticalDance Forum

American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met
Page 2 of 4

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun May 25, 2014 6:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Deborah Jowitt reviews the May 21, 2014 matinee performance of Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" and "Duo Concertant" and Massine's "Gaite Parisienne" for Arts Journal.

Arts Journal

Author:  balletomaniac [ Fri May 30, 2014 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

May 24M,E; 28M,E
“La Bayadere”

-- by Jerry Hochman

American Ballet Theatre’s production of “La Bayadere” is one of those miracles for which adjectives of praise are superfluous. But I’ll give it a shot anyway.

There is nothing about “La Bayadere,” which was re-created by the legendary Natalia Makarova, that isn’t the perfect ballet entertainment. It’s exciting, stunning, sumptuous, sensual, exotic, and hypnotic. It’s accessible (one doesn’t need to think too hard), beautiful to watch on all levels (sets, costumes, staging), has a bewitchingly gorgeous score, and features non-stop dancing with a variety of movement qualities that fit each scene like a glove and look different from moment to moment. It also happens to be a really good ballet. It’s the perfect ballet to attend whether one is skittish about ballet or is an experienced balletomaniac, has a short attention span, or is fascinated by a ballet classic. Indeed, it’s the perfect ballet to attend for any reason at all – including the dubious opportunity to see more guest artists in a week than one might normally see in an entire season.

“La Bayadere” premiered in 1877 at the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg, choreographed by Marius Petipa, with music by the ‘house’ composer, Ludwig Minkus. Orientalism, the fascination with the Middle Eastern/East Asian exotic, reached its zenith in the 19th century. “La Bayadere” is one of many examples.

The ballet was revived by Petipa in 1900, again in 1932 by Vaganova (who reportedly added some bravura choreography for Nikiya, which has since become part of the ‘standard’ choreography), and again in 1941 by Kirov Balletmaster Vladimir Ponomarev and the Premier danseur Vakhtang Chabukiani, and it is this version that has been the basis for versions since – except for the 2002 Mariinsky revival of the full 1900 production, with the reconstructed ‘original’ Minkus score and a ‘missing’ Act IV.

This highly abbreviated history is important to ballet historians and purists, and has significant curiosity value, but what was added or subtracted from the original matters less to the viewer than what’s seen in the production the viewer sees – and in the case of Makarova’s reproduction, what is seen is marvelous regardless of its historical antecedents: the choreography and the music (skillfully arranged by John Lanchberry, who as I’ve noted previously had a singular ability to make an arrangement sound better than the original) take your breath away.

When Makarova’s “La Bayadere” premiered at the Met in 1980, the first full-length (three act) production in the West, it was then considered to be ABT’s most expensive production. Whether that is true does not matter – the fact that it looks exquisitely opulent without being overbearing is testament not to the money spent, but to the good taste that spent it. The sets, by PierLuigi Samaritani, are to get lost in; the costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge, particularly the multiple costumes for Nikiya but also those for the corps dancers in the themed dances, are extraordinarily sensual; and the lighting, by Toshiro Ogawa, captures the mood of the different scenes perfectly. It all looks just as wonderful today as it did when I saw it at its premiere.

And as substantively stimulating and deliciously entertaining as all the choreography is, what is perhaps most indelible is Act II (‘the Kingdom of the Shades’). The ‘kingdom’ is viewed by the audience as Solor’s opium-induced hallucination of a Nirvana-like twilight dimension where spirits of the dead (except for Solor – who within the confines of his dream might as well be) live in a rarified state of timelessness. Then, suddenly, what had been an exotic ballet becomes a spiritual experience.

As the Shades, the spirits, descend down a diagonal incline as if off a mountaintop, each in a pure white tutu with added diaphanous fabric connecting their forearms to their shoulders, they look like winged angels – but they’re not winged (this is an Eastern religious experience, not a Western one), and the effect is mesmerizing. The otherworldliness continues long past the point where the downward arabesque promenade exhausts, as the shades form parallel lines that reference images in illuminated manuscripts or paintings. The dancer/spirits who populate these lines (they’re not artificial patterns; they’re moving lines that create a mystical, hallucinogenic effect) repeatedly lift themselves up off the stage floor in unison, as if to emphasize their heavenly weightlessness. And the spirituality continues through the pas de cinq by Nikiya, Solor, and the three lead Shades. It’s all a breathing, expanding and liberating ritual; a moving tantra.

Perhaps the most magnificent moment of all, on a spiritual level, is early in the vision – after the shades have concluded their entry – when Solor slowly follows Nikiya offstage and the audience visualizes him deep in his own trance-like religious experience, his body moving as if by an invisible force. No dancing; just walking into the wings, as if on air, in a state of enlightenment.

Through all this, one watches, mesmerized by the choreography and by the impeccable execution by the ABT dancers who move individually and yet as one body. The extended period of applause that the corps receives, which stops the action every time, is well-deserved.

In all the years that I’ve seen “La Bayadere” since its premiere, none of the casts has matched the brilliance of its initial lead cast – Ms. Makarova’s Nikiya, Cynthia Harvey’s Gamzatti, Anthony Dowell’s Solor, and Alexander Minz’s “High Brahmin.” But “La Bayadere” is so good that it’s difficult to make any of its characters look bad – certainly none of the four casts I saw this past week did. But there were clear differences. To me, the most successful of the Nikiyas was Alina Cojacaru’s last Saturday evening; the most successful of the Solors was her partner, Herman Cornejo. But the most eagerly awaited performance was that of guest artist Olga Smirnova, who made her ABT debut in the role last night, partnered by a more ‘veteran’ ABT guest artist, Vadim Muntagirov.

Ms. Smirnova is an interesting dancer, and her appearance exemplifies ABT’s guest artist policy at its best, and at its worst. Of all the ‘new’ guest artists this year, and they are legion, she represents a typical guest ballerina as ABT has frequently presented them over the years. She is young (she is not yet even a Bolshoi principal), but already has an international reputation. She has a technique that’s clear as a bell, brilliant musicality, and a commanding stage presence. Since, at least for the time being, ABT has lost Natalia Osipova (who will be returning with the Mikhailovsky Ballet in November), Ms. Smirnova’s appearance is a reasonable attempt to maintain that ‘guest artist’ tradition.

But one of the consequences of importing a guest artist for a one-shot performance, aside from eliminating an opportunity that could have been given to a home-grown dancer, is that Ms. Smirnova, as finely crafted as her portrayal was, is so stylistically different that she looked out of place even if her execution, by Bolshoi standards, may have been spot on. And highlighting a dancer who performs so distinctively emphasizes the unfortunate reality that ABT may not really have a style of its own. Every time ABT imports a guest artist with a different set of stylistic values, it creates a different stylistic reference point. And since ABT imports so many guest artists, it has multiple stylistic reference points.

Ms. Smirnova is a beautiful and strong dancer, and she’s extraordinarily physically expressive. Her limbs seem to have a mind of their own. Everything looks extended and somewhat affected; every gesture emphasized and exaggerated. There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s just a different style. Similarly, Ms. Smirnova’s body appears to contort itself in different and unexpected ways (most notably, when she assumes a subservient position, which happens frequently since she’s in a subservient position frequently in much of Act I, her body doesn’t just get ‘smaller’, it twists into an awkward S-shape, with her supple back curved inward while her shoulders and hips are contorted the opposite way. It looks uncomfortable. But again, it’s a different style. And her beautiful long lines are repeatedly marred by hands that are angled down, pulling her line down with them – so instead of a clean line from shoulder through fingertips, there’s a break. Once again, this isn’t a ‘fault’ – it’s a different style. Much of it is lovely, but it also looks jarring.

To me there’s also an unfortunate characteristic of her performance that may not be attributable to a different stylistic background: her blank expression. I noted the same thing when she appeared at a Youth America Grand Prix Gala earlier this spring – as beautiful as she is to watch, she’s in her own world, and doesn’t seem to care to connect with the audience. I never felt drawn in. Except for a few smiles of exhilaration when she sees Solor, it all appeared monochromatic. While this was appropriate for Act II’s dream scene, where facial expressiveness would not be correct, it diminished her Act I. Perhaps the cause was justifiable nerves and the need to concentrate so as not to get caught up in slight production differences (which I understand happened with another guest artist this week). Perhaps it also was her partner. There appeared to be no chemistry at all between Ms. Smirnova and Mr. Muntagirov, which made Act I almost painful to watch. While his dancing came to life in Acts II and III (his Act I was relatively moribund), Ms. Smirnova was still less a partner/love interest than someone who happened to be sharing the same stage.

Ms. Cojocaru, on the other hand, was an exemplary Nikiya in every respect. Since she was unable to dance due to injury last year, I anticipated that her technical ability may have been impaired, but this was not the case. Like Ms. Smirnova, Ms. Cojacaru also brings stylistic differences with her performances, but hers enhanced the portrayal. One was particularly intriguing – at the top of a lift, she’d stop the action ever so slightly as if frozen in time. One might think that this would adversely effect the choreographic flow, but it didn’t – on the contrary, it made ‘routine’ lifts look breathtaking.

Of course, credit for her fine performance also goes to her partner. Mr. Cornejo was a dominant, rather than dominating, Solor. From his first moment on stage, Mr. Cornejo was in command; he was a war hero – he wasn’t playing one. More important than his characterization, however, was his execution and his partnering. In both respects, he danced with excitement, and the combination of his aerated jumps, clean leg beats, and extraordinary turns (though never milked beyond reason), with his attentive partnering and connection with Ms. Cojacaru, made it one of his finest performances.

Veronika Part’s Nikiya suffered in two respects, with one probably being a consequence of the other: first, though she executed the choreography without any visible deficiency, she seemed tentative and unexciting; second, there was no connection between her and her Solor, James Whiteside. They were two separate entities. This was Mr. Whiteside’s New York debut in the role, and perhaps there was a lack of confidence on both their parts, but whatever the reason, and although it was not at all a bad performance from either of them, it didn’t gel. And Mr. Whiteside’s perpetual snarl didn’t help.

But in his second effort, at Wednesday’s matinee, Mr. Whiteside improved considerably (and killed the snarl). He was a powerful Solor, not quite as commanding or accomplished as Mr. Cornejo, but his portrayal was very well done. And for whatever reason, his Nikiya, Paloma Herrera, appeared energized. She executed the choreography well, but of equal importance, she was a ‘presence’ with the right emotional attitude. I’ve been critical of Ms. Herrera’s performances in recent seasons, but this one was on the mark.

In these performances I saw three different Gamzattis – Stella Abrera on Saturday matinee; Misty Copeland on Saturday evening and Wednesday matinee; and Hee Seo on Wednesday evening. All three were quite good. Ms. Copeland has a powerful aura about her and her Gamzatti was a particularly dominating one. But Ms. Seo was every bit as forceful, with a delicacy and intelligence that made for an interesting combination of personality traits (although I would have preferred to see her as Nikiya). Ms. Abrera’s Gamzatti seemed more forced emotionally, but was the most technically outstanding of the three. I saw two Bronze Idols: Joseph Gorak and Arron Scott. Mr. Scott did a fine job; but Mr. Gorak gave the Bronze Idol a different dimension. His body appears lankier than others I’ve seen dance the role who rely as much on power as finesse. But Mr. Gorak moved smooth as silk. His was the most elegant of Bronze Idols.

In other roles of note, Roman Zhurban was a diminutive High Brahmin, but executed more powerfully than Thomas Forster in the same role. As the head fakir, both Luis Ribagorda and Craig Salstein performed admirably, but Alexei Agoudine at Wednesday evening’s performance was the most exciting of the three. Gamzatti’s servant ‘Aya’, which is a small but significant non-dancing role, was well-played by the three dancers I saw: Nicola Curry, Kelley Boyd, and Zhong-Jing Fang. Alexandre Hammoudi was the most commanding of the three Rajahs I saw, and once again demonstrating that there are no small roles, Sterling Baca, who performed the role of Solor’s Friend, gave the strongest portrayal of the three I saw.

Finally, all the dancers who played the three ‘featured’ Shades performed well, but assigning some of these roles to soloists is unfortunate on two levels: it’s demeaning to the soloists, who should be given more weighty assignments, and to members of the corps who should be given the opportunity, but have to wait behind soloists who in turn have to wait behind guest artists. And the situation is worse for ABT’s male dancers: of the eight total performances scheduled, only three ABT danseurs performed the role (with Mr. Whiteside dancing it twice); the other four performances were divided among three guest artists.

Regardless, “La Bayadere” is a ballet that anyone would enjoy, regardless of the dancer performing the leading roles. The one regret I have about ABT’s week of performances of it is that the week is over, and if the past is any guide, “La Bayadere” may not return for at least two years.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Jun 01, 2014 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Alastair Macaulay reviews the Friday, May 30, 2014 performance of "Coppelia" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Alastair Macaulay reviews "La Bayadere." ... .html?_r=0
(thanks to Ballet Alert! for this one)

Author:  balletomaniac [ Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

May 30, 31 (M and E)

-- by Jerry Hochman

Most balletgoers go to one or two ballets per season; and some dedicated fans or culture mavens perhaps to one performance per ballet per season. This skews the way one evaluates a performance, particularly in a classic, full-length story ballet. From eavesdropping on conversations over the years (it's difficult to avoid), the scuttlebutt is almost always positive. These favorable comments are certainly, in part, the response to performances that are legitimately good, but also in part as a manifestation of the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' I mentioned in a review several years ago. That is: ‘I paid through the nose for my ticket, picked out this particular dancer to see because he/she has a great reputation or a Russian last name or looks the part or must be good because the brochure or some mainstream critic says so, and I drove all the way from wherever to see it -- therefore, by golly, the performance was really good, otherwise I’ve wasted all this time and money and would spend the evening complaining to my date/spouse/significant other, which is never a good idea’. And at the level of major companies like American Ballet Theatre, the performance quality usually is ‘really good’ in the overall scheme of things, whatever the dancer’s rank, age, height, hair color or national origin.

But there is a core of ballet addicts whose faces one sees at virtually every performance. These crazies (I say that fondly) may be found in cheap seats or standing room. Because they go so frequently, they have a repository of knowledge and the ability to compare and contrast one fine performance from another that the typical audience member can’t possibly have. They don’t always agree – this is New York, after all, and everyone has his or her own soundly-based and significantly biased opinion, but the fact that they can place his or her opinion in a context, even if limited to performances that take place in New York, makes the opinion more valid. And seeing consecutive performances by different dancers in the same roles takes this ‘context’ to another level, and allows for legitimate observations that the dancer one day gave a superior performance to a dancer another day, even though the dancer ‘the other day’ may have looked ‘really good’.

Viewing the three performances of “Coppelia” that I saw over the weekend provides a clear example of why seeing an isolated performance may skew the viewer’s opinion of that performance, usually for the better. I left Friday’s performance thinking that Misty Copeland and her partner Herman Cornejo danced well, and gave fine performances. And they did. But upon seeing the performances the next day of Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin, and Gillian Murphy and Jared Matthews, it was clear that the performances by Ms. Copeland and Mr. Cornejo weren’t on the same level. I’ll explain in greater detail below.

First, however, I must highlight the extraordinary performances of Yuriko Kajiya in the “Prayer” variation in Act III on Friday and Saturday afternoon. If a ‘prayer’ were a corporeal being, it would be Ms. Kajiya. Her performance was a spiritual tour de force. It’s not appropriate, or sensible, to compare a full length performance with a performance of a featured role that lasts a few minutes. That being said, however, Ms. Kajiya’s performance was a highlight of this season so far. Magnificent.

The story of “Coppelia” is based on two stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Der Sandmann” and “Die Puppe” (the Puppet). (Another of his stories provided the basis for the “The Nutcracker.”) The Hoffmann stories were adapted by Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter for the ballet “Coppelia,” choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon to a score by Leo Delibes, which premiered at the Paris Opera in 1870. Hoffmann was the Edgar Allen Poe of his time – his stories are frequently macabre, and his characters, in the original stories (e.g., Coppelius, Drosselmeyer), can be dark, evil, menacing, and skilled in the black arts. Converting these stories into comic ballets could not have been easy. Imagine “The Casque of Amontillado,” “The Telltale Heart,” or “The Raven” converted into a comic ballet. (Someone get Mel Brooks.) That the set of ABT’s production (which is otherwise undistinguished) includes disembodied faces with oversized eyes, as well as a skeleton, may be a nod to Hoffmann’s original story.

The ballet production has a dark side as well. Saint-Leon died two days after the ballet’s initial season ended a few months after it began, cut short prematurely by the Franco-Prussian War. And the story of the original Swanilda is particularly tragic. The initial Swanilda, found after other potential choices were deemed unsuitable for the role, was 16 year old Giuseppina Bozzachi, whose performance reportedly was a sensation (I missed it). She danced the role 18 times until the Paris Opera shut its doors, and died on her 17th birthday, reportedly because with the Paris Opera closed she was no longer getting paid, and weakened by lack of food, she succumbed to smallpox.

Based on photographs I’ve seen of Ms. Bozzachi, the ‘type’ that Saint-Leon and Delibes were looking for was a sweet-looking, short, pretty young ballerina. While other approaches to the role can work, to me the ballet’s creators’ ideal Swanilda was…ideal.

The story of “Coppelia” is simple, and simple-minded. In a bucolic German town lived the town sweetheart, Swanilda, and a not very bright boy named Franz. Swanilda loves Franz, and Franz loves Swanilda, except he also loves this hot little doll who is always catching rays on a nearby second-story balcony. Unbeknown to Franz, this doll was the creation of Dr. Coppelius, the curmudgeonly (or nasty, depending on the portrayal) town kook. One evening, after Franz and his gang mug Dr. Coppelius in the town square, the old geezer’s house key falls out of his pocket onto the ground. Even though the clang of the key hitting the ground could be heard in the next village, it doesn’t register with Franz, and he and his cohorts run off to create some mischief elsewhere. Swanilda and her friends return, find the key, and enter Dr. Coppelius’s house. Moments later, the weird old guy, who returned to the town square to find his lost key, sees that his front door is open. (Swanilda and her friends, though obviously smarter than Franz, weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer either.) Dr. Coppelius then enters the house to look for the trespassers, followed shortly thereafter by Franz, who has returned with a ladder to climb up the balcony to get a closer look at his emotionally-challenged (and motionally-challenged) doll. In Act II, Swanilda and her friends discover that weird Dr. Coppelius is weirder than they thought, and they then create mayhem with his lifelike puppets. Dr. Coppelius enters his workshop, chases the girls off, and then sees Franz, who has entered through the balcony window. He gets Franz drunk, and uses him as a source of life for his doll Coppelia, the one who Franz loves, except Dr. Coppelius doesn’t notice that Coppelia is now Swanilda in Coppelia’s costume and sitting in Coppelia’s chair. Must be something in the town water supply. Swanilda leads Dr. Coppelius to think that he’s brought Coppelia to life, then destroys him by showing him the lifeless real doll stripped to her underwear (who had somehow made her way back to that chair). Swanilda then runs off with Franz, who’s still somehow clueless. In the third Act, Dr. Coppelius, who’s no dummy, seeks restitution from the soon-to-be-married couple. After the town mayor (the Burgomaster) pays Dr. Coppelius for his damages, the geezer (Dr Coppelius, not the mayor) gives his blessing to Swanilda and Franz’s wedding (well, the mayor does too), and there’s a town celebration. The end. It’s as if Act I of Giselle had been converted into a romantic comedy, with Loys/Albrecht nowhere in sight and Giselle in love with the town dolt Hilarion. They drink a little (it was still time for the wine festival), marry, and, willy-nilly, live happily ever after.

Ms. Copeland is a strong, vivacious dancer with a commanding stage presence, and her Kitri-ish Swanilda was somewhat of a spitfire, which proved a good match for Mr. Cornejo’s powerful but empty-headed portrayal of her boyfriend. (I pick it up; I put it down. I pick it up; I put it down.) She danced everything full out and clean, and there were no technical errors to mar the performance (she tired with her last fouette in the Act III pas de deux, but I don’t consider that to be significant). That having been said, however, she appeared, as a friend described it afterward, to be at the edge of her technical prowess. The orchestra noticeably slowed to a snail’s pace toward the end of her Act I solo to allow her to complete a consecutive series of normally quicksilver steps, and at the end of the Act III pas de deux she substituted Italian fouettes (which she had just spent several performances doing as Gamzatti in the Pas d’Action from “La Bayadere”) for the first half of the more familiar series of consecutive fouettes. And except for her dancing in Act II, everything she danced she danced ‘hard’, without modulation. (Even her feet hit the floor hard – one could hear the repeated ‘thuds’ all the way to the back of the Dress Circle.)

But as critical as technical ability is, for me a role such as Swanilda requires a multi-faceted personality. Ms. Copeland’s smile lit up the stage -- but, like her choreographic execution, her characterization was essentially one-dimensional. She had only two stage faces: that big smile, and intense concentration when she began a phrase that required more than passing technical prowess, which always registered on her face as tension. Neither is abnormal or inappropriate for a dancer in what I believe may have been her first full length role with ABT in New York (although not her debut – she danced the role during ABT’s recent tour). But the portrayal is better when the facial expression and traits of character – in short, the acting -- is more varied.

As bright eyed and vivacious as Ms. Copeland was, my preference is for the same qualities that the ballet’s creators apparently were looking for. I found them in the other two performances by Ms. Lane and Ms. Murphy.

Early in my balletgoing career, it became apparent to me that if a ballerina is short and pretty, she’s not taken seriously by many critics (unless she’s successful in demanding ballerina roles such as Giselle or Cinderella or Juliet, which requires being cast in those roles in the first place). The usual dismissive description is that she is little more than a ‘soubrette’, and complaints of ‘she’s not substantial enough; can’t command the stage; doesn’t have the strength or the gravitas’ can be deafening. I bring this up because I’ve heard that said of Ms. Lane. It’s nonsense, and her Swanilda finally should put a stop to this.

Ms. Lane was by far the sweetest and most engaging of the Swanildas this weekend. By itself, these qualities can translate as bland. But Ms. Lane’s was the kind of sweetness that also was feisty (though not aggressive), and most importantly that has a heart. There wasn’t a moment when she wasn’t ‘real’. For example, she’s the only one of the three who showed a measure of compassion and regret to Dr. Coppelius while she was still in his studio. And when Dr. Coppelius came after the couple looking for restitution at the beginning of Act III, she, like the others, hid at first. But the expression on her face was guilt, and her subsequent beg for forgiveness was both apparent, and legitimately touching. All this took seconds, but they’re typical of the nuances she added to her characterization throughout, and that made her portrayal look complex, and made it sing.

She also danced with extraordinary delicacy and refined sensitivity, which has become Ms. Lane’s signature. (In this respect her only equals among principals and soloists in the company are Alina Cojocaru, Diana Vishneva, Hee Seo, and Ms. Kajiya.) While her technique in the bravura variations didn’t match Ms. Murphy’s (none could), she was rock-solid in her turns and balances (which always seems to come as a surprise because she looks so light, but at this point is nothing unusual). And I will likely never forget her feather-light developpes a la seconde toward the end of the ‘Ballade de L’Epi’ in Act I, which were as pure as those of the other Swanildas who executed the same steps, but which, as her alternating extended legs returned to the stage floor, were not just lowered slowly at the same tempo as each leg had been raised, but were held in position incrementally as each leg descended. As a result, the movement sequence looked like a series of extraordinarily-controlled millisecond-long freeze-frames. (Much like the hyphenated words in that last sentence ever-so-briefly slowed the sentence’s flow.) None of the other ballerinas – indeed, to my recollection, no ballerina I’ve ever seen in this role— has executed that step sequence that way. It was breathtaking.

There was another aspect of Ms. Lane’s performance that was breathtaking as well. In Act III, when Swanilda first emerges from the wings upstage right in her wedding dress (as opposed to the peasant outfit in which she was previously costumed), the entrance is usually simple and celebratory, but has no additional significance. When Ms. Lane appeared from the wings, the audience, at least in the orchestra where I was seated, very clearly and collectively gasped, as if they were no longer simply an audience in a theater, but guests at a wedding whose collective breaths were taken away upon their first view of the bride. This wasn’t because of the way Ms. Lane looks – it was the product of a calculated effort to register not just as celebratory, but as youthful, demure, and radiant.

Ms. Murphy’s characterization of Swanilda, necessarily, took a slightly different tack. Her expressiveness and acting prowess was every bit as fine as Ms. Lane’s, but it was qualitatively different in two respects: it was more amplified, as if she was, appropriately, projecting to the back of the theater, and it had the appearance of being the product of innate intelligence rather than of an innocent soul. Although I preferred Ms Lane’s approach, Ms. Murphy’s worked perfectly, and was appropriate for her.

Technically, Ms. Murphy was outstanding (but it wouldn’t have been Ms. Murphy otherwise). I’ve said this before, but one tends to forget how extraordinary a dancer Ms. Murphy is, because she’s extraordinary all the time. Her execution doesn’t look powerful as much as supremely confident. Both she and Ms. Lane, for example, danced the full complement of fouettes at the conclusion of the pas de deux in Act III. But where Ms. Lane tired at the final fouette (which, as with Ms. Copeland, I don't consider significant), Ms. Murphy’s were executed at twice the speed, and perfectly through to the end. And although there was little sense of effort in Ms. Lane’s performance, Ms. Murphy showed none at all. While she doesn't have Ms. Lane's delicacy and winsomeness, she draws an audience into her performances in other ways, like a magnet, yet never looks like she's showing off.

All three of the dancers portraying Franz executed the role essentially as one would expect – as not very bright boys: they played dumb (Mr. Matthews), dumber (Mr. Simkin), and dumbest (Mr. Cornejo). Mr. Matthews will grow into his role; for now, however, he exhibited less of a defined personality than the other two. But his partnering was excellent, his connection with Ms. Murphy appropriate, and his execution crisp and correct – although over time he’ll moderate his exuberance and finish his coupe-jete turns before he hits the wings. Except during the Act III pas de deux, Mr. Cornejo looked the strongest of the three. But the contrast between looking strong and stupid at the same time can be jarring, and when he finally had the opportunity to dance full out (in the Act III pas de deux), he became the premiere danseur he is, displaying his technique as if he were Prince Siegfried or Albrecht. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s exciting to watch and not inappropriate. But it took him out of character, which to me marred the overall performance.

Mr. Simkin’s Franz, however, was a surprise. He was the country bumpkin of the three. But what made Mr. Simkin’s performance was that he was a believable bumpkin, that he partnered Ms. Lane quite well (significantly improved from the last time I saw him partner her last year), and, most of all, that although his boundless technique was on full display in the Act III pas de deux, he didn’t appear to be showing off – he was just a particularly talented bumpkin. If this is a signal that Mr. Simkin has matured to the point where he has come to the realization that in many situations less is more, then this performance for him was a watershed.

Of the other roles in these three performances (and aside from Ms. Kajiya’s ‘Prayer’), Roman Zhurbin (at both evenings) and Alexei Agoudine (at the matinee) performed Dr. Coppelius with appropriate flair. Luciana Paris danced ‘Prayer’ on Saturday evening, and although she could not equal Ms. Kajiya, she danced well (particularly considering that this was her first appearance after an injury). In the ‘Dawn’ variation, Isabella Boylston (at the matinee) gave a more powerful portrayal (it was ‘high noon’ as opposed to ‘dawn’); Stella Abrera’s portrayal at Friday’s performance was impeccable; but Devon Teuscher’s on Saturday evening, while perhaps less technically perfect than Ms. Abrera, was more exuberant, the personification of the beginning of a good day. In the Mazurka and Czardas, each of the lead couples excelled: Christine Shevchenko, with Luis Ribagorda on Saturday matinee and Blaine Hoven on Saturday evening, and Ms. Teuscher and Alexandre Hammoudi on Friday evening. And as the ‘Lead Mazurka Lady’, Gemma Bond on Friday and Adrienne Schulte on Saturday matinee were appropriately festive, but Stephanie Williams on Saturday evening had the most vivacity (just a hair shy of being over the top). On Friday, David LaMarche’s conducting was too slow and the orchestra sounded under-rehearsed. But things picked up in pace and sound quality under the batons of Ormsby Williams and Charles Barker on Saturday afternoon and evening respectively.

Finally, a brief word about this production. In New York, balletgoers are blessed with two productions: one choreographed by George Balanchine for New York City Ballet, and ABT’s version, which is based on the Saint-Leon original, and was most recently staged by the late Frederic Franklin. They’re similar, of course, but except for the Act III ‘War and Discord’ dance, which I dislike, I prefer the NYCB version. But regardless of which version is choreographically ‘better’, the ABT production looks tired. I like the lighting and the spaciousness of Act II, but the set looks dated. This may be a good thing (there’s nothing to look at except the dancers), but a new, more vibrant production would be welcome.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

In the New York Times, Gia Kourlas reviews the Monday, June 2, 2014 performance of "Manon."

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

David Lyman previews Ashton's "Cinderella" for Playbill.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Jessica Abejar reviews "Manon" for Broadway World.

Broadway World

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Alastair Macaulay previews Sir Frederick Ashton's "Cinderella" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  balletomaniac [ Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

American Ballet Theater
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

June 7, 2014
“Manon” – Vishneva Anniversary

-- by Jerry Hochman

When Marcelo Gomes spontaneously hoisted Diana Vishneva onto his shoulder during the final curtain call yesterday afternoon, the audience that hadn’t stopped cheering since the performance ended went wild.

But this was only the surprise in the predictable, and deserved, reverential rapture that followed the performances by Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes in Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “Manon” yesterday afternoon. Some five front-of-curtain curtain calls earlier, the audience (crammed from orchestra to balcony with standing and cheering balletgoers), and the company (filling the stage with dancers, company administrators, teachers and coaches), celebrated Ms. Vishneva’s tenth anniversary with American Ballet Theater with a flower-filled series of stage bows, which in turn was preceded by thundering front-of-curtain curtain calls, which in turn was preceded by a series of cast bows, which was preceded by the house curtain reopening upon Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes in each other’s arms, trying to hold themselves upright after the conclusion of yet another towering performance, and yet another indelible audience memory.

“Manon” is not the greatest ballet in the world. Essentially, it’s somewhat of a ripoff of MacMillan by MacMillan, with “Manon,” which he created in 1974, resembling his 1965 “Romeo and Juliet.” Instead of balcony, bed and bier, we have bed, bordello, and bayou. Much of what’s in between doesn’t measure up to his “Romeo and Juliet” (and the swordplay is awful). But if you focus on the ballet’s arias – the pas de deux and Des Grieux’s solos – the dancing is gorgeous, and one can revel in “Manon’s” explorations of passion’s complexities, with 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. And it is also undeniable that the ballet successfully presents secondary characters of intensity and depth. Yesterday afternoon, Herman Cornejo was a fabulous snake of a brother/pimp, Misty Copeland enthusiastic and vivacious (and blonde) as Lescaut’s girlfriend/courtesan, and Victor Barbee a memorably vicious Monsieur GM. But yesterday’s performance belonged to Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes, and this review focuses on them. Admittedly, it’s just a bit rapturous.

It is difficult to overestimate the significance that Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes have had for New York audiences. Extraordinary stage partnerships are rare to begin with, and in the current era, when for a variety of reasons dancing ‘partnerships’ are discouraged in favor a more pragmatic approach to partnering assignments, they’re rarer still. But the Vishneva/Gomes partnership is a throwback to an age where two dancers who perform extraordinarily on their own are able to ramp up the artistic and excitement level exponentially when dancing with each other. And when the stage pairing is between two artists who obviously have profound affection for each other, as Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes do, the chemistry is both magical and explosive. So it is in every performance of every ballet they dance together. And so it was yesterday afternoon.

I’ve never seen Mr. Gomes perform better than he did yesterday – but I say that after every performance he gives. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Gomes put on a clinic on how to act a role, dance a role, and be a superb partner. His solos were exquisite – not a wobble, not a wayward emotion, not a bone or muscle out of place. But they were also understated. They weren’t about him, they were about his expressions. And in the final image as Ms. Vishneva’s Manon died in his arms, his scream (payback for all the times that Ms. Vishneva’s Juliet screamed at the realization of his Romeo’s death) was measurable on the Richter scale, awful in its tragic resonance, and proof that even a man’s scream of hopelessness, anger, and profound loss can move a viewer to tears.

My bent is to pay attention to the ballerina more than the danseur, but Mr. Gomes is impossible to ignore. If I were a ballerina (spare the guffaws) I would want him to partner me. And I don’t doubt that every ballerina with ABT and beyond wants Mr. Gomes to partner her, for good reason. He gives them security and freedom, and he’s unselfish. He calls attention to himself by not calling attention to himself – just by the purity of his execution and the poetry of his passion. His performances are gifts both for his ballerinas, and for audiences privileged to watch him.

From the beginning, Ms. Vishneva’s Manon was more fully developed than the last time I saw her assay Manon seven years ago. It’s not a different quality – she danced the role superbly then, and did so yesterday as well – but a different level of emotional maturity. She can still convincingly portray the young Manon in Act I, but her Manon-as-courtesan in Act II is now even more fully developed.

But talking about Ms. Vishneva as if she were simply dancing a role with a certain level of quality is like saying that a particular vintage champagne has a really great bubbles. With Ms. Vishneva, it’s the nuances of character and choreographic execution, the truthfulness of her youthful maturity, and the aura of natural and liquid radiance that gives her performances in anything she dances, and perhaps particularly her Manon, a degree of richness that’s powerful enough to visually taste, and that is unequalled by any ballerina currently with ABT, and perhaps of any ballerina anywhere.

Yet it’s still more than that. When Ms. Vishneva dances, it’s not just the steps and the drama that’s under her control, but it’s also time. She stretches it, compresses it, and makes it her tool; movement that begins and ends in seconds feels like it lasts for minutes, and combinations that logically should take seconds to execute are over in a heartbeat. And there’s a quality of sensuality in her dancing, and to her simple presence on stage, that is irresistible – not that anyone would want to resist it. Her presence alone is intoxicating. Several years ago, in an essay celebrating Ms. Visheva, I commented that whenever she is on stage, I hear the siren calling ‘come watch me dance; come dance with me; the best is yet to be’. And with Ms. Vishneva, it seems, no matter how brilliant her most recent performance is, the best is yet to be.

But as significant as Ms. Vishneva and Mr. Gomes are individually, together they are a magnetic force that binds them to each other and the audience to them. The final scene of “Manon” is an audience killer, every bit as powerful as the last scene in “Romeo and Juliet.” Instead of Juliet, already dead (or appearing to be) being tossed around like a sack of potatoes by Romeo, Manon is tossed around like a sack of potatoes on the verge of death by Des Grieux. Instead of Juliet’s scream when she realizes Romeo is dead, Des Grieux screams when he realizes Manon has died in his arms. But this description makes the scene sound merely melodramatic – when Vishneva and Gomes perform it, it’s profound artistry. They dance as two forces within one body; almost mirror images. He pulls her up; she descends into death. And the more he pulls, the more her body – first the arms and legs, then the hands, then the torso – succumbs to gravity and becomes an impossible weight. He is dependent on her and she on him for physical and emotional support; they illuminates each other; and each, miraculously, makes the other better than they could be on their own.

Yesterday’s performance was the performance of a lifetime. But at this point, every performance in which they dance together is the performance of a lifetime. Seeing them dance together is a privilege, and anyone interested in ballet who does not take advantage of any opportunity to see Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes dance together, in anything, risks losing an indelible memory. They are scheduled to dance “Giselle” together on June 16. You miss it, and the memories it will provide, at your peril.

edited June 14 to correct an obvious error in the performance date

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Graciela Berger Wegsman interviews principal dancer Xiomara Reyes about the 2014 spring season for the New York Daily News.

NY Daily News

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Alastair Macaulay reviews the Monday, June 9, 2014 performance of Ashton's "Cinderella" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  balletomaniac [ Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

June 9, 10, 2014

-- by Jerry Hochman

The last time I saw Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella,” it was performed by The Royal Ballet during the Lincoln Center Festival. On that August day in 2004, I left the Met flying, having seen Alina Cojocaru deliver a fabulous performance, one that will linger forever in my memory. In my review, I didn’t write much otherwise about the ballet itself, except that it was great fun, that Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep were exceptionally hilarious as the ‘ugly step-sisters’, and that it must have been a wonderful tonic for post-war Britain when it premiered in 1948.

I’ve aged. And so has the ballet. Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella” now appears to me as a relic, a ballet that can be appreciated for what it was, but perhaps no longer for what it is. Maybe it was just the American Ballet Theater production – Monday’s performance was the company premiere, so perhaps it needs to steep a bit (and it did look better, overall, on Tuesday evening). And there were moments when the action perked up enough to be enjoyable. But most of the time I thought it not very funny (although I noticed that many of the older audience-members in my seating vicinity laughed merrily), not very magical, and totally devoid of any excitement. Worst of all, it looked fussy and prissy, and as if it had been preserved in aspic for years.

Perhaps I’m suffering from residual memories of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Cinderella,” which the San Francisco Ballet brought to New York last fall. While I found fault with certain aspects of Mr.Wheeldon’s ballet, it was undeniably enchanting. Styles and sets and costumes and technique have changed since 1948, but it is what it is, and to me, this “Cinderella” can’t keep up with current sensibilities or expectations. In a nutshell, I described Mr. Wheeldon’s production as ‘not your mother’s “Cinderella’”. The Ashton production is very much your mother’s “Cinderella.”

And it isn’t just a matter of technical advances since 1948. It’s also the choreography. Some of it (for Cinderella) is lovely, but much of it looks like an effort to update Petipa, with an attempt at modernity that now looks neither classic nor contemporary: it just looks dated. The ‘ballroom’ dances look starched, the “Fairy Godmother” and her subsidiary fairies bear too much of a choreographic resemblance (superficial I’ll grant, but still too obvious) to the fairies in “The Sleeping Beauty,” and it’s never clear enough whether it is supposed to be a fairy tale, or a fairy tale within a fairy tale. And while a fairy tale isn’t necessarily supposed to be ‘real,’ what’s on stage is more than ‘not real’ – it’s artificial.

There’s not much acting either. Cinderella is sweet and good-hearted with only two emotional faces: the Cinderella who dreams, and the Cinderella whose dream comes true. And the Prince is….princely. This ballet isn’t about falling in love, it’s about dreams coming true. But it isn’t a ‘dream’ the way, say, Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Nutcracker” is a dream of an ‘adult’ Clara seen through the eyes of Clara as a child; it is a particularly one-dimensional daydream grafted onto the nuts and bolts of the fairy tale. It has no texture, and no depth.

So why did I like the Royal performance I saw in 2004 as much as I did? Part of it was a certain comfort level that the Royal had with the production, to which ABT will adjust over time (much as it did with Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “Romeo and Juliet”). But part of it is that Alina Cojocaru was dominant enough to overcome the music-hall bent of the ballet, in multiple ways – she acted the role and danced the role, and looked the part. She ‘was’ Cinderella; the two Cinderellas I saw were not. Although both performances had virtues, neither Hee Seo nor Julie Kent put the portrayals together as completely and as believably as Ms. Cojocaru did.

I’ll discuss the Cinderellas I saw shortly. Initially, however, there were many performances spread over the two evenings that were noteworthy.

The role of the Jester is not a part of the fairy tale. Although I don’t know its specific genesis here, I suspect it was created to provide a diversion. Since he has no real subject matter function, his presence is intended to fill a choreographic void – to keep at least some action moving at a rapid pace; to loosen things up. And this the Jester does, in the way Jesters are supposed to do: he jumps a lot; runs around the stage a lot; interjects himself into the action while still appearing to be a creature of the stage perimeters; and reacts to what’s happening without risking losing his head. And this is the way I’ve seen Jesters in Ashton’s “Cinderella” previously.

But at the opening night performance, Luis Ribagorda danced it differently. Mr. Ribagorda was not only your ‘typical’ wild and crazy hyperactive court functionary with the silly-looking costume who everyone sees but ignores. His Jester had an independent presence; a layer of androgynous decadence – as if he had auditioned for the Emcee role in “Cabaret,” didn’t get the part, but carried the Joel Grey/Alan Cumming “Cabaret” personality to his day job as a court jester. And this Jester knew something the rest of us didn’t; he had a secret he wouldn’t tell.

The difference in this Jester wasn’t in Mr. Ribagorda’s execution – the steps were the same as those danced by others, and perhaps were executed with slightly more clarity by Craig Salstein on Tuesday. But Mr. Ribagorda’s portrayal was startling: he made the role different, and made it stand out. And it was completely consistent with the somewhat dark undercurrents in the Prokofiev score and the original story. I don’t know if this was an intentionally different interpretation, or just the way Mr. Ribagorda expresses himself naturally – to my knowledge, this was his first significant featured role (at least with ABT), and consequently I don’t have a performance-personality base-line. But in his minor ‘featured’ roles in ABT’s “The Nutcracker” this past winter, I observed that he added a different dimension to those roles as well, and made them stand out. So I’d bet that what Mr. Ribagorda brought to his role as the Jester he did intentionally. However it got there, it worked.

Notwithstanding their similarity to the Lilac Fairy and her cohorts in Petipa’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” the ‘Fairy Godmother’ and her associate fairies have the most interesting choreography to dance aside from Cinderella’s pas de deux with the Prince in Act II. Veronika Part looked out of place as the “Fairy Godmother” on Monday, as if she didn’t know where to put the accents, or how to play her character. As a result, her performance looked somewhat unfocused. But on Tuesday, Stella Abrera danced superbly, on the mark in every respect and nailing the choreographic exclamation points and the fairy godmotherly attitude.

On Monday, the first of the secondary fairies, the ‘Fairy Spring’, was danced by Skylar Brandt. Ms. Brandt single-handedly brought the performance, which had been moribund until that point, to life. I thought she was exciting to watch, animated, and engaging. She was spring sunshine. And then Sarah Lane took over the role on Tuesday and put on a demonstration of spectacular execution that made Ms. Brandt’s portrayal, as good as it was, look flyaway. Ms. Lane’s portrayal was flawless and classic, and, like Ms. Abrera, made the choreographic point expertly. And for a character without any human character, she danced a character. She was a spring breeze that didn’t so much overwrite the memory of a bad winter as it made you forget there had been a winter.

As the ‘Fairy Summer’, Yuriko Kajiya on Monday was quiet and calm and sultry; Isabella Boyslton on Tuesday danced the steps right, but her upper-body looked somewhat ginched, so she didn’t dance with Ms. Kajiya’s expansiveness and warmth. Autumn is a season of complexity. On Tuesday, Misty Copeland danced the ‘Fairy Autumn’ energetically, like a gust of wind blowing leaves off trees. But as exuberant as it was, it was only that. On Monday in the same role, Christine Shevchenko (a member of the corps, still), danced the same role, but brought with it appropriately varied texture and nuance that made it significantly more interesting. And as the “Fairy Winter,” Melanie Hamrick executed Ashton’s somewhat distant and imperious personification of the season very well on Monday, but on Tuesday, April Giangeruso’s portrayal was a major surprise (at least to me). Heretofore I had only noted her fine job as one of the ‘harem girls’ in “The Nutcracker.” But as the Fairy Winter she dominated, with a secure, polished, icy execution that was utterly compassionless, and made you wary of winter’s return. I had not seen Ms. Giangeruso dance a solo featured role previously, and her performance was frosty dynamite.

In this production, the ugly stepsisters share equal ‘stage’ billing with Cinderella, and are more attention-getters than she is. The roles were originally performed by the choreographer and Sir Robert Helpmann, both British ballet legends, and consequently one would expect these roles to be more than walk-ons – perhaps for Brits in 1948, the equivalent of ballet comfort food. But seeing the production now, these characters are comedically overbearing, and they steal much of Cinderella’s limelight. Roman Zhurbin, as the ‘dominant’, bossy stepsister and Mr. Salstein as the ‘recessive’, shy one, were delightfully hilarious. [They're so heavily made-up that it's difficult to tell them apart on stage.] The roles were assumed by Thomas Forster and Kenneth Easter on Tuesday. Both pairs of dancers, to my recollection, danced the roles with little embellishment from the original, and performed their roles well. I preferred the Salstein/Zhurbin pairing, partly because I could see Mr. Salstein’s characteristic, and Mr. Zhurbin’s uncharacteristic, humor. {Going from credibly portraying the ‘High Brahmin’ in “La Bayadere” to the bossy step-sister in “Cinderalla” as Mr. Zhurbin and Mr. Forster did, is quite a feat.)

As Cinderella’s Prince on Monday, James Whiteside was … princely. He did a fine job looking noble, executing the few bravura steps that Ashton's choreography allows, and partnering. But his character is cardboard, and, so was he. The only variation in his prince’s personality was his disgust with the ugly stepsisters, which is programmed into the choreography. Last night, Marcelo Gomes took the role to another level – as he always does. He not only executed in a princely fashion – he added that characteristic twinkle in his eye that let the audience know that even though he was dancing the steps and making his ballerina look good, he knew this was a fairy tale and that his character was an imaginary Prince. From the moment he zoomed onto the stage, he wasn’t real: he was a pumped-up super-prince. His entry pose (‘Look at me; I’m The Prince; I’m everything the guidebook says a Prince should be’) was intentionally self-deprecating, intentionally inflated, and priceless: Very different from Mr. Whiteside’s more serious take, and much more fun.

But if the portrayal of Cinderella doesn’t work completely, as it did in the performance I saw ten years ago with Ms. Cojocaru, the entire ballet suffers. The performances by Ms. Seo on Monday and Ms. Kent on Tuesday were both admirable, but each lacked the completeness that Ms. Cojocaru brought to the role. Ms. Kent has been dancing Cinderella in various production incarnations for at least 18 years (based on the program notes). Even if the specific choreography changes with the production, she’s got the characterization down pat. She deserves praise for delivering a quality performance technically, and a credible one emotionally. Indeed, Ms. Kent can still act a youngish Cinderella. But, although she danced Ashton’s steps reasonably well, her execution lacked the speed I recall seeing from other Ashton Cinderellas (not just Ms. Cojocaru). More importantly, to me her portrayal looked forced – perhaps because I’ve seen it the same way in so many incarnations before (even in different roles), and in part because, through binoculars, she looked more mature than her step-sisters.

I expected more from Ms. Seo, but got less. I have admired Ms. Seo’s acting ability in previous roles (most significantly, in “Onegin” over the past two Met seasons). And she has the potential to be a credible Cinderella – she's youthfully lovely, and there’s something particularly and naturally ingratiating and endearing about her stage persona. But in Monday’s performance, it didn’t gel. She danced the steps well, but not exceptionally or memorably, and her characterization was more understated than it should have been. Hers was a low decibel level, under-energized Cinderella; she never glowed.

To me, a successful “Cinderella” requires execution that can milk what there is in the Ashton choreography – the quicksilver turns in particular – to the highest degree. And, of equal importance, it requires a Cinderella that does not only reflect light, but can naturally generate it on her own. And it requires a Cinderella that can be believable. ABT has at least one dancer who could, at least on paper, have fulfilled all those requirements. She was sitting in the audience watching Monday’s performance, and danced the ‘Fairy Spring’ on Tuesday. Once again, ABT has let another golden casting opportunity pass it by.

edited 6/12 to correct a casting error

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Robert Greskovic reviews "Cinderella" for the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2014 at the Met

Robert Johnson reviews "Cinderella" for the Newark Star-Ledger.


Page 2 of 4 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group