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 Post subject: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:02 am 
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American Ballet Theatre has announced the retirement of principal dancers Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes, in addition to the previously announced retirement of Paloma Herrera, during its 2015 Met Season. Ms. Herrera's final performance will be as Aurora in Alexei Ratmansky's new version of "The Sleeping Beauty" on June 9; Ms. Reyes's as Giselle on May 27; and Ms. Kent's as Juliet on June 20.


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:18 pm 
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In the New York Times, Michael Cooper comments on the Spring 2015 season announcement.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:35 pm 
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Roslyn Sulcas profiles Irina Kolpakova for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:07 pm 
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Broadway World reports on the 2015 Met season.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:02 pm 
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To the surprise of no one, I understand from a usually reliable source that David Hallberg has announced that he will not be available to dance with ABT during the spring 2015 Met season.

Without ceremony, additional guest artists have already been added to ABT's performance calendar to fill the void.


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:09 pm 
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Roslyn Sulcas reports for the New York Times that David Hallberg will not be performing during ABT's spring season at the Met.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:10 pm 
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In the Washington Post, Sarah Kaufman interviews retiring principals Xiomara Reyes, Julie Kent and Paloma Herrera.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 8:21 am 
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A complete review of American Ballet Theatre’s opening 2015 Met Season performances will follow, but for those interested, below are some initial observations:

American Ballet Theatre crept into the Metropolitan Opera House last night to open its 2015 Season, and relatively few noticed: the audience, particularly for an opening night, was relatively sparse, despite the publicity barrage accompanying the company’s 75th Anniversary season. However, those who attended were treated to a particularly fine program, including a glorious performance of Fancy Free, and a sparkling revival of Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire. Whatever one may think of ABT’s ‘star policy’ of having guest artists pepper its Met schedule, thereby narrowing full[-length role opportunities for its own dancers, missing Gillian Murphy’s towering portrayal of Hagar, one of the finest performances of this or any other season, or Marcelo Gomes in practically anything, is unthinkable.

Lovingly staged by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner, Pillar of Fire is Tudor at his best, as wonderful as his Jardin Aux Lilas, which is also being performed during this season’s first week. The entire cast – Stella Abrera as the Eldest Sister, a pitch-perfect Cassandra Trenary as the Youngest Sister, Alexandre Hammoudi, in a touchingly nuanced performance as The Friend, and Gomes, who portrayed The Young Man from the House Opposite as both fiery and cold as ice, as well as the supporting cast of Lovers-in-Innocence and Lover-in-Experience – was marvelous. But Murphy’s portrayal was in a galaxy of its own, and by itself is worth the price of admission.

And even though Fancy Free is always fun to see, Gomes’s portrayal of the third sailor, though it might look a bit over the top to purists, is an ideal merger of stage persona and character. Herman Cornejo’s first sailor, and Cory Stearns as the sweet and somewhat naïve second sailor both did fine jobs as well. And the three women – Luciana Paris, the lively first girl (the one with the red purse), Isabella Boylston, a remarkably ‘real’ and engaging second woman (in purple), and Leann Underwood, who danced a particularly captivating third girl – delivered superb characterizations.

The evening, and the season, opened without ceremony. Though some consider it to be a sure cure for insomnia, Les Sylphides, which was on the program of ABT’s first performance in 1940, was given a strong performance, particular by Hee Seo (who appears to have gained a pound or two and no longer looks as dangerously spectral as she had in recent seasons). Melanie Hamrick, Thomas Forster, and Boylston complete the lead cast. And Skylar Brandt, who led the corps together with Ms. Paris, and also appeared as one of the ‘Lovers-in-Innocence’ in Pillar of Fire, had a remarkable night as well.


more to follow


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 10:20 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay reviews the Monday, May 11, 2015 performance of Fokine's Les Sylphides, Tudor's Pillar of Fire and Robbins' Fancy Free for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 1:10 pm 
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Brian Seibert reviews the Tuesday, May 12, 2015 performance of Balanchine's Theme and Variations, Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas and Agnes de Mille's Rodeo for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 4:18 pm 
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American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

May 11, 2015
Les Sylphides; Pillar of Fire; Fancy Free

May 12, 2015
Theme and Variations, Jardin Aux Lilas, Rodeo

May 13M
Les Sylphides, Jardin Aux Lilas, Rodeo

-- by Jerry Hochman

American Ballet Theatre tiptoed into the Metropolitan Opera House to open its 2015 Season with a week devoted to “Classic ABT,” and it seemed like relatively few noticed. Despite the publicity barrage accompanying the company’s 75th Anniversary season, the attendance for the first three performances was relatively sparse.

However, those who did attend were treated to three fine programs, including a glorious performance of Fancy Free and a sparkling revival of Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire on opening night, excellent performances of Theme and Variations and Les Sylphides at the next two programs, several outstanding individual efforts, and a noteworthy role debut. Whatever one may think of ABT’s ‘star policy’ of having guest artists pepper its Met schedule, thereby narrowing full-length role opportunities for its own dancers, and even if a viewer prefers full-length story ballets to repertory evenings, missing Gillian Murphy’s towering portrayal of Hagar, or Marcelo Gomes in practically anything, or the cast of Veronika Part, Stella Abrera, Sarah Lane, and Joseph Gorak in Les Sylphides, is unthinkable.

Lovingly staged by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner, Pillar of Fire is Tudor at his best, as wonderful as his Jardin Aux Lilas. The entire cast – Stella Abrera as the dry and bitter Eldest Sister, a pitch-perfect Cassandra Trenary as the Youngest Sister, Alexandre Hammoudi, in a touchingly nuanced performance as The Friend, and Gomes, who portrayed The Young Man from the House Opposite as both fiery and cold as ice, as well as the supporting cast of Lovers-in-Innocence and Lover-in-Experience – was marvelous. But Murphy’s portrayal was in a galaxy of its own, and one of the finest performances of this or any other season. The ‘Pillar’ supporting cast all gave commendable performances as well, but to me Skylar Brandt stood out as one of the ‘Lovers-in-Innocence’.

Jerome Robbins’s Fancy Free is always fun, and a booster shot every year or so is therapeutic for most any ailment, regardless of cast. But Gomes’s portrayal of the third sailor on Monday’s opening night, though it might look a bit over the top to purists, is an ideal merger of stage persona and character. Herman Cornejo’s first sailor, and Cory Stearns as the sweet and somewhat naïve second sailor both did fine jobs as well. And the three women – Luciana Paris, the lively first girl (the one with the red purse), Isabella Boylston, an engaging second woman (in purple), and Leann Underwood, who danced a particularly captivating third girl – delivered superb characterizations. With respect to Boylston’s performance, some may contend that she was less ‘ballerina-ish’ than others who have danced the role recently. That may be correct, but it’s also why I enjoyed her portrayal as much as I did. She acted naturally, danced without artifice, and as a result her portrayal was remarkably ‘real’. At the risk of sounding catty, she acted like a girl a sailor might try to pick up, rather than a ballerina who happened to be walking down the street. And I mean that as a compliment

ABT’s celebratory season began without ceremony, moving directly into Michael Fokine’s Les Sylphides. I suppose ABT is saving festivities for its Gala next Monday, but the absence of anything to memorialize the occasion seemed odd. And scheduling the Gala after ABT’s week of classics makes it appear that ABT itself considers these classics to be part of its past, rather than its future. That would be unfortunate.

Be that as it may, Les Sylphides, which was on the program of ABT’s first performance in 1940, was given a strong opening night performance, particular by Hee Seo (who appears to have gained a few pounds and no longer looks as dangerously spectral as she had in recent seasons). Although she fell mid-way through the pas de deux (from my vantage point, it appeared that there was a tiny piece of tulle on the stage floor, and that she landed square on it), she recovered well. Melanie Hamrick did nice work with the Waltz as well, enunciating with remarkable clarity. Thomas Forster, and Boylston complete the lead cast, and were a bit more problematic. This was the first time I’d seen Forster in this role, and he showed considerable promise. But for the ‘poet/dreamer’, less is more, and he pushed higher and harder than he needed to. And although she’s improving, Boylston still doesn’t dance Romantic roles as strongly as others in the company. Her hands bent stiffly at the wrist, she doesn’t have the fluidity of others, and at times she looked clunky. But when she was able to rely on power (as in her concluding jettees), which is her strength, she danced fabulously.

A far different, and far superior, performance took place at Wednesday’s matinee. Many consider Les Sylphides to be a sure cure for insomnia – and I’m one of them. But this performance was almost exciting to watch. The ever-so-slightly faster tempo by conductor David LaMarch (as opposed to the dirge-like recitation on Monday) helped, but the performances were uniformly superior across the board. Lane has danced this role before, and is Romantic perfection: feather light, crystalline, and nuanced without being mannered. That she still has not danced Giselle with ABT defies reason (as is that, to date, she’s not been given any new roles this season). Part has also performed her role previously, and her portrayal is equally flawless. I don’t recall seeing Abrera dance her role previously (she danced the Pas de Deux as well as the Mazurka), and her performance was a revelation. She’s a superb Myrta, but, Romantic as it is, that role carries more weight. Here, she displayed not only appropriate technique, but she looked weightless. And Gorak’s poet/dreamer was delivered with understated grace, and he partnered flawlessly. My memory of past performances of Les Sylphides is not foolproof (see my comment on insomnia), but this is one of the finest casts I can remember.

Tuesday’s program began with another stellar performance by Ms. Lane in Theme and Variations. Notwithstanding the speed with which some portions of it must be performed, she appeared to be a millisecond ahead of the music – either that, or her more nuanced and exquisitely controlled presentation appeared to stretch time. Like Ms. Lane, Cornejo has danced this role before, and except for one minor partnering glitch delivered his usual fine performance.

However, despite the excellent performances, I prefer the production by New York City Ballet. ABT trumpets that George Balanchine created Theme and Variations for it in 1947 (it was not danced by NYCB until several years later, and was incorporated into his Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 in 1970). But NYCB does it (like most everything else) at a faster tempo, which makes it look more exciting. Further, to my recollection, that production eliminates (or minimizes) the extended ‘dead spot’ before the male solo variation that causes ABT's performance to come to a full stop. And ABT’s costumes, particularly for the corps, lack the pizazz that brightened the performances of the ballet that I first saw in the 1970s.

The programs on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon followed their opening pieces with Jardin Aux Lilas and Agnes De Mille’s Rodeo, but with different casts each night. The performances were executed well, but individual efforts dominated.

Hee Seo is one of the company’s strongest dancer/actors, able to infuse her characters with extraordinary warmth and, where appropriate, extraordinary pain. Her Caroline on Tuesday was finely done, although her facial gestures, which are so critical to the delivery of her character, seemed less clearly communicated than usual. At Wednesday’s performance, Xiomara Reyes’s Caroline was equally accomplished, albeit somewhat more world-weary. But neither was as vital as last fall’s portrayal by Devon Teuscher.

On Tuesday, Stearns, Roman Zhurbin, and Part repeated their superb portrayals from the cast I saw last fall as, respectively, ‘Her Lover’, ‘The Man She Must Marry’, and ‘An Episode in His Past’. And Forster and Hammoudi delivered fine work as well in the male lead roles at Wednesday’s matinee. But the story of Wednesday’s performance was Christine Shevchenko’s ‘An Episode in His Past’. It was a very different portrayal than those I’ve previously seen, in part because Ms. Shevchenko cannot yet convey the quality of experience I’ve seen from others. But she turned it to her advantage, and her more youthful portrayal, delivered convincingly and with no less authority, was memorable. And as she did last fall, Katherine Williams excelled as Caroline’s ‘best friend’ (not a titled role) in Tuesday’s performance

In Rodeo, the characters are drawn in bold strokes, so distinguishing nuance is everything. If any of the many roles that Misty Copeland is being provided with this season would seem to be a natural for her, it’s the Cowgirl. And indeed, her debut performance on Wednesday was quite good. But to me, the Cowgirl’s charm is not that she’s a tomboy, but that she’s vulnerable, and her wanting to do what the guys do is a mask that covers insecurity. With Copeland’s portrayal, I felt the other way around – that she was still her strong self at the end, but she wore a dress. I don’t think that that’s an invalid interpretation, but it’s not as captivating to me. And she’ll need to learn how to collapse in a heap without it looking like a step combination. But this was a highly promising debut, and given sufficient opportunities to grow in the role (which she’s getting), I don’t doubt that she’ll be able to tone down the voltage a hair. On Tuesday, Reyes, who has considerable experience in the role, did an excellent job in all respects. But of those currently on ABT’s roster who’ve previously danced Cowgirl, I prefer the portrayal by Marian Butler.

The difference in the portrayals of the Champion Roper between James Whiteside on Tuesday and Craig Salstein on Wednesday was negligible. Both gave superlative performances, with Whiteside’s tap dancing more exciting, and Salstein’s characterization more fully developed. Both Lauren Post and Leann Underwood excelled as the Ranch Owner’s Daughter on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, but their portrayals were different also. Post was more naively seductive; Underwood still had some of the more powerful sensuality of the third girl in Fancy Free in hers. And as the girl who gets kissed/swung in the air, both Lily Wisdom (who might make a fine Cowgirl in the future), and Trenary on Wednesday (who is one of those rare dancers who could do either the Cowgirl or the Ranch Owners Daughter), stood out, as did Courtney Lavine and Jose Sebastian on Wednesday. Also particularly noteworthy was Elina Miettinen. She was just one of the group of enthusiastic and energetic ‘womenfolk’ at Tuesday's performance. But in one moment, before the ‘Saturday Night Dance at the Ranch House,’ she stood alone downstage center, her face capturing and reflecting the soft moonlight, and she very clearly dreamed of what the evening might bring, and with her face alone, communicated that dream clearly to the audience. That brief moment was stunning.

Two final observations. In Rodeo, the square dance is a highlight, and was finely executed at both performances. But it would be helpful to be able to hear the Caller clearly, without straining; some electronic enhancement might be considering. And at Tuesday’s performance of Theme and Variations, one of the ‘featured’ supporting dancers was listed as Ms. Copeland. Without notification, she was replaced by Stephanie Williams, I won’t speculate on the reason for the change, but it should have been posted and/or announced to the audience. Not doing so is unfair both to Ms. Williams (who did a fine job, as did the rest of the 'Theme' corps, aside from constantly smiling as if they’d been ordered to) and the audience.


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 1:28 pm 
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Isabella Boylston is interviewed by Gia Kourlas for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:06 pm 
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Broadway World reports on the third and fourth week's casting, including Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:11 pm 
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The New York Times reports that Polina Semionova has withdrawn from the Spring Season due to injury.

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 Post subject: Re: American Ballet Theatre: Spring 2015 at the Met
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 10:31 am 
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Gia Kourlas reviews the Monday, May 18, 2015 Gala Performance for the New York Times.

NY Times


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