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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:20 am 
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Just back from the Herrera, Gomes, Wiles Giselle at The Met. It was wonderful - for the most part. The wonderful included Act I, which really came alive tonight thanks to Gomes’ and Herrera’s great acting integrated into their formidable techniques. Gomes’ Albrecht began as pompous and self-indulgent. He pursued Giselle as sport - sometimes cruelly laughing when he saw she believed that he really cared for her. Slowly Albrecht’s interest turned genuine. Then we saw his moment of “Uh oh” when Bathilde arrived and Giselle realized Albrecht’s betrayal. Herrera’s Act I Giselle was on the mark. She was pretty, but clearly peasant pretty - not glamorous in a peasant dress as we sometimes see. Initially she showed doubt about Albrecht’s sincerity, but then completely bought into it. The chemistry between the two throughout the evening was very, very good. Herrera’s mad scene was much improved over my memory of a few years back. The glaze of her eyes and the ability to look right through those standing in front of her was quite believable. This may sound like a strange compliment but she had great stringy black hair. Some Giselles start their mad scenes with such beautifully combed manes that the whole scene becomes Disneyesque.

I haven’t even talked about their technique yet. It almost goes without saying. Superlative this, superlative that. Where Herrera‘s use of her incredible feet in the Black Swan made her seductive and dangerous, tonight they made her fragile. Whenever she launched into those ballonnés during Act I, her feet were so arched that she looked like she might be dancing in barefeet. Her hops on pointe diagonally downstage were effortless. Gomes is in such high technical form right now that, at times, he seems to surprise even himself. He has never turned, jumped or acted better than we have seen this season.

Act II started with Wiles’ variations as Myrta. Her movement was very strong, but as last night, not intimidating. It was missing the icy, obsessed-with-revenge feel of the Myrtas of Abrera, van Hamel, or Leslie Browne. Just a little on the warm and fuzzy side. But can we blame her? What a season this girl has had!

Herrera’s and Gomes’ Act II PdD was gorgeous, just gorgeous. The whole scene built beautifully up to the point where we expected the final face-off between Albrecht and Myrta. Then, instead of doing the out-of-control brisees downstage diagonally right up into Myrta’s face (a dramatic highpoint for Giselle fanatics), Albrecht stood in place in the middle of the stage and performed 24 or more entrechat seis. I’m telling you, if Dr. Phil had been in the audience, he would have shouted “McKenzie, what were you thinking?!!” It robbed the production of an important dramatic moment, and inserted a stupid, glorifying, stagegrabbing stunt for Gomes. Disappointing.

Supporting cast: Melissa Thomas was late-cast again as Moyna, and was terrific. The peasant PdD was danced by Radetsky and Liceica. On balance, it was okay, but I didn’t see them as well matched. While both are soloists, Radetsky is much farther along in development. I thought that it was beyond Liceica’s performance abilities right now. However, Radetsky was sensational. The corps looked super. Night after night, they have looked wonderful.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:57 am 
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American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House, NYC
July 12, 2005: “Giselle”


It isn’t easy to conjure up the appropriate superlative to describe the performance that Diana Vishneva gave as Giselle with ABT last night. Masterful. Superb. Sensational. Stunning. Fantastic. Extraordinary. World-class. They’re all appropriate, but they’re all insufficient. Her portrayal was better than any simple superlative could indicate. She just took my breath away. Hers was a Giselle to cherish.

Once you get to the ABT level, every dancer seems to be able to do almost anything he/she is asked to do. So, to some extent, comparing dancers’ performances is at least as much subjective as objective. Was Makarova better than Fracci? Ferri better than Tcherkassky? Harvey better than McKerrow? Cojocaru (whom I haven’t yet seen as Giselle, but who’s performance I’ve vividly imagined many times) better than N. Pavlova? It’s impossible to say. But regardless of the standard, Vishneva’s Giselle is so good it’s virtually indescribable. She grabs the audience immediately and never lets it go. It goes almost without saying that she executed every step, every nuance, perfectly, but her unusually long and liquid arms that she uses so well to accent the Romantic poses in Act II merit special mention. And while she isn’t quite as fragile or other-worldly as Gelsey Kirkland (who, in my mind, was the benchmark Giselle), she is stronger, earthier, and every bit as lyrical and weightless. Her Giselle is not just an innocent peasant girl in love or a forgiving spirit in love; her Giselle has a purity and timelessness that makes you cry and sing and soar all at the same time.

But although Vishneva commands every inch of the stage, “Giselle” is not just Giselle. Part of what made Vishneva’s performance great was that other members of the cast were superb as well. I had anticipated seeing a “Russian” Giselle: In addition to Veronica Part’s Myrta, and those gorgeous Russian wolfhounds, Vladimir Malakhov was originally scheduled to dance Albrecht. He was replaced by Angel Corella.. As much as I wanted to see the novelty of all-Russian leads, Corella’s performance was masterful. While never stealing Vishneva’s limelight, he molded an Albrecht that was as memorable as Vishneva’s Giselle. Again, it is unnecessary to recite superlatives. Corella did it all, and with surprising nobility. And his stunned disbelief at the end of Act II was different from, but as superb as, Baryshnikov’s (who, in my mind, was the benchmark Albrecht). When Corella did the brises diagonally across the stage, he seemed to be pulled by an invisible string just as Baryshnikov appeared to be. And while Baryshnikov’s dripping flowers across the stage as he left Giselle’s grave became the classic “Giselle” closing image, Corella’s caressing of a single flower looks like a classic final image in the making. Part’s Myrta was very good as well. She was appropriately commanding and imperious, and danced the choreography superbly. [However, at one point at the end of the opening Wilis dances, it looked like Part was smiling as she was dancing. If she was, she should be reminded not to – Myrta doesn’t smile.]

The remainder of the cast was in fine form as well. Particularly notable were Sascha Radetsky, who brought a singular humanity and quiet strength to his portrayal of Hilarion, Melissa Thomas and Carmen Corella as Moyna and Zulma, and the entire Corps, who were fantastic.

The season that Vishneva has had with ABT this year has been remarkable. A glorious Kitri, a superb Odette/Odile, and now a Giselle for the ages. Not bad. And the knowledgeable New York audience, which responded to the performance with a spontaneous standing ovation and extended curtain calls, knows a good thing when they see it: The house appeared to be sold out. Having Vishneva as a member of the company, or even as a “permanent” guest artist, would appear to be a smart move both artistically and financially, and would be welcomed by anyone who speaks or writes in superlatives.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:09 am 
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Poohtunia: Didn't see your review of Paloma's Giselle until I posted mine. Great review. But the entrechat seis's that you describe Gomez doing in Act II was not a stunt that was concocted for him. Fernando Bujones, as I recall, did those instead of brises also. I can't speak about Gomez's execution, but Bujones's entrechats were a notable and exciting counter to the more famous (and even more excitiing) Baryshkikov brises of the time.

Guess it will be a race to the computer after Amanda's Giselle tonight. I'll look forward to your review.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:43 am 
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I :cry: can't :cry: go :cry: tonight. :cry: Please post a lush description including bows and anyone of note who joins her on stage. Thanks. :cry:

PS: Thanks for reminding me that Bujones did the seises. I had completely forgotten (and probably never even saw him do them), because the brisees up the diagonal and the ensuing confrontation with Myrta made such perfect drama - and still do. I was so disappointed in the change last night, it nearly wrecked the entire performance for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:15 am 
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And before Bujones did the entrechats, they were like he was springing up from an invisible trampoline he was so high up, Mr. Rudolf Nureyev 1st did them in the 1960's. :wink: !!!!!! High up there too!!!!! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:46 pm 
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Robert Gottlieb has very positive things to say about ABT's men and Diana Vishneva in the New York Observer:

ABT Review


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:12 pm 
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To leftyvaldes -- Your trampoline recollection is absolutely right.
Never saw Nureyev's Albrecht. It's very comforting to know that someone goes back further than I do!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:41 pm 
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fingers drumming . . . . . fingers drumming . . . . . fingers drumming . . . . . Where is balletomaniac’s report of tonight’s performance? . . . . . fingers drumming. . . . . Perhaps he’s stuck in traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel. . . . . fingers drumming . . . . . fingers drumming

With reference to Gottlieb’s latest review, as usual, he screams about what he doesn’t like, but says little about how he believes things should be done. Comparing NYCB to ABT makes as much sense as comparing the New York City Opera to The Met or comparing white wines to red or comparing the The NY Observor to the NY Post. They’re different. They’re supposed to be different. Hopefully, they will always be different. Those of us fortunate enough to attend both of these ballet companies and opera companies know full well not to expect the same or even comparable products. And but for a few fundamentals, we don’t measure them by the same standards. Really, we don’t.

On another topic, The (new) New York Times’ critic went positively goofy-happy over ABT in his latest review of the Vishneva/Corella Giselle. He suggested that the performance was historic in its nature. What was really and truly historic was that in today’s print edition of The NY Times, in which the review appeared, there was a picture of Vishneva and Corella in Giselle on Page One with a paragraph referring readers to the review inside. Granted, the picture was on the lower half of the front page, but I can’t recall a performance picture of a ballet ever appearing on the front pages of The New York Times before. Can anyone else?
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/14/arts/dance/14gise.html?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:46 am 
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It's 2:30 a.m., and I just got home. Can't think straight. But my review will begin something like this:

Love was all around the Met last night at Amanda McKerrow's final performance of "Giselle", and final performance with ABT. Of course, there was the love displayed on stage between Giselle and Albrecht. But this performance wasn't about Giselle and Albrecht. This performance was about Amanda McKerrow. And the love that permeated the Met was the love of an audience for its favorite ballerina. When the ballet ended, the house stood en masse, roared in happiness and joy, and did not leave it's feet until the last of multiple curtain calls ended amid a stage full of flowers.

Poohtunia, it was wonderful. She was great; the audience was wired, and if I don't stop now I'll be at this all night. More tomorrow.

Oh - two of the great Giselle's were in the house: Cynthia Harvey and Marianna Tcherkassky. [There may have been others who I didn't see.]


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:51 am 
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I seem to remember a picture of Carlos Acosta - back when he made his ABT debut in 'Le Corsaire' - on the front page. And I think there have been the other rare ballet images shown, but pressing news and other articles usually preclude any arts images on the front page.

Kate


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 10:24 am 
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Dear Ksneds, you're right. It was an article by Anna Kissagolf in the NYTimes. The picture was from La Fille Mal Gardee. He was jumping, I believe.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:14 pm 
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American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House, NYC
July 14, 2005: “Giselle”


Love was all around the Met last night at Amanda McKerrow's final performance with ABT. Of course, there was the love displayed on stage between Giselle and Albrecht. But this performance wasn't about Giselle and Albrecht. This performance was about Amanda McKerrow. And the love that permeated the Met was the love of an audience for its favorite ballerina. When the ballet ended, the house stood en masse, roared in happiness and joy and appreciation, and did not leave until the last of multiple curtain calls ended amid a stage overflowing with flowers.

Her performance? Some valedictories are simply recognitions of great careers. And, as one knew from the sustained roar that greeted her first appearance on stage, it is undeniable that this audience would have cheered McKerrow even if she had phoned it in. But she didn’t. McKerrow’s Giselle was miraculous not because of her technique, which is still abundant, but because she managed (as she did with Juliet last year) to thoroughly transform herself. This was not simply makeup or stagecraft; this was McKerrow’s ability to inhabit a character and be that character both through dance and acting. Although her arabesques were astonishingly pure and tantalizingly long (both in duration and extension), and she was able to bend backward more deeply than any other Giselle I’ve seen, McKerrow’s technique was almost beside the point: She has done it all already and has nothing to prove.

As wonderful as her dancing was, it was her acting that made the performance even more memorable than it would otherwise have been. Her Giselle was sweet without being cloying, innocent without being naive, and more complex than just being a peasant girl in love or a forgiving spirit. And McKerrow breathed fresh insights into a role I’ve seen performed dozens of times. Little things, like how she collected herself after nearly fainting in Act I, and how important it was for her to fix her hair so she’d look good for Albrecht; or her interaction with her mother (wow, you'll let me dance? Oh, you didn’t mean me, you meant them. Ok, mom, you’re right.); or how she was careful to examine her more coarse skirt first before touching Berte’s gloriously smooth satin gown; or the display of her fear of Hilarion (unlike Vishneva’s Giselle two nights earlier, who wouldn’t dislike anything or anyone and didn’t fear Hilarion at all); or the almost visible goosebumps she developed during her “mad scene” as her body grew cold and she saw her death, and countless other nuances that only the most experienced of dancer/actors are capable of (or aware of the benefit of) adding to a performance in order to enhance a character portrait.

McKerrow’s supporting cast was equally stellar. Gillian Murphy’s Myrta was not only imperious and commanding, she was icy, menacing, and unforgiving. And her execution was perfect – maybe even better than perfect. Her leaps soared not just horizontally, but vertically – she was able to leap higher than I have ever seen any ballerina do before (almost, but not quite, pushing the image further than it should have been pushed). Her portrayal is every bit as memorable as the best Myrtas I’ve seen – including Martine van Hamel and Cynthia Harvey. The peasant pas was gloriously danced by Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo. Reyes, looking like a cross between Marianna Tcherkassky and Cheryl Yeager, reminded me how much fun the peasant pas is to watch. She was exuberant, as well as accomplished. And Cornejo was, well, Cornejo. In other words, he was spectacular. I saw skills and tricks I’ve never seen before, including the cleanest and highest of leg beats, and (if I’m describing it correctly) multiple turns followed by a perfect double tour off a single leg – his other leg never touched the floor. Remarkable. And Sascha Radestsky’s Hilarion was superbly done. Again. Indeed, he played off McKerrow perfectly, adapting his portrayal to hers: In this performance he was a bit more aggressive; a bit more ominous, than he was on Tuesday, altering his character to fit the way McKerrow saw him. Finally, Ethan Stiefel was a model Albrecht. His treachery, his agony, and his deliverance were all distinctively expressed. While a bit more low-key technically than I’ve usually seen him (either a product of a recent injury or in deference to the Occasion), he was at all times a gallant, ardent, and considerate partner who helped make McKerrow glow.

When the performance ended, the celebration began. One by one, each of the corps dancers placed a flower at McKerrow’s feet. Bouquet after bouquet after bouquet was individually presented to her by current company male dancers, then by dancers who have partnered her in the past or who simply were her contemporaries. [None were identified, but I thought I recognized Wes Chapman.] And of course by John Gardner, her beaming husband. [Surprisingly, there was no similar parade of female contemporaries bearing flowers, although they may simply have walked onto the stage to join the cheering company members. I know that two great Giselle’s, and McKerrow’s contemporaries, Cynthia Harvey and Marianna Tcherkassky, were in the house, and I’m sure there were others I didn’t see.] Confetti fell from the stage rafters. Flowers rained from the front of the orchestra. And if there was a dry eye within my sight range, I didn’t see it. The curtain calls continued far longer than usual these days; no one wanted to let Amanda go. And each time Amanda took a bow, the flowers kept coming.

But this was no mere valedictory celebration. This was an expression of the kind of love between an audience and a performer that one rarely sees, but in this case is completely justified. As I observed after her Juliet last year, McKerrow is the ballerina next door, the audience’s friend. A stage persona may not always reflect the real person under the performing mask, but in McKerrow’s case I think it does. Of course she’s talented and delightful to watch. And, as it did when she first danced in New York with the Washington Ballet at Brooklyn College, her contagious smile still lights up the stage. And she seems completely unaware that she makes everyone who sees her dance feel better for the experience. But more than any of these qualities, she is also just a nice person. She’s the little girl from Albuquerque who made the New York dance world fall in love with her, and yet never stopped being the little girl from Albuquerque.

Before she came to ABT twenty three years ago, after she won the Moscow ballet competition, Jane Pauley interviewed McKerrow on the Today show. At the end of the interview, if memory serves me, Pauley congratulated her, thanked her, and said something like “Amanda McKerrow. What a great name for a ballerina.” Pauley’s observation needs a slight update: Amanda McKerrow. What a great ballerina!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 11:51 am 
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Quote:
Stream of Bouquets for a Romantic Farewell

By GIA KOURLAS
Published: July 16, 2005

"Giselle" is a ballet about any mother's nightmare: a daughter loses everything - her judgment, her dignity and ultimately her life - for the sake of a two-timer. For such a tale to work there must be a spark between the lead couple, especially if the audience is to accept the rest of the story, in which ghostly Wilis, the spirits of maidens who die before their wedding nights, come to life in the second act, forcing any male intruder to dance to his death.


For more click here



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Swans of Varying Passions, All Under a Spell

By JACK ANDERSON
Published: July 8, 2005

Handsome princes continued to fall in love with enchanted swans as American Ballet Theater presented a series of performances of "Swan Lake" at the Metropolitan Opera House this week.

Two evenings starred ballerinas who were trained in St. Petersburg: Veronika Part on Monday night and Diana Vishneva on Tuesday. Both displayed the fluidity of the upper body that is part of the St. Petersburg style and offered fascinating characterizations in the dual role of Princess Odette, who has been changed into a swan, and Odile, the sorcerer's daughter who disguises herself as Odette to deceive Prince Siegfried.


Click here for more


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:59 pm 
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All in all, Friday evening’s Giselle (Kent, Bocca, Part) was an enjoyable evening. Somehow an extra hour was added to Act I, or so it seemed. It was quite mellow. However, Bocca was fun to watch in this act because of his improvisations within the framework of the choreography - such as an extra touch to Giselle’s face while she was plucking the daisy or his interaction with the other peasants while Giselle was dancing. Kent’s mime looked almost tongue-in-cheek, like she was making fun of it. Her mad scene was very studied with the movement looking calculated. She would reach so as to tuck her perfect hair behind her ears so it wouldn’t fall in her face. Not good.

The highlight of Act I was Radetsky’s and Erica Cornejo’s peasant PdD. Radetsky landed a couple of jumps where it appeared a knee or ankle gave way, but it didn’t seem to phase him in any of his subsequent sissonnes -- explosive sissonnes. All season long I have been astonished at how good he’s getting and how big his dancing is. I‘ll be first in line to buy tickets when they announce him as Prince Siegfried - hopefully next year. Cornejo, back in top form, not only tore through the PdD but in doing so made us see her potential as an Act I Giselle. Very wholesome, very coordinated, very accomplished.

Kent’s work in Act II may eventually be deemed her best. She has the most classic of lines whether in a low, leaning arabesque or traveling backwards in a flurry of entrechat quatre. The shape of the tapered foot with her toes ever so slightly back easily creates the illusion of an infinite line. Last night, she was indeed ghostly. Every variation in Act II was beautiful. The gathering of her feet under her skirt to land her assembles was especially pretty. The overhead lifts with Bocca were breathtaking.

Bocca’s Act II Albrecht was, of course, incredible. Rather than double beating his cabrioles, he simply held the closed position for an astonishing length of time. When he launched a forceful multiple pirouette and threw himself to the ground, the audience gasped. He was clearly distraught and guilt-ridden and finally aware that he had lost the love of his life. Bocca was in top form last night in Act II.

Part’s Myrta, this viewing from mid-orchestra level, was still overly beautiful but more unforgiving. This woman has man-sized grand jetes. When she battements the front leg, she gives it a second stretch at the knee that carries her farther forward. Last night, Myrta launched her grand jetes like they were missiles. Her confrontation with Albrecht at the end of his brises down the diagonal was very, very good. When she loomed over Albrecht’s slumped body right as the bells tolled four, she was chilling.

During bows last evening, Alessandra Ferri was honored for her 20 years as an ABT principal. She was to have danced Giselle that evening, but could not due to an injury suffered in the spring. McKenzie escorted her out on stage on his arm and made a few comments about what Ferri meant to ABT and what ABT meant to Ferri. Ferri, dressed in a black dress with one bare shoulder, looked like the most glamorous person on earth. At the end, her two young daughters joined her in front of the curtain. I’ve never seen so many cell phones come out at one time to take pictures. And then, Ferri took the hand of her smallest daughter and ushered her off, expecting the older daughter to follow. She did, but not before lingering just a bit, gazing out at the cheering audience, smiling and then waving goodbye.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:55 am 
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Nice images, Poohtunia. Thanks.


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