before i decided to actually start a blog i wrote a few posts as facebook notes (claiming i was not starting a blog, among other things). they are mostly thoughts on performances i had seen of american ballet theatre. while perhaps they are quite silly and scatterbrained, they are heartfelt nonetheless. so here they are, should you have nothing better to do, in order of youngest to oldest.
highs and lows of my ABT Met season and quite a lot about prince siegfried
i say my ABT season because it is not a very good representation of ABTs season as a whole, seeing as there was not a huge variety in my casting choices i’m afraid. it’s not that i dont want to see other casts and sometimes i even quite sort of seriously consider it, but when it comes down to it, it’s really hard for me to not see herman cornejo- and unfortunately i can’t afford to see more than one cast, so that’s’ how it plays out.
so, we’ll start with the lows
- the commute. it’s expensive & it sucks & i always miss the last bus back to rockland. if i drive it’s usually not so bad except parking is double what i paid last year & the GWB toll just keeps going up. 😡
- lack of julio bragado-young. i’m kind of in love with him & in previous years it seems i always got to see julio in some interesting, usually hilarious character role at some point, but pretty much just the usual corps stuff this year. not that he didn’t dance those roles but just not when i was there : (
- lack of marcelo gomes. i’m in love with marcelo too, but who isn’t? i definitely did not see enough marcelo this season, but i guess i have to blame myself for this one. or, i could blame herman ; ) and no sascha radetsky! i don’t think i saw sascha in anything this entire season! i especially would have loved to see him dance orion in sylvia and he is my favorite tybalt. sascha makes a great bad guy.
- simone messmer leaving ABT for SFB. simone is a dancer of great depth, sensuality and versatility and while i have seen her dance many roles at the Met (including a gorgeous swan lake pas de trios this season) my most vivid memories of her are from performances at bard college. (ABT performs at bard, a very small and inexpensive venue upstate in the fall). most notably in paul taylor’s “black tuesday” where she loses herself completely in the sensuality of the role and in twyla tharp’s “in the upper room” where simone. kicks. ass. best of luck to simone in san fran.
- being seated sooo far to the side for sylvia that i couldn’t really see stage right at all.
- a fair amount of mckenzie’s sleeping beauty : / and i don’t even hate the sets and costumes as most people seem to. but really, carabosse’s little insect pals need to go, the endless spindle mime needs to go, as well as that weird spiderweb business. much of the in between choreography is boring and why take out the storybook character dances?! and i’m sorry to say it but….. ivan should not dance bluebird. yikes. and i adore ivan – really, i love him but….. that was just wrong in so many ways : / but the crowd went crazy for him so maybe it’s just me!
- not seeing sarah lane in sleeping beauty. i was really very tempted to take off work & see her and now glowing comments abound and i’m sorry i missed it!
- brownies at the Met costing $8.00. eight dollars! i usually get one for chloe at intermission as a treat when i bring her but…. my goodness. last year they were only (only?) $5 or $6 so i suppose they will be $10 next year?
and the highs!
- meeting herman at the stage door after swan lake. i had never done the stage door thing before but this swan lake was very special and i wished to offer my congratulations, so i figured… why not? of course i was instantly reduced to an incoherent starstruck moron but herman was absolutely a sweetheart to me and so kind and patient with all of the fans and i’m glad that i went : ) ♥. the stage door crowd = a million teenage ballerina girls taking pictures with iphones, a few total loonies and a handful of seemingly normal people ; )
- joseph gorak as lensky, joseph gorak as benno, joseph gorak in general. he is looking AMAZING.
- bonus romeo and juliet balcony pas de deux at the dress rehearsal. you never know what cast or combination of casts you’ll get at the dress and sometimes you get an extra PDD or two thrown in. so, i was actually hoping we wouldn’t get xiomara and herman as the main cast (save them for the real thing) but was crossing my fingers we’d get their balcony scene. so when paloma and james finished and herman walked onstage i’m thinking “score!” and sure enough he and xiomara delivered a glorious pas de deux, so wonderful that my friend (who did not know i was also in attendance) called me at intermission just to tell me so! and who doesn’t love a romeo in sweats and a bandanna? ♥
- romeo and juliet the actual performance.
- winning tickets to onegin!! yay!! hee and david were really wonderful in this, as were yuriko and joe gorak. onegin was the first ballet of the season, it seems forever ago now.
- having my friend steve in town for the first few weeks of the season, we had a lot of fun : )
- marcelo and gillian in le corsaire – they were brilliant and marcelo cracks me up. i love le corsaire, so shoot me.
- meeting long time facebook friend keith, and long time twitter friend leena in real life. they were both as delightful as i knew they would be : )
- yuriko’s beautiful lilac fairy.
- herman cornejo in swan lake. (well, herman in everything, of course, but swan lake was extra special). i’d say that swan lake is probably my favorite ballet (not a very original choice but i love it so much) and i’ve been waiting for some years for ABT to cast herman as prince siegfried and they kept not casting him. last year i really felt for sure they would give him siggy and… they didn’t. and they gave it to daniil instead and i was furious! and i love daniil, he’s lots of fun and a very great talent and adorable but for me he doesn’t equal herman artistically and it just didn’t seem fair or right. so this year herman was FINALLY cast as siggy and i (along with cornejo fans far & wide) rejoiced- but then there was ballerina drama! alina cojocaru was supposed to dance odette/odile but she pulled out due to injury so…. who would be herman’s swan queen? i hoped it would be sarah lane, feared it would be osipova (sorry natasha fans, she doesn’t quite do it for me, plus i don’t think her over the top showy style suits herman’s modesty and classical perfection) and in the end it was maria kochetkova (totally never crossed my mind!) who was quite lovely : ) but back to the performance. the opera house was absolutely packed and herman looked like he was having a blast. now here was a prince enjoying his birthday party! herman’s pensive act I solo after all the guests couple off was stunning- remarkable in quality of line, liquidity of movement, musicality and artistic sensitivity. sigh. (not to mention that slow, controlled triple a la seconde turn renverse’ fouette promenade to efface’ thing (?) executed flawlessly. and repeat. audience members collectively gasp). the white swan pas de deux. i can’t even write about it because….. i just can’t. it’s my favorite. it was gorgeous and moving and wonderful. so on to the black pas de deux which was a scorcher! it was great- so much fun! maria was awesome & herman was delightfully infatuated and his dancing was phenomenal- amazing turns & beats & jumps as always -his hang time is ridiculous. it was electric and the crowd was loving it and it was a blast to witness. suffice it to say this swan lake lived up to and exceeded my expectations and was well worth the wait. (the wait was long and stupid and pointless but better late than never!) it was a tremendous and glorious night : )well, i could continue to list the highs perhaps endlessly but enough already (ok, add donQ -which was really quite beyond fabulous!!- and sylvia as a whole and much (but not all) of the new ratmansky and month in the country and symph in C) but enough already. the season was so much fun, i’m so sad it’s over and i guess now i’ll start counting down until fall season ; )
not a blog #3 why i like “clear” & some thoughts on sylvia
why i like Clear (which ABT will perform in the fall, yay!)
okay, just for the record i would like to state that the reason i love stanton welch’s ballet “Clear” is not (as has been implied) because it features a bunch of gorgeous shirtless men. if that was what i was after i’d go see the chippendale dancers or something- which is something i have never done or will ever do. i don’t even like the costumes for “clear” – i mean flesh colored pants are just not that attractive. i think the reason i love this ballet is largely because the choreography looks like the music, which i love, by john sebastian bach. as a general rule my favorite ballets are the full length classic story ballets, and while many people whine about seeing the same old “war horses” i personally never really tire of them. but, i also love many contemporary works as well and music and musicality is a big deal with me. “Clear” simply looks like the music sounds, like it is born of the music, and i love that. plus it’s interesting and different movement without being weird. so there ya go, it’s as simple as that. and the gorgeous shirtless men are just kind of a nice perk ; )
aaaand some quick (hopefully) thoughts on ABTs sylvia
i love this ballet. it’s beautiful and the music is beautiful and i love frederick ashton! sylvia is such fun and it’s nice to see a ballet where the corps does a lot of the dancing (beautifully!) and the sets and costumes are just wonderful.
i attended the thursday night performance which was supposed to have been danced by natalia osipova but was instead danced by xiomara. ok— i hate when critics and bloggers are mean and insulting to dancers, i think it’s awful- i mean constructive criticism is one thing but insults are unnecessary. but i’m going to be kind of a little bit mean. shhh… osipova is not really my favorite & i rejoiced a bit upon hearing xiomara would dance instead. so there ya go. it was xiomara &… oh right- herman! forgot all about him! (yeah right, eyeroll). both X & H would be making their debuts as sylvia and aminta respectively : )
xiomara was great- fierce & feisty in act I & sultry & seductive in act II. unfortunately at the beginning of her act III pizzicato variation there was quite a distraction in the back of the orchestra section- not quite a baby crying but some very disturbing sounds from ( i think ) a child : ( but xiomara did a beautiful job- sometimes i want her port de bras to be a little cleaner & i was slightly disappointed she didn’t do the little turning changements en pointe but no biggie- she was lovely.
herman was ok i guess. just kidding. he was, of course, a wonderful lovelorn shepherd. aminta doesnt really get to dance that much in this ballet but his act I solo was so beautiful & controlled & his variations in at III were so astonishing i had to scrape my jaw off the floor at the end. all the pas de deux were beautifully executed, plus i love him and xiomara together, there’s such a sweetness about them both that is very pleasing.
ok, this is getting too long….
daniil was great as eros – clean sharp feet & legs & a good presence, ivan was great-ish (ok, very sloppy but still i really enjoyed him) as orion and craig & misty were funny, cute, sharp & in synch as the goats. other lovely standouts – stella & simone as ceres & terpsichore respectively.
chloe and chloe loved it too, by the way! my chloe- “i didnt really get it, but it was awesome!”
thoughts on swan lake. well, really it’s more about the audience.
no, seriously i am not starting a blog, i feel that would require me re-learn proper punctuation & who wants to bother with that?
but alas, i’m afraid i feel somewhat compelled to share some thoughts on my most recent night at the ballet. it was, in case you didn’t catch this from my last 500 FB posts, swan lake with maria kochetkova & herman cornejo- herman making his very long awaited & long overdue debut as prince siegfried. (this is a pretty big deal.)
i was seated not behind a tall person (thank heavens) but between two older (than me) women who i gathered are season ticket holders as well as friends. i offered to switch seats so they could sit together but they declined, choosing instead to talk over me. this proved to be quite amusing, actually, and they frequently included me in their conversations. so, lady on my left says “so who’s dancing tonight anyway?” (OMFG are you kidding me???) lady on my right says “cornejo. he’s good but i was hoping it would be marcelo gomes. but thank god it’s not that awful david hallberg” (WTF??)
apparently they are both in love with marcelo and neither of them can stand david (?!?) lady on right can’t stand him so much that she left david’s romeo & juliet the other day after the balcony pas de deux & went home to watch fonteyn & nureyev on video. “but don’t worry, i won’t walk out on cornejo,” ( i had at some point prior, confessed my adoration for herman) “i like him”.
neither of the women had ever heard of maria kochetkova & wondered why there was no information on her in the program. i was happy to enlighten them on maria & the alina injury situation and then it was finally time for curtain!
by intermission all three of us were extremely impressed & thrilled with the performance thus far (very beautiful & sensual white pas de deux, my favorite PDD in the entire realm of ballet) but i chose to leave my companions for a bit & went outside (it was summer solstice & still light out!!)
upon my return the ladies were discussing baryshnikov & lady on right was telling a story about how misha “got rid of” julio bocca because he was too much competition. (omg, seriously???) ok, i just bit my tongue rather than try to explain how impossibly ridiculous this was seeing as misha is the one that hired julio in the first place after his own retirement. but whatever.
on to acts III & IV which were absolutely fabulous as well (the hallberg haters agreed). ok, act III was fabulous & act IV was as fab as it could be considering act IV is not exactly the high point of this production.
well, there is something that happens at the end of nearly every performance i’ve ever been to that infuriates me & it’s this: the many people that run for the exits the second the curtain goes down instead of applauding the dancers. i hate it. i think it’s awful & i generally want to stick my foot in the aisle & trip them. however, at this particular performance instead of running out, everyone ran towards the stage to take pictures! i think that somewhat sums up how special this performance was. while my row J neighbors were perhaps a little clueless, it was obvious that a large part of the audience was there for herman’s debut, pulling for him & thrilled that his performance was exceptional. there was a lot of love there, you couldn’t help but feel it.
i don’t really feel the need to say much more about the performance itself, but here are a few quick thoughts….
promote joe gorak.
although marcelo owns purple von rothbart, which is a bit of a bummer for anyone else who gets to dance it, jared matthews did a damn fine job, was quite sexy & danced beautifully. i thought his vonR characterization has grown quite a bit since the last time i saw him in this role.
i love jennifer whalen, i think she has a beautiful face : )
maria kochetkova was lovely & she & herman are quite beautiful together!!
and really, i’m not even going to say anything about herman- you already know what i’ll say anyway. just multiply that by infinity.
assorted thoughts on romeo & juliet
don’t worry, i don’t plan to start blogging or anything, but last nights performance is still filling my head completely and i feel like i either have to say a lot of things or nothing.
first off, xiomara reyes is a bloody fantastic juliet. i feel like she is underrated as a general rule, i really love her in everything- but her juliet is truly wonderful. i love her playfulness as well as her daring energy- just watching her tear across the stage is exciting. her acting is very true, she doesn’t over do it- you never feel uncomfortable watching her. when she realized romeo was dead i had tears running down my face : ) brava xiomara!
ok….aaron scott!! holy cow- what a great mercutio!! i was fairly blown away- he wins my best mercutio since herman award. aaron, daniil & herman made a wonderful trio of pals- i enjoyed them very much : )
– a little side note- not from last night but from mondays dress rehearsal, i thought luis ribagorda was such a cutie as benvolio- i was really drawn to him any time he was on stage : )
alright, as much as i love macmillan’s R&J, there are a few things that always drive me nuts— one is do merc & tybalt really have to take so bloody long to die? i know it’s the choreography & nothing can be done about it at this point but, ugh, just die already. the other is lady capulet’s mourning over tybalt. sorry, hate it. i mean, whatever, obviously lady cap & tybs have a little thing going on on the sly but isn’t all the rolling on the floor & fist pounding a bit much? and then when juliet “dies” lady is cap is like “oh, bummer”. oh well, all the incredible pas de deux make up for it.
saving the best for last- romeo, oh romeo. granted, i am a little biased as it’s no secret herman cornejo is my favorite dancer on planet earth & even if he stunk i wouldn’t admit it, but the thing is he is never anything less than fabulous & last night he was something more than fabulous. really, i can’t even find the right words, nothing seems to do him justice. the perfect combination of innocent youth & ardor, brilliant, seamless partnering, flawless technique, he’s so beautiful & romantic – i was completely turned to mush : )
the balcony pas de deux was one of the best i’ve ever seen, omg, i had chills thru the whole thing. herman & xiomara are perfect together- i love them so much!
i could go on & on but i won’t, suffice it to say last night’s R&J was well worth all the drama of trying to get home when little did i know there were no express A trains running & no trains at all to the GWB, being stranded in 168th street at midnight & having to take some random bus to the bridge. (“or you could have walked 10 blocks” my son jake was kind enough to point out. stupid me- i just panicked).