Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fogpocalypse: ABT at City Center (Friday, November 11, 2011)

American Ballet Theatre's Friday night offering at City Center was the most uneven of the three performances I attended, and the most confusing.  But one thing became clear, even in the surreal moments when technical difficulties resulted in the stage (and much of the audience) completely obscured by fog for at least one movement of Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room.  The unformed rumblings in my mind from Wednesday turned up the volume and took form:  soloists Simone Messmer, Sarah Lane and Misty Copeland are READY to lead. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Victory to the Home Team: ABT at City Center (Wednesday, November 9, 2011)

Say what you will about Kevin McKenzie’s increasingly lackluster programming choices, there was something exciting about November 9th's repertory program by American Ballet Theatre. I left with such a jolt of electricity that I couldn’t fall asleep until well after 4 am. Notwithstanding some turnover in the ranks since ABT did longer fall seasons in 2006 and 2007, Wednesday night was a return to the well-rehearsed, passionate, joyful and exceptionally strong group of dancers I remembered from City Center seasons past. This night showed some rumblings of something I couldn't quite yet put into words - something that would become a loud and clear statement by some of the dancers later in the week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

ABT's Nutcracker: A Small Plea

As much as I, too, usually go for performances starring the glorious Marcelo Gomes, Herman Cornejo or the other ABT principals, I'm sending out this little plea into the blogosphere:

If you're planning to see American Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker by Ratmansky this season at BAM or The Kennedy Center (and you SHOULD!), PLEASE opt for the shows starring soloists Yuriko Kajiya, Maria Riccetto or Sarah Lane.  If you haven't seen them before, each of these ladies will win your hearts with her sparkle, presence and grace. 

Let's show ABT we all love and support their home-grown talent, and the continuing influx of guest artists with slavic last names is not needed (especially to the almost complete exclusion of opportunities for the existing soloists not named Seo or Boylston).  

Cheers, and a sincere thanks to those of you who do hear my plea and go out and support these beautiful ballerinas this Winter!

(Click here for the link to the December 2011 ABT calendar with casting)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

And....ABT Met Season 2012 is surely going to cause Haglund some more G.A.S.

American Ballet Theatre announced its Spring 2012 season today, and contrary to my hopes, but for a technicality - the appearance of Natalia Osipova now on the principals page of the ABT website (i.e. she's no longer a guest artist) - the scheduled guest artist leads look to have increased, rather than decreased, from 2011. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

A little something going right at ABT

Well, it's nice to see something is going right at American Ballet Theatre - the website now shows that Brittany DeGrofft has been upgraded from apprentice to full corps member.  From my prior posts, you know what I fan I am of this young dancer, and I'm glad to report the powers that be seem to appreciate her as well.  Congrats Brittany!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Heartfelt Welcome Back to ABT to Adrienne Schulte!

Happy to report that the lovely and talented Adrienne Schulte's photo went back up on the ABT website today (ok, I've known about this for a while and it was torture waiting for ABT to update their site in order to convey my exuberance!). Can't tell you how much I missed her on stage the past 3 years, and how much I'm looking forward to seeing her dance again after her time at the English National Ballet.  Congrats!

Here's a link to her "cupcakes and conversation" interview on Ballet News from 2009. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Hallberg to the what now?

The New York Times is reporting that David Hallberg will join the Bolshoi Ballet for the 2011-2012 season, while still performing with American Ballet Theatre and other companies only on a limited basis. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Chronicle of Minor Cultural and Culinary Adventures: episode 3A (Food: July 19-August 20)

Farm Share fruit share week 2
Ok, so I've been unbelievably delinquent in my blogging this month.  So... here are some quick notes on NYC food experiences over the past month - 5 restaurants and my new farm share adventure - and I promise to follow soon to catch up on the theater, dance and movies I've seen!  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh! Where have you gone?

So, in addition to principals Jose Manuel Carreño and Michele Wiles and soloist Carlos Lopez, some other names disappeared from the ABT website today - in the corps de ballet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

David Hallberg guesting with Mariinsky in London this week

So ABT's lovely David Hallberg is off to London this week to dance with the Mariinsky, where according to the ROH website he'll be dancing Swan Lake opposite Viktoria Tereshkina and Ekaterina Kondaurova, and Scotch Symphony with Maria Shirinkina.  I really enjoyed Kondaurova a few weeks ago at Lincoln Center - I almost wish she'd been brought in as a guest to ABT instead of Semionova or Osipova.  (Well, if ABT is going to HAVE to have guests at all....which is another matter entirely).  I'm a little jealous of the London audience right now - if you have the luck to see any of these pairings definitely let me know what you think!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who says you need to leave NYC to get an amazing view of the sky?...

A handful of shots from the Fourth of July 2011, shot from the deck of the USS Intrepid (more after the jump).

Quick Notes on ABT's Swan Lake with the Unstoppable Marcelo Gomes and Polina Semionova (July 2nd evening)

So clearly I'm never going to get the long version of this review written, but I wanted to at least post the curtain call video below and share a couple of thoughts. 

What can I say about him this season that I haven't already said about the truly unstoppable Marcelo Gomes?  This Met season he went from being one of my favorite dancers, to probably my favorite dancer of all time, any genre (though Gregory Hines still comes a close 2nd).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

A tragic night at the ballet...the Mariinsky's Anna Karenina (June 14th)

So...with low expectations (based on other reviews) I went to see the Mariinsky's Anna Karenina last night at Lincoln Center. I didn't love Tolstoy's book, and I liked this ballet even less.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Need your advice on what to see in the world of dance!

So Blogger tells me that I've got some readers checking out this blog from all over the globe - how exciting!  Since that's the case, who better than you to help me navigate the world of touring dance companies, right?  So, readers out there - for which companies, small and large, contemporary or classical, or otherwise (and which dancers) should I be on the lookout if they make their way to the eastern portion of the US? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Farewell Reprise - An Unexpected Carreño/Kent Swan Lake (July 2nd Matinee)

I was on the bus home from a movie in Times Square on Friday night, July 1st, when my little corner of the twitterverse was buzzing with news: David Hallberg had sprained his ankle on Thursday night and so ABT had moved Marcelo Gomes from Saturday's Swan Lake matinee opposite Julie Kent to dance with Berlin State Opera guest artist Polina Semionova on Saturday evening.  I was immediately (and over-dramatically) plunged into despair, as Saturday's matinee was supposed to be my final viewing of ABT, and the beloved Gomes, until City Center in November!  But I soon learned that his replacement at the matinee would be none other than Jose Manuel Carreño, who had supposedly retired the night before.  What a gracious and wonderful gift to the audience (who I'm sure would have been sorely disappointed with any other replacement for Gomes given the uninjured options at ABT at the time).

A Gentleman's Farewell: Jose Manuel Carreno's (Almost) Final Swan Lake at ABT

I hadn’t planned to attend Jose Manuel Carreño’s farewell** to American Ballet Theatre as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake on Thursday, June 30th. But, as the date drew nearer, I found myself checking the website for tickets every day or two.  By some magic, two days before the show some orchestra tickets opened up and I didn’t think twice.  I’m so glad I was there to witness this touching send-off to such a gentleman of the ballet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More cast changes at ABT

Looks like David Hallberg is getting some well needed time to heal his sprained ankle for The Bright Stream performances in LA later this month.  This just in from ABT:

A fairy tale told by many different authors - ABT's Cinderella (June 25th evening)

People seem to have really loved or loathed American Ballet Theatre’s production of James Kudelka’s Cinderella this season.  Based on the evening performance on Saturday, June 25th, I’m on the fence (which probably contributed to the lateness of this review).  Overall, I liked it less than I had in previous years, but some of the things I DID like were things that had been missing in those past viewings.

Friday, July 1, 2011

This just in - more injuries at ABT

David Hallberg seems to have sprained his ankle last night in Carreno's farewell to American Ballet Theatre.

But wait, because of the injury, it wasn't Carreno's farewell after all!  To the likely horror of those who paid over $1000 a seat on craigslist or stubhub to see the historic show last night, Jose Manuel is now dancing the Saturday matinee opposite Julie Kent, and Marcelo Gomes has been moved to the evening performance with Polina Semionova.  The evening crowd should be in for QUITE a treat.  Luckily thanks to the wonder of smartphones and my ballet-impulse-buying-addiction, I was able to score a ticket to the evening performance as well!  Have to bring the real camera this time for the curtain call......

Now, do I review last night before tomorrow's matinee? Or wait to compare the two....hmmmm.....

And, for those who are keeping track, that brings the ABT male soloist/principal injury/non-performance count this met season to (to my semi-reliable knowledge):

Max Beloserkovsky - injured/hasn't danced since gala
Herman Cornejo - injured/hasn't danced since gala
Ethan Stiefel - withdrew from entire season
Roberto Bolle - no injury but only danced 4 performances
Angel Corella - no injury but only danced 2 performances
David Hallberg - sprained ankle week 7
Gennadi Saveliev - injured calf muscle week 7
Sascha Radetsky  - seemed to have some kind of injury at the beginning of the season

Anyone else wondering if one of the corps guys put some kind of voodoo curse on the higher ups?  WHAT a crazy season.  If this isn't more reason to pay attention to developing Jared Matthews, Sascha Radetsky, Eric Tamm, Alex Hammoudi and others for next season then I don't know what is!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Someone else noticed Brittany DeGrofft too!

Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned Brittany DeGrofft, an apprentice at ABT, as a dancer to watch?  Well, not only did my friend point her out as stunning in Saturday's Cinderella Act II ballroom scene (I noticed her too - her legs are ridiculous and she's a similar kind of gorgeous as Irina Dvorovenko under the lights) but it looks like Capezio has taken note as well.  What a nice surprise on the back cover of July's Dance Magazine!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

High above the NYC streets can be so beautiful

Working on my review of ABT's Cinderella....but thought I'd share this photo (forgive the quality, taken on my phone) of something that caught my eye yesterday afternoon.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A breath of fresh air and an exciting debut (ABT Coppelia, June 18th matinee)

Heading back to Lincoln Center for my second American Ballet Theatre Coppelia in less than 24 hours, I was both worried and excited.  Worried because my unpleasant experience the night before left me wondering how I could sit through another 2.5 hours of pantomime, but beyond excited to see ABT soloist Jared Matthews in his first full-length leading role dancing opposite the lovely Maria Riccetto. 

Although I think I can safely say that Coppelia is not going to be added to the list of my favorite ballets, this performance left me beaming and understanding why so many of my friends who saw it first as a child still love it so.

A doll, an old man and two brats? (ABT Coppelia, June 17th)

It's taken me a while to write this review of Friday night's Coppelia at American Ballet Theatre.  While technically well executed, and despite one wonderful individual performance, I can think of only maybe one or two evenings at the theater that I actively disliked more than this one.  I kept hoping some distance over the past few days would change my mind.  But it hasn't.  So I thought at least I should tell you why.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Bright Stream Redux - Stellllllaaaaaa!!!! (June 15, 2011)

Somewhat impulsively, I decided to see Wednesday night's final performance of Ratmanksy's The Bright Stream.  Partly in the hopes of erasing Tuesday's The Lesson from my mind, partly out of curiosity to see Cory Stearns as the Sylph, and partly in need of some inspiration from Stella I went to see my third cast of this production. I'm so very glad I did. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A motley but enjoyable program from the Royal Danish Ballet: June 14, 2011

Last night I went to see the Royal Danish Ballet perform a mixed bill on their opening night at Lincoln Center. 

The good news first:  this is one talented and well conditioned group of dancers. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

American Ballet Theatre's new Russian star: The Bright Stream

A little background before my thoughts on Saturday's matinee....

When I travelled down to Washington, D.C. on a frozen weekend in late January to see ABT's premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream, I didn't know what to expect.  I'd seen a few pictures, but purposefully hadn't done any research on the Bolshoi's production.  I wanted to see it with fresh eyes, no expectations.    

Within minutes of the orchestra's beginning note of the joyful Shostakovich score, I was hooked.  

The Bright Stream turned out to be a refreshingly joyous vehicle for ABT - and although set in Soviet Russia, it somehow seems like a modern continuation picking up at the point where de Mille, Robbins and Tudor left ABT years ago.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some thoughts on some of my favorite less heralded dancers...

So this week Pointe Magazine posted some Facebook polls:  "Which dancer do you think deserves to get promoted?" and "Corps shoutout! Who's your favorite corps de ballet dancer?", which got me thinking about some of my favorite performances over the past few years, other than by the oft-discussed Marcelo Gomes, Alessandra Ferri, Uliana Lopatkina, Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel and Irina Dvorovenko, or the should-be-oft-discussed Stella Abrera, Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya.  I can't possibly mention everyone all at once, but I'll start with the three after the jump, and continue in a later blog.  

Love to hear some of your thoughts on your favorites as well - tell me for whom I should be on the lookout in the comments box!

Monday, June 6, 2011

An expected promotion at American Ballet Theatre (and another that seems it will never come)

This just in from ABT, "Isabella Boylston has been promoted to the rank of Soloist with American Ballet Theatre, it was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. The promotion is effective immediately."   I think most of us knew this was coming sometime this season, and it seems to be perfect timing to create some buzz around Bella's leading performance in Ratmansky's The Bright Stream which opens later this week.  Congrats to her on a well-deserved promotion!  The full announcement can be found here.

**On a related note, will ABT NEVER promote Stella Abrera to principal?? She's so much more inspiring to watch than existing principals Part or Wiles, and this season Stella seems to be performing many of the same principal roles as Murphy, Part and Wiles in Thirteen Diversions, Giselle, The Bright Stream, Lady of the Camellias and Cinderella.  Come on McKenzie - give us Stella as Giselle or Odette/Odille already!!  How about Desdemona next year? Pleeeeeeeasssse?

A ballet with a thousand lifts…and a few stumbles

American Ballet Theatre’s Lady of the Camellias seems to be a ballet that people either love or hate.  Unlike the often-cranky New York Times’ reviewers, I really do like this ballet, and even love parts of it.   Based on the novel by Dumas, which has been told a hundred different ways before, including ABT’s Manon, John Neumeier’s choreography and the stark scenery of this ballet mostly works.  The Chopin score is beautiful, and beautifully played by three soloists.  And even though a lot of what happened at Saturday’s matinee was a bit of a mess, I still think that this is a production not to be missed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Books: A Quick Review of My 2011 Reading to Date

It seems lately that friends have been asking me for some book recommendations and, because I'd love to get some recommendations from you readers out there, I thought I'd start by giving a snapshot of my 2011 reading to date:

1.  The 42nd Parallel,John Dos Passos.  If the mark of an excellent piece of fiction is leaving me wanting to go out and buy the rest of the trilogy immediately - then this book is a success.  It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did - I spent more than one late January night foregoing sleep to continue reading.  Dos Passos describes things perfectly, without sacrificing plot or pace.  Loved it.  (I started reading volume 2 of the trilogy, 1919, last night - already engrossed.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Chronicle of Minor Cultural and Culinary Adventures, episode 1 (May 26-30)

Memorial Day by the Hudson River
I was so exhausted from all the art and culture I experienced last week that by Monday (ok Sunday) all I really wanted was a good, long, uninterrupted sleep.  So now (after a series of short, but ultimately relatively refreshing, naps (interrupted by my happy, playful little dog)) I thought I'd share some quick thoughts as a pretty excellent week in review.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marcelo, Marcelo, Marcelo!

So much has already been written about Friday night’s performance of American Ballet Theatre’s Giselle that I hesitate to add my small voice to the cheers, but I was so moved by the experience I can’t help but proceed anyway.

So, let me start at the beginning. Before Friday night, I had seen Diana Vishneva only a few times before in my many years of ABT - in ballets such as Sylvia (with Ethan Stiefel), in On The Dnieper (with Jose Manuel Carreno), and several times last season in Thais (with Jared Matthews). This season, I’m seeing her twice - in Giselle and Lady of the Camellias - and honestly I had bought both tickets to see Gomes. I had heard, though, that Vishneva is fantastic in both. As for her Giselle, the hype did not let me down.

And, if Marcelo Gomes wasn’t already my favorite dancer, he surely would be after this performance. His acting, technique and performance soared beyond my own expectations.... I came away saying “I knew he was great, but I had no idea he could do THAT!”
Act I

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wheeldon’s Thirteen Diversions, Two Missed Opportunities and One Deep Bench

Well, I have mixed thoughts about last night’s mixed bill at American Ballet Theatre.  On one hand, there were a lot of things wrong with the program: uninspiring and even mundane choreography (ahem, Mr. Millepied?), a costume choice that may have been trying too hard (again, Mr. Millepied?), unfortunate miscasting or unnecessary use of two or three principal dancers......but really not much of what was wrong with the performance can be attributed to the dancers.  Not really.  On the other hand, there was Wheeldon’s “Thirteen Diversions,” which was well danced, lit, costumed and choreographed.  And, there were a few very strong performances by members of the corps de ballet and soloists in Ratmansky’s Dumbarton that, if you were really seeing, reminded me what I love about ABT, and gave me back more than a glimmer of hope for the company’s future. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It’s Fleet Week in NYC...but no ‘Fancy Free’

So to begin, it’s Fleet Week in New York City again....and I got this quick shot as the parade of ships was coming down the Hudson River (with an air escort).  A heartfelt thank you to the men and women of the US Navy and all of the other members of our armed forces serving and retired.

In less important news, tonight will be my second, of at least nine, trips to see American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House this season.   Reservedly looking forward to tonight’s mixed bill repertory program, which includes Shadowplay, and new pieces by Millepied, Ratmansky and Wheeldon.  Based on last night’s twitter activity, no one seemed to enjoy the first three but the Wheeldon won over some hearts.   Unlike last year’s repertory which included the always pleasing “On the Town”-esque “Fancy Free”, I’m told that tonight’s rep is almost entirely abstract and without story.  Sounds like more of a NYCB program....but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  What I am really looking forward to is seeing some more of the glorious members of ABT’s corps de ballet and soloists in featured roles.  With all the guest principals descending on NY this season, in part due to unfortunate injury to Herman Cornejo and Ethan Stiefel’s withdrawal from the season, I really hope tonight’s program lets some of the younger dancers shine.  Fingers crossed that next season we will see more than one matinee with real leading roles danced by Stella Abrera, Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya and maybe even some principal performances by Isabella Boylston, Simone Messmer and Sarah Lane.   

Stay tuned on my thoughts of tonight’s performance!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to begin....

People keep telling me I should start a blog (or do standup comedy, yikes!)...about ballet, books, theater, movies, tv, food...whatever.  I’m not really sure if it’s because they’re tired of listening to my thoughts or because they enjoy them....but watch this space, because my opinions on my excursions will be coming soon.