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.