The YAGP Peter the Great celebration gets high marks from Haglund - even if it did seem at times to be in the midst of the wild wild west - of Russia. Better behaved crowds have been seen at the old Yankee Stadium during a losing streak.
Since this was a celebration of Peter Pestov, the legendary teacher, Haglund paid close attention to the men who had been his students. Different bodies, very different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses were on display. The initial performance by Pestov's graduating class demonstrated the torturous adagio elements regimented into nearly every Russian syllabus and are designed to build strength and stamina. Haglund's hips and back began to hurt as he watched the students successfully struggle with the slow grand ronde jambs and the slow big jumps. No weaklings ever made it through Pestov's class, that's for sure.
Oh, it was good to see Sascha Radetsky back in New York. His excerpt from Hans Van Manen's 5 Tangos showed that he has picked up considerable confidence in the past year and now projects with a larger theatrical sense - leaving behind the acting for a small screen that was a problem at times during his first stint with ABT. There was a new grounded intensity in his movement that involved his whole body.
As opined previously, we need Radetsky back on the home team. The guy can skate and shoot and block and check and when he doesn't have a clear shot at the net, he passes the puck to someone who does. We need this guy back on our team whether he delivers glamorous hat tricks or not.
Gennadi Saveliev's Gopak reminded us again that Saveliev is one of the most under-appreciated dancers at ABT. Yeah, this piece was all flash, but pretty good flash. Haglund will now buy a couple of more tickets to see his Lankendem in May.
Maria Kochetkova and Gonzalo Garcia performed Yuri Possokhov's Ramonda PdD. She was lovely and elegant and has a little Osipova smile that was quite charming. Garcia was fine as a partner, but he does not offer much in the way of a classical line in his legs and feet.
Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shyklyarov closed the program with the Don Quixote PdD. Haglund liked Tereshkina in this much more than in the Manon PdD with Marcelo Gomes. Although she was strong and clear and extensive in line in the Don Q., she offered nothing to differentiate herself from the multitude of other great Don Q.ers that we've seen on New York stages. She played it safe, but was impressive in doing so.
The Manon PdD proved to be a disappointment. Haglund cringed when Tereshkina broke character and gleamed her teeth at the audience in the vein/vain of Somova during some of the most passionate choreography. She did not dance with the sense of abandon that the role of Manon requires, and she just may be too big to be thrown around in the manner that we've come to expect. Gomes delivered with the expected passion. We have to find him a partner of the same intensity soon.
Haglund loved Nikolai Tsiskaridze in Petit's Carmen. This was a see-it-once-but-not-again piece that held surprise after surpise and, given the dancer's reputation, was a delight in trying to figure out when and whether he was being serious or not. Yeah, he can dance, but oh, he can take you for a ride, too. Some members of the audience upstairs booed him at the end but were quickly drowned out with applause. Haglund has never heard booing at the ballet before, so, he got very excited and was anticipating some kind of a rumble - which never occurred.
After so looking forward to once again seeing Big Red Kondaurova, Haglund was disappointed in the choreography that he had to endure in order to see her. Ratmansky's Middle Duet was pure pretzelmania that went on way too long and offered nothing of interest with regard to movement. However, Big Red's partner, Islom Baimurodov, was very pleasant to look at. Very pleasant indeed.
The Le Corsaire PdT with Almeida, Gatti and Cornejo (representing the Corella Ballet) showed that Herman, who Haglund loves dearly, needs some time to develop his Ali. His variation had neither the speed and intensity of Corella's nor the heat of Carreno's. His movement was big and correct - too much so. Time will take care of this and we will all be patient.
The final element of the program was to try to get Peter Pestov to take the appropriate bows and accept the cheering that he so deserves. No small task. Thank you Mr. Pestov. May you continue educating dancers the world over for many years to come.
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