Haglund had an unexpectedly joyful time at Lady of the
Camellias last night. The evening's Pump Bump Awards go to Stella and Blaine
for putting the icing on the cake:
The corps de ballet played less of a role than that to which we are accustomed in full length ballets, but nevertheless danced well in full character and in gorgeous costumes by Jurgen Rose. The production's lighting was very appealing and was a major player in moving the drama along. Some of the choreographic devices such as using the very front and sides of the stage which lead down into the audience brought the drama closer to the audience effectively. It was a nice touch.
The evening's pianists were Soheil Nasseri (on stage) and Koji Attwood (in the center of the pit). Their playing was beautiful, and happily, could be heard throughout the cavernous Met. However, this is one production for which you want to sit closer to the orchestra and the stage.
La Bayadere is still one of Haglund's most favorite ballets even after a chaotic week of substitutions. He is extremely saddened by the injury and withdrawal of Stella Abrera from this week's performances. However, he experienced a little epiphany during tonight's performance: The Big Buddha of La Bayadere decided a few years ago that he would intervene in any effort to have Stella dance Gamzatti because he had decreed that she must now dance Nikiya. When next La Bayadere is on the schedule, let's not mess with the Buddha's wishes.
Haglund awards this passionate red satin and feather Pump Bump Award to Ms. Part and Ms Wiles for their stunning performances this week:
For the record, Vishneva and Gomes knocked it out of the ballpark tonight. Haglund bestows this little snake-skin-under-the-bouquet Pump Bump Award for the terrific performances by one and all:
Be there for the premiere.
Lucy Carter's stage lighting for Outlier, which included the suggestion of concentric circles on the floor as well as some linear effects, was pleasing to the eye. But McGregor’s efforts to make the dancers look as though what they were doing was somehow connected to the patterns didn’t work. Nor did it matter in the abstract overall scheme. In short, we didn't advance or extend the ballet art form this evening.
The audience, which was unusually sparse for a Friday evening, truly appreciated the terrific performance of Balanchine’s Cortege Hongrois set to the glorious, danceable music from Glazounov’s Raymonda. Rebecca Krohn and Sean Suozzi were on spot in the Czardas. Again, Lauren King was a standout in the Pas de Quatre. Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford, perhaps not particularly well-matched, conveyed the Hungarian spirit via the classical vocabulary with verve and enthusiasm in their lead roles.
Haglund is sorry that he had to go to the back of the closet for one of last year's Pump Bump Awards, but Outlier prompted him to think of this pile of crocks:
Haglund was cleaning up his hard drive and came across one of his all time favorite photos by Marty Sohl of Stella Abrera and David Hallberg in Afternoon of a Faun at City Center. No one who was at that performance will ever forget it. We really need to see these two dancers cast in the Manon PdD on June 29th and we need Marty there to capture it. Nothing else would be as perfect - unless, of course, we could turn back time to retrieve Ferri and Bocca.
There are about 127 hours to go until the kick-off ceremonies for ABT's Met season but the June 29th Manon PdD casting has not yet been posted on the website calendar. Will McKenzie award the opportunity to a company member who deserves it (like, who deserves it more than ABRERA?) or will he give it away to a guest artist?
Maybe next year the entire Met season can be devoted to guest artists thereby further de-emphasizing and de-valuing the company's own dancers.
Over at Vanity Fair, James Wolcott blogs about Laura Jacobs' article, Dogma & Diaghilev, which appears in the May issue of The New Criterian. Jacobs asks "How did we get to the point where just about every new classical dance
is meaningless?" and a little later suggests "I suppose George Balanchine deserves some blame." No doubt the folks over on BalletFart are wrinkling their noses like they just snorted their own bad smells.
Frankly, Haglund thinks much of the blame should be pointed at Lawrence Ferlinghetti for all the trouble he started with A Coney Island of the Mind back in 1958. We all loved that drivel so much. Oh, the "empty air of existence" and the "strung-out citizens in painted cars and they have strange license plates and engines that devour America." And then a few years later that guy and his Trout Fishing in America became all the rage. That book was about Nothing more than Seinfeld was about Nothing. But everyone had to have a copy of it and pretty soon the rage was all about being Nothing. Nothing was the coolest you could be. Nothing was Something. You see, if you acted like Nothing, people would act like you're Something, because they didn't want to look like they really were attracted to your Nothingness which they wanted to believe was Somethingness. But didn't we outgrow all that?
Seems not yet.
Regrettably, it appears that Jose Manuel Carreno will not dance in the ABT Gala program according to changes uploaded to the calendar today. He had been scheduled to dance the Thais PdD with Diana Vishneva. She will now dance with Jared Matthews. Our first opportunity to see J.M. will be during the Saturday matinee of La Bayadere with Julie Kent.
The Sleeping Beauty PdD from Act III had been assigned to Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg. However, the calendar now indicates that Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes will dance it instead of the R&J PdD. Osipova and Hallberg will dance the Act II PdD from Giselle. (Haglund has a call into Yogi to see if including this PdD from Giselle in the Gala makes the season an "official" one, but it's probably a bit of a stretch to expect that Yogi will buy that argument.)
According to the program, Osipova will be followed by Veronika Part (Black Swan PdD) who will be followed by Vishneva. Haglund thinks that it will be a delightful exercise to compare Osipova's qualities to Part's and Vishneva's.
It is fitting that Angel Corella will anchor the Gala evening with his solo performance of David Parsons' Caught. How nice it will be to give the audience an opportunity to express its gratitude to this magnificent artist who has anchored so many seasons for ABT. What a shame it is that ABT decided to deny him a full season of performances and in doing so deny the audience so much joy.
Haglund is looking forward once again to seeing the beautiful sets of On the Dnieper during ABT's upcoming Met season and has been encouraged by comments made by Alexei Ratmansky which suggest that he will continue to work on the piece. Aside from the Prokofiev music that really doesn't grab you by the throat and scream "Dance, you fool, dance!" and aside from the over-steppiness of the choreography, the main problem with the piece from an audience's perspective is the slightness of the story (see synopsis here.)
So, Haglund – always eager to help out especially when he hasn't been invited to – has revised the libretto to give it the kind of weight that he and his friends like to see in a story ballet. Compare this to what's at the link above:
Sergei comes home from war with a group of soldiers. He still loves his Natalia dearly and looks for her in the large crowd of welcomers. He finds her and they embrace but they both sense a distance between them that was not there before.Sergei then approaches Olga and Olga's mother who are searching for their father/husband among the soldiers. Sergei must tell them that their father/husband will not be coming home. He has died on the battlefield - a hero who saved many, including Sergei. Sergei describes the battle and gives Olga and Olga's mother the fallen soldier's personal effects - his flag, his medals, his uniform hat, the family pictures he carried with him.Sergei then tells Olga and Olga's mother that he promised their father/husband as he lay dying, that he (Sergei) would forever take care of Olga and her mother and that the soldier could leave this world in peace.Sergei experiences the expected conflict and torment of loving Natalia but having promised the dying soldier that he would always take care of Olga and her mother. Both Olga and her mother begin to develop feelings for Sergei who responds genuinely to both. (The audience is never quite sure which woman Sergei is servicing or whether he's servicing both.) Sergei continues to desire Natalia and meets with her secretly. During one of these meetings he is observed by Olga who tells her mother what she has seen. The mother and Olga plead with Sergei to be faithful to them and explain that they could not survive another loss as tragic as when their father/husband died on the battlefield.Sergei then attempts to hook up Natalia with his best friend, thinking that she would find supreme happiness with a handsome, wealthy man who was desired by most all other women in town. Natalia initially resists but then pretends to fall in love with Sergei's friend.Seeing Natalia with his best friend, Sergei weeps at his loss but then forces himself to regain his composure. As he strolls slowly away with Olga on his right arm and her mother on his left, he looks back over his shoulder at Natalia who is in a crumpled heap on the floor having realized that she has lost Sergei forever. Sergei's best friend stands off to the side with arms folded not understanding what has provoked Natalia's tears.As Sergei and the women stroll away, there appear the faint shadows of fallen soldiers in uniform who stand and watch them. Sergei pauses to look at one, slowly salutes him, and walks away with the women.
The curtain lowers. The audience applauds and screams wildly. Standing in the aisle, Alastair Macaulay whips out his cell phone to call in his review but can barely be heard over the roar of the crowd. "History has been made and I am so glad to have been here," he dictates. Haglund has not exactly been invited to write Alastair's reviews for him, either, but eh.
On the Dnieper will be performed on June 9, 11, 28 and July 1 – most likely with its original storyline.
Wayne McGregor presents his first choreographic composition for an American company this Friday, May 14th, at NYCB. The choreography's title, Outlier, and the title of Thomas Ades' violin concerto used by McGregor, Concentric Paths, already conjure up images of interest. Whether expectations are met or not, the evening's success is already assured with Jenifer Ringer and Philip Neal leading the season's first performance of Serenade – the cast of which also includes Kaitlyn Gilliland.