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June 04, 2014

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My friend and I were actually uncomfortable during the Simkin drunk solo - it seemed too realistic a light shining on his partnering shortcomings, rather than a choreographed joke. Stella was clearly partnering herself... Sigh.

In better news, Stella WAS gorgeous and ultra-musical. I also thought the corps looked particularly good on Monday night I must say.

Hi Haglund, I've been waiting with bated breath to read your review, especially after reading Gia Kourlas's review in the NYT yesterday, in which she described Julie Kent as "Ballet Theater’s reigning dramatic actress." Is it my imagination, or has drama never quite been Ms. Kent's forte? It seems to me she has, at the least, grown tepid over recent years. What was Ms. Kourlas thinking? I'm glad to hear that three of the four principal dancers were superb, as I have tickets for the Saturday matinee performance. I think that Vishneva and Gomes in these roles make this ballet, despite its length and its shortcomings, a definite "don't miss." And any opportunity to see Cornejo is a particular joy. Thank you for your excellent review.

wanted to comment that what happened in the last curtain call bows happened on Monday night too. Daniil came out followed by Julie and Roberto (no final curtain call for Stella alone).

Agreed that Tuesday night's cast (except for the messy messy corps!) was the real deal vs. Monday's

Thanks for the comments, everyone. There were past years when the casts were so good that I would go to six or more Manons. Unfortunately now the casting is so oddly put together to try to force people to sit through artists they don't want to see in order to watch artists who they do want to see, that it kills the enthusiasm for going at all.

Haglund, what you say about casting has become increasingly true for more than Manon, maybe the entire season.

Haglund, this is the 2007 casting for Manon:

Mon. Eve., June 11, 8 P.M. MANON – Ferri, Bolle+, Cornejo, Murphy
Tues. Eve., June 12, 8 P.M MANON – Vishneva, Gomes*, Saveliev, Wiles*
Wed. Mat., June 13, 2 P.M. MANON – Reyes, Corella, Stiefel*, Abrera
Wed. Eve., June 13, 8 P.M. MANON – Kent, Carreño, Pastor, C. Corella
Thur. Eve., June 14, 8 P.M. MANON – Ferri, Bolle, Cornejo, Murphy
Fri. Eve., June 15, 8 P.M. MANON – Vishneva, Gomes, Saveliev, Wiles
Sat. Mat., June 16, 2 P.M. MANON – Kent, Carreño, Pastor, C. Corella
Sat. Eve., June 16, 8 P.M. MANON – Reyes, Corella, Stiefel, Abrera

M&M, I remember that year with great fondness. Xiomara Reyes unfortunately became injured, and Alessandra Ferri performed FOUR Manons in one week - her final week with ABT. She was magnificent in all four. I think that I went to all of the Manon performances except for the Saturday matinee. This year, I went to two.

I was there on Wednesday and really enjoyed Semionova's performance. She and Stearns had wonderful chemistry together. Polina knows how to use her incredibly long neck to add nuance and accentuate her lines. She seemed to be able to really trust Stearns strength and solid partnering to let go and dance with abandonment. I was really moved... I had chills and even a little moisture in my eyes from the sheer joy, passion and freedom of their dancing together. Whiteside and Part were another story completely. In some ways Whiteside worked as a swarmy villan type. However I always feel like he is being just a bit of a ham. The dancing however was solid if not thrilling. Part was a disappointment. She seems to have problems coming down off of pointe... it's as though she has so much arch she can't lift up and then roll down through the foot so she occasionally will clunk down. I also dislike that she at times steps onto a flat foot instead of toe, ball, heel... that seems like an easy fix. Is she unaware? She always seems a little lumbering and ungainly. Is she physically able to dance quickly with attack? Her acting was not convincing either. Someone please tell me why she was promoted? I just don't understand. This is my 3rd time seeing her dance and although I have yet to see her in a true principal role I can't imagine sitting through an evening of her struggling with transitions, speed and with her shoulders up and tense... But all in all I really enjoyed Manon and I'm glad that I made the trip!!!

Hi Minnie.

Good to hear that you enjoyed the Wednesday Manon. Some of the occasional clunk down off pointe by Part was, I believe, the result of the choreography, particularly if you were referring to partnering maneuvers that occurred in the left down stage corner between Lescaut and his Mistress. I saw two other Mistresses do the same thing.

I would recommend seeing Veronika in Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty (with a decent partner) before writing her off. The magic she creates with Marcelo Gomes in both of those ballets is quite extraordinary, and it is a crime that they have not even one performance together during the Met season.

The flat walking to which you refer is, I believe, intentional for some roles. You wouldn't see her do it in Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty.

Hi Haglund,
The clunking unfortunately was in her solo work. Once coming out of a tricky pirouette and again coming out of a simple develope... Not the end of the world but it just seems like in general she is unable to roll down off point smoothly. It was apparent that she was not super comfortable being partnered by Whiteside as she studderred in her glissade before their first big lift. This was well before the comedic choreography in the "drunk" pas. I'm willing to not write her off just yet but how many chances does one give a dancer? I have limited time and money to travel to see ABT. As much as I would love to see several cast and compare and contrast I just don't have that luxury. I have had my first impressions changed on a second or third viewing before but it's hard to get over that initial dislike (or like) that you take away from a dancers perfomance. The first time I saw Sarah Lane several years ago in Theme I though it was just okay and looked like soloist work to me. I have seen her dance several times since and now think that she is principal material. I saw Part as a soloist, was not impressed, and the following year she was promoted. Why???? In general I don't feel like I trust the artistic judgment of ABT. I know I'm preaching to the choir...

I'll give Part another shot I suppose. Maybe in next year's new Sleeping Beauty! I wish there was more of her on youtube. I just have yet to see why she made principal when I feel their are more deserving dancers.

Hi Haglund,
Did my last post not go through? The clunking down was during her solo work and was not choreographic unfortunately. It was coming down from a tricky pirouette and also during a develope. In general she does not seem to be able to properly roll down off of pointe. Also it was not flat foot walking... it was stepping onto a flat foot during choreography. I'm certainly willing to give her another chance. Maybe in the new Sleeping Beauty next year!!! :)

Minnie,

Not all roles are meant for all dancers. We never saw Alessandra Ferri in Swan Lake for a reason. I think that Veronika Part was promoted to principal because she has pedigree and a ravishing quality unlike any dancer on the planet. To be sure it would be great if all principals could dance all roles, however as Sylvie Guillem herself once said, not all dance are meant to dance all parts. With all that said, it might just be that you do not like Part's dancing to which I might add, there's no accounting for taste.

Oh dear, Minnie, I’m so sorry you feel that way about Veronika Part. I can only suppose that you’ve seen her on what must be called “off” nights. As an ardent fan of Part, I have seen her develop from a soloist with great potential but sometimes insecure technique to a technically secure and dramatically accomplished dancer, IMHO the reigning queen of the ABT roster. No one else dances so eloquently. She has the upper body fluidity that is a signature of Mariinsky-trained dancers, a gorgeous extension, beautifully formed feet, a soaring jump, and acting ability that ranges from the deep sadness of her magnificent Odette to the coquettishness of her recently-acquired role of Kitri. She is the most eloquent of dancers, using every part of her body, her face, her torso, and her long arms and legs, to convey the story/movements. She has no affectations—whatever she does comes across as genuine.

I’m trying to imagine what you’re describing because I have never seen her clunk down from pointe. That would be a no-no at the Mariinsky and any creditable ballet school. The PDD from the white act of Swan Lake shows her melting into the floor from the tips of her toes, through the foot, into those deep arabesques plies.

I’m not surprised to hear that she didn’t seem super-comfortable being partnered by Whiteside. My first thought is Who would be? I think the biggest problem Part has is that, with the sole exception of Gomes, there is no one in the company ideally suitable as a partner for her. I wish you had seen Part and Gomes together in Ratmansky’s Nutcracker, with its difficult partnering, including lifts, swirls, and leaps. It was a partnership made in heaven. I’m aware that many people have praised Whiteside. To my mind he doesn’t deserve to be a principal. I agree that in whatever he does he comes off as something of a ham. In addition, and directly addressing his dancing, he has a stiff upper body and a marginally acceptable ballet line.

I do hope (1) that you will be able to see Part in her signature role of Odette/Odile, and that (2) when you do, she will be in the hands of a partner of equal merit.

I went to see Manon with Marcelo and Diana on Tuesday evening. Words cannot begin to describe how beautiful and moving they were--so I won't even try. It was one of those performances that I will never forget. Marcelo and Diana have such great chemistry. They are truly magical together!!

I'm wondering how Diana's 10th Anniversary Celebration went this afternoon. I'd love to hear from readers who attended today's matinee performance.

B - to answer your question about today's matinee performance, I think Haglund himself said it best here:
https://haglundsheel.typepad.com/haglunds_heel/2011/06/abt-lady-of-the-camellias-67.html
"Whenever Marcelo Gomes and Diana Vishneva perform the same ballet together twice in one week, you never want to miss the second performance. Actually, you never want to miss either performance, but the second will surely have the power to take you right to the edge of a breakdown and then make you want to jump."

And so it was this afternoon!

I saw both Tuesday and today's shows, and while I didn't think they held anything back on Tuesday, today they definitely went for broke in everything! Marcelo was even more magnificent! And as my friend put it, "at the end, they weren't dancing, it was just something else--I don't know how to describe it!"

Add to that the excitement of Diana Vishneva's 10th anniversary celebration, and it was certainly an afternoon to remember!

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