Thanks to former ABT corps de ballet dancer Nicola Curry, now flourishing at The Australian Ballet, for giving us this ray of hope regarding David Hallberg’s recovery and return. Siegfrieds in ten performances of Swan Lake still are not cast (seven in Washington DC and three in New York); maybe something will come of this. Unfortunately, McKenzie continually douses flickering ticket sales by trying to force people, who are appalled by the poor dancing of one artist, to buy a ticket to see an outstanding artist who has been coupled with the atrocious one. How dreadful is the idea of seeing Hallberg try to pull off a comeback with integrity in a Swan Lake opposite the likes of Boylston, Copeland, Seo or some obnoxious guest artist. Hopefully, reason will reign, but don’t count on it. There’s no reason to believe that most of the Swan Lake pairings won’t be just as awful as they have been in recent years.
While we’re exceptionally interested in seeing Devon Teuscher’s upcoming Swan Lakes, a poor matchup would prevent us from buying tickets - just exactly like it stopped us from buying tickets to Veronika Part’s Swan Lake last year when she was cast with Whiteside. Nor are we going to invest in the absurd combination of Copeland and Cornejo. We’ll leave Valentino Carlotti to buy all the tickets for those performances and give them out for free.
Now that Copeland has proven several times that she cannot muster the technique required for a professional level Swan Lake, McKenzie has rewarded her with double the number of performances and two performances of Kitri which require even greater technical abilities. But her fans never know when she’s not doing the steps, anyway, nor do they care. She’s like the Trump of ballet; she triumphs through their ignorance. She’s popular so long as the tickets are purchased by her sponsors and given out free; but without her sugar daddy and sugar agent she can’t muster a butt in a seat.
We were excited to hear that Christine Shevchenko would be dancing Kitri until we learned that she would be dancing opposite the import Alban Lendorf whose atrocious lines due to his wide backside and thighs make it impossible to enjoy any ballet that he’s in. He’s even worse looking than Vasiliev although he can manage something closer to classical technique. Trying to watch him during Ashton’s Symphonic Variations was the second most unpleasant experience of the fall season. So, it looks like we’ll skip this Don Q, too. We should be seeing Calvin Royal III as Basilio opposite Shevchenko since they are preparing a Don Q PdD for an ABT benefit. Shevchenko will certainly wipe the floor with the other Kitri debutante; her technical ability and artistry are so far above and beyond Copeland's that it is a shame that she’s not the one getting a second performance during the run of Don Quixote with a complimentary Basilio. The greater shame, however, is that Skylar Brandt and Cassandra Trenary, both of whom are heads and shoulders above Copeland in technique and artistry and would also wipe the floor with her in a Don Q, are being made to sit on their hands. We understand that it is their white privilege that has kept Copeland from practicing her fouettes and hops on pointe all these years. But no worries – since her fans with free tickets won't know what they're missing, Copeland can just leave out all the hard steps and still bask in their cheers.
We were very excited to hear of Stella Abrera’s debut in Onegin. But after seeing Cory Stearns wash out at City Center in The Leaves Are Fading, we’re more than a little concerned about what he’ll be able to muster opposite Stella. He has always risen to the occasion when he has been onstage opposite Dvorovenko or alongside Gomes – two artists who demand high level performances from everyone on stage – but when he has to help carry the evening voluntarily, he’s often not around. We just don’t know what to expect but are not particularly hopeful.
It will be wonderful to see Stella reprise her gorgeous Giselle opposite Gomes for his 20th Anniversary celebration. She is, after all, the company’s best Giselle. How ridiculous to see that Copeland, who should not come within a mile of any Petipa tulle ballet, has been granted two performances opposite the ill-fitting, gross in white tights Lendorf. It will be like watching two tanks together lumbering around on the stage. But of course, her fans won’t care because they don’t know any better. Like Trump, she triumphs through their ignorance.
As far as the new Whipped Cream, we have no high expectations that it will be anything other than the same steppy stuff that we’ve seen in most of Ratmansky’s choreography – overloaded with steps, overloaded with costumes and kitsch, overloaded with fake childish charm. Hopefully, it also won’t be overloaded with remnants and borrowings from this Whipped Cream/Schlagobers ballet choreographed by Karl Alfred Schreiner for the Ballett vom Staatstheaters am Gärtnerplatz. It looks exactly like the kind of stuff to which Ratmansky aspires.
We’re afraid that the ABT's spring season of ballet will not be the beauty that saves the world or soothes our souls.