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March 10, 2017

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Thanks for the great review, Haglund. I also found it enjoyable. I saw both the Thursday night and Saturday matinee cast (Pineiro-Medora; Babayev-Conrad; Soca-Ali, Hughes-Gulnare). Like Thursday night, Pineiro and Soca were absolutely amazing. It's hard to be mad at all the turnover at PAB, when Corella has brought in amazing dancers like Mayara Pineiro. I thought Pineiro's Medora was even better than her Gulnare. Her Conrad was a corps dancer (Babayev) and he was also quite good (and can I just say how refreshing I find it that Corella gives younger dancers opportunities). I greatly enjoyed both Soca and Baca's Ali. As someone who lives quite close to the Academy of Music, I can't thank Kevin McKenzie enough for not promoting Baca and allowing him to flee to Philly. He has grown so much and it's a joy to watch him dance. I plan on seeing one more performance, because I need to see Baca's Conrad.

Hello Haglund, high glycemic index for sure. I'm practially in sugar shock from attending opening night and the Saturday (March 11) matinee. An interesting tidbit that came from Angel Corella's preshow talk before the Saturday matinee - this is not an in-house production; PA Ballet is renting the sets and costumes. Upon inspecting the costume for Ali, Angel found himself dissatisfied with it, so he pulled out of storage the Ali trousers that he had as a keepsake from his career, that he had worn himself in many performances. The men dancing Ali in this production are not only receiving coaching from Angel, but literally wearing his costume!

I'm happy to report that the Saturday matinee cast was just as strong as the opening night cast. Mayara Pineiro was back as Medora, and she (arguably) has the best fouettes in the company. In act II, she was punctuating her fouettes with triple pirouettes at will. You could practically see the sparks flying off her pointe shoes. Arian Molina Soca was back as Ali, and the amplitude on his leaps was unreal. Ian Hussey and Alexandra Hughes had a wonderful Act I PdD as Lankendem and Gulnare, respectively. Aleksey Babayev was a heroic Conrad, and I don't think I've seen Craig Wasserman dance as well as he performed his Birbanto.

Thanks, Kristen and Bryan. I knew I should have tried to get myself back on the Acela to Philly today. If the approaching snow storm wrecks my plans to go out to Orange County to see ABT's Whipped Cream next week, I'll definitely be hitting the rails to Philly to see more Le Corsaire.

Bryan, what a terrific story about Corella's dancers literally wearing his Ali pants! Imagine the effect that had on their psyches!

Kristen, I'm happy to hear that Aleksey Babayev did well and I hope he sticks around. (The press really tried to make a soap opera out of his parents leaving PAB's school to return full focus on their private school in Media, PA. It could not have been easy on him.) When he left PAB II to join the Stanislavsky, he danced the Bronze/Golden Idol in Makarova's La Bayadere, which was a role that Corella danced and has never been equaled except, perhaps, by the originator Johan Renvall. La Bayadere would be a huge undertaking for PAB, but they have the principal caliber right now, and I would not be surprised if it showed up during the 2018-2019 season. By then, all of these dancers will be the envy of the world.

I didn't know he danced with the Stanislavsky. Explains why he appears so polished on stage. I thought he held his own technically next to Pineiro and Soca, which is no small feat.

Kristen, here's a link to photographer Jack Devant's photos of Babayev as the Golden Idol: http://www.jackdevant.com/aleksey-babaev-as-golden-idol-in-la-bayadere/ By the way, he's dancing Ali this afternoon.

Wow, the gold paint really brings out Babaev's muscle definition! I'll know to look for that the next time I see Bayadere live.

I saw the Friday night performance and was enchanted! Baca as Conrad and Maslova as Medora makes me hope that Angel will do an R&J with them in the title roles. They oozed young love! I loved the sets (as did the audience) and the costumes. I am going again on Friday to see Baca as Ali. The whole company did Angel proud. One of the great things the company does is offer a "Preludes" talk before each performance. It has always been of great interest. Why does ABT not do the same thing???

Hi, Haglund,

I went down to Philly today for the Sunday matinee. My cast was Medora/Yuka Aseda, Conrad/Craig Wasserman, Gulnare/Nayara Lopes, Lankendem/Harrison Monaco, Ali/Aleksey Babayev and Birbanto/Etienne Diaz. Diaz is still applying too much force; he almost toppled to the floor at one point and had to put a hand down to save himself. The Odalisques were not in sync with each other. The overall impression was a few too many rocky moments. I'd say the afternoon was a solid B with a big A for effort. Aseda and Lopes were excellent; they had a bit more stage presence than the men. The men, especially Harrison Monaco, were just a little too lackadaisical in their entrances. Monaco was great in his mime and really sold his character, but only once he reached center stage. He just kind of ambled on, not making a strong impression from the first step. I think all these guys will mature into the roles. They just need more experience and I agree with Kristen that it is refreshing that Corella is giving all this young talent such opportunities. I'm glad I made the effort to get down to Philly to see this.

SherryD, glad to hear that Baca and Maslova did so well on Friday night. Oksana Maslova has quite an instrument. Her feet are so hyper-arched and strong that she sometimes appears not to be wearing pointe shoes. Her Odalisque on opening night (the middle one) was gorgeous. She has a gymnast's capabilities with a classical ballerina's sensibilities - not a bad combination to have.

Ellen, how was Aleksey Babayev's Ali? It seems that much of the cast you saw (Monaco-Lankendem, Wasserman-Conrad, Lopes-Gulnare, Iseda-Medora) was the least experienced and is getting a single shot at their roles. But as everyone is saying, how great it is that Corella is giving them an opportunity to dance. I'm sorry not to be able to see Albert Gordon and Peter Weil who are trading off on Ali and Birbanto in four performances.

Haglund,

Babayev was the best of the men, I think; he certainly got the most applause at the curtain calls, but then it is also the flashiest role. In terms of technique I can't say anything, since I have no ballet background; I can only say who made me go oooh and who didn't. The men all had solid B performances; no one had an OMG knock it out of the park moment, but all showed promise, which in and of itself was worth seeing. They lacked authority or as a friend put it, oomph. It wasn't their dancing that let the men down so much as it was their lack of stage training, in my opinion. Monaco needs to learn he can't start being Landendem when he starts miming to the Pasha; he needs to be Lankendem the second he appears on stage and he has to stride on purposefully, not just stroll on casually. All the men need to study clips (if they exist) of Alexander Minz stealing a whole act of Bayadere just by staying in character as the Rajah playing a game of chess on the side of the stage. One has to be always in character, even when the spotlight is on someone else. I saw enough promise in all these men to think that this will come when they have more experience, if they get the proper guidance, and I can only assume they will under the leadership of Corella.

Iseda and Lopes were the stars for me. They managed to take their one shot at the roles and go for it in a way the men didn't; they had command of the stage that the men lacked. It's their performances I take away from yesterday.

(Apologies if my previous post was a little incoherent; I was very tired when I finally got home last night.)

Ellen

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