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May 18, 2017

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You're in luck Haglund! Christine is dancing again tonight!

FYI- Gillian in out tonight (5/18/17); Christine will replace her as Kitri.

Sorry to hear about Gillian, but great news for Christine. Maybe there will be other changes later in the weekend, too.

Thanks, Haglund, for passing along a report of Copeland's Kitri debut...which went exactly as expected. Shame. For some odd reason, members of a well-know ballet forum are afraid to report. When I asked how it went on Tuesday with our debutante, somebody wrote about the good dancing of Mercedes!!! That said it all.

Hi, Jeannette. To be clear, I didn't see Copeland's debut. I got comments from a friend who did see it.

I know, H. That's why I specifically wrote "passing along." So...is everyone afraid of a "PC MAFIA" or what?

Exciting news about these dynamic soloists. If I can't have Part & Hoven in Swan Lake, I'll be more than happy to see Teuscher & Hoven! Thanks for the great review.

I've been waiting with bated breath for your review, Haglund, after seeing Shevchenko in the dress rehearsal on Monday. I thought she was stunning, as is your review, and am I sorry I missed her performance yesterday! Happily, I can count on you to bring the ballet vividly to life, and if anyone hears about her dancing yet another Kitri this week, please let us be the first to know. I don't know where or why they picked up Lendorf because he was as bad in the dress rehearsal as he was in the performance, by your description. I would have fired him after the dress rehearsal. Also, I agree that Rachel Richardson was a wonderful Amour; but then I think Cassie also rehearsed the role, and sitting up in Row F of the grand tier, at some point I couldn't tell one from the other, which says a lot for Rachel.

Upon hearing that Shevchenko would substitute tonight, I picked up a late ticket to the performance. Quite a few of the ills from the first two nights were cured.

Lendorf should probably buy Gillian some flowers for allowing him the opportunity for this do-over tonight. He wasn't nearly as bad as the first night and had some fireworks to show. His partnering also improved. It's very difficult to watch him because of his lack of legs. He jumps and you suddenly ask yourself, "Where are his legs?" But like I said, he did much better.

Hee Seo was "technically" better tonight. She got her Italian fouettes cleanly and seemed to have a little more spirit, but only a little. Perhaps ABT should send her on an AFS exchange trip to Spain for the summer so that she can get the flavor of the culture. Amused cat smiling is not what those Spanish ladies are all about in Don Q.

Whiteside was swinging for the fences on every move. A few times it worked for him, but generally he just looked like a crazy dude.

Shevchenko was even better tonight. There was a little miscommunication about when a pirouette would finish at the conclusion of the PdD in Act III but that was very minor. She'd just given the performance of her lifetime (so far) and she wanted to roar around for another revolution. How was he supposed to know...

Like I said, Lendorf should get some flowers for Gillian as thanks for getting this do-over.

Schevchenko should now be on the fast track to Principal. I first saw her ages ago as a teen in the Moscow IBC. It's been ages coming. Finally!

Jeanette, this entire group of soloist women is awesome and looks so encouraging for the future. But that's how we felt when Yuriko Kajiya, Simone Messmer, Maria Riccetto, Stella Abrera, and Sarah Lane were so obviously poised to rise. Look what happened.

Last night's audience was expecting to see Murphy. I heard expressions of disappointment when people came through the turnstile and saw the sign announcing the cast change. But that same audience was VERY enthusiastic about Shevchenko and gave her a tremendous ovation – an ovation uniformly throughout the house, not just from the back of the orchestra where most of the comps generally are.

I've been forgetting to mention the brand NEW awesome poster out front of the Met of Stella in a costume for Symphony Concertante. Hopefully that is an indication that we'll see this ballet again soon. ABT now has five tall-ish principal worthy women who could dance or already have danced it marvelously: Murphy, Abrera, Part, Teuscher and Shevchenko. The same five could lead Etudes and Ballet Imperial. And there is a short-ish group as well for those assignments: Brandt, Lane, Paris, and Trenary.

And they've got the men for it, too. I actually saw Stearns dance in Etudes along side Corella and he did a very good and very LIVELY job. I also really wouldn't mind seeing Whiteside in Etudes since it is right up his alley. Forster, Hammoudi, Hoven are all ready for these huge rep pieces.

But when you have a management willing to squander its own talent so that it can hire the likes of Lendorf and Kochetkova, it really dashes all hopes.

Hi Haglund -- I too was disappointed that Gillian was injured, but based on your review, thought that Christine wouldn't be a total wash. My thoughts on the perf last night: yes, she was technically clean, but seemed to be missing the "oomph" and "spice" that Kitri needs. My friend said she needs to work on her "abandonment" -- being a little too careful in some places in the 3rd act PDD. I kind of chalk it up to being young, and also, she may have left it all on the field in her debut the day before. Time and seasoning may add the sizzle. Lendorf was serviceable, but his one-handed lifts of her w/tambourine made me nervous -- they seemed awkward. Whiteside came off like a nut job with his cape routine; by the end of it, I was rooting for the bull. I guess I've been spoiled by seeing epic pairings like Osipova/Vasiliev and Herrera/Corella; it made me think that "Don Q" can be one of two things, either "spectacular" or "just OK." Felt that last night fell into the latter category, but glad Christine got another shot. Surprised, too, that there were zero curtain calls -- what was up with that?

Also surprised at no curtain calls. Christine danced beautifully and knocked those fouttes out of the park! The audience came to have a good time and roared loudly for her. Lendorf needs to gain confidence-- he dances as if he has imposter syndrome. Strong(er) nights like last night will help.

Well, I guess a place can be saved for me in Hades because...

Can someone tell me the point of Alessandra Ferri doing Onegin? Or no doubt returning for Juliet in the near future? I mean come on. It's wonderful that she can still dance at her age, but you can't tell me there aren't dancers in the company that could take this role(s) on. Ditto Kochetkova who needed to be included in the company roster like a hole in the head.

I wonder if Gillian is injured, or if we will see a last minute change where she replaces a certain someone this weekend....?

Thanks Cindy, Iris, FD, and Rachel for the comments.

Cindy, I think that if anything other than a repeat of Osipova/Vasiliev or Herrera/Corella is apt to disappoint, then you're in for a lifetime of disappointment. The first live Kitri I ever saw was Gelsey Kirkland. I still haven't seen one to match it, but I have seen plenty of performances that didn't disappoint and many that were more enjoyable for other reasons, most notably the presence of Julio Bocca, and in one instance, Rolando Sarabia.

I found Shevchenko not lacking in abandonment. She hasn't yet coordinated the high speed for her supported pirouettes, but that will come quickly. I saw it begin to emerge in the second performance. I really would not want her or any other dancer to try to copy the circus act of Osipova and Vasiliev, but that's my personal preference in the art.

Iris, I noticed on opening night that the lights in the house came up very quickly - actually during Gillian's & Cory's curtain call. Obviously, it's ABT's effort to clear the house quickly like a waiter trying to take your plate before you've had the last bite of dessert. I wonder if they really rushed/omitted all of the curtain calls or just the ones that didn't feature a certain diva.

Former Dancer, don't know what to say about this except that it's one of those roles that a ballerina can be carried through if need be. God knows we've seen enough of that though. We'll see how she does. Yes, I would rather see Murphy, Teuscher, Shevchenko or Trenary get the opportunity but it wouldn't have happened anyway. We would have ended up with Copeland or Boylston or Kochetkova in the role which, in my view, would have been much less preferable than a skilled Ferri who admittedly is vulnerable because of age.

Rachel, we can hope for that... If Gillian is feeling better, she certainly deserves the opportunity and outranks the one who can't do the steps.


Personally I think it's good for the lackluster group of newer principal women to see Ferri in action - she has so much presence in her acting and technique that they are glaringly missing. They were all very young when she was dancing with the company - now that they are supposed to be at that level it would be interesting to see if they watch her with a different eye.

Rachel, I totally agree, but I think that the ones to whom you refer already believe that they are greater artists than Ferri because of their number of followers on Instagram – (It's Facetious Friday, folks.)

So sorry that Herman was apparently injured last night. Blaine came out to complete the PDD with Kochetkova. Hopefully it's just a short-term setback and well be seeing Herman in Whipped Cream next week.

Urrrrgh. That is heartbreaking to hear. Heartbreaking.

So proud of Blaine, though.

Herman was having an incredible show until he suffered an injury during the wedding pas. Huge kudos to Blaine! He really stepped up to the plate last night! Craig Salstein was the most hilarious Gamache I have ever seen! We can only hope he has no plans to retire anytime soon. Looking forward to seeing a lot more of Skylar Brandt. She knocked it out of the park as Amour!

Herman was having a fantastic night until his injury. Absolute ovation to Blaine for stepping up and finishing the rest of the act in his place-- while also carrying his own role! The same to the corps, who had to sit in character on stage in total silence and uncertainty for over a minute before Kochetkova came out to move the night forward. A real feat of calm under pressure.

This sounds like a replay of when Herman got injured at the end of Symphony No 9 and Jared Matthews had to run on and finish the ballet with a furious sequence of tours a la seconde. His heroism got him nowhere, but hopefully, McKenzie will at least thank Blaine.

Speaking of pressure, it seems McKenzie may have had to lower the pressure on Copeland for tonight's performance by removing Shevchenko from the Mercedes role. Ha! Kevvie doesn't seem to understand that Shevchenko isn't the one he needs to remove from this ballet. And why such a late hour for announcing the substitution?

Of the four Don Q's I saw this week (Monday Gillian and Cory, Thursday Christine and Alban, Friday Maria and Herman, Saturday night Misty and Jeffrey), last night was definitely the most disappointing. Compared to Gillian and Christine, Copeland didn't hold a candle to them. The audience applauded practically everything she did, even her fouettés that sent her traveling diagonally across the stage. Clearly they were there for Copeland the celebrity. In the Act 2 dream scene, with Devon dancing right next to Copeland, it was clear who danced better. And at a stage door, her PR came out to announce that Misty would not be signing anything nor taking any individual photographs. I inwardly rolled my eyes. Last year they set up barricades that we were supposed to get in line behind. NONE of the other dancers have so much hubris.

I really hope Herman is ok. He was having such a great performance until he got injured. There was this awful pause onstage when everyone was waiting for him to appear and he didn't. Later at stage door, Gabe said that he could hear people backstage frantically trying to figure out what to do. Blaine said that Keith Roberts told him to go on stage and fill in for Herman. Maria said that she believes he injured his calf and left to get an MRI.

I'm very glad I got to see Gillian and Christine. This was the first time I'd ever seen Don Q and the two of them made me kick myself for waiting so long.

Thanks for the report, Lena.

I can imagine that it was quite uncomfortable, if not demoralizing, for Misty to be dancing along side Devon in Act II last night. And that business about the star (cough, it's Sardonic Sunday) not signing autographs or allowing individual pictures is priceless. Hubris is right – along with pomposity and conceit.

Good for Blaine and good for Keith Roberts for his quick-thinking and confidence in Blaine on Friday night. So sorry to hear about Herman's injury. Hopefully it was just a calf injury and not his Achilles, although it seems that either would spell the end of the season for him.

Here's hoping that Blaine gets a shot at doing more this season, a Swan Lake or two with Devon would do me just fine. Hammoudi could move over to Copeland with whom he debuted in the role. Also, Conrad would be a perfect role for Blaine to debut in this season - 7 principal roles means that no one has to carry an undue amount of pressure.

We're crossing our fingers for Herman's speedy recovery, and we're crossing our fingers for some new, long-overdue opportunities for Blaine.

I saw four Don Qs (I saw Misty's first) and during the performance, I thought the soloists dance rings around her. After seeing my last - the Sat. matinee - I was convinced. Nothing she does stay with you after she finishes a phrase of steps yet every soloist has moments that you notice has a "punch" technically, something you can marvel at, a vividness that Misty lacks. I'm not saying they're all flawless, but they have a technique and dance their hearts out. I used to say Misty was just a soloist, but after her Kitri, she's not even on the soloist level of ABT. Heck, the corp dancers outshine her; Kaho Ogawa as one of the Flower Girls is still in my mind as I write this on Sunday night. I remember Carla Fracci, who was a "celebrity" prima ballerina who couldn't dance her way out of a paper bag, but she brought something to her Giselle and Sylph so you didn't feel (too) cheated after her performances. Misty, eh.

Greetings, Haglund. I was at Friday's performance--it was indeed a strange moment when there was a pause onstage and no one knew what was going on. Sad for Herman as he was spectacular up till then with no indication of an injury.

Curious why you are not thrilled with Kochetkova--is it because she is an unnecessary star addition to the roster (agreed--she dances everywhere it seems) or do you not think she is up to the hype? Because while I was mildly disappointed in her performance quality on Friday, her technique is spectacular; the fouettes done to all four corners in Act III were breathtaking. I did think she was underrehearsed (non-rehearsed, apparently, according to Instagram) which is the problem with flying stars in from out of town.

Also I think the entire company wasn't up to par. The corps was lackluster, except for some of the solo performances. Perhaps it is the McKenzie factor. The last time I saw Don Q it was Mariinsky Ballet and the whole production was excitement from beginning to end.

Devon T is an absolute star. I saw her debut in Swan Lake in DC and her poise and capacity to do such a difficult role right out of the gate blew me away (with some work to be done on Black Swan). She would be outstanding as Kitri.

Hi, VintageB1. Thanks much for the report.

Herman has reported on his FB page that he incurred a calf injury but expects to return soon. That's good news. Let's hope that he doesn't come back too soon and ultimately blows out that calf completely.

My objection to Kochetkova is that she has nothing to offer ABT that the company doesn't already have within its own ranks. Those four-corner fouettes that you spoke of were performed brilliantly by Yuriko Kajiya as a soloist years ago in Don Q with Simkin, but the celebrity watchers didn't take note of it back then. Kochetkova doesn't possess an Nth of the grace, charm, or ability that Yuriko had as an ABT soloist or either Sarah Lane or Cassandra Trenary has now. There is just no reason whatsoever for her to be cluttering up the roster. She's not even that well-liked by SF balletomanes who are tired of her phoning in performances. Hopefully, this will be her last season on the roster.

Agree about Devon; she will be a fabulous Kitri. I saw her second DC performance which was spectacular. What a statement she made! http://haglundsheel.typepad.com/haglunds_heel/2017/01/abt-the-kennedy-centerswan-lake-129-matinee.html

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