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June 12, 2017

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I hope this leads to her dancing the role some time this week. I keep checking the website for updates but no casting changes since Murphy's withdrawal.
*Fingers crossed*

Woo hoo! Who is her Siegfried?

Side note: There is an abusive troll" review" on the main page of ABT's Facebook ripping Sarah's Giselle apart. I cannot believe the ABT admin has not deleted it.

Red, I forgot to even ask who her Siggie was, but I'm assuming it's Simkin. We shall know soon hopefully.

I had Wednesday tickets, and exchanged them for tonight when Seo replaced Murphy, if only to see Marcelo's Von Rothbart. If i've stumbled upon Sarah's NYC debut, I will be overjoyed. Fingers and toes crossed!

Don't think it's tonight, Rachel. Maybe you can exchange again.

Was Isabella rehearsing as well? I was at a performance a few years ago where Gillian injured herself in Act I and Heo had to step in as Odile in Act II.

I wonder if that's what they are concerned about here? Or if Sarah really is going to start!

Casting is being withheld -- probably so that people won't exchange out of other performances in order to get a Sarah Odette.

Sarah is rehearsing right this moment with Daniil in front of the patrons at the Met. If McKenzie allows this and then disallows her to dance -- and heaven forbid, stuffs horsey Boylston into the performance on Thursday instead –– he will have hell to pay. Hell. to. pay. Right now patrons at the Met are trying to figure out how to get a ticket to Sarah's performance but ABT's people are all acting like asses and like they don't have any idea what is going on. They are really, really pissing off their patrons.

For what it's worth, whoever dances the dress rehearsal isn't necessarily dancing that same night. The Giselle rehearsal had Abrera/Gomes and Boylston/Whiteside.

I don't want to buy a ticket for Thursday and then get burned. But from the looks of it, the performance in question already looks well sold. I wish they would announce the casting.

Meloneme_k, you're smart not to buy yet, because as we all know, McKenzie has had a bias against Sarah dancing almost everything but particularly Swan Lake for a long, long time. He would much rather dump Boylston in at the last minute and may well do that. But ABT will have hell to pay for it from its patrons.

Iris, you're right. Unless it's a new production, the last dress rehearsal is not usually performed by that night's cast. Who would expect a ballerina to dance two Swan Lakes in one day?

OMG Haglund, you have to keep us posted. Pretty please with triple chocolate on top.
Btw, thank you so much for everything you give us on your blog. When I can't attend a performance I know I can trust you for a reliable and accurate review (for those of which you do happen to attend of course lol).

Ugh...the wait is killing me. I'd love to see Sarah's O/O but I need time to arrange my work schedule. If they are going to change it, I wish they would just do it already. Regardless, I do feel hopeful Sarah will get her promotion this year.

Well this is heartening. But too good to be true? I have no interest in getting a "Gotcha!" Boylston performance, so I will withhold funds until an official change on the website calendar.

Iris - totally here you re the dress rehearsal. I'm just naiively holding out hope that she needed a dress (or at least portions thereof) with Daniil because they are new to the stage/pairing/in those roles.

Makes total sense that, if she replaces anyone, it will be Kotchekova on Thursday night, which I sadly cannot make :( . But echoing others, hopefully she gets her promotion this year and can lay claim to an announced-in-advance O/O next season.

Isabella did zero fouettes. She did pique turns around the stage. She was a nice enough Odette, but it really irked me that her Odile was so lacking. Especially when there were talented understudies in the wings, ready to charm their respective albrechts. I respect her challenging herself to perform while injured, but it was not a great performance.

Lendorf was just cold. The dancing was technically very good, but it seemed without emotion to me.

Marcelo as Von Rothbart was a sight to behold!!

Did somebody spot Kochetkova leaving NYC on a "midnight train" last night? Reliable sources did...Choo Choo!

Good point, Rachel. There are understudies waiting who could bang out the required fouettes with no trouble at all.

There is a clear and obvious effort at ABT to dumb-down as much as necessary in the ballets in order to make inferior levels of technique more palatable - thus making its celebrina/fakerina more acceptable. The absence of fouettes in SL or Don Q or the Act I variation of Giselle which has now become a truly embarrassing single pique/single stepover are all evidence of an effort to simplify for the benefit of one person.

When I saw that video on I-G of the coaching session by Nina Ananiashvili of pique turns for the benefit of Boylston, it could not have been more clear that Isabella either 1) did not understand what Nina was trying to convey or 2) was simply recalcitrant. https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLU3KIHLVC/?taken-by=stellaabreradetsky

Nina was pushing off and hopping to the perch of the pique in order to make them travel. Even after a clear demonstration at a still very high level of quality by the 54-year-old Nina, Isabella just continued doing them her own way. There was no perch to pointe, no hop, just dull Isabella continuing to do them her own dull, leaden way -- a COMPLETE WASTE OF NINA'S TIME.

But like you said, there were understudies waiting who could have saved the performance from such embarrassment. I'm truly embarrassed for some of these ABT women who cannot deliver basic technique but insist on hogging the stage.

We shall see how badly McKenzie wants to keep Sarah Lane off the stage as Odette/Odile. Will he substitute Boylston who on a good day is awful but with an injury is in his estimate a better choice? Or perhaps he will allow Sarah to dance but mandate that she not do fouettes or not do any more than the fakerina can do on Tuesday night.

Jeannette, I hope you're right.

I am not typically a fan of Isabella because of her uncontrolled upper body (I have been very disappointed by her in the past) but last night I thought she was excellent, especially her Odette, and in particular the pas with Lendorf. She was clearly done a lot of work and had a lot of coaching in the role. Her arms were rippling and expressive, not at all sloppy. As the poster said above, she did a manege instead-- of very explosive pique coupe jete turns (not "just piques") in place of the fouettes-- and while I am usually a purist, I did not mind the modification at all because the characterization was done so well. She was fully, completely invested in character, and aside from the modification it was not at all evident that she was injured a week and a half ago-- she held several stunning, secure balances. I know she does not have her fans on this site, so before the herd piles on I will go ahead and defend what I thought was truly a win of a performance.

Happy to hear of your delight with Boylston last night. There was no evidence of injury, but she still opted out of the fouettes? That might be okay for Nebraska or some other place, but this is New York where your best often isn't even good enough.

I'm biting my nails and keep refreshing the ABT calendar. I just don't understand why they can't be up front with the casting.

In regards to Kochetkova. I've noticed she has spread herself entirely too thin. She is a member of SFB. She is a member of ABT. Now I see she is a regular guest star of English National. How many companies can a body dance at? No wonder she is exhausted.

That ABT allows dancers to cut out the fouettes for Odile is a travesty. The ballet isn't only about the acting. It is also about showcasing the sheer strength and virtuosity of the female lead.

Melponeme_k, Kochetkova is the quintessential freelancer. ABT doesn't need freelancers on its roster.

It's not only dishonest not to make the casting change public, but it is TOTALLY dishonest to continue marketing and selling tickets with the misrepresentation that Kochetkova will dance. They've known for weeks that she wouldn't dance, and yet they kept fraudulently selling tickets on the misrepresentation that she would. So what's new? This is ABT's historical practice -- to deceive the public.

Kay - I agree, her Odette was quite good last night. I've not seen her perform the role before, but her arms and upper body were lovely, and her balances were very elegant.

I disagree about her Odile, but it's always in the eye of the beholder ;). I agree there wasn't obvious evidence of injury in her dancing - I perhaps was presumptuous in assuming the choice to not to the fouttees was due to injury. There was one move in particular, in the middle of the Act II pas, where she's on one knee and her arms are open to him, and he walks over to her, and she rotates and throws up her "swan arm" blocking him, that is usually so punchy and ruthlessly teasing, that I thought was a bit slow and bland last night. Super picky I guess, but it's such an important moment in the ballet for me.

I'm not familiar enough with partnering technique to really understand deficiencies, but while I thought their lifts were amazing (he really can throw her up in the air with ease!), as well as her holding her and turning her in penche in the Act I pas, it looked very laboured any time he spinned her in pirouette, and I thought the lack of emotion on his side, as well as a relative lack of personality change/response to Odile in Act II, really hindered their performance as a couple. That's not on her though!

This is just infuriating on many levels. 1) that they are not going to give Sarah respect by actually casting her instead of slipping her in the role under the cover of darkness like she's something to be ashamed of and 2) they are deceiving the patrons who do want to see Kochetkova in this role and are spending good money to see her specifically.

Fortunately, there are a lot of Daniil fans out there that wouldn't be disappointed with a casting change of O/O.

@formerdancer

I know the "cover of darkness" aspect is very insulting in regards to Lane. Especially since most Daniil fans saw her dance with him as Giselle and already know her as a performer. I don't believe they would give up their tickets if they knew she was the substitute.

Am I wrong in my opinion that if you can't do the fouettes, you shouldn't be cast? Period.

Period. Just like if you can't do arabesque.

@Catherine I'm reminded of a recent video of Carrie Imler, a dancer who is retiring, recently had a baby, has dealt with a divergent ballet body type her entire life (without whining about it), and belongs to a second-tier company (PNB).

Her left calf or foot wasn't doing well. But she knew people paid good money to see her fouttés. She sucked it up and did them to her left (on her right leg).

Dammit, fouttés are a PART of Odile's character. They're a menacing, virtuoso step that Odette would never do. They've always signaled to me that by that point, Sigfried is a goner, and she's basking in her victory.

Ugh, those patrons were so lucky to have seen Sarah! I'm so torn on whether or not I should get a ticket for Thursday. I'd LOVE to see Sarah but I'd also have to take off form work. Not worth it just to see Kochetkova. Already so disappointed that Gillian has pulled out. Oh well. Guess I have to keep checking the calendar.

I'm also of the opinion that if you can't do the steps (for whatever reason) then you shouldn't dance the role. People keep bringing up Plisetskaya, well excuse me but I think she earned the right to get a little creative considering she was in her late 40's and was Maya Plisetskaya.
Speaking of not being able to do the steps, I bet the fakerina will do exactly​ what Boylston did last night. At this point it's a matter of who WILL do the steps as opposed to who will NOT.

@Zoot - exactly. I hate to reference "Black Swan", but the fouettes as her arms are turning into wings was a stunning sequence. Those fouettes are damn important!!

@Silvie

I fear it is a matter of the technically capable dancers now being asked to do the Pique turns instead of the fouettes to cover up for the "not ready for prime time" group.

Out of curiosity I did a search for Ratmansky's reconstruction of Swan Lake. He included the fabled fouette sequence in his version.

Considering Sarah did all the dancing in the god-awful "Black Swan", you'd think they'd be able to sell her performances easily, but for the whole Natalie-Portman-did-the-dancing PR and gag-order the stuck Sarah with preceding the oscars.

Interesting, Rachel, that you brought that up, because guess who is in town this week: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSPvcJBrmJ/?taken-by=benjaminmillepied&hl=en

... hovering, like a black cloud. I wonder if he'll make an appearance on Thursday.

What irks me the most about this fouetté issue is that Isabella Boylston, for all the criticism directed against her due to being blank, her upper body and arms not classical enough etc., was never someone who couldn't do the fouettés and the audience wasn't always anxious about that sequence. And she didn't look injured according to reports. So unless something happened midway through this performance, it looks very weird to say the least.
This should in any case not become an "optional" choice offered to the performer beforehand.

Agree, Kallima.

She addressed the members of the Junior Council at a backstage tour after the show. She said that she was still nursing the injury from Giselle and the only thing that she could not do because of injury were the fouettes, and that she had deliberated withdrawing because of this one thing. We ballet fans like to talk a lot about the primacy of artistry, except when it suits us to complain about a modification done clearly as a result of injury for the SAKE of artistry. I respect her a lot for going through with her show, and for completing Giselle while injured. Believe it or not, but she has a lot of her own fans who bought tickets to see HER who she surely feels a responsibility to. People seem to think there's some great conspiracy happening with these choices, but she gets one chance a year to dance this, had put in the work to beautiful result, and had her own fans who were expecting to see her. Why is it so hard to believe that she was well enough to dance all of Act I beautifully but not do the fouettes? Those 32 turning releves that are required are excruciating, even on a healthy ankle, and put more sustained strain on the leg than any other step. There are two disparate issues here-- how well she does the steps, which is always up for debate stylistically (and I agree with you about the video with Nina), and whether or not she can actually do them. The discussion of the second matter is frustrating because she has provably completed this technical requirement umpteen times on the Met stage in the last five years-- we have all seen her do it, albeit while traveling or with raised shoulders or whatever. To be unable to complete them and choose not to do them ONE time because of injury is very different than being unable to do them at all, like you know who.

Thanks, Kay! I actually agree with much of what you said.

Haglund, would he dare? I think her many fans would be able to figuratively drown his influence out if he still has any over management. Judging by his Instagram, his own career looks to be stalled. Go back to Hollywood dude!

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