More Updates (scroll down and see comments)
We'll update as we receive more. This report just into H.H. from Anna C. after the second performance at the Australian Ballet which concluded an hour or two ago:
She was divine. Those arms! That face! That lightness! Didn't hear a block hit the notoriously noisy SOH stage all night. The beginning of the mad scene, huddled in the middle of the stage, tear-inducing.
Act II was beyond beautiful. I have no words.
Thanks, Anna! (She was in Row S and zoomed the camera lens to get this shot of bows.)
4/15 PM Update:
H.H. just got another report in from Joanne A. who saw Stella's second performance. Joanne may be able to forward pictures of the evening's program to us a little later. Here is what she wrote to us:
Well Haglund, what a lovely night from the whole company, the Australian Ballet really can pull off the big classics. But to Stella, her Giselle was light, joyous, flirty and so in love. When she first sat on the bench and let Albrecht (Ty King-Wall) sit beside her, her face was a study of the tension of early attraction. She has the most beautiful arabesque! Sweet, light jumps and what lovely feet she has, and beautiful, beautiful arms. Her hops en pointe down the diagonal were a study in devotion to Albrecht. It seemed to me they had decided to play it as if this was not their first meeting - they were quite openly in love. Her mad scene was nicely played, she found the right kind of dramatic and I felt her betrayal and heartbreak. Albrecht's despair was also real, and he left that final tableaux heartbroken.
Act 2 was beautiful, the combination of Stella's expressive feet peeling away from the floor into those lovely arabesques and developpes with gorgeous arms and upper body makes a romantic tutu perfect for her. The 'dead arms' of Giselle are so hard to get right, but Stella's were light as air. When the morning bell tolled, her love and forgiveness as she wrapped Albrecht in her arms was so poignant. Poor Albrecht, I didn't want her to bourree off the stage into her grave either!
As for the rest of the company, the Peasant Pas de Duex was a picture. Brett Chynoweth and Miwako Kubota danced right on through a couple of nervous spots and in all were just lovely. I don't know who's coaching the male dancers right now, but both Brett and Ty King-Wall landed some excellent jumps. Clean batterie and great elevation. Ty's series of triple tours followed by seemingly endless entrechats had the normally reticent Sydney audience very happy when he finally collapsed in his Act 2 exhaustion. Valerie Tereshchenko as Myrtha comanded the stage and I hope this turned out to be a promotion performance for her. So nice to see this depth of talent emerging in the company. Brett, Miwako and Valerie are definitely three to watch.
All in all a performance to remember and I'm so glad I managed to make it along. I really hope you get to see Stella's Giselle one day soon!
Joanne, thank you so much for your report. We're all dying here. Just dying.
4/16 PM Update
How nice it is that there is one ABT soloist who is garnering praise and accolades for her actual dancing and artistry this week.
From Australian dance critic Valerie Lawson:
Stella Abrera, guesting for the Australian Ballet as Giselle, gave an extraordinary performance this week, dancing the role with such subtlety and nuance that her transition from a naïve young woman to a spirit was a joy to watch.
Abrera moved from playfulness to modesty, from fragility to frenzy, and finally to a state of grief so intense in the mad scene that her depiction was one of the most moving, tear-inducing I’ve ever seen.
. . . .
Her stillness, as well as her speed, was a major factor in her performance.
As she learns the truth about the deceitful Albrecht, she stands still for what seems like a very long time. Her back is curled over, facing away from the audience, her legs placed in an unballetic position in what could be a moment from Mats Ek’s contemporary and gangly Giselle.
. . . .
She was promoted to the rank of soloist at American Ballet Theatre in 2001 but why she is still a soloist and not a principal is a puzzle.
Much thanks to Valerie Lawson for such an eloquent review.
What a crime to all of ballet that an artist who is deemed brilliant in Giselle internationally cannot dance the role in her own country with her own company while an artist who cannot execute the iconic steps and convey the characters of Swan Lake in tryout after tryout is handed the principal role on a silver platter on the home stage.
What a cesspool of corrupt influence American Ballet Theatre has become.