This evening The Australian Ballet kindly published on their social media this lovely photo by Kate Longley of our favorite Giselle's arabesque penche. They say she's "divine". Yup, we know it to be true.
Stella Abrera will be Calliope to Roberto Bolle's Apollo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall on November 27th, 28th and 29th in a program entitled Dudamel & Bolle. Devon Teuscher and Hee Seo will dance Polyhymnia and Terpsichore. Subscriptions go on sale April 7th, and single ticket sales begin on August 23rd.
Meanwhile, Down Under in Sydney – Come on H.H. Team 6 B.A.D, what's going on down there?!
West Siders in Manhattan are very excited about the anticipated takeover of the Whitney Museum of American Art from the East Side. Our new Whitney, another curious design by Italian starchitect Renzo Piano, opens on May 1st. It certainly looks better than the Pez Candy Dispenser that Piano designed for the new NYT headquarters, doesn't it?
The museum sits between the Hudson River and The High Line in Chelsea's Meatpacking District. It will include 50,000 square feet of indoor gallery space and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space that faces the High Line.
All of the construction workers get a free year's membership to the museum.
The new artistic director of the Culture Shed is Alex Poots. He is the Founding Artistic Director of the Manchester International Festival in the UK and the acting Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory here in Manhattan.
London's Daily Mail spotted Mick & Melanie climbing into a limo in Manhattan recently. Oh, this hurts. It's not a good time for one of Haglund's favorite ballerinas to be distracted. Preparations for ABT's Met Season are about to move into full swing – maybe Mick is Melanie's warm-up swing.
Anyway, this is an entertaining read, particularly the comments. One reader noted that Mick has a face like a map of Iraq while another wondered how it felt to be with a guy who has to use more hair colour than you do. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Haglund wishes that Melanie and a few of his other favorites like Courtney Lavine, Tom Forster and Leann Underwood would pack up and move to London to dance. Yes, it always seems like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but really, right now, where is it more parched and lifeless than at ABT?
Speaking of London - Osipova is injured again and had to withdraw from rehearsals for a week and performances of Balanchine's The Four Temperaments at the Royal Ballet. What - they wouldn't create a Fifth Temperament for her?
So Osipova is injured and Olga Smirnova is STILL injured. Yet, McKenzie is still selling tickets as though Smirnova is going to perform in La Bayadere during the Met Season. Oh heck, maybe she'll dance in soft slippers – ok? If she doesn't at least dance La Bayadere in soft slippers, how will McKenzie be able to make a splashy announcement that she's a new ABT principal thereby avoiding the promotions of the company's authentic classical stars, Stella Abrera and Sarah Lane?
The full casting for Alessandra Ferri's return to the Royal Ballet in Wayne MacGregor's new Woolf Whistles Works has been announced, and RB-omanes are wondering aloud why the company's principals are all in the first cast.
To our faithful readers in Sydney, Australia: Haglund hopes that you will get some good bootleg vids of our Stella Abrera as Giselle in TheAustralian Ballet's performances at the Sydney Opera House on April 13th and April 15th matinee. We'll pay good ole Yankee dollars for them.
Maybe someday we'll have the opportunity to see our own Stella perform the role that she was destined to dance. Meanwhile, the rest of the world gets to enjoy it.
The Australian Ballet has just announced that Stella will perform the title role in Giselle at the Sydney Opera House on Monday, April 13th and Wednesday, April 15th opposite Principal Dancer Ty King-Wall. She is, of course, a Royal Academy of Dance Genée Awards Gold Medal winner which apparently is meaningful to most everyone except for Kevin McKenzie who would rather saddle us with a clumsy, inelegant horseface for Giselle than the beautiful, classically-gifted Stella.
Photo: Jojo Mamangun/Ballet Philippines
Photo: C. Siniguian/Ballet Philippines
Stay tuned. Thanks to our H.H. Team 6 BAD (Ballet Activities Division) in the South Pacific for the heads-up and for keeping us updated.
Haglund caught yesterday’s NYCB matinee which was the second performance for a crew of newbies. Emilie Gerrity as Sugarplum, Taylor Stanley as Her Cavalier, and Ashley Hod as Dewdrop were proof of the remarkable depth of talent in this company and the variety of stage personalities.
Emilie displayed a beautiful, creamy texture in her dancing. Her movement was unhurried but always on the music and glistened with energy. She was immediately likeable without being pushy, as they say in sales. We knew that Taylor Stanley was going to out-cavalier nearly everyone. So handsome with princely authority and graciousness, he showed great confidence in Emilie while always being spot-on with his hands when she needed him. He acquitted his variation well, but could have used a brisker tempo for the turns in a la seconde. Ashley Hod was gorgeous as Dewdrop. Her limbs are extraordinarily long – really, really long – and she seemed to have them well under control. When those legs extended in a saute de chat, they were quite the beautiful sight. None of the difficult tricks were a problem for her, and she tossed them off with a warm, genuine smile.
Unity Phelan and Silas Farley poured spiced brandy into their Hot Chocolate. Alexa Maxwell could have used some in her Coffee although she managed the choreography very well. Claire Von Enck as the main Marzipan Shepherdess got the steps, but didn’t present with the polish and authority that Alina Dronova and Erica Pereira did earlier in the season. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Harrison Coll’s Candy Cane. Haglund is loving this dancer more and more. He seems ready to explode with energy every time he is on stage and has an engaging stage personality. Not everyone who debuted in this role this year cleared the hoop, but Coll made it look easy.
Haglund also caught the second performance of Lauren King and Jared Angle. Teresa Reichlin substituted for Tiler Peck as Dewdrop. Lauren showed great progress in this role, and seemed to relish the freedom that came with having such a fine partner. She held the stage and the attention of the audience magnificently. Her technique was secure, and she danced with more spaciousness than in the past. Jared was quite wonderful as a partner, but oy, those turns in (far from) a la second with a flexed foot were horrendous. As the saying goes, "You grew that leg; now lift it.” It’s really time for Jared to walk away from this particular role.
Erica Pereira and Anthony Huxley shone brilliantly as Sugarplum and Cavalier earlier in the season. Triumphant might be a more appropriate description. First, the pairing of the two dancers was exquisite, if not perfect. She made him all the more handsome; he made her all the more elegant and grownup. Erica built the energy and excitement into her role gradually so that when she hit and held her glorious arabesque balance following the tough promenade in the PdD, the audience went bonkers and roared as the two dancers finished off with a magnificent fishdive that was a bold exclamation point to their very significant artistic statement. Both dazzled in their solos, but together they were magnificent. Haglund hopes to see this pairing a lot more in 2015.
So, 2014 is behind us, and we’re as thankful for that as not.
The highs included:
Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews in Giselle with Houston Ballet, and Yuriko’s moving Prayer variation in one of her final appearances in Coppelia with ABT. Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Who Cares. Our Trumpeter Swan, Veronika Part, as Odette/Odile. Denis Rodkin as Spartacus. Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle in the rebirth of Chaconne. Stella Abrera’s triumphant and exquisitely danced performances with Alex Hammoudi in Ratmansky’s Nutcracker. Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, and Abi Stafford in Balanchine’s Nutcracker. Anthony Huxley in everything he danced.
Most interesting nights at the theater included: Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for NYCB. Edward Watson at the Joyce Theater in The Metamorphosis. Angelin Preljocaj’s Spectral Evidence at NYCB.
The year’s cinema highlights included: The Bolshoi’s presentations of Ratmansky’s Lost Illusions, Pierre Lacotte’s phenomenal Marco Spada, and their incredible, unmatched Nutcracker by Grigorovich with Denis Rodkin and Anna Nikulina. The Royal Ballet’s presentation of Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae.
Thankful to the internet for: World Ballet Day in London, Sydney, Moscow, Toronto, and San Francisco. Veronika Part and Jared Matthews in Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas at the Mariinsky Festival. A glimpse of Veronika’s Giselle at the Mariinsky Theatre. A glimpse of Stella Abrera’s Giselle at Ballet Philippines.
The clearest example of best and worst: Best: all casts of Duo Concertant at NYCB Worst: all casts of Duo Concertant at ABT
Greatest sadness in ballet in 2014: Losing Ivan Nagy. The senseless departures of Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews, Sascha Radetsky, Eric Tamm, and Luis Ribagorda from ABT that followed on the heels of the senseless departures of Roddy Doble, Simone Messmer, Joseph Phillips, and Irina Dvorovenko.
2014’s lows: The long injury lay-offs of Ana Sophia Scheller, David Hallberg, and especially Jennie Somogyi. ABT's continued over-reliance on inferior guest dancers and the marginalization of Sarah Lane and Stella Abrera, who McKenzie undoubtedly hopes he can finally get rid of this year.
Without a doubt, the worst of the worst in 2014 was the relentless propaganda from Misty Copeland with her false claims of victimization from racism, false claims of accomplishments, and substitution of media saturation for the hard work required to build a career honestly. Her twisting of Kevin McKenzie’s testicles to get principal castings that she neither deserved nor could perform better than her more deserving colleagues drove away support from all of ABT – now a disgusting cesspool of corrupt influence and declining artistic standards.
The Mariinsky Ballet has added a Sunday, January 25, 3:00 pm "Chopin: Dances for the Piano" performance to its BAM schedule, possibly due to demand. Sometimes It's hard to gauge demand for BAM performances because they engage in the practice of blacking out seats to make it look like there is a greater demand than there is. Whatever the reason, that's good news about the added date.
There is no indication (yet) that the added performance will have a different cast than the one on January 24th.
Single tickets went on sale today to BAM members. General ticket sales begin on December 8th.
One of our Washington, DC Haglund'eelers was recently in Sydney, Australia and caught a performance of ABT's Gillian Murphy dancing Nikiya in the Australian Ballet's new La Bayadere opposite Kevin Jackson. The production is by Houston Ballet AD Stanton Welch, who was long associated with the Australian Ballet as a performer and resident choreographer.
Thanks to JN for sending along these photos to share with everyone. She's the only one around here who will have had the opportunity to see Gillian's Nikiya this season. ABT has slotted Gillian only as Gamzatti for the spring Met Season while giving away four performances of Nikiya to guest artists and two more to an import. Only two of the eight performances of ABT's La Bayadere will be led by a true ABT ballerina in the leading role of Nikiya.
Bows with Gillian, Kevin Jackson (Solor) and Laura Tong (Gamzatti):
A better picture of Laura Tong's costume:
Laura Tong as Gamzatti with the Raja:
This poster outside the front of the Sydney Opera House depicts soloist Robyn Hendricks. JN saw her dance the role of the 3rd Shade at Gillian's performance and said that she was very impressive.
Speaking of Stanton Welch, he has scheduled Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews to dance the Act II PdD from Giselle at Houston Ballet's December 5th Jubilee of Dance in Houston. Thanks for this heads-up from Haglund'eeler Patricia.
Beginning tonight at 7PM Pacific Daylight Time U.S. (10PM Eastern Daylight Time U.S.), the San Francisco Ballet will begin broadcasting the whole 20 hour shebang on its YouTube channel. What a terrific thing to do for all of us, and we thank San Francisco Ballet very much.
Why not stop by to watch San Francisco Ballet's livestream and afterward send them $5 or $10 with your thanks on their special Kickstarter page. Even if everyone who watches the livestream only sends $1, it will amount to a tidy sum. (Just ask Hillary or POTUS.) Drop a buck or few in the basket.
The Australian Ballet Tue, Sep 30, 7pm (PDT),10pm (EDT) The Bolshoi Ballet Tue Sep 30, 11pm (PDT), Wed 2am (EDT) The Royal Ballet Wed Oct 1, 3am (PDT), 6am (EDT) The National Ballet of Canada Wed Oct 1, 7am (PDT),10am (EDT) San Francisco Ballet Wed Oct 1, 11am (PDT), 1pm (EDT
Later this year when Gillian Murphy dances in Australian Ballet's new production of La Bayaderestaged by Houston Ballet'sStanton Welch, she'll have to do it without the live snakes that Welch employed to slither around on stage when the Houston Ballet and Joffrey Ballet performed his La Bayadere. Australian snake handling laws are more strict than in Houston or Chicago. Sadly, rubber snakes will have to do.
Speaking of Australian Ballet, Steven Heathcoathas rejoined the company as its newest ballet master.
Here are a few fine clips from Yuriko Kajiya's final ABT performance and an interview that aired on Japanese TV recently. Sure wish we had the dates of her and Jared Matthew's performances in Midsummer Night's Dream at Houston Ballet next month. Can someone please work on getting us that information AND also find out if they will be performing in Giselle when Houston Ballet visits Detroit on November 1 and 2? That would be helpful .
Back to Australia –– it's doubtful that there is a single person in Queensland who isn't aware that Veronika Part's Swan Lake on Friday, August 29th is going to be beamed into cinemas across Q'land when ABT performs at QPAC. But if there is anyone who has forgotten, let this be your reminder not to miss it. This beam will be a dream.
Lucinda Dunn, Australian Ballet principal and wife of Associate Artistic Director and former ABT principal Danilo Radojevic, is set to retire from the stage in April after 23 years with the company.
Australian press has just reported today that Radojevic has also decided to leave his longtime job at Aussie Ballet.
Wonder if any of this has popped up on the radar of the Royal New Zealand Ballet which is hunting for a new artistic director to replace Ethan Stiefel who is finally coming home to New York. Radojevic at RNZB would be pretty perfect. Come to think of it, Radojevic running ABT would be pretty good, too.
The State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater, born in the Fall of 2013 in Vladivostok, Russia, and for whom American Joseph Phillips is a Principal Dancer, has been invited to perform at the Bolshoi Theater.
The company will take its acclaimed production of "Fourteen" to Moscow this year. The multi-disciplinary work choreographed by Primorsky's Ballet Director, Aidar Akhmetov, is set to Shostokovich's Symphony No. 14 and poems by F. Garcia Lorca, G. Apollinaire, W. Küchelbecker and R. Maria Rilke. It stars Inna Ginkevich (Death) and Artem Yachmennikov (Poet), both formerly of the Stanislavsky Theatre, and Joseph Phillips as the soldier.
The dates of the Primorsky performances at the Bolshoi will be announced in a joint statement by the two theaters soon.
Wow, Phillips' work in Vladivostok sure beats carrying the spear for Kevin McKenzie.
The Australian Ballet's repertory is as rich or richer than American Ballet Theatre's. In addition to most major full length classics, AB's rep includes Billy the Kid, Ballet Imperial, Birthday Offering, Concerto, Facade, Fall River Legend, Forgotten Land, Gala Performance, Hamlet, Kettentanz, Paquita, Song of the Earth, Song of a Wayfarer to name very few of the nearly 400 ballets by over 140 choreographers that it has at its disposal. The company dances Cranko, Bejart, Robbins, Petipa, Ashton, MacMillan, Kylian, de Mille, Tudor, Welch, Ratmansky, Tetley, Balanchine, Wheeldon, and many other choreographers.
With good planning, AB could have landed in New York last week like a visiting team and slam dunked its way to victory. It could even have made us forget that year when we had to put up with Luc Longley. But instead of coming to town to win, AB came to town simply to play its version of an interesting game. It turned out not to be such a good game plan at all.
It's been a long time since NY saw a performance of Eugene Loring's Billy the Kid. AB has as its Associate AD Danilo Radojevic an acclaimed Billy during ABT's Baryshnikov era. Haglund would have loved to have seen how that character was passed down to the Aussie dancers. Instead, AB annoyed us with Wayne McGregor's Dyad 1929 during its repertory program.
It would be a mistake to refer to Dyad 1929 as a ballet – a mistake made by the NYT. The only reason anyone would call it a ballet would be to try to give it unearned respect or credibility. It is choreography of some sort and was performed by a ballet company, but it is not a ballet. Ballet is defined by a vocabulary that is rich and extensive with precious few dialects. It's a language that doesn't hold an annual conference to decide which new pop culture words will be added to its latest edition. It's a language that allows exploitation only after it has been mastered. Without that all-important initial mastering, the variations on pronunciation and reduction of vocabulary and grammatical structure turn the language into pidgin ballet.
McGregor's Dyad 1929 was full of quirks and choreo-morphemes with little meaning. It needed a singer standing in front of it.
The company opened the program with Luminous which was a selection of divertissements from its repertory that were cleverly woven together with a film about AB's history. Each piece taken out of context of its whole ballet looked like the stuff one sees at competitions. However, Haglund still retains the image of Rachel Rawlins' lovely feet engaged in a flurry of low entrechat quatre and tiny saute passes from Act II of Giselle which served as a reminder of the beauty of doing things the right way.
The final piece on the repertory program was the aboriginal based Warumuk––in the dark night. Choreographed by Stephen Page for a collaborative performance of his Bangarra Dance Theatre and AB, Warumuk relayed in contemporary dance language some of the myths of aboriginal astronomy. Aspects of it were interesting. The major problem was the dull modern choreography. There are only so many ways one can spiral the upper body and sweep the arms around on the floor while kneeling or seated. However, the music, lighting, costumes, and scenery did much to sweep this New Yorker into a different time and place.
Haglund would report on AB's re-telling of Swan Lake except for the fact that he left at the first intermission on Sunday. Swan Lake doesn't need continual rebuilding like a better mouse trap. There are more than 4400 U.S. patents issued for mousetraps. Still, after all these years of innovation, tweeking, and uber science, the best mousetrap is still the cat. Leave the cat alone.
The AB used the NYCB Orchestra for all of its performances. What beautiful music they made under the baton of AB's music director, Nicolette Fraillion. The musicians really seemed to enjoy playing music from Giselle, and it was downright frightening just how well they played it. Yes, it could happen and we all know it could - Giselle could be on Peter Martins' top secret agenda. At least we know the orchestra would sound wonderful. Arturo Delmoni's violin solo during Swan Lake on Sunday was beautiful enough to bring tears. It almost made Haglund stay for Act II.
It's great that AB came for a visit. They are cordially invited to return but they should bring a better game plan.