The snow can blow all it wants in D.C. this weekend, because Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale and The National Ballet of Canada are coming to the Lincoln Center Festival for five performances this summer (July 28-31st).
This year, World Ballet Day LIVE will include pre-recorded footage from a wide range of regional dance organizations geographically close to the five participating companies. Confirmed companies as of this press date include American Ballet Theatre, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Boston Ballet, English National Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Houston Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, National Ballet of China, Nederlands Dans Theater, Northern Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Scottish Ballet. . . . .
Joining The Australian Ballet for guest spots throughout the program will be esteemed fellow dance companies Bangarra Dance Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the National Ballet of China. . . . .
[During the Royal Ballet segment] A portion of the program will be dedicated to a discussion of the future of ballet in the U.K., with Royal Ballet Director Kevin O'Hare and Directors from Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, and Scottish Ballet.
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.
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
Neither sweltering 95 degree temperatures nor dangerous dew points would stay this Giselleophile from his appointed rounds in Saratoga Springs where on Thursday afternoon the National Ballet of Canada presented its matinee performance – outdoors. The audience that braved the stifling heat was predominantly groups of senior citizens and a small group of youngsters. An elderly couple even brought their little certified therapy dog with them along with her little certified therapy water dish. Tail translation: the pooch was feeling privileged if not smug for having gotten in without a ticket.
Manned golf carts branded with hospital insignia stood by at the top of the hill overlooking the amphitheater in case any of the old folks went into heat-related distress. Not only did none of the old folks wimp out in the heat, but they were the first to leap to their feet two hours later with a cheering ovation for the performers.
The performance began with the fetching former ballerina and current artistic director Karen Kain appearing before the curtain to thank everyone for coming out in the dreadful heat for the afternoon performance. Ms. Kain now qualifies as a senior citizen herself, but she looked like she could have strapped on a pair of pointe shoes and twirled out a Spessivtseva variation with no problem. We all should age so gracefully.
The National presented Peter Wright's production of Giselle which is still today danced by several companies worldwide. It's not one of Haglund's favorite productions of his favorite ballet mostly because of the inert reading of Albrecht, the insignificant entrance and departure of Giselle, and the transformation of the Peasant PdD to a PdQ with some of the most challenging aspects deleted. The company's dancers are worthy of an upgrade.
Back in the 1960s when Balanchine suggested the stage specs for the SPAC amphitheater, he probably never envisioned that an elaborate production of a fussy Petipa classic would be presented there. The stage lacks the kind of depth that is required to accommodate long lines of Wilis with accompanying scenery while still leaving space for the principals to bound around. It looked a little cramped, but everyone managed to adapt.
Principal dancer Jillian Vanstone was an exceptional Giselle in the afternoon and was reminiscent of Ms. Kain in aplomb and wonderfully centered technique. As the village girl in Act I, she combined qualities of sweetness and naïveté without degenerating into little girlness. The elements of her variations – pique arabesque penche, hops on pointe, balances, pique turns – were all tossed off easily and joyously. Her mad scene was intensely captivating without the use of Osipova-like histrionics. So emotionally stirring were her Act II series of rapid entrechat quatre followed by the slow aching beauty of her arched arabesques that sniffles could be heard in the audience. Every moment that Vanstone was on stage was pure pleasure to watch.
Albrecht was danced by First Soloist Naoya Ebe, and here is where Karen Kain has her work cut out for her. Ebe very recently debuted as Albrecht; Thursday probably wasn't more than his second or third time in the role. From the waist down, he was a technical marvel: beautiful legs and feet with immaculate lines. Pirouettes were impressive. Beats were okay. His lifts of Giselle were awesome. But from the waist up, nothing – literally nothing – registered. Albrecht was a complete blank: correctness without nobility, mime gesturing without any import or weight. In the Wright production, Albrecht doesn't have much character in the first place; but Ebe's Albrecht had none at all.
After a few shaking arms in her first arabesques promenade/penche, First Soloist Stephanie Hutchison delivered a mighty Myrtha full of revenge and determination. The shallow stage limited the size and scope of her grand jetes, but she was still able to convey a grand authority. Myrtha's fierce attendants Moyna and Zulme were danced by Tina Pereira and Stacey Shiori Minagawa.
First soloist Etienne Lavigne's Hilarion was a character toward whom the audience had to feel ambivalent. One moment he was eliciting sympathy while appearing to be the right guy for Giselle. The next moment, his angry, dark side emerged. Haglund wasn't so sad to see this Hilarion go into the drink.
The Corps de Ballet was uniformly excellent in all respects in both acts. Their feet were supple. Arabesque lines were strong. Port de bras was lovely. Everyone was engaged theatrically.
The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra conducted by David Briskin, who conducted for ABT for many years, sounded rich and forceful and was occasionally supplemented by the buzzing of nearby cicadas.
While it was very thoughtful of Karen Kain to come out beforehand to thank the audience for braving the dangerous heat to see the performance, Haglund thinks that we owe thanks to the dancers for performing under such strenuous conditions. Hopefully, they'll stop by Saratoga Springs again soon.
The HH Pump Bump Award, a flaming hot Prada wedge-stiletto, is bestowed upon Jillian Vanstone for her beautiful interpretation of Giselle.
In the dead of night. At the center of the forest. Under a shadowy moon. Amid the crazed chirping of crickets. The Wilis will descend upon serene and unsuspecting Saratoga Springs Spa State Park – first flying down the bike paths brutally clearing out every man in sight, then sweeping through the greens and water hazards of the golf course until finally – finally – coming to rest on the stage of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Yes, the Wilis are coming. And they will be cranky.
The National Ballet of Canada lands at SPAC in July for a three-day stint that includes three performances of Giselle (Wed, July 17th 8pm and Thu, July 18th 2pm & 8pm) and an evening of Kudelka's The Four Seasons and Crystal Pite's Emergence (Tue, July 16th 8pm).
Ethan Stiefel told reporter Valerie Lawson of The Australian that his 2012 spring performances in Le Corsaire and Swan Lake with ABT at The Met will probably be his last with the company.
The new artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet spoke more about his collaborations with Johan Kobborg which include a new La Bayadere that the two will prepare for the National Ballet of Canada's 2015 season. Designs will be by Robert Perdziola who is well known for his opera sets and costumes at The Met Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Australia, and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
The article in The Australian, which has an interesting typo in the penultimate paragraph, also seemed to confirm that Stella Abrera's Aurora in RNZB's Sleeping Beauty later this month is still a go. Fist Pump, Baby!!
Haglund is going to pencil-in on his calendar the November 16, 2011 world premiere in Toronto of Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet for The National Ballet of Canada which is marking its 60th anniversary this year. Richard Hudson and Jennifer Tipton, who collaborated with Ratmansky on The Nutcracker for ABT, will be part of the production team which will have use of the company's brand new $4.4 milllion (Canadian) 59,000 square foot production center. The music will be Prokofiev's score.