Rachel Moore's present to ABT on its 75th Anniversary is to bail out on the declining institution. Now if we could only get the same present from her mate on the artistic side.
The LA Music Center has hired ABT's CEO as its new president and CEO, replacing 65-year-old Stephen Roundtree who resigned last December after 12 years to take over the Center Theatre Group which is one of the LA Music Center's tenants. The CTG had been rumored to be the group that would be hosting Susan Stroman's Little Dancer with Tiler Peck later this year. As of December, though, it was still in the discussion phase.
Mr. Roundtree's last reported salary at the Music Center was $740,889 with benefits of $109,398. Moore's last reported salary at ABT was $291,537 with benefits of $9,117.
There is plenty of progress on our new Culture Shed in the Hudson Yards District on the West Side of Manhattan! (Click on image to enlarge.)
Applause for New York's construction workers for whom Sunday is just another work day. They're building a city within the city over top the Hudson rail yards that will include the new magnificent Culture Shed, a new Neiman Marcus store, world headquarters for companies like Coach, and more.
Haglund was down in the Hudson Yards District scoping out a spot for his new exotic coffee house, HuYa Daddy. Hopefully, it will be just as successful as his private tea & wine club up by the Met Opera House, Tanninwowzer. Interested investors can drop us a note here at the blog.
All of this building is happening along the Highline elevated linear park that snakes up the old West Side railroad line. Currently at the 30th Street juncture there is a summer-long participatory art event by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson that involves thousands and thousands of white LEGO bricks.
Check it out at W. 30th Street along the Highline:
Were it not for the extraordinary dancing of Sarah Lane and Herman Cornejo along with a few secondary players last night, this reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty would have seemed more like salvage. That's not to take anything away from salvage art - because, well, Haglund is a collector.
Here is a photo of two of his favorite pieces (click on image to enlarge): the artist’s “canvases" are ceiling tin panels reclaimed from late 19th Century buildings in the area that were demolished for redevelopment. The artist prepped the battered tin panels with a trademarked process and then created his own art over them. Reclaiming and repurposing architectural salvage as art created something new and beautiful that also literally came from the late 1800s. Salvage makes our lives richer.
Of the three Auroras who Haglund has seen in Alexei Ratmansky's new production (Vishneva, Murphy, Lane), Sarah Lane’s version comes closest to capturing the qualities of ballet’s bygone era while infusing it with modern sensibility. Eliminating the common virtuosity of current times – the large sweeping legs, multiple pirouettes, grand jumps, high extensions, audience milking – and substituting small swift articulation, delicate poses, and more of a darting quality than lyrical, has its risks. It’s suited to a smaller dancer like Sarah or someone who can rein in expansiveness inherent in 20th-21st century dancing. It’s also suited to an audience that has a taste for something other than McDonald’s-quality ballet.
In Act I of last night’s performance, Sarah seemed a bit unsettled at first, but nevertheless, throughout the night she delivered a musically sensitive performance of Aurora with arabesques that slowly closed into passe while en pointe and arabesque fouettes where the front leg held a shapely 90 degree extension while on balance. The articulation and swiftness of her allegro were unstrained, unrushed, and joyous even though the tempo was quite a bit faster than the tempi given to other Auroras. Her coupe jetes were light and covered a good amount of space while keeping the torso high above the hips. Those initial battements to the side that came in quickly to passe were breathtaking in their eloquence. Sarah’s musicality throughout the night, particularly those supported pirouettes that opened brilliantly fast to arabesque, reminded Haglund of Margot Fonteyn. Her port de bras is now one of the best in the company - so natural, generous, lengthened, and integrated that it often draws the eye.
Princes with long, skinny arms should never be part of a Rose Adagio crew. Aurora needs strong arms like those of Blaine Hoven and Roman Zhurban that she can depend on. (Blaine and Roman were assigned to Vishneva’s Aurora.) Calvin Royal’s Spanish Prince arm wavered like a flapping wing and provided almost no support for tiny Sarah’s balances. At times, it looked like she was trying to balance him instead of vice versa. But it seems that she was prepared for the lack of support (being fully experienced in that regard) and was particularly self-reliant on the first of each set of balances. The remainder of the Prince crew (Duncan Lyle, Craig Salstein, and Grant DeLong) got Aurora around with greater assurance.
Once her Prince Desire arrived on the scene, however, Sarah’s Aurora fully blossomed. She and Herman Cornejo were exquisite together - perfectly matched physically and temperamentally. With his own variation, Herman woke up the audience which seemed sleepy from the nonstop parade of costumes - like it had eaten a heavy meal with too much wine. If there is one thing that makes almost every Sleeping Beauty production less interesting than it should be, it’s the lack of choreography given to Desire. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know – we have to live with it because that’s the way the ballet was conceived. OK, so we’ll live with it, but be forever unsatisfied.
There's really no reason, though, for us to continue to be dissatisfied with the substitute for the fish dives – a double en dedans turn in attitude devant that ends with a severely leaning extension in ecarte. In the first instance last night, the whole move very nearly pulled Sarah off the ground, which may be exactly how it originally evolved into the fish dive - by mistake. Their final pose – a deep, deep fish going the opposite direction with both of Aurora's legs crossed behind her – was very pretty, indeed. We hope someone got a picture of it.
Our Lilac Fairy, Devon Teuscher, didn’t have as clean a performance as earlier in the run. The variation is a killer, and it just wasn’t Devon’s night.
The fairies and attendants were messy last night, out of line, out of sync. The Fairy Violente is becoming increasingly annoying. Again, we have to ask, is this very hard reach for humor something that was in the Stepanov notes or is it Ratmansky’s idea? It doesn’t work. The costume is hideous. The wig is ugly. We withheld applause.
Our Diamond Fairy, Skylar Brandt, was brilliant and glistening but also a little loud in the feet. Princess Florine (Misty Copeland) and The Bluebird (Gabe Stone Shayer) were heavy and lackluster. The Bluebird had trouble with his tours and leaps in second position and, if Princess Florine even tried to do the hops on pointe, we didn’t see them get off the ground. The reverberation in the ankles from every eschappe was evident. It all looked very simplified and mundane – especially when compared to the illustrious performances of Trenary & Simkin and Abrera & Hoven. Maybe Princess Florine is saving herself to dazzle everyone with fast single pirouettes inserted in place of fouettes in Swan Lake.
Courtney Lavine and Tom Forster as Cinderella and Prince Fortune were a breath of fresh air. We wish we could see more of these two dancers before they, too, begin withering on the vine. Actually, we wish we could see them hook up with the Royal Ballet when it comes to visit this month. And Sarah and Herman, too.
Because there has been so much to discuss with this production over the weeks, we have overlooked mentioning what an excellent job Alexei Agoudine has done in the character role of Catalabutte. He makes the highly animated mime look like the norm and also important. Even his work on the side of the stage where he reacts to what is happening in the center has been enjoyable to watch.
The H.H. Pump BumpAward is bestowed upon Sarah Lane whose artistry continues to glisten and grow despite the evil fairies around her.
Prior to the Royal Ballet's performance at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, June 24th, there will be a Dance Dialogue with Dame Monica Mason, former Artistic Director and Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet, and David Pickering who is the RB's Education Administrator.
Dame Monica will discuss her career with the Royal Ballet highlighted by video clips of her performing in Kenneth MacMillan's Song of the Earth. How great will it be to be able to compare Dame Monica's own performance to those of the current generation of RB dancers during their performances that begin in two weeks.
The event will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium (NYPL for the Performing Arts @ Lincoln Center) from 5PM - 6PM. Admission is free and open to the public but RSVP is required. Either call 646-792-8377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If McKenzie is not bothered by the height differences between Cojocaru and Hallberg or Osipova and Hallberg, he should not be bothered by height differences between Sarah Lane and Marcelo Gomes or anyone else.
Sarah knows the role of Juliet and can be ready on a moment's notice to dance it. Everyone knows that she would be the hit of the week – and maybe that is exactly the problem. The dirty politics and enormous purchasing power of one ambitious soloist seeking celebrity at all costs is costing the most talented at ABT their opportunities and costing the audience the joy of seeing one of its most beloved artists rise to the occasion.
We need Sarah Lane as Juliet on June 17th which has opened as the result of Osipova's withdrawal. In fact, she should have gotten the nod when Semionova withdrew. Had that happened, we could now have the opportunity of seeing yet another one of our own step into the role and sweep us off our feet.
The small-mindedness of McKenzie keeps ABT on its tried and true course into the chamber pot.
Legs come and go in ballet and torches get passed, but, oh, 'twas an artfully arranged Passing of the Legs this weekend in Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Forsooth, Maria Kowroski, who shall commence anon her maternity leave for several months, gave an especially joyful, sunny performance as Titania on Friday night. Titania isn’t a role that requires a tall, especially long-legged ballerina, but the ballet seems to work better when one is cast opposite a somewhat smaller and overtly determined Oberon, such as Joaquin De Luz in this performance. Their dancing was glorious, and the comedic timing between these two artists was superb and spontaneous. Joaquin dazzled with the power, speed, and pinpoint accuracy of his allegro all afternoon, and Maria swept her majestic legs through Mendelsohn’s potent phrases to create her own poetry.
Rebecca Krohn (Helena), Sterling Hyltin (Hermia), Jared Angle (Lysander), and Amar Ramasar (Demetrius) were deliciously melodramatic. Antonio Carmena’s spirited Puck and Kristen Segin’s darting Butterfly, which they danced at both performances, really controlled the flow of energy on stage. Savannah Lowery’s Hippolyta was an awesome show of strength; now here’s someone who can deliver blazing fouettes. Adrian Danchig-Waring’s Bottom was hilarious in his uncertainty about how to react to Titania’s affections.
Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle gave lyrical and flowing qualities to the Act II PdD whereas Ashley Bouder and Adrian Danchig-Waring on Sunday were more energized by the athletics in the choreography. Both were wonderful to watch.
Sunday’s matinee, the final performance of the spring season, included two stunning debuts. In the role of Titania, Peter Martins cast a new apprentice who at Friday’s performance was standing in the back of the corps de ballet behind Maria Kowroski. A few weeks ago, NY Dance Project uploaded its extraordinary photos of Miriam Miller, which you can see here. The length of limbs, the inherent grace in the arms, and the serenity in the face that she brought to the role of Titania was really something to behold. Besides the arcing sweep of legs similar to Maria’s, Miriam has that same coolness and composure. Her extensions need strengthening but the quality of her movement and lines were simply exquisite. What an afternoon she had, in no small part due to Ask la Cour’s steady, confident partnering in the role of her Cavalier. He also partnered Maria in Friday’s performance with his customary elegance.
The other debut was Anthony Huxley’s Oberon. Holy cow. It’s hard to think how to describe his brilliance other than to say that it is the magnitude of the Sun. His performance as James in La Sylphide still flashes before Haglund’s eyes several times each day, and now his Oberon - so distinctly his own but bears theatrical similarities to De Luz, is another magnificent accomplishment. It is no wonder that he was promoted to principal immediately following his performance yesterday.
What a freakin' exciting weekend it was in New York: beautiful Maria’s last performance before motherhood on Friday, a Triple Crown Winner on Saturday at the Belmont, two brand new glorious debuts on Sunday afternoon, two highly deserved promotions to principal, and topped off with Christopher Wheeldon’s Tony win on Sunday night. After a weekend like this one, winning the lottery would feel so ordinary.
The H.H. Pump Bump, a fiery Prada stiletto, is bestowed upon Anthony Huxley who is burning up New York stages this year with his quiet-fire classicism. It will be hard to wait for the fall season to start.