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May 24, 2015


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I wasn't able to attend last night's performance, but your eloquent words make me feel like I was there. Thank you, HH, and kudos to the wonderful artist Stella Abrera!! May this be the first of many staring roles for her at ABT!!

Abrera and Shklyarov is one of those partnerships that could be legendary. He seems to be a quiet, unassuming kind of guy and Abrera has the same quality. There is footage of him dancing with Semionova in Giselle, and he even with her he didn't have the rapport and warmth he had with Abrera. I really wish I could see them together in an intense pas de deux type ballet where they could really show off their chemistry.

And I'm sad that there is no follow up to the momentum Stella Abrera established last night. McKenzie couldn't give her one of the other ballets that Semionova had to give up? It all had to go to Seo?

Stella's performance last night reminded me of the Giselle that I saw in 1960-something with Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev. What I remember most from that performance decades ago was the way Maximova did those sauts de chat from upstage left to downstage right towards the end of Act II, when she is desperately dancing for Albrecht's life--it was as if she never touched the floor in between. That same sensation came over me last night when Stella did them, getting higher, faster, and opening her legs more with each subsequent jump. Thrilling. Also heart-stopping were her supported elongated Romantic-style arabesques, each of which was so beautiful as to seem of another realm. Actually, it was another realm, the realm to which only a great ballerina can give us access.

Dare we hope to see her in Romeo & Juliet? Dare we hope for a promotion?

It was indeed a lovely performance of Giselle last night and such a treat to see Stella in her NY debut. The audience was so supportive throughout and in the curtain calls. Even Shklyarov got into the spirit by exiting the stage to give Stella a solo bow.

Instead of seeing the NY City Ballet matinee, I went to a Giselle double header. Roman Zhurbin as Hilarion in the afternoon was such an outstanding actor that I have to admit that Forster's performance in the evening disappointed. A minor quibble about an otherwise fabulous performance by all the dancers.

I loved Stella's choice to cough slightly in the first act to convey her weak heart. I don't remember seeing that before from other ballerinas.

stella is glowing in those photos, as she should be. She is a star and proved herself worthy of so much more!!! She can carry an entire evening and take our breath away!

Angelica, those racing sauts de chat were thrilling and yes, her leaning Romantic arabesques are peerless.

Stella clearly held her own with this Mariinsky principal. I just cannot get over how good they looked together and how well matched their dancing was.

While I'm sure that Stella could dance Juliet, in my mind, I have already watched her dance with the white scarf as Nikiya. She would be remarkable in that role.

Maybe we will experience the good fortune of having Osipova and Cojocaru not show up.

"200 witnesses," was all I could think as McKenzie stepped on stage before the performance. If this is as miraculous as I expect, there will be 200 witnesses to what you will have done if Ms. Abrera is not promoted this year.

Tourists and irregulars around me had expressed disappointment that David and Polina weren't dancing--they were why some had bought their tickets. I was so overcome with anticipation that I forgot my manners and assured them that they were in for something special.

One of them, an older man, trailed me as I left the theater. "You were right," he said. "Tonight she became a star." I was still crying, and mumbled a thank you, but "She's been a star for years."

So true, JPB, 200 EXPERT witnesses to McKenzie's crimes.

McKenzie treats ABT like it is his private hobby-company where he can waste the taxpayers' dollars, the donors' dollars, and the ticketbuyers' dollars without ever having to explain his rationale for his shit-poor decisions. I'm done being polite about it. ;-)

You're right that Stella has been a star for years. I remember first standing behind her at barre in David Howard's class when she was 16 or 17 years old and being flabbergasted at her potential and artistic intelligence. Her star quality was apparent then. It should be a crime for any so-called artistic director to squander that.

Nice words for Stella:


More nice words from Marina Harss: http://dancetabs.com/2015/05/american-ballet-theatre-giselle-abrera-debut-new-york/

Aussie critic Deborah Jones was in the house too, and I expect will post something soon: http://deborahjones.me

Thanks Anna. Can't wait to read what Deborah Jones says. Much credit should go to the Australian Ballet's Principal Ballet Mistress, Fiona Tonkin, for Stella's beautiful and exquisitely detailed interpretation.

Loved reading your piece about Stella's debut! Thank you! I was so thrilled to be there; I actually burst into tears at the end (I was so moved by her). I was sitting amidst some former ABT dancers, and it was great to watch their reactions to her beautiful performance. I don't want to name names, but one former ABT dancer (and NYCB dancer. There, it narrows it down a bit) was actually cheering in such an infectious way that I feel like I was at at NY Yanks game (if only our Yanks were that good this year, Haglund!:)) and we were cheering on Derek Jeter's last at bat. The love for Stella from her fellow dancers -- including a couple of NYCB principals and some NYCB corps members who also came to toast Stella -- pretty much says it all. She is a dancer's dancers, as well as an audience favorite, and I'm guessing that that means a lot to her, her family and friends (even if the powers that be at ABT don't quite get it.).

Deb, beautifully said. I believe I clearly heard the distinctive cheers from the un-named one. What a terrific night it was.

Stella, through the eloquence of her dancing and not her words, has more than proven that she should deserves a promotion, and not because ABT needs "the first Filipino American principal ballerina"! :)

True, Richard. Devotion to the highest levels of artistry will bring ABT more success than devotion to diversity as a marketing gimmick.

Stella and Sarah Lane have deserved appointments to principal for a long time. The outrage and disgust over ABT's advancement of its least worthy dancers is growing louder and more intense each day.

Hi Haglund,

Love your blog. Now that I'm free I'm able to attend the ballet more and loving it. I did see Stella and Vladimir and was blown away. I was already expecting great things from Stella but knew nothing about Shklyarov. Brilliant on every level!

Okay, I also went last night to see Julie. Believe it or not, I have never seen her dance in person...

I can see how magnificent she must've been ten-twenty-thirty years ago.

She should not have been doing this part, however. She was shaking and falling and hopping all over the place.(and not hopping when she was supposed to be!) And changing integral choreography. She completely lost it on the hops. Hops? That was one of the few steps I could do in my youth. But not only that, she broke character. The look on her face was, this can't really be happening. It was embarrassing but I felt badly for her too. Yes, it's an achingly short career and yes, it's not fair that our bodies break down so quickly, but I paid 100 bucks for that ticket. I took a train in and a cab and I think for that I should get a ballerina who can get the job done. Everyone who goes into the career must realize that by 40, it's most likely going to be pretty much over and maybe even earlier. A few manage a bit beyond that but most. No.

The peasant pas was another disaster. I am not going to say who the ballerina was because again, another mortified dancer on stage. Are they trained to look horrified when they mess up? She's in the corps. She fell out of every double pique endehors pirouette. Finally for the last two, she singled them. Fine. It's a hard step.

But there are how many dancers in this company? I know gorgeous dancers who can't get a job who can do that step in their sleep!

My God! This is ABT. The Met. NEW YORK CITY! Why didn't they have Skylar Brandt do that part? She would've done clean doubles and probably thrown in a triple or two-- also clean and would've been twice as charming. They better promote her and fast!

It was Julie Kent's last Giselle. The theater should've been packed to the brim.

Not even close.

The over-all effect of the performance, (Robert Bolle aside, who I believe also dumbed down his perf so as not to look too good. He did relatively little dancing but is certainly in great shape!) was completely amateurish. I don't think there's a regional ballet company in the country that couldn't have outshone that performance-- by a wide margin! I realize that this is much of what you are trying to convey on this blog. I needed to see it for myself. And for whatever it's worth agree with you completely.

Marianella, please hurry on over here!

Laurel, I'm sorry to hear about Julie's sub par performance but I cannot say that I'm surprised. Her Giselle last year was terrible, too, and terribly unattended. She hasn't been in dancing physical condition for years but hasn't wanted to give up the limelight all the while preventing other dancers from giving us memorable performances. It is disgraceful that McKenzie has allowed her on stage in this condition. It's so easy to recall the excellent shape that Ananiashvili and Ferri were in when they gave their last performances at age 46 and 44, respectively. They are still in excellent dancing shape. Kent has no excuse for her laziness.

You paid $100 - imagine the investment of the whole house that night. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to see what McKenzie KNEW was going to be a crappy performance.

What makes me just as sick is her nonstop ingratiating public expressions of "Thank you - I'm so-o-o-o grateful" weep weep weep. Her career has been finished for quite a while, and she needs to get out of the way.

I imagine that her final R&J will be better simply because there are no iconic Master steps and she can leave out everything that she doesn't want to do. She'll just let Bolle carry her around and that will be all there is to it.

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