« If we wish for it, it will come . . . | Main | observations 1-31 »

January 30, 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Devon's performances this week were a revelation. I was privileged to see both of them.
In addition to her fabulous technique, phrasing and musicality which you described so well, I wanted to share an anecdote from Act III that highlighted her acting choices. There is a moment in the pas de deux when Siegfried bends to kiss Odile's hand and she snatches it away. This exchange usually bothers me as most Odiles play it as a nasty gesture and Siegfried reacts with surprise and hurt. With Devon and Marcelo it was a seductive exchange. For this cast, Odile slowly, teasingly withdraws her hand with a sultry gaze while Siegfried watches mesmerized. You could almost see Marcelo's Siegfried thinking "Wow, so this is the sexy game you are playing. I am SO in!"

It seemed that Marcelo must have spent some time coaching Calvin Royal as the purple Von Rothbart as his acting and sexiness in this role surpassed my expectations.

Such a stunning performance.

Hi, Jennifer. So happy that you were able to see both of Devon's performances. And yes, that moment you described in the Black Swan PdD was brilliantly played. I was absolutely thrilled with what she came up with in the way of characterizations for both Odette and Odile.

Having just read Sarah Kaufman's follow up Swan Lake summary review in the WP https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_danc/a-show-of-virtuosos-swan-lake-shimmers-with-strong-women/2017/01/29/e17c35e8-e664-11e6-acf5-4589ba203144_story.html?utm_term=.7ec93e6955f6 , I must say how amazed I am at the media's continual, unabated effort to make excuses for Misty Copeland's flawed technical performances.

This is the 21st century. There absolutely is shame in not being able to accomplish the basic technical requirements of a role while simultaneously publicly complaining about how the role and others have been denied to you because of racism. There absolutely is shame every time a ballerina fails to meet the choreographic goal. Kauffman now wants to change the height and distance of the goal posts for Copeland to make her look better. What a load of crap. She needs to buck up and practice on the left and the right until she can do the steps -- just like every other dancer does. Less time spent media-ing herself and more time practicing is what she needs. She's made a career and tremendous wealth out of celebrating her over-muscled legs. What good are they if they can't pump a few releves?

McKenzie has over-gifted Copeland with opportunities and she has continually failed to rise to the challenges while preventing other, much better dancers from performing in the roles. Now he has gifted her two Swan Lakes at the Met this spring where she will again fail technically, two Don Quixotes where she will fail both in the fouettes and and hops on the pointe, and two Giselles where she will fail in the hops on pointe.

Kaufman's continual effort to redefine Copeland's failure as some kind of success is for the birds, but not for Swan Lake.

Kaufman states: "With all the experience available in that company, surely heads can come together to aid Copeland . . ." Aid Copeland because she's too busy flashing the public instead of putting in the hard work . . . ? How about just having the talented, hardworking, CAPABLE dancers to the worked instead - Unaided. Also dismayed that whenever googling images of ballet past and present, we now have Misty flashing her parts among the likes of Gelsey, Cynthia Gregory, Sara Lamb, Tiler Peck, etc. Alternative facts indeed!

Agree, Karen.

Kaufman claims "many ballerinas have successfully substituted another step to produce the same effect of speed, control and brilliance." Not true. Not many great ones, that is.

Her example of Maya Plisetskaya is ridiculous. Even the suggestion that Copeland's situation somehow is similar is simply ignorant. Who really thinks that ABT should model its political structure after the Soviets? That is what we are talking about - political maneuvering in the art form where fundamental standards and skill requirements are set aside for select individuals who the political powers favor.

You are so right Haglund, that there is shame in not being able to execute the steps. The blame lies squarely with Copeland. To give her two performances of Swan Lake, Giselle and Don Quixote is insane. It is amazing how many excuses are made for her. Give those roles to a real ballerina, Sara Lane.

I agree, SM. Sarah Lane has waited far too long for her hard-earned chances.

Kaufman is clearly attempting to advance "alternative facts" or fake facts in making the claim that "many ballerinas have successfully substituted another step to produce the same effect of speed, control and brilliance." That simply isn't true. It is nothing short of a failure, a humiliation, a departure from standards and a grand disappointment to the audience when a ballerina can't do the steps and substitutes something easier.

Haglund's most favorite ABT ballerina has never danced Swan Lake and may never. While I don't know for certain, I suspect that it's because her body will not longer withstand what is required for preparation and performance, and she has enough integrity not to make a bunch of compromises just so that she can place herself under the spotlight on the stage in this iconic role.

I read that WP article as well and I'm aghast that a critic is so ready to make these apologetic excuses on behalf of a professional dancer, let alone a principal in one of the country's foremost companies. It's saddening as well that Google searches show her referred to as a "headliner" for tours such as these, when there are many other dancers who deserve the same, if not more recognition. I just don't understand how someone is cast if they can't do the steps properly, point blank. I would be ashamed to take a role away from a colleague who could actually step up to its demands.
I recall Sara Mearns posting on Instagram about practicing fouettes during a Peter Martins Swan Lake run, "no tricks, no fancy stuff, just clean 32", and I so respect and prefer a dancer who knows the importance of continued hard work and practice and mastering the basics. It's a joke to have someone at principal level who cannot achieve this.

Along with the whole audience, I was thrilled by the production on Thursday night with the incomparable Teucher and Gomes. Jennifer's remarks above and yours, Haglund, are spot on.

Thanks for the review, Haglund. Very insightful and educational as always, particularly for someone like me with limited knowledge of the technical aspects of ballet. I was able to see both Devon and Veronika this weekend and loved seeing how they both approached the role. Who is your "most favorite ABT ballerina" that you mention above? Stella?

Hi, Sharon. So glad to hear that you were there on Thursday along with your confirmation of the audience's reaction. The Sunday audience, also thrilled, gave Devon and Marcelo an en mass enthusiastic standing ovation. This was an ovation for their actual dancing, not for some perceived celebrity status.

It's not as though Plisetskaya was incapable of performing 32 fouettes, either: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmsokIChU-0&t=3m39s

Thank you for the link, Matthew. Maya may have opted to switch to piques when she was close to 50, but as you pointed out, she was mighty capable of doing the fouettes during her career. That clip is awesome. I don't remember a whole lot from 1959 but it must have been a pretty good year if Maya was banging out fouettes like that while Toni Lander was knocking down Etudes around the world.

You allude to the precise reason that Kaufman's citation of Maya as an excuse for letting Copeland off the hook is bunk. Copeland has never been able to do the fouettes or hops on pointe. And it was in Etudes where ABT's early willingness to dumb down the choreography for her (as a corps dancer) was first noticed by the audience.

Great review, thank you Haglund! Your commentary is truly chicken soup for the balletomane, especially those of us who could not make it to the performance.

Teuscher was truly breathtaking. I hope to see her get more opportunities, as she is the future ballerina of ABT.

Regarding Kaufman's critique of Copeland, I agree with you but I also think Kaufman is in a very difficult position. Misty has a large loud claque, and I'm not a professional critic but have been told I'm a racist when I have pointed out Misty's technical shortcomings (and I'm of no importance to anyone). Anytime anyone speaks negatively about Misty, you have to worry about the racism labeled being thrown at you. Unfortunately, that puts writers like Ms. Kaufman in a difficult predicament, given that the WP does not need the headache of their arts critic being called out by Misty's followers. To be honest, I'm happy that she even brought up the fact that Copeland has technical shortcomings. Normally it's glossed over due to her "celebrity."

Great review as always, Haglund. Like Nicole I could not make it to DC either. Thank you for the link to the WP article. What a lot of rubbish! Seldom does one read excuses for a dancer from a dance writer. I plan to see Part in Swan this June. Too bad Whiteside instead of Gomes or Hallberg is her partner. I skipped SL last year for that reason. If Veronika Part at ABT is truly endangered, will have to be content with less than ideal partnerships.

Kristen, so happy to hear from another one who made it to Devon & Marcelo's Swan Lake. I agree that Devon is the future of ABT but she's also a throwback to its glamour days of Cynthia Gregory and Toni Lander. Also Schevchenko is making great strides in her artistry – technique has never been a problem – and will someday (hopefully) land on stage as Odette/Odile.

Nicole, we're honored with your "chicken soup" label. That's actually one of our goals at H.H. -- to bring the flavor of the performance in writing to those who couldn't be there.

Marta, you missed a good one, but try to make it to Devon's S.L. this spring in addition to Veronika's.

Looks like I'll have to take a day off from work to see Devon at the Met!

Hi Haglund,

What an amazing performance this was!! I, too, made the trip from NYC to DC on Sunday. I had to get up before dawn, but it was well worth the hassle. People have been praising Devon for the past few years, but she never really stood out for me... until now. I also think that Devon was extremely fortunate to dance with Marcelo Gomes. He's the perfect partner, in my opinion. Calvin Royal III was impressive, too, and I'm sure he'll continue to grow into the role of von Rothbart.

This was one of these performances I'll never forget. I am so, so glad I made the trip. It's a shame that NYC audiences won't have a chance to see this magical pairing.

On Sunday, I left home at 7:00 am, caught a flight and arrived in D.C. to see the performance, hopped on another flight and arrived back home just before midnight. It was well worth every bit of effort.

I had high expectations from that very short Manaus video last August, but the reality surpassed my wildest imagination. Your review said it all! I hoped to see a very promising debut, but what I saw was a fully developed Odette and Odile. This was no doubt the alignment of natural talent, very hard work, and some good coaching. I was in the front row a bit to the right so could see facial expressions quite well. At the end of the black swan coda, Devon flashed a brilliant, triumphant smile at Marcelo, which he returned. This was of course in character, but they seemed to me also to be saying to one another “we just put on one hell of a show!”

Oh my gosh, "B", you came to Devon's Swan Lake from NYC, too! Fabulous!

And Patricia flew up from Atlanta for it and sat in the front row! Patricia, recipient of the first and only HH Pump Bump Winged Commuter Award can get to anywhere from the Atlanta airport for any performance - even if it means suffering through overnight stays in a less than gleaming terminal.

Yep, we all saw a special show -- that's for sure.

The comments to this entry are closed.