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May 29, 2017


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I specifically bought a ticket to this performance in order to see Sarah's long-delayed (and that's an understatement!:)) debut as "Giselle" at the Met. She was, as we knew she'd be, superb. I was captivated from the moment she stepped on stage, until she and Daniil took their well-deserved curtain calls. I was thrilled to be there cheering her on. Thanks for the excellent and thorough review, H.

Great to hear you were able to make it to the performance, Deb!


As always, thank you so much for your insightful comments. I learn more from you in one review than I do from a year's worth of that so-called Paper of Record.

I was raised on the concept of The Loyal Opposition, so in that vein, here is what I thought, and it's not what anyone else thought:

The first act of the Lane-Simkin Giselle put me to sleep; it wasn't until the Peasant Pas that I felt any frisson of excitement on the stage. It's taken me a long time to figure out what was wrong, but something was very off for me. I have finally realized that the wonderful Lane-Simkin Giselle was an intimate chamber performance that simply did not belong in a barn the size of the Met. I long for the glory days of 40 years ago when ABT danced at City Center. I'd go night after night to see that Giselle in a venue like that, but at the Met? I'm not so sure. Is the prestige of the name 'the Met' really great enough to overcome the total unsuitability of that house as a setting for dance?

As for the Hilarions, I loved Forster's first act, but thought Salstein totally blew Forster away with his second act.

I vastly preferred the evening Giselle; there was star power galore from the minute Hallberg stepped on stage. Everything about the evening seemed better to me, even down to the orchestra and the conducting. As for the Myrthas, no contest. Abrera is da bomb. What a glorious performance, so nuanced; I loved how nurturing she seemed as she summoned her Willis from their graves; she might be an imperious queen, but she cared - something I don't think I've seen before.

The evening performance made me cry, the afternoon one did not - but it would have if it were in a venue suitable for it. I can't stop harping on how much I dislike the Met for dance and always have. That won't stop me though from showing up tomorrow for Abrera-Gomes-Murphy.

Thank you for the rare, honest review. Gillian's dancing is still platinum, but her injuries have made her (rightfully) cautious, and it's hard for me to watch her (though she's a pro who knows how to compensate especially well). I imagine the constant threat of injury is emotionally exhausting.

Alastair Mcaulay has been deleting Instagram comments from people gushing over Lane's performance (to be fair, they were saying it surpassed Gillian's and perhaps he doesn't like competitive comments). I hope he attended her performance.

How was the attendance? I'm wondering if rush tickets have had an effect.

regarding shoe noise, for some reason I hear a lot noise from both Sarah and Maria Kotchetkova, two of the smaller ballerinas.

And of course the only coverage from the NYTimes about any of the three Giselle debuts is an article about how a admittedly technically inferior ballerina makes the role of a ghost/wili more "down to Earth". What a shame for Gillian and Sara to have their debuts go lately uncommented upon.

I enjoyed Gillian and David's performance, and was sad to have not been able to do the doubleheader! I do suspect the lingering hip injury accounts for the removal of the penche in Act I.

Zoot, yes Macaulay was there for both performances, but he has his agenda. He has always disliked the most beautiful women in ballet (Vishneva, Lane, Part, Lovette, Krohn, Abrera). Somehow, they seem to threaten him. His Caligynephobia has been apparent since he arrived at the New York Times.

Rachel, if a tenor repeatedly failed to make a High C, you can bet that Tommasini would report it in his NYT review. If a soprano struggled to make her notes, you can bet that Tommasini would describe it pretty clearly in his review. But the casual ballet goer would never understand from Brian Siebert's review that Misty Copeland failed so miserably in the basic requirements of the job.

And Siebert's focus on her "acting" is simply an effort to back up Gia Kourlas' absolute garbage that she recently penned to help sell her upcoming book on black ballerinas.

The New York Times has an agenda to attract more African-American readers for its advertisers. That is the only reason to even write about Misty Copeland. Certainly her literal dancing does not in any way warrant singling her out for attention. She is a minor talent in a world full of gleaming, brilliant dancers. But the New York Times has an agenda, and unfortunately, more and more these days, it crosses the line between editorial and advertising with growing ease.

Gia Kourlas needs to sell her new book and the New York Times needs to keep flushing through Misty's excrement to attract African-American readers.

The truth is hard to find -- in the New York Times. No doubt about that.

I don't think that featuring Misty is an agenda to target reader demographics. I think the NYTimes is just writing about her because she's the most famous ballerina in America. Her name has become a primary search keyword. If I talk to my non-balletomane friends and colleagues (white or African American or Hispanic or Asian) about ballet, Misty is the only name they know. She was on the cover of Time. They are all more likely to click on an article about her, because they don't know who Gillian Murphy is.

I for one am heartened by the diverse audience Misty brings to The Met. I think Siebert's review did the best it could with the fact that it's difficult to be honest about the shortcomings of someone who is a hero to so many. I've always dealt with her glaring technical failures by reminding myself that she is probably widening the talent pool by getting more young black women interested in ballet, which increases competition and will lead to genius future dancers that we might not have had. Or at least this is how I handle her current monopoly on the classics...

Honestly, I'm more upset about this:

ITA about the link you provided. Ugh.

Most famous, most infamous, most ballyhooed, whatever. Copeland's media reputation, which has been purchased and cultivated with a heavy dose of dishonesty, does not truthfully reflect her actual dancing ability. An acknowledgement that a NYT reviewer has difficulties writing honestly about her artistic output because it might offend readers who don't want to read the honesty (and thus, become unhappy with the paper and not be swayed by its advertising) pretty much sums up our problem here: The truth is hard to find in The New York Times.

I'm absolutely convinced that demographic targets play an ever-present and ever-increasing role in what The New York Times writes about and what their opinions are.

Ellen, thanks for your comment. How far back were you sitting for the performances yesterday? I don't even like the Met Opera House for opera, because I can't afford to sit close enough to see what is going on. Family Circle or Orchestra Row ## actually makes me dislike opera. Sitting in the orchestra sides gives one the pleasure of hearing all of the music twice: first as it rises from the orchestra and second as it bounces off the side wall.

Glad to hear that you will be there tomorrow night. It's going to be something else altogether.


I was sitting Center Row F of the Dress Circle. Budget precludes my sitting any lower down and mobility issues cause me to avoid the steps down to a closer row. I also don't use opera glasses, so that makes a difference.

I'm in a remembering mood today, and I'm thinking back fondly on the week I went to City Center for the Gelsey Kirkland-Charles Ward, Cynthia Gregory-Fernando Bujones, and Yoko Morishita-Fernando Bujones Giselles. Even in the cheap seats those were up close and personal performances.

Zoot, I regularly think myself in circles regarding Misty.

On one hand, Misty is "good" for the ballet world, not only because she's increased broader public awareness of ballet ("Misty Copeland" could fall of the tongue of a person who doesn't know what a plie is), but also because diversity is important, and it is important for children to see people who look like them in all professions.

That said, she simply isn't good enough to be given the vaulted status she enjoys, her lacking is so readily apparent, and she's constantly rewarded with two performances of all of the major roles to the detriment of her more qualified colleagues. And perhaps that is the wrong lesson to teach children.

On the other hand (I feel like Tevye), for the broader audience she brings to the Opera House, they don't know (and possibly do not care) that she isn't doing all of the steps, or that she's an oxymoronically "down to earth ghost," and, as a younger ballet fan, I want to be able to see ABT performances 40 years from now when many of the audience members from Saturday evening's performance will no longer be with us. But if I'm in that seat, I want to see fouttees and hops on point and ethereal Wilis.

So go my circles.

But it's disgraceful that the paper of record has basically not reviewed ABT's productions of Don Q and Giselle this season. Forget the principals - don't the soloist and corps members deserve to have their work reviewed? Isn't that Alastair and team's job?

Oh, Ellen, it doesn't sound like you had the best viewing spot for either performance. By the way, there are no longer any cheap seats at City Center. That place has gotten way too expensive. Right now, our best house for viewing dance is NYCB's theater. If its stage were a little deeper, all of the big classics could fit on it without much trouble.


I'm fully aware of the compromise I make by choosing the seats I did, and I have seen some stunning performances from the back of the Dress Circle. (Abrera/Sklyarov comes immediately to mind.) Do I want better seats, but to go less often, or do I want to see as much as possible from a less than ideal location? I paid my money and I made my choice. I have one more Giselle, 2 Onegins, 1 Whipped Cream, 1 Corsaire, and 1 Swan Lake, all from approximately the same spot. I'll let you know at the end of the season if I thought I made the right choice.

I agree that the the Times should be covering and celebrating dancers who are achieving new artistic heights in roles -- this would seem to be the logical way to excite people and get them out to performances. I read the review of Misty, however, and thought it was quite politely damning; he says multiple times that her dancing is not exciting, nor is it technically assured or effortless looking. Rather, he notes that Misty is most comfortable posing and working through acting sequences with little dancing, and that the applause she received was not warranted by what she was doing. I interpreted "down to earth" as meaning "pedestrian, uninspired, commonplace" in this context. There were certainly no superlatives to be found!

Sarah and Daniil were, in a word, sublime. I was crying out there in the orchestra section. The woman next to me was literally sitting in the edge of her seat. I even heard a husband (no doubt dragged out to the theatre) whisper to his wife "oh my god!" after the Act II PdD. If Sarah doesn't get Principal after that performance then all hope is lost.

Speaking if the ballerina from the previous night, she got a very accurate review in the NYT. I'm glad Brian Seibert had the cajones to write it.

The May 27th afternoon performance had wobbles but it reached perfection more than enough to cover the awkward spots.

Lane was the most beautiful Giselle. I found it very believable that Simkin's spoiled nobleman would throw over another beautiful woman just to be with her. The acting as well as the dancing was fantastic. I was also impressed with out much Patrick Frenette is developing. I also got the feeling that he thought Lane would be the perfect dance partner for him. Also I've noticed Corps Dancer Katherine Williams a lot in the background. She has good form and demeanor. I also have to honestly say that I've reassessed my impression of Trenary. She always came across to me as forced. But she seems to have gotten that under control. She was a lovely in the Peasant pas de deux. Salstein's dancing and acting as Hilarion impressed me the most. The role is usually played like a dangerous stalker. But he was gentle and loving, it does actually make you think that Giselle may have chosen the wrong man.

Lane's mad scene had me in tears. I noticed many other people wiping at their own faces.

What really impressed me about Act II was that both Lane and Simkin didn't turn it into a Me, Me, Me mini-Gala performance. They never broke character, never grandstanded. It was so fantastic.

Yes, I noticed shoe noise from everyone in Act II, not as bad as it has been in the past but still not great. What shoes does ABT buy for their dancers? It has to be the brand.

Simkin and Lane are now an established partnership and they look good together. In any other company, they would be capitalizing and investing in an up and coming partnership. You can be sure NYCB would make it a priority to keep them together. Well, we'll see come fall how much they dance together.

Saturday's matinee was exactly two years after the farewell performance of Paloma Herrera as Giselle at 2 PM on 5/27/2015. I though it was an interesting coincidence and maybe meaningful for Lane and Simkin.

Hi Haglund,

I've been waiting for your review of the Lane & Simkin Giselle. It is exceptional! I was at the performance and wondered if you were sitting anywhere close. I thought the performance was wonderful. I had never seen Lane before and was so thrilled and moved by her portrayal. Your comment about Lane's single as opposed to multiple pirouette is very thought provoking; it's horrid to think management could order a dancer to underperform! Simkin was excellent in every way, and as you said expressive without being over the top. I was happy that he did the brises voles too. True, though, they didn't seem to express desperation. I also read Siebert's review as a polite form of negative critique. I'm expecting McCaulay to fire off one of his "compare and contrast" pseudo scholarly tomes comparing the various Giselles. I was puzzled by Harss's crit of Copeland's performance. While it wasn't praise, I thought she omitted honest criticism and just made nice by accentuating the positive. Thanks as always for your terrific writing.

Hi Haglund, greatly appreciate your detailed review as always. I was lucky enough to be present for the Saturday night performance and to me it was pure magic. Even if the performances weren't technically perfect, my overwhelming feeling was, as you so aptly described, "No one on the planet wanted more to be on the stage in this particular ballet at the moment than they did." I loved it, I cried, and I don't know if it's just because I knew the backstory of what an emotional night it was for David and Gillian, but I felt like it was a once in a lifetime performance both for them and for the audience. David's post really seemed to sum it up:


One final note on the attendance: I was sitting in the center Grand Tier, row F. I literally bought my tickets within 5 minutes of them going on sale to non-subscribers, and I couldn't get anything for two in rows A-E. But on the night itself there were multiple empty seats in front of me. Wondering if people just went away for the long weekend and skipped it? Sorry for them if so!

Along with being technically superior, I thought the chemistry between Lane and Sumkin was very strong. I was even expecting them to kiss, although I know Giselle traditionally doesn't contain any kissing. The way he held her was very passionate and it was quite refreshing after seeing several snoozefest pairings from ABT in recent years.

Great review Haglund!

I echo everyone's praise for Lane and Simkin. Lane is an exceptional Giselle. Her mad scene was heartbreaking, and the Act II PdD was breathtaking. I'm glad Simkin pulled back on the dance fireworks. I was initially worried that he would decide to do his menage of barrels and 540s in the Act II coda.

On the less positive side, I was disappointed with the corp ladies in the matinee performance. In the scene when the wilis were doing the hops across the stage in arabesque, some of those arabesques looked sloppy. I didn't notice the same problem in the evening performance.

It was also my first time seeing Hallberg dance. He lived to all my expectations and then some. His entrechats six (entrechat sixes? what's the correct plural?) in the coda had me holding my breath. I now understand why you want him paired with Stella in Giselle. That would absolutely blow the roof off the joint. Hope McKenzie sees the light.

I absolutely loved Stella as Myrta. I have no idea what kind of magic her arms are made of, but her port de bras is to die for. I can't wait to see her Giselle.

I adored Tom Forster's Hillarion. He gave Hillarion a kind of brutish swagger that made me smile. It really set up a very good contrast between his Hillarion and Halllberg's majestic Loys/Albrecht. You understood why Giselle makes the choice she does. He really knows how to add personality to a role. I noticed something similar when he danced one of the alcoholic beverages in Whipped Cream. I hope he gets to do more principal roles. Forster and Gorak are my favorite male soloists in the company right now.

The Seo/Stearns/Part performance went up on TDF, so I grabbed a ticket. It says a lot when Myrta is much more compelling on stage that Giselle. That's all I have to say about that one.

Thanks Haglund, for confirming everything I experienced and felt at Saturday's Giselle double feature. The matinee performance was so astonishing it made the evening show pale in comparison for me. Whether or not Murphy and Hallberg held back because of injuries, they allowed - at least for me - Lane and Simkin to walk off with the day's honors. I suspect this performance has been building within Lane for many years, and I'm just happy I was able to be there to experience it. I hope it will be the game-changing performance we've all hoped for. I concur with you, bring on more, please, and ASAP!!

I traveled to NYC to see Lane, Murphy and Abrera as Giselle. Thrilled to see Hallberg's return and Gomes's 20th anniversar celebration. So wish Cornejo had been paired with Lane rather than Simkin, whom I have never much cared for, though I was happily surprised that he mostly behaved himself as Albrecht. I didn't much like his Albrecht, while I felt for Hallberg's. Even an injured Hallberg is someone I could watch all day.

I enjoyed Schevchenko's dancing, and I think her resting wili face dropped the temperature in the theater several degrees, but Abrera was stunning.

The matinee was much more emotional for me than the evening performance. I fought back sobs through Sarah's mad scene as I was terrified I would miss anything with tears obscuring my vision, but totally broke down as the curtain fell on Act I. Lane brought exquisite technique and artistry to the role, and just broke my heart. I adore Murphy and Hallberg but her mad scene was marred for me by the ill-behaved ladies in front of me who exchanged mocking glances at each other throughout. Really, folks, if you can't handle emotion, get out of the theater. Especially depressing as these women were a young ballet dancer-in-training and her mother. One would hope that at least one of them would know better. I was pleased to be able to move seats at intermission, but by then the damage had been done.

Very much looking forward to Abrera/Gomes/Murphy and Haglund's review of same.

Thanks, EmilykV. Sorry to hear about the obnoxious behavior of the audience.

While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Sarah dance opposite Daniil Simkin, I, like you, also have been waiting to see Sarah's Giselle with Herman Cornejo -- and of course her Swan Lake. One never knows what might be right around the corner, though. So we should keep our hopes alive – while continuing to chant and complain vigorously.

Agree with all the wonderful comments about Sarah Lane's Giselle. For me, it was reminiscent of Gelsey Kirkland and that's saying something. I, too, was crying and I saw several theatregoers wiping tears at the Act I curtain. I also think the roar of the audience during the final bows was greater than I have heard in some time at The Met.

I would like to add that I thought Daniil Simkin was terrific. I didn't see any of the negatives that Haglund usually points out. He executed everything cleanly and by the book but with that extra pizzazz that makes him unique. The height of his jumps really astounded me. With his physique and the fair complexion and those jumps I was feeling shades of Misha!

To the commentator above that spoke of the chemistry between he and Lane I completely agree. There was a sexual energy between them that I think was really surprising but also very welcome. The last Giselle I saw was (I believe) Cojocaru and Hallberg and the sparks (or lack thereof) left a lot to be desired.

All in all, a momentous performance and I hope management at ABT is taking note of all the accolades Lane/Simkin are receiving from the crowd.

Your review is practically the only one of the major blogs and newspapers about the Lane/Simkin debut triumph. I find it hard to believe that a performance that has been so lauded by ballet fans is being completely ignored.

Lane and Simkin were even granted a curtain call. Which reading other reports is a rare thing for ABT this season.

I feel like I'm in the twilight zone when I read all these raving reviews about she who must not be named.

Writing this outside Lincoln Center after seeing Sarah Lane and Herman Cornejo dance. What a pair!! This Giselle was one of the most naturally musical that I've seen (I come from a music background). Sarah just radiated deep love and forgiveness, and Herman's Albrecht was ardent, then penitent, and always sincere and sensitive. It was like he was so intoxicated with the pure, sparkling Giselle that he recklessly just forgot about his other woman. I've been admiring Sarah in solo roles for years and it's a pleasure to see her in a lead role, I hope she and Herman continue to have many chances to perform together. Thanks to Haglund and the commentators on this post for putting it in my head to see Giselle two nights in a row! (I was also there for Stella and Marcelo... I feel super lucky!)

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