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June 21, 2017


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One of those wonderful little Kourlas interviews (eyeroll) in the NYT today with Vishneva. Was it me or did she not come off very well? She sounded like a spoiled brat saying Ballet Theater needs guest artists (NO IT DOES NOT) and that once it gets too political at a company, she jets off to another company. Most working dancers don't have that luxury. I get that she's earned her career choices, but she seemed completely out of touch.

Vishneva's Dianglish sometimes comes off odd, so I wasn't surprised by the awkward sound of the "interview". But lord, the implementation of this formulaic writing by Kourlas is obnoxious and beneath the grey lady.

Vishneva has spoken out before about the absence of discipline in the current generation of ballet dancers and students on a professional tract. She's not the first one to do so. It's interesting that she's going to start a school in Vaganova's backyard, so to speak. What type of students will she have -- those rejected by the higher profile schools? Maybe she's going to hang out with Lopatkina and wait for Tsiskaridze to crash and burn after which the two of them will swoop in and save the Vaganova Institute and the Mariinsky Ballet. It would not be bad to have Lopatkina heading the MB and Vishneva heading the Vaganova Institute. In fact, I'll bet most of the world would welcome that with great cheering.

I am also on board the Blaine train. Even when he has a rough night (some moments of the peasant PdD in Giselle stand out) I will never forget how he saved the day in DonQ earlier this season. He is such a princely dancer but does not get the roles he deserves. So nice to hear of his beautiful interpretation of this role, and I look forward to seeing it myself later this week.

What a blessing Ballet Theater audiences have in Marcelo's Onegin, which I saw opening night, then Roberto Bolle last night, which I was also fortunate to have seen and then David Halberg, who I plan to see. As my Italian student said after last night's performance, "Wow!" Wow is right to see such artistry in an era where it is in short supply; plenty of good dancing, but supreme artistry of days of yore is a rare bird. The two technical marvels subjugated their prowess to let us see into the characters' souls. Bolle's charm and million dollars smile was so effective in the "Mirror Scene." Marcello did it with sex-appeal. Hey, is this ballet I'm talking about?!

Vishneva was glorious, as was Ferri. Two throwbacks to the days when dancers unashamedly poured their hearts out for all to witness.

A special wow to Blane Hoven, who did not make a move that wasn't motivated by heartfelt emotion, with superb dancing to boot!

Little Daniil, whom I adore is growing up, maturing. He dazzled as Lensky, maybe too much so, but what a treat to see such technical perfection, again, maybe too much so in a role that must transcend steps; I was aware of his preparation to do his trademark gazillion turns, but what turns! Blane dazzled when I occasionally marveled at the gorgeous use of his feet, but generally, I saw Lensky's soul in Blane's performance. With Daniil, I observed a spunky, coltish young man who descends into despair; hey, shoot me, but I thought he was terrific.

Sara Lane was delicious as Olga and Roman Zhurbin was perfect as Gremin. I loved James Whiteside's cool approach; another ballet veteran friend whispered to me, "There's the next Onegin." Is he crazy? I'd go see him if he does do it. James is blossoming as a performer.

Am I the only one who was dazzled by Kaho Okawa's little star turn as one of Onegin's fantasy women in Act III? Her bourrees were exquisite and the way she unfolded as Marcelo lifted her was breathtaking, to me at least. And, Oh, that smile!

The corps was fantastic, especially the boys' entrances in Act I.

I was at the first performance of Onegin in NY with the Stuttgart with Marcia Haydee and Heinz Clauss, which left NY emotionally spent. This batch is very close to that sublime time.

By the way, thanks, HH for the tribute to John Cranko, who left us (tragically, and too early) with a great, enduring masterpiece.

I will really miss seeing the Vishneva/Gomes partnership (and over the top curtain calls!) but given the fact that Alessandra Ferri had 2 performances as Tatiana this week, my guess is that Vishneva will be back for a few select performances next ABT Met season.

Dear Haglund--

Thank you for your postings, all of which I read with much appreciation, as I do the comments. I finally got to Onegin this afternoon and am still having, as an old drama school teacher used to say, "the vapors"! I don't think I have ever seen Abrera dance with such daring and abandon while maintaining such perfect form. Glorious! Stearns I expected would dance well but I was taken by how characterful he was; his is not the most expressive face (those features are small for a big stage) but all he needed to "say" was in the body. Trenary lovely (expected)--Gorak's solo before the duel was so exquisitely done, so heartfelt, that I had to put my hand to my mouth to keep from howling like an animal. Cranko was a genius, a clear channel for the spirit of a work that is profound. So gratifying to experience so lofty a home team performance. Wonderful conducting by Barker, as well.

If only New York could have what London has at Covent Garden: Alternating ballet and opera during the season.

Ferri was indeed glorious tonight, as was Sarah Lane (what a wonderfully memorable Olga!). Bolle was perfect Onegin, feigning melancholy even more than feeling it, and Simkin was great as Lensky. I like Whiteside as Gremin. His pas de deux with Tatiana was magical.
I've never seen Vishneva in this role, but as my mother said Ferri personified the "true Russian soul". It's always such a treat to watch her dance.

I was lucky to see both the Vishneva/ Gomes and Ferri/Bolle casts. Vishneva/Gomes threw all they had into their passionate performances. Ferri did a fine job portraying a nerdy girl with her head in her books who blossomed into the gorgeous lady of the manor. Bolle always amazes with his strength, but I could not get over his smooth and light landings. Bolle's good looks made him an effectively disarming cad. Bolle's Onegin is dangerously evil, since he is so charming in a sweet way in Tatiana's dream. This makes his humiliation of Tatiana all the more psychologically devastating to her. Ferri and Bolle were stunning in the third act and I wanted to get up and shout "you go girl!" after she threw the lout out. Simkin and Lane are shaping up to be the couple to see for the future.

I also saw both Vishneva/Gomes and Ferri/Bolle and found the contrast between the two evenings to be very exciting. V/G brought the drama, the passion and, in the case of Vishneva vs. Ferri, Vishneva brought the far better dancing. Sorry, Ferri fans, but I found her to be a crashing bore and technically inferior. (But, then again, I thought her Juliet exactly a year ago was also a disappointing bore.) Bolle, on the other hand, was truly Onegin to me in a way that Gomes was not. Monday night the Onegin/Tatiana relationship was the center of it all, whereas last night the journey of Onegin was the focus, with the Onegin/Lensky relationship equally as important as the Onegin/Tatiana one.

As for the other main roles, I preferred Whiteside over Zhurbin as Gremin, Simkin over Hoven as Lensky and neither Boylston nor Lane as Olga. Neither Olga did it for me.

The big surprise of this season for me continues to be Simkin. Gone is the mugging, the over-the-top demand for attention, and in their place is character development. Kudos to whoever is coaching Simkin and has brought out his acting ability.

Love the differing Tatiana/Onegin casting opinions. How lucky we are to have two masters on board this week.

I thought last night’s cast was sublime. There was something so much more moving about having Tatiana be older, her seeing a younger woman in the mirror, pinning her dreams on an impossibly handsome stranger. There was an urgency and realness that I haven't seen at ABT in a long time. Vishneva may be the better dancer, but I find Alessandra’s characterizations to be more deeply lived-in. Her palpable, painful, and subdued heartbreak in Act II was a masterclass in itself. When she emerged in her Act III red dress, I gasped. Assoluta indeed.

Whiteside was fabulous. He left all of his occasionally screechy bells and whistles at the door and emerged as the most unexpectedly noble, handsome figure. His pas de deux with Ferri was stunning, so much so that you didn’t want Onegin to come in and break up their union (which should be the general feeling at the end). His devotion and warmth was a thing to behold.

And sweet Jesus, Roberto Bolle has presence to spare. He could play cards in the corner the entire time and I would be riveted. Has anyone ever looked better in a black cape or kept such beautiful lines into their 40s?

After the mandolin dance/Juliet’s friends fiasco of last year, it was heartening to see the corps up to the task of Cranko’s striking choreography. I'm always so confused by people who say there isn't much dancing in Onegin. For the men especially, the slowed solos and pas de deux can expose any and all technical shortcomings. I loved seeing Simkin focus on stillness and fluidity.

NYT should print your Onegin review. I can't stand the pompous, self-aggrandadizing Alistair who denigrades anything that is not Ashton. What a bore to read. For me, it was quite a treat to see how each leading man inhabited the character of Onegin-David was a perfect asshole, cold and aristocratic (reminds me of Ralph Fiennes's movie version persona) while Roberto was a charming asshole who made it easy to believe why Tatiana would fall for him. As much as I love Ferri, I was not thrilled with her come back as Tatiana. She struggled with technique even after changing steps in order to make it through the performance. I took Willy's class with her not long ago and she couldn't do the simplest combinations. I want to remember her the way she was, not a charicature of her former self. Jeffrey Cirio really surprised me with his emotional and tragic portrayal of Lensky in Act II as I never thought of him being suitable for this role. He was well-paired with Skylar who is a natural Olga and always expressive.

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