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June 16, 2017


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Agreed Haglund-Last night was a great night. Sarah was wonderful and I thought she and Daniil gave solid performances. While I prefer Sarah and Herman together, she and Daniil did have good chemistry last night. At stage door, someone mentioned that they hoped she'd dance again Saturday and Sarah replied that she'd like another performance after rehearsing for it. I'd love to see her and Herman do Swan Lake but I'm grateful I got to see them do Giselle.

Thanks so much for this thoughtful review. I thought Sarah was wonderful, there were moments of her Odette where I literally got goose bumps. I also very much enjoyed her Odile, it was unfortunate about the fouettes though. To me it didn’t take much away from how lovely I found her performance, but I hope it isn’t held against her come promotion time. I really just wanted the night to go perfectly for her and she was obviously disappointed in that moment. She just needs more chances to perform and I’m sure she could bang that section out! Daniil has never been my most favorite dancer but I thought he did wonderfully last night. He brought a certain dreaminess to the role that I really enjoyed, and his ending leap to death was spectacular! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Siegfried go down at quite such a dramatic angle. I’d never seen Alban Lendorf before, and from what I’d read I wasn’t sure I’d like him (I’m still not sure I’d like him, for example as Siegfried or Albrecht) but I actually loved his von Rothbart. One final note, Skylar! She just brings a giant smile to my face every time I see her perform! Overall it was a wonderful night. Brava, Sarah.

Simkin's IG post this afternoon stated that Lane had four rehearsals prior to her performance. If she could achieve this level of art and expression with only four rehearsals, what could four weeks or four months of rehearsals bring? I fully expect to see another Swan Lake from her, with complete technical assurance added to her emotional performance and expressive dancing. Lane's port de bras was made for this ballet. The gorgeousness of her Odette, and the sizzle of her Odile are qualities I won't forget soon. She was so close to nailing those bloody fouettes. Next time, for sure.

Simkin always struck me as a bit inward, a bit self involved as a dancer. But when I saw him dance that Tharp piece (which he didn't seem to like), he only opened up when Lane grabbed his hand. Now that they have had more time to dance together and understand each other, they have made a great partnership. I've never seen him so attentive as he tried to protect Lane throughout her debut. It was touching. And it made his declaration of fidelity all the more moving after the first Pas de deux. Not only was he acting Siegfried, he was promising Lane he would be there for her.

I have to say the fouettes were a minor problem in a performance that triumphed against the odds. Incredible odds, to say the least. Besides she only ended the sequence a measure or two early. The orchestra and the conductor bear some responsibility for the snafu. In fact, I've never seen the orchestra and the conductors so off their game this year. From Ormsby forcing dancers to stick to his tempos to Barker slowing down sections for inexplicable reasons, not to mention the lead violinist flubbing his solo during Teuscher's debut. What is going on with them?

I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the costumes for this production. For posed pictures, the swan costumes look lovely and very 19th century Degas old fashioned. But they cut the dancers off in odd ways. The same problem existed during Degas' time and you can see it in his paintings and sketches. I prefer the standard modern tutus.

Lane gave an almost completist study of Odette/Odile. All she needed was more rehearsal time. Certainly more than just the 4 sessions that Simkin stated on his Instagram. Here is to hoping she gets to build her work in more performances of this ballet.

Thanks for your insights, HH. It was a rewarding Swan Lake last night. I just want to say, in defense of Daniil and Alban, that they may reflect the younger generation and its influence by film. I am a stage director and teacher and many of the younguns' in theater assume their subtlety carries on stage. Opera singers are tending to become too subtle also because of the HD broadcasts. I don't see it with dancers yet, but Alban and Daniil are showing signs of it, at least to me. Is that what Joseph Gorak is suffering from, or he just need oomph? I'm not sure yet.

It took me a while to "see" Alban's dramatic "intentions," on stage, especially after watching him on Youtube (with close-ups). He studied with not only Nikolaj Hubbe, but with Anna Laerkesen, one of the most spiritual dancers I have ever seen. She brought me to tears in Moon Reindeer every night (with the dreamy Henning Kronstam) when the RDB came to NY. Alban's pedigree is superb, let's see how he develops. I sense people find him bland. He's not, at leat to me. Technically he needs to settle into the Russian Style; he's (gorgeously) beefy and there is a lot of him to move around. His Bournenville is amazingly good, although I do feel the beef.

Daniil, in Giselle, was oh, so subtle in moments. For instance, the daisy-petal bit he did with his back to the audience. Did he think a camera would pick it up? He also didn't follow through after the instinctive reach for his sword in the scene with Hilarion. He didn't register a reaction that he just might have betrayed himself. Film acting? He probably thought he betrayed himself, but in a film, the camera would have Hilarion's reaction. I don't know but I get vibes that he and Alban being film-subtle.

In any event, we have two great dancers. Let's hope management notices these, what I assume are stylistic glitches, and set them straight.

I was impressed by Alban's ovation after attempting to tread on Marcelo territory, I told him after the performance that he excelled in the most difficult role at Ballet Theater. He looked puzzled but laughed after I explained that no one has bettered Marcelo in it, but he came very close.

By the way, Kaho Ogawa has the most incredible smile on stage. It radiates. There's a star there, I think, from seeing her Youtube "baby" performances. She has legs like the young Kolpakova.

These are just thoughts I want to share with you and other readers. Am I the only one who senses a dramatic "subtlety" with these two superb dancers?

Sarah Lane thanked Gillian Murphy in her Instagram post for giving her "expert advice" and for staying and taking photos. I do not know much about the ballet world other than watching the performances, but I am sure there is a lot of competition just like anywhere else where the opportunities are scarce and the pressure is high. Hearing that someone who is regarded as probably the premier ballerina of her organization is willing to spend time and effort on advising and helping an upcoming colleague makes me feel really good.
I hope that the Lane/Simkin pairing - in principal roles - will become a regular part of the Spring ABT season.

Eddie, thanks for the comments.

I agree that Daniil (and many others) "act" for the small screen. It's quite a problem in the Met. The dancers know how to adjust their steps for big Met stage. They know how to adjust their makeup for the house. But they don't adjust their acting.

Thanks for reminding me of the daisy incident during Giselle. That really irked me. I can't believe that the artistic director didn't step in and say, "No. That's wrong for this theater. Don't do it that way." Daniil wrecked an important moment in the ballet -- for the audience, that is. Maybe he really enjoyed it himself, however. 🙄

Re: Alban. For this viewer, his beefiness interferes too much.

Kaho Ogawa has the most beautiful arabesque in the entire corps. I think it's because her proportions are perfect, geometrically speaking. Plus she seems to have a naturally fluid upper body. She doesn't have to try to make herself look elegant; she has a natural elegance. Thank you for pointing her out to us, Haglund.

Sarah was sublime. It was a thrill and a privilege to be in the audience watching and cheering her on (I had tears in my eyes throughout). Thank you, as always, H., for your excellent and thoughtful review and insights. I am looking forward to seeing Veronika (whom I adore) today, too!

Thanks Haglund for the beautiful review.
Brava, brava, brava Sarah!

Thanks for writing this up. Haglund. So happy for Sarah!

Eddie, do you think the prevalence of cinema broadcasts (not for ABT, but there are a number of those for other companies and dancers might go there and watch performances fromacross the pond for example) also plays a role in the "small" acting? I guess it would be difficult to strike a balance that would project into a large opera house but doesn't look odd in close-ups on a cinema screen.

Kalima, good question. In my work with actors, I see they need to adjust their performance to each medium. I can't see a balance. It's an actor's job to have a flexible technique. Maybe Ratmansky may have a say in it because his staging of Swan Lake has very "vivid" mime in it. Another solution may be in body language.

When I started going to the ballet 60 years ago, we were just getting out of the rule to never reflect acting in your face. See Ulanova, Fonteyn, Alonso and early Plisetskaya in classics, except in DonQ, in which she was delicious in the first act, but reflected no emotion in the dream sequence or the last act. It was done through the body.

It's a different time and I'm not sure what the answer is but to be flexible and adjust to the medium.

As for ABT's best Rothbart—Gomes and Hallberg have given me chills, but let's not forget Vladimir Malakhov either, or Carlos Molina. This dynamic role is a good indicator of the state of the male roster, because in competitive times it's a real knockout. Ten or fifteen years ago there was never a shortage of dancers who could perform the role well. Stiefel and Radetsky too.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to get to NYC this year, but it sounds like there's a little more vibrancy on the women's side currently. That is a change! I'm glad to hear about Simkin's development. I'm a fan of Blaine, but when it comes to missed opportunities, I always think of Jared Matthews first.

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