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June 20, 2019

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Thank you for this. I just flew in today to see tonight’s cast and tomorrow’s matinee, and I wondered if Herman would be dancing carefully. You have helped me manage my expectations. I probably should not have watched my Acosta/Rojo Manon DVD every night for the past two weeks! The last time I saw Manon was in Houston, and it was an outstanding performance that I will never forget.

You are a Ballet Warrior, Patricia.

For your sake, my sake, and everyone's sake, I hope Herman shows up tonight to dance. We all need this performance.

I clearly remember that incredible Manon in Houston with Yuriko Kajiya and Aaron Robison!

Well, you got your wish!

And I’m less of a warrior these days...I haven’t spent the night at LaGuardia in years.

Yep, they put on quite the show!

Stella Abrera just posted some past Manon photos on her Instagram acct, and there are two of Sascha in the original Jailer costume that you describe.

Thanks, Patricia.

The substitution of pants for tights looked stupid, especially when all of the other guards wore the white tights. It reminded me of when McKenzie wore his sweatpants through the final act of the televised R&J with Makarova.

Ahh, I had complicated feelings about this performance. I saw the Monday and Friday casts, and I'd been looking forward to both for about ten years.

I think Lane and Cornejo have all the goods, but they weren't deployed here, not this week. Agree completely with Haglund on the missing components. My mother, who's been going to ABT since the 70s, called them "too pose-y, too pretty, and neither beautiful nor broken, but full of potential." If you check Lane's Instagram I think you see why; she wrote a lengthy post about how Manon is a vapid girl who has to "learn the hard way" about "values," which I find disappointing. MacMillan once explained Manon as being not afraid of being poor, but ashamed. Seymour has described many MacMillan heroines as essentially flirtatious girls in over their heads. I don't think Lane has grappled with either of these elements (the ballet's class problem, and its gender problem). Great Manons tend to either decide that she's a completely feckless, sexual creature, who's unleashed in a world that she at first controls but then loses to (Ferri) OR that she's a coquettish pleasure lover who also loved Des Grieux, and truly believes that she can enter this world for a few minutes, make her way out of the tenuous lower middle class, and then get out, only to find that it's impossible, and that she'll die for her disobedience (Sibley). She either covets every pretty object in front of her in a glorious lust, including Des Grieux, or she happens upon luxurious things and finds herself imagining what it might be like to be someone else.

Lane hasn't figured this part out yet. The coat scene reaaally stood out as a totally wasted moment. She ran for it, but didn't seem to relish it. The ballroom scene had the same problem. She enjoyed the male attention, but neither enough, nor sufficiently uncomfortably. She just wasn't present. As for Lane's technique, of course it's perfect, we all know that--but it's not been adapted for the role. I do want to see her again after she's... done a little homework about pre Revolutionary France and what it was like for nonwealthy women. I'm also going to see her with Cornejo in Sleeping Beauty, which I expect to be spectacular.

As for Monday, well, I know how Haglund feels about Seo, so I'll be brief, but I'm begging you to see her in this, by everything that's holy. I swear on my shrine to Alessandra and Julio, to which I pray every Spring season, this was the most important Manon I've ever seen. If you're inclined to give her even half another chance, let her win you over in this role.

I saw Monday’s Seo/Bolle and Tuesday’s Lane/Cornejo. Bolle partnered well, but his technique is eroded such that his first solo was excruciating to watch. Seo danced well and give it her all, but she was a blank, a complete cypher. The standouts of the evening for me were Whiteside as Lescaut, Abrera as his mistress, and Hammoudi as the jailer. I thought the evening dragged and would never end; in fact, I seriously thought of giving away my ticket to Lane/Cornejo because I didn’t think I could sit through Manon a second tedious time. What a mistake that would have been! Lane/Cornejo were sensational and the evening flew by. What a difference a night made.

I’d like to say a further word about Whiteside. I’ve never been much of a fan, but this season something is different. After seeing him as Harlequin in Harlequinade, Olga’s fiancé in On the Dnieper, and Lescaut in Manon, I’m naming Whiteside MVP of this season. He’s been outstanding each and every time, and I’m not going to automatically try to avoid him in future.

I thought Herman and Sarah took it up several notches on Friday night. There was more of everything: passion, risk-taking, chemistry, characterization, energy. It was a wonderful experience.

It occurred to me how the characters of Des Grieux and Romeo can and do overlap in places but the characters of Manon and Juliet are as different as ice cream from Tipsy Scoop and Mr. Softee. A Tipsy Scoop deposits a big extra something into your system that temporarily alters your reality. Sarah definitely bent reality last night.

I went to see Bolle on Monday and Thursday. He appeared slow on Monday, but he was much better on Thursday. In fact, the entire cast took it up a few notches in order to give Bolle a worthy send-off. Seo was much more emotional on Thursday. The celebration was grand and it was a testament to Bolle that Veronica Part, Irina Dvorovenko and Julie Kent came to bid him farewell. Bolle never had the highest jumps or the fastest turns, but he was not about the tricks. I just loved his exquisite line, extension and his ability to make a ballerina shine. He chose the right time to retire, and he will be missed.

Manon fans:

I found a fabulous 30 minute excerpt of the Paris Opera Ballet production of Manon to tide us over until the next live performance. Not sure this link will work but the title was L'Histoire de Manon. Hugo Marchand and Dorothee Gilbert 2015. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGtSnTKgmFE

Loved the acting.

Thanks for this, Jennifer. I love Dorothee in the first three pdd. She might be a little too wonky for my tastes in the final swamp dance, though. In the first three, I loved watching how her turns would flip-flip-flip like a coin around her axis.

You've probably already seen this but here's a very old complete version from the Australian Ballet featuring Steven Heathcoat and Justine Summers. The final pas starts right after 1:43:14, and it's a doozy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRCA5pOjVUg

Allesandra Ferri and a young Bolle:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T4EeeBvAWms&t=2370s

Extraordinary. Period.

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