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March 22, 2023


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The salient words here are "if carefully promoted." C'mon, ABT, let's make this ballet A BIG DEAL. It isn't often that we get new full-length ballets in this digital age. Bring it home, Cassie!

I think she will bring it. The three casts (so far) are tantalizing. I can't wait to see how each of the three Titas conveys her "I'm stuck in a situation" journey and resolution.

This is a ballet that is on my urgent list to see! I read the book several decades ago and loved it! Christopher Wheeldon is a wonderful choreographer!

I saw LWFC last night at Segerstrom. NYC, you're in for a real treat, Wheeldon knocked it out of the park. A full length 3 act story ballet that combines the best of ballet, Broadway, film,magic, and more. It's a complicated story, but follows the book pretty closely. The sets, design, and use of lighting and videos were intricate and amazing, and the costumes and music also helped the Mexican setting.It's a huge cast, we had Sunmi Park as Tita and Daniel Camargo as Pedro, a perfectly matched couple who delivered more than enough drama and passion. OK, at times erotic and sexy sometimes it was over the top, but very entertaining. The final pas de deux was beautfully passionate and left me in awe. Wheeldon is definitely a showman and this production should appeal to a wide audience.

Thank you Christina! I'm so happy to hear this. I plan to see all casts at least once when it opens at the Met. No doubt about it, Wheeldon has the full skill set for making full length ballets. So excited to see this!!!

LA Times gave LWFC a great review! https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2023-04-01/review-story-ballet-like-water-for-chocolate-segerstrom-review

In other news, NYCB announced soloist promotions for MacKinnon, Takahashi, and two others (though I sadly lost the original Instagram post that shared this news).

Here we go. Alexa Maxwell was the one other. https://www.balletherald.com/3-new-york-city-ballet-dancers-promoted-to-soloist/

There is a nice positive article in the April 1, 2023 Washington Post by Celia Wren about story ballets taken from literature. Worth the read.

Thanks, Georgiann. Here's the link, but I believe that it may be behind a paywall:
I love Yuri Possokhov's imagination and musicality.

Rachel, thanks for the link to the LA Times review.

And yes, congratulations to Alexa Maxwell, Olivia MacKinnon and KJ Takahashi!!

I was at Segerstrom on Friday night and can attest to high quality performances from Cassie Trenary and Christine Schevchenko. The men (Cornejo and Forster) had issues. Cornejo was generraly good, but had real problems with the lifts in the second act. Forster clearly wasn't ready, but was standing in for Stearns (originally programmed). The women, in general, were polished and acted brilliantly in a production that really needs that narrative flow to have a dream of a chance to follow the story. Trenary, Hurlin, Paris and Seo dnaced with passion, precision and wonderful musicality. Christine Schevchenko was the stand-out for me as Elena, the controlling and manipulative mother. The music was fantastic, too. When was the last time you saw a ballet that featured harps, a xylophone and a guitar in the pit??!!

Cyberindio, I'm so excited to hear this! So looking forward to seeing this on the Met stage.

Sorry to hear about the difficulties that the men encountered. However, Wheeldon must certainly recognize that the ABT corps and soloist levels are loaded with men who can dance, lift, and act up a storm: Frenette, Curley, Hoven, Crispino, de la Nuez, Klein, McCune, Menegussi, Pogossian, and of course Eric Tamm. Hopefully, some of these men will move up the casting ladder in the 2 or 3 months before the Met opening. Wheeldon needs to show the same type of faith in these dancers that Ratmansky routinely does. Everyone knows that both Cornejo and Stearns are dancing on the edge of injury nearly every time they hit the stage. As wonderful as they might be as performers, it does not make sense to risk a new production on them, especially when there is such a pronounced depth of talent within the company.

Anyone joining me in seeing the State Ballet of Georgia on the 16th?

I attended two performances of LWFC in Orange County. My plan was to see all three casts but not being a fan of Wheeldon’s work I ultimately stopped at two. Wheeldon’s full length ballets are very formulaic. You can expect fancy staging and overcomplicated imagery but the dancing often leaves you disappointed as it consists mostly of frenetic miming, arm thrusting, feet flexing and only occasional bursts of interesting steps and lifts. Nothing choreographically substantial or virtuosic. And you can count on a tree and a table being part of the set design.

LWFC is one of those ballets that is highly impacted by who dances it. I had two completely opposite reactions to it — hated the first night (Trenary/ Cornejo) but enjoyed it at the second outing (Park/ Camargo). I found Trenary and especially Cornejo too mature for the roles of Tita and Pedro. Their portrayal was more of a middle aged couple, frustrated and embittered by their lot in life and I couldn’t really care about their infatuation with each other or their trysts. In contrast, Park and Camargo, both very attractive and good-looking, were young, sensual, charming and evoked much stronger empathy as two unlucky lovers.

Among other cast members, I generally preferred dancers from the lower ranks over some of the principals: Zhong-Jing Fang to Christine Shevchenko (Mama Elena), Chloe Misseldine to Hee Seo (Rosaura), Carlos Gonzalez to Aran Bell (Juan Alejandrez) and Courtney Lavine to Luciana Paris (Nacha). Both Hurlin and Brandt were excellent as Gertrudis. The choreography suits the taller dancer better so Hurlin was absolutely spectacular. Neither Bell nor Gonzalez came close to Cesar Corrales from the Royal Ballet who in the role of the revolutionary leader set the stage on fire.

I hope by the time the production makes it to the Met, the stage crew figures out how to operate the props in a smoother way and avoid bloopers. The sets and costumes changed fast and transitions weren’t always flawless. Also, I don’t know what effect the rope swing on which two protagonists rise above the mortal world at the very end was supposed to have but it looked suspiciously like something from the set of a porn movie. And the audience unsurprisingly sniggered at it. Maybe the flame projections were off-time or the lighting to make the scrims less transparent wasn’t properly adjusted but the entire scene just looked very unattractive, if not laughable.

And lastly, 12 performances planned for NYC seem to be an awful lot. In Orange County, it didn’t sell well and I suspect tickets were given away before each performance. The auditorium looked full each night, although only two out of four sections were open, but there were plenty of tickets available online just two hours before the show.

I definitely recommend everyone go and see this ballet as it might be, I am afraid, short-lived. And if you go, don't forget to read the synopsis!

Thanks, Dreamer! I've postponed reading the book or seeing the movie until later as I think the ballet as a piece of art should be able to stand on its own without leaning on anything else. I have truly enjoyed Wheeldon's full length ballets The Winter's Tale and Alice and didn't find them formulaic although his PdDs have a signature spaghetti to them and he has in the past several years resorted to hand and arm signaling which worked in DGV because there was a mesmerizing train rhythm throughout.

I'm truly excited to see LWFC and plain to see all casts including hopefully some more lead casts that feature the dramatic heavyweights and brilliant dancers in the corps.

On the topic of Christopher Wheeldon, the Bolshoi Theater apparently gave its last performance of Winter's Tale. If you use Google Chrome, the translation feature on Forbes Russia is very useful (https://www.forbes.ru/forbeslife/486752-krizis-zanra-kak-rossijskij-balet-boretsa-s-nehvatkoj-repertuara).

Seems a lot of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky repertoire is expiring, but it also shows that the theaters aren't completely bulldozing copyright law and only performing to the extent that prior contracts appear to allow.


I enjoyed this, and thought this community might as well.

Thanks, Rachel. A very worthwhile 11 minutes. So looking forward to seeing LWFC.

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