No Red Carpet or Film Stars But Dancing So Breathtaking I Got All Depressed Again!

Funny there was no red carpet, no big showy movie stars, no former President of the United States, no big huge to-do at American Ballet Theater‘s opening night gala tonight, unlike at NYCB two weeks ago, but just walking into the Met Opera House amongst all of these hugely wealthy patrons wearing all manner of couture just made me feel so poor and ugly… like I NEVER felt last week or any time I’ve been in NYCB for that matter. ABT people can just be so intimidating…

Anyway, the program was excellent — at least the second half, though I have tons of miniscule criticisms to make, of course of course. First, Marcelo. Not because he was on first — he wasn’t on til the second half — but just because, he’s Marcelo!! He danced with Alessandra Ferri in the final scene of Othello. Ugh, they were both so good, I got depressed again — like I felt after watching Pasha and Anna last week… just a huge lump in my throat, just sad. Alessandra is so so so good, and it’s just so horrible she’s retiring — it really is tragic. I don’t mean to be melodramatic but I just feel like there’s never going to be another ballerina like her and it’s so terribly upsetting. She just has something no one else does. It’s just beyond words watching her. And Marcelo is such a big, huge, gorgeous man, such a star — he’s so perfect as her support. He is of course a great actor too, and that is so absolutely necessary for this scene. He was so frightening and powerful and uber-virile — as Marcelo always is, but so sadly broken as well. He could definitely have taken all of that a bit further, but he is just returning to the stage after a hiatus and you could see the concentration in his eyes. He’ll take it up a notch when he performs the whole ballet, I’m sure! That ballet is going to be THE BALLET to see this season — it’s gonna rock! Lar Lubovitch (the choreographer) is a genius … well Shakespeare was a genius so anything anyone does that’s based on his plays in my mind is superior to the other story ballets… But the choreography looks so engrossing — if anyone is kinda sorta an ABT fan and is thinking about maybe possibly going to see something this season, SEE THAT ONE!!!

So, the other stuff: Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes did the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, and to me, it ended up being an interestingly different take on that scene, but just not good enough. It was ALL ABOUT HERMAN — show-stealer that he is :) It really was a bunch of bravura dancing from him, while Xiomara just kind of looked on sweetly — which was interesting, really in its own way: it was like, “Hey, Juliet, look how hot I am for you! I’m just flying all over the stage doing all these crazy-ass tricks!” And she, “Oh Romeo, Romeo, you’re sooo great, you’ve definitely won my heart now…” Cute take, but they totally watered down the choreography — they took out all those beautiful crazy big huge run and jump lifts — you CAN’T take those out!!!!! It’s plain and simply NOT MacMillan’s pdd without them!!!! And they just eased up on the choreography in general – -the partnering just wasn’t there for me. And that’s what the pdd is, after all, not bravura dancing for the man.

The Swan Lake excerpt was danced beautifully by Nina Ananiashvili and Angel Corella. A crowd pleaser as well that Angel is of course of course — it looked like he did about 10 pirouettes in a row. She did 30 fouettes — this is the first time I’ve EVER counted them and only did so because I know it is the balletomane thing to do. I’ll never do it again; it’s boring and takes away from enjoying the beauty of the dance. People who count are, to me, just silly… I didn’t count Angel’s pirouettes — I said they looked like there were about 10 in a row; I’m sure they weren’t; he just has that Angel way of … just being Angel… :) And I’m happy I got to see Nina; she’s not dancing much this season and I don’t know if I’ll make it to anything she’s in.

And then there was a Manon excerpt, a pas de deux, with Julie and Jose — two of my favorite dancers. They did this pdd like the Romeo and Juliet should have been done. They are spectacular, they are beautiful and poetic, and I really think Jose is one of the very greatest dancers in the world right now. I’m so scared he is going to be retiring soon too… Julie is perfect; she’s flawless and she’s beautiful. But to me, artistically, she still doesn’t have that something undefinably extra that Alessandra has. But she still has time. There is something about her and Marcelo dancing together too — they just have something together that makes them both better than they are alone…

The gala ended with La Bayadere excerpts, performed by David, Paloma, Gillian, and the illustrious heartthrob (so say his bizillions of adoring female fans) Ethan Stiefel — returning after a very long hiatus due to double knee surgery. He got a lot of applause, understandably so, and performed breathtaking jumps — he was really awesome. So cute! David seemed to be the only principal who didn’t get applause when he entered the stage. I think it’s because people are angry about his lack of contributions lately to the Winger … Just kidding of course :) I think it’s because he entered kind of suddenly, albeit with a very loud manly clap :) and people were a bit surprised and didn’t recognize him at first. I heard several voices around me going, “oh oh oh, that’s that David Hallberg, that’s who that is…” Plus, he was wearing a bright white turban, which, when I first saw it, I thought he’d gone and dyed his hair platinum now… I couldn’t see all that well from balcony…

In the first half — I know, I’m going totally backward — first piece was a Bayadere excerpt with all corps members. I’m not one for ensemble work with lots of people onstage at once — I’m a pdd (& occasionally bravura guy) girl — but Misty Copeland stood out to me in this first piece. Then Sleeping Beauty (excerpts from classic Petipa version, no new McKenzie version revealed yet! — that’s for later in the month), with Michele Wiles, Veronika Part, who slipped a bit in the Rose Adagio but nothing serious, Diana Vishneva, favorite of all the critics, and Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky. Personally, I love Irina. I know she is not favored by the critics, but she is still one of my favorite ballerinas. I think her dancing is breathtaking, she has gorgeous lines and beautiful extensions, and I think she’s a very good actress — she puts her heart and soul into everything she does, and she really loves and respects the audience. I just love her, and wish she’d dance once in a while with Marcelo and David! Diana was stunning, but one thing she did that was weird was she didn’t stay around and take her curtain call with the others. She took her bow right after she finished her part, then left, without waiting until Irina and Max were finished with theirs to take bows along with them, Veronika and Michele. It was noticeable to the audience as well — VERY noticeable. I hope she had a good reason for leaving early; I don’t think it sits well with fans if you don’t do as everyone else does — might make one look a bit superior. Just going by whispers I heard happening around me…

And then right before the intermission was “Lady’s Choice” a contemporary, ballroomy piece choreographed by Brian Reeder set to Chopin and danced by Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky. I didn’t think they worked very well together. He’s too small for her, for one, and for another, neither was very expressive.

After the first piece, Kevin came out and spoke, along with Caroline Kennedy, but the microphones weren’t set up well and I could hear hardly anything, so can’t tell you much of what was said. I do remember he said they were showcasing their corps members as well as their stars this time around — just reminded me of that difference between ABT and NYCB – the idea of having “stars.” Kevin seems like such a sweet man — I may be totally wrong, but he just seems like a really nice guy.

Looking at this picture on my wall made me realize who was missing — Carmen! (pictured with Marcelo of course!)

All in all it was a really lovely night even though I felt poor and ugly and then depressed??? Marcelo and Alessandra were just so beautiful together… He’s gay and she’s married, and I’m totally jealous of how great they were together. How much sense does that make?! It’s just like great dancing goes beyond great dancing sometimes, you know?… Ugh, it’s a good thing I don’t have a crush on Ethan or some other straight guy with a gorgeous and perfect paramour :) I’m really sorry if I’m a bit slap happy here — it’s late and I’m tired! :)

Just one last thing, on a totally different note. I made it home just in time to see the end of “Dancing With the Stars” — think there was a humorous remark made by Kennedy about being grateful that some young people were pulling themselves away from the show to be at ABT tonight, but I’m not sure because, as I said, the acoustics were off — but I think I overheard the TV show’s hostess say that tomorrow night, they are having Joaquin Cortes on the show?!?! The brilliant, spectacular, not to mention HOT, flamenco dancer?! If I heard correctly that is simply awesome — a real high point for them — that, THAT is CLASS!!!

12 Comments

  1. well i’m glad you didnt think Part’s flaws were as bad as over on ballettalk…people are calling for her to be fired.

    Sigh.

  2. Hi Delirium – -thanks for posting about Ballettalk’s board on my other post — I read them all just now. It’s funny how people have completely different interpretations — I felt almost totally the opposite of most of the people over there about just about everything! I know I read that about the person who wanted her to be fired or s/he’d return his / her tickets! I honestly didn’t think it was that big of a deal — she just came off point for a split second and went right back up. I thought the rest of her dancing was beautiful! And maybe I (and the audience members surrounding me) had the wrong interpretation Vishneva’s refusing the curtain call — I just don’t see how she could have been so upset with her performance; she was wonderful! Anyway, I always forget about Ballettalk — i should look over there from time to time, so thanks for reminding me!

  3. Hey Tonya,

    Sounds like a great night overall. Man, I wanna see Ethan Stiefel. He started the whole balletomane mess for me with his cute, talented self in “Center Stage”. I kept hoping he would somehow appear on the roster when ABT was here in Chicago, but he wasn’t even there to be with Gillian. Bummer! Anyway, I look forward to hearing more tales from the Met.

  4. I went ahead and read the Ballet talk reviews at http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=24817&pid=203822&st=0&#entry203822.
    All I can say is that when a person perceives bad ballet, the reaction tends to be strong. It is like one just cannot believe what they are seeing, or at least that’s how I felt the first time I saw a messed up Odile/Odette performance in Swan Lake. It was like, I want a refund and the 2.5 hours of my life back. Hopefully, one gets over it.

  5. I enjoyed your review, Tonya.

    When reading reports at Ballet Talk it is important to remember that everyone looks for different things when watching ballet. Some people know how every step and gesture should go and are bummed out if things are not presented to their liking; others are happy just to see the dancers doing beautiful moves; others are fans of certain dancers for whom their idols can do no wrong. So you have to read things with that perspective in mind.

    It’s also necessary to keep in mind how dangerous this art form is…being a fraction off can cost you a slip, a fall or a catastrophic injury. And the daily wear and tear on the feet, ankles, knees, hips and back an be devastating. I admire the dancers not just for their artistry but for all the blood, sweat & tears they expend to make us happy. When I am looking at a performance I try to consider these things – the human aspects of dancing.
    Of course it’s fantastic when things go perfectly – which happens often.

    It does sound like Part was having a really unhappy night; going off-pointe in the Rose Adagio is distressing even if it is understandable. She is not the first ballerina to have troubles there, nor will she be the last.

  6. Hi Tonya,

    It was so much fun reading your post – almost like seeing it all again. Isn’t Ferri awesome? I agree with you that she has something extra that’s just indescribable and that she is irreplaceable. Fortunately, I have seen a couple of other dancers who’ve made me feel the same way over the years (Fonteyn, Makarova, Kirkland) and it helps just knowing that sooner or later someone else will come along with the same magic. But of course they will be completely different and we’ll still miss Ferri.

    It’s funny how differently people can see things. I’m one of the ballettalk posters who was very disappointed in Part (though I only posted this morning). I saw much more than a slight bobble – the way I saw it after she fell off pointe she was never able to balance again (unsupported in between taking the Prince’s arm), and that’s a big deal for the rose adagio. But everyone sees things differently. In fact after reading some of Chimene’s posts recently I think I was at the same Chicago Swan Lake that she was so disappointed in – and I loved it! As they say, that’s what makes horseraces!

  7. Thanks for reading (and enjoying :) ) my post, you guys!

    Susan — that is so true about different people seeing different things. I haven’t seen Beauty very many times and whenever I’ve seen it, the Rose Adagio always seems a bit shaky, so maybe that’s why I didn’t notice anything very off last night. That’s amazing that you were at the same performance as Chimene in Chicago! And thanks for your first paragraph — I swear tears came to my eyes when I read it. I feel like I’m just going to cry all through the night on June 23rd… I know, though, there WILL be others who have their own unique gifts :)

  8. Tonya, thank you for your exciting review of opening night at ABT. I see that you noticed the differences between ABT and NYCB audiences. That’s why you have to come to more NYCB performances at the State Theater – because there, you will always feel like the “rich” (in terms of life’s real treasures) and beautiful person that you truly are.

    I haven’t seen Alessandra Ferri in a few years now but after reading your comments on her I feel I must absolutely see her before she retires. You speak about her with the same kind of awe that I felt with regard to Suzanne Farrell when she was dancing. I did see Vishneva last year and although I thought she was quite wonderful it was still a little bit of a letdown after the “goddess-like” reviews of her by all the critics. My favorite ballerina at ABT has for several years been Paloma Herrera and I get to see her in La Bayadere on Thursday. As for Ethan Stiefel, I still mourn the fact that he left NYCB a number of years ago. I remember seeing him at his SAB workshop performance (he danced the third movement of Symphony in C) and I knew immediately that he was special. He left NYCB supposedly because Peter did not allow him enough slack in terms of regular leaves of absence to do guest stints with other companies but I have alwsays felt that the real reason was that he wanted to be part of the “star” system at ABT and be worshipped by those “bizillions of adoring female fans” you referred to.

    As for “Dancing with the Stars,” I thought that Monday’s night show was the best display of dancing I have ever seen on the show. All four surviving couples were absolutely terrific and it was sad to have to see one of them go tonight. As critical as I have been of the audience voting, I had to agree with their judgment tonight. Ian improved greatly over the course of the series of shows, but as good as he has become and as well as he danced on Monday, the best three celebrities would have to be Laila, Apolo and Joey. However will the audience select one of them as the winner next week? How about a three-way tie and the crowning of all three (and their great partners) as this year’s champions?

    And yes, Joaquin Cortes was exciting to watch! You see, it sometimes is a good idea to actually watch the results show.

  9. well….if NYCB had snapped Paloma up…

    but they didn’t. 😉
    She wasn’t offered a contract there (in 91) they wanted her in the school another year. ABT offered her a contract.

    I can’t say she’s one of my favorites, but Alessandra is, and I too was disappointed in Vishneva–though i think it can really depend on what you see her in (as with anyone of course!). I liked her very much in R&J, but thought she was really mediocre (and that is being generous) in Swan Lake.

  10. Hi Tonya and balletomanes,

    Since we are critiquing ballet. I thought I would post a tiny bit of what I wrote in Dec 2006 after a flubbed Swan Lake, where the principle ballerina couldn’t stay on balance to save her life. You can click my name above to read the entire post.

    ……..It was only later that I realized I was holding Daria [Pavlenko] to higher standards then I hold even for myself. I neither allowed her any quarter nor gave her any slack. The problem with expecting perfection is that it leaves an individual with no room for error, growth, maturity, compassion, empathy, or to just have bad day. It never takes into account everything that was done correctly during a performance, the blood, sweat & tears for all the years of preparation, nor the circumstances surrounding a less than perfect performance. I am reminded of the quote: “Yea, Through the Grace of God, Go I.”……

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