It was an exciting afternoon performance of Giselle today. There were three major debuts: Sarah Lane as Giselle, Daniil Simkin as Albrecht and Christine Shevchenko as Myrta.
It was an exciting afternoon performance of Giselle today. There were three major debuts: Sarah Lane as Giselle, Daniil Simkin as Albrecht and Christine Shevchenko as Myrta.
I honestly hesitated about buying a ticket for this ballet even with all the good notices for its opening a few months back in California. Finally I broke down and purchased a last minute ticket to the Gala Premiere. Yes, I was out of place but I wasn’t the only one. The two good things about Gala performances are that you are present for world premieres of new ballets AND it starts early (ending early). Tonight, the first thing was the ballet. However the second thing didn’t work out. There were so many speeches. So many Grandmaster Brahmin PooBahs patting themselves on the back for giving to the Art. Meanwhile the Board is busy filling up the dance roster with the also rans and the reason why they really donate money is because it gives them fancy Gala dinner parties where they can show off their fancy wear. Not to mention seeing their own names in various places in the playbill as donators, board members and dancer patrons. Sigh. Whatever. I suppose I should be a bit grateful because it does keep the company running, there are still good dancers in the ranks and the tickets (even to the Gala) are relatively cheap. Definitely cheaper than the average Broadway ticket. So count the small blessings.
Whipped Cream is filled with whimsical costumes and scenery courtesy of Mark Ryden. It was very easy on the eyes even though the storyline was a bit twisted and nightmarish. But I loved it, from the children dancers dressed as petit fours to the big yak. Most of the female dancer costumes were truly the most gorgeous tutus I’ve ever seen in a ballet. But then there was a big corps number where all seemed concerned that they didn’t want to mimic the Nutcracker snowflake scene. So the costumes were just white unitards with a tulle sheet thrown over the Corps heads. Those costumes were a total washout. But the rest were fabulous.
Ratmansky is hit or miss in terms of choreography. I do like the risks he takes. I do like that he is a great choreographer for men. This is rare because so much of ballet is geared toward female dancers. But Ratmansky has very uneven female choreography. Sometimes it seems that unless he really admires a particular female dancer, he just uses the same kind of choreography that he uses for men. Figuring one size fits all. But one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to male and female bodies. Fast petit allegro interspersed with elongated jumps, looks perfect on male bodies. It shows off their powerful long leg muscles beautifully and the ballon they can generate (higher than females) in their jumps. The same choreography on women looks very “My Pretty Prancing Pony”. Women don’t have powerful looking muscles. Most female dancers have long spindly legs topped off with little pointe shoes and the prancing makes them look cutsey tootsy, There was a lot of kewpie doll madness from the females in this ballet. But I must say, the ballet is a zany, hallucinatory adventure perhaps that was just the style the female choreography needed. That didn’t stop it from being a bit maddening at times. The movement was incessant, there was always something going on like a circus show. Sometimes it was exhausting to keep up with it all.
Stella Abrera looked beautiful and bright. Her choreography was a bit too busy. I wished there were moments of rest to lengthen her line. However her male partners all danced fabulously. David Hallberg as her chosen suitor was fantastic. Joseph Gorak (maturing very nicely style wise) and Blane Hoven as her admirers were also very personable. The story of the ballet was rather thin. The main character was a boy who gets sick at cake shop and hallucinates about being King of Candy land. However Abrera, Hallberg, Gorak and Hoven’s dance section really didn’t relate that much to the main story. It was closer to divertissement than pushing dramatic content. The Corps dancer that stood out was Katherine Williams as one of Princess Tea flower’s (Abrera) attendants. She had a bright smile and a petite spritely form. She made much of the petit allegro and it looked good on her.
Daniil Simkin and Sarah Lane were the true main leads. Simkin was great both dancewise and actingwise. But in the past I’ve suspected that he likes to add character work in whatever ballet he dances in. Which is why I suspect he wasn’t happy about that Tharp ballet he moped around in a few seasons back. I was surprised to discover how much chemistry he has with Sarah Lane. They looked good together both were simpatico with the slightly off balance humor of the second act. I think Lane is one of the dancers that Ratmansky genuinely likes. Her choreography was not as manic as the rest of the female cast. There was some breathing room here and there for her. I hope both Simkin and Lane get the kudos they deserve for being the original cast in this ballet. Also the momentum they have created is sure to carry over into their combined Giselle debuts this coming weekend. I really, really hope the company lets this partnership grow. So many times when Lane begins to get a vibe going with one of her partners, she is ripped away from that partner and shoved into the arms of someone new. Another standout in the ballet was Skylar Brandt as one of Lane’s attendants. I wish I could see her interpretation of the lead role. But alas there is no time.
This ballet is very enjoyable and while it isn’t a heavyweight drama, it is a lighthearted story ballet. And there are so few new story ballets being created today.
Of course, I had to give in to the hype and watch the renewed Twin Peaks.
I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. The show still had the roots of the story but Lynch has expanded his story universe. In fact, it seems now that little Twin Peaks was just the genesis of something altogether different. Lynch won a score by turning his seminal TV show into a Prequel!
We follow action around the U.S., apparently Evil Cooper has been very busy. The real Cooper is still stuck in the other world having nonsensical conversations with spirits, demons and angels. That was the key story line, everything else? I really couldn’t say. Lynch style was in abundance but it lacked the gonzo humor that he once had as a younger man. I’m not saying he has lost his sense of the absurd, what I am saying is that he now has a tighter control over it. He releases it carefully. In fact this new version of Twin Peaks harks back to Eraserhead more than it does Wild at Heart or even the original show. We do get some funny moments but these are not really bizarre. They are in fact entirely real life reactions and actions. This is good because when Lynch does show the supernatural it is all the more shocking and frightening. I also think this restraint was imposed because everyone in Hollywood has cribbed the man’s notes in the intervening years. Everything from True Detective to Stranger Things has that old Lynchian look and vibe. He probably decided, rightly, to switch up his game and throw curve balls.
Since the show was very controlled in tone humor wise, this led to a refined sense of dread that hung over the first two new episodes. Even when there was nothing frightening to behold. The camera angles were awkward, some shots were held too long or too short, character reactions were a bit too slow or too fast, there was a strange, almost industrial ambient whine in the background of many scenes. All of this added to a extreme sense of discomfort. That the whole of the world inside this story is askew and just plain wrong because of evil Cooper’s presence.
In terms of actors, it seems Lynch has cast (in addition to his originals) almost every Indie scene actor that he has admired over the years from Jennifer Jason Leigh to Matthew Lillard. Matthew Lillard! If anyone was perfect for a Lynch film, he was it. It is amazing that it has taken this long for them to work together. Most of the main characters were in their mid-30s and up. I can’t say what a joy it was to watch adults carrying the story. Yes, Lynch did cave to the “younger demographic” that the entertainment suits love so much. But in true twisted humor, they get taken care of very early in the series. It felt as if Lynch was given a list from the powers that be, he checked them off within the first 45 minutes of the show, then threw it away. As if to say, “DONE! Now lets get out back to the adults!”
All in all, I’m intrigued and I can’t wait for the next episodes to unfold. The premiere promises drollness and dread in enormous amounts.
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When you research into crazy belief systems and symbols that, apparently, our elites believe, it is easy to become dejected. But it is imperative to fight this feeling. This is exactly what the powers want. They want the little people to be depressed and unable to fight. How do you fight them?
Beauty. In all its guises. In nature, animals, our fellow humans, art, music and dance. The consistent degradation of our arts and relationships is weapon that the powers use to take away our escape from their lifeless systems.
Ballet of late has been the focus of the campaign of ugly. All those string bean gymnastic contortionists posing as dancers or those DIVERSITY dancers who look like boxers are used specifically to deform the art. At the least we still have some who hold the flame. I’m truly sorry that I can’t see Gillian Murphy’s debut as Giselle. Time and funds are working against me. But I’m eagerly waiting for photos and reviews of what I’m sure will be a beautiful performance.
The famed Russian ballerina Irina Kolpakova is coach to many of the ABT dancers. I grew up on her Sleeping Beauty video and was thoroughly spoiled by her pure elegance and classicism in form. She was one of those few dancers who were perfect in shape and temperament for the art form. In this clip, Kolpakova demonstrates a section of the Giselle pas de deux for Murphy. All the while proving she still has that magic that made ballet fans the world over love her.
It’s been awhile since my last post, I know. But it has been more about deciding what to write about over lack of writing material. I’ve never updated my reading updates sidebar. Yes, I’m still trying to slog through Tragedy and Hope but there are a few other books that I’ve been reading. Mostly the Woo Woo stuff that helps me decode what our crazy elites believe and throw up in our films, art, books and tv shows.
So after yesterday’s post I decided to look more into the Poppy persona and landed into a whole bunch of insanity. Her videos are at once satirical of the “magical” imagery that is splashed all over our culture and yet seems sincere in its usage.
Of course after watching any Poppy video, you will right away learn about a woman who called herself Mars Argo. Which is was also the name of her band with partner Titanic Sinclair. Titanic Sinclair is also the manager of Poppy. In various Poppy videos there are arcane shout outs to the Mars Argo past. The back story is murky and so many stories are floating around it makes one’s head spin. I’m in the camp that this is all a conceptual marketing/studio band deal and what we see is self made mythology.
As I learn more and more about Alchemy and how it is weaponized against us by the elites, I didn’t think I had the ability to be surprised anymore. But surprised I was regarding Assassin’s Creed.
Once again, this pop film received the requisite bad reviews from the “reviewers” with many fans of the video game (on which it is based) disappointed. Many stated that the story is nonsensical. They are right. It is nonsensical and what story there is, is very 1 + 1 = 2. However that simpleton story is only for the ones who don’t know the symbols. When you read the symbols, the story becomes one of war. A war between two factions of elites. One side wants to keep the status quo, the other wants to create change. This is quite different from the regular one “special boy/girl with special blood/powers” saves the world kind of alchemy. In which we ultimately celebrate such a character as a Royal Ubermensch. Instead the elites have cast their hero as the underdog. In this film, the philosophical child is the true “special” elite, a small group working against other elites who have lost their way. The film is created in such a way that it invites the viewer to identify with the philosophical child of this story. But make no mistake. NONE of the characters in this film are about we the little people. And if there are such characters, than we are mere foot soldiers of the bad “elites” that the hero is fighting against….
Of course, I was very excited to discover that Sarah Lane was cast as Giselle for ABT’s spring season. As soon as tickets go on sale, I will be sure to snap that performance up as well as Devon Teuscher’s Swan Lake (her DC performance received rave reviews).
The company will also be performing the ballet in Muscat, Oman for only 3 performances in April. There has been speculation about the casts. Could Lane be performing? Or will it just be the regular principals?
A hopeful hint has come from Daniil Simkin’s site revealing that he will be performing Albrecht in Oman on April 8th.
Could it be that Sarah Lane will be his partner for that date? I hope so. A performance before the NY debut will help her get comfortable in the role.
Happy New Year!
I finally saw the Met’s popular and famed Zeffirelli production of Puccini’s La Boheme yesterday. I was not disappointed at all!
Ailyn Perez was a lovely Mimi and sung with a gentle, sure voice. Her Rodolfo was Michael Fabiano who handled this tough tenor role very well and had great acting skill. The rest of the cast was very good which included Alessio Arduini, Alexey Lavrov and Susanna Phillips. I think the only complaint I had about the production was Musetta’s dress worn during her famous aria. It made Phillips look like a dancing red velvet cupcake. But considering the nature of Musetta, I guess I have to say it fits her.
What really fascinated me was how this dour little tale became the most famous of all operas. And not only famous but considered the most romantic. Why? Well the music, dressed with lovely singing, has to be the most beautiful opera ever written. But the story, I see it as not only about abandoned people living in poverty but as the seeds of 20th century destruction. The subtext is societal collapse. The carefree, free floating and nihilistic lifestyle of Marcello, Rodolfo and Schaunard came to be celebrated and romanticized. Their whole “Me, Me, Me, I do what I want in life and no one can tell me otherwise” has led to an uncivil, irresponsible society we have now. What is even more fascinating is that I believe Puccini understood this very well. He makes it quite clear that Musetta and Mimi resort to working as demimondaines due to their loves not wanting to grow up, marry, and really create a loving family. Marcello and Rodolfo create nothing, nothing ever comes of their “art”. Instead they loaf around, engage in petty theft and wallow in self deception.
The love story is merely some kind of whim on Rodolfo’s part. But when the going gets tough, when Mimi needs a partner most, someone who can help her keep what little health she has left…Rodolfo abandons her. This needs to be understood and Puccini does not gloss this over. He has leading male admit fully to not wanting to be present when Mimi finally falls deathly ill. Mimi only returns to him when she is on her last tether. Even then Rodolfo is a failure for her. If his love was really as majestic as he claimed, why did he throw her away? Mimi even says that she was afraid he would not want her or let her into his apartment again.
The story strikes me as horribly pathetic and needlessly cruel. However we have to keep in mind that the characters are in their late teens, early twenties and not more than 26. This kind of crazy behavior is in character for people so young. Still, the absolute refusal of either leading male characters to step up and be adults is why we have such tragedy.
I love how Puccini kept it all so basic, so simple. The music doesn’t get in the way of the acting or the singing. It creates very clear pictures in the audience’s mind of how these people live and act. When in Act 3 Mimi tells Marcello how Rodolfo yells at her and then Rodolfo states he wants to abandon Mimi before she really gets ill…I saw into their life. I saw the poor, squalid little room they lived in. I saw a man who didn’t want to be responsible or extend effort into caring for another human being. I saw a woman clinging to what little comfort she had in love. I saw a man yelling at an extremely ill woman, causing her stress and giving her worse tubercular coughing fits. And I saw him leaving the house as she tried to gasp for breath. That isn’t romance, dear readers, that is sheer misery, sheer torture. This story left me stunned and heartbroken.
The sets are still gorgeous even though this production is now over 40 years old. The scene stopper is the town square where Cafe Momus is located. Two tiers of stage designed with canny forced perspective to give the impression of a huge Paris that just keeps expanding. Zeffirelli really melds stagecraft with a cinematic look that amazes the eye. This isn’t an opera to be missed and should be seen at least once in a lifetime.