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May 23, 2011

New York Adventure 2011 (A complete recap... Seriously I'm including every little detail)



Last week I, my mum, sister, one of my ballet instructors and her daughter/grandchildren stormed the big city. I had been to the city several times before but never had the full New York experience. It's impossible to experience all of New York City over the span of two-and-a-half days but we sure did all we could. The overall purpose for this adventure was to see American Ballet Theatre's production of Don Quixote starring Paloma Herrera and Jose Carreno. Now I'll explain what I witnessed in much more detail later but to sum it up in one word now... Breathtaking.
We arrived by bus in New York's Port Authority at 3:15, the weather outside was abysmal and stayed that way for almost all of our trip. Fortunately there will always be enough taxis in the city to get us from point A to point B. :)

(To make browsing the links I've provided easier you can right click on the links and select "open in new tab")

We stayed at the SalisburyHotel on 57th and 7th all the way up on the tenth floor. The suite was lovely but the elevators were, quite honestly, terrifying. One of only two elevators was out of service making for a long line that builds up quickly. At one point an employee was nice enough to take us down in the service elevator and explained to us exactly how old the elevators were. A grand total of eighty-one years. Riding those things multiple times was certainly not an easy endeavor for me as Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has scarred me for life.

After checking in at the hotel we went in for a fitting at the Grishko store on West 50th (it's fairly close to Times Square). I had vague expectations going into the store. It's very tiny and is located in what looks like an apartment building, buzzer and all. At first sight all you can see is the Thai restaurant it's nestled right beside. (See what I mean here at Google Maps by clicking on "Street View". You see that little gray door? That would be it.) However, inside is a bright and cheery room filled with tutus and leotards. The woman working at the time, Judy, was absolutely fabulous. Within literally two seconds of looking at my feet she could already tell that my left foot is slightly bigger than my right (hardly anyone is aware of that and most fitters don't believe me if I tell them). She fit me in a new brand of Grishkos called Triumph which was the first and only pair of shoes I tried on. They look and feel like a dream but until classes resume I can't judge how I'll feel dancing in them. My teacher and Judy had both danced with American Ballet Theatre's school and spent much of the time reminiscing of teachers and mutual classmates. It may be a small world but the dance world is even smaller. The only possible downside to that store and that overall experience would be the prices (but that's the downside to every shopping experience). A big thanks to Judy Weiss for everything!


With the cloth Grishko bag in hand we headed to the restaurant Serafina for dinner. Apparently Ramona Singer from the Real Housewives of New York had hosted a party there a couple of weeks before (which was pretty cool considering my mother is a fan of that show). It was a lovely and sufficiently quick experience however our dessert is what still has me raving. After dinner, a short rest at the Salisbury and a quick trip to Dylan's Candy Bar (which was amazing) we headed over to Serendipity 3. In a crowded little room decorated with dolls and antiques we sat and watched ice cream sundaes pass by that had to be at least a foot high. Never have I had a dessert as delectable as the Strawberry Supreme. I am a tiny bit obsessed with that little red berry which naturally makes the Strawberry Supreme and ideal dessert for me. A giant bowl of frozen strawberry goodness topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a ripe strawberry was put together to make one of the most delicious desserts I've ever ingested. I also had a sip of their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate which was utterly divine (as expected).





So with full stomachs we headed back to the hotel and to bed. But lemme' tell you, for a country girl staying in the city falling asleep to the sound of police sirens isn't as easy as it seems.

The next morning I woke up to an announcement on the news saying that an elevator on 6th Avenue (we were staying on 7th) just plummeted to the ground killing one person and injuring fourteen... I'm sure you can imagine how reassuring that was... I managed to make it downstairs alive and our little clan of seven had a pleasant breakfast at Europa Cafe then taking a subway to Times Square. My teacher doubles as the company's costume and scenery designer and she was in need of some fabric for our winter production of the Nutcracker. So to the fashion district we headed.
No lying, that is a sketchy portion of the city. We endured several strange encounters with shop employees and got to enjoy a trip to Mood, the store made famous by Lifetime's Project Runway, when after several hours of searching a beautiful array of fabrics were cut and paid for and we got the heck out of there.
Finally we made our way to Lincoln Center for shopping/taking the traditional pictures of a ballet dancer doing an arabesque in front of the fountain. (I'm not sure how or when that became a tradition but... Hey, it's fun either way!)









After a late lunch at PJ Clarke's and some clothing shopping around town we went back to the hotel to get dolled up (a rather long process).


In the dreary, drizzly and crappy weather we walked towards Lincoln Center for what was suppose to be a quick dinner at a place called Josephina. My teacher recommended it and told stories of how the ABT dancers would go there for dinner after classes. Despite the delicious food, our service was painfully slow and as you can imagine we were incredibly anxious to get to the theatre (as was the rest of the restaurant). If you ever go there to eat before a show then I suggest that you allow yourself plenty of time to eat.


And now the part that you've all been waiting for... the ballet.

Now first off, this was actually my first professional large-scale ballet that I had ever seen. I've watched thousands of videos and clips but none could ever do justice to actually witnessing the performance. Walking up to the Metropolitan Opera House and feeling the squish of the red carpeted floor beneath my feet was as exciting as it gets. Our seats were spread out through several boxes in the balcony on the far left side. Although it was a slightly obstructed view you could still see all of the action that went on around the center and stage left.



Jose Carreno is in his last year before retirement. After twenty five years of dancing with the American Ballet Theatre he's saying goodbye. Not to offend any other dancers who have performed the enchanting roles of Kitri and Basilio before, but Jose and Paloma are the perfect dancers for those roles. Paloma Herrera truly is Kitri and I've heard many agree that it is undoubtedly her best role. Jose is just the same. He plays the charming and romantic role with such ease that it's hard to believe he's anyone but Basilio. That is what made watching his final performance of Don Quixote alongside Paloma Herrera all the more special.

 





The entire ballet was utterly beautiful. The first act lively and fun as Paloma flew onto the stage with gigantic leaps. She engages the audience in such an effortless way without even acknowledging that we're there, that much je ne sais quoi is hard to come by. Jose Manuel Carreno steps on stage and all you can think is "gosh he's a work of art." That man is sculpted to perfection and charms the audience just as well as he charms Kitri. What made their performance together most believable was the smaller moments that could be missed with a single blink. A lingering gaze or the way Jose gently sets Paloma down in the start of the second act. They are a perfect on stage couple.
(If you're not familiar with the ballet then read the story here)

Gamache, played by Craig Salstein, was hysterical. Watching some of his comical injuries, like a fall flat to his face, you have to wonder if it actually hurts. Mercedes and Espada played by Veronika Part and David Hallberg were technically incredible although I thought their chemistry (especially compared to Paloma and Jose) was a bit lacking. Part delievered a lovely variation as she danced in between the "flaming" arrows and Hallberg was fittingly strong for the role of a famous matador.

The flower girls danced by Maria Riccetto and Misty Copeland were good counterparts to each other. Riccetto was technically lovely while Copeland danced with fire and performed a fantastic variation in the third act.

During the gypsy scene in the second act Luciana Paris and Joseph Phillips danced the Gypsy Couple and to be honest I would have loved to see more of them. Their chemistry was supreme and I particularly enjoyed Paris's performance for her hindered sensuality. She was flirtatious without being overt. Phillips may as well have been flying with his barrel roll manèges. The only downside to the gypsy scene was the costumes. They lacked color and compared to the scenery were quite dull.

The second act Vision Scene really felt as though you had been submerged in a vision. The corps de ballet placed flawless lines as the Amour played by Sarah Lane adorably danced about them. I don't think I've ever seen (in person or on video) someone play that roll so well. She was so adorable and her tiny figure was perfect to play a Cupid character. Veronika Part came on for her second role as the Dryad Queen and looked as though she were seven feet tall with her long limbs and graceful style. Her grand fouette sequence at the end of her variation (which is extremely difficult, trust me, I've done it) was near to flawless. She was well casted for that role.


Once to the third act I was on the edge of my seat while watching the famous Don Quixote pas de deux. Paloma Herrera executed a balance that lasted at least ten counts. My jaw dropped to the floor and by the end tears were literally streaming down my face. The coda with Paloma's thirty-two rotations including the several doubles was phenomenal and Jose's turns were completely spectacular.

The dancers all took their bows and when Paloma and Jose came in front of the curtain for their final farewell a bouquet of flowers was thrown onto the stage. Paloma fetched it and laid them down at Jose's feet in a sweeping curtsy. Jose toyed with the crowd and knew just how to make them roar. He dashingly soutenued and flew back behind the curtain. I am in awe of the two of them and it's so heartbreaking to think that by now, Jose will never be seen in that role again. Fortunately with today's technology there are plenty of videos to preserve his immense talent for the public audience.
(Mercedes and Espada)

Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carreno as Kitri and Basilio




I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed that performance. Especially during the first intermission when I actually got to touch Paloma Herrera and Diana Vishneva's pointe shoes that were being sold for two-hundred and three-hundred dollars.


So there you have it. My full New York experience. The ballet is truly magical and I'm so glad that I got to see Jose before his official retirement next month.
If you guys have any questions, comments or requests then please leave a comment below or contact me here. I'd like to thank everyone for sticking around even when I didn't have time to post and for continuing to check in now. My company is going "on tour" to perform in two weeks so I'll be sure to write about that. Summer camp is also coming up soon which means a heck of a lot more posts. :)
Hope everyone is having a great end-of-school-year! I'll post again soon!

Ballerinablogger ~

13 comments:

  1. omg it sounds like you had soooo much fun! That trip sounds amazing, maybe I'll get to do something lik that eventualy! thank you sooooo much for posting! (:

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  2. Wow your so lucky I would give anything to see abt live!

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  3. Great post!! But what do you mean your company is "going on tour"?

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  4. We're traveling to perform in another city. As we're a small company it's only one location but we're very excited about it :)

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  5. sounds like u had fun! i no this is a sensitivie topic but do u think u could do a post about dealing with having ur period and dancing? love ur blog!

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  6. That is awesome! What kind of dancing are you going to do? Like, a classic ballet or....

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  7. Sure anonymous! That's actually a topic that isn't mentioned a lot and I know being a dancer it is TOUGH to deal with. Thanks for suggesting it!

    I dance classical ballet. I also do tap and jazz but my main focus is ballet.

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  8. WOW - I am sooo envious! It sounds like you all had the best time ever in the biggest city in the world. I wish I could have come, too.
    Thanks for the post, ballerinablogger!
    Izi :)

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  9. I mean what kind of dance on your tour? Are you going to perform ballet on the tour? Or jazz or tap?

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  10. Oh haha! Yes we will be performing a ballet. Sorry for the confusion ;)

    Ballerinablogger~

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  11. what an amazing trip!!! It must have been like a dream! i would love to see a post on anonymous' suggestion... i ALWAYS have a hard time with this since i'm not allowed to wear tampons. thanks sooo much as always!!!!

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  12. Yup! I'm actually working on the article right now :) You're very welcome Julie and thank YOU!

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  13. Thats awesome! I dance with a small dance school too (though I'm not in the company)and I've always dreamed of going on tour!! :D

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