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Kings of Dance

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I saw two performances of the "Kings of Dance" with Angel Corella, Johan Koberg, Ethan Stiefel, Nickolay Tziskaridze at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA: Opening night (Thurs. 2/16) and Saturday (2/18). Weeks before the opening, the female lead(s) was changed twice--ending with Alina Cojocaru and Zenaida Yanovsky. (Apologies for any spelling mistakes.) This was due to the change in the central piece from Petit's "Le Jeune Homme..." to Flindt's "The Lesson". "The Lesson" was substituted because the "LJHLM" set wouldn't work at City Center in NY. Why no one bothered to check this before is very puzzling. I would have liked to see "Le Jeune Homme..." but hadn't seen "The Lesson" since a very old film somewhere of Nureyev.


The program was as follows: Prelude: a short film doc showing the dancers in rehearsal, relaxing, and proclaiming that they are not "kings". Act 1: Christopher Wheeldon's "For 4" ensemble piece to Shubert's "Death and the Maiden" adagio, Act 2: Flemming Flindt's "The Lesson", and Act 3: the four premier solos created for each dancer: Stiefel by Nils Christe, Kobberg by Tim Rushton, Tziskaridze by Roland Petit, and Corella by Stanton Welch. The L.A. Times reviewer was unimpressed--thought they were not expressive enough compositions, though there was no complaint about the dancing.


I thought Wheeldon's piece had many references to other choreographers: Balanchine of course, but I also saw Feld, and even Arpino at one point. Generally I liked it. The odd thing was that both nights I saw the audience applaud Corella during/after his "variation" within the piece but no one else. I refrained out of respect for the other dancers, and felt it was a little like applauding in the middle of a concerto, but was impressed by Corella's fierce aerial display nonetheless.

Each "king" was supposed to alternate in the "Teacher" role in "The Lesson" but Ethan Stiefel pulled out to avoid re-injuring his knee (I believe he is planning to perform in NYC), so Johann Kobberg danced opening night and Friday, Corella on Sat., and Tziskaridze Sunday. I saw Kobberg and Corella. How very interesting it was to see each. Kobberg has had more experience in the role and was much more neurotic--and personally, I think 'owns' the role. Corella seemed more fastidious, threw in a few dramatic variations, and halfway through reminded me of reviewer's comment last summer about "stalking [with] sizzling testosterone." It was odd at the time, but I think I finally understood what he meant. The two female leads of course were beautiful technically and dramatically.

Stiefel's solo was all about control; Kobberg's atmospherics with some play with a downspot and a final reference to Nijinsky; Tziskaridze a sly stringing together of several solos (both male AND female) from Petit's "Carmen"; and Corella's a fun though much too similar re-do of Tharpe's "Sinatra Suite"; I missed Baryshnikov's slide across the stage. But of course there were plenty of opportunities for pirouettes.

The audience gave standing ovations etc. etc. both nights. The encore was to the final music of "Etudes" and gave us the classical "fireworks" each dancer is known for especially. IMHO.

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Guest balletandsynchro

My daughters and I saw this at OCPAC. We went on Friday night and saw Johann Koborg as the maniacal dance instructor in the lesson. He was absolutely amazing, and Alina Cojucaru (I too am sorry for the misspelled names), was fantastic as the ditzy student. The partnering was fantastic!

I loved Angel Corella's solo to the Ellington music, choreographed by Stanton Welch. Johann Koborg in Afternoon of a Faun was fantastic too! It was a very impressive show, and those in Nueva York who will see it are in for a real treat! :(

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We went as a family and saw this great show on Sunday. I throughly enjoyed all the performances. My daughter loved Angel Corella! I loved the final piece "For 4". :(

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Loved Alina Cojucaru.


Sorry boys, but this ballet was a snooze. Talented dancers, but the choreography literally put me to sleep. I also did not like going to a show and paying a lot for an orchestra seat, only to be shown a movie on screen for part of the show. I would have rather watched that on television.


I wouldn't go again to see this.

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Even though the performance & choreography wasn't 100% enthralling, it was nice (and rare) to see four top male dancers, side by side, in one performance. I and my dd did enjoy the show at OCPAC and we hope to see more ballet performances like this in the future. (Maybe a performance featuring some of the top 4 female dancers?)


Besides, anything that will get newcomers to see a ballet performance and make them future patrons of ballet is OK by me. B)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw three performances of "Kings of Dance" at City Center. I had originally purchased tickets in NY, but then had opportunity to see it in California the week previously because of a family obligation there. In NY, I was again hoping to see Ethan Stiefel's take on "The Lesson" but again, those knees prevented him. So I saw Angel Corella do it twice, and finally on Sunday, Nicholay Tsiskaridze.


By NY, Angel Corella had finally relaxed into that role, so it was much better than in CA. Thursday's was good, but Saturday was really great. Also, I was VERY concerned because the set/staging was so much more constricted at City Center than OCPAC, and was wondering how that would affect blocking and freedom of movement. Thursday, those constraints were visible--as well as the partnering differences between the more petite Alina Cojocaru and Godrun Bjornson (sp?). By Saturday, though, it was smoother. Corella was much more forceful (scary?), while Tsiskaridze was more sly and obique--one audience member said "smiling devilish." The women were fine, but I prefer the California casting. Alina was much more vulnerable and Zenaida more bossy.


I wish they'd put Wheeldon's For4 into the reps of the companies so we could see other greats do it. My best memory of it though is Corella's fouette downstage and gorgeous port-te-bras into that fast soaring tour jete split facing the audience. Q: How did he time the split to face the audience?


Also, they only did an encore in CA so the NYC audience and critics were sort of disappointed. I agree that the choreographers did NOT take full advantage of the brilliant dancers they had, but it was still good to see them dance since England, Russia, and even more domestic tour costs are beyond my limited $ resources now.

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