Ballet Focus http://balletfocus.com Ballet and Photography Commentary Sat, 24 Jun 2017 06:35:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 56760047 Diana Vishneva Final ABT Performance http://balletfocus.com/diana-vishneva-final-abt-performance-2/ http://balletfocus.com/diana-vishneva-final-abt-performance-2/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 06:35:15 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7903 What an emotional performance of Onegin Friday, celebrating Diana Vishneva and her final American Ballet Theatre performance. There were plenty of tears shed during the curtain calls as ABT dancers congratulated Diana on a great career and bid her farewell from […]

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What an emotional performance of Onegin Friday, celebrating Diana Vishneva and her final American Ballet Theatre performance. There were plenty of tears shed during the curtain calls as ABT dancers congratulated Diana on a great career and bid her farewell from the Met stage. With Marcelo Gomes as Eugene Onegin, this was a memorable performance filled with passion. Take a look at the photo below, which shows Diana and Marcelo in the first curtain call after the performance just ended, both overcome with emotion. Check out my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com for more curtain call photos. Check for my review this weekend.

Diana Vishneva final ABT performance

Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes. Click for more photos.

 

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Alessandra Ferri, Roberto Bolle in Onegin http://balletfocus.com/alessandra-ferri-roberto-bolle-onegin/ http://balletfocus.com/alessandra-ferri-roberto-bolle-onegin/#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 04:30:14 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7888 It was a walk down memory lane Thursday as American Ballet Theatre featured Italian stars Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in Onegin. A dramatic performance with great emotion from two great stars. Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin were also very good […]

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It was a walk down memory lane Thursday as American Ballet Theatre featured Italian stars Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in Onegin. A dramatic performance with great emotion from two great stars. Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin were also very good as Olga and Lensky, respectively. A wonderful production with spectacular sets and costumes. I posted curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com.

Tomorrow should be a great evening featuring Diana Vishneva’s final ABT performance, with Marcelo Gomes. Check for coverage early Saturday morning. It should be a great evening. Also check for my review of the two performances Saturday.

Alessandra Ferri, Onegin, Roberto Bolle

Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle, Onegin. Click for more photos.

 

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ABT Swan Lake: Copeland and Cornejo http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-copeland-cornejo/ http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-copeland-cornejo/#comments Sun, 18 Jun 2017 04:33:02 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7859 I posted curtain call photos of the American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake Saturday night with Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo. Check out my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com for curtain call photos for the Met season. Look for my review soon, probably […]

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I posted curtain call photos of the American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake Saturday night with Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo. Check out my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com for curtain call photos for the Met season. Look for my review soon, probably Monday.

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ABT Swan Lake Review: Sarah Lane Debut http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-review-sarah-lane-debut/ http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-review-sarah-lane-debut/#respond Sat, 17 Jun 2017 17:24:10 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7834 Sarah Lane’s American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake debut Thursday was a special event celebrating her perseverance. She joined ABT in 2003 and was promoted to Soloist in 2007. As a 10-year Soloist, she is just now dancing lead roles in major […]

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Sarah Lane’s American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake debut Thursday was a special event celebrating her perseverance. She joined ABT in 2003 and was promoted to Soloist in 2007. As a 10-year Soloist, she is just now dancing lead roles in major full length ballets Giselle and Swan Lake. She made her Giselle debut earlier in the year and Swan Lake due to an injury to Maria Kochetkova. Having picked up the role recently with limited rehearsal time, Sarah delivered a solid performance with Daniil Simkin as Prince Siegfried.

Sarah’s best moments were as Odette, which included long balances in arabesque, an energetic beat section with flowing arms, and deep penchés. Her demeanor was generally subdued and understated in contrast to Devon Teuscher’s Odile Wednesday afternoon. Sarah’s Odile solos in the pas de deux were well done except for her fouettés. She started out with doubles mixed in with singles. Off to a good start, she travelled downstage and ran out of gas, halting her turns with several counts remaining. She was clearly disappointed. I cut Sarah some slack as she is an effective turner demonstrated by nice early turns including doubles. Things just didn’t work out at the end of the turns for whatever reason. In general, the fouetté section of the role gets much attention, too much in my view. I like great turns, but there is more to the role of Odile than just 32 counts of fouettés.

She was successful in portraying the innocent swan in Act I morphed into a sly seductress in Act II. Overall a good performance in a difficult role. Hopefully she will have the opportunity to build on her work Thursday in future seasons.

Daniil Simkin was outstanding as Prince Siegfied, one of the best I have seen, a wonderful blend of stellar technique and dramatic flair. Danill’s technique is top-notch and he wisely toned it down relative to his Basilio in Don Quixote. All of his steps appeared effortless, a mark of a great dancer. It’s amazing that he can make four turns in second position look easy along with gorgeous double assemblés (one of my favorite steps when done well), and his trademark wide arm 5-6 pirouettes en dehors. With his thin build and long line, he has a beautiful arabesque line, put to good use numerous times. With his technique secure, Daniil focused on the dramatic side, particularly in the Odile section. He cherished Rothbart’s daughter Odile and his emotions carried in his solo. On the partnering side, Sarah and Daniil were effective, particularly given the limited rehearsal time. The lifts were secure although there were a few rough edges on supported turns. During the curtain calls, Daniil showed appreciation for Sarah by applauding during her bows. A classy touch from a great artist (see curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com).

Alban Lendorf was nasty as Rothbart, notable in his determination. Nice arabesques, high leaps, good turns, with an evil/indifferent persona.

Sarah Lane ABT debut in Swan Lake. Alban Lendorf as Rothbart

Alban Lendorf as Rothbart. Click for more photos.

Casandra Trenary and Skylar Brandt were very good in the Pas de Trois, reminding me of the high level dancing of Erica Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes in the 2005 ABT Swan Lake (the last performance DVD from ABT. Pathetic that it’s been 12 years since the last ABT DVD. See my ballet marketing article for more detail) Skylar really lights up the stage with her beaming smile in addition to her great technique consisting of articulated entrechat six and assemblé six. Hopefully, the two will graduate to lead roles in full lengths soon. Joseph Gorak lacked the liveliness of the women.

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ABT Swan Lake: Sarah Lane Debut http://balletfocus.com/sarah-lane/ http://balletfocus.com/sarah-lane/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 05:24:25 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7819 I posted a few curtain call photos from the Thursday American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake performance on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. The performance featured Sarah Lane’s ABT debut as Odette/Odile. Look for my review soon. A few late night comments: Sarah […]

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I posted a few curtain call photos from the Thursday American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake performance on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. The performance featured Sarah Lane’s ABT debut as Odette/Odile. Look for my review soon. A few late night comments:

  • Sarah had a strong debut performance on short notice, stepping in for Maria Kochetkova. She was strongest as Odette, with stellar technique and flowing arms. Her balances in arabesque stood out. Her Odile was also well done, but with a few rough edges. Her fouettés started out fine, with alternating singles and doubles. Then, traveling downstage, she seemed to run out of steam, stumbled a bit and cut the turns short. She didn’t look happy. Despite the minor problem, it was a great debut from Sarah.
  • Daniil Simkin was fantastic as Prince Siegfried with high, controlled leaps and nice turns. Reminded me at times of Angel Corella.
  • Alban Lendorf gave a fine performance as the purple Rothbart, delivered with great authority.

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ABT Swan Lake Review: Teuscher Met Debut Shows Promise http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-review-teuscher-met-debut-shows-promise/ http://balletfocus.com/abt-swan-lake-review-teuscher-met-debut-shows-promise/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 03:28:42 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7806 American Ballet Theatre’s youth movement continued Wednesday afternoon with Devon Teuscher’s Met debut in Swan Lake. This was her third time in the role, having danced the role two times at the Kennedy Center in January. The Soloist showed substantial […]

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American Ballet Theatre’s youth movement continued Wednesday afternoon with Devon Teuscher’s Met debut in Swan Lake. This was her third time in the role, having danced the role two times at the Kennedy Center in January. The Soloist showed substantial maturity, navigating the treacherous role with great authority. Her Odette portrayal exhibited great emotion and feeling; each movement had a purpose, a story to tell she as was believable from the start as a frightened swan encountering Prince Siegfried, protecting her flock. As Odile, she was a seductress, playing with the Prince with a look of smug satisfaction. You wouldn’t know that it was only her third performance in the role given the many nuanced movements she employed to convey meaning to the role.

Devon’s solid technique and ample turning skills allowed her to tackle the role with confidence. ABT’s Instagram post below shows her great turning ability with a triple pirouette to a triple turn in attitude (leg bent in back), a very difficult step. The Odile solo consists of this step done two times consecutively. Her first attempt was done flawlessly, with great upper body carriage, rigid arms in front with leg in perfect retiré position. On her second, she was unable to complete the attitude turn and stepped down before going to an attitude position in plié. Although not performed as Devon intended, she was able to cover it up well. My dance teacher would tell her students, all dancers make mistakes, but the great ones cover up their flaws. For her fouetté turn section, she did 10 consecutive double pirouettes, followed by singles, ending up with a triple pirouette. Many dancers alternate between single and double pirouettes. Doing consecutive doubles is very difficult because there is no “rest” turn before the double. A very impressive Met debut from Devon, showing great potential.

Unfortunately, her Price Siegfried, Alexandre Hammoudi was not up to her lofty standard. He had a number of issues: the ending part of his steps had rough edges, not smooth; his grand jetés had a forced quality, not effortless as when done properly; his turns in second position were off kilter; while Devon was expressive, Alex was more subdued, placid at times.

His partnering of Devon was solid at times, particularly on supported turns. There were several instances in which he righted her during her turns without killing her momentum, allowing her to complete numerous turns. The two did have one botched lift, an attitude overhead. Instead of holding her in the air, she came down and they did several turns to fill the music.

Overall, a performance that fell short of the mark from Alex.

Calvin Royal III was devious as Rothbart, displaying nice technique throughout. He interacted with the audience with “knowing” looks during his solo, much like Marcelo Gomes, who owns the role. Zhiyao Zhang was impressive in the Pas de Trois with high double tours in both directions in his solos and controlled turns.

Calvin Royal ABT Swan Lake Review: Teuscher Met Debut Shows Promise

Calvin Royal III as Rothbart. Click for more photos.

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ABT Le Corsaire Review: Shevchenko, Stearns http://balletfocus.com/abt-le-corsaire-review-shevchenko-stearns/ http://balletfocus.com/abt-le-corsaire-review-shevchenko-stearns/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 00:55:42 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7787 The final ABT Le Corsaire this Met season was a solid performance with new faces adding much excitement. Soloist Christine Shevchenko, stepping in for an injured dancer for the third time this week (Veronika Part was scheduled), was again exceptional […]

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The final ABT Le Corsaire this Met season was a solid performance with new faces adding much excitement. Soloist Christine Shevchenko, stepping in for an injured dancer for the third time this week (Veronika Part was scheduled), was again exceptional as Medora. Her technique is robust, enabling her to sail past the treacherous parts such as a fouetté-type turning diagonal in Act I and fouettés in the beginning of Act II. She was more animated Saturday relative to Friday, possibly growing into the role after multiple appearances. I hadn’t seen much of Christine before this year and did not have much of an opinion of her dancing. However, after seeing her twice as Medora, twice as Kitri in Don Quixote, and Myrta in Giselle, she is one of my favorite dancers, one that I would go out of my way to see in future Met seasons.

ABT Le Corsaire Review: Shevchenko, Stearns

Devon Teuscher, Le Corsaire. Click for more photos.

Another Soloist making waves this season is Devon Teuscher, who was Gulnare, Medora’s friend. Devon also commands the stage with strong technique and control, displayed by a nice piqué/chaîné manege (performed in a circle). I can’t wait to see her Odette/Odile in the Swan Lake Wednesday matinée.

Cory Stearns was solid as Conrad, Medora’s love interest. Notable were his space consuming giant assembles that seemed to cover half the stage. Cory is not a dancer that goes off the rails and does something wild but is reliable in such roles. I didn’t think Gabe Stone Shayer was effective as  Lankendem Friday as he was technically short of the mark. However, I liked his Birbanto portrayal Saturday. As Conrad’s sinister friend, he gave a strong performance with nice turns and leaps with a campy demeanor consistent with the silly ballet.

Corps member Joo Won Ahn was Lankendem Saturday. His strength is jumps, particularly his high double tours. At the end of one solo, he threw multiple double tours, something I haven’t seen before in the role. A fine performance from Ahn and I look forward to seeing more of him. Hopefully he can become the male version of Shevchenko/Teuscher/Brandt/Trenary. ABT is overflowing with great young female dancers, but I haven’t seen similar talent among the men.

James Whiteside as Ali was energetic, although the role is not his strong suit.

Daniil Simkin as Ali

Daniil Simkin does a remarkable Ali solo filled with numerous tricks. His solo Friday was similar to the YouTube video below. In particular check out the following:

4:25-a funky step with a full turn with his leg circling around his body. I don’t know the name but Jeffrey Cirio also does it;
4:45-Daniil’s trademark wide arm pirouettes drawing in as the six turns progress;
7:40-another trademark of Daniil’s, 540 revoltades in a diagonal. I’ve seen dancers do single 540s but never in a sequence;
8:40 controlled turns in second position.

His solo Friday was similar, but with a more difficult double assemblé manege (circle) in which he completed five. In the video, he does tour de reins, also called barrel turns (7:55). Friday, he also threw what appeared to be a triple saute de basque which is rarely done.

ABT’s Instagram account features Daniil’s big arm pirouettes to a dramatic finish. Note his very wide arm carriage, almost out to his side as he starts the turn. Conventional technique, shown in my pirouette video on YouTube, is with rounded arms closer to the body. As Daniil’s turns progress, his arms close to his body like a figure skater facilitating the turns. Note that at the beginning of the turn, he winds up substantially, something most ballet teachers discourage. He does this to generate more momentum into his turn as he needs the power to complete six or seven turns. I suspect that few dancers do such wide arm pirouettes because, although it looks cool, it is difficult to control the turns.

And you thought you'd seen it all… 😏 The slave that slays @daniil

A post shared by American Ballet Theatre (@abtofficial) on

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ABT Le Corsaire Review: Brandt, Shevchenko Debuts http://balletfocus.com/abt-le-corsaire-review-brandt-shevchenko-debuts/ http://balletfocus.com/abt-le-corsaire-review-brandt-shevchenko-debuts/#comments Sat, 10 Jun 2017 19:26:17 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7759 Injuries to Principal Dancers Gillian Murphy, Maria Kochetkova, and Veronika Part caused major cast changes in American Ballet Theatre’s Le Corsaire this week. The changes allowed great young talents-Soloists Skylar Brandt and Christine Shevchenko-to smash through the rigid ABT hierarchy, […]

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Injuries to Principal Dancers Gillian Murphy, Maria Kochetkova, and Veronika Part caused major cast changes in American Ballet Theatre’s Le Corsaire this week. The changes allowed great young talents-Soloists Skylar Brandt and Christine Shevchenko-to smash through the rigid ABT hierarchy, getting their chance to shine in the leading role. The two have taken full advantage, producing performances that rival and sometimes surpass their Principal Dancer counterparts. In the process they have generated much-needed excitement into ABT, similar to the young players excelling in the current New York Yankees season.

ABT tends to select from a limited number of full length ballets in a Met season, with classics Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire having heavy representation. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie doesn’t shake things up much in casting-unlike former ABT AD Mikhail Baryshnikov and NYCB AD Peter Martins-leading to homogenous casting from year-to-year. This casting strategy leads to dull predictability for frequent ballet goers and may be a barrier for some ballet fans to see more performances. It’s common for me to see a dancer in a particular role a number of times over the course of several years. One never likes to hear about injuries, but I was excited to see new blood enter the fray, not knowing what to expect.

At the beginning of last week, Skylar and Christine anticipated an uneventful Le Corsaire week not doing much. In reality, they stepped in the female lead Medora role for five performances, carrying ABT on their small shoulders this week. There must have been a lot of scrambling as the two had to learn the role quickly. Skylar danced Monday (replacing Maria Kochetkova) after ABT gave her the news the previous Friday (see Instagram post above). She also danced Wednesday evening. Christine danced the role Tuesday (replacing Veronika Part), Thursday (replacing Maria), and will dance Saturday evening (replacing Veronika).

The Thursday Le Corsaire was ABT at its best, showcasing spectacular and rare bravura technique. Skylar led the cast with a magnificent performance as the lead slave woman Medora, one of the best I have seen in this role. Her technical abilities were clearly demonstrated by her effortless turns and fouettés (singles mixed in with doubles), nice extensions with smooth upper body carriage. Her steady technique allowed her to define the role with great authority and confidence, a great accomplishment given that she just picked up the role. Technical capabilities aside, what made the role successful was her beaming expressions that carried the stage. The slave girl Medora must make everyone, particularly Conrad the pirate, fall in love with her the second her veil comes off. With her radiant smile, she captured the stage and the audience.

Herman Cornejo was Conrad, the pirate love interest of Medora. Herman still has it at age 36, with his trademark big split double cabriole derriére, double assemblés, and high leaps. Nice to see that he is recovered from his calf injury he suffered earlier in the ABT Met season. Skylar and Herman made a nice pair, although Skylar was more expressive. A very effective pas de deux, amazing since they have only been working together for a few days. Their lack of work didn’t seem to matter as Skylar was able to rip off 11 supported turns, 8 in another segment.

ABT Review: Brandt and Shevchenko debut. Daniil Simkin as Lankendem.

Daniil Simkin as Lankendem. Click for more photos.

If there is a better Lankendem than Daniil Simkin in the world, let me know. He was brilliant Thursday, with his trademark gala-style tricks. Dramatically, he played the slave trader with an exaggerated campy demeanor, in synch with the silly plot. Technical highlights included a jaw dropping six pirouettes with his typical wide arm carriage to a double tour with a takeoff from one leg! I’m not sure how he pulls that off with all of the force needed to generate upward momentum and compete a double tour to the knee.

The Friday performance lacked the pizzaz of Thursday, with several notable performances. Christine was Medora Friday with Alban Lendorf  as Conrad. Christine was more subdued than Skylar, a bit lower on the “beaming” scale. Her technique is sound allowing her to sail through the difficult steps. Add Le Corsaire to her list of successful performances this year in addition to Don Quixote and Myrta in Giselle. Alban was fine as the Conrad, although the role is not a natural fit for him. I see him as more of a prince type as in Swan Lake or Giselle. Gabe Stone Shayer lacked technical power and authority as Lankendem. Stella Abrera was lovely as Gulnare, Medora’s friend. This role fits her strengths with her long elegant line, although she struggled on her pirouettes from fifth position diagonal.

Daniil was the highlight as Ali, with a big solo with all of his tricks thrown in. Jeffrey Ciro as Ali Thursday delivered a very good solo filled with many turns. Look for my post tomorrow focusing on the Ali performances from Jeffrey, Daniil, and James Whiteside.

Le Corsaire is a campy, unserious drama put together by Marius Petipa for the Bolshoi Ballet in 1860 after he escaped persecution from Spain after a tryst with a mistress of a diplomat or the daughter of the mistress (for more detail, see Simon Morrison’s wonderful history of the Bolshoi Ballet, Bolshoi Confidential). Le Corsaire gets no respect from critics (it’s so kitsch!), but who cares. It’s a lot of fun when done well.

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Shevchenko, Lendorf in Le Corsaire http://balletfocus.com/shevchenko-lendorf-le-corsaire/ http://balletfocus.com/shevchenko-lendorf-le-corsaire/#respond Sat, 10 Jun 2017 04:25:38 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7753 Christine Shevchenko continued her great American Ballet Theatre season with a fine performance as Medora in Le Corsaire with Alban Ledorf as Conrad, the pirate. Christine has great technique and turning abilities, a necessity for this role. Although the performance […]

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Christine Shevchenko continued her great American Ballet Theatre season with a fine performance as Medora in Le Corsaire with Alban Ledorf as Conrad, the pirate. Christine has great technique and turning abilities, a necessity for this role. Although the performance was not up the the lofty standards set Thursday, the evening was entertaining. Particularly Daniil Simkin as the high-flying Ali. Check out my curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. Look for my review of the Thursday and Friday performances tomorrow.

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Skylar Brandt Stars in Le Corsaire http://balletfocus.com/s/ http://balletfocus.com/s/#respond Fri, 09 Jun 2017 04:30:57 +0000 http://balletfocus.com/?p=7738 American Ballet Theatre did what is does best Thursday evening in Le Corsaire, providing an evening filled with technically brilliant bravura dancing. Check out my curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. Look for my review Saturday. In the meantime, here […]

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American Ballet Theatre did what is does best Thursday evening in Le Corsaire, providing an evening filled with technically brilliant bravura dancing. Check out my curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com. Look for my review Saturday. In the meantime, here are are a few quick late night thoughts:

  • Skylar Brandt delivered a Principal Dancer worthy performance as the beautiful, radiant Medora, filling in for the injured Maria Kochetkova. A fine performance from the Soloist, making her bid for a promotion.
  • Herman Cornejo, at age 36, still has it with a high-flying Conrad the pirate performance.
  • If there is a better Lankendem than Daniil Simkin, I would like to see him. Daniil was brilliant as the owner of the bazaar, with numerous high-flying leaps and endless turns.
  • Jeffrey Cirio as Ali gave an energetic rendition as Ali, the slave.
  • Sarah Lane was lyrical as Gulnare.

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