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American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2006

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 1, 2006
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
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American Ballet Theatre
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About the Author:

American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2006

American Ballet Theatre
www.abt.org

Swan Lake
At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 28, 2006 and July 1, 2006


(Read More ABT Reviews)

Swan Lake (1877, Moscow; 2000, ABT): (See Swan Lake 2005 Reviews). Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Set and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Duane Schuler. Swan Lake was first produced in 1877 by the Russian imperial Ballet at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. In 1895, the Petipa/Ivanov choreography was introduced in St. Petersburg, and in 1940 ABT staged Act II, followed in 1944 by the premier of the Black Swan Pas de Deux at the Metropolitan Opera House. In 1988 Mikhail Baryshnikov staged a new version for ABT, and in 1993 Kevin McKenzie re-staged this piece for ABT and again newly produced Swan Lake in 2000. (Program Notes).

June 28, 2006: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Diana Vishneva as Odette-Odile, Jose Manuel Carreño as Prince Siegfried, Ilona McHugh as The Queen Mother, Frederic Franklin as Wolfgang, Herman Cornejo as Benno, the Prince's friend, Isaac Stappas and Sascha Radetsky as von Rothbart, Xiomara Reyes, Erica Cornejo, and Herman Cornejo as Pas de Trois, Yuriko Kajiya, Marian Butler, Maria Riccetto, and Anne Milewski as Cygnettes, Kristi Boone and Simone Messmer as Two Swans, Clinton Luckett as Master of Ceremonies, Marian Butler as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Sarah Lane as The Polish Princess, Jennifer Alexander and Alexei Agoudine as Czardas, Stella Abrera, Roman Zhurbin, Adrienne Schulte, and Cory Stearns as Spanish Dance, Luis Ribagorda and Jesus Pastor as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

July 1, 2006: Conductor: Charles Barker, Paloma Herrera as Odette-Odile, Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried, Ilona McHugh as The Queen Mother, Kirk Peterson as Wolfgang, Sascha Radetsky as Benno, the Prince's friend, Jared Matthews and Jesus Pastor as von Rothbart, Maria Riccetto, Stella Abrera, and Sascha Radetsky as Pas de Trois, Jennifer Alexander, Marian Butler, Renata Pavam, and Misty Copeland as Cygnettes, Melissa Thomas and Carmen Corella as Two Swans, Kirk Peterson as Master of Ceremonies, Misty Copeland as The Hungarian Princess, Erica Cornejo as The Spanish Princess, Renata Pavam as The Italian Princess, Sarah Lane as The Polish Princess, Anna Liceica and Alexei Agoudine as Czardas, Jennifer Alexander, Roman Zhurbin, Sarawanee Tanatanit, and Julio Bragado-Young as Spanish Dance, Aaron Scott and Grant DeLong as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

Swan Lake 2006 with two virtuosic duos, even one virtuosic duo, is always the high point of the Spring Season at ABT. The watershed moment occurs in Act III, with Odile and Siegfried's Great Hall Black Swan Pas de Deux, and the 32 fouettés. A few ballerinas even turn in triple fouettés (triple spins, no spotting, raised leg close) during the 32 fouettés, such as Nina Ananiashvili (who has not danced with ABT in a couple of years) and Paloma Herrera. Ms. Herrera did just that on July 1, as the culmination of an energized and exciting performance. Her partner, Angel Corella, as Siegfried, was virtuosic in his own right, and he exuded youthful ardor, passion, and electricity (as is his style) in each and every leap and turn. I begin this review at this watershed balletic and iconic moment, because, to be honest, the balletomanes watch this pas de deux with piercing attention, begging Odile to meet the challenge. Last winter there was some talk about which City Ballet principals mastered this task, when Peter Martins' version was presented across the Plaza.

The difference between the June 28 cast and the July 1 cast was just this level of bravura dancing. Diana Vishneva is an elegant, romantic, and charming dancer, with an engaging persona. Jose Manuel Carreño used to be (until this performance, in my opinion) one of the most exciting premier danseurs at ABT, with backward and mid-air leaps that defied gravity and sent lightning bolts through the Opera House and City Center (Fall Season). Perhaps it was the chemistry of the partners, perhaps the years are moving swiftly, but it seemed that Mr. Carreño was having an off-night. The audience accolades, at each and every iconic solo or pas de deux, is a fine measure of performance success, as loyal fans wait anxiously for those moments. Diana Vishneva presented Odette's sorrowful tale in Act II, in the mime of her capture by von Rothbart. Her pas de deux with Mr. Carreño in Act II, as he commits to breaking von Rothbart's spell, was spell-binding. Their Black Swan Pas de Deux was enticing and energized, but it did not meet or break "records". The bar was raised, when Julio Bocca and Nina Ananiashvili were first partnered in this ballet, and it's sad that they never had the farewell performance that was afforded Mr. Bocca and Alessandra Ferri in Romeo and Juliet (last year) and Manon (this year).

On June 28, Herman Cornejo, as Benno, and as the lead in Pas de Trois, with his sister, Erica Cornejo, and Xiomara Reyes was pure virtuosity. In fact, the June 28 Pas de Trois was among the best I have ever seen. Mr. Cornejo, with a bit of princely practice, might be one of next year's Siegfrieds. He moves with "inner springs", like a grasshopper, a frog, a non-human ability. He draws us in with a lack of inhibition, while his Prince, Mr. Carreño, seemed to be too self-possessed and restrained. Ms. Cornejo and Ms. Reyes were at their peak, as always, refreshingly buoyant and feminine, dancing like butterflies. On July 1, Sascha Radetsky, as Benno, seemed to be reaching, not quite there, but almost. He has the elevation, but seems strained. His Pas de Trois with Stella Abrera and Maria Riccetto was most engaging for Ms. Abrera's litheness and effortlessness. Ms. Abrera is a dancer to watch, an image of perfection.

The star of this ballet is always, in addition to the requisite bravura and chemistry of the leads, the corps. On both evenings the corps was exquisite, ethereal, and elegant. The synchronized hopping, like a swan bent on one leg, plus angular arms and poignant positions, enhanced each evening's performance with classic and charismatic form. The 20 swans seemed to blossom before our eyes, as Zack Brown's feathery head bands and white, stiff tutus glowed sharply in Duane Schuler's dim, forest lighting. As the two von Rothbarts, each night's set of split-personas was astounding, with the July 1 pair, Jared Matthews and Jesus Pastor, taking a slight edge. Mr. Pastor, especially, is quite the seducer, and one Princess seemed to spin uncontrollably toward him, from his magical mime. As the winged von Rothbart, replete with horns and scales, Isaac Stappas seemed the most foreboding.

The dance of the Cygnettes was especially timed on July 1, although both performances of this brief and iconic dance, with snapping heads and feet in synchronized momentum, were well received. The Great Hall dances, of the international Princesses, trying to woo Siegfried, were equally enticing each evening, with special note to Marian Butler's June 28 Hungarian Princess dance, Sarah Lane's July 1 Polish Princess dance, and Aaron Scott and Grant DeLong's July 1 Neapolitan dance, with its look-alike spins and arm motions. On June 28, the 92 year-old Frederic Franklin was Wolfgang, with Kirk Peterson taking the role on July 1. They were both, at all times, perfectly in character and drew my interest to their courtly walk and attributes. On June 28 and July 1, the Two Swans were all entertaining.

Kevin McKenzie's compact choreography, allowing but one intermission, with duo von Rothbarts (including von Rothbart's seductive solo) and the afterlife embrace of the leads inside a brilliant sun, is receiving wide enthusiasm from loyal ABT balletomanes, as the staged differences no longer seem unfamiliar. Change can be good, and with a performance, such as that on July 1, the music and imagery linger like chocolate with sweet sensation. Both Ormsby Wilkins and Charles Barker brought fullness and resilience to the score, but Mr. Wilkins seemed the more impassioned on the podium. Impassioned conductors add drama to the moment. Kudos to Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, whose music still replays in my mind, and kudos to Kevin McKenzie for bringing this hypnotic ballet to us each and every spring.


Diana Vishneva in Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Erin Baiano



Paloma Herrera in Swan Lake.
Photo courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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