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New York City Ballet: Swan Lake 2006
New York City Ballet
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Associate Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Press Coordinator, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 10, 2006 and January 12, 2006
Conductor: Andrea Quinn
Swan Lake (1999): (See January 28, 2004 Review). Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Peter Martins after Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Per Kirkeby, Costumes realized by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Wendy Whelan (1/10) and Jenifer Ringer (1/12) as Odette/Odile, Damian Woetzel (1/10) and Sébastien Marcovici (1/12) as Prince Siegfried, Robert La Fosse (1/10) and Henry Seth (1/12) as Von Rotbart, Dana Hanson (1/10 and 1/12) as The Queen, Daniel Ulbricht (1/10) and Adam Hendrickson (1/12) as Jester, Andrew Veyette (1/10 and 1/12) as Benno, Megan LeCrone, Kristin Sloan, Andrew Veyette (1/10 and 1/12) in Pas de Trois, Ashley Bouder, Ana Sophia Scheller Tiler Peck, Benjamin Millepied (1/10) and Megan Fairchild, Ana Sophia Scheller, Tiler Peck, and Joaquin De Luz (1/12) in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Savannah Lowery and Jason Fowler (1/10 and 1/12) leading Hungarian Dance, Yvonne Borree and Albert Evans (1/10) and Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar (1/12) in Russian Dance, Ellen Bar, Sara Mearns, Craig Hall, Jonathan Stafford (1/10) and Ellen Bar, Faye Arthurs, Kyle Froman, Sean Suozzi (1/12) in Spanish Dance, Alina Dronova and Antonio Carmena (1/10 and 1/12) leading Neapolitan Dance, Faye Arthurs, Melissa Barak, Saskia Beskow, Pauline Golbin, Rebecca Krohn, Ashley Laracey (1/10) and Melissa Barak, Saskia Beskow, Glenn Keenan, Gwyneth Muller, Megan LeCrone, Sarah Ricard (1/12) as Six Princesses, Melissa Barak, Amanda Edge, Carrie Lee Riggins, Elizabeth Walker (1/10) and Alina Dronova, Amanda Edge, Carrie Lee Riggins, Elizabeth Walker (1/12) as Four Small Swans, Students from School of American Ballet, and the Company.
Peter Martins' somewhat surreal version of Swan Lake returned this season with a variety of debuts as Odette/Odile (the white and black swans), as well as debuts as Prince Siegfried (who, at age 21, has been commanded by his mother, The Queen, to take a bride, chosen from Six Princesses), and debuts as Von Rotbart (the evil sorcerer, whose goal in life seems to be to keep his kidnapped maidens as eternal swans). Martins' condensed version, in two acts, instead of the usual three, leaves out some of the expected action, such as Odette's mime drama for Siegfried, of her capture as a maiden and transformation to swan.
There was much talk this ballet season about the Swan Lake 32 fouettés contest, that is, the Act III Black Swan Pas de Deux between Odile and Siegfried, in which Odile seduces Siegfried and spins on one leg, non-stop, 32 times, with tiny kicks against her shin by the other leg, that whips around. If Odile does not accomplish this breathtaking and show-stopping feat, there is an air of disappointment among balletomanes that quickly fills the hall and the notebooks. On these two occasions, neither Wendy Whelan nor Jenifer Ringer made the 32, but what they did both accomplish was an elegant portrayal of Odette in her passionate and poignant plight. Ms. Ringer was able to move her arms and joints in swanlike undulations, while Ms. Whelan took a more simplified and streamlined approach.
The two Siegfrieds, Damian Woetzel and Sébastien Marcovici, also created personal interpretations of their roles, with Mr. Woetzel more buoyant and bravura, and Mr. Marcovici more theatrical and romantic. In that Act III defining moment, Mr. Woetzel wowed his audience with his signature elevation and daring aerobics, while Mr. Marcovici exuded pathos, passion, and potent power. Andrew Veyette, on both nights, seemed hard pressed to keep up with Ms. Quinn's robust orchestra in the Pas de Trois, with his limbs a bit stiff and low to the ground. But, the two Von Rotbarts, the renowned Robert La Fosse on 1/10 and Henry Seth on 1/12, each gave two of the most unique and dramatic presentations of this role to grace the Lincoln Center stages. The orange and black costumes, so brilliant and well-conceived, were enhanced with orange hair highlights and facial-hand expressions that reeked of doom and devilish delight.
Two dynamic stars with tour de force performances were the electrically charged Daniel Ulbricht and Adam Hendrickson as Jesters, like one-man Greek Choruses, that express the emotion on and off stage with gestures, mime, and wild en air spins, all the while in clown-like unitards and caps, in oranges and greens. Mr. Ulbricht had a slight edge on speed and ornamentation, with Mr. Hendrickson having a slight edge on effortlessness and lack of self-consciousness, with both characters onstage during dramatic transitions and courtly events. Dana Hanson, a youthful, ingénue Queen was, however, regal, poised, and in her role at all times. The 1/12 Divertissement: Pas de Quatre dancers were rambunctious and riveting, with Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz as showstoppers.
The Four Small Swans dance, which, like the 32 fouettés, is another marker of this ballet, in all its incarnations, must be danced in sync and split-timed rhythm, with arms held together and feet and heads in the same position and motion every second. The ensemble achieved this energized effect on 1/12. Both Russian Dance couples were superbly sensual and persuasively partnered, with Yvonne Borree and Albert Evans in muscular and heated lifts with exaggerated exoticism, and with Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar in a more unscripted, daring, and campy portrayal. On both nights, the same cast, Hungarian and Neapolitan Dances were quite effective, and Alina Dronova is a corps dancer to watch.
The two casts in Spanish Dance were elegant and entertaining, and, on 1/10, I especially enjoyed the Ramasar and Suozzi performances. The corps and students from School of American Ballet, as Swans, Villagers, Courtiers, Hunters, Ladies in Waiting, Small Jesters, Village Children, Pages, and Six Princesses, were all outstandingly prepared and effective in solo, ensemble, or larger choreographies. Mark Stanley's lighting, as always, shone brightly in the palace garden and dimly at the lake, with spotlights or dark imagery on Von Rotbart, in the wings and amongst his prey. Per Kirkeby's classic and colorful costumes, against his contemporary, painted backdrops, were remarkable and romantic.
Ms. Whelan and Ms. Ringer gave their utmost in internalizing and interpreting this complex duality in dance, and, as Odette/Odile, both principals commanded attention. Kudos to Wendy Whelan, Jenifer Ringer, Damian Woetzel, and Sebastien Marcovici, and kudos to Peter Martins for an energetic and expressionistic Swan Lake.
Jenifer Ringer and Sébastien Marcovici in the New York City Ballet's Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik
Wendy Whelan and Damian Woetzel in the New York City Ballet's Swan Lake
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik