About the Author:
American Ballet Theatre - Swan Lake
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters : Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 18, 2004
Swan Lake (1967): (See June 20, 2003 Review). Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Set and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Duane Schuler, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Nina Ananiashvili as Odette-Odile, Julio Bocca as Prince Siegfried, Erica Fischbach as The Queen Mother, Frederic Franklin as Wolfgang, Tutor to the Prince, Sascha Radetsky as Benno, The Prince's Friend, Ethan Brown and Marcelo Gomes as von Rothbart, the Evil Sorcerer.
Additional performers: Renata Pavam and Stella Abrera in Pas de Trois, Yuriko Kajiya, Sarah Lane, Anne Milewski, and Maria Riccetto as Cygnettes, Ilona McHugh and Adrienne Schulte as Two Swans, Clinton Luckett as Master of Ceremonies, Zhong-Jing Fang as The Hungarian Princess, Anne Liceica as The Spanish Princess, Maria Riccetto as The Italian Princess, Sarawanee Tanatanit as The Polish Princess, Jennifer Alexander and Carlos Molina in Czardas, Maria Bystrova, David Hallberg, Adrienne Schulte, and Eric Underwood in Spanish Dance, Danny Tidwell and Craig Salstein in Neapolitan Dance, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czarda Dancers, and Mazurka Dancers.
Every balletomane has an annual or occasional event in ballet that is worth waiting a full year to re-experience. The Ananiashvili-Bocca Swan Lake, performed only once this ABT season, is such an event. The audience seems breathless, as each character is introduced onstage, with Odette (Ms. Ananiashvili) first appearing in Act II at Lakeside. Tonight's performance was not only superb, with bravura dancing from the entire cast of characters in this quintessential ballet, but it seemed to even upstage each previous year. Of course, we say that each year, still humming in our mind's ear bits and pieces of that extraordinary Tchaikovsky score, with the visual images of Siegfried and Odette-Odile, Deserving Swan and Deceptive Swan.
Mr. Bocca remains in outstanding form and balance, having developed his dramatizations and partnering chemistry to the maximum. His birthday dance, his three Pas de Deux, two white, one black, and even his final exit across the sun, after leaping into the lake to follow Odette, sailing together into the afterlife, were riveting and exciting. In fact, the entire evening was exciting, as always, with the Russian-born and trained Ms. Ananiashvili quivering behind her rippling white "wings" or seducing Siegfried with sexual energy, like hot lightning seizing the stage and surrounding her prey. As Odile, she surprised us with extra time en pointe, an extra wink, one more ripple of the arms, and extra triple spins, toes whipping and winding. Ms. Ananiashvili is but one swan in the extensive list of ABT Principals performing this role. Yet, I chose to see this one Swan Lake because of the electrified energy emanating from this duo. Ms. Ananiashvili and Mr. Bocca danced showstoppers with emergency bows in Acts II, III, and IV. There were endless curtain calls. This event becomes annual ballet history.
The 90-year-old Frederic Franklin, a renowned ballet figure, performing as Siegfried's tutor, Wolfgang, received his own accolades, and Mr. Brown, along with Mr. Gomes, were the green monster, von Rothbart and the formally dressed, von Rothbart. Each was incredibly nuanced, one as the magical power over the Swan Corps and one as the evil "father" of the evil Odile, tricking the birthday guests and royal family into a marriage proposal that sealed the fate of his captured woman/swan. Mr. Brown loves to act, and he might hopefully consider theatre, following his tenure with ABT. Mr. Gomes brought his own sexual energy to his wild solo dance and Pas de Deux with the eager European Princesses, who sought the hand of the Prince.
Ms. Pavam, Ms. Abrera, and Mr. Radetsky (as Benno, Siegfried's friend), contributed with charming and perfectly timed configurations in the Act I Pas de Trois. The Act II dance of the four Cygnettes, Ms. Kajiya, Ms. Lane, Ms. Milewski, and Ms. Riccetto, was polished and punctual, coy and staccato. The Act III dance ensembles in Czardas (led by Ms. Alexander and Mr. Molina), Spanish Dance (Why not add some castanets onstage, too?), adorable and aerobic Neapolitan Dance (Mr. Tidwell and Mr. Salstein), and final Mazurka, were royally entertaining and effervescent.
Mr. Barker brought out the brilliance in this passionate and sometimes sorrowful score. The soulful violin solo, as well as somber harp and oboe passages, were definitive in the evening's magical ambiance. Zack Brown's sets and costumes deserve special mention for their refinement and detail. Kudos to Nina Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca. I already await and anticipate ABT's Ananiashvili-Bocca Swan Lake 2005.