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American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2005
-Onstage with the Dancers

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Swan Lake
Ballet in Four Acts

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive 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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 2, July 8, July 9 2005

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com


Swan Lake (1877, Moscow; 2000, ABT): Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Set and Costumes by Zack Brown, and 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).

Performed by:

July 2: Conductor: Charles Barker, Julie Kent as Odette-Odile, Julio Bocca as Prince Siegfried, Georgina Parkinson as The Queen Mother, Kirk Peterson as Wolfgang, Herman Cornejo as Benno, the prince's friend, Jared Matthew and Carlos Acosta as von Rothbart, Xiomara Reyes, Yuriko Kajiya, and Herman Cornejo as Pas de Trois, Karin Ellis-Wentz, Sarah Lane, Anne Milewski, and Maria Riccetto as Cygnettes, Veronica Part and Carmen Corella as Two Swans, Kirk Peterson as Master of Ceremonies, Zhong-Jing Fang as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Laura Hidalgo as The Polish Princess, Anna Liceica and Alexei Agoudine as Czardas, Maria Bystrova, Vitali Krauchenka, Sarawanee Tanatanit, and Eric Underwood as Spanish Dance, Danny Tidwell and Grant DeLong as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

July 8: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Paloma Herrera as Odette-Odile, Carlos Acosta as Prince Siegfried, Georgina Parkinson as The Queen Mother, Victor Barbee as Wolfgang, Sascha Radetsky as Benno, the prince's friend, Eric Underwood and David Hallberg as von Rothbart, Anna Liceica, Maria Riccetto, and Sascha Radetsky as Pas de Trois, Yuriko Kajiya, Marian Butler, Caity Seither, and Ashley Ellis as Cygnettes, Adrienne Schulte and Ilona McHugh as Two Swans, Victor Barbee as Master of Ceremonies, Zhong-Jing Fang as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Paris as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Laura Hidalgo as The Polish Princess, Jennifer Alexander and Jesus Pastor as Czardas, Maria Bystrova, Roman Zhurbin, Sarawanee Tanatanit, and Julio Bragado-Young as Spanish Dance, Danny Tidwell and Craig Salstein as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

July 9: Conductor: Charles Barker, Gillian Murphy as Odette-Odile, Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried, Ilona McHugh as The Queen Mother, Kirk Peterson as Wolfgang, Herman Cornejo as Benno, the prince's friend, Isaac Stappas and Marcelo Gomes as von Rothbart, Xiomara Reyes, Yuriko Kajiya, Herman Cornejo as Pas de Trois, Sarah Lane, Marian Butler, Anne Milewski, and Maria Riccetto as Cygnettes, Veronica Part and Carmen Corella as Two Swans, Kirk Peterson as Master of Ceremonies, Marian Butler as The Hungarian Princess, Erica Cornejo as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Laura Hidalgo as The Polish Princess, Anna Liceica and Alexei Agoudine as Czardas, Jennifer Alexander, David Hallberg, Adrienne Schulte, and Julio Bragado-Young as Spanish Dance, Arron Scott and Craig Salstein as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

This was the first season of ABT's Swan Lake performances, absent Nina Ananiashvili, and ABT balletomanes were in high anxiety and survival strategies. One strategy was just to attend numerous evenings or matinees of Swan Lake, and thus to absorb the music, mood, and high points of each solo, pas de deux, or corps choreography. As it turned out, we survived quite well, as ABT is a master at full-length story ballets, and especially at full-length Swan Lakes. This season I saw three Odette-Odiles, three Prince Siegfrieds, two Bennos (one, thankfully, twice), and SIX! Von Rothbarts, two each night. Plus, I visited the Stage Door people and exiting dancers on two of the Swan Lake evenings (Watch for Third ABT Stage Door Reunion) and still hum the finale of the "Black Swan pas de deux" in my head at odd hours.

On July 2, Julie Kent excelled as Odette, in the most languid and lyrical interpretation that I've ever been blessed to witness. Her sorrowful re-enactment of her transformation from ingénue to swan, dramatized to Siegfried (Julio Bocca), was elegant and enrapturing. Ms. Kent's Odile was warm and willful, but not as edgy or dramatic as Paloma Herrera's on July 8. Ms. Herrera's Odette was vivacious more than vulnerable, but her Odile was wily and wanton. Both principal Swans gave magnetic performances. On July 9, Gillian Murphy seemed to balance her two swan characters with expertise and full awareness of her audience. The various choreographic challenges inherent in this dual role were seemingly effortless for all three principals, as they whisked like lightning in their 32 Act III fouettés, en pointe forever.

Julio Bocca was attentive, theatrical, and still en air, as a dashing and daunted Siegfried on July 2, with hair flying and compact frame leaping and spinning like a top. His Act I birthday dance and all pas de deux were true to form and frenetic energy. May Julio Bocca dance forever! Carlos Acosta, in a debut as Siegfried, partnered Paloma Herrera on July 8. Mr. Acosta was both panther and prey, as he stalked the single princesses, and later seduced Odette, before being seduced, in turn, by Odile. Ms. Herrera, from Argentina, and Mr. Acosta, from Cuba, were one hot partnership, but Mr. Acosta is still rough on the edges of the advanced choreography of this complex role. The inexperience was of no import, as Mr. Acosta is a dancer to watch, and watch, and watch. His hormonal heroics and gravity-defying lunges and leaps are mesmerizing. Angel Corella, as Gillian Murphy's Prince Siegfried on July 9, has style and energy to spare, and his stage stature grew to towering heights with soaring spins and aerial aerobics. Mr. Corella and Ms. Murphy connected with unusual fervor.

The role of Benno, which includes a rapid-paced pas de trios in Act I, was superbly performed by Herman Cornejo on both July 2 and July 9. On both occasions, he was joined by principal, Xiomara Reyes, and corps member, Yuriko Kajiya (a dancer to watch), in what would be termed "luxury casting". The audience had rightly anticipated extreme excitement, as the pas de trios commenced, and it was not at all disappointed. In fact, accolades almost stopped the Act. Sascha Radetsky, as Benno on July 8, joined in the pas de trios by Anna Liceica and Maria Riccetto, will grow into the role. Mr. Radetsky has bounce and buoyancy, but Mr. Cornejo dances mid-stage and ceiling.

The six von Rothbarts, Jared Matthews/Carlos Acosta (July 2), Eric Underwood/David Hallberg (July 8), and Isaac Stappas/Marcelo Gomes (July 9), were high points of each event, whether the light-costumed von Rothbart with horns and wings and wild makeup, or the black-costumed, Act III von Rothbart, who collaborates with Odile to destroy Odette and Siegfried's future. Carlos Acosta, in a debut role, was fiery and fierce in his solo, entertaining the Court in The Great Hall, while David Hallberg was theatrical and stylized, exuding communication with Paloma Herrera, during her intense seduction dance. Marcelo Gomes was technically seasoned and psychologically powerful in both the longer solo and brief, partnered dances. The von Rothbart monster role was well presented by each of the three listed dancers.

The four Cygnettes were well timed and synchronized each performance (See casting above), and Two Swans dance was strongest with Veronica Part and Carmen Corella. Victor Barbee and Kirk Peterson, seasoned dancers and Assoc. Artistic Director (Barbee) (July 8) and Ballet Master (Peterson) (July 2 and July 9) were distinguished and authentic as Wolfgang and Master of Ceremonies. The ensemble of Princesses was outstanding each of the three nights, with Marian Butler excelling as The Hungarian Princess. Czardas, Spanish Dance, and Mazurkas were equally elegant, and Julio Bragado-Young and David Hallberg were noticeably in high form. The combination of Danny Tidwell and Craig Salstein on July 8 was the most
electrifying duo in the Neapolitan dance segment.

Swan Lake survives in annual ballet repertoires due to the strength of the corps, so essential in highly synchronized footwork, leg lifts, multiple, tiny jumps forward en pointe, and elegant arms. Those undulating arms, which resemble wings, held above the glistening white tutus, the feathered head-pieces, and the billowing onstage mist, are requisite to the success of Swan Lake. In fact, each Odette-Odile has her own wing-like version, as she sharply turns her back to the audience and succumbs to von Rothbart's power. Ms. Kent, Ms. Herrera, and Ms. Murphy presented their best undulating "wings", and, though we still imagine Ms. Ananiashvili's unique, rippling effect, this season's swans fluttered and flew, on cue, toward von Rothbart's giant wings.

Zack Brown's sets and costumes, with Duane Schuler's lighting, framed and fashioned these performances with regality, luminosity, and class. Charles Barker, Ormsby Wilkins, and the ABT Orchestra could stand on their own at any given moment with this sumptuous Tchaikovsky score, with lengthy instrumental solos, so well coordinated to each dancer's style and speed. Kudos to Kevin McKenzie for charismatic choreography and artistic direction. Swan Lake 2005 was a smashing success.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net