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New York City Ballet: Swan Lake 2010

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New York City Ballet

Swan Lake 2010

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Guest Teacher: Merrill Ashley
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the Board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 12, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Swan Lake (1999): 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 Sara Mearns as Odette/Odile, Jared Angle as Prince Siegfried, Albert Evans as Von Rotbart, Gwyneth Muller as The Queen, Daniel Ulbricht as Jester, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Benno, Gretchen Smith, Kathryn Morgan, Adrian Danchig-Waring in Pas de Trois, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Savannah Lowery, Teresa Reichlen, Jonathan Stafford in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Georgina Pazcoguin and Arch Higgins leading Hungarian Dance, Janie Taylor and Ask la Cour in Russian Dance, Faye Arthurs, Ellen Bar, Andrew Scordato, Henry Seth in Spanish Dance, Stephanie Zungre and Allen Peiffer leading Neapolitan Dance, Sara Adams, Callie Bachman, Maya Collins, Amanda Hankes, Lauren King, Ashley Laracey as Six Princesses, Sara Adams, Callie Bachman, Alina Dronova, Kristen Segin as Four Small Swans, Students from School of American Ballet, and the Company.

Sara Mearns was the quintessential Odette-Odile, luxurious, ethereal, and vulnerable as Odette, and bright, sharp, teasing as Odile. The contrasts in mood and attitude were remarkable, but there was no contrast in virtuosity, as Ms. Mearns is fast becoming a true prima ballerina, in dazzling virtuosity. When she danced Odile’s 32 fouettés, she was confident and exciting with a diva’s bravura. When she was magnetized by Von Rotbart’s power, her arms undulated rhythmically, the woman turned swan. Partnered with Jared Angle, as Prince Siegfried, an attentive but not yet transcendent Principal, Ms. Mearns as Odette exuded persuasive passion and deep despair, while as Odile she exuded robust vigor and wanton devilishness. Mr. Angle is a gorgeous dancer, always in the dramatic momentum, and always in eye contact with his partner. He needs more inherent fire, however, to be totally in the role and to be a gripping stage presence. He is theatrical, but not primal. Yet, together Ms. Mearns and Mr. Angle were enchanting and glamorous in their varied pas de deux, more so in the lakeside scenes.

Daniel Ulbricht, as the Jester, a one-man Greek chorus-type character, signaled the mood shifts with his authentic expressiveness. His tour de force dance moments were always propulsive and driven. Gwyneth Muller was The Queen, and I find her one of the most interesting Corps dancers, vastly under-utilized. She made the most of this non-dance role. Albert Evans was an imposing Von Rotbart, and his upcoming farewell event highlights the Company’s loss of a truly magnetic dancer. Adrian Danchig-Waring is another artist to watch, always regal and refined. As Benno, he riveted my eye with his elegant motion and gestures. He was male lead in the Pas de Trois, partnering Kathryn Morgan and Gretchen Smith in one of the finest interpretations of this important dance. The Pas de Quatre was impressively danced by Kaitlyn Gilliland, Savannah Lowery, Teresa Reichlen, and Jonathan Stafford. A high point was the lock-step dancing of Four Small Swans, with Sara Adams, Callie Bachman, Alina Dronova, and Kristen Segin.

In the Act II ballroom scene (Mr. Martins tends to use the two-act, one intermission format for his own story ballets), most eloquent and thrilling were Janie Taylor and Ask la Cour in the Russian Dance, a sensual, bewitching pas de deux, as well as Stephanie Zungre and Allen Peiffer’s lead in the buoyant Neapolitan Dance. Per Kirkeby’s scenery and costumes once again (as in Mr. Martins’ Romeo + Juliet) synthesized the thematic emotions in stark, abstract brush strokes, and the backdrops enhanced the tragedy as it unfolded. Fayçal Karoui conducted splendidly, with solo strings played against surreal silence. Portions of this Martins ballet would be well suited for short repertory programs, as they speak for themselves in searing or enchanting imagery.

Sara Mearns as Odette in
Peter Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sara Mearns as Odette with the Corps
in Peter Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at