American Ballet Theatre
La Bayadère 2012
Metropolitan Opera House
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Susan Jaffe, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan, Manager of Press and Online Media
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 28, 2012
(Read More ABT Reviews)
La Bayadère (1980): Choreography by Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, specially arranged by John Lanchbery, production conceived and directed by Natalia Makarova, Scenery by Pierluigi Samaritini, Costumes designed by Theoni V. Aldredge, Lighting by Toshiro Ogawa, Production Coordinator, Dina Makaroff.
Nikiya, an Indian temple dancer, is betrayed by the High Brahmin, who desires her to despair. The Brahmin is thwarted by Solor, a warrior, whose photograph symbolizes him as the object of desire for Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter. The High Brahmin tips off the Radjah, whose daughter is now affianced to Solor, that Nikiya is romantically involved with Solor. The Brahmin shows the Radjah Nikiya’s silky scarf. The Radjah and Gamzatti arrange for Nikiya to be bitten by a snake in a flower basket, as Nikiya dances at Gamzatti and Solor’s pre-wedding festivities. Nikiya refuses the Brahmin’s bottled antidote and falls lifeless, when she sees Solor and Gamzatti leave, holding hands. Solor, consumed in grief, smokes opium and envisions 27 Shades, all in ghost-like resemblance to Nikiya. A Bronze Idol dances in rapid exultation to herald the wedding. Solor, however, remembers Nikiya’s vision as he prepares to marry Gamzatti, and this vision re-appears at the ceremony, prior to a candle dance. But, soon the gods are angry, and the temple and guests are buried in the temple’s implosion. Finally, Nikiya and Solor re-unite in the afterlife. (Based on Program Notes).
Cast on May 26, 2012:
Conductor: Charles Barker
Performed by Polina Semionova as Nikiya, a temple dancer, David Hallberg as Solor, a warrior, Vitali Krauchenka as The Radjah Dugumanta, Hee Seo as Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter, Roman Zhurbin as The High Brahmin, Zhong-Jing Fang as Aya, Gamzatti’s servant, Aaron Scott as Magdaveya, Head Fakir, Kelley Potter and Isadora Loyola as lead D’Jampe Dancers, Luciana Paris, Maria Riccetto, and Yuriko Kajiya as lead Shades, Joseph Phillips as The Bronze Idol, and the Company as The Fakirs, The Temple Dancers, Solor’s Friend, The Warriors, D’Jampe Dancers, Waltz, Pas d’Action, The Shades, The Candle Dance, Flower Girls, Warrior Attendants, Palace Slaves, and Priests.
Cast on May 28, 2012:
Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins
Performed by Alina Cojocaru as Nikiya, a temple dancer, Herman Cornejo as Solor, a warrior, Gennadi Saveliev as The Radjah Dugumanta, Isabella Boylston as Gamzatti, the Radjah’s daughter, Roddy Doble as The High Brahmin, Sarah Smith as Aya, Gamzatti’s servant, Jeffrey Golladay as Magdaveya, Head Fakir, Simone Messmer and Misty Copeland as lead D’Jampe Dancers, Sarah Lane, Maria Riccetto, and Yuriko Kajiya as lead Shades, Craig Salstein as The Bronze Idol, and the Company as The Fakirs, The Temple Dancers, Solor’s Friend, The Warriors, D’Jampe Dancers, Waltz, Pas d’Action, The Shades, The Candle Dance, Flower Girls, Warrior Attendants, Palace Slaves, and Priests.
This exquisite ballet, a production of La Bayadère conceived and directed by Natalia Makarova, is focused on Nikiya, the Royal Indian temple dancer, whose fluid, swirling dances, in the temple garden and in the palace garden, magnetize the audience. As Nikiya, Polina Semionova, on May 26, exuded a sense of wonder and wildness, abandon and animation, as she pursues her adored Solor, David Hallberg. On May 28, Alina Cojocaru, as Nikiya, was theatrical and impassioned, but there was less chemistry with Herman Cornejo, a danseur exemplar. Ms. Cojocaru spun rapidly in her opening scene, but she was dancing for the audience, not for Solor. Mr. Cornejo, who has exceptional partnering technique in most ballets, danced with Ms. Cojocaru as a colleague, rather than as a chivalrous warrior, in conflict over an official engagement to Gamzatti and a bespoken promise to Nikiya. In another ballet, Giselle, as Albrecht, Mr. Cornejo is more compelling and credible in the royal role, a Count who’s also engaged to royalty and promised to a peasant, who also dies of a broken heart. The ballets have similarities in theme, but in choreographic and commanding athleticism, La Bayadère is incomparable, and Solor and Nikiya must by extraordinary, vibrant, and riveting.
Hee Seo, as Gamzatti on May 26, was icy cold, filled with animosity toward Nikiya, her rival, and seething in the garden dance, when Nikiya is fatally bitten by the snake in the flower basket. Isabella Boylston, on May 28, was more coy, as Gamzatti, more youthful and vulnerable. But, among the leads, David Hallberg was astounding, bringing out the woman in Nikiya, with palpable tension and dramatized desire. His astounding leaps and partnered flourishes added persuasive power to the experience. The audience seemed electrified. Roddy Doble, as the rejected High Brahmin, on May 28, was the devil incarnate, eyes and muscles twitching with jealousy and longing. Roman Zhurbin as High Brahmin on May 26, a character actor nonpareil, was, like Ms. Boylston’s May 28 Gamzatti, vulnerable, while transparently strategizing to win Nikiya from Solor. Mr. Zhurbin seemed truly psychologically destroyed at Nikiya’s rejection of the snake poison antidote, as she chose to die.
As the Radjah, Gamzatti’s father, Gennadi Saveliev was far more fascinating and nuanced in gesture than Vital Krauchenka. Jeffrey Golladay and Arron Scott were both nimble, crawling, lunging head fakirs, crouching and careening over and around the windy temple fire. Joseph Phillips and Craig Salstein, as well, were Bronze Idols with dervish in their dance, one leg raised as they spin with dizzying speed, dashing down then up the temple steps. Mr. Salstein always adds some camp and wit, while Mr. Phillips played it straight. Although these showcased solo and partnered dancers, described above, were all essential to the success of this beloved production, it’s the female Corps that brings down the house, in the Dance of the Shades, multiple visions of Nikiya’s ghost, in pale bluish white, emerging from the wings, one at a time, arms swung forward, then back, with long chiffony scarves. The ensemble effect is instantaneously hypnotic, and the Corps always gains healthy accolades, as the refrains wind down, in show-stopping fashion. On May 28, Misty Copeland and Simone Messmer were lead D’Jampe Dancers, who caught and kept my eye, while on May 26, Luciana Paris, Maria Riccetto, and Yuriko Kajiya were exemplary as lead Shades. Both Charles Barker and Ormsby Wilkins kept Ballet Theatre Orchestra sumptuous on both nights. Kudos to Natalia Makarova for this outstanding production.
Polina Semionova and David Hallberg
in "La Bayadère"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor
Alina Cojocaru and Herman Cornejo
in "La Bayadère"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone