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New York City Ballet: Swan Lake 2013

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Swan Lake 2013

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 Master, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 21, 2013 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

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, Silas Farley as Von Rotbart, Gwyneth Muller as The Queen, Daniel Ulbricht as Jester, Anthony Huxley as Benno, Erica Pereira, Brittany Pollack, Anthony Huxley in Pas de Trois, Megan Fairchild, Tiler Peck, Abi Stafford, Joaquin De Luz in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Savannah Lowery and Ask la Cour leading Hungarian Dance, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar in Russian Dance, Faye Arthurs, Megan LeCrone, Craig Hall, Sean Suozzi in Spanish Dance, Lauren Lovette and Antonio Carmena leading Neapolitan Dance, Sara Adams, Alina Dronova, Meagan Mann, Mary Elizabeth Sell, Gretchen Smith, Lara Tong as Six Princesses, Sara Adams, Alexa Maxwell, Kristen Segin, Sarah Villwock as Four Small Swans, Students from School of American Ballet, and the Company.

Like Peter Martins’Romeo and Juliet, his Swan Lake synthesizes and expands the renowned storyline of Odette (swan in white, once a maiden), Prince Siegfried (looking for a bride), Odile (swan in black, an imposter to break Siegfried’s vow to Odette), Von Rotbart (the sorcerer, who keeps Odette and sister swans captive, on the lake), the Queen, Siegfried’s mother, anxious for her son to wed, and Benno, Siegfried’s companion. Mr. Martins has added the Jester, as a one-man Greek Chorus, who enacts the impending mood. Another addition is the appearance of black swan tutus in the Act II ensemble, to underscore the duality of the heroine. This is a two-act ballet, shorter than the Petipa, Ivanov version, but the dynamism, flair, sumptuousness, and romance are equally vibrant and omnipresent. Sara Mearns is the quintessential Odette-Odile, and, as she silently fell backward, horizontal to the stage, held and supported by Jared Angle’s (Siegfried) arms, she was smooth as silk. The dancers cushioned each other. Ms. Mearns breathes the Tschaikovsky score, exuding rapture and sheen. When she first meets Siegfried in the forest, she’s vulnerable, desirous. When she’s been thwarted by Siegfried’s second vow, to Odile, and doomed to live out her days as a swan, among many, she exudes forgiveness, warmth, resilience.

Mr. Angle has grown into the role, showing more depth of personality and dramatic heft. He still needs to be less self-conscious, less detached emotionally. The gestures en air, of his hands and arms are still a bit forced. Yet, his solo spins and leaps, especially in the ballroom scene, with Odile, were pulsating and thrilling. In the Ballroom scene, as well, Ms. Mearns was the coquette, wily, wicked, manipulative. Silas Farley was a tyrannical Von Rotbart, with his flame red and black cape filled with wind. Gwyneth Muller, as The Queen, used facial and arm gestures to good effect, encouraging Siegfried to take the risk Daniel Ulbricht is always the dynamo Jester, and the audience adores his endearing wit. Anthony Huxley, Benno, better cast in non-dramatic, abstract works, was still suitable today as Siegfried’s right hand man. In Pas de Trois, Mr. Huxley was joined by Erica Pereira and Brittany Pollack for a spritely, rapid showcase. The Pas de Quatre brought out the smiling Joaquin De Luz, partnered by Megan Fairchild, Tiler Peck, and Abi Stafford, four Principals dancing in fervor.

In the various ethnic dances in the ballroom scene, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar’s “Russian Dance” were the highlight, sinuous, sultry, exotic. The other dances, Neapolitan, Spanish, and Hungarian, were lively and enthused, with Savannah Lowery and Ask la Cour’s Hungarian Dance the best of the three, filled with bravura and attention to step ornamentations. Of the Six Princesses, Gretchen Smith caught my eye, and of the Four Small Swans, Sara Adams caught my eye, as well. And, again, Daniel Ulbricht was the visual cue of the rapidly unfolding tale. Per Kirkeby’s sets, like those of Martins’ .Romeo, are broad brushstrokes in velvety backdrops and screens, that offer color cues of the setting. Kirkeby’s costumes are also cued in prime colors, orange, red, blue, green. Mark Stanley’s lighting kept the scenes enticingly warm and spotlighted. Andrews Sill, in the pit, drew lovely violin solos and resounding instrumental blendings from the Orchestra. Kudos to Peter Martins, and kudos to Tschaikovsky.

Sara Mearns and Jared Angle in
Peter Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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