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American Ballet Theatre

Swan Lake 2014
Ballet in Four Acts

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Chief Executive Officer
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters: Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 25, 2014

(Read More ABT Reviews)

(Read a Synopsis of Swan Lake)

Conductor: David LaMarche

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

Performed by Polina Semionova as Odette-Odile, Marcelo Gomes as Prince Siegfried, Martine Van Hamel as The Queen Mother, Keith Roberts as Wolfgang, tutor to the prince, Blaine Hoven as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Thomas Forster and Alexandre Hammoudi as von Rothbart, Devon Teuscher, Christine Shevchenko, and Blaine Hoven as Pas de Trois, Cassandra Trenary, Luciana Paris, Sarah Lane, and Yuriko Kajiya as Cygnettes, Karen Uphoff and Nicola Curry as Two Swans, Keith Roberts as Master of Ceremonies, Zhong-Jing Fang as The Hungarian Princess, Luciana Voltolini as The Spanish Princess, Katherine Williams as The Italian Princess, Stephanie Williams as The Polish Princess, Nicole Graniero and Patrick Ogle as Lead Czardas, Isadora Loyola, Calvin Royal, Luciana Paris, and Luis Ribagorda as Spanish Dance, Craig Salstein and Arron Scott as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

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).

Tonight was yet another night in a revolving, last minute cast, as minor injuries began to take their toll. David Hallberg, who had seemed to struggle with his rapid kicks in the finale of Giselle, as he filled in for Herman Cornejo, was now out in tonight’s Swan Lake, with Marcelo Gomes filling in. Although Mr. Gomes is a premier danseur, and an incredible Siegfried, it was the Hallberg-Semionova partnership I came for, and there is no substitute. Polina Semionova, a quintessential Odette/Odile, was ravishing, with her long neck, elongated torso, seasoned styling, undulating arms, and atypical swanlike posture.

In the Act II Lakeside scene, Ms. Semionova danced with deliberate languor, but Mr. Gomes, muscular and attentive as always, seemed here a bit overwhelming, not the taut, ethereal, princely Mr. Hallberg, into which he has evolved the past few years, expanding his career as a member of The Bolshoi. Yet, when Mr. Gomes is on stage, one cannot complain. He is always riveting and masterful. At the Act I Prince’s birthday party, he was a bit of a ham, also unsurprising, as Mr. Gomes is a great comical actor, and, in the Act III Great Hall ball, he dismissed the international Princesses forthwith, in search of his ideal Odette. Mr. Gomes becomes the dreamer of otherworldly spirits, whereas Mr. Hallberg becomes an otherworldly spirit himself. Both principals are majestic, but, with Ms. Semionova totally transformed into an otherworldly spirit, tonight’s Acts II and IV, both at Lakeside, seemed a mismatch.

The Act I Pas de Trois was danced by Devon Teuscher, Christine Shevchenko, and Blaine Hoven. Ms. Teuscher was demure and luminous, a dancer to watch. Martine Van Hamel was the Queen Mother, full of flourish and expansive gesture, throughout. In the Great Hall ball, she danced with von Rothbart, Alexandre Hammoudi, with obvious delight. The two von Rothbarts, Thomas Forster in the greenish monster costume, and Mr. Hammoudi, dressed in black and purple as Odile’s devilish host, are a great dramatic feature, in this 2000, Kevin McKenzie production. Blaine Hoven was Benno, and Keith Roberts performed the role of Wolfgang, Siegfried’s tutor. Both were persuasive. The four Cygnettes, always an audience favorite, with four youthful dancers in rapid synchronization, were Cassandra Trenary, Luciana Paris, Sarah Lane, and Yuriko Kajiya, with Ms. Kajiya glowing on a night so close to her Company departure for Houston. She will be sorely missed. Two Swans was danced by Karen Uphoff and Nicola Curry, with sparkle. Keith Roberts doubled as Master of Ceremonies.

In the grand Act III Great Hall ball, where Siegfried is supposed to choose a bride, four Princesses vied for his attention, with Luciana Voltolini catching my eye as the Spanish Princess. But it’s their accompanying dance contingent that grabs the stage, with Hungarian Czardas, a Spanish Dance, an Italian Neapolitan, and a Polish Mazurka. Nicole Graniero and Patrick Ogle led a sumptuous Czarda ensemble, and Craig Salstein and Arron Scott were filled with dervish in the Neapolitan. Yet, the highlight of this Act III extravaganza is always the Black Swan Pas de Deux. Here Odette is transformed from white feathered costume to Odile’s, in black, from ingénue to seductress, to win a proposal from Siegfried. That betrayal of the heart will ensure von Rothbart’s eternal control over his prey, the woman he turned to swan – Odette. Ms. Semionova was stunning in this solo, wily before and after, with her black feathered tutu and tiara, seizing not only Siegfried but all in the hall. She was magnetic, magical, monumental. Mr. Gomes, here, was perfectly suited as Siegfried, fooled in his lust, overcome with remorse. His dizzying spins and upward leaps matched the energy of Ms. Semionova’s 32 perfect fouettés. The audience went wild. .

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is a thematic and musical treasure. David LaMarche, in the pit, made it drive the momentum and found nuanced instrumental solos to spotlight, as well. Duane Schuler’s lighting was sometimes too dim, especially in the Prologue, during the orchestral overture and the shadow of Odette’s capture and transformation, but it shone warmly throughout the unfolding scenes. Zack Brown’s costumes are always sumptuous. Kudos to the Corps for the Lakeside ensemble dance. It was, as always, spellbinding and flawless.

Polina Semionova and Marcelo Gomes in
Kevin McKenzie's (after Petipa and Ivanov) "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

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