My current favorite Swan Queens have come from the ranks of American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi and the Kirov and not from the New York City Ballet. Recently a poster on Ballet Alert enthusiastically wrote about Miranda Weese and I thought it was time for me to go back for another look at my video tape of Ms. Weese in the Peter Martin production. Martins has presented the ballet with one intermission; Acts 1 and 2, and then Acts 3and 4---since this appears to be the current trend, I offer no criticism. However, in Act 1 there is an excessive use of the Jester to the detriment of the Prince; he (the Prince) sits in a chair for most of the Act. True, he is there to be entertained by the Courtiers, but he is too disengaged. The very least the choreographer could have done for his Principal Dancer is to give him a solo at the end of the Act, much as Nureyev did in his version. It was a beautiful lyric, melancholy solo which reflected the Prince's state of mind and set the tone for Act 2; and it also gave the "star" dancer something to do.
Miranda Weese is a dancer with lovely shapely legs and a strong technique. She was a high-strung Swan Queen with few moments of serenity, which made for a gripping performance. My reservation is with her port de bras. The upper arms and shoulders were mostly stationary; she interrupted the flow of her line by 'breaking' her wrists and fanning the air with her splayed fingers. This was constant; she NEVER stopped fluttering her hands---in all three acts; her hands appeared to have a life of their own. Could this be a style encouraged by the New York City ballet?
The sets were too cold and icelandic. (I missed the warmth of the German forest). The Act I backdrop could have been an abandoned fort instead of a castle, and the later set was reminiscent of a monastery. I found the Martins ending to be very poignant----Odette was doomed to be a Swan forever and the Prince (who did not die, or go through a convulsion) had a lifetime of regrets---not unlike "Giselle". 01/12/04