Regarding Rodriguez, I also found her a very serious Aurora. She was more convincing in the 3rd act than the 1st.
Yes, she was stronger in Act III. I found out the next day that she had been in the audience watching the matinée when she was summoned! Of course, given that she didn't even have a chance to warm up (and thinking back, it seems that she didn't have much makeup on either, contributing to her looking bland when she first came out -- I didn't even recognize her!), I can imagine that it must have taken a while for her to get into the role. I can just picture the search for her in the dark theatre! It was before intermission when she came on.
My friend who also saw the evening's performance said that she had been "fabulous" in her second Aurora. In fact, with Coté dancing as the Prince, the whole ballet had left a much better impression in the evening!
It really is true that the success of a ballet lies with the performances of the principals. No matter how well the corps does, the production is remembered for its main dancers. I remember Maria Tallchief writing that she felt it a great responsibility as well as a burden to know that your own performance either made or broke the ballet.
I saw Nureyev dance Sleeping Beauty with Veronica Tennant in New York in the early 1970's. The company was indeed stronger as a whole then, and had its wonderful coterie of 5 special ballerinas as a drawing card. My "bad" for not remembering that they were using the same costumes and sets. Still, I have similar thoughts when I see the Nutcracker and other heavily-ornamented ballets.
I didn't mention Burnise Sylvius, who danced a beautifully strong Principal Fairy. She, of course, is not a NBoC dancer. I wonder how things will turn out with her in the company. She is, after all, the card they must play to keep Coté. She has a distinctive style that makes her quite compelling to watch. I don't think I have ever seen Italian fouettés en dedans done as slowly, and with no seeming impetus behind the turn, as she did them! And yet, she was always on the music and as strong on the last one as on the first. She must have drawn on her momentum from some secret place that most dancers just don't know about. It was almost eerie how slow there were.
One thing that the younger corps dancers must learn is that people in the front rows can see them mouthing the words they use while gesturing. I am sure that in the time in history reflected in this ballet, though a fantasy, people did not say "Oh my God!!" and "No, no, no!!!" when things went wrong, as with the arrival of Carabosse. It was jarring to see the dancers miming these words as part of their stage histrionics. Another thing which took me out of the moment was when one of the corps dancers flinched and winced as Xiao Nan Yu's hand swept dangerously close to her face. She didn't hit her, but even if she had, the dancer should have stayed in character and ignored it, like one is taught to ignore an itch while posing on stage.
Ryan was having such a hard time that he didn't even look at his partner once during their pas de deux. He was a strong partner and supported her well, with his shining moment being in the pas de poisson, which came off twice without a hitch (and probably with only a hasty practice during intermission, if that), and a splendid pose capped by triumphant smiles to the audience. Not until the very end, with the whole cast dancing in unison, did the Prince look his Aurora in the eye.
Many who danced Thursday afternoon would no doubt have liked a redo of that matinée. I feel very badly for Nan. What a horrible thing to have happen during your debut in a role!
One little pas de deux I miss with this production is Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. I so wish they had done it. It would have delighted the children in the audience -- it's something they know and can identify with -- and it would have given a couple of dancers a chance to show us what they can do. To have only the Bluebird/Princess Florine and the Pussycats (I wonder why they are not called The White Cat and Puss and Boots?) as storybook divertissements seems to be truncating Act III a little too vigourously. I also hanker for Kevin Pugh's Bluebird!
One more positive note: Rebekah Rimsay was just wonderful in her roles! She is a secure, technical dancer with an attractive, vibrant stage presence. She changes like a chameleon from role to role as she adapts to the characterizations of each act. Brava!