Carla Korbes danced Odette/Odile this evening. It might be more accurate to say that she sang it, the way people say that Yo Yo Ma's cello playing sings. Her movement quality is unique and immediately recognizable, the way Pavarotti's or Nilsson's is after just a few notes, and equally beautiful.
The only other thing I'm going to say about it is that the next time "Swan Lake" is performed here, get on a plane, train, automobile, bicycle, or auto-rickshaw and make sure you see her in it. I wish that everyone reading this site could.
Stanko Milov danced Siegfried, and he was ON tonight, the best I've seen him this season, but more importantly, he was partner and dramatic counterpoint to Korbes' O/O. The physical stand-off between him and William Lin-Yee at the end of Act II was great to see: two tall, powerful dancers standing their ground. Lin-Yee was roundly booed at the final curtain calls, which means his characterization was a great success.
The Jester in this production is an unusual character: he's clearly a friend to the Prince and a valued member of the royal household, at the same time having several bravura solos. What is impressive about Stowell's vision for the character is that it doesn't require shamelessness. Benjamin Griffiths' characterization was sunny and his dancing plush: what beautiful technique he has. Another unusual take on character is the Persian Dance in Act III: while the attendants, all kids from the school, had typical Oriental story ballet movement, the Persian Dancer role has a lot of dignity, a quality not often associated with a woman in harem pants and a bare midriff. Especially when danced by Ariana Lallone, who performed with great stature and without the slightest hint of subservience.
There was a pre-curtain announcement that Seth Orza would dance in the Pas de Trois in place of Jonathan Porretta. I'm not sure how much practice Orza had with his partners, Rachel Foster and Jodie Thomas -- he's rather taller than both -- but it wasn't a completely smooth ride, although his solo work was terrific. Rachel Foster has a wonderful way of making each solo role a jewel: in the Pas de Trois, her legs and feet were precise and pristine, and in the Neopolitan in Act III, with a comparably wonderful James Moore, she resembled Patricia McBride for a brief second, and made me want to see them both in Balanchine's Tarantella
. Jodie Thomas played little riffs on the timing; it's great to see her dancing with freedom and rhythmic expression. In the Polonaise, a tiny brunette in muted green who was partnered by Sokvanarra Sar caught my eye even in the back row with her crisp timing and expressive arms.
There are too many dramatic touches in Act I to absorb all at once, but there were several that registered strongly tonight. First was in Carrie Imler's fantastic portrayal of the Queen. After the Queen makes her entrance, she sweeps down stage left to look for her son and turns downstage, where she spots him. Imler didn't do the standard, "Aha! Lo and Behold! There he is! I see him!" gestures. Instead, she tilted her head softly to the side. She was a big pussy cat with him, until he dared to contradict her, and out came the claws: she turned controlling on a dime. Before the Queen leaves, she waits for Siegfried's arm for the walk upstage center, and the punitive way Imler pulled away her hand from his supporting arm said a million words. Later in Act III, his body language, all well-over-six-feet of him, changed from Prince to chastised boy in reaction to her. I'm grateful that there's a fourth wall between me and Imler's Queen.
Later in the scene, one of the guests gets a little more attention from Siegfried as the other five are dancing, and tonight it was Stacey Lowenberg. From that moment, she was a character of her own: telling her friends about it, and smitten with the Prince, all within so many other vignettes that happen simultaneously.
Then there is Jordan Pacitti's Wolfgang. sandik wrote in her review in The Seattle Weekly
Almost everyone will dance multiple parts during the ballet's run, peasant girls doubling as swans and servants as masters, but one of the best combinations belongs to Jordan Pacitti. A tipsy fop in the first act, becoming increasingly drunk during the party, he returns in the third act in the Spanish variation, an over-the-top pastiche of every Warner Brothers cartoon and Carmen production you've seen. In tight pants with a shiny bolero jacket over a Seinfeldian puffy shirt, a shocking blue scarf at his waist, he stalks and pounces as his partner glides through a tour de force of faux flamenco steps. When he bourrées in place, the tiny steps vibrate though his whole body and the fringe on his scarf shimmers around his hips.
What's so wonderful about Pacitti's fop is that he's very serious, with a touch of anxiety: you can almost see the temples of Pacitti's forehead being squeezed. He is vain, but it's not vanity of appearance: it's of character. He performed the Spanish Dance -- tonight partnering the terrific Laura Gilbreath -- completely straight, with the same serious expression. And in the middle of all of this characterization was superb classical dancing. It's great to read everyone's observations, all the things I missed at the first performance! Did I ever look for that fringe, a detail that I missed completely last week! I watched the Guests' dance carefully tonight, and I think that the waltz is just a bit of a mess, perhaps too ambitious.
My only other beef about this production is that if, to name just two, Imler can make the Queen's mime that clear and if she and Pacitti can establish character through mime and gesture, and if the entire act makes great demands for characterization, why is mime expunged from Act II?
I love Act IV the more I see it. It opens with the shifting corps patterns resolving to a flying wedge upstage right at Odette's entrance. After the Prince enters, goes to one knee, and, hunches over, bereft, Odette lifts his head, goes back a few meters, and opens her arms, her chest open and her head back, surrendering to him. Dramatically, I realized in the last run that it's like the juxtaposition of the Balcony Scene in "Romeo & Juliet" -- a scene of great hope and expectation for the future -- with the Bedroom Scene -- a scene of imperfect beings in a horrific situation dealing with forces beyond their control but accepting the present, another dramatic duality.