First, let me say that there’s no way, as just bart said, to do a full “review” on a production that involves so much of a non-professional material, but here I go…my best.
Giselle is a very difficult ballet, for everybody. You have to have a leading ballerina that’s both a good actress and a great technician; no way to go in between, and an Albrecht that can also act and lift, LIFT, LIFT WITH STRENGHT!! –(Gomes seems to be a rare survivor of this now almost defunct specimen). I’ve seen Giselles with a great level of technique fail miserably on its artistic side and viceversa. Now, …the thing is that you might get away with some less than ideal technique if you as a ballerina are able to “get” the audience emotionally, and this, for some reason, works wonders...even more than the other way around. The ultimate prove of this-(and I’m never never tired to repeat it)-was, to me, watching Mme. Alicia Alonso
do some excerpts at the age of 73, placing the theater at her feet. Miss Julie Kent
, if I may, went around this lines. She is definitely a lovely dancer to watch...very ethereal, vulnerable, but not in a forced way a la Alina Somova
. She seems to bare her physique and demeanor with true conviction. Watching her first Act I finally “saw” the meaning of Yvette Chauvire
's words in her interview with Dolin, when she interrupts him to add that “yes, she is a peasant girl…MAIS NOBLE!”. Kent’s characterization made clear that she’s somehow “different” from the rest of her friends, and at some point she even reminded me of Disney’s Aurora, in SB...the princess living a life that doesn’t truly belong to her. Interesting. Along the ballet I could see that some difficult parts were simplified-(like the Initiation scene in Act II, which I regard as a striking choreographic moment with those super fast grand pirouettes in attitude to triple attitude/pirouettes on pointe, and all those soaring ballon-showing jumps to the final series of chainee turns to arabesque). This was Kent’s weakest moment in the ballet…and the sequence was over before I realized. As per the rest, she was adorable. Her madness scene didn’t belong to a mental institution patient, a la Natalia Osipova
-(which I love too, BTW). Hers was more in the line of Mme. Galina Ulanova
, when she tells Dolin that “Giselle is someone who at that moment looses control of her thoughts...not necessarily a madhouse scenario". She was extremely convincing, and I think that for the first time I saw more of a “desperation/heart attack” scene rather than a “mad scene”-(my Cuban Giselles always went for the hysteric approach).
Another thing I noticed was Myrtha’s approach to the role. Mmm…for some reason, I really didn’t “click’ with Miss Sarah Smith
. Her Queen was full of mannerisms and port de bras..some of the postures very angular, which I had never seen before. In my eyes she tried too hard to exude command, and so her eyes were many times furious when looking at the two lovers. I guess I prefer a Myrtha that can convey the character with more subtle malignancy. This is the moment when I regret that the old tradition of helping to build a character via make-up is getting lost. I remember some great Cuban Myrthas-(Miss Aurora Bosh one of them)-that would ignore the audience in the dancing routines, and suddenly, without notice, would give us “the look”…. By seeing that malignant face one could tell that this lovely creature was indeed a terrible entity. Miss Smith also had the disadvantage of having her initial variation cut off in a 60 %-(something I see more and more in the current productions of Giselle). Gone is the whole sequence when she runs, kneels on the ground to take one lily and cambree, takes another lily, cambree and then runs center stage to repeat the first sequence, now dancing with the flowers. Even in the Makarova/Baryshnikov video this sequence is missing from Martine Van Hammel
And then theirs is Marcelo Gomes
. NO...…there was NOTHING out of place in his Albrecht. He even had the audacity to portray the playboy...the guy who just wants to play with the poor girls’ heart. His gesture and devilish smile after Giselle is dragged in the house by Berthe was saying “Ha,ha…what a silly lovely girl to play with…”. Mr. Gomes belongs to the best tradition of athletic dancers, a la Vladimir Vasiliev
, that are in the verge of extinction nowadays-(now that the “boys” are also getting as thinner and ethereal as the girls). Well, the result was some amazing lifts, beautiful partnership, convincing masculinity to play the part of a Don Juan-(also getting lost this days)-and some footwork like I haven’t seen in YEARS-(yes...…he did the brisse/voles on Sunday…but the stage was so small that this big guy was at the end of the diagonal just with three of them...you would miss the whole thing in a blink of an eye). Now...he did trick us with his tours en l’air sequence; in preparation to the jump he was already half way, so he actually started the step almost giving his back to the audience. Nothing major though...…he was magnificent all along the ballet.
As per the rest, kuddos to all those students that made an amazing effort, giving such a beautiful performance.
Highlight on Saturday night’s performance: Lovely Nicole Muratov
in the “Peasant Pas de Trois”.
Seeing him up close on a small stage is an experience I would wish for all of the people who see him at the Met and other large stages.