It’s unfortunate that Osipova’s performance was canceled, but it actually worked out well for me. I really wanted to see Cojocaru/Kobborg but can’t make Friday night’s performance, so now I get to see them tonight!
It seems like things like this happen all the time with the guest artists—people grumbled about Bolle’s cancellations due to an injury last year—so I’m not that surprised, though I certainly understand others' disappointment.
And I agree with mer01 (congrats on your first post!)—the situation is not quite the same as with Semionova/Gomes, since they have danced together and well, Gomes is Gomes!
I attended last night’s performance with Part/Gomes/Abrera and thought it was fine. I have to admit that I have avoided seeing Part in the past because her occasional technique bobbles make me nervous, but several posters raved about Part/Gomes performance last year, so I decided to check it out. Tonight, however, Part seemed completely “on” and even seemed comfortable in the infamous Rose Adagio balance section. She may not look at all like a 16-year old girl, but she uses her body beautifully and her lines are lovely. She has a powerful grand jete, and I was especially impressed by the ones where she did a little flourish with her front leg (like a little kick before extending it out).
I was sitting in the orchestra on the left side, and it was so strange/hilarious to see that man come down the aisle with the usher chasing after him after that scene!
Gomes was his usual fabulous self, but there’s really not much for him to do as Prince Desire.
I love Stella, so it was a pleasure to see her as the Lilac Fairy.
But it was perhaps more of a pleasant surprise to see my new corps favorite Renata Pavam as one of the fairies (the one in blue—I forgot the name). Her variation was simply lovely. She also had an un-credited appearance as one of Aurora’s friends (doing double duty!). The other fairies were Hee Seo (in green, subbing for Maria Ricetto), Isabella Boylston (orange), Misty Copeland (red), and Yuriko Kajiya (yellow). Unfortunately, Kajiya’s variation (or the way she performed it), made me think of those science experiments where they feed bees caffeine and watch them go spastic. Is it supposed to look like that?
In the final act, Daniil Simkin’s Bluebird was a standout. He landed his first set of jumps with very deep, juicy plies. Later, his sequence of brise vole (the side to side jumps with beats of the legs) was remarkable. Unfortunately, at the end, he flubbed the lift where Sarah is supposed to end up lying on his shoulder on her stomach (I think), and instead ended up carrying her offstage with his arms. Yep, methinks he still needs to work on that partnering.
I have seen the Act III pas de deux a number of times, not only in ABT’s production, but also in galas with dancers from other companies, and I always feel like it looks a little uncomfortable. Last night’s partnering was great, and the fish dives were fantastic (though even Gomes couldn’t keep Part’s supported pirouettes completely centered). But I still find the choreography baffling. When Aurora is in passé-releve supported by the Prince, why does she keep flopping over to the side like that? I don’t get it. And what exactly is she supposed to be doing in her variation? Needless to say, this is not my favorite pas de deux.
The same can be said for the ballet as a whole, though I suspect only part of my dislike comes from ABT’s production in itself. True, during Act I, I suddenly felt like I was in the middle of a “Skittles: taste the rainbow” commercial, but I’m not sure a more sober, less-candy-colored version would be more enjoyable for me. But once again, I am completely clueless about other versions of the ballet, so perhaps the more seasoned veterans can tell me about some of the superior productions they’ve seen.
I suspect, though, that the problem for me with this ballet is the story. “Sleeping Beauty” is not a drama, nor an over-the-top comedy like “Don Quixote” or “The Bright Stream.” It’s a fairy-tale like “Cinderella,” but there is no real conflict (it takes all of what, two seconds for the Prince to eliminate Carabosse?), no reversal of fortune for the characters (elevation of Cinderella from rags to riches; punishment for her stepsisters/mother), and no real chance for the Prince and Aurora to fall in love on stage. The music is undeniably lovely (except when played badly as it was occasionally last night), there may be some nice dancing, and it might be enjoyable to see your favorites or star ballerinas in it, but I suspect that it will never be a favorite ballet of mine.