Just a quick note to say I was quite impressed with Simkin/Boylston tonight. Simkin just keeps improving. Yes they both made mistakes but given their youth and realitive inexperience carrying a ballet, I can easily overlook those. Some truly wonderful moments from them. So much potential! And very lovely performances from soloist roles: Gorak, Messmer, Lane.... Will post more tomorrow.
I went into last night’s performance with high hopes and I was so impressed by most of the dancers! I was especially rooting for Boylston - a young, developing soloist - and she was just lovely.
Simkin has improved a lot! He has a more commanding stage presence and continues to refine his technique (he no longer looks like a boy wonder just doing tricks). He has great control, breathes through his movements, adds wonderful nuances, and his transitions between steps can be breathtaking. He winds himself up before multiple pirouettes too much. But, his line is gorgeous, especially in arabesque, and he has beautiful control coming out of turns (in several spots he slowed down just a bit while ending the pirouette and then finished on his knee with controlled ease). His partnering keeps improving! But, and this isn’t his fault, he looks SO young especially when he’s smiling, Act I looked like his sweet-sixteen birthday party and all of his guests were adults.
Simkin and Gorak (as Benno) are a good match though, and as many of us have said, Gorak is wonderful – beautiful legs/feet, glorious technique, elegant, good partner. He looked so joyful and dances like a confident soloist (hint - hint).
I agree with nanushka that Misty Copeland needs to tone down her perkiness. It doesn’t work at all in SL. She finished every movement with a “snap” and every step had a forced energy; she looked like she was trying too hard and had a way-too-big smile on her face for much of her performance. Maybe she’s overcompensating because she’s not 100% following her injury. But, last night was the first time I did not enjoy watching her. Especially when you compare her to the sublime Simone Messmer – what a different picture they presented in the pas de trios. Messmer is strong but supple; nothing is forced, just an easy elegance and loveliness.
Boylston was simply lovely. She needs to improve her acting, but that’ll come I believe. When she first sees Siegfried, her face didn’t register any fear or trepidation but her body did. A bit of a disconnect. Simkin’s partnering has made significant strides – the overhead lifts he did looked easy and secure (whew!). He’s a very attentive partner and in the more somber Act II – IV he looks more mature. Boylston’s legs/feet/arms/back are gorgeous. But, when she bourrees offstage with her back to the audience and she’s fluttering her arms, she needs to engage her back muscles. There were some bobbles – in some of the supported turns, they weren’t in tune with how many rotations Boylston was doing and Simkin either stopped her too soon or not soon enough.
The four little swans were excellent. I knew Lane and Kajiya would be and was fairly certain Paris would be great; Brandt was a wild card for me since I haven’t seen her dance any soloist or demi-soloist roles. She held her own. They were the best I’ve seen in this part.
I didn’t see enough of a character change from Odette to Odile, but Boylston’s dancing was terrific. Simkin/Boylston seemed more comfortable in this act. Simkin’s jumps and turns were awesome – but, again they were NOT tricks, but gorgeous, extended, controlled, fluid movements with wonderful ballon. I have to say it again – he has improved so much! I nearly missed the beginning of Boylston’s 32 fouettes because I couldn’t take my eye off of Simkin. He was downstage knocking off several pirouettes, which he slowly (and with masterful control) came out of and finished on his knee facing Boylston with his back to the audience with his arm outstretched to her as she was beginning her fouettes. I gasped it was so gorgeous. Boylston knocked off her fouettes without embellishments (some doubles thrown in) but they were great and she finished them cleanly and without traveling much.
Once Siegfried has declared his love for Odile and everything implodes, I thought Simkin displayed his tortured realization at what he had done brilliantly. Here his youthful appearance really worked to his advantage; when he runs downstage to his tutor, you really believe he’s pleading with this father-figure for help/guidance. Simkin’s acting was spot on – and it was wonderful how he threw himself against the closing doors as Rothbard/Odile leave. His grief was believable.
Jared Matthews was very good as purple Rothbart (but not brilliant). I needed more character out of him; more covert mischievousness and sexuality. But, his dancing was impressive (he also has improved a lot). He exploded into one passage with a high leap, legs fully extended beautifully. Wow.
Grant DeLong nearly lost it during Neopolitan; his stamina wasn’t up to par. Blaine Hoven was ok.
Simkin leapt to his death with a beautiful, high plunge. He and Boylston look very good together. I look forward to seeing their SL in a year or two from now. I think it will be extraordinary.
So glad to hear that Hee Seo's debut was such a success. She could not have had a better partner to make that debut with than Gomes. Wish I had seen it.