oh also wanted to mention that Joey Gorak looked the best he's ever looked tonight. It's really been a ground-breaking season for him and he finally looks completely confident, happy, and with great presence on stage. Really vying for that well-deserved promotion.
I agree this is how he looked in Act I, but in Act III he was having some real problems with the "Danse du corps de ballet et des nains" (in this version a trio with the same two girls from Act I). He seemed to just be blanking on the choreography, and with the girls circling around him he looked overwhelmed. At one point he forgot which one he was supposed to be lifting and had to spin back around -- too late.
Otherwise, though, it has indeed been a fantastic season for him. It's exciting to be watching the rise of what promises to be an exceptional career. I'm excited to see him next Saturday as Franz.
Act III last night was indeed quite eventful. Between the botched trumpet fanfare (the sound of a sad and angry elephant), the onstage "horn players" forgetting to raise their fake instruments to their mouths, Gorak's flub in the trio, Arron Scott dancing half a beat behind the music in his "unison" Neapolitan with Craig Salstein, and Hee Seo's fouettes threatening to take her straight down into the orchestra pit -- the whole production looked quite ragged! It should make for an interesting Times review. But don't they say a rough opening night makes for a good run? Something like that?
In the middle of it all, Hee Seo danced what I agree was one of the most beautiful first movements of a Black Swan pdd that I've seen. For those 6 or 7 minutes we were truly in a different world.
I agree with nysusan's assessment completely, about both Hee and Gillian. Regarding abatt's comments: I'm inclined to agree about Hee's technical deficiencies, based on past performances (as Aurora and Gamzatti, in particular). But we should remember that we have no idea where she was or what she'd been doing when she got that call at 8:30 last night to rush in and dance Acts III and IV. It seems unfair to involve this particular performance in our judgment. I'll be curious to hear how she does on Saturday night. And given her many gifts as an adagio dancer, I'm still holding out hope for a late blossoming of technical security in the coming years (a la Veronika Part).
It did seem painfully ironic, though, being shown Gillian's Act II and Hee's Act III -- exactly the opposite of what might be a perfect split-cast evening!
Jared Matthews danced a very strong Rothbart. It's unfortunate that we're losing him just as he seems to be really coming into his own as a more dynamic and confident artist.
Devon Teuscher and Stella Abrera were the two swans. Stella seemed to be phoning it in. (Can't really blame her, I guess.)
Misty Copeland, Luciana Paris, Nicole Graniero and Skylar Brandt danced a very clean "Cygnettes" variation, with the exception of those same four bars in the second half of the piece where our ABT dancers always fall behind the beat. I really wish they could be drilled harder on that part.
Speaking of the beat, one thing that perhaps most bothers me about this production, among its many flaws, is how often there are jarring shifts in tempo right in the middle of a piece -- shifts that have no musical justification whatsoever.
And another thing (waving a drink and slurring my speech): the sort of prancing / running-in-place thing that the corps does during the B section of the "Danse des coupes" (while raising their arms and then dropping them to their waists) -- I see this sort of step (with variations of arm movement) in the corps (often peasant) dancing of every Kevin McKenzie ballet. It was there last week in Giselle. I don't remember ever seeing this particular type of movement in other stagings. It looks so silly! I'm calling it "the Kevin McKenzie Special" from now on.