June 16th, 2017
Not sure how I can adequately describe how much I was looking forward to this performance.
Since being in Canada I have missed big
classical ballet so so much and I also had heard such good things about this production from people as well as loved this companies Cinderella and the Nutcracker.
All in all the news is good in now three out of three of Kudelka's ballet's I tottaly love.
The opening here is really majestic and visually impressive. And the screen or painting or whatever the background was for the first act (if anyone knows please share) was breathtaking. That sky and the clouds oh my! Beautiful design.
I had been warned about a scene of violence beforehand and as people discuss above with Streetcar Named Desire the issue of violence on stage especially when sexual in nature is very divisive and a tricky subject to talk about. However I found The Wench to be one of the most harrowing moments of the entire ballet and so so powerful. The music is so celebratory and gloriously Tchaikovsky at his best and it starts so free wheeling and fun and then it obviously turns. It turns but the music plays on. And we are helpless to stop it. Dark? Yes. Powerful. Yes. I think so.
Moving along into the act I found the "reveal" of Odette so refreshing. I've seen so many version where she just runs/jumps onstage and/or is "hidden" in the group dancers only to appear at some point in the choreography. I always found the first option kind of boring and the second option a risk because once you see it once you can't help but look for her each time lol. Here she emerges as natural as a human ballerina dressed as a swan in a tutu can be hahahah. Kidding aside somehow she emerges in such a natural way - like a bird would - kind of out of nowhere. It feels so right with the builds in the music also.
So I want to say right off the bat that I feel very bad for Hannah Fischer. I think as discussed above that she is in an impossible position. Lose lose really. This is not her role. And I say that because I think she is talented and would love to see her in the right fit. But it was so clear from the get go that she wasn't comfortable. And her entire way of moving is not suited to this role. She is an absolutely gorgeous girl with an amazing instrument to work with. But everything is too sharp, athletic, lacking in refinement to work here. Her technical ability and in particular her musicality just was not up to the job at hand. I didn't see any softness or detail or the kind of lyricism a dancer should have for the role of Odette. Also her feet and or shoes are an issue. I don't know what it is and if someone does please chime in here but they don't look like they give her any support? They bend so much that she falls down off of the pointe and it's often sudden and clunky and clearly not meant to happen. When Siegfried helps pick her up from the floor when she is in her one leg extended in front pose in both white and black swan it was like her shoe was a spade in soil - just ram it down and hope it holds. I never noticed this transition before because I'm assuming it should appear smooth and seamless. I would love to see her where she feels comfortable. Balanchine? Sleeping Beauty? I have no doubt that in the right work she will be great. What upsets me is that watching it I knew there is no way that she doesn't know it's not a good fit. You don't get to that level of achievement from being oblivious or lacking in self awareness. It must feel awful to have to go out there when you know you're just not ready. It just sucks.
From the get go I found Brendan Saye competent. He is also a very good looking young dancer and his way of standing and walking was very princely which worked here. Other than that though I didn't feel or see much in terms of making a real impact. He simply did it and got through it.
For me the mvp of the night was Ethan Watts. From that amazing opening bit [who pulls off giant wings? Watts does] he was so present so articulate with every moment and gesture that I was really taken in. As the person beside me whisperyelled to their companion "Ohhh, he's good!"
The Benno and Fool character were also very solid danced by Trygve Cumpston and Kota Sato.
This particular Swan Lake version does more for the relationship dynamic between the three leads of Swan Rothbart and Siegfried then I have seen elsewhere. I really sensed characters and history and shifting power dynamics it makes me excited to see other interpretations.
The second act was also amazing in the design. I love the violet blue kind of color theme and the only thing I quibble with was that especially the big group dance at the beginning looked smushed in that space. So much on the stage and not enough room. Looking back I felt this about Nutcracker and was told it could be because it was built for the old ballet theatre so maybe that is what happened here.
Very interesting princesses variations. Laughed out loud at the Italian one with the guy who kept trying to convince the prince his girl is best. Missed some of the traditional character style dance but meh it was still good.
Black swan pas de deux was not strong. They were uncomfortable we were uncomfortable. It was rough. Maybe it was her shoes? She near wiped out at the end of her solo and again fell off her pointe but saved it as best she could and bless her kept on going. Then she had to come back on for the fouettes. I think she might have got through 10? She then ran forward and did a swan wings kind of arm move and then started some other turns in a circle.
Saye it seemed to me does have a good jump but something about the way he uses the plie before and after seemed like it could use work. Like he would have more jump if he got lower and used more plie for takeoff and landing.
The transifion after he says that he'll choose her to marry was crazy good. You could hear how thrilled the audience was including myself as the big silk wave thing came about and the lights changed and everything starting to go down.
And then the section of black swans dancing together that followed is what sealed the deal for me. Wonderful. Haunting. Third descriptive term similar but different then haunting.
The end was very sad as is often the case with Swan Lake but it really was heartbreakingly beautiful. The way she is still standing by him after he is down and the way she tries to pick up his arm was so so moving and each moment matched the music perfectly.
By the end I was just so happy to see classical ballet here and such great version of the choreography. Even if it wasn't the strongest night for the leads they went out there and did their best.
June 17th, 2017
Two Swan Lakes in twenty four hours. Somebody's gotta do it! I was determined to see each cast so onto the next. I won't talk so much about the production because I already did and I can barely feel my hands.
Emma. Hawes. Stole. The. Entire. Show.
Then it ended.
I am not sure I have seen someone so young and relatively inexperienced in principal roles come out and do what she did.
From the beginning it was clear she was a swan. She has a lyrical calmnesss to her dancing that works so well here. Was it perfect? Definitely not. Is it ever? But after how tough the previous show was I was just so taken by what it actually looks like to see someone take on a mountain and win.
She was partnered by Chris Gerty who like Saye has the advantage of being very handsome and with a princely stature. He is a very attentive partner and has glorious leaps. His acting was thoughtful and he has an arabesque to die for. I look forward to seeing him in more.
Ben Rudison was good as Rothbart. I think I was just spoiled by how good Watts was and it didn't have the same level of excitement. They also are totally different. I'm not sure. Maybe he needs some more time to develop as it was also his first time in the role. One thing is that he is a very strong partner. So attentive and without breaking character which I really appreciate.
Jack Bertinshaw was really excellent in Benno. Very different feeling than Cumpston but just as good and I'm glad to see the dancers make things their own. There is an honesty and openness to him on stage that I was taken by. Very somehow unaffected.
Frola as the Fool was wonderful. What a crazy talent he has. His body can seemingly do things that defy gravity.
Pretty wiped from both shows in all. It packs an emotional wallop. Swan Lake is just so timeless from the music to the themes and I'm just so happy I get to experience it.
Happy Weekend all.