This is my first post at BA, though I have been reading posts here for quite sometime. Sadly, I am only able to make it to NYC for an ABT show once a year. I envy those of you that can go to several! This year I chose Swan Lake (it's literally been 30 years since I've seen it) with Teuscher, Stearns and Zhurbin/Forster at the helm. Here's what I thought...
First, someone in a previous post had mentioned a swan puppet? I had no idea what that meant until the prologue. I've never seen von Rothbart wrestle a swan before and have to say I spontaneously chuckled. Fortunately, I caught myself before I actually made a noise! Someone also mentioned a "snooze fest" in Act 1 and some other parts of the ballet, which I was surprised by but have to admit, I found myself quite bored in sections. The costumes were beautiful though in some scenes looked quite heavy? Sets were lovely. Orchestra had a rocky start in the very beginning but settled well and played great. I absolutely love this music!
Now for the dancing...From my experience in the ballet world, arms are among the last to develop and not everyone truly masters them. Devon Teuscher, however, has with a vengeance. From the center of her back to the tips of her fingers, every bone and ligament was used. I was mesmerized by her Odette due to her use of her arms more than anything else. I had seen an interview of her once talking about her difficulty with long, luscious arabesques and unfortunately she is still struggling with them, which was a tad disappointing. Many of them didn't even reach 90 degrees. Her Odile was exciting, with a stark contrast to Odette as expected. Being a turner, she had no trouble with her fouettes, except I think they traveled way too much and the musicality could use improvement. That said, her quad pirouette at the end wasn’t shabby! She was also doing something with her acting towards the audience; giving these "ah ha, I'm fooling him" looks. Unfortunately, I don't think it worked. It was distracting, if not comical. Overall though, she is a lovely dancer and I really look forward to watching her mature.
Cory Stearns was not impressive to me at all. His physique and acting were good but he seemed heavy, too close to the ground in his jumps. His turns were a bit off as well. I was not impressed and even disappointed after I saw Tom Forster as purple Rothbart appear in Act 3. Wow! Why wasn't he Siegfried? His jumps soared, bravado shined. He commanded the stage for the short time he was on it. Hoping he gets more attention from KMc!
Stephanie Williams and Zhong-Jing Fang danced the big swans. The contrast was striking. Fang was light and airy. She held balances (attitude half turn) and had a gorgeous line. Williams however did not look good to me and was distracting in her heaviness (not talking about weight). I was a bit surprised for ABT, even corps members. The Cygnettes did a very good job; tight and clean. Catherine Hurlin, Katherine Williams and Blaine Hoven were up for the Pas de Trois and it was lovely. I do hope Hurlin makes soloist soon, would love to see what she is capable of over her career. The rest of the cast was good but I thought there was a lot of disparity among the dancers. Some were fresh, light on their feet, beautiful lines, clean turns, gorgeous feet, overall lovely technique. Others seemed heavy (again, not weight), bored maybe, a tad sloppy in parts. Could it be lack of rehearsal, rehearsal notes or attention?
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am glad I saw the show. Can't wait to see more!