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ABT - Swan Lake May27 - June 2, 2008

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I went on Sat. I thought Jose was very good, he is always a very classy dancer, so smooth. I am glad to see him back in his form. I thought that Gillian's black swan is fantastic, she is such a spit-fire! She is cold, sexy, and very solid. Her white still should be softer, and that is the real challenge of the role. Maria was WONDERFUL in the pas de trois in act one, and Gennadi was good as well.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

An Odile from Heaven

Tonight Nina Ananiashvili danced with her regular partner, Angel Corella, and this combination of experience and rehearsal time made some differences.

Even shortly after Angel arrived on stage he looked away, as if missing something. Still, he mostly entered in to the general congenial atmosphere that marks ABT's Act I. Surely his dancing was on form with all the expected virtuosity. The Hamlet soliloquy, danced with superb control and focus, reflected this vacancy with special intensity, coming after his mother had reminded him of his forthcoming duty to select a bride. The bride selection process had already been prefigured by a dance of village girls about him, and later his seeming invisibility to them all was most ominous. Already evident was the conducting of Charles Barker, a certain lift that drove the dancing.

The lakeside Act found Nina quite frightened by the sight of the prince, but he had a childlike innocence about him. Although his child-glee at finding this new playmate, as he enthusiastically chased her around the stage, gave her some concern, he'd clearly listened to her mime. Perhaps it was that child's openness to fairy tales, but at any rate he believed and their Adagio was, as with Marcelo Gomes, a thing of beauty. In general, her supported turns went more easily tonight, even without that machine gun precision of Mr. Gomes's hands. What stood out was her musicality; it was dancing absolutely in time with every note, and every grace within that note. One could truly see the music, and hear her dancing just as much as Siegfried had heard her mime. Any fluff by Mr. Barker and the orchestra would have ruined it, and they came through flawlessly. There was more "story" development during tonight's adagio, a certain sense that this new reality was becoming an anchor for Siegfried's sanity. Nina's variations flowed more smoothly tonight, and her petite allegro beats as Angel turned her had the miniature swiftness of a hummingbird's wings. A surprise change: in her final exit, she faced the audience and did not do the constant ripples of Thursday night's more familiar back-to-us exit (since Makarova, these always make my day, or season...).

Her Odile was far more secure this time. Mr. Corella did not project that mad Hamlet stare often seen here, he seemed instead quite sanely aware of his predicament and longed for a solution. When he saw "Odette" he was a willing dupe. Nina's Odile played down those signals (to us) that she was some evil fake, for she needed to convince a relatively rational prince that she was his love. This lovable Odile was danced more fluidly, an easier lightness that defied age, than at her first performance. Angel was joyous in his conviction, both variations amazing in their multiple yet pure pirouettes, and an entrance grand jete that seemed to land him all the way to center stage (memories of Darci Kistler at her very beginning!), yet cleanly landed. There was no break in character, he seemed to never dance for effect or show, but it was quite an exhibition! Nina too was very on in her variations, and this time she perhaps took a nod from Veronika Part, and stuck to singles in her fouettes, some with right arm raised above her head. One could see, or sense, Mr. Barker's attention during these turns, assuring every one meshed with the music's thrust. A very successful 32, as were Angel's turns in second, including a quad.

Their final act together was simply a mighty river of sorrow, but one with the grace and Grace of love.

What a gift, these Swans. Thank you, ABT.

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Nina was phenomenal last night. She was so determined to give us the best Swan Lake of the season that she darn near surprised Corella a couple of times. In the Act III series of turns down the diaganol that ends with her abrubtly in attitude in Siegrfried's arms, Nina decided to do multiple everything. Corella thought she was going to keep going and was caught flatfooted when she independently went into her final spin. I thought 'oh no, what's going to happen to the rest of this PdD?' Well, what happened was that Nina picked up even more steam and blew through it at lightning speed with, oh heck, fill in your own superlative, superlative, superlative. Those blazing fouettes with her arm extended, no, hyperextended in an Odile ecarte were unexpectedly delicious. I think Nina's ability to hyperextend those arms just makes them more wing-link.

Her Odette was spellbinding. I was so surprised when she decided to face the audience on that bourring exit, but it worked! Wow! Corella had Odette and Odile doing nine revolutions in supported pirouettes. He also burned through his own turns so fiercely and generated such energy that I thought the lights might burst back on in the opera house.

Everyone last night was determined to turn in their top performances. The PdT with Messmer, Thomas and Hoven was very, very good. Melissa Thomas has a gorgeous combination of cheer, grace and authority in her dancing. Messmer, somewhat less ebullient, but was no less superb in her variations. Hoven - look out. Just look out. He is the next complete prince package. So elegant and refined with steady but brilliant technique. He looked totally at ease last night, smiling when he wasn't supposed to be serious. Such poise in yet another very young man.

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I agree, Nina was much better last night than she was last week. The technical glitches were gone and her adagio was much more focused, more musical and more tragic. Corella was his usual wonderful, exuberant self with effortless multiple turns and perfect partnering.

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I'm a little confused (okay, a lot confused). David mentions how big his leap into the lake was and provides a link to a YouTube clip. But the clip is Angel and Gillian in that PBS "Dance in America" broadcast that's available on DVD. Does anybody have a link to the correct clip? I did a YouTube search and didn't find anything.

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I'm a little confused (okay, a lot confused). David mentions how big his leap into the lake was and provides a link to a YouTube clip. But the clip is Angel and Gillian in that PBS "Dance in America" broadcast that's available on DVD. Does anybody have a link to the correct clip? I did a YouTube search and didn't find anything.

I believe David was using that link to YouTube to illustrate how that leap is generally performed in case readers had not seen the current ABT production of Swan Lake. That PBS filming of Gillian and Angel is probably the only commercial recording that represents that leap (or the current ABT production of Swan Lake, for that matter).

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It's been a great pleasure to read this thread, and thanks to all for posting. (I confess to a little envy, as I am sure many of use outside the NY metro region share.)

You must have lots of thoughts about the High Points of the ABT 2007-2008 season, now that it's winding down. We'd love to hear what you have to say about the Good and -- in a kindly fashion, we hope -- the Disappointing on this thread:

What were the High Points of Your 2007-2008 Season?

It's a way of honoring, even briefly, the Best and possibly giving a little nudge to those who need some help.

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NYSusan found Nina's arms "over the top", I just found them ultra-Russian and typical of Nina Ballerina's romantic style. I judged her still a lovely Odette but the Odile is on borrowed time.
I wouldn't say her arms were over the top - they were Bolshoi.

Yes, I did think her arm movements were excessive, but that's just my taste.

I wasn't bothered by Nina's arms. I enjoy seeing these differences in interpretation.

It seems to me that there was another ABT dancer who incorporated many more birdlike gestures a couple of (several?) years ago although I couldn't tell you who. *sigh*

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