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ABT - La Bayadere June 2008


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I attended the Wednesday evening performance with Yuriko Kajiya's debut as Gamzatti. I had expected her lovely style and excellent technique, but especially enjoyed her approach to the role. Many of the dancers depict Gamzatti as extremely cold and demanding. While Yuriko was clearly the Rajah's daughter, she was also a woman desperately in love with Solor. In all of their interactions, she kept trying to seduce him to fall in love with her. I'm eagerly awaiting her debuts in ABT's other full length ballets.

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Kajiya is now listed as Gamzatti for Saturday night with Murphy and Hallberg!

Also noticed on the website calendar that Kajiya will be dancing Gulnare on the Japan tour in July. The calendar also shows Nina dancing in many performances in Japan. Corella is also on the tour.

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... she was on the edge of her chair most of night enthralled with Dvorovenko's fluidity and beauty.

I was too. I'm not normally a big Dvorovenko fan, but wow, so fluid and so beautiful. She was magnetic. I also thought she and Hallberg looked great together.

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Just a note about last night. Irina Dvorovenko is indeed a great Nikiya. Often Irina is a strong but rather brittle and flat dancer I think because she has a tendency to push the steps if you know what I mean. In "Raymonda" she was breaking up the choreography into little pieces. Last night Irina had this plush and flexible upper body with lovely "Russian" arms but grounded on firm, classical footwork. It really pulled the diverse demands of the part of Nikiya together. She had much more flow and legato than usual but grounded with a lot of technical strength. Her mime was excellent too.

David Hallberg was much further along on finding Solor last night than what reports from his debut Tuesday would lead you to believe. He had many technical strengths including very light batterie on jumps in his "Shades" solo and stunningly fast turns that reminded me of Angel. Of course, David's usual gorgeous feet and line. He also had a nicely complicated characterization starting out an authoritarian and confident warrior who breaks down when caught in the romantic and political intrigue. He did some bravura turns to suggest a strong man being torn apart by his emotional conflict. A partnering glitch in the "Shades" pas de deux and some uneasy moments here or there suggest that more rehearsal and a few more performances are needed to fully achieve his potential. However wait until next season, he will really cook in this ballet.

Gillian Murphy now owns the role of Gamzatti which she powerfully dances and acts with total authority. Projecting a kind of diamantine glamor which dazzles but doesn't warm, she really did stunning Italian and regular fouettes (including multiples with three or four revolutions) in the betrothal scene pas de deux. I also felt that her performance of the solo in the Makarova/Lanchbery last act was really on a whole new level.

Lots of interest in the smaller role casting - some underutilized and new faces from the corps are getting chances. Mikhail Ilyin indeed did impress as the Golden Idol, not effacing memories of de Luz, young Corella or Cornejo but definitely impressing the audience and holding his own. The three shades were Renata Pavam, Melanie Hamrick and Leann Underwood. Underwood was the real revelation in the difficult last shade solo with the ecartés - she has strong clear technique and is very confident and poised. Pavam as the "happy, hopping shade" had crisp sparkling footwork and charmed. Melanie Hamrick looked stronger than she was a few seasons ago with smoother transitions and stronger feet and legs. I also was impressed with the powerful acting and towering stage presence of Roman Zhurbin as the High Brahmin reminding me of Victor Barbee of fifteen years ago when he used to tear up the stage in that part.

This combination had all the right ingredients and if they weren't quite perfectly meshed and polished in every detail, there was more than enough to create a great evening of dancing.

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I have not been a fan of Dvorovenko, although I have attended to a few good performances that she has given here, as her last year Gamzatti.

Last night I saw the best Irina I have ever seen, very very powerful performance.

In the 1st act she had great transition from happiness to saddness. Her fight scene with Murphy was fantastic, both of them were terrific !!

I was really moved by her acting, especially that moment when she got bitten by the snake. She also looked very good on those costumes and she used her back and arms beautifully as well.

In the 2nd act, she totally blew me away. Her technique was so so strong, so secure, very impressive. Faboulous speed, amazing turns and foot work, absolutely perfect execution, brava !!

Her gand-jetes throughout the performance and especially in the 3rd act were veronika-like, ha. Beatiful and very high jumps. I liked her so much that I am going to see her giselle. If she always danced like this !!! (or have I had bad luck with her ?)

Hallberg was also great. He had a couple of bad moments partnering Irina (one especially bad in the 2nd act), but in general he was very good. The both looked very well together. From my experience with David, it looks like he needs some time to mature his characters. I have been very disappointed in every single of his debuts, like his SB last year or his Don Q this season. However, in the 2nd performances he seems to pick it up way better, as it happened last year with SB.

I have noticed a huge improvement in his acting, he is a lot more expressive and his technique looks much improved as well. It looks like his Solor will be as his Siegfried, better and better every performance. Very impressive for a dancer as young as David, who has also had to manage three very important debuts the current season.

Murphy was a fantastic Gamzatti. Her technique was as always, top of the line. Her acting very good. Great improvement from last year.

The three shades were fantastic, but I was absolutely speechless with the 3d one, Leann Underwood. I didnt know about this girl, but she did make a huge impression on me. What a variation she danced !!! Musicality and technique at it very best !!! According to her biography she should be pretty young.

Would love to see her doing more.

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6/28 Bayadere matineee, Part/Gomes/Wiles

I am at a loss for words to adequately express my admiration for Veronika Part. She is the epitome of everything I go to the ballet to see... but I can't get at it in words. What is it that makes those grand jetes so breathtaking? She achieves great height and flow, and covers a huge amount of space, yet doesn't have that weightless quality that some dancers have. Instead, one is always aware of her body moving through the air, almost pushing against the air, as if the air were thick. Something about her very presence on the stage is so regal and heartbreaking. I really can't get at it, but I was left aware of the great loss I'll feel if she's no longer performing in New York.

Gomes is a great partner for her. He was perfect. I saw Corella last night, and he's a great showman, but Gomes is a professional.

The corps had excellent unison. This might seem like a quibble, but after seeing three performances in three days, I can't help but notice that Gemma Bond (I think that's her -- the tall blonde who's third in the shade lineup) always pitches her arabesque noticeably higher than the other girls.

Renata Pavam and Leann Underwood were excellent as the first and third shades. I liked Underwood better than I did when I saw her Thursday night.

Saw Marisa Lopez, guest soloist, as Gamzatti last night. She has a very commanding stage presence, and more than held her own against Paloma Herrera, but I didn't care for the quality of her dancing. I hope she's not being auditioned for a possible soloist spot, when we have so many excellent soloists already.

But to reiterate -- Veronika. I'm still applauding.

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...

I am at a loss for words to adequately express my admiration for Veronika Part. She is the epitome of everything I go to the ballet to see...

... Veronika. I'm still applauding.

Now that they're back together (Monday showed just a bit of atypical partnering rust) and in harmony, this afternoon Ms. Part and Marcelo Gomes returned to last year's performance level in Bayadere, the epitome of pure classical dancing, with full doses of Russian (and Brazilian!) Soul. My hands are still sore, too, Christine. Agree about her grand jetes, also: they have neither Bouder's upward propulsion nor that anti-gravity cloud that seems to float above Osipova's, yet there is a majesty to Veronika's... and as she soars off-stage before the kingdom disintegrates, those final four are those of royalty beyond any queen's.

I enjoyed the Gamzatti of Michele Wiles this afternoon as well. Gone were those strange head bobbles in her Act I PdD on Monday, and there was more flow to her jetes. In Makarova's (is this her choreography?) Act III variation, I found her classicism breathtaking, at least partially because of the way she presented the tension between her remorse and her regal (and obviously spoiled) upbringing, and how she turned this tension into a helpless sense of guilt. Overall, this was more the Wiles of Michael Popkin's rave review (of Tuesday's performance) in DVT (Wednesday's Links), than much I've been reading in this forum.

The Corps was especially perfect in Shades today, no need to take a back seat to what the Mariinsky showed us this Spring. Bravi! What a magical first Shade by Renata Pavam, her limbs soaring within the musical surges so intimately, surely this is what musicality is, driving the audience into nearly a roar, and I'd throw in a bravo to conductor Charles Barker too. He's one that you can see has his eyes on the ballerina. It is a bit strange that we've had to wait a year to see Leann Underwood solo ('tho could have missed her in something last year), but her third Shade was worth the wait. So different from Melissa Thomas on Monday, who left me yearning to see her in larger Petipa roles. Ms. Underwood danced with a "melting" quality, as if in a trance. Very moving, and with her, I long for a greater Romantic role, even a Giselle...

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I saw the matinee performance as well and this is the first time I truly "got" Veronika Part. I saw her in Swan Lake and while I admired some things about her O/O, the performance never really took off for me. I think part of it might have been the lack of chemistry between Part and Hallberg, who other than being tall and good-looking danced as if they had nothing in common.

Today it was a different story. Part and Gomes are extraordinarily well-matched -- they're both dark-haired, gorgeous, and more importantly, it's obvious the two of them have a rapport. Their was intimacy in even the most formal of poses, such as the swan lift that ends their Shades pdd. Part was technically fine, although the pirouettes in the Scarf Duet were a bit shaky. But I loved that even though she's a stately, imperious-looking ballerina, she made her Nikya so delicate and warm. Unfortunately in Makarova's version of the ballet she is not allowed to dance the joyful flower basket dance but her dance of grief before Gamzatti and Solor was beautiful. Her mime after being bitten and betrayed was clear and vehement. Even in the Shades scene, her Nikya was never remote. Her grande jetes had a buoyancy to them that gave Nikya life. When she completed that series of diagonal pirouettes and raised her arm in triumph, for once there was real joy to the gesture. I've never seen anyone make more of that moment. The Shades scene thus became not just a dance abstract but a real reconciliation between the lovers. She was almost the polar opposite of Uliana Lopatkina, who I saw in January. Lopatkina made Nikya almost transparent, a spectacle of pure dance. Veronika's Nikya was always telling a story.

Marcelo Gomes' Solor was equal to Part's Nikya -- how noble, how handsome! What a great partner! On a lesser level, I thought, was Michele Wiles' Gamzatti. She was technically ok but rather bland. She had some rocky moments in the grand betrothal scene. Her jumps were clipped and earthbound. She seems a little too nice for the role. I would have liked to see Gillian Murphy or Irina Dvorovenko.

I thought Renata Pavam was excellent as the first shade. I was afraid to see the corps de ballet, thinking Id compare them unfavorably to the Mariinsky in Januray, but the corps de ballet was (surprise!) gorgeous. A minimum of wobbling, and all their arabesques were well-timed and in sync. I still dislike Makarova's production, but the connection between Part and Gomes was so strong that even the weakest part (Act 3) was compelling.

Compared to the Swan Lake, where applause was tepid, this time both principals were showered with ovations and bouquets during the curtain calls. Bravo Veronika and Marcelo!

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I was at Monday, and I just want to add a few notes, since other posters (thank you!) have articulated the rare virtues of the Part-Gomes pairing.

I saw something unusual in Yuriko Kajiya's second shade. The oom-pah-pah coming from the pit generally yields a bright, cheery response from the dancer. Kajiya found a different way. Her mien, but not her dancing, was subdued, and we really could believe that she was in some afterlife world. Very subtle, but what difference!

On Monday, Part did have a little trouble in her scarf-dance pirouettes. However, not every Nikiya even attempts (as Part did) to do them to both directions. I'm glad she tried, even if the lefties finished imperfectly.

I liked NYTimes line about finding meaning in Wiles' technique -- I disagree with almost everyone here -- her lyricism, musicality, vibrancy and caring about her work carry her through performance after performance.
I think Wiles is innately musical, which is why I am so disappointed in her this year. She knows the conductor will indulge a too-long balance or other whim of phrasing. I wish they wouldn't.

But I do think she's had a good season.

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On Monday, Part did have a little trouble in her scarf-dance pirouettes. However, not every Nikiya even attempts (as Part did) to do them to both directions. I'm glad she tried, even if the lefties finished imperfectly.

Yes indeed! Lopatkina for instance did not attempt the bidirectional pirouettes and Somova attempted them but ... well, no comment.

Posters have commented on how spectacular Part's supported pirouette finishing in attitude was and I agree -- the way she was absolutely ON with the music gave the pas de deux this feeling of a thrilling climax. The way she pointed her arm up towards the heavens reminded me of the spontaneous arm raising basketball players often make after sinking a buzzer shot. Weird analogy, but it had the same joy and flourish.

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I also attended the Saturday matinee of "La Bayadere". I really don't have much to add to the excellent reviews of Mary Cargill (the online "Dance View Times") and the many Ballet Talk posters. I saw Part and Gomes dance "La Bayadere" last year, and as wonderful as that performance was, this year they were even better. Both their dancing and acting was deeper and richer, and so beautifully shaded. And Part and Gomes were so in tune with each other - their chemistry was both exciting and heart breaking.

I liked Michele Wiles as Gamzatti. Maybe she's not up to the level of Gillian Murphy in the part, (Unfortunately I've never seen Dvorovenko as Gamzatti) but I thought she played the spoiled princess very well. And her dancing was spectactular, expecially in the betrothal scene. I do agree, however, that she's not a great jumper.

As has already been noted several times, the corps in Act II was just perfect. And Mary Cargill is right.

This production of "La Bayadere" is really a gift from Natalya Makarova. (I hope and pray ABT dancers continue to perform it for many years to come.) I've seen a couple of "La Bayaderes" which end with the Kindgom of the Shades scene. I much prefer how Makarova's "La Baydere" ends. There's perfect closure (in my opinion anyway). The bad guys (and girls) get punished, and Nikiya and Solor end up in paradise together.

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True---Part did flub her left pirouettes during the scarf dance---but enough of this slight imperfection! Her glorious Grand Jetes in Act 3 make that controversal Act worth staging. Her emotion and expressiveness are believable; she is not one to overdo. Makarova has always been my favorite Nikiya and I thought Part to be her equal---but now I believe Part has no equal as Nikiya; she stands alone. :wub:

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Wow. It's pretty clear that if we don't get La Bayadere next year, we'll be damned disappointed. Let's pray it comes early in the season before injuries set in.

Just to repeat what an exemplary job the corps did in this production this year - excepting those dropped candles. There are a lot of new faces this year, and for everyone to be able to come together and breathe as one as beautifully as we saw this past week is an extraordinary accomplishment. The Kirov can have and keep its tradition of cultural purity; we have something better - pure harmony.

Please bring us La Bayadere next year!

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6/28 Bayadere matineee, Part/Gomes/Wiles

I am at a loss for words to adequately express my admiration for Veronika Part. She is the epitome of everything I go to the ballet to see... but I can't get at it in words. What is it that makes those grand jetes so breathtaking? She achieves great height and flow, and covers a huge amount of space, yet doesn't have that weightless quality that some dancers have. Instead, one is always aware of her body moving through the air, almost pushing against the air, as if the air were thick. Something about her very presence on the stage is so regal and heartbreaking. I really can't get at it, but I was left aware of the great loss I'll feel if she's no longer performing in New York.

christine174, I think you expressed your feelings very well! You struck on something that affects me in performance: weightless vs. weighted. Ballerinas are often praised for their lightness and weightlessness, whereas I am more often moved by dancers who disturb the atmosphere with their movements.

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This production of "La Bayadere" is really a gift from Natalya Makarova. (I hope and pray ABT dancers continue to perform it for many years to come.) I've seen a couple of "La Bayaderes" which end with the Kindgom of the Shades scene. I much prefer how Makarova's "La Baydere" ends. There's perfect closure (in my opinion anyway). The bad guys (and girls) get punished, and Nikiya and Solor end up in paradise together.

I dislike the Makarova version because it streamlines the ballet so much. I miss the character dances of the betrothal scene, especially Manu. I don't like the musical rearrangements, such as deletion of Nikya's joyful flower dance. She also reduces the corps de ballet in the Shades scene from 32 to 24. And I think the 3rd act has almost no choreography to speak of. But yesterday with Part and Gomes it proved that with the right dancers and storytellers Makarova's version can be a very powerful experience.

christine174, I think you expressed your feelings very well! You struck on something that affects me in performance: weightless vs. weighted. Ballerinas are often praised for their lightness and weightlessness, whereas I am more often moved by dancers who disturb the atmosphere with their movements.

For such a large, stately dancer (and I mean this in the best possible way) Part seemed absolutely weightless in her jumps. They had an incredible buoyancy that seemed almost life-affirming in the Shades pdd. Whereas Wiles, who is a much thinner dancer, did similar grande jetes but they seemed heavy and leaden.

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Maybe the word should be weighty. Some dancers' movements have impact. I'm repelling to the trend I've seen for dancers to dance so "light" that their dancing has no impact; steps appear sketchy. The effect is that of a faded picture, for me at least.

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When Part launches her grand jetes, she then gives her front knee a second, extra stretch forward that propels her farther and seems to keep her in the air longer. That may be what Wiles was trying to accomplish earlier, but the extra effort came from her hip (and chin) instead of her knee. Add to Part's effect her long legs and very long feet, and you have one impressive missle-like movement. But since that extra stretch of the knee doesn't accompany tour jetes or saute de chat, you don't see the same beautiful result from her in other types of jumping.

I enjoyed Part's Nikyia very much this year, but Dvorovenko (with Hallberg) was by far more impressive in every way and in every act. There was no need to slow down the music for Irina as there was in order to give Veronika time to coordinate. Irina's Act I dance before Solor and Gamzatti included rises from the floor to arabesque where she balanced for an extraordinary length of time while she watched Solor and Gamzatti in the corner - then she rolled slowly and fully through the foot to come down. Veronika tried to make more out of the time on the floor than the movement involved to get there. Irina's upper body bent from the weight of her sorrow time and time whereas Veronika seemed to go only half as far with only half the effect. Irina's Act II double pirouettes into arabesque were perfectly timed and seamless whereas on Monday night, Veronika was way off the music on the last two, and I thought she was going have a little breakdown and stop without doing the last one.

I hope that Irina gets two performances instead of just one next year if we are so lucky to have La Bayadere included in the season.

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I enjoyed Part's Nikyia very much this year, but Dvorovenko (with Hallberg) was by far more impressive in every way and in every act.

I thought Dvorovenko was magnetic, and I'll be very happy to see her Nikyia again next year. But for me, Part is more than magnetic, if that's possible -- I find her deeply moving.

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One thing also that surprised me was what at what a fast clip the ABT Shades now do their descent/arabesque. Traditionally the Russians do it faster, but this time it seems as if the ABT Shades were faster than the Kirov (when I saw them in January at least).

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One thing also that surprised me was what at what a fast clip the ABT Shades now do their descent/arabesque. Traditionally the Russians do it faster, but this time it seems as if the ABT Shades were faster than the Kirov (when I saw them in January at least).

Many of us have been especially impressed by ABT's Corps de Ballet in this run of Bayadere. Nina Alovert, in her review of Monday's performance that appeared in Thursday's issue of the Russian-language weekly Russian Bazaar, gives a reason for this:

... Natalia Makarova rehearsed with the troupe before the performances. First of all, Makarova rehearsed Shades. You can not believe that we are seeing the same corps de ballet, who danced the swans so poorly in Swan Lake. The overall high level of the production is the result of the quality of the work of Makarova with the performers...

Please do not allow the imprecision of my translation to deceive. Ms. Alovert is praising the corps' ability, the remark regarding their swans may refer to their preparation. Interestingly, regarding Veronika Part's Monday Nikiya, Ms. Alovert recommended seeing the Saturday performance, expecting more dramatic depth and confidence then, as if Monday's was something of a general rehearsal (her term) for Saturday. After the fact, although I enjoyed Monday, I cannot disagree with Nina Alovert.

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I also attended to Saturday’s matinee, Part/Gomes Bayadere.

There is nothing else I can add to what its been said here.

I happen to have the same problem that christine174 has, I cant the find the right word to describe my feelings when I see Part perform (especially this year). I have read some very nice words that seems to describe her: majestic, imperial, astonishing, breathtaking…yes, its all that ......and still more. Veronika is probably the word to describe beauty and classical ballet.

The way she raised her arm up after her diagonal pirouettes, her jetes, she literally flew across the stage in the 3rd act.….for god sake, how can she be so beautiful ???? When she came out in the 2nd act in that white tutu, I could barely breathe. I heard a woman in the audience saying, I would pay my ticket to see her even if she were not dancing, just to see her on stage is worth it.

Marcelo is just the perfect partner for her. He is as beautiful as she is and his partnering is just marvelous. His is so elegant and expressive !!! We are really lucky to have this couple here.

I think Wiles was much better on Saturday than on Monday. I liked her way more.

Again, Renata Pavam an Leann Underwood were incredibly good. Bravas !!!

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Ballerinas are often praised for their lightness and weightlessness, whereas I am more often moved by dancers who disturb the atmosphere with their movements.

... "dancers who disturb the atmosphere with their movements" -- I like that. It's as if the air is thicker around Part; I think it's that ongoing sense of palpable physicality that I find so thrilling. Someone else described her grand jetes as weightless, and in a way I can't disagree with this -- but it's not the same kind of weightlessness that, say, Yuriko Kajiya has. I'm running my mind through the ABT ranks to think of anyone else who has anything of this quality. The only one I can come up with is Misty Copeland. Not quite the same, but I always find myself very aware of her weight and physicality as I am with Part (note to Misty, if you're reading this: I intend that as this fan's ultimate stamp of approval). When she unfolds those long legs, as the cat in Sleeping Beauty or whatever that princess role was in Swan Lake (where she extends the right leg up to her nose while von Rothbart runs his hand along it), it's as if her legs are moving against the air. I'm hoping Kristi Boone will develop in that direction, too.

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.….for god sake, how can she be so beautiful ???? When she came out in the 2nd act in that white tutu, I could barely breathe.

Okay, this is it, I'm not going to clutter up BT with any more postings gushing over Veronika, but ClassicBallet captures my sentiments -- I was trying to sound thoughtful and reflective, as opposed to totally mindless and overwrought, but truly, it dazzles and befuddles me -- HOW can she be SO BEAUTIFUL???

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I saw 3 Bayaderes and agree that this is one of ABT’s most satisfying productions, danced beautifully from top to bottom. It’s unfortunate that LincolnCenterFan caught such an uncharacteristically flawed performance - I wasn’t at that one but the ones I saw the corps, demis and soloists were all wonderful.

I saw both Part/Gomes performances. What can I say - it’s all already been said beautifully on this board and elsewhere- they were breathtaking and Part and Gomes have a very special chemistry together. I’m sure that ABT has good reasons for spreading Marcelo around but it’s a pity they don’t put them together all the time anymore.

This season Ms. Part has joined my list of all time favorite Nikiya’s along side Cojocaru & Vishneva. Three totally different and equally moving interpretations. I also enjoyed Wiles as Gamzatti. She doesn’t quite live up to my memories of Murphy & Dvorovenko in the role but her technique and performance style lend themselves well to her portrayal of a royal princess with a strong sense of entitlement wrestling with the knowledge that the man she loves prefers another, clearly inferior woman (inferior in her eyes). Everything about the solidity and security of her technique attested to the unshakable self confidence and sense of entitlement of her character.

The 3rd cast I saw was the Murphy/Hallberg/ Kajiya cast. My favorite parts of this performance were the shades scene and any time Hallberg danced. He is just wonderful to watch and there were no partnering glitches but I didn’t find much rapport between him and Murphy. I thought Murphy was wonderful in Shades - technically perfect, crystalline, pure dancing with just the right mixture of spirituality and reserve. Her first and last acts were fine but for me they simply lacked the weight and eloquence of my favorite Nilkyas. This was a Bayadere I could enjoy but not one I could believe in.

I thought Kajiya was promising as Gamzatti - she has the technical chops but not the authority yet. Hopefully that will come with time but at this point she reminds me of the kewpie doll type of casting the Kirov gave us recently - she’s more in the Golub/Tkchenko mold than the Murphy/Dvorovenko/Wiles style Gamzatti which I prefer.

For me the other revelation of this run was Leann Underwood in the 3rd shades solo. All the shades soloists I saw were very good - Lane & Pavam in the first, Hamrick & Boylston in the second were all lovely. I though Melissa Thomas was very promising in the 3rd - all the elements of her solo were gorgeous but they didn’t all come together for me. Underwood put them all together flawlessly. Let’s see more of her, please! I’m sorry I missed Dvorovenko’s Nikiya this season. I think this is a role that would suit her well & I hope to see her in it next year.

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