June 28, 2012
Secure in her technique, Isabella Boylston made her debut as Odette/Odile in the classic ballet “Swan Lake.” Re-jiggered by Kevin McKenzie, the white and black tutu ballet retains much of Marius Petipa’s original choreography accented by this generation’s upgraded technical flair. Arriving in time for the second half, I missed the serene white swan section, where Prince Siegfried falls in love with the lyrical and pure Princess Odette. Trapped by the evil sorcerer’s spell, Odette’s only chance at re-claiming full humanness is through true love—with a virgin male.
Intent on marrying-off Prince Siegfried, Queen Mother (Nancy Raffa) throws a lavish ball inviting the land's eligible maidens. A series of “character” dances including the dramatic Czardas led by Luciana Voltolini; Spanish Dance’s energetic Simone Mesmer & Alexi Agoudine, Luciana Paris & Julio Bragado-Young; the high-jumping Neapolitan’s Grant DeLong and Blaine Hoven and a group Mazurka perk up the court’s festivities.
In a grand flourish, trumpets announce an unexpected guest, Odile. Dressed in a short black tutu, Odile is escorted by the magnetic von Rothbart -- Jared Matthews, who skillfully weaves through the tricky turns into leg extensions while wooing all the single maidens in the room.
Stunned by Odile’s appearance, Prince Siegfried believes she is Odette (lover’s haze). Rather than portraying Odile as the evil, mesmerizing swan intent on stripping Siegfried of all worldly happiness, Boylston presents a self-assured, iron-willed vixen. Solid arabesques strike out while arms sharply whip back pushing the chest forward and eyes straight ahead. In the famous solo section defined by the execution of 32 fouettes—leg shoots out to the side and pulls into turns on the standing leg—she got the audience’s attention by ripping off a series of triple instead of single turns.
For his part, Daniil Simkin seamlessly flees through the air in picture-perfect leaps and air revolutions. A far more emotional performer than Boylston, Simkin, proves a facile and devoted partner.
Once recognizing his monumental blunder, Siegfried races back to the lake where the towering and wonderfully evil Vitali Karuchenka tries to slice Siegfried and Odette apart. Instead, the white clad, and much softened Odette pitches herself into the abyss, followed in short suit by Siegfried in a fabulous, arched back dive to his death. (In another lifetime, Simkin would be an Olympic caliber diver).
Happily for all, the audience embraced the couple in their applause.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis