SWAN LAKE NYC BALLET
September 16, 2011
Eyes flash, head snaps down and up, the Black Swan/Odile is in the house. Physically taut and emotionally unforgiving, Ashley Bouder embraces her “bad girl” side with pride in New York City Ballet’s production of “Swan Lake.”
Earlier in the evening, Prince Siegfried (Andrew Veyette) stumbles onto an enchanted lake and discovers the Black Swan’s feathered alter ego the pure, White Swan/Odette. Of marriageable age, the Prince has run away from courtside festivities to contemplate impending matrimonial demands only to discover a flock of white swans that magically transform into maidens.
The 19th century full-length romantic ballet attracts ballerinas the way Hamlet appeals to actors. Because the role demands both superior technical and dramatic capabilities, few dancers are equally good as the fragile White Swan and the vicious Black Swan. Anyone familiar with Ms. Bouder’s work appreciates her vitality, thrilling physicality and no holds-barred performance style. This fierceness suits Odile’s large personality described by attacking arabesques, whipping double fouette turns, driving leaps and sharply etched arms. But this brassy, staccato beat must transform to longer breaths, more lyrical leg and arm extensions in Odette’s hushed expressions of true love.
As her cavalier, Veyette moves in a classically elegant style. He proves dramatically convincing as the besotted prince and following his bad encounter with Odile, exudes palpable anguish. Most significantly, the excellent Swan corps was marked by unison precision and expressivity.
In this production by Peter Martins (based on original Marius Petipa/ Lev Ivanov and George Balanchine choreography) the pomp is pretty much eliminated in favor of a good deal more complex dance combinations topped off by sequences for a group of young student dancers that nearly steal the show. At this point, Martins is one of the single best choreographers for children creating playful patterns and joyous steps like large, stage-gulping slides side to side.
Tearing around in manic “entertainment mode” as the Jester, Daniel Ulbricht wows the audience with clean, six revolution pirouettes (no hops) bounding split leaps and fleet beats. Anthony Huxley appears in the role of the Prince’s friend and in the demanding pas de trois demonstrating a fine, classical outline and understated technique. Always exuding a bright personality, Joaquin De Luz breezed through the Pas de Quatre Divertissements with a buoyant flair, complemented by Megan Fairchild and Tyler Peck. Suitably leering, the long and angular Ask la Cour sneers with the best of them as the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. And a nod goes to the colorful “Spanish Dance” by Rebecca Krohn, Megan LeCrone and evening replacements Taylor Stanley and Christian Tworzyanski.
If you are looking for a costume ballet dripping in jewels and posturing, this is not the Swan Lake for you. Designed by a dark-minded visual artist Per Kirkeby, this production nods to the casual Scandinavian-styled monarchy, letting the starch out of tutus and favoring knee length full-skirted dresses with nary a glittering tiara in sight.
Considering the sometimes unsettlingly rapid musical pace established by conductor Faycal Karoui, New York City Ballet’s opening night program hit high marks in overall company form and alertness.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis