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American Ballet Theatre - Swan Lake

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 20, 2003
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

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American Ballet Theatre - Swan Lake

www.abt.org

Swan Lake
Ballet in Four Acts

At the
Metropolitan Opera House
(www.lincolncenter.org)

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Assistant Artistic Director
Elizabeth Harpel Kehler, Executive Director
Ballet Masters, Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Farah Lopez, Manager, Press and Marketing

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 20, 2003

Swan Lake (2000): Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, sets and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Duane Schuler, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Nina Ananiashvili as Odette-Odile, Julio Bocca as Prince Siegfried, Ilona McHugh as The Queen Mother, Victor Barbee as Wolfgang, Tutor to the Prince, Joaquin De Luz as Benno, The Prince's Friend, and Ethan Brown and Marcelo Gomes as von Rothbart, An Evil Sorcerer.

(See NYC Ballet Swan Lake Reviews by Zlokower and Abrams). Swan Lake was first produced in 1877 by the Russian imperial Ballet at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. In 1895, the Petipa/Ivanov choreography was introduced in St. Petersburg, and in 1940 ABT staged Act II, followed in 1944 by the premier of the Black Swan Pas de Deux at the Metropolitan Opera House. In 1988 Mikhail Baryshnikov staged a new version for ABT, and in 1993 Kevin McKenzie re-staged this piece for ABT and again newly produced Swan Lake in 2000. (ABT Notes).

To witness Nina Ananiashvili (See ABT Stage Door Candids and Watch for new Candids.) and Julio Bocca dance the Black Swan Pas de Deux is to have a memorable ballet experience that astounds the imagination. This was Ms. Ananiashvili's Ten Year Anniversary Event, and I have watched her dance Odette-Odile with Mr. Bocca for most of those ten years. They feed off each other's energy and off their inherent partnering chemistry in wild abandon, triple spins, mid-air leaps, seductive theatricalities, and wanton fervor that almost never exists in ballet performances, due to the lack of charismatic and magnetic duos. This is the stuff of Fonteyn-Nureyev and Astaire-Rogers.

This was also another ABT event, replete with Latin male Principals and Soloists, such as Mr. Bocca, Mr. De Luz, and Mr. Gomes. Mr. De Luz, who will leave ABT shortly to join New York City Ballet, was outstanding as Benno, and his virtuosity brought the audience to a roar. Ethan Brown and Marcelo Gomes were von Rothbart, with Mr. Brown as the winged, evil creature, who eventually withers and dies on a rock, and Mr. Gomes as the evil, but courtly, imposter, who escorts Odile to the seductive Black Swan Pas de Deux, that seals the unfortunate fate of the innocent Odette.

Mr. Bocca has matured over the past years into a passionate partner, who spins Ms. Ananiashvili from the waist in multiple fast turns, who agonizes over his loss of eternal love, who jumps into the lake with dramatic urgency, and who stands onstage, behind his partner, while the audience demands numerous curtain calls and tosses to them hundreds of roses. The Swan Corps was exquisite, and I noticed one extra flourish, as they initially emerge from the forest, right stage. I also noticed an unusually ephemeral ending, as the Corps bent forward in dimness and fog, evoking a dreamlike image on this brilliant set.

Ms. Ananiashvili has a rare capacity to undulate her arms, in a double-jointed characterization of fluttering wings, and she did not disappoint tonight. As the lights dim, and von Rothbart draws her offstage, she flutters in tiny steps toward his magnetic power. Also of note is her amazing ability to flutter one foot against the other, as she carefully turns in one of Odette's pas de deux', probably a fine-tuned skill from her Bolshoi years. Onstage for all acts was Mr. Bocca, with Benno at his side, and, as always, he also did not disappoint. Mr. Bocca is a bravura performer, who knows his audience, and who is muscular, versatile, powerful, and a master of the stage.


Nina Ananiashvili as Odile and Julio Bocca as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Act III
Photo courtesy of MIRA

The Birthday entertainment included colorful Czardas, Spanish Dances, a Neapolitan Dance, and a Mazurka. Erica Cornejo and Gennadi Saveliev created the perfect Czardas, while the stylish Spanish Dance was performed by Stella Abrera, Ricardo Torres, Adrienne Schulte, and Eric Otto. Herman Cornejo and Craig Salstein were virtuosic in the Neapolitan, and the Corps performed the Mazurka in a swirling dervish.

Charles Barker's conducting was professionally timed, as he stood and watched the dancers, holding his musicians until just the right moment, allowing for the many bravos and thundering applauses. He, too, knew his audience, and my front box seat allowed me to focus on the orchestra, as well as on the stage. Kudos to the Concertmaster and Lead cellist for their solos and duets, as Odette and Siegfried danced the song of newfound love. Kudos to American Ballet Theatre for another memorable Swan Lake.


Lincoln Center Fountain
Photo by Roberta Zlokower


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