Roberta on the Arts
American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2009 and Nina Ananiashvili's Farewell
Home
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Memorable Misadventures
Mailbag
Our Sponsors

American Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake 2009 and Nina Ananiashvili's Farewell

- Onstage with the Dancers: Special Events

ICON Parking
We Park New York!


Over 185 Garages, 24 Hour Parking!
Daily, Weekly, Monthly Rates!
Discount Parking Coupons!

Click Here for Broadway
& Off-Broadway Coupons, Only $10!
Click Here for Times Square & Broadway Shows Coupon!
Click Here for Madison Square Garden Parking Coupon!

American Ballet Theatre
www.abt.org

Swan Lake 2009
Plus:
Nina Ananiashvili’s Farewell

At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 27, 2009


(Read More ABT Reviews)

Swan Lake (1877, Moscow; 2000, ABT): Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Set and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Duane Schuler. 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. (Program Notes).


Cast on June 23, 2009:

Conductor: David LaMarche
Gillian Murphy as Odette-Odile, Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried, Nancy Raffa as The Queen Mother, Clinton Luckett as Wolfgang, Jared Matthews as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Roman Zhurbin and Gennadi Saveliev as von Rothbart, Maria Riccetto, Stella Abrera, Jared Matthews as Pas de Trois, Yuriko Kajiya, Sarah Lane, Anne Milewski, Renata Pavam as Cygnettes, Leann Underwood and Melanie Hamrick as Two Swans, Clinton Luckett as Master of Ceremonies, Marian Butler as The Hungarian Princess, Sarah Lane as The Spanish Princess, Gemma Bond as The Italian Princess, Isabella Boylston as The Polish Princess, Simone Messmer and Patrick Ogle as Lead Czardas, Jennifer Whalen, Alexei Agoudine, Luciana Paris, and Julio Bragado-Young as Spanish Dance, Arron Scott and Mikhail Ilyin as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

Cast on June 27, 2009:

Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins
Nina Ananiashvili as Odette-Odile, Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried, Georgina Parkinson as The Queen Mother, Frederick Franklin as Wolfgang, Gennadi Saveliev as Benno, the Prince’s friend, Isaac Stappas and Marcelo Gomes as von Rothbart, Renata Pavam, Simone Messmer, Gennadi Saveliev as Pas de Trois, Yuriko Kajiya, Marian Butler, Misty Copeland, Maria Riccetto as Cygnettes, Leann Underwood and Melanie Hamrick as Two Swans, Victor Barbee as Master of Ceremonies, Misty Copeland as The Hungarian Princess, Sarah Lane as The Spanish Princess, Anne Milewski as The Italian Princess, Isabella Boylston as The Polish Princess, Marian Butler and Roman Zhurbin as Lead Czardas, Maria Bystrova, Vitali Krauchenka, Karen Uphoff, and Alexandre Hammoudi as Spanish Dance, Blaine Hoven and Grant DeLong as Neapolitan, and the Company as The Aristocrats, The Peasants, Swans, Czardas, and Mazurka.

This was the week of Nina Ananiashvili’s Farewell Swan Lake, the ballet that first earned her bravura recognition, when she danced it with Julio Bocca in the ‘90’s. Ms. Ananiashvili has been a tremendous source of artistic inspiration, a focus of respect and adulation, and the consummate prima ballerina. But, she has also been a gentle human being, one who tosses roses to the orchestra, bows to the Maestro, offering him a rose, and also offers a rose to her partner and to each supporting male in the cast. I have Ms. Ananiashvili’s signed pointe shoes hanging on my wall with my signed slipper collection, and I have a signed card from her Firebird film, a historical ballet on DVD, also in my ballet DVD collection. Having set this up for Ms. Ananiashvili’s Farewell Swan Lake, I’ll turn first to the June 23 cast, with Gillian Murphy as Odette-Odile.

On both June 23 and June 27, Angel Corella was Siegfried, but each night’s performance had a new vibe, a different chemistry. Gillian Murphy was the penultimate artist, who whizzed through 32 fouettés in Act III and drove the choreography to its tightest timing and most rapid rhythms. Thanks to David LaMarche, Conductor, the Ballet Theatre Orchestra rose to the challenge. In Act II, as Odette encounters Siegfried and tells him the tale of her tragic fate, from woman to swan, and how she now swims in the lake of her mother’s tears, Ms. Murphy showed a vulnerable dimension that went beyond her performances of previous years. Gennadi Saveliev used extraordinary theatrics as Von Rothbart at the Great Hall in Act III, and, in this Act, Ms. Murphy was devilishly seductive as Odile, a serpent in black, an almost operatic, as well as balletic affect. Roman Zhurbin was the Von Rothbart at the Lake in Acts II and IV, and his death scene was also operatic in temper.

In additional supporting roles on June 23, Sarah Lane stood out as a Cygnette (of four) and as the Spanish Princess, two contrasting characters. Arron Scott and Mikhail Ilyin were outstanding in the athletic and campy Neapolitan, and it was wonderful to see Julio Bragado-Young back onstage this season, here in the Spanish Dance. Nancy Raffa exuded tremendous stage presence as The Queen Mother, quite a contrast to her performance last week as Madge the Witch in La Sylphide. Of course, Angel Corella glowed with virtuosity and vivacity, in his Act I solo and Act II and III Pas de Deux. He used drama, on meeting the Princesses in Act III, as he visually longed for Odette. On June 23, Mr. Corella was all about endurance and spirit. On June 27, Mr. Corella was all about celebration and adoration. The female Corps, as Swans, was especially eloquent in tiny jumps on the beat.

On June 27, the air was palpable and the Opera House swarming, with Ms. Ananiashvili’s ballet fans in from around the US, Russia, Ukraine, and beyond, with press, a film crew, and her husband and little daughter. Each member of the cast gave a particularly bravura performance, matching the energy and enthusiasm of the event. Marcelo Gomes, as the Act III Von Rothbart at the Great Hall, was every bit the penultimate character actor, dancing a storm of leaps and spins, but using profound drama to defraud Siegfried into thinking Odile was Odette, so he would not break Von Rothbart’s spell, and so Odette would be his Swan for life. Mr. Gomes’ counterpart, Von Rothbart at the Lake, was a menacing and demonic Isaac Stappas, also in top form. Frederick Franklin, now 95, was Wolfgang the Tutor, and he received a rousing applause on his stage arrival. Victor Barbee, ABT’s Assoc. Artistic Director, was the Act II Master of Ceremonies, and Georgina Parkinson, an ABT Ballet Master, was The Queen Mother.

Throughout this Farewell performance, Nina Ananiashvili did not alter her precise balance, poise, or foot-limb extensions. Her famous, undulating double-jointed arm ripples, Swan-like, were embellished and expanded in space and time throughout Acts II and III. The audience, naturally, went wild. With Angel Corella, she was blooming, like a rose in its prime, so fitting, as so many roses would arrive to her arms later on at the curtain. Mr. Corella carried her and lifted her and spun her with celebratory delight. The tragic scenes were never compromised, as Ms. Ananiashvili poured out her soul and then more, always in the moment, always in character, even during the tumultuous, multiple curtain calls, mid-scene, almost mid-pirouette! This event was a historical feast of adoration and honor. In Act III, as Odile, Ms. Ananiashvili spun endlessly, gleaming, and Mr. Corella almost burst with manic enthusiasm. Nobody counted the fouettés; it just sufficed that Ms. Ananiashvili ended on the beat and completed all the phrases, in full balance and fervor.

At the end of Act III, just before Odile and Von Rothbart are exposed and disappear in a puff of fiery smoke, Mr. Gomes threw Ms. Ananiashvili into Mr. Corella’s arms, a new performance device, and this “diving fish” figure drew further vocal commotion from the crowd. Every moment of this four-Act ballet became electrified. Even the Act II Cygnettes were extra-precise, extra-iconic in their mirrored choreography. Misty Copeland and Marian Butler caught my eye. In the Pas de Trois of Act I, Gennadi Saveliev, now Benno where he had been Von Rothbart on June 23, was buoyant, jubilant, and propulsive. Blaine Hoven and Grant DeLong, in the Act III Neapolitan, were mesmerizing, while Isabella Boylston was a coy Polish Princess, and Marian Butler and Roman Zhurbin were exotically charged in the Czardas.

At the final Farewell curtain, Ms. Ananiashvili was treated to bursts of silvery pink confetti, plus expansive bouquets of roses, peonies, and lilies, from each of her male partners and female colleagues, plus one long-stem white rose from each Corps dancer, plus Maestro Ormsby’s personal baton! Ms. Ananiashvili immediately rushed to the Pit and silently conducted a few jubilant bars. Her daughter made a stage appearance, as well as Irina Kolpakova, an ABT Ballet Master, and one of Ms. Ananiashvili’s mentors. Ms. Ananiashvili bowed with reverence to her mentor (placing a bouquet on the stage floor), as she did to the Ballet Orchestra (tossing them a bouquet), to Mr. Ormsby (offering him his rose), and to all of her screaming fans. As a few final coups de graces during the gazillion curtain calls, Ms. Ananiashvili made one of her entrances with her back to the audience and her arms in their iconic undulation of ripples. And, there was one more edge of the stage toss, by Mr. Gomes, of Ms. Ananiashvili, like a human bouquet, right into Mr. Corella’s waiting arms!

Kudos to Nina Ananiashvili for her Farewell Spring Season and for tonight’s incomparable Farewell Swan Lake. Hopefully she will visit soon with her State Ballet of Georgia.



Nina Ananiashvili Bows to Her Fans
Her ABT Farewell, as Odette-Odile
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone




Nina Ananiashvili Bows to The Orchestra
Her ABT Farewell, as Odette-Odile
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone




Nina Ananiashvili, Angel Corella, and Corps at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Isaac Stappas and the Corps at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Angel Corella and the Corps at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ormsby Wilkins, Nina Ananiashvili, Angel Corella, and the Corps at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




The Curtain Closes as Nina Takes a Bow
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Nina Ananiashvili at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Corps Dancers Salute Nina with Long White Roses
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Corps Dancers Salute Nina with Long White Roses
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Nina Ananiashvili and Angel Corella at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Angel Corella and Nina Ananiashvili at the Curtain
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Nina Ananiashvili Thanks Her Fans
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Nina Ananiashvili Thanks Her Fans
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Nina Ananiashvili Catches a Final Bouquet
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net