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New York City Ballet: Swan Lake 2017

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Swan Lake 2017

Founders: George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master: Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director: Andrew Litton
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 26, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Swan Lake (1999): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Peter Martins after Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Per Kirkeby, Costumes realized by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Mark Stanley.

September 19:
Conductor: Andrew Litton
Violin Soloist: Kurt Nikkanen

Performed by Sara Mearns as Odette/Odile, Tyler Angle as Prince Siegfried, Silas Farley as Von Rotbart, Marika Anderson as The Queen, Daniel Ulbricht as Jester, Joseph Gordon as Benno, Erica Pereira, Brittany Pollack, Joseph Gordon in Pas de Trois, Lauren King, Ashly Isaacs, Indian Woodward, Anthony Huxley in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Savannah Lowey and Justin Peck leading Hungarian Dance, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar in Russian Dance, Megan Johnson, Lydia Wellington, Daniel Applebaum, Andrew Scordato in Spanish Dance, Sara Adams and Devin Alberda leading Neapolitan Dance, Olivia Boisson, Likolani Brown, Olivia MacKinnon, Meagan Mann, Jenelle Manzi, Miriam Miller as Six Princesses, Jacqueline Bologna, Baily Jones, Kristen Segin, Claire Von Enck as Four Small Swans, Students from School of American Ballet, and the Company.

September 26:
Conductor: Daniel Capps
Violin Soloist: Arturo Delmoni

Performed by Megan Fairchild as Odette/Odile, Gonzalo Garcia as Prince Siegfried, Cameron Dieck as Von Rotbart, Lydia Wellington as The Queen, Sebastian Villarini-Velez as Jester, Harrison Coll as Benno, Unity Phelan, Sarah Villwock, Harrison Coll in Pas de Trois, Ashley Hod, Olivia MacKinnon, Abi Stafford, Joseph Gordon in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Georgina Pazcoguin and Sean Suozzi leading Hungarian Dance, Megan LeCrone and Ask la Cour in Russian Dance, Marika Anderson, Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara, Devin Alberda, Peter Walker in Spanish Dance, Kristen Segin and Ralph Ippolito leading Neapolitan Dance, Megan Johnson, Claire Kretzschmar, Meagan Mann, Miriam Miller, Mary Elizabeth Sell, Mimi Staker as Six Princesses, Jacqueline Bologna, Baily Jones, Kristen Segin, Claire Von Enck as Four Small Swans, Students from School of American Ballet, and the Company.

Like Peter Martins’Romeo and Juliet, his Swan Lake synthesizes and expands the renowned storyline of Odette (swan in white, once a maiden), Prince Siegfried (looking for a bride), Odile (swan in black, an imposter to break Siegfried’s vow to Odette), Von Rotbart (the sorcerer, who keeps Odette and sister swans captive, on the lake), the Queen (Siegfried’s mother, anxious for her son to wed), and Benno (Siegfried’s companion). Mr. Martins has added the Jester, as a one-man Greek Chorus, who enacts the impending mood. Another addition is the appearance of black swan tutus in the Act II ensemble, to underscore the duality of the heroine. This is a two-act ballet, shorter than the Petipa, Ivanov version, but the dynamism, flair, sumptuousness, and romance are equally vibrant and omnipresent.

On September 19th, Sara Mearns was the quintessential Odette-Odile, and, as she silently fell backward, horizontal to the stage; held and supported by Tyler Angle’s (Siegfried) arms, she was smooth as silk. The dancers cushioned each other. Ms. Mearns breathes the Tschaikovsky score, exuding rapture and sheen. When she first meets Siegfried in the forest, she’s vulnerable, desirous. When she’s been thwarted by Siegfried’s second vow, to Odile, and doomed to live out her days as a swan among many, she exudes forgiveness, warmth, resilience. However, as Odile this time, Ms. Mearns seemed out of breath in the requisite 32 fouettés, cutting them short a bit. The moment was fine, and the savvy audience was not concerned, as she was so much the coquette, wily, wicked, and manipulative. On September 26th, Megan Fairchild was Odette-Odile, in her role debut, and she was strong and stunning. What was so enchanting about the production was that the cast was almost entirely petite of stature and physique, like Ms. Fairchild, and the ballet seemed like a fairytale, extraordinarily mesmerizing. As Odette, Ms. Fairchild was distressed and vulnerable in Gonzalo Garcia’s (Siegfried) arms. She darted about with muscular yearning and effusive dramatization with passion. As the black swan, Odile, tricking Siegfried into breaking his vows of marriage to Odette, Ms. Fairchild was dynamic in seduction and sizzling with secrets, whispering to Von Rotbart, her conspirator, in the iconic ballroom scene. Her 32 fouettés were flawless.

On the 19th, Mr. Angle’s solo spins and leaps, especially in the ballroom scene with Ms. Mearns as Odile, were pulsating and thrilling. His timing in partnering was attentive and precise. In the early birthday scenes, as Siegfried turns 21 and dances with the international Princesses, vying to be his bride, Mr. Angle was gallant and generous of spirit. Mr. Garcia, as well, on the 26th, made a fine Siegfried to Ms. Fairchild’s Odette-Odile, embracing her with genuine compassion as she was Odette and with credible sexual attraction and maturity as she was Odile. Both Siegfrieds handled the challenging choreography of the ballroom scene, spinning and leaping endlessly, and exuded histrionic theatrics, as well, in the lakeside scenes, especially in the finale, in the battles with Von Rotbart. Of the two lead couples, the Fairchild-Garcia cast clearly was more thrilling, as it was freshly interpreted, new on this stage, and full of wonderful surprises. Yet, the predictability of the Mearns-Angle cast did not disappoint, not in the least.

On the 19th, Silas Farley was a tyrannical Von Rotbart, with his flame red and black cape filled with wind. On the 26th, Cameron Dieck was a bit more subdued, but menaced the drama with persuasive strength. The Queen on the 19th, Marika Anderson, used facial and arm gestures to good effect, encouraging Siegfried to take the risk with Odile, after he rejected the ensemble of Princesses. On the 26th, Lydia Wellington was a regal and elegant Queen, walking with presence and poise. Daniel Ulbricht was, as always, the dynamo Jester on the 19th, and the audience adored his endearing wit. Sebastian Villarini-Velez, new in the Jester role on the 26th, played it like the Commedia dell’arte, with overly pronounced limb, facial, and hand gestures, interesting but distracting.

Joseph Gordon as Benno, on the 19th, Siegfried’s right hand man, was boyish and buoyant, en air quite a bit. On the 26th, Harrison Coll had the edge, with a more mature, theatrical interpretation. In Pas de Trois, Mr. Gordon was joined by Erica Pereira and Brittany Pollack for a spritely, rapid showcase. Mr. Coll, on the 26th, was joined by Unity Phelan and Sarah Villwock, in a bit more non-seasoned turn. The Pas de Quatre on the 19th brought out Anthony Huxley with Lauren King, Ashly Isaacs, and Indiana Woodward, while on the 26th, Joseph Gordon was showcased with Ashley Hod, Olivia MacKinnon, and Abi Stafford, all eight dancing in fervor.

In the various ethnic dances in the ballroom scene, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar’s “Russian Dance”, on the 19th, was the highlight, sinuous, sultry, exotic. The other dances, Neapolitan, Spanish, and Hungarian, were lively and enthused, with Georgina Pazcoguin and Sean Suozzi’s Hungarian Dance, on the 26th, the best of the three, filled with bravura and attention to step ornamentations. Of the Six Princesses, on each night, Miriam Miller, on the 19th, and Claire Kretzschmar, on the 26th, caught my eye. Of the Four Small Swans, cast the same for each night, all four, Kristen Segin, Baily Jones, Jacqueline Bologna, and Claire Von Enck, all caught my eye, as well.

Per Kirkeby’s sets, like those of Martins’ Romeo, are broad brushstrokes in velvety backdrops and screens, that offer color cues of the setting. Kirkeby’s costumes are also cued in prime colors, orange, red, blue, green. Mark Stanley’s lighting kept the scenes enticingly warm and spotlighted. Andrew Litton, on the 19th, and Daniel Capps, on the 26th, in the pit, drew lovely solos and resounding instrumental blendings from the orchestra. Kurt Nikkanen, on the 19th, and Arturo Delmoni, on the 26th, solo violinists, were both outstanding, making those lakeside and ballroom scenes exquisite. Kudos to Peter Martins, and kudos to Tschaikovsky.

Sara Mearns in Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Megan Fairchild in Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Megan Fairchild and Gonzalo Garcia
in Martins' "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at