Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ABT 2015 - La Bayadere

After a simply lousy day at work yesterday (and, frankly, today hasn't been much better), it was nice to lose myself in the gorgeousness of ABT's La Bayadere.  If it was not as sublime as it was in 2012 (see review HERE), it was definitely better than the one I saw last year, which was beautifully danced but rather inert (see review HERE). 

La Bayadere isn't one of the most complex ballets, the choreography is pretty straightforward, but it does feature some lovely opportunities to tell a story through dance.  The solos of Nikiya, the temple dancer, and Solor, the soldier who loves her, are terrific, as are the pieces for Gamzetti, Nikiya's rival for Solor.  The second act pas de deux between Nikiya and Solor is exquisite, with the amazing corps de ballet in the background.  And the famed Kingdom of Shades number for the corps can be thrilling.

Last night, I saw Maria Kochetkova, a guest artist who I've seen once before a few years ago.  She was lovely, though not quite as achingly, heartbreakingly in love with her Solor, played last night by Herman Cornejo, as I might have liked.  I love Herman and he did not disappoint, at least in his solos.  His bravura dancing in his solos brought out excitement and loud cheers from the crowd.  Maria's dancing, at least in the first act, brought out respectful admiration.  She's terrific, don't get me wrong, but I think there could be more.  And although she and Herman have danced together before (I saw them do Swan Lake), they didn't have much of a rapport as a couple.

However, in the Kingdom the Shades scene, she pulled out all the stops.  She was exquisite, in her solos and in her pas de deux with Herman.  Her rather detached quality worked when she was dancing as a spirit instead of a flesh-and-blood woman.  I started to ruminate on her Giselle...  The corps de ballet were terrific in the Kingdom of the Shades opening - there was the tiniest bobble at the very beginning and I thought, oh great, here we go, but after that bobble, it was terrifically in unison and mesmerizing.  The three soloists were all lovely, especially Skylar Brandt, who just sparkled.

Photo credit: Marty Sohl
I found Misty Copeland to be a forceful, if one-note Gamzetti.  I think there's more to this character than 'bi*chy,' though perhaps that's just me.  But her dancing was fast and assured, if not very focused on telling a story.  Roman Zhurbin, my ABT MVP, was again fantastic as the High Brahmin - he reminds me of the sublime Yul Brynner, all masculinity and power, with vulnerability underneath.  I was so happy to see in the program before the ballet that Joseph Gorak was dancing the Bronze Idol solo.  I believe I've mentioned before how powerful and terrific that variation is, and how much I like Gorak.  He was fantastic, all coiled power and aggression, yet so light and free.  His stops and starts were so solid and he just sailed through the air.  I loved him.  He's probably the best I've seen since Angel Corella.

Seat-neighbor-wise, all was well until the beginning of the second act.  During the first intermission, a couple from the upper balcony came down to claim the empty seats in the row in front of me.  No problem, no one was sitting there, but the guy who took the seat directly in front of me had to be, conservatively, 7'6" tall.  There was a lot of bobbing and weaving going on to see around his head.  Sigh.  And my curtain call photos are not great because of it.  Ah well.  Oh, and his date decided she needed to use her cell phone during the third act.  Thankfully, an usher came right down and shone her flashlight right on the perpetrator and the phone was turned off.  I was grateful for that usher.

I can't believe I'm already more than halfway through my ballet season!  I'm looking forward to next week's piece - I'm finally seeing the debut of Ratmansky's new version of Sleeping Beauty.  Cannot wait.

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