ABT’s engaging principals and handsome production provide a worthy “Swan Lake”

Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Paloma Herrera in ABT’s “Swan Lake.” Photo: Gene Schiavone

Adventurous balletomanes may ho-hum at yet another Swan Lake. But there are good reasons why Tchaikovsky’s classic remains so beloved: the magnificent music, the imagination and dramatic rightness of Petipa’s choreography and the eternal story of love triumphing over malign evil, even in death.

Certainly, with American Ballet Theatre’s handsome production and an engaging pair of leads at Thursday night’s opening performance, the thrice-familiar tale of the prince who falls in love with Odette, the beautiful princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, remains irresistible. Swan Lake runs through Sunday with alternating dancers in the principal roles.

With Kevin McKenzie’s retooling of the traditional choreography by Petipa and Ivanov, Thursday’s performance got off to a routine start with an efficient but somewhat under-energized Act 1, yet sparked to life with a vibrant Pas de Trois with a dynamic Danil Simkin, Diane Lane and personality-plus Yuriko Kajiya.

Thursday’s Prince Siegfried, Ethan Stiefel, is not a power figure yet the veteran’s polished technique and feline grace made for an admirable hero.

Likewise, as the bewitched Odette, Paloma Herrera was technically faultless, with striking control and fluency, her even cascading en pointe movements like a flowing stream. Dramatically, she seemed less suited to the vulnerable Odette than the more forthright persona of Odile, her black swan Pas de deux with Stieffel providing the evening’s high point.

Simkin, as Siegfried’s friend Benno, is a dancer to watch, and Sascha Radetsky as the young incarnation of Rothbart made an athletic villain. Gemma Bond, Marian Butler, Anne Milewski and Maria Riccetto were a well-coordinated if somewhat heavy-footed quartet of Cygnettes.

The character dances were done with verve and fine unanimity, enhanced by Zack Brown’s colorful costumes and lavish sets by touring production standards. Conductor David LaMarche brought incisive playing and rhythmic swagger to Tchaikovsky’s remarkable score, the orchestra playing with energy, some wayward intonation in solos apart.

American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake runs through Sunday at the Civic Opera House. www.ticketmaster.com; 800-982-2787.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “ABT’s engaging principals and handsome production provide a worthy “Swan Lake””

  1. Posted Apr 19, 2010 at 12:19 am by Eileen Seifert

    The final performance of Swan Lake on April 18th had a big surprise. Just before the curtain, there was an announcement that Veronica Part, who had been scheduled to dance Odette/Odile would only dance Odette. Gillian Murphy would step in as Odile. They were both dancing well, but it has been a long time since I’ve seen the lead role split in two. Does anyone know the reasons for this casting change?

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