Originally posted elsewhere:
My thoughts from Thursday's performance at the Orance County Performing Arts Center in California.
American Ballet Theater “Swan Lake”
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Music—Tschaikovsky; Chor—Kevin McKenzie after Petipa/Ivanov; Sets and costumes—Zack Brown; Lighting—Duane Schuler
Odette/Odile—Paloma Herrera; Prince Siegfried—Marcelo Gomes; von Rothbart—Ethan Brown & Ricardo Torres
I have seen a few different variations of Swan Lake and found McKenzie's view to be just fine, nothing to complain about and the addition of the prologue was interesting and helped set up the story for newcomers to the ballet. Von Rothbart's variations were a welcome addition as I really love men's ballet with their powerful leaps and turns.
The costumes and sets were simply sumptious. Absolutely amazingly beautiful.
The dance was incredible on all fronts but Paloma Herrera left me cold. Technically there but emotionally not, especially as Odile. Her dancing lacked vulnerability and the lack of fluidity in her arms was particularly noticeable.
Only in the famous exit in Act II with her back to the audience does she use her arms to full effect as wings.
I thought Adam Cooper did a much better job as The Swan emotionally and with better arms in Matt Bourne's version.
As Odette she was much better but still passionless.
I think a ballerina should stand out in her performance from the soloists and corp, but I could see other dancers in the corps that were better swans than Herrera and others that seemed to have her technical ability.
That said I must add, her footwork was impeccable and her balance so very steady. But more is needed. I was always aware that it was Paloma Herrera dancing — and not a Swan Queen.
Herman Cornejo as Benno was particularly good in his variations. The height of his jumps for a little guy, was impressive.
Marcelo Gomes was a super Sigfried — a BIG guy who can execute the partnering moves with assurance, lifting Paloma WAY over his head upside down. Never a falter which must have made her feel very secure. He has a powerful, high jump and very soft landing, not a thud to be heard.
I just wish that MacKenzie had added more dance for him when revising the choreography. His acting was good and believable although there weren’t many sparks between the two leads until curtain calls when he actually seemed to be moved by the flower Herrera presented him and the ovations from the crowd.
Speaking of thuds — or rather clattering — the noise of the pointe shoes was deafening at times overpowering the softer moments of the orchestra who sounded too thin most of the time.
This score needs more sound to be really impressive. The fortissimo passages at the end would have been so much more moving if they had just been a bit louder. I was in the orchestra section fairly close to the musicians and needed more volume so I wonder how the folks further away felt.
The clattering of the pointe shoes was very distracting. This was some of the worst I have ever heard. The corps dancing was a bit uneven at times. Even when standing still with their arms folded heads were at different angles, eyes looking in different places, arms at different heights. Arabesques were messy and not uniform.
But I thought they were dancing in the moment and enjoying themselves in all the acts — not just putting in a day’s work.
All in all a very enjoyable evening at the ballet.