It's just terrific to get this, many thanks to Valerie...
From Valerie Lawson in Sydney for Ballet.co
Alina Cojocaru's debut in Swan Lake. Plus and other RB exploits
She was everything we hoped she would be - and more. Alina Cojocaru made a triumphant debut as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake last night in Sydney. She had confessed to nervousness beforehand, but from the moment she appeared on stage, it was clear Cojocaru was going to give it her all. She held nothing back. She took chances, she held balances, she threw in double pirouettes between her fouettes, she swooned back, apparently without fear, being caught close to the floor by Johan Kobborg. Her attitude and arabesque lines were very high, too high, perhaps, for the purists. Her penchee line went almost beyond 180 degrees. Her stillness impressed, too, particularly before she courus offstage at the end of Act Two. In the flexibility of her back, Cojocaru reminded me of Natalia Makarova, in fact her whole interpretation brought Makarova to mind.
While Darcey Bussell, on Friday night, was an alluring Odette and an even sexier Odile, Cojocaru appeared more tragic. Conversely, Jonathan Cope, partnering Bussell, began in cool manner, but by Act 4, his Siegfried was a tragic figure, for whom one could feel much sympathy. Kobborg was Mr Cool - a more sophisticated prince - who relished the Act 3 variation, showing astonishing control in his turns. In one series of pirouettes, his leg moved from seconde to retire, very slowly, as he turned. He went all out in each of is variations, impressing with his neat as a pin footwork and beats. Kobborg was a very reliable and steady partner for Cojocaru who looked, at times, just a little nervous on the alien stage of Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.
The audience responded with growing enthusiasm; by the end, some were on their feet, and there were many bravos as Cojocaru and Kobborg took their curtain calls, kissed, and looked genuinely happy to be at the end of the toughest ballet marathon.
As this was the second last Swan Lake in the run of seven days, we saw many cast changes from last weekend. William Tuckett, however, was back as "an Evil Spirit, later Von Rothbart." Under that puffball owl costume, it’s almost impossible to see the ‘evil spirit’ of the creature, but Tuckett comes into his own as a truly malevolent plotter in Act 3 in which he towered above the petite Cojocaru as he issued his seduction instructions. In the Act 1 pas de trois, Laura Morera impressed with her elevation, beats, and general joie de vivre - as did Marianela Nunez on Friday and Saturday nights.
I have only seen Belinda Hatley once before, covering for an ill Sylvie Guillem in The Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden in 1997. She danced well, given the horror of having to stand in for Guillem at the last moment. But I had no idea until last evening what a giving performer she is. Hatley was on high beam in the Czardas, as she was in the weekend in the Neopolitan pas de deux. Both Justin Meissner and Ricardo Cervera seemed to relish the Neopolitan as well, Meissner much warmer in expression in this, than he was in the pas de trois on Friday.
But back to Cojocaru. Her debut reminded me of a comment made in a documentary on George Balanchine, narrated by his last love, Suzanne Farrell. She recalled a rehearsal when she was very young and had just caught Balanchine’s eye. Igor Stravinsky was present. He turned to Balanchine and asked "who is this?" Balanchine replied "this is Suzanne Farrell. Just been born." Last night, Alina Cojocaru was "just born" as the swan queen.
I’m happy to report it was a very happy birthday.