(photo by Nancy Ellison)
I don’t mean to make him sound like fine wine or something, but it’s just unbelievable how he gets better and better each time I see him perform this role. I linked to this before, but here’s a YouTube of him doing the first of Ali’s solos. During the second intermission, after the solos, two older women in the cocktail line were saying he’s no different than Baryshnikov. “He’s every bit as good; it’s just like seeing him again,” one declared. Unfortunately, I missed the era of Baryshnikov here, but I can’t possibly imagine anyone better than Angel. I love all three of the solos, but I love the jetes and the fouette sequence of the second two most. I love hearing all the screams emanating from the balcony when he bends his knee and snakes his body up and down mid-pirouette. I only wish he would have done his flying leap of a curtain call. He only came out once, not giving people enough time to pelt him with bouquets! I guess it was Wednesday and the crowd wasn’t as wild as normal, or maybe he was feeling under the weather… you can never tell it from his dancing of course. Oh, and he looks exactly the same as before — same straight charming boyish hair, no longish, wavy Julio-esque perm like in his new headshot Anyway, he made the night, obviously!
Along with Jose of course. Jose danced Lankendem, owner of the harem. For those who don’t know this ballet, Le Corsaire, originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1856 but shortly thereafter re-choregraphed by Petipa for the Kirov / Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, is cutely corny. It’s about a pirate, Conrad, who falls in love with a slave girl, Medora, and his quest to help her escape and be with him. It’s a favorite among balletomanes because of all its bravura dancing from the two leads, Ali (Conrad’s slave), Gulnare (Medora’s friend), and Lankendem. Jose somehow manages to make his Lankendem so lovable. He’s a bad slave-driver who will stop at nothing to keep Medora in his clutches, and you just want to cry out “noooo,” when Conrad’s pirates surround him on the ground, spears in hand. Poor little Jose! He did brilliantly too with his bravura solo (which is actually my favorite because of the barrel turns )
So, Marcelo and Paloma, who were supposed to dance Conrad and Medora, were replaced by Irina Dvorovenko and Cory Stearns, a member of the corps, who I think was dancing his first big part. I always love Irina, and I never see her much since she doesn’t often dance with Marcelo. I guess sometimes it’s good that Marcelo’s out (though I’m not sure why they were replaced last night), because it gives me a chance to see other dancers once in a while Irina is probably the most dramatic, the best actress of all of ABT’s ballerinas and I love her for it — she projects to the entire audience, including people up in the nosebleeds, she makes it obvious through facial expressions what her character wants without relying too much on pantomime (with which many newcomers to ballet are unfamiliar), and she’s so expressive with her body, so clear in her intentions. If you’re bringing someone new who’s never seen that ballet before, you want her in the lead; she makes the most sense of everything and brings her character’s dramatic conflict most to life. Well Julie Kent does too, as does Veronika Part (who, horribly sadly, is leaving ABT at the end of this season), but people like to dump on Irina, and there’s no reason to, dammit!
So, Cory. He was good. His dancing was excellent — perfect, grand jetes, great height, great lines, very energetic (though I think he got a little tired by the end). He is a tall man with long legs, kind of David Hallberg-esque, though not as high-waisted. If this was his first time in a big role, I think he did a very good job. My only thing was that I felt his Conrad was a little too severe. He scared me at points, getting a little too aggressive in trying to get Medora away from Lankendem. At times he seemed more like a villain than a hero. But he’ll definitely grow artistically.
Oh and another thing that blew me away — one of the Odalisques was breathtaking. She did a crazy series of chaine turns and pirouettes and really blew me away (as well as my next-seat neighbor who clapped like nuts!) I’m not completely sure whether it was Simone Messmer or Renata Pavam, but one of them knocked me out.
Oh, I’m sad; this is my only Corsaire since I’m leaving tonight. It continues through the rest of the week, the Swan Lake is next week (breaks my heart that I’m going to have to miss Veronika Part‘s Swan; I’ll still be in England — someone tell me how it is!), and the following week is the new Twyla Tharp, which I’ll be back for and about which I’m very excited. If you’re in New York, go here for more info / tickets.
Okay, gotta go finish packing! I definitely plan to mobile-blog from Blackpool, and may computer-blog as well if I can find a secure wireless connection. I’ll post all the pictures when I return!