I went back to ABT last night for another Merry Widow with Jose and Julie in the leads. Couldn’t resist! And I’m glad I did; I ended up meeting Roslyn Sulcas, writer from the New York Times, who is really nice and down to earth, and elegantly beautiful.
Anyway, I already wrote a bit about this ballet earlier, and have to get ready for a pre-competition dinner, but I quickly just want to mention a few other tidbits about Jose that make him so great, that I noticed last night. He keeps in character throughout, even when he’s not center stage. I mean, they all do, but Jose really keeps in character. As Julie’s rich widow was dancing with the Pontevedrian men, each man trying to curry her wealthy available favor, Jose was sitting off to the side flirting devilishly with Misty Copeland. And he was really flirting, not just chatting. At one point he raised his eyebrows at her in a way that made me nearly fall out of my seat.
And the way he struts around stage, like a cocky, spoiled, at times drunk, misbehaving boy … it’s not at all balletic, the way other dancers might do, but perfectly in character (and somehow on him, mischievous as it is, becomes so endearing).
I also noticed that when he spots as he’s doing a slow turn, carrying his ballerina in his arms, he looks at each spot on the floor with intent. During his pas de deux with Julie when he was remembering happy times with her in the past, he looked down at each point on the floor like he was lost, forlorn, wondering where they all went. With most dancers they look like they’re doing exactly what they’re doing — spotting so they don’t lose balance. He turns simple technique into art.
(The pair dancing together in “Apollo”, photo by Gene Schiavone; all photos from ABT website)
I also wanted to point out how fantastic Joseph Phillips was, as leader of the Pontevedrian men, with his spectacular bravura-embellished folk dancing, and Craig Salstein as he sweetly but sadly unsuccessfully vied for Julie’s hand. And Julie as the widow was sweetly flirtatious, her smiles and raised eyebrows infusing her prolonged flexes of the foot into quick, snappingly sharp points, with added sexual meaning.
The couple behind me were confused during first intermission because this photo of Irina and Max (by Fabrizio Ferri) was shown on the Playbill’s cover, and yet, they weren’t in the cast.
Anyway, I’m very excited for Giselle next week!
(photo of Julie Kent in “Giselle” by Roy Round)
Happy 4th of July, everyone!