Photo by Samuel Zakuto, from TONY)
I saw two more Sylphide casts last week at ABT: Cory Stearns and Veronika Part, and David Hallberg and Hee Seo, debuting in the lead role. I think Cory debuted as well?… will have to check. Anyway, the casts were different but each really drew me into the story. Cory Stearns in particular really blew me away with his ability to do that. I almost cried at the end when he killed his beloved sylph, and I’m not a crier. (For the ballet’s story, see my earlier post). He’s a young new soloist and really an excellent actor, as well as dancer. His James was young (almost too young to get married ) and really easily swept away by Veronika’s sweet sylph. He was enchanted but is too much the gentleman and didn’t want to hurt his fiance. But then he couldn’t help himself either; he was just too captivated by her. Veronika was a sweet sylph — not at all tantalizing or tormenting the poor man in his dreams, but really just in love with him.
Here, in Le Corsaire, photo by Marty Sohl, taken from ExploreDance.
It turned to tragedy so fast. The whole way through it was like a love story, and you’re so happy when he’s finally with her in the forest, when they’re finally together. And the way Veronika got so excited about his scarf when he began waving it about; it was just heartbreaking when she died from it. Even though I knew what was coming it was so unexpected. I think these two were a very good pair. They’re both great actors who really bring the story to life, who really make you feel like you’re in the moment going through it with them.
And their dancing was excellent — Veronika’s leaps across the stage drawing him away from his Scottish wedding dance were breathtaking. I’d go after her too. And he was excellent — during his solo variations with the high jumps with the beating of the feet and the twisty turning jumps alternating directions, and during the Scottish-styled dancing. He’s tall and his jumps have such height and majesty. He sometimes gets a bit tired but he was really pumped in this, didn’t tire at all.
I’ve long loved Veronika and her ability to draw you deeply and emotionally into her character’s story, but I haven’t really seen much of Cory and he just really blew me away with his acting. I expected him to do all the jumps right, but I didn’t expect for him to take me away to this other world like he did and almost make me cry in the end. Read Gia Kourlas’s interview with him here — he’s quite chatty
Photo of Hee Seo, photographer unknown, taken from Korea.net.
The other cast was David Hallberg and Hee Seo, who I really enjoyed as well. Hee Seo was a physically much smaller, more delicate sylph and I loved the way she held her hands. She’d hold one arm out before her bent at the elbow and rest her other elbow on that hand, then hold her one hand to her face and her head cocked to the side. It was sweet but very otherworldly. Veronika’s sylph was very human, it was more like a love story than a man being haunted by an ethereal creature. But Hee Seo’s sylph was not of this world. She was a dream.
And finally, David Hallberg. Well, in my opinion he tends to overact just a bit. I think he tends toward Russian-style melodrama. But then I don’t know if it’s just me sitting in orchestra thinking that. He may be projecting well to the back of the house. I always forget how big that opera house is. I want to tell him to just calm down and be himself, be himself in the given situation — that’s what acting is (or at least that’s what I was taught). Especially with a ballet like this where he really is just a guy getting married, and having second thoughts in the form of this mysterious creature who starts playing with his mind.
In any event, overacting or not, it honestly doesn’t really matter to me. I’m so drawn to him somehow. Whenever he is onstage I can’t take my eyes off of him. I don’t know whether it’s because he wrote for The Winger and it was so easy to comment on his posts and kind of “talk to him” that way, making him more “real” and human and personable or what, but my eye is just drawn to him and won’t leave him for the entire time he’s onstage. And of course his movement is itself otherworldly. Those feet are ethereal, just like his sylph
Anyway, it will be wonderful to watch Hee Seo and Cory Stearns pair in Romeo and Juliet later this season. For now, onto the Swans!