Last night’s Swan Lake at ABT was the best I can ever remember seeing. Honestly. Angel Corella was the most passionate Prince Siegfried full of, by turns, intense longing, boyish amazement, passionate love, sexual excitement, sorrow, tragic pathos, etc. etc. etc. And Gillian was the ideal combination of swan and human being — not too ethereal to have a human connection with him, but also not entirely of this world, representing his ideal.
(Angel with Nina Ananiashvili in the Black Swan pas de deux, photo by MIRA taken from Roberta on the Arts)
Photo of Gillian taken from here.
The White Swan pas de deux, which I am often bored by, was just breathtaking, oozing with passion. You could just seen Angel’s boyish marvel at Odette transform into romantic love. I don’t think anyone arches her back quite like Gillian. And Angel was all over her, resting his head on her chest when she’d end in that arched back pose. And those overhead lifts were heart stopping. They were the same lifts Marcelo Gomes did with Nina Ananiashvili in Le Corsaire — where he lifts her so high and she arches back so far she just looks weightless and you wonder how in the world she’s staying up there like that.
Audience went nuts for them. And at the end of the pdd, Angel harkened Gillian out for another bow. He let her have all the applause, and bowed to her, though the audience was going crazy for them both. So cutely boyishly deferential to his ballerina
And at the end of that pas d’action, when Odette turns back into a swan and floats off the stage, Gillian marked the tranformation from girl to swan with razor sharpness, shooting her arms out almost violently to her sides right as von Rothbart’s wicked theme begins in the music. And then she moved her arms up and down with such expansiveness and fluidity — she definitely had the biggest, most beautiful “wing span” of any ballerina I’ve seen!
And then in the Black Swan pas de deux that gorgeous wing span returned. Between every fouette, Gillian would do multiple pirouettes and raise her arms up and down, up and down. She really looked like she was flying. The audience went completely nuts. And Angel! Those two are the quintessential spinners! His fouettes, well they were just Angel fouettes – -no one, NO ONE turns like that man, with that kind of speed and wildness And he kept leaning his head far to the side when he’d dip Gillian’s Odile. It was interesting because it looked dramatic and original and all but it also looked like he was really falling under her spell, like a foreshadowing of his encroaching ruin.
Photo of Angel Corella as Siegfried during ballroom scene, kissing hand of aristocratic lady. By John Ross, from Ballet.co.
Jared Matthews danced like I’ve never seen him, not only perfectly clean but really nailing with precision and detail all of those jumps in his Benno (Siegfried’s friend) solo. Honestly, I’ve never seen him dance so well. He danced Benno’s pas de trois with Maria Riccetto, and Stella Abrera. It was my first time seeing Stella dance something difficult since her injury and she was perfect. She really lit up the stage and I can’t wait for her to make her full return.
Gennadi Saveliev and Roman Zhurbin danced von Rothbart, Roman in the sorcerer’s swamp creature form. And Roman completely took over every scene he was in, which is typical for that one I don’t know what it is — others like Vitali Krauchenka who dance that part — are taller and larger, but somehow Roman just has a way of eating up space. He kept bending his knee and lunging far to the side for one thing, which gave him a lot of breadth. And he really threw those caped wings about with such flair. Roman, ever the scene stealer!
(Roman Zhurbin, center, in less swamp-creaturely times! At the Guggenheim; photo by Richard Termine)
But Gillian and Angel really made the night. They’re just magic together. Just everything they do — at one point, they were doing a series of assisted pirouettes and it really looked like she was just spinning herself around and around. Of course she wasn’t but that’s how it should look; it shouldn’t really look like the guy’s doing the work.
Ever so fortunately, there’s actually a DVD of this cast (but with Marcelo as von Rothbart!), so everyone can see it. And watch some YouTube clips: here, here, here, and here. The last link is to the Black Swan solos. Gillian doesn’t do the rapidly “flapping” arms there, but the straight fouettes. I wonder if that’s a new invention of hers…