NINA ANANIASHVILI'S FAREWELL PERFORMANCE WITH AMERICAN BALLET THEATER

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The widely beloved ballerina from the Republic of Georgia gave her farewell performance, of Swan Lake, with ABT to a completely packed house on Saturday night.  Angel Corella danced Siegfried and Marcelo Gomes von Rothbart.

Of course it was a wonderful performance, one her bizillions of adoring fans will never forget. It was my first time seeing her in this role and she was gorgeous. One thing that really struck me was how she’d wave her hands while in the guise of a swan. Not only her arms, like the other ballerinas do, but actually her hands. They looked like feathers they were so light and delicate and fluttering. I’d never seen anyone do that. She also did the rapidly fluttering foot during the White Swan pas de deux better than any ballerina I’ve seen. She is splendid at small details like that that make all the difference in a performance.

Unlike the others, she faced the audience, instead of the back of the stage, as she bourreed offstage after the end of the White Swan pas. I’m not sure if she always does that or if it was only this time since it was her last and she wanted to see the audience. Her face was full of sorrow but there was also this kind of “that’s life, that’s that, this is my fate” subtext behind her eyes — a thought Odette might have as well as a retiring ballerina. At the end, during bows, she bourreed offstage again, this time with her back to the audience, her face toward her pile of bouquets and the many dancers and former partners lined up onstage who’d come out to issue her her farewell. (Shown in pic below)

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Of course Angel was his usual passionate Siegfried self, and Marcelo was a mouth-wateringly sexy von Rothbart. I liked the way he picked one court lady up (I think it was Misty Copeland) and tossed her aside, so he could flirt with another. Marcelo’s ultimately too sweet though and his sweetness shines through — I don’t see how anyone’s actually ever completely believed his performances as the quintessential bad guy :) I also like how he jumped up to the throne, taking Siegfried’s princely place next to his mother, in one flying leap. It was acrobatic and eye-catching, and very presumptuous, as von Rothbart is. Actually, watching Marcelo made me like David Hallberg better — David was much like him. They both did the part very well. There were a few more giggles during David’s turn as von Roth, but that could have been because he’s usually “the nice guy.”

And of course Marcelo and Angel, both of them full of theatrics, had to pull the stunt of the season: at the end of the Black Swan pas de deux, Marcelo picked up Nina and tossed her high, right into Angel’s arms, and he caugh her in a fish dive. Very dramatic, and of course the audience went completely nuts with applause. They performed said stunt again during the curtain calls. I didn’t get a picture of it, but someone caught in on YouTube!!! Oh how I love illegally enthusiastic fans! Thanks to Haglund for finding it!

Here are a few more of my favorite pics:

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What every girl wants — a hug from Marcelo! Even if he is dressed as evil von Rothbart.

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Her little girl was brought out onstage and took a bow with her mother :)

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Receiving a hug from Isaac Stappas, who danced von Rothbart in swamp creature form.

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Getting a kiss from handsome Angel.

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Giving a dancerly nod to conductor Ormsby Wilkins.

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I love the arm in the air!

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In front of the curtain with those two stuntsmen, either right before or right after aforementioned three-way-fish-dive.

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Those are some of my favorites. See the full album here.

A couple of other hightlights: Blaine Hoven danced one of the Neapolitan high-jumper guys in the court scene. When he did this series of kick jumps, he sent his kicking leg nearly all the way up to his head. Maybe I should begin calling him Blaine Osipova…

And Simone Messmer danced as one of the girls in the Benno pas de trois. Recently I’ve begun to find her very captivating but am not sure why. One of the reasons, I’m now thinking, is that she is so amazingly athletic. She did this series of entrechats (high jumps where the feet change back and forth in front of and behind one another, like a braid) like a man! Seriously — those were damn David Hallberg entrechats! I don’t mean that in a bad way at all — my favorite ballerinas (aside from Janie Taylor :) ) are the most athletic ones.

Trying to think of other things that happened during curtain call. David Hallberg was cute — he bowed down to her several times repeatedly as if to say “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.” Audience went wild. Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel came out together. Roberto Bolle came out, all dapper, in a shiny black tux. I remember Paloma Herrera, Diana Vishneva, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Kevin McKenzie (who looked like he may cry). I didn’t see Jose Manuel Carreno (unless I missed him. What’s up with him though — he doesn’t seem to be dancing any more this season??) I didn’t spot Julie Kent, although she just had her baby so that’s understandable. Curtain calls lasted for maybe twenty minutes, although I’m not entirely sure since I had to leave to go to a housewarming party. Anyway, wonderful night. It goes without saying Nina has a huge amount of fans and will be badly missed.

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