MARCELO GOMES STILL MY FAVORITE!

(headshot by Jade Young)

I had an insane weekend (out from early evening until not so early next morning both Friday and Saturday at Brooklyn ballroom competition, with ABT Saturday matinee of Sylvia sandwiched in between. Then spent all day today doctoring ballroom photos –mostly frustratingly unsuccessfully– then met with a friend to discuss a possible excursion to Jacob’s Pillow this summer.) Anyway, I haven’t slept in some time and have to get up early tomorrow morning so I have to make this short, but I saw Sylvia Saturday afternoon. Cast was Marcelo as Aminta, Paloma Herrera in the lead, Alexandre Hammoudi as Orion (making his debut in the role I believe), Arron Scott as the god Eros, and Kristi Boone as the goddess Diana. This viewing confirmed that Marcelo is still my favorite dancer, far and above over Roberto Bolle :)

Roberto has beautiful lines and a tall, long-limbed, lean-muscled body and all (and of course he’s really handsome) but Marcelo is a better actor, his facial expressions are more visible, he uses movement to convey meaning well, and his movements have more strength and sharpness and are just athletically astounding. Not that it has to be a competition of course! I was just worrying myself that I might be changing favorites :) They’re each very endearing of course in their own special way — Roberto has a sweet boyish shyness about him while Marcelo seems more graciously personable, but all of the principals have a certain quality that endears them to you — that’s why they’re principals.

Anyway, I love how desperately Marcelo was searching for Paloma’s Sylvia at the beginning, how in love with her he was, how he prayed to Eros, how he took Sylvia’s arrow in his heart when running desperately to protect the god, etc. etc.. Even that glimpse we get of him behind the scrim when Eros shows Sylvia, still in Orion’s cave, that Aminta is looking for her — even though he’s just in a static pose, he looks so forlorn it’s just heartbreaking! And his movement is all so enunciated and precise — his jumps were stellar; I noticed for example, that every time he did one of those jumps where he brings the first leg up in attitude (that Roberto is doing in the photo here), he brought the first foot all the way up to the other thigh. But all of the jumps were there to show Aminta’s quiet desperation, not necessarily for show. And of course Marcelo’s swooping fish dives are to die for.

(photo by Gene Schiavone of Marcelo as Orion from past productions, taken from here; I couldn’t find any of him as Aminta)

I do have to point out Roberto’s gorgeous feet though. I noticed them as he’d walk, slowly and pensively, tracing the ground with pointed toes. They’re very flexible, like Veronika Part feet.

(image taken from here)

Paloma Herrera was the most athletic of the Sylvias I saw (I didn’t see Gillian Murphy in this role). I said earlier that those jetes look very difficult — well, not on Paloma; she made them look like cake! She pulled everything off with such ease. I liked her better though in the first act. She really seemed like a nymph elated with success from her hunt, very happy with herself, very independent, and very annoyed at what she perceives as Eros’s intrusiveness into her life. I thought she was less compelling in the second and third acts, where she’s held in captivity by Orion and then is reunited with Aminta. I felt like those parts — particularly the captivity scene — became a bit Corsaire-like, just kind of about the silly theatrics. Apollinaire Scherr mentions that you never really know what you’re going to get with Paloma, how into the character she’s going to be, and I have to agree. I’ve loved her and felt she was really into the character at times and at others just thought she was so so. She’s always a spectacular dancer though.

(Paloma as Sylvia, photo by Gene Schiavone, taken from ABT website)

Alexandre Hammoudi was excellent as Orion, the evil hunter. He acted the part very well, reacted well to Marcelo — I loved his early scene where he does a wicked dance over Aminta’s limp body — and his spectacular jumps with his legs slicing through the air like swords really showed his wickedness and formidableness.

Arron Scott danced Eros as a very good god, smiling a lot, particularly when he whipped off the old man-healer costume. Daniil Simkin’s Eros was a bit mischievous, but Arron’s was all heroic. He danced the bravura solo in the third act with all the nimble-footed kick-flicks very well.

I loved Kristi Boone, again, as Diana. I also thought a lot of Sylvia’s fellow huntress-nymphs stood out: Isabella Boylston for her expressiveness and Romantic touch, Simone Messmer and her completely original style and sense of timing, Sarah Lane for her sweet eagerness, and I liked Jared Matthews and Leann Underwood in the last scene as Ceres and Jaseion. I definitely prefer Jared in more movement-focused, non-dramatic parts. And conversely, I like Cory Stearns in the more dramatic parts. He danced Apollo with Maria Bystrova as Terpsichore, and while both danced well and were very regal, I just think Cory excels in acting parts. Also Anne Milewski and Carlos Lopez gave quite a show as the cute goats, as did Alexei Agoudine and Luis Ribagorda as Orion’s slaves. Very good Fourth of July production!

Oh but only thing — it being a matinee, and a holiday one at that — there were so many little children in the audience. One had a crying fit right during the hardest-looking part of the last act, with all the difficult partnering for Marcelo and Paloma — the huge overhead lifts and the fish dives! And I mean CRYING FIT. The poor mother! But Marcelo and Paloma kept their concentration and delivered same as always. Audience went wild with applause — partly, I’m sure for that reason alone!

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