Because there aren’t nearly enough pictures of Roberto Bolle online, let me just post one more…
So, it all ended Saturday night with Roberto Bolle and Irina Dvorovenko dancing the leads once again in Romeo and Juliet. I’d already seen the same cast earlier in the week and so didn’t get another ticket, but I decided to watch from the Met lobby where they have a couple of high def screens.
I actually did this on Friday night as well for the Herman Cornejo / Xiomara Reyes cast, until I ran into some new friends during intermission who’d snagged a couple of tickets outside from patrons who had to leave for one reason or another. They gave me ticket marked Grand Tier, where I’d never sat before. Well, I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to do that! My friends went in before me and after seeing the hard time the usher gave them (he said all tickets are non-transferrable, but he seemed more irked that she’d made up a story about meeting friends for drinks and then getting stuck or something!), I was about to run back out and resume my place in front of the screen. But then the usher just kind of nodded and laughed and rolled his eyes. “It’s okay, it’s the end of the season. You’ve all got to see your Romeo and Juliet,” he said, softening.
(photo of Cornejo and Reyes by Gene Schiavone)
Funny, though, I hadn’t thought of the ticket-swap thing, but another new friend recently suggested it to me as a way to get in, particularly to the opera, which is always sold out here practically minutes after tickets go on sale. And then I remembered reading in a Jonathan Ames book (I think it was The Extra Man, which is now a movie, no?…) where two characters regularly do this, again with the opera. I had no idea it was frowned upon — I mean if the other patrons aren’t coming back…
Anyway, Grand Tier was nice for a change! Different perspective being raised a little above the stage like that. Xiomara and Herman were very good. I liked them much better than the first time I saw them in this — performing the balcony pas de deux at an opening night gala a couple of years back. Xiomara acted everything well and really brought the part to life and, because of her powerful final scenes, Herman really didn’t end up outshining her. And what I really liked about Herman’s Romeo is that he danced him so that at the beginning, he’s a show-off, a dancing show-off of course. The other Romeos kind of dance him at the beginning as if he’s immature, reckless with the sword-fighting, etc. But Herman gave his Romeo a character arc that makes more sense for him given his immense dance skill. So all of that jumping around stage at the beginning of the balcony scene makes sense to me now. And for the first time I noticed that during the balcony scene, Romeo does an extra pirouette right after Juliet takes his hand. It’s as if to say, wait a minute, just one more trick for you! I think I first noticed it with Herman because it was so swift and sharp and pronounced, like typical Herman! And then of course his Romeo grows up and learns to become a partner.
I also really liked the scene where Herman’s Romeo and his two friends, Benvolio (Daniil Simkin) and Mercutio (Carlos Lopez), are play-sparring before they crash the Capulet ball. For once all three men were about the same height, and were perfectly spaced apart onstage (the dancers playing these characters aren’t always), and their movements were all perfectly in sync. I think some choreography that either requires very intricate footwork or that is very evocative of something (like play-fencing here) tends to look better on smaller bodies, particularly smaller bodies that move so well and are capable of making such sharp, enunciated movements. I was still watching from the screen downstairs at that point and it was really visually stunning.
Anyway, back to Roberto and Irina.
(photo by MIRA, from ABT website)
Roberto and Irina were beautiful again. And again I really liked Irina’s very real final scene, where her Juliet simply backs into Romeo’s body while walking backward, horrified at the sight of a corpse next to her. No melodrama whatsoever, all very genuine and it really moved me. I wanted to cry for her when she collapsed on seeing Romeo.
The lobby screens of course are not really the ideal place to view dance and of course don’t substitute for buying a ticket and going inside — there’s a lot of talking, ushers going through this rather intense ritual of closing the ticket windows and changing the signs above the booths, moving the expandable line-holders and untaping house manager phone cords from the front walls, and just goofing with each other (on Friday night, the ushers all started singing “One Day More” from Les Miserables in anticipation of the season ending!) Not to mention all the tourists who have to venture in and ask if what’s going on on the screen is actually live, what play it is, who the dancers are, etc. etc.
Still, you do see certain things you miss inside. I noticed, for example, how Roberto takes up space on the stage and how that makes him so much more visible than the other Romeos (excepting Marcelo). On Friday night (Herman and Xiomara in the leads), a tourist came in and asked me what the ballet was, then asked me to point out the main characters to her. It was during the scene where Juliet and Paris are dancing and Romeo’s watching. I actually had a hard time pointing out Romeo to her because Herman was kind of lost in the crowd. If you looked for him, you found him and he was doing what he was supposed to be doing: noticing Juliet and watching her intently. But you had to look for him. I also remembered someone in the audience on David and Gillian day remarking that she couldn’t figure out who Romeo was for half the first act. And then I also remembered thinking how Cory Stearns always kept to the corners and how it made him so much less visible than Hee Seo as Juliet.
But I noticed on Saturday night watching Roberto Bolle on the screen that it’s impossible not to see him, and not because he’s tall and handsome, but because he’s standing far away from the rest of the crowd, practically circling right around Paris and Juliet, the only ones who are centerstage, like a shark. When it’s time, he aggressively goes right in, and pushes Paris aside by literally standing in the very space Paris is currently occupying. Everyone in the lobby watching the screen giggled, some laughed and some swooned when he dove in like that. The other Romeos kind of approach Juliet hesitantly, as if to say, “excuse me, I’m kind of attracted to you.” But he was all, “I want you and you want me too!” The camera is perfectly centered and I watched for the rest of the performance how Roberto is always as close to center stage as he can possibly be and still be doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Not being a performer myself, it made me realize that there is an art to stagecraft — it’s not only about dancing well and looking good, there is actually an art to how to use the stage well. I think Roberto is the most mature and experienced of all the Romeos and the younger dancers could learn a lot about that from watching him.
Anyway, I was to meet some of my new friends at the stage door, so after all the curtain calls I waited about fifteen minutes — until the ushers said they were closing the house — then walked downstairs (the Met stage door is basically in the underground Lincoln Center parking lot). I didn’t see my friends at first but ran into choreographer Avi Scher who was there to chat with friends. I was talking to him a little bit when Alexandre Hammoudi, who danced Paris (and who I liked recently as Orion in Sylvia), exited. He and Avi are apparently friends because he stopped to talk. Alexandre was the sweetest guy — kept congratulating Avi on his recent successes with his company (at Jacob’s Pillow, at City Center). And he has the most charming smile and accent My new crush
(headshot from ABT)
Anyway, weirdest thing when Irina and Roberto exited. Irina exited first and got mobbed. By the time she got down to where I was standing she seemed really frazzled, like she really needed to get out of there. Max Beloserkovsky (her husband) was with her. They were being nice and polite and responding to people who wanted to say hello and get a picture but they seemed like they really needed to be somewhere. She’s so tiny, and so beautiful in person. Both of them are.
Then Roberto made his grand exit / crowd entrace last and he seemed the same. It was crowded, like it was for Swan Lake, but a little less so, but he seemed like he really needed to be somewhere in a huff as well. I wondered when the company is flying out to L.A.; Irina and Roberto are to open the Los Angeles season this Thursday but I figured they weren’t leaving for a few days.
Anyway, he was stopping for some pictures and autographs, but not many. You really had to be an aggressive fan to get a photo with him. Then, this guy beside me with a monster camera asked him for something as he passed by us — I assumed it was a picture — and his eyes got wide and he said “no, no” and shook his head rapidly, smiled and looked quickly away. I wondered what was such a big deal — maybe the guy wanted to take a video and wanted him to talk into the camera or something, because why balk at yet another picture?
Anyway, rather hilariously, Roberto just started walking briskly through the crowd. If you didn’t practically downright clobber him, you weren’t getting a picture or autograph or anything.
So, he was walking through the crowded hallway kind of snaking through the crowd acting as if none of those people were actually there to see him (which I guess is nice; if a dancer makes this huge exit and dramatically opens his arms out to the crowd like Evita, you’d think, how frigging presumptuous, right). Well people didn’t really know what to do. So everyone just kind of started following him! At this point, I spotted my friend I was to meet in the crowd and I called out and tapped on her shoulder. “Come on!” she said, motioning for me to follow as well. So I followed. Haha, he was like an unintentional Pied Piper leading us all through the underground Lincoln Center maze.
He stopped near the exit to the parking lot for a few more pictures and autographs.
And then he just stopped, and stood there, and no one knew what to do! I don’t know if he even realized there was this huge group of people who’d followed him outside and were eagerly awaiting his next move.
It was like we didn’t want the season to end and he was the last performer to leave and we were all kind of devastated! We didn’t want him to go home, and we didn’t want to go home ourselves (it didn’t help that it was POURING with kind of frightening thunder and lightening).
Finally, he went off with a couple of incredibly lucky women (who we surmised were agents and the like) and we all stood watching as he exited southside of the lot by Fordham Law School. My friend called out “Ciao, ciao, Roberto.” And then others joined in. He turned around one last time and nodded and said bye.
And we just kept standing there while he walked out into the pouring rain with those women. No umbrella. “He needs an umbrella,” someone said. “I think we should go,” someone else said. After his increasingly small figure finally disappeared into the distance, my new friends and I walked back through the maze to the north exit. Everyone else who was still out there followed. Everyone had their heads down and looked so forlorn! Under the 67th Street scaffolding my friends and I chatted for a while about the season and this final performance and some of the dancers we like and our own dancing. Then, probably about an hour later, a cab came by honking and I told them to take it. They got in reluctantly. We vowed to find each other again next season and hang out and keep up via blogs and facebook until then.
So nice making new ballet friends! And I met several this season. But so horrible when the season ends. I hate this feeling!