Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.
On Saturday night, Paloma Herrera celebrated twenty years with ABT. Her celebratory performance was Coppelia, which she danced with Angel Corella, in one of the only performances he’ll be seen in at ABT this season, sadly. I realized how much I missed him Saturday night. He’s got to be one of the most endearing, charming, downright lovable dancers ABT has ever had. I hope he dances more often next year. And he can still deliver, particularly on the turns – the fouettes, and particularly on partnering. He polished off a one-handed lift with Paloma no problem. And he’s not a big guy. “That’s pure technique,” said the critic sitting next to me.
Paloma danced really beautifully too, and I realized Saturday night what a remarkable dancer she is. She did some beautiful balances, seemingly without shaking one iota. And she did an amazing sequence of fouettes where she didn’t bring her non-standing leg all the way around but kept it barely bent and at her side, making those whipping turns so much harder. She got loads of applause. She’s particularly suited to a role like this, and like Kitri in Don Quixote. The pair could easily have danced that one too since they’re pretty much known for DQ. They used to be THE couple at ABT years ago, and now she’s celebrating 20 years with the company and he’s off in Spain starting his own. And all the young ones have taken over
And the night before I saw two of those young ones: Natalia Osipova and Daniil Simkin (pictures hopefully coming soon!) My friend (who’d seen the Bolshoi’s Nutcracker via Emerging Pictures with me) and I agreed that the Russians can just do those extremely sharp, staccato doll-like movements better than anyone. Of course they just seem to know how to put on a show in general better than anyone. Ballet to them isn’t just about technique and perfect dancing, it’s above all a show.
Anyway, Natalia is superhuman. She really is. No one can jete like her, and I think I’m going to have to include men here. Daniil was absolutely superb in his solos, and he’s known for being a jumper, but I swear when she jumped and he followed her with a jump, hers were higher. I almost fell out of my seat. And her “doll-come-to-life” in the second act – I’ve never seen anyone genuinely look so toy-like. Even the children in the audience were enthralled; you could hear a few actually laughing themselves silly throughout the entire second act. When do small children maintain interest throughout an entire act of a ballet? Maybe the parents were Russians and knew Osipova would pull it off
Osipova’s definitely not perfect and she was going so fast in a series of spins across stage she had a little stumble on one. But who cares? I’d so much rather someone put everything they have into a performance than play it so safe it just fades away. Seeing Herrera in the role after Osipova made me realize that Osipova’s just always going to do things more stunningly than others (at least for the most part). Not necessarily with better technique or more beautifully but more stunningly. That’s the kind of dancer she is. But that definitely doesn’t mean that no one else has anything to offer.
Anyway, back to Paloma. So, during the bows, each of the principals came up on stage and gave her a bouquet, which was followed by a confetti shower. She and Angel got several curtain calls, not surprisingly. I think all serious, longtime ABT fans miss Angel and their performance together was a bittersweet reminder of this kind of “changing of the guard” that’s going on at ABT. Afterward, I went with a group of friends to Fiorello’s, across from Lincoln Center, for drinks and dessert, and she came in with two people who I assume were her parents and sat down at the booth next to us. Our ballet gossip promptly ended but what a special end to a fabulous evening for us.