Substituting on very short notice for an injured Xiomara Reyes, Maria Riccetto performed only the third Giselle of her career. Herman Cornejo as Albrecht performed his fourth. Both are works in early process. Both are strong in the same areas. Both are weak in the same areas. Neither dancer yet seems comfortable stepping out of his/her own person and completely into another character. Maria layered Giselle manner over Maria, and Herman layered Albrecht manner over Herman.
The strength of this performance was in the dancers' abilities to meet the individual technical demands. Maria was a delicate flower of a Giselle who no doubt was at the top of every suitor's list in the village. She has a gorgeous smile that is especially charming when it grows so big that her eyes crinkle. In the past year, we've come to expect beautifully articulated positions and feet from Maria, and she did not disappoint on Saturday afternoon. And she was absolutely secure in all of her variations with no nerves in sight. Herman, too, gave us killer steps throughout. The partnering, however, was another story.
The audience pretty much missed the iconic images of the two overhead lifts in Act II. Maria probably could have lifted Herman over her head more easily. Granted, Maria is slightly taller than Herman when on pointe, so that may have contributed to their struggle. But how many partners of legends past – Gregory, van Hamel – were shorter than their ballerinas and had to figure out how to make it work? On the positive side, the Act II pose with Albrecht on one knee with Giselle leaning against him in arabesque was breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity and length.
Maria is a natural Giselle and Haglund looks forward to watching her character develop over time. Nor will Herman's Albrecht ever be skipped; however, he needs to do considerable homework on character development.
The Peasant PdD by Yuriko Kajiya and Carlos Lopez was a mixed result. Haglund didn't see that either dancer complimented the other. They just seemed to be thrown together because they were both short soloists. Carlos danced to the very edge of his capacity, but muffed many jump landings. Those that he managed to plie for worked reasonably well. Yuriko was lovely and a technical marvel. She actually went all the way to her knee before pushing into the double pirouettes – something we haven't seen a lot of.
The highlights of this afternoon's performance were Isaac Stappas as Hilarion and finally ,after an absence of more than a year, Stella Abrera as Myrta. Isaac has really carved out a very complex " like me, hate me, I am who I am " character for Hilarion. The guy holds your attention on stage whether he's standing still or engaged in a flurry of counter clockwise chaines against the circling Wilis. Haglund was thinking what a fantastic Crown Prince Rudolf he would be, if only . . . .
Stella's Myrta was one of astonishing beauty, poise, revenge, grace, and revenge again. Poor Hilarion. It was a pretty terrifying end for him. He should have saved his begging, because he never had a chance with this Myrta. Stella's grand jetes had such a flowing quality that she too looked like a spirit. Haglund prefers her type of leap where the front leg goes up and the body travels forward to the landing as opposed to the increasingly popular "get the front leg up high, jut the knee a second time, and pull the front leg way back under for a clompy landing." It's been way too long since we've had the opportunity to enjoy Stella's gorgeous lines and unique phrasings. The audience was clearly very happy to see her back, and Haglund could not resist a few bravas for her as well.
Haglund awards this unique winged Pump Bump to Hilarion and Myrta for their complete and very stirring performances today.
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