Tonight's opening performance of Don Quixote saw the
biggest crowd at the Met in ABT's season thus far. It seems that Angel Corella
draws crowds, sells tickets, packs the house, generates enthusiasm – and oh
yeah, puts on a heck of a show. It also seems like a good time to remind
ourselves that Angel informed ABT early on that he would in fact be available to
dance most of the season, but ABT said "Sorry, you can only have two
performances. We're giving your performances to this new soloist who
we just know is going to WOW everybody." The result? The
first two weeks of the season had dismal-not-seen-in-fifteen-years
attendance. The lesson learned? In a bad economy, it's more important than ever to put your best foot forward.
From their first steps onto the stage to the final
pirouette to the knee, Angel and his Kitri, Paloma Herrera, gave a gala
performance so charged with electricity that it caused cameras in the audience
to flash unintentionally. Do not blame the audience - it was The AC surging through
the atmosphere that made those cameras go off.
Paloma's Kitri was friskier than we've seen her in years.
It's one thing to sissonne and kick the back of the head with the foot – most
high school competitive team dancers can do that these days. It's quite another
thing to do it with banana feet that are so exquisitely curved that the image of
the arched foot to the head and the other arched foot extending toward the floor
like a sword freezes the mind's digital signal. Could we see that again,
please? Yep, back up, replay.
And as she has done for years, Paloma turned those simple
echappes in Act 3 into a momentous event through the sheer power and curve of
her pointes. Her slow sensual developpes whether taunting Basilio in Act 1 or extending to an impossibly beautiful 90 degree second position during the Grand Pas are just unmatched anywhere. Her extraordinary balances were ones filled with music and meaning as opposed to being simple tricks.
Angel would have benefited from getting in a performance
or two before tackling Don Q. But he still delivered the expected turns and
leaps, perhaps not with his eloquence of past years, but when combined with his
charisma and theatrical chops he is still at the top tier of the company's Don
Q.s with J.M. Carreno. These two, along with Gomes, really do know how to hold the audience in the palms of their hands. And don't we love it.
Haglund had to pinch himself when he walked into the Met
and saw the sign that said Mercedes would be danced by Stella Abrera. "Was he
dreaming? Was it his birthday?" he wondered.
Ms. Abrera, in her debut, and Marcelo Gomes' hot,
strutting Espada were stunning! Her Italian fouettes were pristine. The "play"
between her and Gomes was smoldering. An excellent debut. She also danced the
role of the Queen of the Dryads with elegance, breathing balances, and beautiful
Sarah Lane's Amour perfectly dazzled. Joseph Phillips,
sporting a prominent six-pack, and Luciana Paris as the Gypsy Couple kept the
audience electrified. The flower
girls, Yuriko Kajiya and Misty Copeland, have always been terrific together, and
Haglund has always enjoyed them the most of all the pairs. Last night each one
looked like she was ready to be Kitri. The future looks good.
Craig Salstein as Gamache and Isaac Stappas as Lorenzo are
strictly dangerous when put on a stage together – keeping all the other dancers
on high alert for improvisations that might suddenly involve them,
too. Haglund looks forward to seeing these two cut loose in The Bright Stream
At the end of the evening, the audience just went
bananas. It truly felt like a gala evening. Angel has a way of always making
This Don Q is a first rate production. The Minkus music
is beautiful – Haglund just loves the strains that remind him of La Bayadere.
The scenery is rich with the painted fan scrim being one of the most beautiful
ever seen at the Met. The choreography is energetic, authentic and full of
Haglund bestows this Pump Bump Award, specially chosen with the new Mercedes in mind, on the entire cast for its amazing