Stearns' first entrance onto the stage Saturday evening was forceful and authoritative as were his first several minutes of mime. Then Ms. Part entered and the two began what was a pretty good PdD. She was secure; his hands were accurate; and there seemed to be some eye contact between them. Haglund thought we might be witnessing a breakout performance from Stearns. Then slowly as the variations unfolded, we were reminded that Mr. Stearns doesn't have principal-level elevation, flexibility in the back, a 90 degree arabesque, or much acting ability. He was decidedly improved in the problem area of pedestrianizing the choreography, but his performance was overall anemic. He has to find something at which he is truly outstanding in order to counterbalance those areas which may always be inferior.
La Bayadere is still one of Haglund's most favorite ballets even after a chaotic week of substitutions. He is extremely saddened by the injury and withdrawal of Stella Abrera from this week's performances. However, he experienced a little epiphany during tonight's performance: The Big Buddha of La Bayadere decided a few years ago that he would intervene in any effort to have Stella dance Gamzatti because he had decreed that she must now dance Nikiya. When next La Bayadere is on the schedule, let's not mess with the Buddha's wishes.
Haglund awards this passionate red satin and feather Pump Bump Award to Ms. Part and Ms Wiles for their stunning performances this week: