It had been a long 359 days since Haglund's last Swan Lake
- when Nina Ananiashvili bid us farewell and Haglund thought the world might end. Good thing it didn't – wouldn't want to have missed this year's
opening performance with Veronika Part as Odette/Odile and Cory Stearns as Siegfried
- a late substitute for Marcelo Gomes who was to have been a substitute for
This was Stearns' New York debut. Junior just got his
Siegfried operator's license last April (in Chicago) and tonight he took the
company's Odette LX 950 out for a spin. In six lanes of traffic - at top
speed. He squealed the tires once or twice, stuck close to the road's shoulder,
and rarely looked in the rear view mirror choosing instead to focus on the
road straight before him. He was observed trying to smoke while driving. At
other times he seemed to stand at a green light waiting for it to change.
Junior was not exactly sure where he was going with the Odette LX 950, but he
didn't have an accident, didn't nick her finish and managed to bring her home
safely – to the relief of all.
Faced with the responsibility for the opening night
performance of Swan Lake and then having two partners wuss out with injuries,
Veronika went on to give one of her strongest, most confident performances ever. She made a
clear statement which Haglund will paraphrase as, "I don't need no stinkin' _____ in
order to bring down the house with Swan Lake." And no, she doesn't.
Conductor David LaMarche nearly wrecked the first two acts
with his cartoonish, fast tempos. Haglund thought, "Well, maybe this is how
ballet companies employ economies of scale to save money - they just dance
everything faster." Not a good idea. LaMarche has a proclivity for going
rogue with tempos and this wasn't the first time his erractic
conducting nearly wrecked a performance.
But Veronika prevailed, undaunted by the speed, and
delivered all the expected details: luscious lines that were endless in their
beauty, mime so full of emotion that Haglund's own eyes got misty, and
extensions where the top of the foot curved over giving the line the fluid
dynamic of an ocean's wave. When Odette collected her feet on pointe and began
a passe up the front of the leg, there was a whole chapter of her story in the unfolding of that developpe.
The PdD of Act II was beautiful. Stearns made no
mistakes, although his emotion did not register. He will look stronger
theatrically when he dances with a smaller, more reserved Odette. But Haglund
will give the kid credit for not freakin' out for having to debut in New York
opposite Veronika Part on opening night. No doubt he will tuck away that rose that she gave him
at bows in a safe place and the memories will last for a long time. His own
dancing included pirouettes that were slow and workman-like but he ended them with a strong
statement. The inflexibility in the back made his arabesque look 40 years old.
Same with his jumps which really didn't go anywhere and didn't form strong,
clear shapes. But Stearns stood firmly behind Veronika and was determined not
to let her down from a technical standpoint. He didn't.
Veronika's Odile was the best Haglund has ever seen her
perform. She hissed. She spit. She seduced. She not only did 32 fouettes,
she pumped 32 releves - with no resting in multiple revolutions. The
tentativeness that used to mark Veronika's Odile is gone.
Haglund must comment on some of the other fine
performances from last night:
The PdT with Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, and Jared Matthews
sparkled. Sarah, unfortunately for us, is a jewel being kept in the safe and is
only brought out for a quick peek now and then. She should have been our
Sleeping Beauty this year and she certainly should be our Juliet. She is
Exhibit A for McKenzie's under-utilization of the company's homegrown and
remarkable talent. Exhibit B is Stella Abrera who looked like another Odette
misplaced in the swan corps. She and Hee Seo were beautifully coordinated as
the two Big Swans. Exhibit C is Misty Copeland whose Hungarian Princess was
one of the most charming and prettiest solos in Act III. Exhibit D is Renata
Pavam, a small dancer whose fundamental abilities are the widest ranging and
strongest in a corps of technical wizards, continues to be overlooked for growth
Lastly, the ladies of the corps must be congratulated for
their superb performance. They were beautiful beyond words and brought the
magic of this story to life. Haglund knows how much the corps dreads Swan Lake
Week and the utter torture and fatigue that it brings each year. But he hopes
there is comfort in knowing that the swans bring a spectacular theatrical
production to life each and every night of that special week. Were there no
swan corps, no one would bother to come to see Swan Lake.
And so, with special thanks to the ladies of the corps,
Haglund bestows this gold and diamond Christian LouboutinPump Bump Award
entitled "Love Hurts" to all the performers for their incredible opening night
of Swan Lake.