Presently, is there anything on the stages of New York that is bigger than a Marcelo Gomes performance? It's doubtful. He owns the town this summer – Armand, Albrecht, Prince Charming, Siegfried – what a collection of performances for which there simply are not enough superlatives.
Tonight Gomes took the role of Siegfried into the stratosphere and carried most of the cast with him. His Act I solo was soulful and soul searching with beautiful pirouettes in a la seconde that concluded by rotating the leg to the front. His Act II partnering was as tender as could be. His Act III variation was blistering and passionate. (Gotta thank Gomes for not really forcing his tongue down Odile's throat which might have actually happened had there been one or two more counts of music in one particular phrase.) His desperation in Act IV was so fully realized that you wanted to go off the cliff with him.
Paloma Herrera as Odette/Odile found herself in the unusual situation of having to challenge herself to keep up with Siegfried tonight. Sometimes she succeeded while other times she made some unfortunate choices that really detracted from her performance. But first and foremost, she gave one of her best dramatic Odette and Odile readings that Haglund has seen. Herrera needs a partner with a big personality to open her up. Of late, her performances opposite Stearns, Bolle or Hallberg have been somewhat disappointing from a theatrical standpoint whereas her performances with Corella and Gomes have demanded that she pay more attention to the non-technical aspects of her dancing.
For whatever reason, tonight during her Odette variation, she omitted the battement brush from fifth position with the ronde de jambe developpe. Instead, she did something weird that looked like a fondu coupe developpe. It came off as one big cheat after another during the sequence, and looked awkward as well. There's no other way to describe it other than a cheat. Then in Odile's variation, instead of doing the double pirouette that evolves into an attitude turn or two, Paloma did a triple pirouette, opened the leg to second position and then brought the foot behind the knee and releved for two more quick revolutions. The effects of the iconic sequence were lost. It just looked like another instance of cheating by trying to do something easier. One last complaint: In the Act II mime sequence, Odette's mother's tears didn't make it past Odette's chin. Is it possible that Herrera really never watched Nina Ananiashvili perform this with such perfection that the audience actually saw the tears roll off the tips of Nina's fingers?
Overall, however, Paloma's dancing was exquisite. Her balances this evening were truly impressive, not to mention beautiful in form. Her final sequence in the Act II PdD was especially lovely wherein each of her three developpes before the revolution was higher than the one before with the fourth developpe before falling sideways into Siegfried's arms the highest - without being too high - and the leg beautifully turned out with her unmistakeable foot arched to perfection.
Let's talk about Sascha Radetsky's von Rothbart. Whoa, has it improved since Haglund last saw it a few of years ago! Radetsky was fearless tonight. There was none of that over-careful preparation and wait an extra count before starting the pirouettes (which always made Haglund want to tear out the last few remaining hairs from the side of his head.) Excellent jumping tonight as well, although, Haglund did not like the artistic choice to hold the legs together in Siegfried's sissonnes instead of splitting them. Different is not always better. Gotta say that a fearless Radetsky is a Radetsky you don't want to take your eyes off of for even a moment. His whole performance was excellent this evening.
The Pas de Trois was danced by Stella Abrera, Maria Riccetto, and Daniil Simkin who substituted for Gennadi Saveliev. Odd as that trio may sound, Haglund is pleased to report that they all had fine performances. Simkin partnered both ladies very well. It was a surprise to see him lifting someone as tall as Abrera so easily and maneuvering her pirouettes so smoothly from behind where he was nearly invisible. You could see that all three were supremely focused this evening and each was acutely aware of where the other two dancers were at any given time. It was definitely grace under pressure, but there was a lot of grace to be proud of.
The swan corps was superb again tonight. The formations in Act IV could not have been more perfectly beautiful. The Cygnettes rocked. The Act III princesses at the ball were all wonderful, but special note must be made of Gemma Bond as the Italian princess and one of the Cygnettes. Why Gemma finds it so easy (and so important) to walk in a high 3/4 releve and ascend and descend through a high 3/4 releve, whereas too many of the other ladies walk and releve like they have clogs on, is a mystery. This dancer has such quality and such respect for doing things correctly that it makes Haglund weep to see her still in the corps.
The Big Swans, Karen Uphoff and Devon Teuscher, needed much more rehearsal and discipline with regard to the counts on which they launched and landed jumps. If the jump is supposed to go up on the count of three, you can't have one swan going up on the "t" of the three while the other swan goes up on the "e" of the three. Much more rehearsal. Much.
So, it was a pretty fantastic night at the ballet, thanks to Gomes. This Gold Chains of Love Pump Bump Award is bestowed upon Marcelo who is the biggest, most important act on the New York stage this summer.