The Dream was not as vivid as hoped for this evening.
While Daniil Simkin's Puck was more than just serviceable, it did not approach the brilliance of Herman Cornejo's last night. Tonight there was too much cute mugging toward the audience along with a display of inflated ego during bows. The dancing was better than the last time Simkin attempted Puck, but some of the speediness required in the jumps and traveling movements came off with an awkward immaturity. One saw the process of the positions forming in the air as opposed to instantly getting there - a requirement for Puck and for the Bronze Idol in La Bayadere where Simkin had similar trouble. Of course, his plant & pirouette moments were utterly spectacular and brought loud cheers from the house. However, no part of the performance warranted Simkin coming before the curtain during bows and traveling the width of the stage tastelessly milking the audience for applause. When one has just given a performance of Puck that is second best and possibly could turn out to be third best, it's better to show some humility.
Marcelo Gomes' Oberon ran the show this evening with brilliant mime and strong dancing that included pearls of improvisation. Clearly, here was an Oberon whose unchecked temper could summon bad weather or a dense fog. Throughout the night we not only saw Oberon's mental wheels in motion but we heard the whoosh of exhaled air that punctuated his thoughts. Sure, he was the King of the Fairies – but, still, his plans occasionally went awry. The dancing technique was very secure with emphasis on the right places musically as opposed to emphasis on what the dancer might do best. He achieved some very handsome arabesque lines out of the turns, nearly all without any hopping. Of course, his Oberon's skulking around on the rocks and behind the trees was played to the hilt.
Julie Kent's Titania was a little sleepy from a technical standpoint. When compared to other ABT Titanias such as Ferri, Murphy, and Reyes, she lacked spunk and verve. The solo technique was at times on the verge of being plodding. However, we may have seen Julie Kent's career best balance on pointe in arabesque (or was it a long attitude?) which was set up by Gomes who then turned his back and walked away leaving Julie to perch for about ten or so seconds. The audience rewarded her warmly. Haglund paid close attention to the PdD between Kent and Gomes all the while remembering the hilarious moments some seasons back when Julie's hair got royally entangled in Marcelo's crown and she had to improvise an upstage bourree while the two of them figured out how to untangle themselves. No such charming moment tonight. The PdD was carefully correct but slightly dull.
Kenneth Easter was a fabulous Bottom whose final joyous solo made it clear just how happy he had been as an ass loved by Titania. The other Rustics – Sterling Baca, Roddy Doble, Luis Ribagorda, Arron Scott, and Sean Stewart – seemed to be channeling their inner Shakespearian Clem Kadiddlehoppers. There was a lot of funny stuff going on at the back of the stage.
Adrienne Schulte, Kristi Boone, Gennadi Saveliev, and Roman Zhurbin were wonderful as the mixed up lovers. Saveliev is dancing so well in everything this season and seems so happy. Is he this happy to be getting out? If not, then he should think twice about leaving after this season.
Gemma Bond, Cassandra Trenary, Simone Messmer, and Nicole Graniero were listed as the main fairies although it looked like lovely Sarah Smith dancing among them instead of Simone Messmer. Maybe it was the bad binocs. They all danced very well, but Gemma Bond just looks more perfect in every production this year. Whenever she is dancing, so often it seems like others around her are ever so slightly sharp or ever so slightly flat to Gemma's perfect note. Dancers should be following her lead for taste and style, that's for sure.
The Dream was the first part of the program and was followed by Firebird, but Haglund had an obligation and couldn't stay for the second ballet.
The Pump Bump Award, Alejandro Ingelmo's embraceable genius in stiletto styling, is bestowed upon Marcelo Gomes for his Oberon this evening.