It doesn't matter how corrupt ABT's seasons are – and this season brought new record levels of corruption with one imported guest artist after another – we can always depend on Veronika Part's Swan Lake to wash away the impurities and give us a short respite, a little time to restore our faith in and devotion to the ideals of classicism and good taste.
Last night's opening performance of Swan Lake saw Veronika in fetching form as she captivated us with the sorrow and beauty of her Odette and the seductive cunning of her Odile. The poetry and purity of line in the Act II PdD silenced the audience who by then had thought they had died and gone to heaven – thus, no need to breathe any longer. But then, Odile arrived on the arm of Marcelo Gomes' Von Rothbart and she proceeded to mock and sin her way through the cruel deception with tantalizing balances in arabesque and whipping fouettes that with each revolution teased, "You like it? You like it? You want some more?"
Cory Stearns' Siegfried had his good moments last night. Much of his solo dancing was strong and clean with nothing really being remarkable. His overhead lifts of Odette were impressive. He pressed Veronika in arabesque high over his head in Act II, and managed the overhead lifts in Act IV admirably. But his inability to convey Siegfried's feelings and emotional predicament continue to be a disappointment; he's just not there for his partner. Haglund saw an instance of raw emotion that registered not just in Stearns' face but in his entire body in Act III when he raced downstage after Odile who had just disappeared into the wings. Most other times, his face would scrunch up with intense emotion while he very casually presented an arm forward. The body has to act, too.
Meanwhile, Marcelo's Von Rothbart was putting the moves on all the princesses - Zhong-Jing Fang, Luciana Paris, and Hee Seo – and then he clearly crossed over the criminal line when he picked up the tiny Italian princess, Renata Pavam. It was good to see Renata back after such a long absence.
The PdT was expertly danced by Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, and Daniil Simkin. The two Big Swans, Hee Seo and Stella Abrera, were lovely and proficient except that Hee Seo couldn't manage the entrechat six - a weakness that also shows up whenever she dances in the PdT. Stella's sixes were effortless.
The Corps de Ballet and Cygnettes were nearly flawless and all were absolutely beautiful.
The performance was slightly marred by the audience when someone's child started to cry during the Act IV PdD and by some idiot who allowed a child to wear flashing sneakers to the theater. All evening there were little flashes of green light coming up from the Orchestra level every time the little one moved his or her feet.
The Pump Bump Award, the Odile tickler, is bestowed upon Veronika Part with the hope that this will persuade ABT to give her one more Swan Lake before the week is over. We really can't wait another year to see it again.