Haglund revisited the Shostakovich Trilogy last night where Joseph Gorak made an early debut in Symphony #9 subbing for an injured Herman Cornejo. Gorak was on the calendar to dance the role for the first time on Friday. He gave an inspired performance that was a different interpretation than Cornejo's or Jared Matthews’ brilliant performances during the last run of this ballet, but it was also wonderfully valid. His character brought an unwavering optimism and soothing light to the stage where the other members of the community were dancing (surviving) in the shadows of Stalin’s oppression. The sheer beauty of his dancing and the pristine quality of his technique suggested that the community’s persistence would yield an idyllic outcome. Of course, history had other plans.
Making her principal role debut opposite Marcelo Gomes, Devon Teuscher acquitted herself extremely well. Along with a glistening technique that serves her so strongly in Ashton roles and will someday make her a commanding Odette/Odile, Devon exuded a coolness and beauty that was a throwback to the days Christine Dunham and even farther back to the days of Toni Lander. We’re toying with the idea of taking another look on Saturday night anticipating that her second performance will take more dramatic liberties, but there is that beckoning Serenade across the Plaza...
Stella Abrera and Craig Salstein revived and refreshed their secondary roles as dangerous instigators who encouraged the community to do things contrary to the regime’s will. The community corps (with a sprinkling of soloists) danced with a new conviction and clarity that were missing during previous seasons of the ballet.
Chamber Symphony (James Whiteside, Sarah Lane, Isabella Boylston, Hee Seo) missed the tragic, dramatic voice of David Hallberg of seasons passed. Every time Whiteside showed anguish we were prepared for him to next pull a stupid joke. His broadly public lack of seriousness and maturity have taken their toll on the audience’s perception of his onstage artistry.
Chamber's corps de ballet was untidy in places, and it was very noticeable how unflattering the costumes were on some of the un-lithe dancers.
However, the corps de ballet in Piano Concerto #1 made up for everything. Wow, did this group have it together last night! Zhong-Jing Fang, April Giangeruso, Melanie Hamrick, Courtney Lavine, Lauren Post, Katherine Williams, Alexei Agoudine, Gray Davis, Kenneth Easter, Daniel Mantei, Patrick Ogle and Jose Sebastian collectively gave a giant of a performance. Sleek in their unitards that were gray in the front and maroon on the flipside, speedy, perfectly in tune with one another, the dancers revealed the architecture of this ballet better than we have ever seen. At times it was hard to take our eyes off of them in order to watch the principals.
Christine Shevchenko, subbing for Gillian Murphy just as she had to do several years ago in her debut, showed new confidence and core strength and made the partnering by Cory Stearns a fairly easy assignment. His dancing looked uncharacteristically energetic and happy with very little stress. His very nice double tours coming down the diagonal were literally leaning on the diagonal. The other couple, Maria Kochetkova and Daniil Simkin, treated their choreography like they were doing a bit in some competition gala. Acting baby cute doesn't cut it with a lot of the audience. We don't care to see that again; so, it looks like we've made our Saturday night decision.
The HH Pump Bump Award, a Louboutin with strong gray design and red sole, goes to the ladies in the corps of Piano Concerto #1. Zhong-Jing Fang, April Giangeruso, Melanie Hamrick, Courtney Lavine, Lauren Post, and Katherine Williams rocked!