ABT, SWAN LAKE, MET OPERA HOUSE, NEW YORK, MAY 1993
|From: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, May 25, 1993
Dance Review by Joan Acocella
ABT ON ITS TOES
WHEN Mikhail Baryshnikov left American Ballet Theatre in 1989, he took his ballets with him - his Nutcracker, his Don Quixote, his Swan Lake; in other words, the full-length story ballets on which so much of ABTs box office depends. The company has been trying to replace them ever since.
Swan Lake, actually, was not such a problem. The company still had the sets, the costumes and - in its ballet mistresses heads - the steps of the 1967 production, staged by David Blair, that it had performed until Baryshnikov came along. On Friday, that Swan Lake returned to the Metropolitan Opera House stage, where it will play through Thursday and again June 2. The company took care to juice up the revival by inviting the Russian dancer Nina Ananiashvili to dance the role of the Swan Queen - and her double, the wicked Black Swan - for two performances, last Saturday and tomorrow night.
Ananiashvili is a Bolshoi dancer, which means an elaborate dramatic style. As the Black Swan, Russian ballerinas often look like Theda Bara imitations, and Ananiashvili was true to this tradition. But her White Swan was marvelous, and if the piling on of dramatic detail - the wing-flutterings, the tragic gazes, little pauses with the arms just so - looked 19th-century, it was good 19th-century. Like most Russians, she seemed to ignore the music now and then, but she is an exciting performer: big eyes, big extension, big idea about what she is doing up there.
Jeremy Collins, who played Prince Siegfried, used to be a stuffy dancer with a beautiful technique. Now he has loosened up and still has a beautiful technique. What a jump!
The production looks good on the whole - very dramatic.
When the prince arrives at the lake, the air is full of foreboding. Confused servants, dark night, bog mist: Somethings going to happen. Then the Swan Queen enters. Exactly the introduction a ballerina deserves.
Some details need fixing, however. The apotheosis - in which the lovers, having committed suicide, depart for heaven in a pearly boat - is absurdly perfunctory. There's no scrim to cast a veil of mystery over this event, and everything happens too fast. It looks as though the couple survived after all, and are taking off for Monte Carlo in a speedboat
The only serious flaw is the dancing of the swan ensemble. Where is that singing line, what the Russians call cantilena, that Baryshnikov and his staff worked so hard to instill in the corps de ballet? These swans dont look Russian - or American. They look like a mistaken idea of English: small and dry.