ABT Gala: Gem After Gem

May 18, 2009

After Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes’ balcony scene from Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet, I wanted to go home. Enough beauty for one night.  I wanted to savor what I had seen: the illusion of a true love, where two bodies surrender to each other. Vishneva, who usually sucks all the attention into her, yielded to Gomes. The kiss was luscious and almost outrageous. Their last reach, from balcony to street, to each other was thrilling.

So that was it for me.

     And yet there were more gems, both before and after that sigh-inducing scene.  I wouldn’t have programmed White Swan pas de deux after that, but it was a totally pristine kind of love following the physical intimacy of Romeo and Juliet. Paloma Herrera, partnered by Maxim Beloserkovsky, was exquisite, especially in the way she slowed down after something quick. (If you want to see more Paloma, check out our behind-the-scenes video  of our cover shoot with her.)

    Another highlight was Ratmansky’s Waltz Masquerade, made for this night. Nina Ananiashvili waltzed alone, reaching and gliding with great spirit (appreciated all the more because it followed a wooden Michele Wiles as Sylvia). She doesn’t need split jumps or multiple pirouettes to gleam and make an imprint on your mind. The dance wasn’t funny at first; it just gave you a look at this extravagant, elegant, playful, sensuous woman, who happened to be framed by four nameless men, each standing in a corner holding a candelabra in front of his faces. They must be corps guys. But when they started cutting up and vying for her attention, you realized that these guys have names, and big ones too: Jose Manuel Carreño, Angel Corella, Maxim Beloserkovsky, and Marcelo Gomes. They were masquerading as prop carriers. Since this is Ananiashvili’s last season, it was perhaps their last chance to carry a torch for her.

    Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy were as a buoyant, unified duo in Tchaikovsky Pas de deux. This is one of Balanchine’s pleasant divertissements, and those two made something of it. Their whizzing turns were fun, but the best part was watching them enjoy each other. At the curtain call, they gave each other a real kiss.

    This was my first glimpse of La Sylphide, and Xiomara Reyes was the perfect light-as-a-feather Sylphide in this Act II excerpt. We were in luck because Herman Cornejo was dancing James. He is so comfortable with every leap and landing, so gently and clearly energized, that one never gets tired of watching him.


Nina Ananiashvili in

Waltz Masquerade
.  Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.