“Unemotional”, “expressive limitations”, “without real excitement”, not a good start to the American Ballet Theatre's current run of Swan Lake. The production maybe doesn't help the principals, as Alistair Macaulay points out, “unless you think that 32 fouetté turns are what ballet is all about, this production really doesn't showcase the greatest features of Swan Lake.” While certain that other casts will bring other emotions, here is what three New York papers have to say about the opening night:
‘Swan Lake' is one of ballet's great tearjerkers; bring a hanky — or two — for the ending. But at American Ballet Theatre's opening night on Monday, the unemotional performances meant there probably wasn't a damp eye in the house.
Jose Manuel Carreno performed as the hero, Prince Siegfried, and Irina Dvorovenko played the dual role of the captive, enchanted white swan Odette and the evil black swan Odile. Both dancers are consummate pros who have each been with the company for more than 15 years, but all that experience added up to acting by rote…
…But though the skill is there, the emotion isn't. Carreno partners Dvorovenko beautifully, but they never seem to be in love. She puts more zest into her campy portrayal of Odile.” – New York Post
Alistair Macaulay in The New York Times agrees:
Perhaps Ms. Dvorovenko embodies the production's goals — the groupies were doggedly chanting, “Brava-bravissima-brava-bravissima” after all her showiest numbers — but she certainly illustrates its expressive limitations. She is entirely pretty and entirely competent…
…There is a flintiness here that's at odds with the grand poignancy of “Swan Lake.” At curtain calls Ms. Dvorovenko comes into her own domain, radiantly unscathed by the ballet's tragic ordeals.”
Carreno's technical skill doesn't let him down, but still…
Though his wasn't an inspired or brilliant performance, it demonstrated several of the virtues that never fail him: charm, timing, gallantry, focus, stance. Few dancers can time the preparation to, and arrival from, double air turns to such musically satisfying effect.”
And the Wall Street Journal says much the same thing:
Monday's opener, led by Irina Dvorovenko as Odette/Odile, partnered by Jose Manuel Carreño, presented the staging effectively if without real excitement. Ms. Dvorovenko is forthright with her dancing and its accents, but she fails to shape the physical highlights of her raised-leg positions and her arched-back or extended-arm postures in a way that suggests limitlessness. Her Odette and Odile command the space they occupy, but each falls short of the ecstatic release that both roles reveal when most effectively performed.”
Photo: Irina Dvorovenko with Maxim Beloserkovsky by John Ross
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.