kenneth macmillan’s manon. wow. bloody fantastic! this was my first experience seeing manon live – i’d seen it on dvd forever ago, and have seen various youtube snippets- but i’d somehow never actually seen this ballet in the theater. while it may not be quite as great as his romeo and juliet, it sure as hell beats his mayerling and i must have truly loved it because a) i haven’t stopped thinking about and b) i would totally go see it again right now!
quick overview- manon is young parisian lady attracted to…well…pleasure (for lack of a better word) so her family decides it’s best to just dump her in a convent. on her way there she stops off at a tavern (full of whores and beggars) to see her brother. while she’s waiting for him (he is trying to bargain her off to a wealthy old guy!) she meets and falls instantly in love with de grieux, a handsome student. in the effort to save manon from a dreary life in the convent de grieux whisks her away to his place. de grieux is writing to his father for permission to marry manon but she interrupts, being all teasing and seductive, and of course a magnificent pas de deux ensues.
de grieux steps out for a moment and unfortunately, the scheming lescaut then shows up with another affluent guy (monsieur g.m.) he wants manon to hook up with. manon, shamelessly attracted to riches, agrees to go with him. de grieux returns and is devastated, but manon is terribly cruel to him and leaves with g.m. (omg manon, you stupid skank.) lescaut, somewhat forcibly, convinces de grieux they will all profit if he accepts the arrangement between manon and g.m.
so, later they are all at a party and i guess the plan is for de grieux to swindle monsieur g.m. out of his riches by beating him at cards. unfortunately he is caught cheating and all hell breaks loose. de grieux and manon escape together for a bit, but then the police show up, lescaut get shot and killed (herman! nooo!) and manon is arrested for prostitution and shipped off to new orleans with the rest of the criminals. the ever loyal de grieux kills the jalier and frees manon. they escape and flee, hiding in the swamps but alas, it’s too late – manon is already sick and dying (some awful disease she contracted on the boat to america, i believe) and there is only time for one last, heart wrenching pas de deux before she collapses and dies in the arms of her devastated lover.
(seriously, you should watch this. it’s so great! omg!)
tuesday night manon was danced by the sinuous, sensual (and seemingly boneless) diana vishneva- and her ardent lover, de grieux, by the oh so gorgeous marcelo gomes. now, in case you haven’t heard, diana and marcelo have this incredible chemistry on stage- it’s electric and terribly beautiful and they become lost in each other completely. i’ve seen them dance quite a few ballets together and am always blown away by diana’s utter fearlessness and 100% trust in marcelo. it’s glorious 🙂
marcelo’s adagio solo in act 1 was breathtaking, poetic and danced with superb control and beautiful lines. no wonder manon falls in love with him! but then after a gorgeous, desperately passionate (and seamlessly partnered) bedroom pas de deux, so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes, she just dumps him for some random old rich dude?! wtf manon? we’re talking marcelo gomes here! don’t be an idiot! but here is where we realize how deeply manon is drawn to a life of wealth and glamour and that she seems happy to seduce any man in sight to get it.
the avaricious trait must run in the family or something as manon’s brother, lescaut, is even worse. i mean, what kind of guy is willing to sell his own sister?! what a creep! lescaut was danced by herman cornejo and he was, as usual, fantastic! (for whatever reason i get a kick out of seeing herman play a bit of an asshole. i think it’s because he’s such a sweet and humble guy- it makes his acting all the more impressive). herman’s act 1 solo was performed with razor sharp precision and charisma and his drunk dance was an absolute riot- daring and brilliantly timed. the ensuing pas de deux with the lusty misty copeland (as lescaut’s mistress) was also hilarious. misty was vivacious and quite good in this role.
there is a lot of dancing for the corps throughout, they are mostly a bunch of beggars and harlots and it’s all a lot of fun in the usual macmillan style. (i particularly enjoyed arron scott as the beggar chief). i should also mention roman zhurbin as the nasty, abusive jailer – roman, impressive as always.
okay, i’ve spent half of my day off attempting to get this all to make some sort of sense and really i must go do something productive now! and so i end a bit abruptly. suffice it to say, ABTs manon was fantastic, this was a brilliant cast and if you’re in N.Y. you should go see it!