saturday morning i get a message from a balletomane friend saying david hallberg just announced on twitter that he would be dancing last minute in american ballet theatre’s giselle that night. which is all well and fine except…..well, that meant he would be replacing herman cornejo who (in case you somehow don’t know this already) is my all time favorite ballet dancer on the face of planet earth. and the other planets too, actually. you know, if they have ballet dancers on other planets, that is. so i frantically check david’s twitter feed (not that i thought my friend was lying or anything but i had to see it for myself) and sure enough… there it is. damn. not that i don’t love david, i do! he’s freaking gorgeous, what’s not to love? but it’s like maybe you were headed on a trip to tuscany and somehow your flight got rerouted and you landed in prague – one could hardly complain! and yet…you really wanted to go to tuscany! (alas,i can only dream of going to these places but hey, it’s a nice fantasy. and anyway, that’s not the point).
well, i was pretty bummed, and i also felt sad for herman, but it’s not quite the end of the world so when evening came i headed out across the george washington bridge and into the city. you can hardly go wrong when it comes to giselle, as it’s one of the most beloved and beautiful ballets of all time. dancing the title character that night was a ballerina much lauded for this role, alina cojocaru. thus far there have been incredibly conflicting reports of her performance but i personally enjoyed it immensely. alina was a gentle, fragile giselle, charming in her innocence. her act 1 variation was just lovely – she rolled beautifully thru her feet on the arabesque penche’s, those tricky attitude turns that finish with a ballone’ to the front were nearly flawless, and while she may have done slightly fewer hops en pointe than the norm she finished with a gorgeous, suspended low develope’ that took my breath away. (reports of alina doing only a few hops and travelling merely a foot are grossly exaggerated). her mad scene was quiet and subtle, yet thoroughly heartbreaking.
not to say count albrecht isn’t worth dying over but in this case if i was giselle i believe i would have run off with hilarion. hilarion was played by jared matthews and he was just wonderful! one could truly feel his jealousy and turmoil as well as his deep affection for giselle. his mime scenes were clear and heartfelt and he had my sympathy 100%. (plus he’s really cute. and i don’t even like blondes. usually. well, there are exceptions). besides, how can you not love a guy who hangs dead rabbits on your house? what a great gift idea! or maybe they’re pheasants… it’s hard to tell.
but of course giselle goes for albrecht, and why not – he is charming in his deception and she is innocent and easily deceived. however, as beautiful and princely as david hallberg is, i confess i found myself missing herman in act 1.
in act 2 however, david was riveting. from the moment he entered the forest in that cape, with the lilies and THOSE LEGS! i was spellbound. haunted and haunting, he was filled with sorrow and remorse. his variation was brilliant – oh, those desperate, pleading brisse’s!!- and despite the nearly comical height difference, he and alina were lovely together. alina was heaven in act 2 …. ethereal, weightless. she has a way of floating her balances to the very edge of the music, almost as if she is suspending time. overall it was a glorious, emotional second act and i left the theater that night feeling grateful and fulfilled.
also noteworthy ~
yuriko kajiya in the peasant pas de deux – clean, exceptionally musical, sunny and delightful as usual. i adore her.
stella abrera as myrtha – stella is known for being a formidable myrtha and with good reason. her myrtha is fierce and unyielding, her dancing dramatic and sublime.
luciana paris’ striking, haughty bathilde.
susan jones wonderful portrayal of berthe, i don’t known that i’ve ever seen the mime about the wilis done so clearly.
the wilis, of course. what would second act giselle be without the wilis? the corps de ballet was looking good that night and as always the hopping, arabesque-ing wilis were one of the great highlights of act two. (alas there is always that bit that will forever remind me of leslie browne in “the turning point” where she performs intoxicated and does all her port de bras opposite the rest of the corps. it doesn’t matter how many times i see giselle, i cannot shake that image- it comes back every time. argh.)
and so i shall leave you with bows from that wonderful, moving giselle ~ bravo, brava, bravi!