Thursday’s Cinderella featured the same cast as the Monday premier, but with leads Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg, making his first ABT appearance of the Met season. Dramatically, the leads were in fine form with David as the elegant prince and Gillian as a humble beauty, although I have seen better technical performances from the two.
I enjoyed Gillian in the first act, in a poignant scene in which she danced in front of her deceased mother’s portrait. She despondently danced in tribute to her mother as she blew a kiss to her portrait in a very touching moment. Her solos were, as usual, very solid with nice extension and controlled turns, always her strong suit.
David looks the part of a prince, with impeccably groomed bond hair and beautiful line accentuated by his all white attire. He had an intense, concentrated demeanor as he pursued Cinderella when she first appeared in the ballroom. Gillian and David were great in the ballroom pas de deux demonstrating a close bond. The partnering section is difficult, featuring an overhead lift in which he walks her down a set of stairs. However, Gillian came off point at the end of the third act when shifting to an arabesque after a promenade.
Although graceful and attentive to his newfound love, I’ve seen better performances from David. His first turn sequence shortly after arriving at the ballroom palace was wobbly. In his solo, he performed single cabriole derriere rather than the customary double as he chased Cinderella; on the pirouette/tour part of his solo, he performed single soutenu turns before his double tours rather than a single pirouette as was done by James Whiteside Monday.
I saw the fairy seasons cast for the second time (Spring-Skylar Brandt, Summer-Christine Shevchenko, Autumn-Yuriko Kajiya, Winter-Melanie Hamrick) and my reaction was the same as Monday. Skylar was exciting, moving at a frantic pace while the others were technically fine but not exhilarating. Not sure if it is the steps or the dancers performing the steps that limit my enthusiasm for three of the seasons.
Veronika Part was The Fairy Godmother with effortless leaps that seemed to cover half the stage. Luis Ribagorda was the Jester that kept up a brisk pace in the ballroom scene. His high split jumps, rapid turns, and leaps were a treat, with a constant goofy grin. Craig Salstein and Roman Zhurbin were the hilarious Step-Sisters. Although I enjoyed their portrayal, I would have liked to see a different set of sisters to compare to the bombastic, egotistical, and clumsy duo.
The Ashton Cinderella is an improvement over ABT’s previous version by James Kudelka. Although I liked the Kudelka version, which has an art deco, 1930s theme, ABT has acquired the gold standard masterpiece that will hopefully remain in their repertoire for many years. Here is a nice video summarizing the key portions of Act II and III with The Royal Ballet featuring Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg. It would be nice if ABT would provide something similar, showing off their dancers and advertising their product in the age of YouTube.