ABT Giselle Review-June 17


Polina Semionova and David Hallberg. Click for more photos.

Polina Semionova, a tall, powerful, and dominant dancer, is not the ideal choice to portray Giselle, a girl with a frail constitution prone to overexertion by dancing. Although not my first selection in depicting Giselle, she gave a fine performance on Tuesday evening with David Hallberg as the Count Albrecht.

On the dramatic front, although the two were modest and understated, they had an effective and believable bond. She played the role of a humble, sweet young girl infatuated by the charismatic Count. David was the nobleman who falls in love with Giselle, but is trapped in an arranged marriage to Bathilde. He is grief stricken when his actions lead to the death of Giselle.

From the moment he set eyes on her, he pursued her with single-minded intensity. All of his movements and steps were performed with her in mind. Likewise, her dancing was focused on Albrecht and her intensity grew as the performance progressed. In one of her Act I solos, she exchanged playful glances with David as she performed a difficult diagonal on pointe. In Act II, her dancing shielded him from the menacing Myrta. The partnering was fine but not outstanding as David controlled her reasonably well in the supported turns and lifts.

David’s solo consisted of the standard Albrecht steps. He opened with single rather than the customary double cabrioles to the front (in Cinderella, he also did single cabrioles derriere rather than doubles) followed by double assembles. In the ending pass, he performed double tours with arms in fifth position (overhead), finishing with a triple pirouette to a double tour to the ground in exhaustion.

David is known for a great sequence of 24 entrechat six beats in the second act as he dances for his life. Take a look at the YouTube video with Natalia Osipova. Entrechat six (six crossing of the legs) is a difficult step, but putting together 24 consecutively is an amazing accomplishment. In my day, I could string together a few decent entrechat six; however, after several, fatigue would set in and my form deteriorated. Rather than a nice side to side beating and crossing movement, my turnout faltered and my legs went from front to back in a visually unappealing looking step. David’s great feat is maintaining his perfect form and articulation as the beats cross side to side, all while he running out of gas.

However, on Tuesday, he did not do the entrechat six, but rather a conventional brise diagonal toward Myrta, much to the disappointment of some in the audience. Not sure of the reason for the change, but it is easier to do the brise step relative to the exhausting entrechat six.

Veronika Part was Myrta, Queen of the ghostlike Wilis, seeking male prey and forcing them to dance until death. This was another great performance from Veronika, who was also dominant as The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Like the Godmother, her jumps (grande jete in attitude in particular) covered much of the stage. She was cool, detached, and nasty throughout.

It was a reasonably full house Tuesday, but not a sell out. I notice that there are many unsold seats in upcoming performances according to the Met website. The Saturday evening performance should be a treat with Alina Cojocaru and Herman Cornejo, but the orchestra looks only about 60% full. I did notice that ticket prices have gone down. I paid $109 for orchestra side seats a few weeks ago and similar seats are currently priced at $89 (with center orchestra at $159). Buying ABT tickets reminds me of obtaining airline tickets, where prices change constantly. Rear orchestra seats are now $59. For Thursday evening, center orchestra seats are going for $119, $89 for side, and $49 for rear orchestra. High prices are probably one reason for all of the empty seats I’ve seen this season. ABT ticket prices seem out of whack relative to New York City Ballet tickets where I can usually get rear orchestra seats for about $55.