The final ABT Le Corsaire this Met season was a solid performance with new faces adding much excitement. Soloist Christine Shevchenko, stepping in for an injured dancer for the third time this week (Veronika Part was scheduled), was again exceptional as Medora. Her technique is robust, enabling her to sail past the treacherous parts such as a fouetté-type turning diagonal in Act I and fouettés in the beginning of Act II. She was more animated Saturday relative to Friday, possibly growing into the role after multiple appearances. I hadn’t seen much of Christine before this year and did not have much of an opinion of her dancing. However, after seeing her twice as Medora, twice as Kitri in Don Quixote, and Myrta in Giselle, she is one of my favorite dancers, one that I would go out of my way to see in future Met seasons.
Another Soloist making waves this season is Devon Teuscher, who was Gulnare, Medora’s friend. Devon also commands the stage with strong technique and control, displayed by a nice piqué/chaîné manege (performed in a circle). I can’t wait to see her Odette/Odile in the Swan Lake Wednesday matinée.
Cory Stearns was solid as Conrad, Medora’s love interest. Notable were his space consuming giant assembles that seemed to cover half the stage. Cory is not a dancer that goes off the rails and does something wild but is reliable in such roles. I didn’t think Gabe Stone Shayer was effective as Lankendem Friday as he was technically short of the mark. However, I liked his Birbanto portrayal Saturday. As Conrad’s sinister friend, he gave a strong performance with nice turns and leaps with a campy demeanor consistent with the silly ballet.
Corps member Joo Won Ahn was Lankendem Saturday. His strength is jumps, particularly his high double tours. At the end of one solo, he threw multiple double tours, something I haven’t seen before in the role. A fine performance from Ahn and I look forward to seeing more of him. Hopefully he can become the male version of Shevchenko/Teuscher/Brandt/Trenary. ABT is overflowing with great young female dancers, but I haven’t seen similar talent among the men.
James Whiteside as Ali was energetic, although the role is not his strong suit.
Daniil Simkin as Ali
Daniil Simkin does a remarkable Ali solo filled with numerous tricks. His solo Friday was similar to the YouTube video below. In particular check out the following:
4:25-a funky step with a full turn with his leg circling around his body. I don’t know the name but Jeffrey Cirio also does it;
4:45-Daniil’s trademark wide arm pirouettes drawing in as the six turns progress;
7:40-another trademark of Daniil’s, 540 revoltades in a diagonal. I’ve seen dancers do single 540s but never in a sequence;
8:40 controlled turns in second position.
His solo Friday was similar, but with a more difficult double assemblé manege (circle) in which he completed five. In the video, he does tour de reins, also called barrel turns (7:55). Friday, he also threw what appeared to be a triple saute de basque which is rarely done.
ABT’s Instagram account features Daniil’s big arm pirouettes to a dramatic finish. Note his very wide arm carriage, almost out to his side as he starts the turn. Conventional technique, shown in my pirouette video on YouTube, is with rounded arms closer to the body. As Daniil’s turns progress, his arms close to his body like a figure skater facilitating the turns. Note that at the beginning of the turn, he winds up substantially, something most ballet teachers discourage. He does this to generate more momentum into his turn as he needs the power to complete six or seven turns. I suspect that few dancers do such wide arm pirouettes because, although it looks cool, it is difficult to control the turns.