Marcelo Gomes stole the show Wednesday evening with a standout performance as the evil, narcissistic von Rothbart in ABT’s Swan Lake. Marcelo is so charismatic; he commands attention by simply being on stage. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie has a great quote in the video Born to be Wild on Mikhail Baryshnikov that applies to Marcelo: “People used to say “Misha is so fabulous because he could do a triple whatchacallit to the knee that doesn’t have a name.” Well no. He was not fabulous because of that; he was fabulous because he could stand onstage and do NOTHING and you couldn’t take your eyes off him.” Marcelo, like Baryshnikov, has an intangible quality that makes him irresistible to watch, a certain theatrical timing and expressiveness that is difficult to explain, but you know it when you see it.
Gomes’ von Rothbart was a self-absorbed, indulgent cad not lacking in confidence in his only performance in that role this season. He beamed to the audience on several occasions, drawing a crowd reaction of gasps as he played with the audience; other times he laughed hysterically at something that he thought was amiss. He lifted several ladies as they stood in his way of getting to his ultimate interest. At the end of his solo, he dismissed the ladies with extreme arrogance. In another segment, he showed his impatience with the proceedings by tapping his fingers on his chest. Gomes’ portrayal Wednesday seemed different from previous performances; his quick head movements demonstrated an air of hypersensitivity. Technically, Marcelo was great in his solos, covering a lot of ground on his leaps, and a nice long balance in arabesque. What a performance!
Veronika Part and James Whiteside were solid as leads. This is the first time I’ve seen Veronika in the role. Her Odette was striking, with long arabesques that seemed to go on forever and airy, flowing arms. Her Odile solo was proficient, although her fouetté turns lacked authority as she traveled from one side of the stage to the other, ending in an unstable double pirouette. Overall, it was a good performance, but lacked the WOW factor that I was expecting from her. Whiteside was an attentive partner but with a few issues on supported turns in the Lakeside pas de deux. His solos were good as he demonstrated his leaping ability. Whiteside has nice double tours, getting high off the ground to a solid landing in deep plié.
The Pas de Trois was well done by Christine Shevchenko, Devon Teuscher, and Calvin Royal III. In Act III, the Neopolitan by Gabe Stone Shayer and Jonathan Klein was impressive, a dance filled with jumps and turns.