Six dancers made their role debuts in NYCB’s Sleeping Beauty Thursday. The results were mixed, with some fine dancing by the new dancers (four are Corps members) interspersed with some not so great moments.
Lauren Lovette made her debut as Aurora with Gonzalo Garcia as Prince Désiré. (The above photo is Lauren and Gonzalo. My photography website notmydayjobphotography.com has more photos). On the plus side, Lauren displayed nice solo work in the Act I Spell Scene and pas de deux. She danced with great assertiveness and gusto including rock solid pirouettes. On the dramatic side, she revealed great passion after meeting her dashing prince. On the downside, I was on the edge of my seat during her Rose Adagio-and not in a good way. She was very shaky on her balances as she wavered substantially, particularly during her balances in attitude. The pas de deux with Gonzalo was nicely danced with great delicacy, very solid except for a poorly done fish dive diagonal. On their first attempt, Gonzalo grabbed her around the waist but did not lower her to the ground; instead, Gonzalo held her up in an awkward position as she dangled in the air with no purpose. The second dive was not much better.
Gonzalo’s dramatic side was effective as he was an exuberant prince enchanted by Aurora. However, his solo work was not at a high level. He has a strained quality on some of his steps, particularly his double tours and pirouettes. His double tours to arabesque were weak, with a very low arabesque position.
Miriam Miller as the Lilac Fairy got off to a rocky start as she slipped and took a fall. Fortunately, she recovered to deliver a fine debut performance, with mature nuance and technique. She is tall, reminding me of Teresa Reichlen, with a long arabesque line and flowing arms. I look forward to seeing her in future roles. Other standout roles were Emily Kikta in the Diamond dance and Megan Fairchild as Princess Florine. Emily, a tall member of the Corps, is usually not cast in solo roles. I would like to see her more in these roles as she delivered a fine solo Thursday, nicely timed to the beautiful score. It is unusual for a leading Principal Dancer to dance Princess Florine in the Bluebird Pas de Deux but Megan provided an interesting and nuanced interpretation of the role that can sometimes be quite boring. Spartak Hoxha was the Bluebird with high-flying leaps. In her debut as Carabosse, Corps member Gretchen Smith delivered a wicked rendering of the evil fairy.
Update: Lauren’s Aurora was better a week later in the February 18 Saturday evening performance with more stability in the Rosa Adagio and a nice fish dive diagonal in the pas de deux.