Eagerly anticipating two Prince Siegfied debuts in NYCB’s Swan Lake from Russell Janzen and Zachary Catazaro, ballet fans had to settle for one as Zachary suffered an injury that denied him (hopefully temporarily) the coveted role. Zachary, injured in dress rehearsal, was obviously devastated:
This is hard for me to have to realize but I will no longer be dancing this weekend in Swan Lake. I landed bad from a double cabriole in the third act of today’s dress rehearsal and my foot rolled over very badly. This is the role I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first stepped into the studio many years ago. I will be back and it I will prevail. Thank you everyone who so kindly helped me today especially the fantastic talented strong men who carried me for 10 minutes. Your support is appreciated and won’t be forgotten. Merde to @shyltin my former swan queen and @andiev1 for taking my spot. You guys will be great!
A photo posted by Zach Catazaro (@zacharycatazaro) on
On Thursday, Russell was a bit subdued as the Prince, not surprising given that this was his first time in the role. His partnering is strong, and he worked well with Teresa Reichlen. Some of Peter Martins’ choreography did not play to his strength, such as the simple shoulder sit lift in the Act I pas de deux diagonal rather than the traditional and dramatic overhead lift. Russell’s solos were fine, although nothing spectacular. Andrew Veyette, who replaced Zachary Friday and will perform the role four times during the NYCB run, was more energetic, particularly when first encountering Odette, Sterling Hyltin. He was confident in his solos, with high leaps, nice articulated beats, and controlled turns. I’ve always enjoyed his assured and assertive style.
Teresa Reichlen was Odette/Odile Thursday and Sterling Hyltin Friday. The two are similar in their style and stature, with long limbs, nice extensions, and supple backbends. The two gave mirror image performances, making it difficult to differentiate. They both handled the difficult Odette role and were technically strong in the many extensions and beat sections of Act I. Their Odile interpretations in Act II were solid as they seduced the unwary prince with on the mark pointe work and phrasing. Their fouetté sections were adequate, focusing on single turns, although both traveled downstage at the end.
Martins’ Swan Lake makes heavy use of a Jester in Act I. The positive is that it showcased some great dancing by Harrison Ball on Thursday and Spartak Hoxha Friday. The negative is that the jester has nothing to do with the story and only serves to distract from the plot. Both jesters had nice, extended pirouette en dehors, elevated double tours, and nice beats (by the way, this is the first post that utilizes my new ballet video dictionary. Check it out at youtube.com/c/KentGBecker). Spartak had a problem after pulling in from pirouettes á la seconde to a double tour and fell backward after landing. He did a good job of remaining in character.
The Pas de Trois was disappointing both evenings with Sarah Villwock, Indiana Woodward, Taylor Stanley on Thursday, and Sara Adams, Kristen Segin, Peter Walker Friday. Taylor’s dancing lacked authority, with subpar entrechat six, and double tours, with wobbly pirouettes. Peter has a nice line and great split, but struggles on his double tours, with odd carriage of his arms. The women were also off, even with watered down steps. The diagonal for the first solo is typically an assemblé six but was cut down to a simple assemblé both evenings.
Martins’ Swan Lake debuted in 1996 with The Royal Danish Ballet and 1999 with NYCB. Martins’ Swan Lake has fairly standard choreography; what sets it apart, and not in a good way, is the minimalist costumes and sets by Per Kirkeby. In Act I, the audience is greeted by a strange orange/yellow backdrop rather than the traditional village scene background. Male dancers have a simple bright-colored shirt rather than 18th century appropriate attire; the Prince is clad in blue, with blue shirt with black accents and boots. Women were in green skirts. The first act doesn’t resemble a village scene but more of an abstract ballet. While the setting of the Act I Lake Scene is traditional, the Act II ballroom looks like a Harvard library with a background resembling dark paneled wood.
Although I am not fond of the production, I do like the ending. The Prince seeks Odette’s forgiveness and Von Rothbart is defeated by the strength of the couple’s love. However, given that the Prince has sworn his love twice, breaking his vow to Odette, she must remain a swan forever. Set to dramatic backlighting by Mark Stanley, Odette departs with her fellow swans as the lonely Prince grieves. I like this ending more than the Mariinsky, which features a happy ending in which the Prince and Odette survive. In the ABT version, the couple perish by taking a giant leap into the lake (and into a gymnastics crash pad offstage) breaking Von Rothbart’s spell and are reunited in the afterlife.