Sarah Lane’s American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake debut Thursday was a special event celebrating her perseverance. She joined ABT in 2003 and was promoted to Soloist in 2007. As a 10-year Soloist, she is just now dancing lead roles in major full length ballets Giselle and Swan Lake. She made her Giselle debut earlier in the year and Swan Lake due to an injury to Maria Kochetkova. Having picked up the role recently with limited rehearsal time, Sarah delivered a solid performance with Daniil Simkin as Prince Siegfried.
Sarah’s best moments were as Odette, which included long balances in arabesque, an energetic beat section with flowing arms, and deep penchés. Her demeanor was generally subdued and understated in contrast to Devon Teuscher’s Odile Wednesday afternoon. Sarah’s Odile solos in the pas de deux were well done except for her fouettés. She started out with doubles mixed in with singles. Off to a good start, she travelled downstage and ran out of gas, halting her turns with several counts remaining. She was clearly disappointed. I cut Sarah some slack as she is an effective turner demonstrated by nice early turns including doubles. Things just didn’t work out at the end of the turns for whatever reason. In general, the fouetté section of the role gets much attention, too much in my view. I like great turns, but there is more to the role of Odile than just 32 counts of fouettés.
She was successful in portraying the innocent swan in Act I morphed into a sly seductress in Act II. Overall a good performance in a difficult role. Hopefully she will have the opportunity to build on her work Thursday in future seasons.
Daniil Simkin was outstanding as Prince Siegfied, one of the best I have seen, a wonderful blend of stellar technique and dramatic flair. Danill’s technique is top-notch and he wisely toned it down relative to his Basilio in Don Quixote. All of his steps appeared effortless, a mark of a great dancer. It’s amazing that he can make four turns in second position look easy along with gorgeous double assemblés (one of my favorite steps when done well), and his trademark wide arm 5-6 pirouettes en dehors. With his thin build and long line, he has a beautiful arabesque line, put to good use numerous times. With his technique secure, Daniil focused on the dramatic side, particularly in the Odile section. He cherished Rothbart’s daughter Odile and his emotions carried in his solo. On the partnering side, Sarah and Daniil were effective, particularly given the limited rehearsal time. The lifts were secure although there were a few rough edges on supported turns. During the curtain calls, Daniil showed appreciation for Sarah by applauding during her bows. A classy touch from a great artist (see curtain call photos on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com).
Alban Lendorf was nasty as Rothbart, notable in his determination. Nice arabesques, high leaps, good turns, with an evil/indifferent persona.
Casandra Trenary and Skylar Brandt were very good in the Pas de Trois, reminding me of the high level dancing of Erica Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes in the 2005 ABT Swan Lake (the last performance DVD from ABT. Pathetic that it’s been 12 years since the last ABT DVD. See my ballet marketing article for more detail). Skylar really lights up the stage with her beaming smile in addition to her great technique consisting of articulated entrechat six and assemblé six. Hopefully, the two will graduate to lead roles in full lengths soon. Joseph Gorak lacked the liveliness of the women.