Kimin Kim Steals the Show: ABT La Bayadére, May 29

I have a mixed reaction to guest artist Kimin Kim’s performance as Solor in American Ballet Theatre’s La Bayadére Tuesday. On the positive side, Kimin’s performance was spectacular, filled with sky-high leaps and fluid turns; the negative side: why hasn’t ABT developed such great young talent recently rather than relying on a guest artist to deliver such a stellar performance? (See my photography website for curtain call photos.)

Kimin, a 25-year old Principal Dancer from the Mariinsky Ballet, stepped in at ABT for David Hallberg in La Bayadére and delivered a sterling performance. Kimin’s biggest asset is his great leaping ability, making even simple assemblés look riveting. His grand jetés have great height and cover much ground such as a huge jeté in attitude in his Act II solo. Equally impressive were his turns in second position in which he started out from a soutenu turn into his pirouettes, very unique. He proceeded with multiple double turns in second position followed by smooth six pirouettes in retiré. Finally, his double assemblés en manége (first done by Rudolf Nureyev) were executed with great precision and energy, a difficult feat given how taxing the step is. He was consistent throughout his eight assemblés with great elevation. Dramatically, Kimin has great stage presence and portrayed Solor with authority.

Hee Seo was Nikiya, Solor’s love interest. The two, both from Seoul, South Korea, make a good pair, with Kimin providing strong support coupled with Hee’s nice extension. However, Hee was outmatched by Kimin, who dominated the stage with his technique and stage presence. Hee’s dancing has a workmanlike feel; the steps are there, but with little pizzaz.

Gillian Murphy, La Bayadére, Kimin Kim

Gillian Murphy, La Bayadére. Click for more photos.

Gillian Murphy delivered a strong performance as Gamzatti. Gillian is always rock solid on her fouetté turns and flowing Italian fouettés.

The Shades Corps work had rough edges, with a few wobbly arabesques that were not synchronized. Given that this was the first performance of the season, hopefully the beautiful dance will improve as the week progresses.