Mack Debuts in Le Corsaire; Daniil Rocks the Met

Bummer Alert: Daniil Simkin is no longer scheduled to perform this week, replaced by James Whiteside and Joo Won Ahn in the Ali role Electricity filled the Met Opera House in Tuesday’s American Ballet Theatre Le Corsaire as Daniil Simkin gave the audience a memorable performance as Ali. From the start of the Act II pas de trois with a very long arabesque balance, Daniil was in complete control. Daniil’s solos were crazy, at a level I’ve never seen before. He was able to string together four breathtaking 540s along a diagonal; the few dancers that perform the step well do it as a final component of a solo to the knee. Daniil’s turns were controlled with his trademark wide arm position. At the end of his first solo, he completed five effortless turns and, rather than the customary double tour to the ground, did a massive backbend for his final turn. Very unique. It is a thrill to see a dancer perform at such a lofty level; I can’t imagine anyone surpassing Daniil in this role.

Another highlight was his triple saute de basque manége (circle) sequence. Daniil teased ballet fans on his Instagram account before the performance as he was considering the rarely performed step. Below is Daniil completing this step in rehearsal. I’ve only seen the triple a few times, most recently from Ivan Vasiliev (see 3:22 of my YouTube ballet video dictionary).

Don’t take my word on how great Daniil’s solos were. The second video below is his first solo from the wings Tuesday.

Daniil’s great work fueled the others as they tried to keep up. Skylar Brandt was gorgeous as Medora, dancing with a radiant smile that filled the Met Opera House. Skylar, along with Christine Shevchenko, are at the top of ABT’s female roster. Her reliable technique allows her to dance with abundant confidence during difficult segments such as turns in arabesque to fouetté turns in Act I; rapid piqué turns in Act II; and effortless Italian fouettés in Act III. She is a joy to watch.

Making his first appearance as a Guest Artist at ABT, Brooklyn Mack of Washington Ballet was the lead pirate Conrad (the injured Herman Cornejo was originally scheduled). Brooklyn put to good use his strong leaping skills with numerous high-flying jumps including a nice multiple double tour sequence at the end of his Act II solo (although he had a strange jump in his Act I solo that might have been an aborted 540). Brooklyn brought abundant energy to the role with great stage presence.

Sarah Lane was lovely as Medora’s friend Gulnare, with nice turn diagonals with graceful, flowing arms.

Blaine Hoven was Lankendem, the bazaar owner. His solo work was steady but not particularly noteworthy — a similar comment for Arron Scott as Conrad’s friend Birbanto.

Curious fact: all four of the lead men Tuesday are lefties, meaning they prefer turning counter clockwise. As I’ve noted in a previous article, most dancers prefer turning clockwise on pirouettes.

Daniil Simkin, Le Corsaire

Daniil Simkin. Click for more photos.