Friday marked Zachary Catazaro’s debut as Prince Siegfried in New York City Ballet’s Swan Lake. The Soloist was originally scheduled to dance the role in 2015, but a foot injury in dress rehearsal ruined his eagerly awaited debut. He finally got his chance Friday with a commendable job in the difficult and multifaceted role.
Zachary, whose mom is a dance teacher and started dancing at age 5, is believable as the Prince; he is tall, with a nice line and Princely looks. He complemented Odette/Odile Sterling Hyltin well with strong partnering in a nicely timed Act I Lake Scene pas de deux. In his solos, his strength is his beats, nicely articulated with arched feet. His double cabriole derriére was particularly well done. On the other hand, some of his double tours were short of the mark and his pirouettes were forced, trying to extend to five rotations rather than three or four effortless turns; sometimes less is more. Sterling gave a solid rendition as Odette/Odile although some of her steps were strained as she appeared not quite comfortable with the step. In particular, she did not look at ease on her piqué turns in a circle in Act I. Her fouettés were fine, generally singles with some doubles, timed effectively with the music. Dramatically, Zachary and Sterling hit the right notes, although generally understated in their presentation.
Martins’ Swan Lake makes heavy use of a Jester in Act I. The Jester role is a gimmick that distracts from the flow of the story; however, the upside is that the role showcased some great dancing by Spartak Hoxa, the highlight of the evening. Spartak displayed nice, extended pirouette en dehors, elevated double tours, and articulated beats. Particularly interesting was a traveling diagonal of entrechat six. Also, an innovative pirouettes á la seconde finish that was probably improvised but still looked interesting.
NYCB can’t get the Pas de Trois right as the dance is typically disappointing with little pizzaz. Unity Phelan, Sarah Villwock, and Harrison Coll had the steps down but needed more energy. Harrison was generally fine, but stumbled on his finish on a double tour.
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 wear simple bright-colored shirts rather than 18th century appropriate attire with the Prince clad in blue with black accents and boots. The first act backdrop doesn’t look appropriate for a village scene but more of an abstract ballet. While the setting of the Act I Lake Scene is somewhat traditional, the Act II setting does not resemble a palace.
Although I am not fond of the production, I 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. 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.
It is disappointing that NYCB is devoting almost half of its fall season to the production at the expense of more interesting mixed rep works. However, from a financial perspective, it is very successful. Koch Theater was packed Friday and there are limited seats available next week. Everyone loves the familiar Swan Lake. It is a shame that more interesting and pathbreaking works don’t generate as much interest.
I want to sell my ticket for the NYCB Friday evening, September 29 performance: Second Ring, A29, $65 face value. The scheduled cast is similar to Friday night, Zachary Catazaro/Sterling Hyltin reviewed above. Currently there are limited tickets available with the cheapest third and fourth ring tickets Friday priced at $75. I bought the ticket in August and was surprised how cheap it was given that it is front row Second Ring. Apparently ticket prices increased due to popularity, although it was not difficult to predict that Swan Lake would sell well. Regardless, offer me $65 and the ticket is yours. Send me an email from the contact link above just below the Balletfocus.com banner if you are interested.
Megan Fairchild as Odette
Gia Kourlas of The New York Times has an interesting article on Megan Fairchild. Megan debuts as Odette/Odile Tuesday. The article focuses on her preparation for the role along with her painful divorce from NYCB Principal Dancer Andrew Veyette. The two still don’t speak. She now has a French boyfriend whom she met online.
It’s been two years and she has clearly moved on. But there’s one problem: proximity. She faces her ex-husband at work every day. “It’s the worst thing ever,” she said. “I highly recommend no one ever dating at work. And we all do it in the company. I get why we do it! We have weird hours, we have weird breaks. Now I’m with someone who has a totally regular job. Hallelujah! I’m happier than ever.”