Roberto Bolle Fights Father Time: Giselle, May 19

Roberto Bolle is demonstrating you can fight Father Time. His performance in Giselle Saturday evening was a distinguished work, a great combination of athleticism and dramatic flair that most dancers 20 years to his junior could only dream of. At age 43, he hasn’t lost a step in his dancing relative to his prime years.

While on vacation in Rome several years ago, I asked a hotel clerk if she had heard of Roberto. She replied in a wistful tone, “Oh yes, he is famous. He is so…handsome.” As the regal Count Albrecht, Roberto put his good looks to good use, as he displayed an arrogant “I am so handsome” bravado when asserting himself into Giselle’s life. He was confident as befits a dancer that has performed the role successfully many times on stages across the world. Each movement was clear and intended to deliver a message to the packed Met audience, whether he was winning over the young Giselle; absorbing the monumental consequences of his pursuit of Giselle while engaged to the prince’s daughter Bathilde; or grieving her death of a broken heart after going mad. Roberto’s range in the dramatic department was impressive.

Roberto isn’t just a pretty face as he has it all: a gorgeous line, nice feet, great technique with ample leaping and turning abilities. His solo Saturday was impressive, with nice separation double cabriole devant, double assemblés, and smooth pirouettes. Most impressive was his 36 entrechat six as Myrta ordered him to dance until he dies (click the link and go to 3:35 to see Roberto in 2005). Doing 36 entrechat six is an outrageous athletic feat, requiring incredible stamina in oder to maintain proper side-to-side leg movements on beats.

Roberto Bolle Giselle

Roberto Bolle Giselle. Click for more photos

Although the night belonged to Roberto, Hee Seo delivered a quality performance as Giselle. Her Act I dramatics were on the mark, with a compelling mad scene. Her Act I solo was fine, but without distinction (here is an interesting video that shows seven dancers in Giselle Act I solo). Technically, Hee was strongest on her frantic hops in attitude and light, airy assembles in Act II. The partnering sections were unwavering, with Roberto providing ample support. The only flub took place in Act II when Roberto lifted Heo after a jeté on her way offstage. Hee apparently tripped on a curtain or set leading to a loud thud as she hit the floor out of the view of the audience. Fortunately, she carried on without any ill effects.

Devon Teuscher was Myrta. As with most performances in this role this year with other dancers, I wasn’t overly impressed with Devon’s portrayal as she was shaky on some of her balances.

Principal Dancer Sarah Lane replaced Catherine Hurlin in Peasant Pas de Deux, a role usually for a Corps member or Soloist (Sarah also danced the role in the matinée). This casting was awkward for two reasons: (1) undoubtedly, Sarah did not want to dance the role that she has done many times in her career and (2) audience members did not want to see her in this role. Why couldn’t a young Corps member take Peasant Pas de Deux? It isn’t that difficult and there are numerous Corps members that could step in. Why not give a young dancer a chance?