Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin Sparkle in Giselle Wednesday

I opened up my ABT Met season with a great Giselle performance Wednesday afternoon featuring Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin (I posted a few curtain call photos on my photography website Given the quality performance, I’m not sure why the two were relegated to matinée duty before a tepid, far from full Met house in their only Giselle appearance this season.

With her small stature, Sarah was quite believable in Act I as a bashful young girl; she portrayed Giselle in an informal “aw-shucks” peasant demeanor as she encountered the dashing Count Albrecht. Daniil was an assertive count not lacking in self-confidence as he won over the young Giselle. Daniil was impressive on the dramatic side, with an energetic portrayal of the count that ranged from a cad chasing Giselle to a despondent soul that mourned her death. The two are an ideal pair, with effortless high-quality dancing.

Technically, both were in fine form. Sarah’s Act I solo featured supple penchés and nice traveling rond de jams along a diagonal finishing up with rapid piqué turns to a solid finish. However, her turns in attitude were a bit off, requiring a few hops to restore balance. Sarah’s mad scene was scary and believable, a masterful blend of frailness and derangement.

Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin Sparkle in Giselle Wednesday

Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin. Click for more photos.

Sarah was technically strong in the difficult Act II adagio, with flowing penchés and controlled extensions. Partnering sections were solid, except for a few wobbles on an overhead lift that they managed to cover up well.

Daniil’s solo was outstanding as his tremendous technique commands the stage. Not a wobble on any of his difficult steps including big separation double cabriole devant, double tours, double assemblés, and effortless five pirouettes to attitude turns. He wisely toned down his trademark wide arm pirouettes in favor of more standard arm carriage during his turns. He is a joy to watch with his powerful, controlled steps.

Christine Shevchenko was in command as the cold-hearted Myrta, although with a few wobbles on some of her balances. Christine had a breakthrough 2017 Met season that led to her promotion to Principal Dancer later in July. I look forward to her debut later in the season as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

Christine Shevchenko. Click for more photos.

Catherine Hurlin and Gabe Stone Shayer were impressive in the Peasant Pas de Deux. Catherine’s turns were disciplined and well-timed along with nice extensions. Gabe was energetic in his solos, with nice tours and pirouettes.

It was a special day for Sarah. In addition to her fine performance, she was on stage with her husband Luis Ribagorda, who aptly portrayed Wilfred, the count’s squire. Luis returned to the stage earlier in the week after a four-year absence.