Despite having a groupon ticket, I was tempted to not go to Ballet San Jose’s Swan Lake last night. But upon learning that Carlos Acosta from the Royal Ballet was guesting, I guess I had to go.
Carlos Acosta was stellar, very classically clean. His age expectedly shows in the big jumps, but he still executed them cleanly; his turning ability is still tops, with superhuman control. His stage presence was extreme, and he exuded an air of confidence. The problem, I think, was that his Siegfried was somewhat mismatched with Alexsandra Meijer’s Odette/Odile, though. It’s at least partially due to the choreography, which I think is more overt and the least subtle of any productions I’ve seen (intentional, I believe, to facilitate viewing by new audience members). Her acting in both roles seemed a little too Hollywood, a bit over the top, especially compared to Acosta’s demure, understated performance.
Some other unique things about the performance, which I’m not sure contributed much: having Baron Von Rothbart as a dancing role was a little odd. It wasn’t very obvious to me what benefit there is to this, except to showcase another male dancer. Same with the Court Jester role, which was done admirably by Akira Takahashi. (Nahat’s Romeo and Juliet also had a jester role; luckily, I don’t recall his Giselle having one. But it shouldn’t really become a thing in ballets.) Adding elements of humor helped a little with the length of the ballet, but I really think Swan Lake should be capped at 2.5 hours. On the other hand, it was interesting (although not supremely exciting) to see a full-on Act 4. Someone should tell Dennis Nahat that a 3 hour ballet is too long. I understand that, with their relatively short season, it makes sense to have longer shows to showcase more dancers, but at 3 hours, it becomes mentally taxing to follow.
I feel like Meijer is in a strange stage artistically. She’s around 28 years old, near the top of her technical ability, but something seems missing from her artistically. Or maybe I’m just comparing her to Sarah Van Patten, who has artistic maturity far beyond her age. AM’s Odile was actually enjoyable to watch, but she had some missteps during her fouettes; she started out solidly, including some doubles in the mix, but there was a small imbalance that resulted in her falling off pointe near the end. I think her insistence of sticking with doubles was partly to blame, and her ending was also forced. (I guess SVP also didn’t have the cleanest of fouettes when I saw her last year.) The rest of AM’s black swan pdd was solid, and I liked certain nuances, but it probably doesn’t rank among the best ever.
Her white swan was good as well. The nits: do her feet wing? It might’ve just been my viewing angle, but her line seems broken at the feet during arabesque penchees. On the other hand, she has freakishly long legs and arms, so her lines are already ridiculous. Another thing I noticed is just how fast she does partnered pirouettes. I think this is because she’s crazy thin (even for a ballerina) and thus has little angular inertia or something, but it did seem like some Odette turns seemed a bit fast and lacked the languid quality of other Odettes. Same with her serres, which were impressively fast from the 8th row, but I doubt the back of the orchestra saw them.
The audience was very warm and enthusiastic. A solid performance overall, just wish it were a little shorter.