Sarah Lane had a great debut on such short notice schedule change. Swan Lake is the hardest ballet for a female dancer testing both her strength and acting abilities.
Despite having only 4 days prep time (and still doing double duty in her assigned solo jobs), Lane pulled off a very well thought out performance. All the requirements were in place, she just needed more rehearsal time. Her Odette was lovely. Her arm work was gorgeous. The pliability and stretch in her back was perfect. She held a number of very long arabesques on pointe. Her acting was lovely and her chemistry with Simkin was carried into this production. The pas de deux in act two was beautiful. There were some slight problems with transitions into and out of the assisted turns. But again this was due to the slapdash time they had to prepare. Even still, Simkin was very protective of Lane considering this was her first outing in the role. His first swearing of fidelity in mime was impetuous. But after the pas de deux the second time he made the gesture it was very sincere. Odette’s solo was well danced. In the ending coda, I question Charles Barker’s choice of slowing down Odette’s last entrance then speeding up again for her petite allegro. It distorted the music and made the sequence look maudlin. He did the same for Teuscher’s performance as well and it was just as awful then too.
Lane’s Odile characterization was truly wonderful. She was seductive and slightly vulgar, using judicious over extensions and pulling Siegfried into tight embraces. But then would turn ice cold and cruel. During her solo she was vain and proud. The only mishap that Lane experienced were the fouettes. I also believe this was a lack of rehearsal time problem as well. Lane began with interspersing singles and doubles then focused on singles. However it seemed to me that she rehearsed these turns to a different meter, slower than the Barker was conducting. It led to a bit of confusion and she tried to speed up her turns to match the music. Just at the tail end, she began to wobble and ended the sequence early. I’m sure to her it must have seemed endless. But really she stayed posed in fourth position for only about a measure or two of music before the end of her sequence. Truly there was no time for her to improvise. Luckily this didn’t spook her for the rest of the ballet and she was lovely in the ending sequence.
Daniil Simkin’s dancing was fantastic. I didn’t see any mistakes. His leaps had such lift. But it was his acting that was really special. Siegfried characterization can sometimes be a bit bland. But Simkin really invested quite a great deal into Siegfried’s reluctance to marriage. It wasn’t about a young man being rebellious for no reason. It wasn’t really about him not being in love with any of the women presented to him in the first act. It was more a fear of commitment. That was a valid interpretation. Because it makes his impetuous promise to Odette so affecting but ultimately so foolhardy that it brings disaster on them both.
The leads were well represented by the rest of the cast. Alban Lendorf drew cheers as Rothbart. He had an imperious interpretation that was great to watch. The Pas de Trois was Joseph Gorak, Cassandra Trenary and Skylar Brandt. All of them were great and they looked together.
Again this was a great debut for Sarah Lane in this ballet. She just needs more rehearsal time for things to jell and to relax into the more difficult parts. I’m hoping she gets that rehearsal time and more performances for this ballet in the future.