BWW Review: Maine State Ballet Mounts Impressive SWAN LAKE
Maine State Ballet opens its spring season with an ambitious full-length production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake that offers a compelling account of the timeless Romantic classic and demonstrates how this Maine company continues to grow artistically. Presented several times in the past decade in shortened versions, the current production uses most of the original Marius Petipa choreography with some additional dances by artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele and features lavish and lovely scenic drops and costumes by Gail Csoboth.
Swan Lake is an ambitious undertaking for any company because the choreography requires strong technical and dramatic skills for the principals, as well as a cohesive corps de ballet. One of Miele's skills is to cast her company members in exactly the roles which showcase their strengths and to create/adapt choreography for the various levels of the corps de ballet, and she achieves this remarkably well in this production, at the same time that she draws virtuoso performances from the principals.
At the March 25th matinee Veronica Druchniak and Nathaniel Dombek danced the leads and brought a white-hot intensity to Odette/Odile and Siegfried. In the dual role, Druchniak conveyed the vulnerability and passion of Odette and the glittering seductiveness and mockery of Odile with equal skill. She possess a stunning arabesque, an elegance of line, and the especially fluid arms that the roles require, at the same time that she can toss off the fireworks like the thirty-two fouettés in Act III. Dombek is an ardent, virile prince who adds a true dramatic dimension to the character. At first a bit of an imperious, spoiled young man, his Siegfried is believably transformed by love in the end. A strong, athletic dancer, he makes a perfect romantic partner with a graceful sense of line and an ease in all the lifts.
Frederick Bernier is a menacing VonRothbart (though his Act II costume with wings seemed a little more inhibiting than his Act III cloak); Robert Shelley danced a sassy court jester, while Ron Trell made a comic old tutor, and Zsuzsa Williams a regal Queen Mother.
Lucy Denton and Kallee Gallant caught the eye as lead swans with the four cygnets, Kendra Murray, Caroline Routh, Abbie Ryer, and Emily Stinneford charmingly synchronized in their solo moment. The fourth ethnic dance solos were all well executed with Adrienne Pelletier a lithe Spanish princess, Emma Davis a high-spirited Neopolitan princess, Janet Davis a spirited Hungarian princess (without her prince, for some reason?), and Caroline Chittum an especially elegant Russian princess.
Maine State Ballet is to be congratulated for the consistently high quality of work the small company does, for its commitment to preserving the great ballet classics and to inspiring young artists to learn these traditions and rise to their challenges.
Photos courtesy of Maine State Ballet, C.C. Church, photographer
Swan Lake runs at Maine State Ballet's Lopez Theater, 348 U.S. Route One, Falmouth, ME from March 24- April 9. www.mainestateballet.org 207-781-3587