Review: Replacement dancers perform admirably in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake'
“Swan Lake” is a big production with dozens of characters and a big role for the corps de ballet. They all serve to support the love story of Odette, cursed to be a swan except at night, and Prince Siegfried. The female lead is a double role. She also plays Odile, the daughter of the man who put the curse on Odette. They trick Siegfried into betraying Odette in the ballet's third act.
Christine Schwaner had been scheduled to dance the leading role Friday night with Nurlan Abougaliev. After she suffered a stress fracture, both dancers had to be replaced because the roles are rehearsed as a team.
That meant both Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano starred for the first time in their careers in “Swan Lake.” Each is an exceptionally promising young dancer who has risen to soloist, not yet principal. And each has made the “25 to Watch” list in Dance Magazine.
“Swan Lake's” first act is Siegfried's 21st birthday party. His mother, the Queen, has invited six princesses from whom he is to choose his bride. Two of the princesses are presented to Siegfried by his friend Benno, elegantly performed by Nicholas Coppula, in the pas de trois. Corps members Gabrielle Thurlow and Caitlin Peabody set the barre high for brilliantly performing artistic director Terrence Orr's intricate choreography with precision and elan. Joseph Parr was a scene-stealer as the Jester.
Although Nakano had some opportunity to display his extroverted technique earlier in the act, his big solo is at the end is introverted. He was eloquent in expressing loneliness and yearning for love.
The second act is a hunting party later that night by the lake. The 12 swans, danced by members of the corps, were enchanting all night and performed with graceful unanimity. Siegfried finds himself unable to shoot Odette, queen of the swans, with his crossbow. As he hears her story, he falls in love. Cochrane shined in her long duet with Siegfried, remarkably steady and affecting in the exposed slow choreography.
Siegfried's birthday ball, Act 3, takes place the next day and features entertainment dances — the Czardas, Spanish, Neopolitan and Mazurka – performed with flair by members of the corps in brilliant costumes.
Prince Rothbart arrives with his daughter Odile, whom he has made to look like Odette.
Both dancers cut loose during the Black Swan pas de deux, in which Siegfried becomes intoxicated with Odile. Nakano owned the air above the stage floor. His powerful leaps were seemingly effortless, while his leg and arm movements while floating had masculine elegance.
Cochrane responded with her most brilliant dancing of the evening. Her Odile is assertive, even aggressive. She danced with abandon, relishing every turn and leap, and with fine right leg detail in her fouettes.
After Siegfried tells the Queen that Odile is the one he wants to marry, Rothbart and Odile show him a vision of Odette. Siegfried is crushed at being fooled and runs off to find his true love.
In the last act, he finds her by the lake with the swans. After Cochrane and Nakano dance a tender scene of forgiveness, Rothbart reappears. Because Siegfried swore love to another after professing love for Odette, she can't be redeemed to human life. They leap to their deaths, which breaks Rothbart's curse, and are seen at the end going off to be together in the afterlife.
Charles Barker conducted the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra with sensitivity and purpose, which wasn't always easy. Orr's choreography is so intricate for some numbers that the tempo has to be extraordinarily slow — which reduced the spirit the music can add to the performance. The choreography was rewarding, but the symbiosis of dance and music was pale.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches career points
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Pitt plays best game of the season; routs Kansas State
- Starkey: Rutherford will add when timing’s right
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Pregnant woman struck by van in North Side dies; doctors save baby
- Fatal crash closes Flight 93 chapel in Somerset County
- Pirates notebook: Autographs to come at a cost at PirateFest
- Penguins notebook: Bennett to miss about 2 weeks
- PIT wants non-passengers allowed past security to shop
- Western Pa. business owners urge shoppers to think small