|David Hallberg. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor|
Marcelo Gomes, Paloma Herrera, David Hallberg, and Gillian Murphy are the headliners. Herrera and Murphy are both solid, technically outstanding dancers with picture-perfect proportions. Herrera's got killer feet, and Murphy is a spinner. But I have to admit that I have seen less of them in recent seasons with what seems to be an increasing number of fancy-pants guest ballerinas like Osipova (now apparently a regular principal), Cojocaru, not to mention resident Russian star Vishneva. It is a lucky fool's errand, trying to decide on one or two casts to see, but that means I invariably miss others.
There were a few seasons when Herrera (Zina) was perpetually paired with Gomes so that they moved as one. That feeling resurfaced in this performance, especially with Gomes' "aw shucks" demeanor as the Pyotr, the country bumpkin. Hallberg of course stole the show dressed as a sylph, alternating between convincingly feminine affectations and a galumphing guy. His height and long limbs increase the comical impression. Murphy is perfect as the Ballerina, masquerading as a man, bursting across the stage in flat-out split leaps. Supporting, yet key, roles were danced by Craig Salstein, Misty Copeland, Maria Riccetto, Jared Matthews, Martine van Hamel, Victor Barbee, and Roman Zhurbin.
As refreshing as this ballet is, I find the choppy pacing a bit distracting, as well as the plethora of mime. And I know it's all part of the joke, but the extent to which hiding one's entire identity behind an eye mask stretches the limits, especially when the ballerinas have black, blonde, and flame red hair. Still, it's hard to recall the dancers looking as happy while performing, and for that we are thankful.