A Melancholy Goodbye to You, New York

30 Jun

Since I already reviewed one Swan Lake, I won’t rehash it all here, but I would like to write about some of the interesting points about the performances of Polina Semionova and David Hallberg, as well as combine that with some closing thoughts about everything that has happened for me in New York.

First of all, Semionova is just incredible. Her lyricism is astounding and the tempo was so slow for her Odette it seemed to take an eternity in the best possible way. It’s so challenging to have the patience to fill the music for adagio and Semionova is one of the best that I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. Her Odette is one hundred percent beauty, a flawless creature sculpted of silk and diamonds, and I love her detailing, like how she crossed her wrists in the partnered pirouettes to create beautiful shapes and frame her face. The purity of her Odette is so believable that the idea that she becomes heartbroken over Siegfried’s infidelity makes a lot of sense. I think that’s also a large part of what makes her partnership with Hallberg work for this ballet because he too is so divine. What I found fascinating was how they played this out in the black swan pas de deux, where he seemed almost aloof in his transfixion of her, as if in a hypnotic state. Odile can be danced as a very seductive character, which essentially puts the blame on Siegfried for falling for the doppelganger scam, but when she’s danced as more of an enchantress who bewitches him, in a sense, he remains a paragon of virtue. It really works for this pairing because Semionova’s Odile is a very powerful character. The chemistry between them is subtle and yet dazzling for what has to be one of the most elegant couples performing in ballet today.

Meanwhile, there really isn’t anything I can say about Hallberg that hasn’t already been said but he is magnificent. The lightness, the ease of movement, and the sheer perfection of line—he is a classic classical classicist, and an absolute joy to watch. His Siegfried was reserved, almost quiet, and I loved how he showed us this in facial expression but also his body. The way he moves is consistent with how he portrays the character, and I’ll never tire of the way he presents his foot in a croisé devant, with his legendary feet so beautifully turned out you can hardly believe it’s real! What I also really love about Hallberg is that he doesn’t always do an extra beat in a cabriole or turn like a tornado (though he really went for it in this performance!), but he makes the simple things, like a grand jeté look so easy that your heart practically explodes. The magic of his stage presence is told in subtleties and though I’ve learned a great deal about his versatility, delighting in his mighty Oberon and maniacal Kaschei, Siegfried definitely highlights this quality the most. When he leapt off the cliff at the very end, in a perfectly prone position with one arm raised to the sky, not only are you heartbroken over the tragedy between him and Odette, but you grieve for beauty that was just lost to the world.

Though I would say that I enjoyed Wednesday night’s cast more, I did find Semionova/Hallberg eye opening and am so glad I was able to see them. As satisfied as I am with the whole experience, I’m also devastated to be leaving after what felt like not nearly enough time. I don’t like to base my happiness purely on a location, but the more I see and learn about ballet the harder it is to be out of proximity from a large company that regularly performs the classical repertory. This is not to say that I want to see Sleeping Beauty seven times every season, but I’ve realized how important it is for me to have more exposure to ballet in order to feel alive. I can almost feel the possibilities swarming around me in New York, and while they remain invisible to me their presence remains comforting. Still, it’s going to hurt to be torn away from this feeling, and even though I’ve known this all along, I really have to admit out loud (or rather, in writing) that a life without ballet at the forefront of it is no life for me.

It’s funny that a vacation is meant to relax and rejuvenate, but it’s not often one can say that they were a better person because of it, and in my final moments here in New York, I can say that I truly am. I never dreamt that I would learn so much about myself, along with my fears, my goals, and my readers, some of which I’ve had the great pleasure and fortune to have now met in person. I honestly haven’t been this happy in years—not since I was dancing like crazy at Ohio State University and it’s amazing how inspired and so damn happy I feel because the last time I can recall this kind of bliss was so long ago. I hesitate to claim to know what this all means because ever since I discovered ballet for myself I’ve felt like I’ve been in a perpetual state of trying to discern my purpose in life, and at some point, New York is going to have to be a bigger part of it. However, until I can figure out how I can even have a chance to be successful doing whatever it is I’m supposed to do, it’s back to reality, and although I hate to return to the chilling zephyrs of Cascadia, I do have unfinished business in Seattle. While it pains me that my head is one place and my heart another, the truth is that I don’t know the dance community in New York, and Seattle offers me the best chance at finishing my first choreographic work as well. The even sadder truth is that I really don’t have the credibility (or money) to accomplish anything in the city of my dreams, so until I’m apt to, I have to fight for it.

However, I promise that I will be back. Things have changed within me and though I don’t know how I’m going to make things happen, I’m ready and might even have enough confidence to figure it all out. Thank you all for reading and I hope this special New York series was illuminating and enjoyable for you. It’s back to the Emerald City with me!

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2 Responses to “A Melancholy Goodbye to You, New York”

  1. Dancing Branflake July 2, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    i commend you for having the courage to go back. You will do great in Seattle. I hope to hear more about it!

    • youdancefunny July 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      I almost didn’t get on the plane…my stomach was in knots because I figured people do crazy things all the time, why not me?

      Alas, my sense of responsibility won out in the end. 😉

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