American Ballet Theatre - 'Raymonda'
by Kate Snedeker
June 2, 2004 matinee -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City
On Wednesday afternoon, a new cast
stepped into the principal roles of American Ballet Theatre's production
of "Raymonda." Choreographed by Anna-Marie Holmes after the
original by Marius Petipa, the ballet is a colorful spectacle about the
lovely Raymonda and the decision she must make in love -- the young and
handsome Jean de Brienne or the exotic and exciting Abderakhman. However,
not even the sparkling debut performances by Gillian Murphy, Angel Corella
and Carlos Molina could breathe much life into this meandering and bland
Even Holmes' re-introduction of
the White Lady, using the statue-come-to-life to guide Raymonda in her
dreams, becomes muddled because the significance of the White Lady is
lost in the general hubbub of Act I. There's no great drama, no great
challenges overcome, and perhaps because of that, no great emotional investment
in the characters. So, though in the end it's happily ever after, but
do we really care?
She was well-matched by Corella, who though a bit rough in his solo dancing, was a solid, elegant and endearing partner. With nary a wobble in the complicated lifts, it was clear why Corella's Jean de Brienne was Raymonda's pick. How could she not feel safe in his arms, and enveloped by his obvious love and joy? As Abderakhman, Carlos Molina used his height advantage over Corella and his long, lean frame to his advantage, playing up the swoosh of his cloak. He backed up his colorful, but never overblown acting with impressive dancing, especially in his twisting pas du chat-like turns and snappy beats.
The plentiful dances and divertissements in both acts provide ample opportunities for fine dancing, and the company did not disappoint. Zack Brown's colorful costumes and sets were a highlight of the production and provided a pleasing background for the solid corps. While a bit more coordination between the men would have helped, in general the corps was outstanding, soaring and gliding through the choreography with great flow and energy.Misty Copeland, Erica Cornejo, Herman Cornejo and Danny Tidwell were outstanding as Raymonda's four friends, with Herman Cornejo once again standing out for the effortless height and crispness of his jumps. Laura Hidalgo and Craig Salstein were amusing in the comically frenetic Saracen Dance, and Veronica Part and Ricardo Torres and Karin Ellis-Wentz and Gennadi Saveliev were solid in the Spanish Dance and Grand Pas Hongrois. Monique Meunier brought a mature elegance and gentleness to the all too brief role as the White Lady.
Ormsby Wilkins conducted his adaptation of the Alexander Glazounov score, and the lighting was by Steen Bjarke.
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