The Royal Ballet
by Andre Yew
July 10, 2004 -- Segerstrom Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, California
Cojocaru danced Giselle with an optimistic innocence throughout, including Act II, which made Giselle's protection of Albrecht that much more believable. She seemed like someone caught in the midst of larger forces, and while in Act I she lost to the nobles, she ultimately wins by overcoming the Wilis. Even set in a monochromatic design as Act II's all-white Wili costuming, Giselle stood out in contrast to the Wilis with her positive, good nature versus the intimidating presence of the Wilis.
In this view, Kobborg's Albrecht becomes something like a catalyst for Giselle --- it's important that he's around, but it's really about Giselle and her transformation instead of their relationship. Albrecht was danced with pathos with an almost visible yoke of fate hanging around him --- he had no more choice to do what he did in Act I than when he was commanded by Myrtha in Act II. It's also interesting to consider how he's affected by three overtly very strong women throughout the ballet (Berthe, Bathilde, and Myrtha), because all of his important actions were caused by some doing of theirs.
Technically, Cojocaru and Kobborg are really impeccable: Cojocaru for her effortless, controlled balances en pointe, and Kobborg for his very strong, fast, clean technique. The company as whole were just really strong, and clean, as mentioned earlier. Their port de bras and epaulement were not as extrovert as the Russians', but were expressive and alive in their own elegant way. The only quibble I have is that Cojocaru's mime was not as clear as it could have been. Genesia Rosato's mime was excellent as a contrast.
The corps deserved equal billing for their performance last night, as do almost all of dancers for the smaller solo parts. The lead couple of the pas de six, Morera and Cervera, were impressive for their partnering, speed, and energy. Assistant Willi Queens, Chapman and Cuthbertson, were appropriately imposing, and technically on in their parts. Mara Galeazzi looked to be having an off night as her standing, one-legged poses looked shakey even with her feet flat. However, her difficult dance parts were danced well.
The set design and costuming were very rich, and detailed, creating a believable world for the story to live in: I believed things like Wilis, as well as the transformative power of will, love, and innocence are possible in such a world. Part of this is that the more believable world of Act I was linked by design to the more fantastic Act II.
The souvenir yearbook is a good read, if a bit expensive at $25. It contains interviews (of the same questions) with the principal dancers, as well as a diary of the company's trip to the Bolshoi, an interesting interview with the company's physiotherapist, and a history of the company. Of course, generous numbers of Bill Cooper's gorgeous color photos with captions identifying the dancers and the works being performed of the company are spread throughout the book. I found an unintentionally funny contrast in the group pictures of the male and female corps members in the book : the women have prepossessed, elegant postures in their picture that say "ballet dancer", while the guys are just kind of slouched over hanging around the piano.
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