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Edinburgh International Festival 2005

Pennsylvania Ballet - 'Swan Lake'

by Kate Snedeker

August 17, 2005 -- Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland

On Wednesday evening, the second cast of Pennsylvania Ballet's "Swan Lake" made their second appearance on the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage. It was a striking performance, but lacked the electricity of the opening night.

So often at a big premiere or opening there is a sense of a held breath -- a tension -- which then is released in the ensuing performances. Here that exhalation revealed itself in a number of little imperfections in musical timing, set changes and lighting. Yet, it did not detract from the overall
power and beauty of the ballet.

Julie Diana and Yury Yanowsky took over the leads with intriguing results. The pair had just debuted as Odette/Odile and the Principal the day before, so not surprisingly their partnership did not seem fully developed, at least in the beginning. The first act seemed to be lacking in emotional depth but their characterizations developed as the ballet progressed, culminating in a moving fourth act.

Yanowsky, a guest from the Boston Ballet, has a tidy elegance to his dancing. His strength was in the steps that showed off his long line andairy ballon but his final pirouette sequence ended a bit out of balance. As Odette, Diana seemed perhaps overly fragile...even brittle; a nervous, shivering-winged swan. Yet transformed into Odile, she grew more wily and gleefully seductive as the Act 3 pas de deux progressed. I believe she fell short of the 32 pirouettes, though they were tidy and well-centered until a slightly odd, skiddy ending.

Act 4 concluded the ballet with a powerful punch. Here Yanowsky and Diana really came together emotionally and technically. The corps also impressed;Wheeldon's gorgeous formations heaving and fluttering with the musical crescendos. Yanowsky lifted Diana high into the air, a swan hovering in the sky, soon to fly away forever.

Also worthy of mention was apprentice Jermel Johnson in the first act pas de trois. His solo started off almost literally on the wrong foot, with an apparent musical miscommunication, but once the solo got off the ground, the result was astounding.

Johnson is a tall dancer, blessed with gorgeous LONG, LONG legs and most elegant proportions. Just two years out of the School of American Ballet, he has a ways to develop in terms of control and poise but when it all comes together, the results should be amazing. In his dancing, he has an
easy, loose, lyrical flow, giving the impression that his legs could stretch forever -- a prince in the making and a dancer to keep an eye on in the next few years.

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