Since this thread is about the National Ballet of China - 2002 - I am going to put Fouettes very informative post into this thread and close the other thread. That will keep everything together. Hope that's ok.
Member posted May 12, 2002 05:33
I was very disappointed with this performance. The first act was too slow, and didn't have the Prince's adagio solo at the end. However, the new costumes were very pretty! The pas de quatre (maybe pas de trois in some versions) was quite impressive - some extremely light tour jetes by the two male dancers, Yu bo and Li Jun, and the two female dancers, Wang Qimin and Wu Haiyan, were very light on their feet. Both were beautiful, but they were different - Wu Haiyan seems to perform for the audience more (more eye contact), while Wang Qimin seems to be wrapped in her own world. I'd like to see her smile more often, though. Otherwise, act I was quite unimpressive. The court jester wasn't so great at being cheerful.
Act II was better, but I thought Zhang Jian could do a much better job. There was nothing swan-like about her. The entrance of Odette was much too fast, and Odette seemed to show no sign of fear. There was great eye contact, but it expressed very little. Zhang Jian was a bit too tall for Han bo, the prince. I wasn't moved at all - there was no love. For example, when Odette leans against the Prince, leg in a low back attitude wrapped around him, and the Prince wraps his arms around Odette, their faces are supposed to be pressed together, eyes closed as if in perfect contentment. Well, not with Zhang Jian and Han bo! There was at least an inch of space between them, and they did not stay in the position long enough. However, the four cygnets and the three big swans were very well rehearsed, especially the big swans - perfect harmony. One of the cygnets, Wen fang I think it was, had her eyes out of sync sometimes. On the whole, the corps was good, but the principals needed more work.
During the intermission I went backstage to meet my teacher. I saw Zhu Yan in costume as a court lady, Sun Jie as one of the noblemen, the court jester, and Hou Hong Lan, the Spanish dancer. Her costume and makeup was beautiful!
Act III was by far the best! I loved the costumes and scenery, and my teacher was in it. The four princesses danced with the prince, and when they got rejected, they would rush off to their "parents" and their parents would pat them on the shoulder. That was the funniest part of the ballet! One thing I thought the NBC did well was having Von Rothbart bring in Odile and all the character dancers - each lead female dancer in the character dances would try to seduce the prince. The Spanish dancer, Hou Honglan, did a very impressive balance in developpe a la seconde with arms en haut, body en face. During the middle of the Spanish number, Odile rushed out, made eye contact with the Prince, and ran back into the wings - that had a very cool effect as well. I loved the Neapolitan dance, but I'm partially biased because I've performed it before. However, after the kick devant, it would've been better with a slight back bend.
The Hungarian dance had fun costumes, and was very lively. The star of the character dances, I think, was the male lead in the Polish mazurka - tall and bearded, he was very convincing and managed to capture my attention. Then came the black swan pdd - Zhang Jian is much better as Odile than Odette (she had an aura of evil and mystery), but her face was frozen into a smile. Von Rothbart was great! Pure evil, he was. Han Bo should smile - he's found his true love, for gosh sakes! He didn't smile at all! The two variations were fine - Han Bo just needed to smile. The coda was different - the Prince would do his grand jetes (Han Bo has good ballon), but then, Odile would enter the diagonal and do the fast enchainment which is usually after the fouettes. Zhang Jian moved too much like a robot - she didn't seduce (you should see Natalia Makarova doing the same move - couldn't be more different!). After that, all the character dancers would come together and do a little dance, while Von Rothbart slowly came forward with Odile behind his cape. He whipped it away, and by then Zhang Jian was already fouette-ing away. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but she fell off pointe, but made a very quick recovery. All the character dancers were on the side, clapping and stomping. The pdd ended in the visual climax of Odile lifted high into the air and all character dancers paying homage to her. Then, the back "window" was lit up and Odette (Zhu Yan) was shown, and the Prince rushed towards Von Rothbart, but it was too late...Zhang Jian and her entourage got away. The act ended in mass confusion of the noblemen and noblewomen, and the queen swooned.
Act IV was nothing to write home about either, but I liked the diagonal of saut de chats by the three big swans. The NBC version is one where Odette turns back into the princess, but there wasn't a magical effect to it, other than the music. Once again, Han Bo needs to smile!
Maybe I've seen too many "Swan Lakes" by now, but my standards have been going higher and higher. I thought Zhang Jian and Han Bo really need to work on their acting. I wanted to watch Zhu Yan and Sun Jie, but I couldn't go tonight due to the unreasonable amount of homework I have. Sorry this was so long.
Thank you for this review, Fouette.
[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited May 12, 2002).]
<small>[ 10-14-2002, 03:27: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>