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Carolina Ballet.

CAROLINA BALLET RALEIGH MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM, RALEIGH, NC MAY 19-22, 2005

Inspired by a children's-book version of the Swan Lake story, Carolina Ballet artistic director Robert Weiss has stripped down the ballet and delicately built it up again to a scale appropriate for his company. The result: an emotionally rich production performed with joy by skilled dancers.

Weiss tells the story in two acts and, taking his hat off to Petipa, sets the two famous pas de deux to different sections of the Tchaikovsky score. And he gives his Sorcerer, performed with dash and maniacal triumph by Cyrille de la Barre, bravura dancing to rival that of the Prince, setting him up as a foil.

Weiss focuses less on mythological spectacle and more on the range and depth of emotions experienced in a struggle with destiny. His Prologue depicts the nine women's initial transformation into swans, represented by pole-mounted flying swan figures carried through the forest by male dancers (an effect that might have seemed more magical had the poles been less visible). Thus, the Swan Princess and Maidens did not dance as swans but as women trapped by their fate.

Lilyan Vigo as the Swan Princess struggled with the Sorcerer in a blend of defiance and submission, dropping to her knees but with arms raised and rigid against his hold. In contrast, her body shimmered with delight in the intimate pas de deux with the Prince (Timour Bourtasenkov), marked by interwoven arms and torsos and faces brushing almost close enough to kiss. Vigo combined technical mastery with superb acting. As the Swan Princess, her startled turn of the head at the Prince's touch and her brilliant smile as she rested her head on his shoulder contrasted with her arch confidence as the Sorcerer's Daughter. Grinning at her father over the Prince's shoulder, she used her legs as weapons to tie him in knots. Bourtasenkov's Prince matured, as he should, from his entertainingly performed distraction by the six Princesses' attempts to win his love.

Margaret Severin-Hansen's palpable ease and delight complemented Pablo Javier Perez's ballon and strong jetes battus in their pas de deux as betrothed friends of the Prince. Of the Princesses, Traci Gilchrest (a guest artist from North Carolina Dance Theatre) stood out for her clarity of line and coquettish glances, as did Claudia Schreiber for her smooth petit allegro variation and liquid feet.

Only once did this production stumble--in a folksy, slightly messy character dance performed by the Royal Fathers and Mothers. Other than that, Weiss has crafted an intimate, winning Swan Lake.

For more information: www.carolinaballet.com
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Title Annotation:Swan Lake
Author:Marshall, Lea
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:431
Previous Article:Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg.
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