I was very lucky and fortunate to attend one of the best performances by the American Ballet Theater (ABT) this season at MetOpera, on June 21st the Summer solstice day.
The last ABT Performance of Giselle of the season had in its official cast Alina Cojocaru and Herman Cornejo as principal dancers, but maybe through a fortunate circumstance Herman Cornejo was ill for the evening, and David Hallberg substituted for him as Duke Albrecht. His duet performance with Alina was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I immediately thought it was my lucky day because it was the day of Ysyakh, a summer festival in Yakutsk, Russia, and also I had the chance to talk and take pictures with both of them, at the end of the show.
Ysyakh (or Yh yakh) is the Yakutian New Year. It is the symbol of welcoming the summer and the awakening of nature which is conecte with the cult of Sun as a divinity. Maybe because of this powerful day we had this wonderful show and the best world class dancers joined together. Hallberg has so much more improved in the last two years, and you can see some trends of Russian school in his technique and acting, especially in the second Act of the ballet. And of course Alina Cojocaru was as always on top of her class and as made for the role of Giselle, what made this day so memorable.
The contrast between David’s stunning ice-cold prince and Alina’s cute peasant girl made the story more intense and moved the drama forward. But it worked out for dancers in their partnering skills. They supported each other and had all the pirouettes and lifts done on the very high level, effortlessly and gracefully. Although Hallberg was substituting for Cornejo the pair was very well synchronized and looked comfortable and confident together. Maybe because they already danced together two years ago when I first saw David Hallberg on the stage of the Met before his contract with Bolshoi Theater.
I remember that day when I had chance to meet Alina Cojocaru after Giselle in 2012 and how all the crowd of fans came to meet her and didn’t even noticed Hallberg who stood on the side of the hallway. But I liked his performance that day and of course his perfect body and lines. He was less known at that time, I remember I got his attention only because I spoke Russian and he planned his tour to Moscow at that time, but after couple of weeks I remember shocking news that he is invited to dance with Bolshoi Ballet.
I like the performances of Osipova and Vishneva in Giselle too, these two Russian Divas know how to impress an audience, but if we will talk about true Giselle, the peasant girl who dies of a broken heart, then this girl is Alina Cojocaru. She “is one of this generation’s greatest Giselles, and New York is lucky to have seen such a special portrayal,” Ivy Lin wrote in her blog. Even The New York Times wrote that “Ms. Cojocaru’s Giselle was the most affecting” compared to Polina Semionova.
“Ms. Cojocaru’s dancing and her acting alike were generally small in scale, never showy. She smiled to herself; she flirted without being flirtatious. With humility rather than histrionics, she made you feel the seriousness of a young woman’s giving a man her heart.” And I like how Alina does bow to the corps de ballet, to her partner and to the audience which gave her a standing ovation. She is so kind, thankful and honest that you hardly believe that she is a lead principal dancer with the English National Ballet and already earned respect from ABT, The Royal Ballet, Kiev Ballet and so on. Therefore, I really like this duet and hope that I will see them more often on American stages and wish them to keep the status of best Giselle performers and the first world class ballet dancers.
Irina Lapteva, Manhattan, June 2014