Review: In Miami, a “swan lake” that explodes cobwebs

Siegfried, when he steps in to associate her, touches her cautiously. After a turn, he immobilizes his body by holding his wrists, which are extended in a V above the head. It’s so fragile, this bond they form; it’s all about trust. And throughout, a beautiful pantomime, simple but clear, gives the dance a rare kind of poetic prowess and urgency. When Odette crosses her wrists in front of her body, it signifies death, and she’s not ethereal about it. There is no gray line. Death means death.

Of course, Odette loses her faith in Siegfried after meeting Odile, Von Rothbart’s deceitful daughter, in the ballroom scene. Here, Ratmansky steps away from black swan imagery – Odile’s featherless dark dress is washed in shades of green and purple like an iridescent fish dipped in sequins. (The idea is good, but it looked a bit cheap.) Siegfried, overwhelmed by her resemblance to Odette, begs her to marry him, which, of course, is a bad decision.

Like Odette, Carranza was competent if a bit indistinct, and her Odile lacked dazzle. But it was still thrilling to watch the choreography unfold, including a pose in his pas de deux with Cerdeiro in which his leg was extended in an arabesque as he knelt in front of her. Suddenly, she let go of his hands and dropped hers to her front knee. It was so peculiar, but it made sense. In a way, this is part of his seduction: Odile, by force, nails Siegfried to the ground.

But the power of Ratmansky’s “Swan Lake” lies in its use of groups. The peasant waltz in act 1 – in which the dancers run up and down running boards, raising their arms high and low – is the most uplifting thing you’ve ever seen until moments later when a pole is erected and layers of dancers swirl around it to create a human merry-go-round. The images they form are so jovial, so sweet. Part of it has something to do with the warmth and kindness of these Miami City Ballet dancers. As George Balanchine once said, dancing Tchaikovsky’s ballets is like flying. They are flying.

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