View From The Wings (No. 11)
ANOTHER IMPRESSIVE ODETTE-ODILE
by Pablo A. Tariman
Manila is extremely lucky to see Odette-Odiles of varied distinctions either in full length Swan Lake or its favorite excerpts.
The supreme Odette of all time, Anna Pavlova, was in Manila in 1922 but Swan Lake at that time was still evolving and could not be tried in outside native Russia.
But those who became identified with the part came and went (not necessarily dancing the roles in Manila) and left the audience enough proof why they were considered Goddesses of Dance.
The English legends – Alicia Markova (with Anton Dolin) and Dame Margot Fonteyn (with Rudolf Nureyev) were seen in Manila in the late 40s and late 70s respectively.
The great Maya Plisetskaya gave Manila audiences her supreme sample of Dying Swan in the early 80s.
The ethereal Alicia Alonso was also in Manila in the early 80s and gave an incomparable adagio in Swan Lake Act 2.
The 80s were the golden decade of full-length Swan Lake in Manila starting with Maniya Barredo and Japanese prima Yoko Morishita with the Siegfried of Nonoy Froilan.
Morishita’s last Odette in Manila was with Wes Chapman and gave the killer fouettes to her Siegfried in the Act 3 episode.
(Always seen in the audience were the future Odette-Odiles Lisa Macuja and Anna Villadolid.)
In the 90s, Lisa Macuja did her first Swan Lake in Cuba with the Siegfried of Ernesto Quenedit of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
It was followed by solid partnership with Osias Barroso and later with Krasnoyark’s Vasily Polushin.
The year 2011 was memorable because the Macuja did her farewell performance as Odette-Odile with the Siegfried of David Makhateli of The Royal Ballet.
Last night (November 15), Manila’s balletomanes saw the first Odette-Odile of Katherina Markowskaja and the Siegfried of Maxim Chaschegorov of the Bavarian State Ballet.
In the Act 2 adagio, La Markowskaja found her mark and showed clean lines and swift turns worthy of the airy swan.
Chaschegorov was a competent partner and allowed the ballerina to do her most breathtaking moves also in Act 2.
Markowskaja was incandescent in this part with soulful eyes and with the brisk, if, gentle flattering of a swan.
After a glimpse of heaven in Act 2, one thought you could leave the theater and have enough of the swan.
But this is a ballet of character contrast and indeed you must stay for the Black Swan transformation.
Markowskaja is an intelligent dancer and knew when not to overextend. Her initial fouettes (a travelling one as numbers rose) dazzled and midway through the16th to the 20th turn, she stopped and gave the other part to her Siegfried who remained gallant and unassuming throughout the ballet. What she is saying perhaps is that she would not give in to the “gymnastic” challenge of the ballet even if it meant less than 32 fouettes for the counting balletomanes.
Because when all is said and done, ballet is not solely about showing strength and stamina. This reviewer has outdone his Swan Lake counting days and finds it ridiculous when the Black Swan ran short of the 32 fouettes. One went for artistry and one got it in the interpretation of Markowskaja.
Consistently good was the Jester of Elpidio Magat and the Rothbart of Brian Williamson.
Queen Mother Melissa Howell Alipalo remained regal all throughout her part
Re-staged by Natalia Raldugina and Osias Barroso, Swan Lake’s main attraction was the Ballet Manila ensemble that showcased a dazzling corps de ballet so radiant and magical in Act 2 and 4.
One sampled a matinee performance before the gala night and discovered future Odette-Odile in the making.
Dawna Mangahas in the dual roles was highly revealing. Her Odette has well-defined character bordering on the luminous and her Black Swan had spitfire malice. She finished the 32 fouettes (with the last ones losing speed) but wow, what energy she unleashed. She just has to learn though how to refine her movements and how to remain cool and unperturbed after the killer fouettes.
(Now you know why this reviewer consider that Black Swan “requirement” so “inhuman.” )
On the other hand, the Siegfried of Elpidio Magat had verve and the beginning of elan. On the whole, his dancing sparkled and in time with more self-confidence, he is one dancer you hoped would evolve into a premier danseur in the near future.
Swan Lake with Katherina Markowskaja and the Siegfried of Maxim Chaschegorov of the Bavarian State Ballet will have its last performance at 3 p.m. today (November 16) with 11 a.m. matinee.