What can I say about him this season that I haven't already said about the truly unstoppable Marcelo Gomes? This Met season he went from being one of my favorite dancers, to probably my favorite dancer of all time, any genre (though Gregory Hines still comes a close 2nd).
Gomes stepped in to this Swan Lake last minute (less than 48 hours notice) for an injured David Hallberg and partnered the tall guest artist, Polina Semionova, seamlessly. His solo variations were breathtaking. His final death leap was about a mile high, and his feet touched the back of his head. He continues to dance as if completely fearless, committed and passionate - in every single step that he takes. And he has the technical ability and strength to back all of that up. What more can anyone say about him, other than he is simply exceptional. Glorious. Inspiring. Beautiful. Again I think, human capability at its very greatest. If ballet was an Olympic sport, he would certainly win the crowd, and if the judges had any sense, the gold medal.
As for Semionova, she's a very striking ballerina, with strong arms and legs and commanding presence. However, despite her clear abilities, and a roaring crowd, her Odette left me cold - personally I got no emotion at all from her white swan, even sitting in the 4th row. Semionova's Odile, however, was marvelous. She lowered her eyes and gave mischievous flashing glances all around. Her Act III solo choreography, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), was a little different from what I'd seen from ABT's ballerinas in McKenzie's production - it must be what she is used to and I liked it a lot. (Extra points to Marcelo for not getting confused at these changes).
The pas de trois by Daniil Simkin, Stella Abrera and Maria Riccetto was lovely - all three had the necessary joy and charisma to give a little oomph to this moment. Simkin's height in the jumps was remarkable, even for him. Abrera's entrechat sixes were flawless and elicited bravos from the crowd. (Hello, McKenzie? This is the audience. Promote Stella..YESTERDAY!!)
The rest of the evening Simkin unfortunately had that same smirk and bad acting he'd had in Coppelia - and at the end of Act I, I found him very distracting all the way at the back of the stage flirting with one of the girls (in character). I had never noticed Benno back there before so I don't really know what he was doing that made me lose focus - I did notice that he kept playing with the girl's skirt. The very glamorous woman sitting next to me remarked that she finds him extremely irritating. Personally, I'm just turned off by the appearance of insincerity in his acting - even in abstract pieces, and his readiness to sacrifice control and beauty of line for height. I think (or hope) both issues will be resolved with some time and maturity.
Sascha Radetsky as von Rothbart was deliciously evil, though I wondered if an injury might have reoccurred as something looked off in Act III (he seemed to have trouble lifting the princesses - and he is a VERY muscular guy who should have no issues at all).
The Neopolitan and Spanish dances were a bit of a mess - although Vitali Krauchenka did a particularly great job individually in the Spanish dance. Usually cast as older gentlemen/acting roles, like Roman Zhurbin (who was terrific as the monster side of von Rothbart), I rarely get to see Krauchenka really dance, so it was a particular treat.
Anyway, dear readers, I apologize for the long delay, and for the brevity. I think three Swan Lakes in 3 days just wore me out. But enjoy the little clip above - of Semionova handing all her flowers to the wonderful Mr. Gomes.