I wish I didn't have alternate plans, because I think Murphy's sizzle will bring even more out of him than the oddly, sporadically sluggish Paloma Herrera did on Wednesday night.
So often cast in secondary roles, it might be easy to forget how gorgeous Jared's epaulement can be. The openness of his shoulders and the beautiful lines he made during the difficult act I Ashtonian solo gave me a little jolt of excitement that this was going to be a great performance. (I found out later that he hadn't had a chance to rehearse in costume, which may have been a little tight in the shoulders, making the effort even more praiseworthy.)
David LaMarche's conducting always seems a little slow to me, and Wednesday night was no exception, so that Sylvia's troupe seemed a little off the rhythm, but generally the corps was in fine form as well. The standouts for me were the unbelievably undercast Yuriko Kajiya, the eternally graceful Nicole Graniero and the adorably charismatic Courtney Lavine. Leann Underwood made for a gorgeous Diana, and Sascha Radetsky seemed to have the most fun in years out there DANCING as Orion. We so rarely get to see him really dance. He's still got it. Maybe he'll get a lead role in Clear this fall so we can see him how he should be seen. Out front.
Paloma Herrera was a fine Sylvia, but at times she seemed to be marking the arm movements a little, and not really punching the accents of the wonderful score so full of punchy accents. I also thought I noticed the absence of the missed Georgina Parkinson in many of the ladies' performances. There was a little less Ashton in our Ashton this time around. Herrera's best moments came in Orion's den, in the sparkly turquoise and green costume that was the most flattering of the night, with the most sparkle in her step. She was also lovely in the grand pas, but I have to admit Jared was so powerful and commanding a partner that I was focused more on him than her.
Unlike some imports ABT keeps shoving down our throats, Jared Matthews is an intelligent and thoughtful dancer, who understands the importance of being well rounded. While I think maybe he used to sacrifice his own spotlight to be such a great partner, he's now finding more and more a way to grab command of the stage in his solo moments, without sacrificing his devotion to his ballerinas. You'll never see a missed lift, sloppy turn or scared ballerina when Jared is the cavalier. His jumps have also acquired a ton of loft this season, and his arabesques, once a little stuck, are beautiful as well. No wonder he got a standing ovation.
If you can, go check out Saturday's matinee - I think it will be a great one. I wish I could write more, and more specifically, but alas, I'm already late for work.
[UPDATE - Kicking myself for forgetting to mention how superb Sarah Lane and Joey Gorak were as the goats. The most relaxed and kick-ass I've seen Sarah since her lead in Upper Room. More of that please!]
(Side note - as I was watching Herrera, my mind wandered more than once to ponder what an Abrera or Kajiya Sylvia would look like. And my mind liked what it saw. Let these home-grown soloists dance. Let them all lead!)