Her Solor, soloist Jaime Diaz, was an attentive lover and partner, big and easy like Khozashvili, and with perhaps more ardor, if not quite the amplitude and softness of Khozashvili’s third-act soaring. It was a good audition for a potential future principal. The Gamzatti Saturday afternoon, 18-year-old Whitney Jensen, is only a second soloist (and newly promoted, at that), but she danced with the maturity and assurance of a principal, icy hot in her approach to Solor (suggesting rather than sashaying) and fluent in her body language (the measured slow movement of her arms in conversation with her father, or the exquisite positions she created while eavesdropping). Technical assurance as well — she does attitude devant croisé so beautifully, I stopped fretting that Gamzatti has to do it so often, and her fouettés were rooted to the spot.
Neither Jeffrey Cirio nor Isaac Akiba was quite as incendiary a Golden Idol as Gatti had been, and as the Lead Fakir, neither Cirio nor Robert Kretz was as manic as Dugaraa, but these were energetic, encouraging performances from three of the company’s younger members. Newly promoted second soloist Dalay Parrondo had a good weekend as an Indian Dance soloist Friday and the third solo shade Saturday; Ichikawa added to her opening-night Manu solo with an engaging second solo shade. Paying closer attention to Leeth’s Rajah, I was gratified — but not surprised — to see how much detail he supplies, like the way he shakes his head after Solor’s hunter friends run out after the D’Jampe girls (“They won’t be bagging tigers today”), or the clarity with which he asks the High Brahmin why they can’t speak in front of Solor and Gamzatti.
As for the 24 shades, they continued to be as mesmerizing as they’d been opening night. At the end, they proceed back up the ramp, and Nikiya, behind them, trails the long sash that she and Solor have been dancing with in invitation, her gesture of forgiveness. He seizes the sash and follows her up the ramp, into ballet heaven. It might not content those who yearn for the missing fourth act, but it’s a good conclusion for this Bayadère.
POSTSCRIPT Two of Boston Ballet’s best feet that weren’t on view in La Bayadère opening night, or even opening weekend, belong to Larissa Ponomarenko, who danced Nikiya last night opposite Nelson Madrigal’s Solor and Cornejo’s Gamzatti. Ponomarenko, who has twice broken a bone in the same foot, wasn’t kicking all out in her pas emboîtés and some jetés, but after basking in the limpidity of her standing positions (a fourth to die for) and the poetry of her port de bras — actually, the poetry of her entire performance — I couldn’t have cared less. And if Madrigal fell short in his two manèges (one with ragged turns in attitude, the other with uncompleted double tours), that hardly mattered given the fullness of his dramatic detail: the way his Solor waits to see whether it’s really Nikiya who’s about to dance for the Rajah before slipping out so she won’t see him sitting next to Gamzatti; the way he turns his back on Nikiya as she’s about to drink the antidote, signaling that even if she lives, he’s going through with the marriage; the despair with which he takes the opium. He didn’t show much chemistry with Ponomarenko till the third act, but even that made sense: of all the company’s Solors, his is the most drawn to Gamzatti. And as Gamzatti, Cornejo was much improved over her first performance. This cast is scheduled to dance again in the final performance, on Sunday afternoon, and Ponomarenko, at least, is not to be missed.