Brava Larissa!

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  April 29, 2009

There was even better to come. Pavel Gurevich, who filled in capably for Molina opening night, seemed an odd casting choice as Hough’s Prince. From Minsk, in Belarus, he joined Boston Ballet as a soloist in 2003. He’s an elegant presence — he might remind you of Pierce Brosnan — but not a great turner or jumper or lifter, and I’ve never thought of him as a particularly effective partner. Neither the roles he’s been given nor his performance in them have argued for his being promoted to principal.

All that changed with his act-two entrance. When the Countess invited him to play blind man’s buff and he steered her toward his Tutor instead, Gurevich’s whole body seemed to funnel into his pointing finger. He traced a moonbeam path through his solo, turning smoothly into arabesque, exiting from pirouettes with easy sweep, making sense of it all as Molina and Madrigal had not. When Breen Combes’s Lilac Fairy pointed toward the Vision of Aurora, he galloped at it like a gazelle and came back transfixed. Hough came on, and though she’s not a tiny ballerina, he lifted her as if she were Clara from The Nutcracker. She melted into him, dancing as if she were dreaming. (Which she is: this act is both the Prince’s vision of Aurora and, as she slumbers, her dream of him.) Looks like Brosnan, dances like Baryshnikov? Well, not quite. But I did feel I was watching a James Bond ballet, with Hough as one of the smarter Bond Girls, Barbara Bach or Diana Rigg. The electricity spread to the audience, which, propelled by the orchestra’s giddy rush, started applauding as soon as he kissed her. The chemistry obtained through the third act, Hough still electrifying, Gurevich still gorgeous. His manège was modest, and so were his tours à la seconde, but who cares when you can see double tours fully rotated and landed in tight fifth position? More important was the way he kept arrowing toward Hough. I haven’t seen a Sleeping Beauty couple this connected on the Wang stage — or anywhere else — since Trinidad Sevillano and Patrick Armand danced it in the mid ’90s. I went back Sunday afternoon and they did it again.

Saturday’s Carabosse was Yury Yanowsky: sarcastic, even sadistic, and physically intimidating, he could have been a Bond villain, or the Joker in a Batman ballet, as he played cat-and-mouse with Aurora’s hapless parents. I thought his comic-book interpretation worked better than the ladies’: when she’s so easily routed by the Lilac Fairy, Carabosse needs at least to look threatening.

There were satisfying Bluebirds from Jared Redick and Boyko Dossev; there was an airy and delicate Princess Florine from Kuranaga, though without Cornejo’s Champagne; there was a softly pointed Golden Vine Fairy from Atkins and a big-eyed Little Red Riding Hood from Kelsey Hellebuyck. I started to warm up to the cats, particularly Luciana Voltolini and Bradley Schlagheck on Sunday. The orchestra experienced some bad intonation moments in the strings, as usual, but it also created a glorious arc in the Rose Adagio (with some heroic trumpet work), and at the climax of the second act, and in the closing Mazurka and Apotheosis.

Former Boston Ballet soloist Mindaugas Bauzys, who’s now dancing with Festival Ballet Providence, will return to the company this weekend to partner Ponomarenko. Watch this space for casting details.

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