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Uninspired Swan Lake lacks previous charm

Swan Lake
Performed by the Boston Ballet
At the Wang Center.

By Alexandra Z. Worden
When the Boston Ballet staged Swan Lake along with a corps of Soviet ballet dancers in 1990, there was something sensational about it. Last Thursday's opening night of that same production lacked almost all the charm and excitement of that premiere. The performance was uninspired; it revealed an array of unflattering details which were perhaps glossed over by the momentous occasion of glasnost entering the American dance world in the 1990 performance.

The stage set, at least, was a success. Scenic designs were based on the 15th-century painting style of Fantastic Realism landscapes and German High Gothic architecture. The ballroom scenes were filled with color and brilliance, a result of fabulous costumes and convincing, luminous scenery.

Alas, such wizardry was not universal. Prince Siegfried danced by Fernando Bujones seemed more like a buffoon than a prince who, upon coming of age, has fallen madly in love with a beautiful maiden. The maiden is under a curse which maintains her as a swan. The curse can only be broken when a man falls in love with Odette, the maiden, and swears eternal love to her. The plot is thickened by the existence of Odile, daughter of the evil Baron who has cast the spell, who looks just like Odette and deceives Seigfried. Siegfried has thus unwittingly betrayed Odette. In the end Seigfried and Odette throw themselves into the lake, the spell is broken, and the lovers' souls are united in eternity.

Bujones danced his part as Seigfried but certainly did not conjure up any notion of either great joy or -- at the appropriate times -- great sorrow. The lack of felicity in new-found love is perhaps understandable, but failing to feel any remorse upon discovering his betrayal of Odette is more difficult to swallow. What, after all, are fairy tale princes for?Odette and Odile, danced by the same ballerina, Tatiana Terekhova, was definitely an improvement to her counterpart Seigfried. With charming wrist and neck motion she created a very swan like image, and conveyed a feeling of torment. Although she danced well, Terekhova did not display a high level of technical ability.

Fortunately, Daniel Meja, who played the role of court jester, could be relied on to save the show. Under other circumstances, I might have said he over-played the role. But, in this case he was perhaps the only dancer who lent some flavor to the performance. His tours la seconde -- turns with one leg out to the side -- were dazzling as was his entire performance.

The Ballet, which was staged by Natalia Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev, of the Kirov Ballet, and Anna-Marie Holmes of the Boston Ballet, does provide some wonderful lake scenes. These, danced by the corps, were technical feats where 32 swans glided between and around one another as gracefully as one could imagine. One of the loveliest moments is when the black swans thread through their white sisters blending contrast with togetherness. Unfortunately some of the ballroom dances, for instance the Danse Espanol, were failures.