Oklahoma City Ballet ended its season with a stunningly beautiful production of one of the iconic ballets of the 19th century, “Swan Lake.” With a cast that included guest artists from the Houston Ballet for two performances, as well as live music provided by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, “Swan Lake” dazzled the senses of even the most seasoned ballet lover.
This full-length production, seen for the first time ever in Oklahoma City, was so much more than this reviewer expected. The lush scenery and costumes were courtesy of the Eugene Ballet Company, while staging was done by artistic director Robert Mills, Lisa Moon and Jacob Sparso after original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
I had the pleasure of seeing both Oklahoma City Ballet dancers Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato, and Houston Ballet guest artists Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher Coomer perform the leading roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried.
Each couple brought their own strengths and slightly different interpretations, though both couples seemed stronger and more confident in the Act III Black Swan pas de deux than in the more fluid and lyrical Act II pas de deux.
Kawamura and Sato danced on opening night, giving the audience an emotionally charged performance, despite some tension in the first part of the White Swan pas de deux. I enjoyed their passion, expressed beautifully in both the dynamic third act pas de deux and the sorrowful end of the ballet.
Kusuzaki and Coomer danced in Saturday's performance. Kusuzaki's interpretation of Odette, the white swan, looked more effortless and softer than Kawamura's, though there were a couple of minor partnering bobbles.
Her balances in arabesque were exquisite, both in the second and third acts. Coomer and Kusuzaki were excellent in the Black Swan pas de deux, with powerful interpretations of the evil Odile and the easily deceived Siegfried. Their technique, especially in the variations, was outstanding.
One of the real highlights of the production was the extraordinary job done by all of the company's dancers. For a company this size, a ballet such as “Swan Lake” means that each dancer has multiple roles for every performance.
The corps de ballet swans were wonderful, demonstrating precision and beauty by dancing in a beautifully cohesive group. The Cygnets — Amanda Herd, DaYoung Jung, Arianna Lawson and Callye McCollum — were marvelous in the second act. Other standouts included Alvin Tovstogray, especially in the first act pas de trois, and Io Morita who danced the role of the Jester.
This production of “Swan Lake,” and in fact the entire season, proves beyond doubt that Oklahoma City Ballet is becoming a strong artistic force in the state. Observing the progress and remarkable growth of the dancers and repertoire shows Oklahoma dance lovers that exciting things are happening in our capital city.
— Kathleen Redwine