The aforementioned young artist is Louise Hautefeuille. It is unsurprising that she has been given the solo that opens the program – the Cigarette Variation from Suite en Blanc – as she also stands out amongst her peers later on in Swan Lake.
Naturally, the precision and strength that comes along with experience still needs to be nurtured, but Hautefeuille already possesses what is often so difficult to achieve: a tranquil confidence and a neck, arms, and hands that seem to hold no tension.
Impressive are two of the duos on the program – The Jockey Dance from From Siberia to Moscow and a duet from Raymonda. Lawrence Rines & Irlan Silva and Nina Matiashvili & María Álvarez work wonderfully in their respective pairs demonstrating a focused effort on synchronicity of body lines, musicality, and temperament.
Of course, this level of excellence is to be expected of a professional company, but more often than acceptable are when these details are carelessly left aside. Nods to these dancers and their coaches!
The brightest moments of the evening are Ji Young Chae and Daniel Durrett who both dance variations from Bournonville’s William Tell. Chae’s fifths are enviable throughout, always taking off and landing from the tightest of positions. Add to that her timing and buoyancy in the series of entre che quatre-échappé-sauté, and you wish that her solo would never end.
With his first grand battement, Durrett’s energy is like that of being shot out of a canon. And with that same targeted precision, he jumps and beautifully beats his way through the variation with lines that extend beyond the physical reach of his toes.
Viktorina Kapitonova with her gorgeously high retiré and Tigran Mkrtchyan close “Act I” (intermission is a conversation between Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen and Guest Rehearsal Director Karen Averty) with the pas de deux from La Esmerelda. It is especially nice to watch the iconic female variation danced with subtle style, finesse, and cleanliness rather than the exaggerated bravura we have recently seen so much of in the competition circuits.