BY AMY RITCHIE
Fifteen minutes into the standing ovation, my hands tiring and my smiley face hurting, I turned to the woman next to me in row J of Carpenter Theatre and said, “Well, she did kill it.”
I was referring to Shira Lanyi, the Richmond Ballet dancer, who just opened the weekend run of Swan Lake with a stunning performance of Odette, the white swan. (She is also, of course, Odile, the sorcerer’s daughter.) Lanyi moved with grace, poise, poetry; from head to toe giving all of herself to the dance. Her fluttering arms and hips, the soft expressions of birdlike wonder were enough. But her face too, her eyes, gave and gave.
Prince Siegfried, danced by Richmond Ballet’s Thomas Garrett, was the perfect mixture of power and stillness to compliment the swan-woman trapped by the evil sorcerer von Rothbart (Phillip Skaggs), a Bowie-esque version of greed and compulsion.
Opening performance had too many highlights to recount. But to name a few:
Act III’s Russian Dance by Lauren Fagone was chillingly beautiful. The music, the costume, Fagone’s body movement blending the two.
Act IV, the shore of the lake, curtains raised to a foggy moonlit night, then the cygnets rise together from the fog…the entire theatre sounded a delighted “ah!”
The red and white jester wonder, Trevor Davis, all height and humor.
Act I’s Pas de Trois with Valerie Tellmann, Maggie Small, and Fernando Sabino, such ease and flow—dancers clearly in tune to one another.
The world premiere of Swan Lake occurred in Moscow on March 4, 1877. Now for Richmond, so many years later, so much history come and gone, lives born and done, the dance remains meaningful; as does the poetry of conquering what binds us, especially with love.
Richmond Ballet will perform Swan Lake through the weekend. Alternating performances will showcase the Lanyi/Garrett duo or two guest dancers from Australia’s Queensland Ballet, Meng Ning Ning and Huang Jun Shuang. Purchase tickets, here. Read the Swan Lake story, here.