There are Petipa ballets in which nearly every step conveys character, but La Bayadere is not one of them. Wednesday’s fielding of three promising dancers in nearly new roles confirmed how hard the ballet proves for demonstrating theatrical chops.
La Bayadère (until Monday; Met season until July 7) is hardly short on drama. By intermission, God and love have been betrayed, one murder has been attempted and another has been achieved. Still, the choreography for the perpetrators of these misdeeds offers only a thin margin for expressing character or state of mind. Indeed, muck of feeling versus purity of spirit – including the spirit of ballet at its most pristinely classical – is the drama, with the main players the crucible.
That is how it felt, anyway, at the Met role debuts of three promising young dancers: English National Ballet principal Vadim Muntagirov, 22, in his first New York appearance and homegrown American Ballet Theatre soloists Hee Seo and Isabella Boylston. (The dancers’ previous run in the roles was at the matinee on February 4 in Washington DC.)
La Bayadere’s Kingdom of the Shades scene. Photo by Gene Schiavone courtesy of American Ballet Theatre.