The dual role of Odette -- white swan, victim, true beloved -- and Odile -- black swan, sorceress, cruel seductress -- can be a study in contrasts or a play of ambiguities with only shifts of emphasis between the parts. Last night, in American Ballet Theatre's "Swan Lake" at the Kennedy Center, Jolinda Menendez gave a highly stylized rendition of the contrasts.
Her white swan was constantly aflutter, bending to the extreme, or stretching to take flight. Her black swan preened grandly and glared. At times Menendez was lovely.But, because of her long features and thin frame, in some passages her stylization became mannered. Her dancing did justice to the ballet's long melodic adagios. Unlike last year, she got throught the solos, but still could use more energy to make them as strong as her dramatic rendition.
Patrick Bissell, Manendez's prince last night like last year, remains an uncut diamond. There has been some polishing of his manner, but only when he dances with Menendez is it totally convincing. In his solos he has almost the great amplitude that Alexander Godunov showed at the matinee, but not the wonderfully even flow of strength. Bissell's movement either ran out or became forced at the end of passages.