American Ballet Theatre's new-old production of the second act of "Swan Lake" has tutus and mime. If it looks familiar, that's because it's a revival of the old David Blair version that was one of the company's mainstays in the '60s and '70s. Yesterday, two young ballerinas who have grown immeasurably since they were last seen here in the ballet proved that the traditional version suits a new generation of dancers.
At the matinee, Amanda McKerrow danced a very pure and musical Odette. Her feet and hands were exceptionally elegant, her line in the pas de deux exquisite and clear. McKerrow has danced with a new authority this season, but she still seems to be dancing within herself instead of reaching out to the audience and drawing it into her story. Her performance had poetry, but little passion. Wes Chapman, his often exuberant acting subdued and sincere, was an affable Prince Siegfried.
There was passion aplenty in Susan Jaffe and Ricardo Bustamante's performance last night. Jaffe was a royal and brave Odette, her characterization embodied in bold, ample movements and a wonderfully creamy line. She was particularly effective in her first meeting with Siegfried, when an unusually fast tempo made her dancing seem spontaneous. The very slow tempos in the pas de deux and first solo were too stark a contrast and perhaps the reason for some technical slips, but the second solo was crisp and strong. When Jaffe gets to dance Odette's whole story, she may well prove to be a Swan Queen worth dying for.
Bustamante has matured as both a partner and a presence. He seems to know instinctively how to be at once commanding and deferential, and his partnering was both strong and tender.