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The Tokyo Ballet, Onegin, September 28th & 30th (Mika Yoshioka, Evan McKie)

Choreography : John Cranko
Music : Peter I. Tschaikowsky
Arranged and Einrichtung: Kurt-Heinz Stolze
Set and costumes : Jürgen Rose

Onegin:Evan McKie
Lensky:Alexander Zaitsev
Tatiana:Mika Yoshioka
Olga:Reiko Koide
Prince Gremin:Naoki Takagishi

12-07.04_04Michel Lidvac.jpeg
(c) Michel Lidvac

Evan McKie is a dancer who draws the role to himself. He does not create the character's image or impersonates it but puts his personal feelings into the role into detail. Each time he plays Onegin, he obeys his slightly different attitude thus he could show diverse expressions and literally live the role. The audience can experience the complex character and life of Onegin as their own. I have seen all 6 of his Tatianas and he shows different chemistry between each partner. This time, on the September 30th performance, his vivid interpretation and understanding of the role brought a remarkable metamorphosis to his partner Mika Yoshioka.

This time, his Onegin was a politely insolent and sardonic person, acting with a perfect balance of elegance, vanity and superciliousness. In his first solo, you could see him erasing Tatiana from his sight and with every single movement polished from his toes to his fingertips; he seems to be obsessed into his world of solitude. A towering aristocratic jaded young man clad in black, his striking appearance stands out too much in this rural small town like an alien. The atmosphere surrounding him seems so cold and his existence is like a sharpened knife. The willowy and delicate Mika as Tatiana the not-so-childish but shy and fragile country girl throws a longing gaze from a distance expressing her heart tremble with little bourrees.

In Tatiana's dream, Onegin comes out of the mirror with demonic charm. This Onegin carries a gentle and alluring smile, embodying the dreams of every girl including Tatiana, but he might have been the devil itself. Evan's high jete entrelaces pierces the ceiling and his light jetes lands without a sound. His silky smooth partnering leads Tatiana's leaps showing her uplifting heartbeat and brings a number of acrobatic jumps while maintaining a sense of speed. Tatiana's rapture was expressed in Mika's flexible arabesques and her unbridled movement, soaring into an incredible height bursting into euphoria.

Apparently bored at Tatiana's name celebration and having enough of being in this tiresome countryside, Onegin retreats to the wall playing with cards. Evan's Onegin, a dashing gentleman as well as a superfluous fellow, hates himself being irritated by such a childish Tatiana but still acts brave, pretending to be a super-cool guy. Banging the table with frustration not only to Tatiana and the people but to himself, he conveys a sense of self‐hatred along with self-indulgence. Watching Onegin ripping Tatiana's letter with condescending manner, thus crushing the dreams of the innocent girl, I could not help feeling sympathy for this sad, pathetic antihero.

But Onegin in his low spirits couldn't stand still and flirts with the thoughtless Olga, with that irresistible devilish smile, although he knew he shouldn't be playing such a game just to stave off boredom. Evan's magnificent partnering lets the playful Olga (Reiko Koide) swing freely and frivolously. But Onegin didn't expect that the inexperienced and vulnerable Lenski (Alexander Zaistev) would get hurt and infuriated and challenge him to fight a duel as a result of his caprice.

Pulling out his gun and staring it with heavy remorse, Onegin already has an air of the loser. The ultra-speed sharp pirouettes and the hitting on his knees shows his anger not turned to Lenski but to himself. And when Lenski falls down by his gunshot, Onegin's conscience can no longer stand the gaze of Tatiana confronting him; his poignant regret was shown so tragically with his face hidden by his elegant fingers, and him falling slowly to his knees.

After all the years of futility, Onegin was still a St. Petersburg dandy but you can imagine what kind of hell he has walked through. Staring at the beautifully matured Tatiana as though he was struck by lightning, he was regarding her as a last hope of his otherwise empty life.

At the last pas de deux, on the Sep 28th performance Mika followed the choreography very neatly and fluently but her rebuff was clear from the beginning, she seemed very stubborn and cold. But at the second performance, she unleashed her anguish and turmoil with reason, utilizing her body as an instrument in-between a series of tosses. Even after her last choice to force him to get out of her life forever, you could imagine that she would live her life with remorse. Her dramatic metamorphosis was just as though she was cast under a spell.

This Onegin was seeing Tatiana as the only light to rebuild his bitter life. It was not only love; she symbolizes his pride that has been lost for a long time. Now his heart has regained strength, youthfulness and charm of the time when he first met her. He takes off all his vanity and his naked emotions flows like a torrent. Tatiana jumps into his arms letting loose her passion, torn between the two loves and reprising her crushes in her youth. Onegin, convinced that Tatiana had fallen for him, looks into her eyes with a smile of triumph. But the next moment she suddenly turns to Onegin to reject his letter leaving him devastated. Some Tatianas scream their hearts out to mourn her lost love; others endure, tell themselves they had the right decision and try to conceal her emotion. Mika's Tatiana was not so fierce; her expressions were subtle and showed her grief and heart-bleeding pain gracefully like silent snow falling. The two lead dancers standing still with their souls left in 19th century Russia at the applause made a lasting impression upon us.

Although the Tokyo Ballet showed a handsome ensemble, and their vivid portrayal of the young folks in the 1st act was lively, it seemed they were struggling to express the glamour of aristocratic life in Moscow. Alexander Zaistev's ill-fated poet Lenski, such an unworldly idealist but with natural sweetness makes you feel his pain, and symbolizes the loss of innocence in Onegin by his harrowing final solo filled with despair. He formed a lovely couple with Reiko Koide's dulcet Olga, and their tender and puppyish duet formed a perfect contrast to the self-obsessed supercilious Onegin's solo, and their tragic parting.
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