Our second of three ballets for the season came last night as we saw American Ballet Theatre’s presentation of Manon. While I didn’t completely engage with the plot, the dancing, especially from principals Polina Semionova, as Manon, and Cory Stearns, as Des Grieux, was exquisite.
This relatively new ballet, it was premiered by the Royal Ballet in 1974, is the story of Manon, a young woman who is headed to a convent when she meats Des Grieux and falls in love at an inn near Paris. However, her brother has made an arrangement to have her go with an older, wealthy gentleman. As Manon tries to get more money from the gentleman, Des Grieux cheats in a card game for her and she ends up arrested for being a prostitute and her brother is killed. She is deported to Louisiana and Des Grieux has followed. He has to break her out of jail, killing a guard, and once they are alone in the swamps of Louisiana, Manon is overwhelmed and dies in Des Grieux’s arms.
Throughout the show, Stearns and Semionova were incredible. The choreography from Sir Kenneth MacMillan was breathtaking. Each time these two were together, the piece soared. Unfortunately the images I have for this post aren’t of these two, but they do show some of the wonderful dancing.
James Whiteside as Manon’s brother and Veronika Part as his mistress were also a delight. They had some of the comic relief in the show, especially in act two. Part, in particular, had some very funny scenes as she teased the men gathered for a party at the Hotel Particulier.
Next week we’ll attend the company premiere of Ashton’s Cinderella.