In the panoply of works by Marius Petipa that have entered the repertory of classical ballet, La Bayadèreis not one of the most famous or popular but the loveliness of its choreography, set to a melodious and underrated score by Ludwig Minkus, is comparable to the best of them. The American Ballet Theater’s (at 890 Broadway #3, New York, NY) evening performance on Saturday, June 6th, proved to be a stellar one, despite the replacement, in the lead role of Nikiya, of the incomparable Natalia Osipova — she had magnificently displayed hitherto unseen depths in Giselle the previous week— with guest artist Maria Kochetkova, but it is perhaps no surprise that she too is a thrilling ballerina, as was abundantly in evidence that night.
Her partner, as Solor, was another Russian guest artist, Leonid Safranov, and in both precision and dynamism he was to be Kochetkova’s equal. The tertiary role of Gamzatti was danced by principal Isabella Boylston who has come into her own as one of the luminaries of the company — she was simply superb. The trio of Shades were beautifully inhabited by Sarah Lane, Melanie Hamrick and Misty Copeland, each one a jewel of Ballet Theatre and together they added a further lustre to the proceedings. The corps de ballet, which has been at its rare best in previous performances this season, was, apart from one or two very minor infelicities, dazzling, especially in the celebrated “Dance of the Shades” in Act II, one of the glories of classical choreography.