Heart to Heart - Fjord Review (Full review of Manon)

November 12, 2014

Jillian Vanstone and Harrison James made an exquisite pair, dancing the lead roles in “Manon” with the National Ballet of Canada on Sunday. It may be getting cold outside, but inside, the pas de deux were scorching.

A surprise guest, American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside danced Lescaut with tremendous, menacing flair, twirling at a furious pace across the stage—his drunken Lescaut was pitch perfect, coiffed hair bobbling ridiculously and landing every exaggerated leap plumb on the note. Jordana Daumec, also a last minute change to the cast, as Lescaut’s Mistress casts her chin down over her shoulder in a way that is pure sauce; ever the vixen, she flings herself into the air and whips her skirt, with eyes flashing and a smile to make the Cheshire cat blush.

Ms. Vanstone’s Manon is more ambivalent than the usual minxy portrayal. Those familiar with the principal know her for her sweet, classical interpretations of Alice and Cinderella. She begins in a similar vein, a lighthearted girl, she bursts onto the scene, skipping to catch her brother Lescaut in a warm embrace. She rather falls victim to Lescaut’s dark enterprise, assuming her role partly out of a sense of expectation, glittering jewels and the promise of wealth a welcome salve...

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