American Ballet Theatre – Romeo and Juliet (Obraztsova/Cornejo) – New York

Evgenia Obraztsova and Herman Cornejo in <I>Romeo and Juliet</I>.<br />© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)
Evgenia Obraztsova and Herman Cornejo in Romeo and Juliet.
© Rosalie O’Connor. (Click image for larger version)

American Ballet Theatre
Romeo and Juliet

New York, Metropolitan Opera House
18 June 2015

In Fair Verona

Another night, another Juliet takes the stage at American Ballet Theatre. The spring season at the Met is like that: each week brings a new evening-length work, with a different cast of principals featured at practically every performance. Tonight it was Evgenia Obraztsova’s turn, alongside the Argentina-born company principal Herman Cornejo. After ten years at the Mariinsky, the diminutive Obraztsova is now a principal at the Bolshoi. This was her first guest appearance with ABT; before today, her performances in New York had been limited to a brief Mariinsky tour in 2011 and a few galas. Even then, sandwiched between a Black Swan pas de deux and an excerpt from Don Q, one couldn’t help but notice her charm and the sparkle and lightness of her pointework.

Evgenia Obraztsova in <I>Romeo and Juliet</I>.<br />© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)
Evgenia Obraztsova in Romeo and Juliet.
© Rosalie O’Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Physically and temperamentally she is well-matched with Cornejo, though on pointe she is just a tiny bit taller. Like him, she is a disarming performer, unaffected and unfussy in her technique, which is nevertheless prodigious. It’s particularly impressive to see how she phrases movement, using gravity and the pliancy of her frame to scoop through the air with apparent ease. A certain fearlessness works to her advantage.

Obraztsova’s Juliet is childlike, almost pre-pubescent; at the start, skittishness and obedience are the predominant colors. Gradually, as she begins to grasp the seriousness of her situation, she becomes increasingly grave, without ever quite losing this girlish purity. She fights to the end, even in the arms of the Capulets’ chosen suitor, Paris, in a pas de deux that has the callousness of a rape. Her tiny, backward-traveling bourrées come across as an attempt to escape to the more innocent world of her childhood.

Herman Cornejo in <I>Romeo and Juliet</I>.<br />© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)
Herman Cornejo in Romeo and Juliet.
© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

With every passing season, Cornejo’s performances become warmer, more ardent; there is now an echo of Julio Bocca’s fervor in his dancing. Once admired for his jumps and beats, he’s now a presence onstage; he dances with his whole body, his eyes, his fingertips. His renversés in the balcony scene became a swirl of movement, three-dimensional and lush. His musicality caught accents and syncopations in Prokofiev’s layered score. He was happily engaged with everyone onstage, particularly the most spirited of the three wild-haired harlots in the street scenes, Isadora Loyola. Cornejo has undeniable panache.

On this night, he was given a run for his money by his two partners-in-crime, Mercutio and Benvolio. The first was danced with pyrotechnical flash by Daniil Simkin; Joseph Gorak displayed his usual purity of line as the second. Gorak’s feet, as pliant as a paint brush, could make a ballerina cry.

Evgenia Obraztsova in <I>Romeo and Juliet</I>.<br />© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)
Evgenia Obraztsova in Romeo and Juliet.
© Rosalie O’Connor. (Click image for larger version)

One could imagine a fine partnership developing between Cornejo and Obraztsova. Both are generous and open-hearted performers. Let’s hope she’ll come be back soon.

About the author

Marina Harss

Marina Harss is a free-lance dance writer and translator in New York. Her dance writing has appeared in the New Yorker, The Nation, Playbill, The Faster Times, DanceView, The Forward, Pointe, and Ballet Review. Her translations, which include Irène Némirovsky’s “The Mirador,” Dino Buzzati’s “Poem Strip,” and Pasolini’s “Stories from the City of God” have been published by FSG, Other Press, and New York Review Books. You can check her updates on Twitter at: @MarinaHarss


  • I was there and your review is brilliant. I agree 100% with your every word. Too bad what’s his face at the Times didn’t get it. Apparently, he did not understand Obraztsova’s exquisitely danced, beautifully nuanced and acted performance. Passion doesn’t just come in one bombastic package. I guess her shoes weren’t loud enough for him. :/

  • Laural, I too went to see Evgenia Obratztsova last Thursday June 18th,2015. About the toe shoes Genia likes Gaynor Minten Toe Shoes for that very reason because they are not noisy like other toe shoes. I used to go to New York every other Friday withj a group of friends years ago to watch New York City Ballet. During many performances I would hear loud noises coming from toe shoes and when I studied ballet back then there were no quiet Gaynor Minten Toe Shoes. I too like the idea of toe shoes that aren`t noisy so you can follow the music and dancing on stage without all that noisy disttraction. I was never ever a ballet dancer. I only wanted to learn how and what these dancers do in class,rehearsal and on stge back then. One of the ladies in our group was a professional Ballet dancer befor I was born but she`s passed on as my best friend has too. I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade from this friend of a friend who was a ballet dancer before I was born. I found Evgenia Obraztsova on You Tube a few years ago and I can tell you she is not only the best but I`ve heard that she is a very humble and very sweet person too. However due to her religious belief, she says she cannot take credit for what she does etc. From my point of view,I`m not religious at all but I agree because to me that tis just common sense thinking. Genia dances with all the right and correct moves from what I`ve learned in the past. Genia says she can tell a good dancer from a bad one as I can too from my past learning experience studing ballet. Personally I think Genia is wonderful,beatiful and a very gracious lady. I only wish I could meet her somday. I hop[e she `ll come back soon. Genia is just so amazing.:)))

  • @laurel, I read the triple review in the Times, and I also thought that it was unfair to Obraztszova. Perhaps he expected a different Juliet from her, perhaps he was also dissapointed with Misty Copland’s performance and didn’t want to give a very good review to a russian ballerina. Given these points, he ended his review on a positive note telegraphing his hope that she will come again and dance in Giselle and Sleeping Beauty. I second this opinion. She is probably one of the best Giselle and princess Aurora of the moment.

  • Maby Evgenia Obraztsova will come back to abt as Odet/Odil in Swan Lake. I n Russia swan lake makes or breaks a ballerina. Obraztsova has danced Swan Lake at the Nemrioch Dechenko Stanislaky Ballet but not the Bolshoi. I can`t understand why the Bolshoi won`t let Ms. Obraztsova dance Swan Lake at the Boldhoi. Maby if abt let Genia dance Swan Lake with abt then this could send a message to the Bolshoi that Ms.Obraztsova means bussness,in otherworlds Genia could say in Russian “Don`t mess with me I mean bussness Give me SWan lake or else!”

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