The dual role of Odette-Odile in "Swan Lake" challenges a ballerina to portray both good and evil. A dancer may triumph over the technical hurdles but still not make the two moral extremes equally persuasive.
Of the three new San Francisco Ballet "Swan Lake" casts completing the company's engagement at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa over the weekend, Joanna Berman, Saturday evening, achieved probably the most satisfactory balance between the dramatic and technical demands of the two roles.
As Odette, the petite Berman evoked an otherworldly creature, coaxed only slowly into revealing trust, warmth and committed love. As Odile, she was playfully and therefore coldly manipulative without resorting to exaggerated vamping.
Technically, she danced with security, amplitude and polish.
Her partner was Cyril Pierre, a native of France who joined the company this year. Dancing the role for the first time, Pierre was dramatically avid and intense and looked a prince as to the manner born. But his dancing tended to be more roughhewn and vigorous than finished, and he had moments of rough partnering.