A New Principal Takes Her Bow at American Ballet Theater

A New Principal Takes Her Bow at American Ballet Theater

More than that, the moment was necessary. Both the performance and surprise promotion gave a needed jolt to Ballet Theater’s summer season, a sleepy one so far that has included the company premiere of Wayne McGregor’s ponderous three-act “Woolf Works,” and more traditional repertoire: “Onegin” (with its melodrama and big lift energy) and “Swan Lake” (from 2000 and in need of an overhaul).

In “Swan Lake,” Misseldine, dancing with an impressive Aran Bell as Prince Siegfried, showered the stage with glittering dancing, first as Odette — a princess who has been turned into a swan by the evil sorcerer, von Rothbart — and then as Odile, his deceptive daughter who tricks Siegfried at the ball.

Dancers tend to shine in one role or the other, but Misseldine, 22, was astonishing in both, giving her Odette a translucent splendor and her Odile a burst of daring and seduction — even some side-eye humor. At 5 feet 9 inches, Misseldine is all legs and arms, which she used, along with her elegant fingers, to willowy effect. Her body filled out the music, spinning with jaw-dropping speed and steadiness in supported pirouettes or angling to press softly into every last note.

Her ability to change dynamics, to shift from slow to fast, to show pathos and glee feels connected to how she uses music as a primary source of flow. Sometimes it seems her dancing is made of water; it shimmers with a kind of lightness imbued with grandeur.

When Misseldine floats her arms upward, stretching from her fingertips to her toes, it’s not of this earth. When she unfurls a leg, stretching it high to the side, the spaciousness of her dancing is what transports you, not just her extension. Yet beyond her physicality is an access to expression that seems drawn wholly from instinct, as if emanating from an unseen force. Misseldine is not into affectation. With unselfconscious glamour, she was a princess trapped in a swan’s body: stretching, breathing, crying through her body to escape.

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