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American Ballet Theatre - Pretty Good Year, workwithinwork, VIII
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Fall Repertory

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Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters
Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 6, 2004

Originally Published on

Pretty Good Year (Premiere): Choreography by Trey McIntyre, Music by AntonĂ­n Dvorak (selections from Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major), Costumes by Liz Prince, Lighting by Nicholas Phillips, Piano: Barbara Bilach, Violin: Ron Oakland, Violoncello: Scott Ballantyne, Performed by Laura Hidalgo, Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland, David Hallberg, Julio Bragado-Young, Grant DeLong, and Blaine Hoven.

Gillian Murphy illustrated excellent technique with flexible arms for expression. Her internalized emotion, in this instance, was well suited to the genre. Mr. Hallberg has become a virtuosic dancer to watch, all muscle and momentum. My opinion of this as a fairly uninteresting work has not changed on second viewing. Dvorak's music is exquisite, and Ms. Bilach, Mr. Oakland, and Mr. Ballantyne brought out the finest in this Piano Trio No. 1. Unlike Kirk Peterson's Amazed in Burning Dreams, with its ever-changing movement and figures to repetitive music, Trey McIntyre's Pretty Good Year has melodic music and repetitive choreography.

workwithinwork (ABT Premiere): Choreography by William Forsythe, Staged by Jill Johnson, Music by Luciano Berio (Duetti per due violini, vol. 1), Staged and Lighting by William Forsythe, Costumes by Stephen Galloway, Lighting by Brad Fields, Original Lighting by William Forsythe, Recorded Music Performed by Verena Sommer and Maxim Franke, Performed by Kristi Boone, Erica Cornejo, Misty Copeland, Carmen Corella, Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Marian Butler, Michele Wiles, Angel Corella, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Kenneth Easter, Jared Matthews, Carlos Lopez, and Eric Underwood. "...dancers create an evolving, baroque body of time, which branches out in ever increasing complexity...breathless end". (Program Notes).

William Forsythe's "work" is hyper-kinetic and uninteresting. With yanking of arms, dragging of bodies, and posturing of derrieres in shorts and socks, this quasi-campy piece does not "work". The recorded Berio duet would be best served as a live chamber performance. Most interesting were lighting effects.

VIII (ABT Premiere): Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Staged by Jane Burn, Music by Benjamin Britten (Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10), Set and Costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant, Lighting by Natasha Katz, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Kristi Boone as Katherine, Sarah Lane as Anne, Gennadi Saveliev as Henry, Renata Pavam, Sascha Radetsky, Carlos Lopez, and Craig Salstein as The Masks, and the Company as The Court, The Ghosts, and Edward. A historical tale of Henry VIII and the first two of his six wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, is presented to show Katherine as banished queen and Anne as queen penalized by death, both for failing to produce heirs to the throne of England. (Program Notes).

VIII is one of the most powerful ballets ever performed in Ballet Theatre repertoire. Gennadi Saveliev did not need to dance or spin or leap, but rather to just walk, glare, and weave his wives through ever-shifting drama played on stage by the elegant Kristi Boone as the rejected wife, who bore no sons, and by Sarah Lane as Anne Boleyn, who was sacrificed for also bearing no heirs. This piece was all too short. The drama unfolded too rapidly, the wives emerged and fled too quickly, and scaffolding appeared too suddenly at the finale. To wish a ballet to lengthen itself is a compliment, as the dancers become characters caught in time.

There is tautness in Wheeldon's work, with the power of space, gesture, and Britten's score, as well as symbolic sets (a black drape covers the vision of Anne's head, as she slowly walks to the gallows). Ms. Boone is a tragic and graceful figure, with sorrow and pathos. Ms. Lane is erotic and aggressive, then resigned and refined, as her fate dreadfully unfolds. Mr. Saveliev is perfectly poised as the obsessed and callous Henry, as he trades wives and opines for a son. The Masks are a Greek Chorus of mood enhancers, glee or gloom, and the four Masks created energy and distraction to this ominous scene. The Pas de Deux between Mr. Saveliev and both Ms. Boone and Ms. Lane were mesmerizing and memorable. When the third wife-to-be appeared just prior to the final curtain, I longed for more nuance, texture, and plot. This synopsized and tightened version of the Hamburg Ballet presentation might use more of the original, an additional scene or two.

Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon, and kudos to Mr. Saveliev, Ms. Boone, and Ms. Lane.


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at