Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Assistant Artistic Director
Elizabeth Harpel Kehler, Executive Director
Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson, Ballet Masters
Ormsby Wilkins, Guest Conductor
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Farah Lopez, Manager, Press and Marketing
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
October 20, 2002
American Ballet Theatre presented a marvelous collection of classical and contemporary pieces tonight. Kudos once more to Kevin McKenzie for his bold experimentation with the tribute to George Harrison (See Below) and his expertise in recruiting rare national and international talent, which has created a signature Ballet Company, very well the most superior in the world. Conductors, Ormsby Wilkins and David LaMarche, were in harmony with the solos and corps. As usual, City Center was sold out, and I highly recommend purchasing a ticket for one of the remaining performances of ABT at City Center, running through Sunday, October 27.
Symphony in C: In this performance, (Soloist) Veronica Part danced the Second Movement, formerly reviewed with Ms. Ananiashvilli in this role. Ms. Part, also Russian, from St. Petersburg, was a soloist in the Kirov Ballet. Ms. Part joined ABT in 2002. She exhibited an entirely different mood from Ms. Ananiashvilli, more muscular, more defined, compared to Ms. Ananiashvilli's seamlessly flowing limbs in air. Ms. Part danced with strong, passionate motion. In the Third Movement, (Principal) Gillian Murphy danced the role that Xiomara Reyes danced on the 16th. As always, Ms. Murphy achieves height, poised balances, and instantaneous pirouettes. Mr. Stiefel performed with amazing self-confidence, never faltering in brilliant and lyrical leaps and spins. The Fourth Movement introduced (Soloist) Anna Liceica and (Corps) Ricardo Torres. Ms. Liceica, from Romania, studied at the School of American Ballet in New York and was promoted to Soloist in 2000. Mr. Torres, a member of the Corps, partnered Ms. Liceica with ease.
As in the previous viewing of this piece, I was struck by the lighting and costumes, as the curtain rose. The white on white costumes were frozen like ice in silence. The dancing built like a blizzard, with the force of talent progressing, as Corps introduced Soloists, introduced Principals. The gradual and exuberant revelation of the ABT's multi-layered talent was engaging. The corps was unusually complimentary to the featured performers. ABT breathed new life into a classical piece with dynamic renewal.
Sylvia Pas de Deux: (Principal) Marcelo Gomes again served as a most expressive and experienced partner, this time to the famous (Principal) Nina Ananiashvilli. Ms. Ananiashvilli danced with such elegant ease, lifted so gracefully and expressively by Mr. Gomes. Ms. Ananiashvilli illustrated timeless execution of on pointe sequences, as she connected and disconnected with Mr. Gomes' hands, with their arms fixed above their heads. The musicians seemed to lag and to strain to keep up with her, as she precisely interpreted the music in endless leg turns and lifts, taking the entire stage as her own private space. Sylvia Pas de Deux is a traditional showcase piece, as are many of the Repertory pieces, and it allowed Mr. Gomes to exhibit remarkable agility and skills in his partnering of Ms. Ananiashvilli.
Diana & Acteon Pas de Deux: Choreographed by Agrippina Vaganova, Music by Cesare Pugni, Arranged by John Lanchberry, Staged by Rudolf Nureyev, Performed by (Principal) Paloma Herrera and (Principal) Jose Carreño. This pas de deux was staged by Rudolf Nureyev for television in 1963. The ABT premiere of Diana & Acteon was in 1973. Mr. Carreño was larger than life in this extraordinary athletic feat of partnering and of his solo presentations. In sensual, scant Greek costumes, Mr. Carreño and Ms. Herrera played to each other's youth and vitality, in unusually high lifts and spins. Mr. Carreño assisted Ms. Herrera's dizzying and blurring spins, and he also catapulted throughout the stage in grounded, but sweeping leaps toward center stage, in counter-clockwise motion.
Although it was at first a challenge to follow the acclaim accorded Ms. Ananiashvilli, in Sylvia Pas de Deux, the charisma onstage, created by Ms. Herrera and Mr. Carreño, was mesmerizing and magnetic, and the appreciative audience was wild. Mr. Carreño was born in Cuba and won a Gold Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition in Mississippi in 1990. Mr. Carreño joined the Royal Ballet as Principal in 1993 and ABT as Principal in 1995. Clearly, Mr. Carreño has audience appeal, of which he is well aware. He fully satisfied the need for Bravura acclaim.
Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison: A World Premiere, first presented Friday, October 18, 2002. Choreography by David Parsons, Ann Reinking, Natalie Weir, and Stanton Welch, Music and Lyrics by George Harrison, Costumes by Catherine Zuber, and Lighting by Brad Fields. Six songs by George Harrison, who died this past year, were the base for Ballet with a Modern Jazz style and ambiance. Mr. McKenzie commissioned the four renowned choreographers to create a piece, dedicated to the memory of George Harrison, partly to attract younger audiences and partly to take a risk with contemporary staging and songs. Many Artistic Directors of Modern Dance and Ballet Companies have created dances to contemporary music, and this was a crossover piece for ABT. (Principal) Angel Corrella, a truly outstanding performer, was the thread and emanating spirit that wove the energetic and au courant theme throughout this new collaborative piece. The dances were erotically tinged and staged to (for me) unfamiliar and unsettling music.
ABT let its hair down in this choreography, dependent on collapsing bodies and collapsing hair, as the dancers alternated sequences of crossing, appearing, and disappearing on and offstage. (Principal) Gillian Murphy's effective foot contraction was a poignant moment of contact between dancer and audience. The challenges of large and small motor flexibility were awesome. Equally awesome were the lighting effects, with opening and closing silhouettes against a nighttime sky blue backdrop. Additional superb lighting design was apparent on rippling muscles, giving male soloists Picasso-like appearances of visually disconnected bodies. Staging expressed sexual tension and a kinetic form of Dance Noir, avant-garde and tantalizing. The exquisite (Principal) Julie Kent wore a flowing costume for a sensitive and sensual role that contrasted with the casual 70's-styled costumes of the other dancers.
Mr. McKenzie should be applauded for stretching the envelope and encouraged to keep experimenting with different genres. To be noted were (Corps) Marian Butler in a front-center role, who was perfectly attuned to the feel and shape of the music, (Soloist) Herman Cornejo, and (Soloist) Joaquin De Luz. Mr. Cornejo was born in San Luis, Argentina and studied at El Teatro Colon. He was a soloist with (Principal) Julio Bocca's Ballet Argentino. Mr. Cornejo was promoted to Principal with Ballet Argentino in 1997 and joined ABT's Corps in 1998. He was promoted to Soloist in 2000. Mr. De Luz was born in Madrid and was a Soloist with the Pennsylvania Ballet. Mr. De Luz joined the ABT Corps in 1997 and was promoted to Soloist in 1998.
Photos from recent ABT performances
Julie Kent and Angel Corella in "Clear."
PHOTO: Paul Kolnik.
Angel Corella in "Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison."
PHOTO: Marty Sohl.
"Symphony in C"
"Symphony in C"