American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company: 10th Anniversary Gala and Celebration
-Onstage with the Dancers
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(ABT Studio Company Website)
John Meehan, Artistic Director
Clinton Luckett, Artistic Associate, Education and Training
Gage Bush Englund, Ballet Mistress
Heidi Hoffman, Studio Company Manager
Brian Sciarra, Production Manager
Guest Stars: ABT Studio Company Alumni
Herman Cornejo, Michele Wiles, Misty Copeland,
Laura Hidalgo, Craig Salstein, Danny Tidwell
Performers: Isabella Boylston, Nicola Curry, Gray Davis, Joseph Gatti, Matthew Golding, Nicole Graniero, Jessamyn Lawrence, Allison Miller, Glyn Scott, Hee Seo, Eric Tamm, Alex Wong, Roman Zavarov
Guest Dancers from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT
Special Guests and ABT Studio Company Alumnae,
Susan Jaffe (Guest Dancer) and Victoria Rowell (Guest Host)
Presented at Frederick P. Rose Hall
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 21, 2005
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
ABT Studio Company is composed of 13 young (16-20 yrs.), talented dancers under the leadership of John Meehan. Studio Company performs in the NYC schools, and they are preparing to join ABT main company or another major ballet company after about two years in this program. New composers and choreographers are also preparing in Studio Company for future careers. (Program Notes).
Host Victoria Rowell (Dancer, Model, Emmy Nominated Television Actress) stormed the stage with dynamism and zest, as she praised the technical skills and strong spirit of these young ABT Studio Company Dancers, also relating personal stories about her life as a dancer. John Meehan (Longtime Artistic Director) was exuberantly lauded by Kevin McKenzie. Another round of accolades was saved for Gage Bush Englund (Studio Company Ballet Mistress).
Revelry (2002): Choreography by Robert Hill, Music by Lowell Liebermann, Costumes by Zack Brown and Barbara Matera, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Laura Hidalgo and Danny Tidwell. With exuberance and joy, ABT Studio Company opened their 10th Anniversary Gala in chiaroscuro, silhouetted lighting (In fact, Brian Sciarra was tonight_s effervescent lighting designer for almost all of the pieces). Mid-air spins in bright red, purple, and black costumes announced the intended level of energy for this Gala event.
Some thousand million hundred more bright worlds (World Premiere): Choreography by Jessamyn Lawrence, Music by Johannes Sebastian Bach (Violin Concerto in A Minor, 2nd Movement) and Antonio Vivaldi (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in G Flat Major), Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Matthew Golding, Hee Seo, Nicola Curry, and Glyn Scott. This first of four premieres, created by a Studio Company dancer, had atmospheric and ethereal qualities, with four dancers in dark purple imagery creating a series of connected and unconnected figures.
Night Before (World Premiere): Choreography by Brian Reeder, Music by Pablo Sarasate, Costumes and Sets by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, performed by Allison Miller, Alex Wong, and Nicole Graniero. Humorous and unique, this premiere, with the very aerobic and versatile Alex Wong, was the first of a two-part, but somewhat contrasting, work. This first section involved a triangle of macho male mishaps and campy dance communication.
Morning After (World Premiere): Choreography by Brian Reeder, Music by Lowell Liebermann (Sonata No 1 for Violin and Piano), Costumes and Sets by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Isabella Boylston, Nicola Curry, Nicole Graniero, Hee Seo, Joseph Gatti, Matthew Golding, Glyn Scott, and Eric Tamm. This second section of the two-part ballet was not as entertaining or tight. I_d like to imagine this work as one, rather than two pieces, maybe with a scene change and one cast, and the Sarasate music re-appearing at or near the finale, so that there is a seamless flow throughout.
Tarantella : Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by Misty Copeland and Craig Salstein. Balanchine_s Tarantella is an electric and energetic work, with tambourine and flirtation, which requires sensational partnering with charisma and chemistry. Craig Salstein has been an ABT dancer to watch, with outsized personality and buoyancy for more than one season. He truly enjoyed dancing here, and his tambourine and ribbons added zest to his kicks and leaping lyricism. Misty Copeland presented bounce and joy, but not the energy or skill of Mr. Salstein. They seemed physically but not technically well matched.
The Sleeping Beauty (Rose Adagio from Act I): Choreography after Marius Petipa, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Performed by Michele Wiles as Aurora, Gray Davis, Matthew Golding, Glyn Scott, and Eric Tamm as Cavaliers. Michele Wiles has blossomed into a well-balanced and poised soloist of ABT. She was well positioned for the challenge of this renowned dance, as she momentarily lets go of the hands of her four Cavaliers, en pointe, one by one, to the exquisite Tchaikovsky score Ms. Wiles was luminous and lovely, and I look forward to seeing her in ABT_s Spring Season. Her Cavaliers, from Studio Company, were quite attentive and on time, for this challenging choreographic feat.
Le Spectre de la Rose: Choreography by Michel Fokine, Music by Carl Maria von Weber (Invitation to the Dance), Staging by Kirk Peterson, Costumes by Robert Perdziola after Leon Bakst, Lighting by Brad Fields, Performed by Susan Jaffe as The Young Girl and Herman Cornejo as The Rose. The highlight of the evening, for this reviewer, was seeing Susan Jaffe dance once more, and, no less, with Herman Cornejo! I personally attended her retirement dance event at ABT some years ago, with her partners laying roses at her feet, standing in a circle. Tonight, Ms. Jaffe, more known these days for her role in the dance competitions, actually danced this role with closed eyes, as she should, for she is asleep with The Rose, that is, the rose from her dress, come alive in her dream, in the form of a man in a rose painted leotard, the original Nijinsky role.
Mr. Cornejo, who is receiving international accolades for his interpretation of The Rose, literally leaped onto the stage with passion and presence, and brought the ingénue about her living room in rapture and romance. The sets were minimal, compared to ABT_s usual staging of this repertoire work, with a cloth-covered landing, a symbol of the window, and the requisite, plush armchair, for the ingénue_s reverie. Ms. Jaffe should come out of retirement more often. Her dance was eloquent and effortless, as always. I actually have a signed pair of Ms. Jaffe's Freed of London toe shoes in a personal collection.
Veiled Calling (World Premiere): Choreography by Jessica Lang, Music by Zbigniew Preisner, Costumes by Elena Comendador, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Performed by he Company and Dancers of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT. This piece afforded an opportunity to see the students of the new Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, recently created at ABT, and they mixed extremely well with Studio Company dancers. With Spanish references and earthy whisperings in the three part score, this lengthy work seemed misplaced. As Spectre de la Rose, creates such energy, Veiled Calling may have been better as the closer. This premiere work was anti-climactic, and the sudden shift in mood and tempo did not do the work justice. I would have preferred to see this piece in a future program, as the evening was already closing on two hours and seven works. However, to be fair to the dancers and Jessica Lang, Veiled Calling is a tremendously textured and creatively stylized production.
Kudos to John Meehan and ABT Studio Company for this fine production. I look forward to seeing these young performers, with or without guest artists, again soon.