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American Ballet Theatre: The Young People's Ballet Workshop

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American Ballet Theatre

The Young People’s Ballet Workshop
Hosted by Wes Chapman

At City Center

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Clinton Luckett
Georgina Parkinson, Nancy Raffa

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 1, 2007

(See More ABT Reviews and Candids)
(See an Interview with ABT Conductor, David LaMarche)

American Ballet Theatre has a smaller Company, of thirteen dancers from around the globe, led by Wes Chapman. These students train in New York for one to two years, before joining other Companies or ABT’s main Company. Student outreach is inherent in the ABT II program, and today’s morning event at City Center was performed for hundreds of NYC schoolchildren, all dynamic and enthused. For some, this was a first ballet experience, sure to leave a significant impression. The students were particularly engaged in Wes Chapman’s frequent announcements and explanations. Mr. Chapman held their interest and challenged their aesthetic appreciation with expertise. (Assisted by ABT Program Notes)

(Program below) Today’s Ballet Workshop for several NYC public schools was quite a success. City Center was packed to the rafters. (This writer used to be an elementary school principal, planning ballet and arts programs for young students.) Students particularly liked the second half of the eclectic program, with its sheer athleticism and dynamic music and choreography. However, the entire presentation was warmly received, sometimes too warmly, as students squealed and hooted at each and every bravura effort. The ABT II Continuo by Tudor had rippling and flowing effects to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, with three couples presenting showman-like skills in the commemoration of Tudor’s Centennial.

Veronica Part and Cory Stearns of ABT danced the pas de deux from Leaves are Fading. This is an ethereal and romantic piece, set to Dvorak’s impassioned score. Ms. Part is a soloist with the Company, and Mr. Stearns is in the Corps. The students responded o the chemistry and charisma of the partnering and to the elegance of the lifts and en pointe work. Sonata Minor was composed, choreographed, and performed by Alexei Agoudine, Corps dancer at ABT. This contemporary work showcased the skills of a rising artist in the Company. Mr. Agoudine captivated the students with his individuality, and Wes Chapman served his efforts well in the introduction and accolades.

Stella Abrera and David Hallberg repeated their pas de deux from Lar Lubovitch’s Meadow next, with the diversified and momentous score and riveting partnering. Ms. Abrera twisted and turned her torso about Mr. Hallberg, and he carried her about the stage in their blue/lavender costumes by Ann Hould Ward. The final scene, in which Ms. Abrera rises to the rafters in a dim cloud of smoke, was obviously a first for the students, and they were astounded. Stanton Welch’s Clear is a male hormonal performance, with swift turns, leaps, lunges, and very “clear” muscles. Jared Matthews, Luis Ribagorda, and Arron Scott were propulsive and punctuated in the score by Bach.

Twyla Tharp’s Baker’s Dozen brought some of the cream of the ABT crop onstage, and the Willy “The Lion” Smith piano rolls set the students in a Swinging mood. Craig Salstein’s character-driven finale was slapstick and stylized, to the point of enhancing the energy and bringing attention to this upbeat, buoyant work. Finally, three works were performed by Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and Arts High School Alumni. A Day in the City and A Day on the Range were respectively inspired by Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free and Agnes De Mille’s Rodeo. Jessica Lang worked with the MAB Dance Team, and the students kept it simple and scintillating. The first work had a sailor motif and the second a cowboy motif, and the audience related to the effort with vocal verve. Her Comes the Sun was performed by eight Arts High School Alumni to a Nina Simone recording, and this brightly danced piece closed the program with inspiration.

Kudos to American Ballet Theatre for entertaining elementary school children.

Continuo (1977): Choreography by Antony Tudor, Staged by Donald Mahler, Music by Johann Pachelbel, Performed by (ABT II) Devon Teuscher, José Sebastian, Christine Shecvhenko, Roddy Doble, Isadora Loyola, and Brian Waldrep.

The Leaves are Fading (Fourth Pas de Deux): Choreography by Antony Tudor, Music by Antonin Dvorak, Costumes by Patricia Zipprodt, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Veronika Part and Cory Stearns.

Sonata Minor: Choreography by Alexei Agoudine, Music by Alexei Agoudine, Costumes by Alexei Agoudine, Lighting Design by Brad Fields, Performed by Alexei Agoudine.

Meadow (Pas de Deux): Choreography by Lar Lubovitch, Music by Franz Schubert, Gavin Bryars, Ferruccio Busoni, and William David Brohn, Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, Lighting by Brian MacDevitt, Performed by Stella Abrera and David Hallberg.

Clear: Choreography by Stanton Welch, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Costumes by Michael Kors for Celine, Lighting by Lisa Pinkham, Performed by Jared Matthews, Luis Ribagorda, and Arron Scott.

Baker’s Dozen (Finale): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Music by Willie “The Lion” Smith, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Michele Wiles, Kristi Boone, Misty Copeland, Maria Riccetto, Simone Messmer, Sarawanee Tanatanit, Craig Salstein, Julio Bragado-Young, Thomas Forster, Jeffrey Golladay, Blaine Hoven, Isaac Stappas.

Make a Ballet Presentations:

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts: Choreography by Jessica Lang, Kanji Segawa & MAB Dance Team, Costume Design by Michael Bottari, Ronald Case, and MAB Design Team.

A Day in the City: Music by Leonard Bernstein, Performed by Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

A Day on the Range: Music by Aaron Copland, performed by Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

Arts High School Alumni:

Here Comes the Sun: Choreography by Ronnie D. Carney, Music by Nina Simone, Choreographic Assistant Justin Melvin, Costumes by Kendell Dempster, Performed by Arts High School Alumni.

Stella Abrera and David Hallberg in Meadow
Photo Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Craig Salstein, Simone Messmer, Isaac Stappas and Misty Copeland in Baker’s Dozen
Photo Courtesy of MIRA

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