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ABT II Performs Five Works, Including a Premiere, at The Joyce Theater
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ABT II Performs Five Works, Including a Premiere, at The Joyce Theater

- Onstage with the Dancers

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American Ballet Theatre
(ABT II Website)
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director

The Joyce Theater

Wes Chapman, Artistic Director
Kelli Gibson, ABT II Company Manager
Brian Sciarra, Production Manager

Company Teachers: Franco De Vita, Raymond Lukens,
Lupe Serrano, Nancy Raffa, Clinton Luckett

Kathryn Boren, Skylar Brandt, Brittany DeGrofft,
Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Telmo Moreira, Marcella Paiva,
Colby Parsons, Calvin Royal III, Irlan Silva,
Alberto Velazquez, Brian Waldrep, JinHo Won
ABT II Press: Kelly Ryan, Susie Morgan, Rebecca Kim

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 23, 2010

(See More ABT Reviews, Interviews, and Candids)

ABT II is composed of twelve young (16-20 yrs.), talented dancers under the leadership of Wes Chapman, after successfully auditioning for the Company. ABT II performs in NYC schools, as well as schools around the country, and it participates in outreach in colleges and universities. These dancers are preparing to join ABT main company or another major ballet company after training in this program. Composers and choreographers develop skills in this program as well. (Program Notes).

Interplay: Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Staged by Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Music by Morton Gould (American Concertette), Costumes by Harriet & Elizabeth Aymong, Performed by Calvin Royal III, Irlan Silva, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Brian Waldrep, Skylar Brandt, Marcella Paiva, JinHo Won, and Colby Parsons.

Swan Lake, Act II Pas de Deux: Staged by Wes Chapman after Lev Ivanov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Costumes Courtesy of ABT, Performed by Brittany DeGrofft and Calvin Royal III.

Pavlovsk: Choreography by Roger VanFleteren, Music by Karen LeFrak, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Costume Design by Holly Hynes, Performed by Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Alberto Velazquez.

Le Corsaire (Pas de Trois à Trois): Staged by Wes Chapman, after Marius Petipa, Music by Riccardo Drigo, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Costumes Courtesy of ABT, Performed by Skylar Brandt, Telmo Moreira, and Brian Waldrep.

Ballo Per Sei: Choreography by Edwaard Liang, Music by Antonio Vivaldi, Lighting by Brian Sciarra, Costume Design by Holly Hynes, Performed by Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Irlan Silva, Kathryn Boren and Calvin Royal III, Marcella Paiva and Alberto Velazquez.

The twelve ABT II dancers onstage at The Joyce seemed thrilled and exuberant to be performing in this renowned venue. Each dancer took the stage with energy, presence, and relish. I could just feel their excitement, seeing the sold-out crowd. They were in residence at The Joyce along with Ailey II and Taylor 2. The five-piece program allowed for extensive solos and ensemble performances, and on each night or matinee of their run, ABT II switched the featured dancers, so, for example, three women danced the Odette role in “Swan Lake” Pas de Deux over four days.

The evening opened with Jerome Robbins’ “Interplay”, a piece that’s filled with contemporary jazz and youthful frolic. Two male dancers, Calvin Royal III and Irlan Silva, danced the first two solos, with Mr. Silva especially charismatic in “Horseplay”. Yet, Mr. Royal III was balanced, entertaining, and muscularly adept. The colorful, silky costumes added luster to the stage, but these dancers were lit from within. In “Byplay”, Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Brian Waldrep bounded about ebulliently, and in “Teamplay”, with eight dancers sliding through each others’ legs, Skylar Brandt and JinHo Won caught my eye for their Robbins-styled buoyancy.

“Swan Lake”, Act II Pas de Deux, a staple of the ABT repertoire, was performed by Brittany DeGrofft and Calvin Royal. I have seen many of these dancers over the years, from their JKO Ballet School classes, benefit presentations, and spring performances. One of those dancers I’ve followed over the years is Mr. Royal, and tonight he exuded maturity, confidence, balanced spins, tall leaps, and attentive partnering. He’s obviously grooming for the big stage. Ms. DeGrofft, as well, was seen last year with ABT II, as was Mr. Royal, and the year has been good to them, infusing a deep dramatic poignancy throughout this story ballet excerpt. Ms. DeGrofft, especially, elevated her presentation with the essence of the suffering swan and with nuanced hand and shoulder gestures. This Pas de Deux was exquisite and noteworthy.

“Pavlovsk” reminded me of “Le Spectre de la Rose”, with the ingénue left with rapturous memories, after dancing with a lost vision. Roger VanFleteren choreographed this work about a Russian General’s widow, who visits his statue, at Pavlovsk Palace. The statue springs from the pedestal and dances with his wife, before stiffening into the statue again, high on the cold, concrete pedestal. Karen LeFrak’s lush score made this dance memorable and riveting. Meaghan Grace Hinkis was the young widow, and Alberto Velazquez was the come-to-life statue. Ms. Hinkis danced with Mr. Velazquez like the breath of spring, animated and emboldened, filled with ecstatic desire. Mr. Velazquez danced with storybook charm and lively lyricism.

“Le Corsaire”, another staple of the ABT repertoire, was danced tonight by Skylar Brandt, Telmo Moreira, and Brian Waldrep. I’ve followed Ms. Brandt since her late childhood ballet classes, and tonight she seamlessly positioned herself rear stage, as she began her 32 fouettés. By time she glowingly reached 32, she was center front, right where the prima ballerinas are, when they dance the role of Medora. Telmo Moreira and Brian Waldrep danced the roles of Ali and Conrad, and their bravura virtuosity was astounding at such young ages. The back-supported, gravity-defying leaps, muscular partnering, and rapid spins were danced well beyond their years. Ms. Brandt held a wide smile, as she appeared and re-appeared for each phase of this Pas de Deux à Trois.

The final work of the evening, “Ballo Per Sei”, featured three couples dancing to Vivaldi, decorated in Holly Hynes’ pale blue-white costumes. Edwaard Liang, who was featured in a Chicago offstage presentation, choreographed this current piece for ABT II, adding luscious stretches, elegant partnering, and some interesting still figures. It moves fluidly and incandescently, and I’d like to see it again, not at the end of a long program.

Kudos to the twelve ABT II dancers, and kudos to Wes Chapman, for an inspiring evening of ballet at The Joyce. The photos below show a different cast for some of these ballets.

Courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor
©Jerome Robbins
Used by permission of The Robbins Trust

Courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor
©Jerome Robbins
Used by permission of The Robbins Trust

Skylar Brandt and Irlan Silva
in "Le Corsaire"
Courtesy of Jim Coleman

Irlan Silva in
"Le Corsaire"
Courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor

"Ballo Per Sei"
Courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor

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