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American Ballet Theatre: "The Brahms-Haydn Variations", "On the Dnieper", "Fancy Free"
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American Ballet Theatre: "The Brahms-Haydn Variations", "On the Dnieper", "Fancy Free"

- Onstage with the Dancers

American Ballet Theatre

The Brahms-Haydn Variations
On the Dnieper
Fancy Free

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 3, 2010

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins

The Brahms-Haydn Variations, in memory of Peter T. Joseph: Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Staged by Stacy Caddell, Music by Johannes Brahms, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreño, Julie Kent and Sascha Radetsky, Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes, Hee Seo and David Hallberg, Sarah Lane and Carlos Lopez, Misty Copeland and Craig Salstein, Luciana Paris and Roman Zhurbin, and the Company.

On each viewing, Twyla Tharp’s Brahms-Haydn Variations is more engaging, nuanced, and gripping. Dramatic symmetry merges with pyrotechnic spins and leaps, with dancers flying into each others torsos and arms, mirroring each other’s spiraling twists, and finishing spirited lifts with ebullience. Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes were one of the most connected duos, as their longtime chemistry is thick. They glanced knowingly at each other just as Ms. Herrera began a bravura lunge into Mr. Gomes’ arms. Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreño, also seasoned partners, multiplied their exuberant personalities with extra flourishes. Hee Seo and David Hallberg were well-matched, as well, although Ms. Seo is newer in the leads. When Ms. Seo was caught by Mr. Hallberg, in the golden glowing lights (Thanks to Jennifer Tipton), it was a grand moment. Among the remaining duos, Misty Copeland and Craig Salstein, a rising duo to watch, were effusively entertaining, bubbling with brio. Ormsby Wilkins kept the Brahms score brilliantly rhythmical.

Company B (1991): Music – Songs sung by The Andrews Sisters, American sentiments during WWII, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Reconstructed by Patrick Corbin, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Lighting Recreated by Brad Fields, Performed by the Company.

Paul Taylor’s Company B always looks different on this stage with this Company. His own Company dances it regularly at City Center, a more intimate setting, and his dancers are in a muscular, modern mode. The Andrew Sisters score remains deliciously delightful, and Ballet Theatre dances it with virtuosic whirling and balletic elegance. As the male “soldiers” walk in silhouette into the War’s fire, their figures are ethereally formed. Tonight’s cast was drawn from Soloists and Corps, and the mood was youthful and vivacious. Jacquelyn Reyes and Tobin Eason were splendid in the “Pennsylvania Polka”, but Arron Scott was too nervously exaggerated in “Tico Tico”, which has been powerfully danced by Herman Cornejo. Craig Salstein, however, was ecstatic and flirtatious in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!”. Joseph Phillips was an ebullient “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, and Misty Copeland, as always, took down the house with an ensemble of men in “Rum and Coca-Cola”.

Fancy Free (1944): Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Staged by Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Kermit Love, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton after original design by Nananne Porcher, Performed by Herman Cornejo, Carlos Lopez, Sascha Radetsky as the Sailors, Maria Riccetto, Isabella Boylston, Lauren Post as the Passers-By, and Julio Bragado-Young as the Bartender.

Tonight’s Fancy Free cast was supposed to be all Soloists, but Daniil Simkin was replaced by Herman Cornejo, and in the previous work Mr. Cornejo was replaced by Joseph Phillips (dance injuries often create juggled but fascinating cast changes). Mr. Cornejo was his jocular, hormonal, electrified self as the first Sailor. Carlos Lopez was the second Sailor, whose solo is slower, but radiant, and he handles it with ease. Sascha Radetsky, the third Sailor, was miscast, as his onstage romancing is challenged. He swiveled his rhumba well, but his passivity of emotion didn’t serve him in the role. The Passers-By were coy, sultry, and full of life. Isabella Boylston was the most captivating of the three, while Maria Riccetto threw herself into the sassy role with relish. Kudos to Ormsby Wilkins for navigating Brahms and Bernstein.

Gillian Murphy and the ABT Cast
in Twyla Tharp's "The Brahms-Haydn Variations"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Simone Messmer in
Paul Taylor's "Company B"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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