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American Ballet Theatre: Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, The Moor’s Pavane, In the Upper Room
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American Ballet Theatre: Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, The Moor’s Pavane, In the Upper Room

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American Ballet Theatre

Fall Repertory
Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes
The Moor’s Pavane
In the Upper Room

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 17, 2012

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (1988): Choreography by Mark Morris, Staged by Tina Fehlandt, Music by Virgil Thompson (Etudes for Piano), Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Michael Chybowski, Pianist: Barbara Bilach, Performed by Gemma Bond, Marian Butler, Roddy Doble, Thomas Forster, Joseph Gorak, Nicole Graniero, Melanie Hamrick, Yuriko Kajiya, Joseph Phillips, Arron Scott, Eric Tamm, Stephanie Williams.

With Santo Loquasto's short cropped white tights (for women) and white pants (for men), and loose white shirts, the twelve dancers were flawless and fanciful. Virgil Thompson's Poulenc-like piano score drove a series of playful vignettes. Joseph Gorak deserves mention for his fast-slow turns and walks. He was on one leg endlessly, flexing his feet out and in, spinning again and again. He moved to the demands of Mr. Morris’ choreography with leaps in circles, arms out, legs spread like a scissors. The deceptively quiet music was elegantly embedded with virtuosic solos, notably for Yuriko Kajiya and Joseph Phillips. In fact, at one point, Ms. Kajiya commanded full attention in a seemingly effortless tour de force, and pianist, Barbara Bilach had excellent timing to match leaps and skips. Arms were busy, too, outstretched and uplifted. This is one of Mark Morris' finest works. The musicality is a joy, with each dancer exuding personality, almost giddiness.

The Moor’s Pavane (1949): Choreography by José Limón, Music by Henry Purcell, Arrangement by Simon Sadoff, Direction and Reconstruction by Clay Taliaferro, Costumes by Pauline Lawrence, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Marcelo Gomes as The Moor, Cory Stearns as His Friend, Veronika Part as His Friend’s Wife, Julie Kent as The Moor’s Wife.

I last saw this work performed by the Limón Company. It’s a chamber piece, with four characters, The Moor (Marcelo Gomes),His Friend (Cory Stearns), His Friend’s Wife (Veronika Part), and The Moor’s Wife (Julie Kent). It’s Shakespearean in tone and might be compared to the tale of Othello. The Moor is led to believe his wife has betrayed him, as the Moor’s friend is anything but, pushed forward by his own wife, or something along those lines, a vague, violent, disturbing plot. Mr. Gomes danced and moved with studied dramatization, to the hypnotic Purcell score. David LaMarche conducted this brief dance for its darkness of spirit. Mr. Stearns was menacing, Ms. Kent sorrowful, and Ms. Part hovering over it all. This is modern dance, and the choreography is deliberate and subdued.

In The Upper Room: (1988): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Music by Philip Glass (Recorded), Staged by Stacy Caddell, Costume Design by Norma Kamali, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Kristi Boone, Simone Messmer, Sascha Radetsky, Jared Matthews, Patrick Ogle, Devon Teuscher, Luciana Voltolini, Skylar Brandt, Craig Salstein, Nicole Graniero, Arron Scott, Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo. This dance was first performed in 1986 at Ravinia Festival. It was first presented by ABT in 1988 at Orange County Performing Arts Center. (Program Notes).

I chose tonight’s program to gaze upon and listen to Twyla Tharp's superbly designed work again, set in the bright and dark smokiness of special hazy effects. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting is intrinsic to this unique visual imagery. Philip Glass' mesmerizing, repetitive score builds through nine distinct segments; soon the music endlessly hums in my head. The thirteen dancers filled the stage with physical and emotional joy, at every moment. In fact, the sheer propulsion and exuberance of the male dancers, as they caught various female dancers in their arms and leapt about with legs flying and elevation expanding, were astounding. Simone Messmer and Skylar Brandt were all smiles, while effervescent and electrified, and Herman Cornejo, Kristi Boone, and Craig Salstein added spunk and sparkle to the mélange of motion. Norma Kamali's black/white/red loose-fitting costumes, with all dancers in sneakers, allowed for a casual, comfortable, charismatic carousal.

Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes
in José Limón's "The Moor's Pavane"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Herman Cornejo in Twyla Tharp's
"In the Upper Room"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

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