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American Ballet Theatre: Clear, The Moor’s Pavane, The Tempest
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American Ballet Theatre: Clear, The Moor’s Pavane, The Tempest

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American Ballet Theatre

Fall Repertory
The Moor’s Pavane
The Tempest

At David H. Koch Theater

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, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan-Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 8, 2013

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Clear (2001): Choreography by Stanton Welch, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Costume Design by Michael Kors for Celine, Lighting Design by Lisa Pinkham, Conductor: David LaMarche, Oboe Soloist: Matthew Dine, Violin Soloist: Benjamin Bowman, Performed by Sascha Radetsky, Thomas Forster, Daniel Mantei, Paloma Herrera, Alexei Agoudine, Jared Matthews, Jose Sebastian, Gabe Stone Shayer.

Stanton Welch’s work is not my favorite, but on occasional viewings it offers some fascination. Seven male dancers, led by Sascha Radetsky, are joined by a lone female, Paloma Herrera. At times the image is dance with arms parallel, in a circle, and at times dancers hit their thighs and shake their heads. The score is Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor conducted by David LaMarche. Maestro LaMarche kept the orchestra pulsating, but the choreography was often inane. The men are bare-chested and seem to be flexing macho muscularity around the female observer. One moment finds Ms. Herrera carried in a state of rapture and daze, while other moments find men rolling on their backs. There are far more fascinating works to fill the Company’s repertory programs.

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: Charles Barker, Performed by Roman Zhurbin as The Moor, Cory Stearns as His Friend, Veronika Part as His Friend’s Wife, Hee Seo as The Moor’s Wife.

This work is always mesmerizing, especially as the Henry Purcell score so closely matches every movement of Jose Limon’s choreography. This production has been reviewed on these pages, danced by the Limon Company, as well as by Ballet Theater in Season and in Fall for Dance. The shifting casts of the Moor on various viewings lends the work surprise details and texture. Tonight the very theatrical Roman Zhurbin was The Moor, with seething vulnerability and fury, somewhat akin to his interpretation of The High Brahmin in La Bayadère. Mr. Zhurbin kept his shoulders uneven, his torso twisted, a vision of operatic proportion. Hee Seo as the victimized Wife of The Moor danced with anguish and a sense of resignation. Cory Stearns was His Friend, the intermediary of the ensuing tragedy. Mr. Stearns danced with conflicted prowess, then devilish determination. Veronika Part, His Friend’s Wife, was demure yet demonic, calm yet conniving. She commanded space. Yet Roman Zhurbin magnetized attention with his emotive physicality. Charles Barker conducted.

The Tempest (2013): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Jean Sibelius (“The Tempest Incidental Music, Op. 109”), Dramaturgy by Mark Lamos, Sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Robert Wierzel, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, New York Choral Society (Artistic Director, David Hayes), Solo Mezzo-Soprano: Shirin Eskandadi, Performed by Marcelo Gomes as Prospero, the Rightful Duke of Milan, Sarah Lane as Miranda, his daughter, Daniil Simkin as Ariel, a spirit, servant to Prospero, Herman Cornejo as Caliban, an inhabitant of the island, servant to Prospero, Roman Zhurbin as Alonso, King of Naples, Joseph Gorak as Ferdinand, his son, Daniel Mantei as Sebastian, Alonso’s brother, Sascha Radetsky as Antonio, Prospero’s brother, Victor Barbee as Gonzalo, a lord loyal to Prospero, Julio Bragado-Young as Trinculo, servant to Alonso, Craig Salstein as Stephano, Alonso’s butler, and the Company as the Chorus.

There was much buzz this season about Ratmansky’s newest work, The Tempest, “a meditation on some of the themes of Shakespeare’s play” (as the program notes). Yet, when almost a full page of the program, in small print, synopsizes a one-act ballet, and when eleven main characters are listed in the cast, plus a chorale and Mezzo-Soprano, one is prepared for much to absorb, on first viewing. The score is from Jean Sibelius’ “The Tempest”, Incidental Music, Opus 109 (1925-26). Main characters on a stormy island are Prospero, Duke of Milan, Miranda, his daughter, Ariel, a spirit and servant, Caliban, who lives on the island, another servant, Alonso, King of Naples, Ferdinand, his son, Sebastian, Alonso’s brother, Antonio, Prospero’s brother, Gonzalo, a lord, Trinculo, a servant, Stephano, a butler, and a dancing Chorus. The choreography was “incidental” as was the music, as audience members in my row where feverishly trying to read the plot in the program, late and in the dark.

The focus is on Prospero, Marcelo Gomes, who seemed laden with outsized hair and costuming (sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto). To complicate matters the one-act ballet not only has an abundant cast of minor characters, but also shifts in time, present and past. At City Center, the stage would have been more intimate for this premiere work, but, at Koch Theater, it felt similar to watching an action film, with characters in strange outfits bustling about in conflict and in romance. Storms abound, like a fantasy film, and Miranda and Ferdinand (Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak) become a romantic duo, with some charged choreography. If only Mr. Ratmansky had synthesized this tale to three to four characters, like The Moor’s Pavane, the essence could have been engaging. Instead, it felt as if a dozen “supernumeraries” from Corsaire and Romeo had been plucked and thrown onto this stage to move here and there. Narrative momentum was lacking.

On the upside, it’s always enchanting to watch Herman Cornejo, Daniil Simkin, Marcelo Gomes, Craig Salstein, Roman Zhurbin (again), Victor Barbee, and Julio Bragado-Young. These seven performers (with Victor Barbee, Assoc. Artistic Director and retired Principal) would be captivating on any stage, in any work, debut or vintage. Mr. Simkin, in white, was like a firefly, scaling new en air heights. Perhaps future viewings will open fresh perceptions and reactions to this premiere by this incredibly peripatetic resident choreographer. Ormsby Wilkins conducted the Sibelius score.

Veronika Part and Cory Stearns
in Limon's "The Moor's Pavane"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Marcelo Gomes
in Ratmansky's "The Tempest"
Courtesy of Marty Sohl

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