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American Ballet Theatre: Raymonda Divertissements, Bach Partita, Gaite Parisienne
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American Ballet Theatre: Raymonda Divertissements, Bach Partita, Gaite Parisienne

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American Ballet Theatre

Raymonda Divertissements
Bach Partita
Gaîté Parisienne

David H. Koch Theater

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Chief Executive Officer
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
October 29, 2014

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Raymonda Divertissements (2014 Staging): Choreography by Marius Petipa, Staged by Irina Kolpakova and Kevin McKenzie, Music by Alexander Glazounov, Costumes by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Brad Fields, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Hee Seo, James Whiteside, Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane, Joseph Gorak, Christine Shevchenko, Alexandre Hammoudi, and a Corps Ensemble.

This debut staging of the Grand Pas Classique, Pas de Quatre, Finale, and five Variations from Petipa’s Raymonda, by Irina Kolpakova and Kevin McKenzie, called Raymonda Divertissements, is breathtakingly gorgeous. Barbara Matera’s regal costumes, in bejeweled, silky cream with and black furry embellishment, are ever so Hungarian and exotic. Hee Seo, in a tiara, partnered by James Whiteside, leads the Company, with a Corps and Soloist ensemble of sixteen. Sections of the full-length ballet have been adapted for this new production, but with no scenery.

Misty Copeland and Sarah Lane danced a duo Variation with vigor and verve. Sterling Baca, Thomas Forster, Joo Wan Ahn, and Sung Woo Han danced the Pas de Quatre, and the entire ensemble supported the Grand Pas Classique. A high point was seen in two solo Variations, not by the Principals, but by two Corps dancers, Skylar Brandt and Christine Shevchenko. Ms. Shevchenko wowed with spins and tiny jumps, within her choreography, and Ms. Brandt sparkled as she leaped up, bracing her feet together, then forming pliés. Mr. Whiteside and Ms. Seo also danced solo Variations with aplomb, with the Company folding arms and stamping in Hungarian folk motif.

Bach Partita (1983): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Staged by Susan Jones, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin), Costume design by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Violin Soloist: Charles Yang, Performed by Misty Copeland, James Whiteside, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes, Stella Abrera, Calvin Royal III, Skylar Brandt, Craig Salstein, and the Company.

Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita, scored to Bach’s “Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin”, performed tonight by violinist Charles Yang, was resonant. Twyla Tharp has choreographed for fascination and fervor. Four couples or ensembles lead each of the four movements. Misty Copeland and James Whiteside, in the first, were glowing, with arms pulsing with the score. Santo Loquasto’s brown and beige costumes were emblematic of this uncluttered work. Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes led the second movement, with Ms. Murphy generating exquisite fouettés and Mr. Gomes in playful, yet masterful partnering. The third movement was led by an ensemble: Ms. Copeland, Ms. Murphy, Stella Abrera, Mr. Whiteside, Mr. Gomes, and Calvin Royal III. Solos abounded, but in simultaneous, parallel positioning. The fourth movement was led by Ms. Abrera and Mr. Royal, with Skylar Brandt and Craig Salstein. It was a pleasure to see a robust, buoyant Mr. Royal, who is fast growing into a dynamic virtuoso. Ms. Brandt and Ms. Copeland, as well, continue blossoming before our eyes.

Gaîté Parisienne ( 1938): Choreography by Leonide Massine, Staged by Lorca Massine, Assisted by Susan Jones, Music by Jacques Offenbach, Arranged by Manuel Rosenthal, Scenery by Zack Brown, Costumes by Christian Lacroix, Assistant to Christian Lacroix: Barbara Matera, Lighting by Steven Shelley, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Veronika Part as Glove Seller, Luciana Paris as Flower Girl, Leann Underwood as La Lionne, Adrienne Schulte as The Lady in Green, Herman Cornejo as The Peruvian, Cory Stearns as The Baron, Patrick Ogle as The Officer, Thomas Forster as The Duke, Alexei Agoudine as Tortoni, Christine Shevchenko as Lead Can-Can Dancer, Joseph Gorak as The Dance Master, and the Company as Maids, Café Waiters, Cocodettes, Billiard Players, Soldiers, Dandies, and Can-Can Dancers.

This 1988 production of Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne was filled with color, dazzling dance, and a multitude of surprises. Unfortunately, the Can-Can dancers arrive late in the one-act ballet, after a flirtatious and festive nightclub party has ensued. One might confuse the Cocodettes for Can-Can ladies. That is, until you hear the renowned Offenbach score, with the fantastic Can-Can melody. Years ago, sitting at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, I surely knew when the Can-Can had arrived. Herman Cornejo, as The Peruvian, was frenetic and feverish in burlesquean poignancy. But, the plot is opaque. The program synopsis covers almost an entire page, with sub-plots and unconnected characters.

But, when one thinks of the Can-Can, one thinks of wild abandon, raucous fun, champagne, chandeliers, ruffles, and seduction. And, that’s exactly what we got tonight in this pizzazz-infused performance. Veronica Part, as the Glove Seller, one of the festive flirts, drew the Peruvian and the Baron like a magnet. Luciana Paris whirled with flowers, Leann Underwood, as La Lionne, was stunning, and Adrienne Schulte was the Lady in Green. Cory Stearns, as the under-showcased Baron, was regal and campy, while Patrick Ogle and Thomas Forster were the Officer and the Duke. Alexei Agoudine was someone named Tortoni. Joseph Gorak was a spirited Dance Master, and Christine Shevchenko was dynamite as the lead Can-Can dancer (when they finally appeared) whirling in dervish delight.

Although the fragmented plot is completely elusive, this ballet is scintillating. Zack Brown’s scenery is perfectly, retro Parisian, and Christian Lacroix’ costumes are mesmerizing, in patterns and palette, thanks to Barbara Matera. Steven Shelley’s lighting is warm and bright. Conductor, David LaMarche kept the music frothy and the rhythms rambunctious. Kudos to Offenbach.

Scene from Petipa's "Raymonda Divertissements"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes
in Tharp's "Bach Partita"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

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