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American Ballet Theatre: Raymonda Divertissements, Seven Sonatas, Thirteen Diversions
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American Ballet Theatre: Raymonda Divertissements, Seven Sonatas, Thirteen Diversions

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American Ballet Theatre

Raymonda Divertissements
Seven Sonatas
Thirteen Diversions

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
November 1, 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: David LaMarche, Performed by Paloma Herrera, Cory Stearns, and the Company.

On revisiting Raymonda Variations, a new production, adapted from the Variations, Grand Pas, Pas de Quatre, and Finale of the full-length Petipa Raymonda, scored to Glazounov, the performance was even more stunning. This time, Paloma Herrera and Cory Stearns led the expansive ensemble, with different effect. Ms. Herrera was more serene and studied than was Hee Seo, on last viewing, leading with determination and inner strength. Tonight, I noted that this should be expanded to a full-length, abstract synthesis of the Raymonda ballet, without the dramatized storyline, with no scenery and these lovely creamy costumes. Ms. Herrera extended her arms ever so slowly, flawlessly. Mr. Stearns, her cavalier, was firmly balanced, attentive, in command, as well. Tonight’s two solo Corps Variations were performed by Cassandra Trenary and Devon Teuscher. Ms. Trenary was impressive in her tiny jumps, with toes in front of, then behind, the other foot. Ms. Teuscher was alluring in her rapid pirouettes. Nicole Graniero and Luciana Paris danced the duo Variation with effervescence. Under David LaMarche’s baton, the orchestra infused the music with exotic rapture. The Company once again evoked the Hungarian motif with gestural drama.

Seven Sonatas (2009): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Domenico Scarlatti, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Brad Fields, Piano: Barbara Bilach, Performed by Veronika Part, Blaine Hoven, Sarah Lane, Arron Scott, Christine Shevchenko, Alexandre Hammoudi.

The emotional expressiveness of Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas is again breathtaking. Three couples, Veronika Part and Blaine Hoven, Sarah Lane and Arron Scott, and Christine Shevchenko and Alexandre Hammoudi, exuded rapture and drama, with confidence and coyness. One might even notice a hint of Jerome Robbins’ gestures and mood, such as his Other Dances. Mr. Hoven is a restrained and internalized dancer, but, with Ms. Part, always effusively theatrical, he took on energy and glow. Ms. Lane was ingénue, but poised and a technical/physical match, spritely and dynamic. Ms. Shevchenko and Mr. Hammoudi were well partnered, with a sense of serene comfort. Each of the seven Sonatas was choreographically unique, sometimes ending with dancers still twirling. Of the six performers, only Ms. Part is a Principal, yet my eye was magnetically drawn to Ms. Shevchenko and Mr. Scott. Barbara Bilach, onstage on piano, brought out the sparkle in Scarlatti.

Thirteen Diversions (2011): Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Music by Benjamin Britten (“Diversions for Piano and Orchestra”), Costumes by Bob Crowley, Lighting by Brad Fields, Piano Soloist: Barbara Bilach, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Misty Copeland, Joseph Gorak, Hee Seo, Marcelo Gomes, Stella Abrera, Thomas Forster, Devon Teuscher, Calvin Royal III, and the Company.

On this second viewing of Wheeldon’s 2011 Thirteen Diversions this season, I was drawn to the pairing of Misty Copeland and Joseph Gorak. Both dancers imbue their individual and combined performances with astounding propulsion, drive, and charisma. They make the most of elevation, speed, musical timing, and expressiveness. The Britten score has a Theme, ten Variations, and a Finale/Tarantella. In a tour de force, Barbara Bilach once again was piano soloist, on the heels of the previous work. Charles Barker conducted. Hee Seo was partnered by Marcelo Gomes, and they created a muscular force that blended well with the muscular, vivacious rhythms. Devon Teuscher was partnered by Calvin Royal, and they, too, were spellbinding in their youthful fervor and flash. Stella Abrera and Thomas Forster completed the lead cast, with flourish. Of the Corps and Soloist ensemble of sixteen, Roman Zhurbin, Skylar Brandt, Gabe Stone Shayer, and Arron Scott all caught my eye. Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon, whose works become more and more resonant on each experience.

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

Christine Shevchenko
in Ratmansky's "Seven Sonatas"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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