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American Ballet Theatre: Company B, Monotones I and II, The Green Table

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American Ballet Theatre

Company B
Monotones I and II
The Green Table

David H. Koch Theater

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic 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
Susie Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 25, 2015 Matinee

(Read More ABT Reviews)

(See a Conversation with Conductor, David LaMarche, on the Fall Season Ballet Music.)

Company B (1991): Choreography by Paul Taylor, Reconstructed by Cathy McCann Buck, Songs sung by the Andrews Sisters (sentiments of Americans during WWII), Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Lighting Recreated by Brad Fields, Performed by the Company.

There have never again been voices like the Andrews Sisters, whose recorded standards wafted through the Koch tonight in gorgeous melodies. Paul Taylor’s exquisite choreography (his modern dance Company dances this piece on the same stage) evokes the ravages of war, in quite different tones from The Green Table, which was tonight’s final ballet. Wearing tie shoes and khaki costumes, the energized ensemble opened in unison with “Bei Mir Bist du Schön”. Elina Miettinen and Conor Holloway appeared next in “Pennsylvania Polka”, in that splendid two-step across the stage, with smiles and charged ebullience. Gabe Stone Shayer took on “Tico-Tico” with outsized force and kinetic pulse, before Patrick Ogle became the guy who gets the girls in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!”. And so it went through ten dance-songs. Jeffrey Cirio, new to the Company, was filled with verve as the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”, and Devon Teuscher and Grey Davis exuded pathos and romance in “There Will Never Be Another You”. Mr. Taylor’s work is timeless and crosses all dance genres.

Monotones I and II (1965): Choreography by Frederick Ashton, Music by Erik Satie, Orchestration by Claude Debussy, Roland Manuel, and John Lanchbery, Designs by Frederick Ashton, Lighting by Brad Fields, Staged by Lynn Wallis, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Misty Copeland, Maria Kotchetkova, Daniil Simkin, Hee Seo, Alexandre Hammoudi, Sung Woo Han.

Once again, as in my 2004 viewing of this work with ABT’s Studio Company, the trio in Monotone I looked like green garden sprouts, and the trio in Monotone II looked like white luminous stars. Ashton’s costume designs (same for men and women) and choreography are ethereal and effervescent, head to toe, with glistening lighting, here by Brad Fields, and exquisite orchestrations of Satie’s original piano pieces, by another trio, Debussy / Manuel / Lanchbery. Tonight’s two dance trios were different from the Opening Night trios, with Misty Copeland, Maria Kotchetkova, and Daniil Simkin performing the first half, choreographed in 1966 and scored to Satie’s “Trois Gnossiennes”. Hee Seo, Alexandre Hammoudi, and Sung Woo Han performed the second half, choreographed earlier, in 1965, and scored to Satie’s “Trois Gymnopédies”.

Ormsby Wilkins, in the pit, kept the music pouring like cognac, smooth and rich. Sitting on the opposite side of the orchestra level, tonight, the imagery shifted in gorgeous contrast and concept. At one point, in each Monotone, a pas de deux occurs, but with a feel of outer space, in gravity-defying weightlessness. The third member of the trio then joins the duo in figurative imagery. There are lifts, legs sliding on the stage floor, seated positions, trio chains of exact positions with leg-arm lifts, arms held back like a swan, and surreal, somber, starkness in affect. This is a ballet one wants to experience every Fall Season.

The Green Table (1932): Choreography by Kurt Jooss, Music by FA Cohen, Costumes by Hein Heckroth, Masks and Lighting Design by Hermann Markard, Staging by Jeanette Vondersaar, Repetiteur: Claudio Schellino, Lighting directed by Brad Fields, Pianists: David LaMarche and Daniel Waite, Performed by Marcelo Gomes as Death, Blaine Hoven as The Standard Bearer, Arron Scott as The Young Soldier, Sarah Lane as The Young Girl, Devon Teuscher as The Woman, Kenneth Easter as The Old Soldier, Luciana Paris as The Old Mother, Herman Cornejo as The Profiteer, and the Company as Soldiers, Women, and Gentlemen in Black. This work was influenced by a dance of death and a post-WWI political culture, when it was premiered in Paris in 1932. (ABT Notes).

On this viewing of Kurt Jooss’ 1932 The Green Table, Marcelo Gomes assumed the role of Death, and Herman Cornejo was The Profiteer. This was, on the whole, a more muscular cast than the last two viewings this season, different, not better. Both casts brought out the grim moment-by-moment, crashing piano chords toward war. As in every performance of The Green Table (this is my fifth viewing in a decade), David LaMarche and Daniel Waite were the dual pianists. F.A. Cohen’s score could not be more gripping. Mr. Gomes is tall and muscular, and, as Death, he exudes terror and power, with booted footwork within the strong spotlight. Other cast highlights were Mr. Cornejo as The Profiteer, leaping like a panther, peddling his schemes and greed, in astounding mime persona. Arron Scott was charged as The Young Soldier, dynamic and ultimately doomed. Luciana Paris, as well, as The Old Mother, and Devon Teuscher as The Woman, brought dramatized desperation to the stage. The ensemble, male and female, as Gentlemen in Black, politicians and diplomats, cutting self-serving deals, masked and crafty, added credible trepidation.

Kudos to all.

Stephanie Williams in Taylor's "Company B"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Marcelo Gomes in Jooss' "The Green Table"
Courtesy of Marty Sohl

The David H. Koch Theater
Photo Taken the Night of the 9/15 Lunar Eclipse
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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