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American Ballet Theatre: After You, Piano Concerto #1, The Brahms-Haydn Variations
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American Ballet Theatre: After You, Piano Concerto #1, The Brahms-Haydn Variations

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American Ballet Theatre

After You
Piano Concerto #1
The Brahms-Haydn Variations

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
November 1, 2015 Matinee

(Read More ABT Reviews)

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

After You (2015): Choreography by Mark Morris, Asst. to Mr. Morris, Tina Fehlandt, Music by Johann Nepomuk Hummel (“Septet in C Major, No. 2, Op. 114, ‘Military’”), Costumes by Isaac Mizrahi, Lighting by Michael Chybowski, Barbara Bilach on Piano, Benjamin Bowman on Violin, Scott Ballantyne on Cello, Lewis Paer on Bass, Judith Mendenhall on Flute, Jon Manasse on Clarinet, Carl Albach on Trumpet, Performed by Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo, Thomas Forster, Scout Forsythe, Patrick Frenette, Blaine Hoven, Jamie Kopit, Duncan Lyle, Devon Teuscher, Cassandra Trenary, Stephanie Williams, Roman Zhurbin.

On this final performance of Ballet Theatre’s Fall Season at the Koch, the entire program was ebullient and ecstatic. Mark Morris’ After You, danced to Hummel’s “Military Septet in C major”, brought out glowing, new highlights in an already glowing work. Herman Cornejo danced with pride, poignancy, and poise, always a center of well-deserved attention. Mr. Cornejo, a premier danseur, tightly spins, lavishly leaps, and carries women aloft like feathers. Mizrahi’s pastel orange-to-yellow, silky costumes gave the stage an image of floating torsos and legs, like patterns of spring florals, on this mid-autumn matinee. As the backdrop lighting shifts, one dancer rushes en pointe toward the rear stage. Four men suddenly are seen in tilted cartwheels around a circle, and so on. The music ensemble of seven was exceptional, now having had so much practice in this work. Judith Mendenhall’s lilting flute, Benjamin Bowman’s scintillating violin, and Lewis Paer’s buoyant bass were all remarkable.

Piano Concerto #1 (2013) Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (“Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet, and Strings, Op. 35”), Costumes by Keso Dekker, Scenery by George Tsypin, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Piano Soloist: Barbara Bilach, Trumpet Soloist: Brandon Ridenour, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Christine Shevchenko, Calvin Royal III, Skylar Brandt, Gabe Stone Shayer, and the Company.

I had chosen today’s program just to be sure to catch Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1, with its thrilling and tumultuous choreography. Ormsby Wilkins conducted the pulsating score, Shostakovich’s “Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet, and Strings”, with Barbara Bilach, piano soloist, and Brandon Ridenour, trumpet soloist. I had last seen the company in this work on the Met Opera stage, and, with all the mid-air running dashes and dizzying cross-stage spins, I wondered how it would all fit at the Koch. It was fine, but technically adjusted for the diminished space. Skylar Brandt still has two spotlights, dervishly spinning and dervishly leaping, mid-air, across the stage with poise and speed. Keso Dekker’s mostly grey, as well as red costumes match George Tsypin’s abstract scenery, that’s evocative of Calder’s mobiles. Ms. Brandt and Gabe Stone Shayer, very well matched, seized the stage with panache. Christine Shevchenko and Calvin Royal were also outstanding to experience, with refined lines and elegant shapes. The solo musicians brought tonal electricity to the moment. .

The Brahms-Haydn Variations, in memory of Peter T. Joseph (2000): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Staged by Susan Jones, Music by Johannes Brahms (“Variations on a Theme by Haydn for Orchestra, Op. 56a”), Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Isabella Boylston and Sterling Baca, Maria Kotchetkova and Herman Cornejo, Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside, Christine Shevchenko and Joseph Gorak, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin, Cassandra Trenary and Blaine Hoven, Luciana Paris and Roman Zhurbin, and the Company.

Fall Season ended with Twyla Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations, conducted by Charles Barker. Today Maria Kotchetkova was partnered by Herman Cornejo, Gillian Murphy by James Whiteside, and Isabella Boylston by Sterling Baca, as the three lead couples. Yet, the duos of Luciana Paris and Roman Zhurbin, as well as Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin, were most tantalizing and charismatic. Partnering is key, individuals cannot stand out if the duo lacks inherent chemistry. Mr. Zhurbin, so magnetic as the figure Death, in The Green Table, on stage the past couple of weeks, is here a gallant and attentive partner, with he and Ms. Paris dancing with eye contact and cohesion. Ms. Lane, as well, sparkled with Mr. Simkin, with both dancers petite and highly trained. Gravity was kind to both, as they dashed through the challenging athletics. Santo Loquasto is a gem, with today’s straw-gold, silky costumes so luminous and well-conceived. Mr. Loquasto has been reviewed on these pages for well over a decade, for costumes and production sets, all eye-catching and ingeniously inspired.

Kudos to all.

Skylar Brandt and Cast of Ratmansky's "Piano Concerto #1"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Christine Shevchenko and Calvin Royal III
in Ratmansky's "Piano Concerto #1"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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