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ABT Studio Company
American Ballet Theatre
(ABT Studio Company Web Page)
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Kara Medoff Barnett, Executive Director

The Joyce Theater

Kate Lydon, Artistic Director
Carlos Lopez, Ballet Master
Jillian Brinberg, ABT Studio Company Manager
Brian Sciarra, Production Manager
Mary Jo Ziesel, Director of Education and Training

Kevin McKenzie, Kate Lydon, Carlos Lopez, Olga Dvorovenko
Allison Eggers, Susan Jones, Julie Kent, Clarice Marshall
Nancy Raffa, Keith Sabado, Gennadi Saveliev, Ethan Stiefel
Lupe Serrano, Martine Van Hamel

Nastia Alexandrova, Sierra Armstrong, Adelaide Clauss
Zimi Coker, Breanne Granlund, Virginia Lensi
Xuelan Lu, Courtney Shealy

Elias Baseman, Aran Bell, Carlos Gonzalez
Ilya Kolotov, Naazir Muhammad, Alex Pappajohn
Samuel Rodriguez, Satchel Tanner

ABT Studio Company Press: Susie Morgan Taylor

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 17, 2016 Matinee

(Read More ABT Reviews and Interviews)

ABT Studio Company is composed of 14-16 young (16-20 yrs.), talented dancers under the leadership of ABT Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, and the Studio Company’s Artistic Director, Kate Lydon, after successfully auditioning for the Company. ABT Studio Company performs in regional tours, residencies, and cultural exchanges. These dancers are preparing to join the ABT main company or another major ballet company after training in this program with ABT’s artistic staff and guest faculty. (Program Notes).

La Bayadčre (Pas d’Action): Choreography by Natalia Makarova, after Marius Petipa, Staged by Susan Jones and Nancy Raffa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge, Performed by Xuelan Lu as Gamzatti, Aran Bell as Solor, and the Company.

Bier Halle (Excerpt): Choreography by Ethan Stiefel, Music by Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss, Recorded by Orchestra Wellington, Costumes by Allan Lees, Performed by Zimmi Coker and Samuel Rodriguez.

Libera!: Choreography by Marco Pelle, Music by Anton Bruckner, Performed by Virginia Lensi and Satchell Tanner.

Third Wheels: Choreography by Gemma Bond, Music by Jennifer Higdon, Costumes by James Whiteside, Costume Construction by Andrew Morrison, Performed by Xuelan Lu, Elias Baseman, and Ilya Kolotov.

Bolero: Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Staged by Tatiana Ratmansky, Music by Maurice Ravel, Performed by Courtney Shealy, Sierra Armstrong, Aran Bell, Adelaide Clauss, Samuel Rodriguez, and Naazir Muhammad.

What an impressive troupe, the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Studio Company. It had been a few years since I last saw this ensemble, and the dancers were all unfamiliar to me, but not for long. They each exude sparkling vibrancy and energized enthusiasm. The first piece this afternoon at The Joyce was the Pas d’Action from La Bayadčre, a pas de deux for Gamzatti and Solor. Natalia Makarova remarkably choreographed this ballet, based on Petipa, and it’s regularly mounted in ABT’s Spring Seasons at The Met. Observing mostly teenage dancers perform these roles was stunning, considering the challenging choreography. Xuelan Lu and Aran Bell as Gamzatti and Solor were well matched physically and technically, although a few nerves created a bit of restraint here and there. It should be noted that Mr. Bell is an artist to watch, with poise, propulsion, and power. The ensemble of ten was well timed, synchronized, and theatrical, all costumed in Theoni Aldredge’s evocative, Indian temple dance finery, the same costumes that the main company wears at The Met.

The excerpted Bier Halle, by Ethan Stiefel, a former Principal with ABT, was engaging and enchanting, set to polkas and marches by Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss. Zimmi Coker and Samuel Rodriguez flirted fancifully and imbued flourish in their lovely choreography. Austrian costumes and ornamentations, including Oktoberfest-styled lederhosen for Mr. Rodriguez, were designed by Allan Lees, courtesy of Royal New Zealand Ballet. Mr. Stiefel’s ballet was buoyant and ebullient. Libera!, choreographed by Marco Pelle, again featured two dancers, this time Virginia Lensi and Satchel Tanner. This was actually my favorite ballet of the matinee. Anton Bruckner’s “Ave Maria” was so eloquent, as was the dimly lit (evoking glowing candlelight) couple, in sensual lifts. The shapes made in the soothing, chiaroscuro visual were mesmerizing. I hope to see more from this choreographer, as this piece was all too brief. Both dancers were sophisticated beyond their years.

Gemma Bond, currently a Corps dancer with ABT, choreographed the next work, Third Wheels. Music was by Jennifer Higdon, “Impressions I: Bright Palette”. Xuelan Lu, Elias Baseman, and Ilya Kolotov wore costumes by James Whiteside, a Principal with ABT. Lots of running and turning, right into the wings, brought back Ms. Lu in interesting leaps, but her two partners, Mr. Baseman and Mr. Kolotov, seemed primed for more challenging works, with their muscular limbs racing and kicking with youthful vivacity. Ravel’s “Bolero” was the score chosen by Alexei Ratmansky, ABT’s Choreographer in Residence. As the music swells, six dancers, Courtney Shealy, Sierra Armstrong, Aran Bell, Adelaide Clauss, Samuel Rodriguez, and Naazir Muhammad, take turns in competition styled, choreographic feats, solo, duo, trio, and so on. Arms and legs create dervish swirls, dancers eat space, en air to stage floor, and the Studio Company signals the audience that it’s in for a wild ride. I look forward to seeing members of this young troupe on the big stage in the coming years. Kudos to all.

Xuelan Lu, Elias Baseman, and Ilya Kolotov
in "Third Wheels"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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