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American Ballet Theatre: Ballo Della Regina, Flames of Paris: Pas de Deux, Overgrown Path, Brief Fling
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American Ballet Theatre: Ballo Della Regina, Flames of Paris: Pas de Deux, Overgrown Path, Brief Fling

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American Ballet Theatre

Fall Repertory
Ballo Della Regina
Flames of Paris
Overgrown Path
Brief Fling

At City Center

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 28, 2008

(See More ABT Reviews, Interviews, and Candids)

Ballo Della Regina (1978:) Choreography by George Balanchine, Staged by Merrill Ashley, Music by Giuseppe Verdi (from Don Carlo), Costumes by Ben Benson, Costume Construction by Dale Wibben, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Penny Jacobus, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Michele Wiles, David Hallberg, Misty Copeland, Maria Riccetto, Hee Seo, Leann Underwood, and the Company.

Michele Wiles filled in for Gillian Murphy, and she partnered David Hallberg with sumptuous and scintillating elegance. Ms. Wiles, as always, glowed with passion and enthusiasm, as she can almost be heard breathing. One watches her sighs and emotional expressions, with her footwork exploding en air. Mr. Hallberg added a bit of camp, in fresh flourishes, as well as warmth and charisma. His speed and landings were stunning. This familiar Balanchine work, to music from Verdi’s Don Carlo, was exuberantly conducted by Ormsby Wilkins, in such a way to maximize the buoyancy of the ensemble and the pas de deux. In Ben Benson’s blue-pink finery, the images of classicism and perfected pointe work remind the audience that this is, after all, American Ballet Theatre, and their mastery of the classics is exceptional. In the quartet of female ensemble dancers, Leann Underwood caught my eye, with dynamically presented figures and mesmerizing motion. Hee Seo, as well, was astoundingly prepared. Kudos to Merrill Ashley, who staged this Balanchine gem, which she once danced with notable success.

Flames of Paris: Pas de Deux (1972): Choreography from the original by Vasily Vainonen, Music by Boris Asafiev, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin. A star is born (Daniil Simkin), and a dance duo emerges (Mr. Simkin and Sarah Lane). Mr. Simkin, a new Russian Soloist with ABT, partnered Ms. Lane in the Pas de Deux from Flames of Paris, a brief, explosive work, choreographed by Vasily Vainonen. Mr. Simkin soared into the air, with crisp scissors-kicks and youthful spins and flourishes. He’s all smiles, ingénue and ingenious. Mr. Simkin does not have the muscularity of Herman Cornejo or Jose Manuel Carreño, but he has a trim, firm physique that allows for propulsive pyrotechnics. Ms. Lane drew praise from the crowd for her feverish fouettés and lightning leaps. Mr. Simkin and Ms. Lane will undoubtedly be partnered Soloists in the Spring Season, well worth checking the Calendar in advance.

Overgrown Path (1980): Choreography by Jǐrí Kylián, Asst. to the Choreographer: Roslyn Anderson, Music by Leoš Janáček (On the Overgrown Path, Part IX), Costumes by Walter Nobbe, Costume Supervision by Joke Visser, Lighting by Joop Caboort, Tech and Light Adaptation by Kees Tjebbes, Pianist: David LaMarche, Performed by Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Misty Copeland, Kristi Boone, Hee Seo, Simone Messmer, Joe Manuel Carreño, Gennadi Saveliev, Isaac Stappas, Thomas Forster, and Jared Matthews.

This work has been reviewed in full, twice, this Season, as it was seemingly on most programs. Julie Kent, Gennadi Saveliev, and Jared Matthews returned for “In tears”, and Kristi Boone and Cory Stearns (an artist to watch) were captivating in “Good night”. Hee Seo and Jose Manuel Carreño presented the tenth of ten segments, “The barn owl has not flown away”, with impassioned desolation. Misty Copeland has grown into a startlingly spellbinding dancer, with versatility for each genre.

Brief Fling (1999): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Staged by Keith Roberts, Music by Michael Colombier and Percy Grainger (Country Gardens, Handel in the Strand), Original Costume Design by Isaac Mizrahi, Original Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Xiomara Reyes, Herman Cornejo, and the Company. This 1990 Twyla Tharp work was new to me, with its eclectic music, dance styles, and costuming, mixing electric, Scottish, and Percy Grainger ballads, a mesmerizing mélange. Ms. Tharp designs the outrageous, and here it was, with bravura, bare-chested men and a bubbly ballet duo, Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo. There’s a casual ambiance to this mix of Grainger’s “Country Gardens” (Ms. Reyes and Mr. Cornejo in traditional, but high-powered ballet) and Michael Colombier’s electronic escapades (eight dancers in “Tattoo”). Ms. Tharp presents all that dance can do, synthesized in one act, with lightness of spirit and strength of physicality.

Isaac Mizrahi’s tartan costumes add color and cleverness to this arresting work. The fact that Ms. Tharp’s Brief Fling has not been seen since the early 1990’s is only one of the many surprises in this viewing. Other surprises abound in the contrasting classical-modern motifs and the contrasting musical motifs. Ms. Reyes and Mr. Cornejo were outwardly adored by the audience, as they re-appeared for frenzied balletic fireworks. Hopefully, Brief Fling will enter current repertoire more often. Kudos to Twyla Tharp.

Daniil Simkin in the "Flames of Paris" pas de deux.
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Gennadi Saveliev, Julie Kent, Jared Matthews
in "Overgrown Path"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Maria Riccetto and Jared Matthews
in "Brief Fling"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

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