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Review 1, 10-27: Sample Platter
ABT Fetes Ferri & Fokine
By Gus Solomons jr
Copyright 2004 Gus Solomons jr
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NEW YORK -- Standard
fare for ballet company galas: a thank-you-for-your-support speech
by the artistic director followed by lots of splashy, show-off dancing.
So it was on October 20, the opening night of American Ballet Theatre's
annual fall season at New York City Center, which also honored principal
dancer Alessandra Ferri, celebrating her 20th year with the company.
The season runs through November 7, and this troupe has both virtuosity
and artistry to spare.
The opening number,
Michel Fokine's "Le Spectre de la Rose," danced by Xiomara Reyes
and Herman Cornejo showed the kind of pyrotechnics for which ABT
is renowned. Diminutive Cornejo exploded in flawless double tours
en l'air, airy entrechat six, and bounding jetes in the title role,
and Reyes as the Young Girl, whose fantasy the anthropomorphized
flower fulfills, made a charming foil.
In a pleasantly low-key
speech, artistic director Kevin McKenzie thanked the appropriate
parties: trustees, donors, sponsors, et al, and reminded us, like
a proud papa, that the fall season -- which has been extended from
two to three weeks by, he said, the generosity of executive committee
chairman Lewis Ranieri -- gives the company a chance to take artistic
risks: to show ballets by new choreographers and smaller pieces
that would be swallowed up by the enormous dimensions of the Metropolitan
Opera House, where the six-week spring season takes place.
Next, another Fokine
work, the Nocturne from "Les Sylphides," featured Erica Cornejo,
Maria Riccetto, Maxim Beloserkovsky, and making her welcomed return
from maternity leave, Julie Kent, looking regal as ever. The quiet,
lyric section of this abstract ballet epitomizes the perfection
for which classical ballet strives.
Then, Paloma Herrera
and Marcelo Gomes wowed the elegantly understated audience of glitterati
with the perennial Act III (Black Swan) Pas de Deux and Coda from
"Swan Lake," choreographed by Marius Petipa to Tchaikovsky's music.
Herrera inserted double pirouettes between the first eight of the
thirty-two fouette turns that define her variation, and Gomes, dancing
with coltish ebullience, drew roars of approval with his triple
pirouettes a la second. The pair had been finely coached in the
dramatic nuances of the duet, making it much more than just a sensational
Irina Dvorovenko gave
a convincing rendition of "The Dying Swan," another Fokine classic,
with rippling port de bras. And the first half closed with the Act
II Pas de Deux from "Le Corsaire," choreographed by Konstantin Sergeyev
after Petipa and danced here with flair and brashness by Gillian
Murphy, whose unmannered purity is a joy to behold, and the smoldering
spin-meister, Jose Manuel Carreno, both in top form. Not to be outdone
by the Black Swan, Murphy inserted triple pirouettes into her blistering
chain of fouettes.
Angel Corella partnered the evening's honoree, Ferri, in Jerome
Robbins's "Other Dances," set to Chopin played by onstage pianist
David LaMarche, and created in 1976 as a piece d'ocasion for Natalia
Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov for a gala to benefit the Library
and Museum of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
The bravura bits choreographed
into so many dances custom-made for Baryshnikov's unique presence
rarely translate effectively onto other dancers. Thus, Corella seemed
to be doing a Misha imitation, though he did partner Ferri attentively.
Ferri has always seemed bound through her torso and head, making
her dancing look a bit stiff and overly careful. But her great delicacy
and oh-so-articulate feet and legs still worked magic.
Closing the program,
Jiri Kylian's "Sinfonietta," set to Leos Janacek music, illustrated
why City Center is a perfect alternative to the Met for this company's
repertoire. The dance in five movements for 14 dancers is packed
with the innovative movement that made Kylian a world-class dance
maker. And in this theater you're close enough to appreciate the
inventiveness and the dynamic details. Charles Barker conducted;
the horn players stood on the front apron straddling the proscenium.
Responding to the opening
brass and percussion salvo, seven men leaped repeatedly across the
stage in pairs and threes in an exuberant display of aerial power.
Four women (Stella Abrera, Anne Milewski, Erica Cornejo, and Marian
Butler) joined the men in the Second Movement, and the sonic texture
of the brass highlighted the unusual lifts and fast-changing groupings,
as the women passed and were passed among the men. Kent, Herrera,
and corps member Kristi Boone joined Gomes, David Hallberg, and
Sascha Radetsky for a lyrical Third Movement for three couples.
And after a reprise of the airborne opening passage, Abrera and
four male partners: Gomes, Hallberg, Jesus Pastor, and Gennadi Saveliev,
and the ensemble, including also Herman Cornejo and Carlos Lopez,
brought the piece to a gratifying kinetic resolution -- pure movement
with a human connection.
Through November 7,
American Ballet Theatre will be serving up more world-class dancing
and challenging choreography by old masters like Michel Fokine and
new ones like Christopher Wheeldon and Trey MacIntyre.
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