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Flash Review 3, 10-30:
Matinee Highlights Strengths and Weaknesses
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000 Susan Yung
City Center's stage felt
uncharacteristically small with American Ballet Theatre's corps
filling every square inch in the matinee on Saturday. The house
seemed to lend an air of collegiality by virtue of the seating plan,
which brought the audience much closer to the dancers, even with
the orchestra pit employed. This program was two-thirds academicism
-- "Theme and Variations" and "Etudes" -- and
one third romanticism with "Jardin aux Lilas." And despite
dating from 30s and 40s, none of the pieces seemed stale or period,
a tribute to the company's artistic direction.
"Jardin aux Lilas,"
choreographed by Antony Tudor in 1936 to passionate, string-driven
music by Ernest Chausson, told of a couple in love. Maxim Belotserkovsky
and Julie Kent danced the leads, both of whom were obligated to
other mates. The lovers' furtive flirtations and dalliances built
in urgency as Kent approached her wedding day. In the end, their
unrequited loves conveyed a sense of tragedy and desolation, especially
in a section danced by the two couples who came so close to revealing
their true affections, yet failed. Kent's slight physique added
to her vulnerability, and Belotserkovsky, with his long legs delineating
each movement, played a heroic would-be lover.
The afternoon began with
Paloma Herrera and Jose Manual Carreno in "Theme and Variations"
(1947) by Balanchine to music by Tchaikovsky. Both of these fine
dancers possess a solidity to ground their filigreed skills. Herrera's
legs and feet are prototypical for a ballerina, with strong, shapely
arches that are no less pronounced in a tendu or developpe than
when supporting her entire weight on pointe. Carreno complemented
Herrera with strong partnering. In a difficult passage, he steadied
her in an arabesque, then walked around her as she remained solidly
in position with her arm in fifth, holding his hand. Although a
showcase for the pair, this ballet also displayed the strong young
company at its best.
while interesting conceptually, proved to be more problematic.
To music by Knudaage
Riisager (after Carl Czerny), Harald Lander was credited with "ballet
and choreography," referring to the work's structure patterned
on a traditional ballet class regimen. After five young children
demonstrated the basic ballet positions, the curtain rose to reveal
rows of students at barres, with light only on their legs. The piece
evolved from plies, through tendus, degages, and on through center
work, such as the adagio, turns, and grand jetes. Gillian Murphy
led the large cast; she was partnered by Marcelo Gomes and Carlos
Molina. Murphy's pristine extension, seen in an inside turn, and
then in a slow promenade, never wavered. Though "Etudes"
served as a showcase for the perfect execution of ballet's fundamentals,
its technical and ensemble demands also left exposed some dancers
who were not able to polish a turn's landing, or who obviously heard
the music differently than others in their ensemble.
For more information,
please visit ABT's web site.
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