Sunday, October 21, 2012

Notebook review—ABT's City Center Season

Polina Semionova & Marcelo Gomes in Symphony #9. Photo: Gene Schiavone
In the interest of brevity, trying something new: a notebook-style review of main points, but not all of the connecting words. 

The sublime Herman Cornejo. Photo: Gene Schiavone
Alexei Ratmansky's new Symphony #9 to Shostakovich
  • It's terrific.
  • Plotless, witty, contemporary
  • Broken 4th wall directly engages audience
  • Shostakovich music humorous, brazen, with charismatic solo instruments like trombone, clarinet
  • Dream A cast: 1) Marcelo Gomes & Polina Semionova, 2) Craig Salstein & Simone Messmer, + Herman Cornejo
  • Couple #1 romantic, searching out some unknown thing and finding it = happiness
  • Couple #2 funny, playful, nobody plays w/the audience quite like Salstein
  • Cornejo a loner, oracle, guiding light; his final whirling pirouettes and collapse are like seeing the center of whatever universe we're peering into. One of the finest performers in ballet today.
  • B cast: Roberto Bolle & Veronika Part (waaaay more tragic), Sascha Radetsky & Stella Abrera (less in the moment), + Jared Mathews (would have thought Daniil Simkin was a shoe-in for this role, but Jared basically works)
  • Costumes by Keso Dekker wonderfully modern: photographic jersey print tees and cross-back dresses lined with gold; black velvet tights
In sum—Ratmansky's best effort for ABT thus far, finally departing from the romantic notions inherent in the story ballets he's done for the company, as well as the quite dreamy, abstract Seven Sonatas. His work for NYCB has been stronger (Russian Seasons, Concerto DSCH, Namouna)—was there some allegiance to nostalgia with ABT that tethered him?  

Reminder—Symphony #9 returns alongside the other two parts of his trilogy in ABT's spring/summer season.

See you in the spring! Symphony #9. Photo: Gene Schiavone
Rodeo, choreographed by Agnes de Mille to Aaron Copland's score
  • An intro film by Ken Burns puts in context the uniquely American style and subject
  • Pacing and staging are spacious, very Western American in feel
  • Copland score and painted sunset backdrops complete the American thing
  • Xiomara Reyes in lead was born for this role
  • Nice to see Radetsky get the girl; his tap ain't bad either

Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, choreographed by Mark Morris to Virgil Thompson
  • Great to see this Mark Morris gem in the rotation
  • Feeling of non-stop action, risk-taking hand grabs by partners 
  • Fluidity, lyricism, satisfying musicality and rhythm
  • Morris makes beautiful flowing phrases that read like really good writing 

In the Upper Room, choreographed by Twyla Tharp to Philip Glass
  • Wow, this needed rehearsal; the usual rough edges were pretty ragged
  • nice to see some less familiar faces in the womens' pointe roles, among the tougher technically speaking: Skylar Brandt and Nicole Graniero in particular
  • Sometimes the sheer adrenaline gets the better of dancers, like Luciana Paris and Sascha Radetsky, but it works in the end with the controlled chaos
  • Messmer excelled as a main stomper, and Isabella Boylston as well, on pointe 
  • Norma Kamali's black, white & red costumes remain surprisingly fresh and slightly shocking

The Moor's Pavane, choreographed by José Limon to Henry Purcell
  • Gomes is, predictably, perfect as the Moor. He commands the house with the back of his head, for cryin' out loud.
  • Surprise: Cory Stearns is pretty nefarious as His Friend, his long fingers snaking around the Moor's shoulders 
  • Julie Kent fragile, beautiful, vulnerable as the Moor's Wife.

  • Salstein always looks like he's having a ball in ABT's short rep seasons. Though not the most naturally gifted dancer (although the bar is ridiculously high at ABT), he continues to elevate his technique to match his enthusiasm, magnetism, and appeal. He also takes ownership of the stage and whatever roles he's given, which—not coincidentally—are increasingly higher-profile.
  • Messmer also had an outstanding season; she and Salstein worked together well
  • Amazingly, Santo Loquasto designed costumes for Rodeo and for Drink to Me

1 comment:

Christy said...

I really enjoyed the notebook style, hope to see it again sometime.