Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gabe Stone Shayer in Whipped Cream

Gabe Stone Shayer as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Photo: Gene Schiavone

Gabe Stone Shayer, a corps member of ABT since 2012, made his debut in the lead role of The Boy in Alex Ratmansky's Whipped Cream on July 4, dancing with Sklyar Brandt as Princess Praline, and alongside Gillian Murphy (Princess Tea Flower) and James Whiteside (Prince Coffee). While Shayer is perhaps a bit larger in frame than the role calls for, his fresh youthfulness and exuberance are entirely appropriate.

Fittingly for the holiday, there were fireworks onstage as Shayer soared and leapt high, with his outstanding ballon and scissoring legs, and spun breezily, showing his solid balance. Besides his technical ability, honed by years studying and performing with the Bolshoi, the Philly native has a magnetic personality and an infectious enthusiasm that has won audiences’ affections. He dances with tremendous confidence and with a relaxed joy more commonly held by far more experienced dancers. (This relaxed attitude unfortunately applies to the carriage of his arms and hands, which could be crisper and might convey less flourish.)

Whipped Cream finale. (Gabe would be in the gold shorts suit at left center; this cast featured Herman Cornejo.) Photo: Gene Schiavone

He has been steadily garnering meaty roles at ABT, notably performing the lead pirate recently in La Bayadère and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie announced season promotions recently. Zhong-Jing Fang (at last!), Catherine Hurlin, and Katherine Williams are now soloists. I was half expecting Shayer to receive a promotion this season; no doubt it will follow soon given his abilities and appeal. I'm looking forward to seeing him in even more primary roles.

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