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American Ballet Theatre - Les Sylphides, Mozartiana, Amazed in Burning Dreams
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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 5, 2004

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

Les Sylphides (1940): Choreography by Michel Fokine, Music by Frederic Chopin, Orchestrated by Roy Douglas, Staged by Kirk Peterson, Scenery by Alexandre Benois, Lighting by David K.H. Elliott, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Julie Kent, Yuriko Kajiya, Stella Abrera, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Jennifer Alexander, Marian Butler, and the Company. Les Sylphides was presented in 1908 in St. Petersburg with the title Chopiniana. Performances are with permission of the Fokine Estate. (Program Notes).

Julie Kent is flawless in her utilization of arms, hands, and facial expression as the lead Sylphide, emerging from the forest to woo Maxim Beloserkovsky. Tonight I focused on the ensemble's tiny bending of hands and heads to express tentativeness, flirtation, and excitement. With dark green-black sets in a deeply wooded ambiance, moonlit Sylphides dart to and fro in startling and classic fashion. Mr. Beloserkovsky exuded incredible balance and buoyancy in the Pas de Deux.

Mozartiana: Choreography by George Balanchine, Staged by Maria Calegari, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Suite No. 4, Op. 61), Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Maria Riccetto, Carlos Lopez, Angel Corella, Maria Bystrova, Ilona McHugh, Angela Snow, Karen Uphoff, and Students from The School of American Ballet. Presented by arrangement with the George Balanchine Trust. (Program Notes).

Maria Riccetto and Angel Corella were outstanding tonight and accepted countless accolades for their performance in the Preghiera and Theme and Variations. Balanchine's backward and forward kicks, as choreographic ornamentations, were quite noticeable in an offhanded and casual mood. Ms. Riccetto was exuberant and effervescent with speed, confidence, poise, and affect. She seemed to draw additional energy from Mr. Corella's lightning spins and aerial leaps. The black, severe costumes added to the drama of this work, created in contrast to the ethereal Les Sylphides. School of American Ballet students were, as usual, extremely well prepared.

Amazed in Burning Dreams (ABT Premiere): Choreography by Kirk Peterson, Music by Philip Glass (Mishima), Costumes by Kirk Peterson and Larae Hascall, Lighting by Trad A. Burns after Randall Chirelli, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Carmen Corella, Misty Copeland, Erica Cornejo, Daniel Keene, Grant DeLong, Herman Cornejo, Eric Underwood, and the Company. This ballet is the third ballet in a trilogy to music of Philip Glass, with each ballet referencing the others, yet able to stand on its own. (Program Notes).

This newly introduced work was a total delight and should be seen more often in Ballet Theatre repertoire. It exemplified the potential for fine new works choreographed to contemporary music for large ensembles, which also generate passionate partnering and ever-changing, dramatic figures. Philip Glass' music is repetitive in counts of six, as each musical passage slightly changes, initial notes bouncing up and down the scales. It would be quite easy to choreograph soporific movement to potentially hypnotic measures. However, Kirk Peterson has accomplished just the opposite realization of eye-opening differentiation of partnered figures for this youthful and energetic ensemble.

With male dancers barefoot, the rapid arm swings are timed for the six-note repetitions, and the stage floor becomes a river of undulating sound and motion, with each new set of partners or small ensemble exciting the mind and mood. The work ends in a flash of red, bodies burning with light and power. Kudos to Kirk Peterson, and kudos to this Ballet Theatre ensemble.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net