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American Ballet Theatre: Mozartiana, The Nutcracker, Souvenir d’un lieu cher, AfterEffect
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American Ballet Theatre: Mozartiana, The Nutcracker, Souvenir d’un lieu cher, AfterEffect

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American Ballet Theatre

The Nutcracker
Souvenir d’un lieu cher

David H. Koch Theater

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Kara Medoff Barnett, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Clinton Luckett, Assistant Artistic Director
Susan Jones, Principal Ballet Mistress
Ballet Masters: Irina Kolpakova,
Carlos Lopez, Nancy Raffa, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Jenny Lee, Director of Marketing
Susie Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 6, 2017

(Read More ABT Reviews)

(See a Conversation with Conductor, David LaMarche, on the Spring Season Ballet Music.)

Mozartiana (1933): 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: David LaMarche, Performed by Christine Shevchenko, Arron Scott, David Hallberg, and an ensemble of Corps and Students from the ABT JKO School of Ballet. Presented by arrangement with the George Balanchine Trust.

At tonight’s performance, Mozartiana’s stunning, visionary form was most apparent, with wing-like arms in chiaroscuro effects. Christine Shevchenko, new in the role, had just the right posture, presence, and power to lead her ensemble to Tchaikovsky’s classic score. David Hallberg exuded characteristic energy and buoyancy in his partnering of Ms. Shevchenko. Arron Scott, in the Gigue, exemplified the fervent abandon of this central male solo. Mozartiana is an interesting and satisfying work on so many levels: visual figures, musical score, and individual interpretations.

Students from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre created striking tableaus in small black tutus in severe positions, matching the Corps ensemble and Ms. Shevchenko’s pose and posture. David LaMarche and Ballet Theatre orchestra added to the day’s musical magic.

The Nutcracker (Act II Pas de Deux) (2010): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Costume Design by Richard Hudson, Associate Designers: Justin Arienti and Mauricio Elorriaga, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Misty Copeland and James Whiteside. After Drosselmeyer navigates the sleigh through the blizzard to safety in the sunny Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Sugar Plum Fairy commands a festival in honor of Clara, featuring charming dances from around the world. As the celebration draws to a close in Act II, Clara receives her greatest Christmas wish and sees herself transformed into a beautiful Princess to dance in the arms of her Nutcracker Prince in this breathtaking pas de deux. (ABT Notes)

This is a not a bravura challenging Pas De Deux, but, rather, one for poses, friezes, lifts, rapid turns, male leaps, female fouettés, and pretend romance. Clara Princess and her Nutcracker Prince make the most of the moment. James Whiteside, much taller than Misty Copeland, was well suited for the lifting and walking within lifts. Both Principals love dramatic flourishes, ornamentations, and the slow development of a partnered frieze, in the moment. This duo did not disappoint. Elevation, sheer athleticism, and dizzying spins were not called for her, but rather languid walks, dashes into arms, tosses against Mr. Whiteside’s torso, and so on. I hope to see Ratmansky’s full Nutcracker during a Fall or Spring Season future repertory. Charles Barker kept Ballet Orchestra ebullient in the Tchaikovsky score.

Souvenir d’un lieu cher (ABT premiere, July 3, 2017): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov, Costume Design by Keso Dekker, Lighting by Brad Fields, Violin Soloist: Benjamin Bowman, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Stella Abrera, Marcelo Gomes, Sarah Lane, and Alban Lendorf. “Souvenir d'un lieu cher”, which translates to "memory of a dear place" was written for violin and piano by Tchaikovsky between March and May 1878. It consists of three movements, Meditation, Scherzo, and Melodie. The Dutch National Ballet premiered this piece in their 2011-2012 season, as a part of the anniversary programme “Present/s”. (ABT Notes)

Ratmansky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher, scored to a Tchaikovsky work orchestrated by Glazunov, is choreographed for two couples, in two distinct pas de deux. Benjamin Bowman was violin soloist with the orchestra, conducted by Charles Barker. The couples are evocative of Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, with couples interacting, only more intensely in Ratmansky’s work. Two men and two women break off from a partner, engage another dancer, then return later within their own pas de deux. One might think of relationship memories coming into play here. Happiness, sadness, quietude and brooding are all common gestural moods. In the second segment, more upbeat and comedic, dancers arrive and depart in solo and duo form, again interacting, with echoes of the first, more introspective segment. Lightness of dance abounds. Keso Dekker’s deeply colored costumes are exquisite and eye-catching. I look forward to seeing this ballet again soon.

AfterEffect (2015): Choreography by Marcelo Gomes, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (“Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70”), Scenery by Francoise Gilot, Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Cory Stearns as The Man, Cassandra Trenary as His Loss, Jeffrey Cirio as His Hope, and a Corps-Soloist ensemble of twenty-four as The Community.

Marcelo Gomes, a cavalier and premier danseur extraordinaire, is now also a rising choreographer. His less complex choreographies have been reviewed on these pages, but tonight we saw a ballet in another realm. AfterEffect, with a shifting collage backdrop, designed by none other than Françoise Gilot, lover and muse of Picasso and wife of Jonas Salk, is breathtaking. On second viewing of this lovely ballet, I focused first, once again, on the costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, white unitards with broad-brush swaths of painted color that match the backdrop. Then I focused on the plot, a simple tale of The Man (Cory Stearns), His Love (Cassandra Trenary), and His Hope (Jeffrey Cirio).

An ensemble of Corps and Soloists numbers twenty-four, all of whom are onstage, in shifting patterns like the backdrop, as an amorphous Greek Chorus. A luxuriant pas de deux between Mr. Stearns and Ms. Trenary brings ardor and romance to the stage. A separation follows, with Mr. Stearns in distraught dance, but then, Jeffrey Cirio arrives to lighten his mood. The specific choreographic detail that’s so riveting is one of Ms. Trenary being carried by a grouping of men, like a winged “deus ex machina”, to fly toward Mr. Stearns. It’s ethereal and spiritual, capturing the mood of this ballet’s motif.

Christine Shevchenko and David Hallberg in "Mozartiana"
© The George Balanchine Trust
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Alban Lendorf, Sarah Lane
Marcelo Gomes, Stella Abrera
in a Scene from "Souvenir d’un lieu cher"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Cassandra Trenary, Cory Stearns
and Cast in "AfterEffect"
Courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at