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American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 1, 2004
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

About the Author:

American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company

(www.abt.org)

John Meehan, Artistic Director
Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Advisor
Dana Boll, Studio Company Manager
Gage Bush Englund, Ballet Mistress
Brian Sciarra, Production Manager
Heidi Hoffman, Stage Manager

Performers: Lara Bossen, Grant DeLong, Matthew Golding,
Melanie Hamrick, Blaine Hoven, Jennifer Lee, Matthew Murphy, Jacquelyn Reyes, Ana Sophia Scheller, Arron Scott, Abigail Simon,
and Roman Zhurbin.

Presented at the Joyce Theater
New York, NY
www.joyce.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 1, 2004

ABT Studio Company is composed of 12 young (16-20 yrs.), talented dancers under the leadership of John Meehan. Studio Company performs in the NYC schools, and they are preparing to join ABT main company or another major ballet company after about two years in this program. New composers and choreographers are also preparing in Studio Company for future careers. (Program Notes).

Monotones I & II (1966): Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, Staged by Lynn Wallis, Music by Erik Satie (Trois Gnossiennes and Trois Gymnopédies), Costume Design by Frederick Ashton, Lighting Design by John B. Read, Performed by the Company. To some of my very favorite music by Satie, orchestrated by Debussy, Sir Frederick Ashton has choreographed two pieces, Monotones I for Trois Gnossiennes, and Monotones II for Trois Gymnopédies, with Ashton's own costume design, which causes the dancers to resemble light green or white jack-in-the-pulpit plants. These young performers were radiant and refreshing, poised and focused, and a total delight throughout the two Monotones. This was my first experience with ABT Studio Company, although I have extensive experience with ABT. These performers were in excellent form and quite agile.

Tarantella (1964): Choreography by George Balanchine, Staged by Susan Pilarre, Music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Lighting Design by Allen Lee Hughes, Performed by Ana Sophia Scheller and Blaine Hoven. Balanchine's Tarantella is an electric and energetic work, with tambourine and flirtation, which requires sensational partnering with charisma and chemistry. Ms. Scheller and Mr. Hoven exuded just the right amount of charm and physicality, as well as youthful seduction, not only of each other, but also of the Joyce audience. Mr. Hoven's impassioned leaps and Ms. Scheller's coy leg turns were daring and well executed.

Milk Pool (World Premiere): Choreography by Laura Gorenstein Miller, Assistant to the Choreographer: Diana Mehoudar, Costume Design by Salvatore Salamone, Costumes by Studio Rouge, Lighting Design by Brian Sciarra, Music: Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Original Composition by Rob Cairns, Cucurrucucu Paloma, Sung by Caetano Veloso, Performed by the Company. In an almost all female work, with costumes that resembled brightly colored swim-suits, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater was the backdrop of parts I and III, and Cairns and Veloso were the composers of parts II and IV.

The prominent motif of dancers climbing over, through, under, and around one another was quite mesmerizing. In fact, at intermission, there were couples trying to replicate that choreographic image, although with a milder effect. The lighting was striking, with golden bodies lit on the darkest of stages, as they wrapped and unwrapped their interchanging partners and even themselves. Part IV, to Veloso, had a contemporary, Latin feel, and the sensuality and romantic illusions of Mr. Scott and Ms. Simon were languorous and lyrical.

Staged Fright (World Premiere): Choreography by Brian Reeder, Music by Bernard Herrmann, Costume Design by Dennis Ballard, Costumes by Douglas Earl Costumes, Lighting Design by David Grill, Performed by the Company. This campy new work, choreographed by Brian Reeder for ABT Studio Company, in dressy black costumes, with film noir and "staged fright", is timed perfectly, with clever choreography, that sends one dancer at a time into a kidnapper's arms or other innocent ruse. There are dancers in mirror images, with a bit of surrealism, and a bit of Hollywood. In fact, Bernard Herrmann's music was used prominently in old film scores.

Kudos to John Meehan and ABT Studio Company for this fine production. I look forward to seeing these young performers again soon.

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