About the Author:
American Ballet Theatre - Theme and Variations, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Mozartiana, Ballet Imperial
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters : Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 27, 2004
Theme and Variations (1947): (See November 8, 2003 Review). Choreography by George Balanchine, Staged by Kirk Peterson, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Suite No. 3 for Orchestra, final movement), Costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge, Lighting by David K.H. Elliott, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Ashley Tuttle, Angel Corrella, Misty Copeland, Sasha Dmochowski, Renata Pavam, Adrienne Schulte, Julio Bragado-Young, Jared Matthews, Craig Salstein, Danny Tidwell, and the Company.
Tonight ABT paid homage to George Balanchine, and several NYC Ballet Principals were in the audience, such as Nilas Martins and Sébastien Marcovici, who dance to Balanchine's works most nights across the Plaza at Lincoln Center. In the most luxurious of sets, with long golden columns and sparkling chandeliers, and in the most luxurious of costumes of peach (Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corrella), midst purple tutus, ABT performed the first of four Balanchine ballets, set to sumptuous Tchaikovsky scores.
This Suite was elegant and allowed for virtuosic, double and triple tours en l'air, by Mr. Corrella and multitudinous pirouettes by Ms. Tuttle. Their partnering was well matched for physicality and connection, as they took center stage for much of this work. The soloists and Corps were scintillating, and Kirk Peterson created fine staging of Mr. Balanchine's choreographic design. The orchestral horns and percussion were quite critical to the dynamism and momentum and perhaps influenced Ms. Tuttle's extra time en pointe.
Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux: Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, performed by Xiomara Reyes and Julio Bocca. The music for this pas de deux was not known to Petipa and Ivanov, during their staging of "Swan Lake" in the original St. Petersburg version. Music from Act I became the famous "Black Swan Pas de Deux". (Program Notes).
This was Tchaikovsky caliente, as the Cuban-born Xiomara Reyes and the Argentinean-born Julio Bocca took the stage by storm in this new and unusual Pas de Deux from original and rare Swan Lake notations. This was a mesmerizing moment in ballet history, as these two virtuosos, ABT Principals with extreme charisma and chemistry, created indelible, visual and sensual patterns of choreographed abandon. Ms. Reyes literally leaped into Mr. Bocca's arms in repeated, awe-inducing displays of fearlessness and wild daring. The final flourish, an exit, was a visual dessert, with Mr. Bocca uplifting Ms. Reyes, leg extended to the ceiling, and head to the stage. This Pas de Deux, originally intended for Act III, Swan Lake, is hardly the cruel and deceptive Black Swan Pas de Deux that developed from a different musical extrapolation of Tchaikovsky's score. Kudos to Ms. Reyes and kudos to Mr. Bocca, who enjoyed repeated curtain calls.
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 Veronika Part, Jesus Pastor, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Students from the School of American Ballet (SAB), and the Company.
The opening scene, with Veronika Part in winged-like posture, in off-shoulder, severe black, and four lovely students from SAB, also in similar, black dresses, in perfect poise and presence, was fascinating and classic. The Mozart elements of this Tchaikovsky Suite were obvious and lent a baroque motif to the signature Balanchine work. Jesus Pastor seemed a bit too taut and frenetic in his solo Gigue, too unconnected to the structured rhythm of the work. Mr. Pastor displayed power and skill in multiple leaps, although a bit too Allegro.
The duet in the Thème et Variations movement, with Ms. Part and Maxim Beloserkovsky in well-matched technique and timing, was significant to the ensemble Finale. Their lifts and connections were remarkable. Ormsby Wilkins conducted this third piece in a row and did so with expertise and a sharp eye for the stage.
Ballet Imperial (1941): Choreography by George Balanchine, Staged by Colleen Neary, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Concerto No. 2 in G for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 44), Scenery and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Scenery executed by Atlas Scenic Studios, Ltd., Scenery painted by Nolan Scenery Studios, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Barbara Bilach, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Nina Ananiashvili, Marcelo Gomes, Monique Meunier, Marian Butler, David Hallberg, Renata Pavam, Ricardo Torres, and the Company. Balanchine staged this Piano Concerto No. 2 by Tchaikovsky for the American Ballet Caravan in 1941 in the style of Petipa and the décor depicted a fortress in the Winter Palace blue and white. (Program Notes).
An unexpected heroine of this ballet was soloist, Monique Meunier, who literally fell onstage, during a solo, to the audible gasps of the audience, and then stood up and kept dancing, with David LaMarche, Conductor, improvising his orchestral score. In fact, once offstage, Ms. Meunier returned repeatedly for additional pirouettes and jetés, although they were understandably restrained. For some reason, I noticed that Ms. Meunier seemed a bit less energetic, with her lifts less than level, as soon as she appeared. Perhaps there was a muscle strain, but this was a display of courage and confidence, and the audience showed its appreciation.
The extraordinarily elegant set, with a background of blue castle and lake, as well glamorous candelabras and décor, was brilliantly conceived by Ruben Ter-Arutunian. It was good to see soloist David Hallberg and Corps members, Marian Butler, Renata Pavam, and Ricardo Torres in lead roles, in front of the Corps, as they are developing skills and stage presence on quite a professional level. Barbara Bilach, pianist, played eloquently, as her Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 solos enhanced and enraptured this ballet with depth and delicacy.
The charismatic and choreographic highlights of Ballet Imperial were the partnership of Nina Ananiashvili and Marcelo Gomes. Ms. Ananiashvili is a flawless performer, with every twist and turn and twinkle of her eye generating audience engagement and electric energy. Mr. Gomes has a true theatrical sense, and he exuded power and dynamism in his solo leaps and persuasive partnering.
Kudos to American Ballet Theatre for this elaborate evening of Balanchine selections and Tchaikovsky scores.