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Romeo & Juliet— American Ballet Theater— Irina Dvorovenko & Roberto Bolle

by Lori Ortiz
July 11, 2009
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

Featured Dance Company:

American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
890 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
212-477-3030
www.abt.org

It was the final performance of ABT's Metropolitan Opera House season. The house was brimming with loyal fans and they loved Roberto Bolle as Romeo. The special evening ended with the crowd on its feet, many dashing to the front to snap cell shots of the stars. The Met was aglow with photoflashes. A handful of viewers refused to let the evening end… They continued to stand at the pit and clap. Then they briskly wove through the departing crowd, through the bowels of the Opera House, to greet the stars at the stage door.

Irina Dvorovenko, a very dramatic dancer, was a memorable Juliet July 11th. Her hands are clearly expressive. Even her pointework expresses her theme. She portrays youth, yet understands Juliet. Her upper body has the flexibility to accomplish the many different lifts. Bolle poses her at waist height, flips her overhead, and upside down. These famous formations are often attempted. Here the lines are eloquent and never awkward.

Bolle is an easy partner. In 2007 New Yorkers saw him with Allesandra Ferri in her farewell Juliet and his first Romeo with ABT. He's something of a specialist though. He makes use of his boyish good looks to promote not only his career, but ballet itself, and UNICEF. This season he danced ABT's Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sylvia too. Good news is, he's on board as an ABT principal. We will see more of him in the spring. His dancing is buoyant, fresh, and impeccable. His performance tonight had an infectious authenticity. He is outward focused— a gentleman.

Act III is about the pain of love, and as expected, it is fatal. The funereal final act only deepens the sadness of the season's end. Though it did not induce tears, a fearsome emptiness set in once the curtain closed. The dark crypt in Nicholas Georgiadis's musty, lavish scenery speaks volumes. This 1965 Kenneth MacMillan ballet, the definitive Romeo & Juliet, interprets the story as total tragedy. Ormsby Wilkins's ABT Orchestra struck ominous chords in the 1935 Sergei Prokofiev score that are still in my head. Wilkins and Dvorovenko, Wilkins and the townspeople, were a team.

When Lady Capulet (Kristy Boone) cries over the body of Tybalt, it is one of the evening's most emotional moments. Savaliev is a hard, mean Tybalt. He also commandeers our attention whenever he is onstage.

Blaine Hoven shines as Benvolio. I wouldn't be surprised to see him tackle the Romeo role very soon. But this evening, Bolle is the buoyant, lively, and dashing newcomer. The kiss is not just an air kiss. The iconic balcony scene is steamy, through the prescient climax, when Dvorovenko's endless arm dangles over the balcony rail. This week Frederick Franklin turned 95 and performed four shows as Friar Lawrence! He brings a lifetime in ballet to his brief appearances.

On the down side, the comedy is something I don't miss in modern versions. The three harlots have the burden of lightening the load. But the acting overshadows the dancing. We can barely recognize Misty Copeland under her clown's whiteface. Could Julie Lincoln's staging have rescued this? Funny man Craig Salstein does his part to delight as Mercutio. He entertains and wows us with his quick turns and jumps, but doesn't have that character's typical panache and strong bearing. He tries to make light of his own death, as the story goes, but it results in unsatisfying ambiguity.

The scenery and costumes are stupendous, for example, the array of women's hats. Lush dances fill the stage with townspeople dipping and promenading in bulky brocaded dress. The swordplay, with real clinking metal, makes a dance of its own.

Why go to see such tragedy and morbidity? It doesn't end there. Upon leaving the theater we encountered lightening and thunder thwacks— a downpour. Well, it just brings out the fragility of love, family, life, and dance. We'd be nowhere without them. The company tours to LA now. Come October, they dance at Avery Fischer Hall with brand new ballets by Azure Barton, Benjamin Millipied, and Artist-in-Residence Alexie Ratmansky. ABT will also do Robbins's Other Dances!
Irina Dvorovenko and Roberto Bolle

Irina Dvorovenko and Roberto Bolle

Photo © & courtesy of MIRA


Romeo & Juliet Bolle & Dvoroveko

Romeo & Juliet
Bolle & Dvoroveko

Photo © & courtesy of MIRA

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