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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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American Ballet Theatre - Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze, Dorian

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 31, 2003
New York City Center
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(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

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American Ballet Theatre - Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze, Dorian


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Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 31, 2003

Petite Mort (1991): Choreography by Jiri Kylian, Staged by and Assistant Choreographers: Roslyn Anderson and Ken Ossola, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Piano Concerto in A Major - Adagio and Piano Concerto in C Major - Andante), Set Design by Jiri Kylian, Costumes by Joke Visser, Lighting by Joop Caboort, Tech/Light Supervision by Kees Tjebbes, Performed by Xiomara Reyes, Herman Cornejo, Renata Pavam, Carlos Lopez, Irina Dvorovenko, Gennadi Saveliev, Stella Abrera, Ethan Stiefel, Kristi Boone, Marcelo Gomes, Paloma Herrera, Jose Manuel Carreño, Conductor: Charles Barker, Piano: David LaMarche.

Jiri Kylian, Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater for the past 20 years, composed this piece for the 1991 Salzburg Festival on the second centenary of Mozart's death. With six men, six women, and six foils, they symbolically exude energy, silence, and sexuality. (ABT Notes). This is the ABT Premiere of this work.

With perfect timing and dynamic musicality, swords and sword play, gravity-defying extensions, campy, headless, interchangeable costumes (seeming to suggest the interchangeability of affect and sexuality), sophistication and style, the Company performed Mr. Kylian's contemporary piece with aplomb. This was certainly not my favorite shorter work in the vast ABT Repertoire, and I prefer to see this Company in more traditional choreography and motif. I have seen several performances of Nederlands Dans Theater in years past, and Mr. Kylian prefers surrealism and silliness to classicism and courtliness. My preference in the ABT Repertoire in no way diminishes the gifted nature of this production. And, what fun to have David LaMarche on piano.

Sechs Tänze (Six Dances) (1986): Choreography by Jiri Kylian, Staged by and Assistant Choreographer: Roslyn Anderson, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Six German Dances), Scenery and Costumes by Jiri Kylian, Lighting by Joop Caboort, Tech/Light Supervision by Kees Tjebbes, Performed by Erica Cornejo, Eric Otto, Ashley Tuttle, Angel Corella, Carmen Corella, Carlos Molina, Gillian Murphy, Jared Matthews, and the Company, Conductor: Charles Barker.

Jiri Kylian choreographed these German dances to illustrate Mozart's ability to deal with difficult circumstances with humor and agility. These six dances are set in the chaos of the world, but are performed with an oblivious and nonsensical style and attitude. (ABT Notes). This is the ABT Premiere of this work.

With a campy cross-dressing feature, bubbles, makeup galore, a hairdresser with imagination, gymnastic balancing, humor, and technical expertise, the Company performed this work with agility, attitude, and allure. Ashley Tuttle and Angel Corrella, recently reviewed in Gotta Dance! , were outstanding par excellence. Mozart must have thoroughly enjoyed gazing down tonight at his two scores set to ballet works that so well suited his temperament and thinking.

Dorian (World Premiere): Conceived and Choreographed by Robert Hill, Musical Arrangements by Jon Magnussen, Based on Works by Ernest Chausson, Robert Schumann, and Frederic Chopin, Scenery and Costumes by Zack Brown, Lighting by Brad Fields, Performed by David Hallberg, Marcelo Gomes, Julie Kent, Victor Barbee, Carlos Molina, and the Company, Conductor: David LaMarche, Piano: Blair McMillan, Violin: Ronald Oakland.

Robert Hill, a former Principal with ABT, has conceived his fourth ballet for ABT on the theme of the film, Portrait of Dorian Gray. Dorian has been given a beautiful large painting of himself in the peak of his youth by the artist Basil Hallward. Lord Henry Wotton, on meeting Dorian, befriends the youth and bemoans the ravages of inevitable age. Basil tries to destroy the painting to avoid mocking age, as the youth will change and the art will not. Dorian saves his painting and falls in love with Sybil Vane, an actress, a relationship that is undermined by the jealous Lord Henry. Dorian immediately discards Sybil, who takes her own life, causing the painting to turn cold and cruel, rather than the vulnerable youth. After hiding this surreal painting for ten years, Dorian stabs Basil, apparently on the spiritual power of the now grotesque painting. Dorian finally loses control of youth and dies, as the painting retains its original innocence and beauty. (ABT Notes).

If I recall, my past reviews have prophesized that David Hallberg was a dancer to watch, and here he was tonight in mature form, as Dorian, the vain and vulnerable youth, who casts away love on poisonous opinions, and ultimately lives to regret his tragic and whimsical mistake. Mr. Hallberg has style, presence, skill, and posture, all necessary to characterize the contrasting levels of shallowness and depth in this fascinating and fictitious role. Mr. Hallberg has a bright future with ABT in serious and demanding works such as this.

Mr. Gomes, as The Picture, has perfected the passionate intuition to move beyond staging to psychology. Ms. Kent, as Sybil, albeit an all too brief role, sustains the ardor and angst of this jilted heroine. Mr. Barbee, as Lord Henry, is the penultimate character dancer, who has been so popular in the theatrical stage personalities of ABT's full-length ballets. He personified here the manipulative malcontent who ruined good lives. Carlos Molina, as Basil, is an energetic and elegant performer, who was clearly the cursed and ill-fated artist. Mr. Molina is among the most talented of the ABT Soloists and surely another dancer to watch.

I intend to rent the film, Portrait of Dorian Gray, at the earliest opportunity. This magnificent new work by the extremely talented Robert Hill (formerly a daring and dashing dancer onstage, who would have been marvelous as Dorian) will surely be a welcome addition to the ABT Repertoire. Kudos to Mr. Hill, kudos to Blair McMillan and Ronald Oakland on piano and violin, and kudos to Kevin McKenzie once again for a brilliant production of contemporary works.

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