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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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American Ballet Theatre - Fall Repertory - Pretty Good Year, Pillar of Fire, Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 24, 2004
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(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)
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American Ballet Theatre - Fall Repertory - Pretty Good Year, Pillar of Fire, Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze


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
October 24, 2004

Pretty Good Year (Premiere): Choreography by Trey McIntyre, Music by Antonín Dvorak (selections from Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major), Costumes by Liz Prince, Lighting by Nicholas Phillips, Piano: Barbara Bilach, Violin: Ron Oakland, Violoncello: Scott Ballantyne, Performed by Laura Hidalgo, Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland, David Hallberg, Julio Bragado-Young, Grant DeLong, and Blaine Hoven.

This is a plotless, abstract ballet, but in stylized, classical costumes. I thought Mr. McIntyre had a good concept that could be still in progress. I would like to re-visit this work, but not soon, as there was so little affect, so little magic. The bravura dancing of David Hallberg is always worth the visit, as Mr. Hallberg is a rising star with energy, presence, and charisma. Gillian Murphy is well suited to this motif, and the final, staccato ending was quite dramatic. A bit more psychic connection between partners, ensembles, and toward the audience could raise this work to new heights. I am hoping that in future repertoires, Ballet Theatre would consider new choreography with more nuance and emotional texture, such as last year's brilliant interpretation of the story of Dorian Gray, called Dorian.

Pillar of Fire (1942): (See October 21, 2004 Review). Choreography by Antony Tudor, Staged by Donald Mahler, Assisted by Susan Jones and Kirk Peterson, Music by Arnold Schoenberg (Verklärte Nacht), Scenery and Costumes by Robert Perdziola, Lighting by Duane Schuler, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Maria Bystrova as Eldest Sister, Julie Kent as Hagar, Xiomara Reyes as Youngest Sister, Gennadi Saveliev as The Friend, Angel Corella as The Young Man from The House Opposite, and Kristi Boone and the Company as Lovers-in-Innocence, Lovers-in-Experience, and Maiden Ladies Out Walking. This tale of three sisters, one a spinster, one a lonely woman in love, and one a flirt, is set in 1900, when Schoenberg wrote the music used for this ballet score. (Program Notes).

In re-visiting this evocative and magnetic ballet, I again focused on the incredibly astute performance of Julie Kent. Her internal body contractions, exemplifying sorrow and apparent low self-esteem, in the presence of her very overstated and flirtatious sister, Xiomara Reyes, were almost of the power of the Graham Company. Although this ballet is not a mythological tragedy, and certainly does not call for the extreme body language of the Graham genre, it is still a psychological drama, one about a woman in love and loss. Angel Corella's performance as the cad, with superb self-gratifying spins and swagger, would be worth seeing multiple times. Xiomara Reyes seemed, once again, a bit over-stated, a bit too aggressive. Pillar Of Fire should remain in frequent repertoire. Kudos to Antony Tudor.

Petite Mort (1991): (See October 31, 2003 Review). Choreography by Jirí Kylián, Staged by and Assistant Choreographer: Roslyn Anderson and Ken Ossola, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Piano Concerto in A Major: Adagio and Piano Concerto in C Major: Andante), Costumes by Joke Visser, Lighting by Joop Caboort, Tech/Light Supervision by Kees Tjebbes, Piano: David LaMarche, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Ashley Ellis, Dartanion Reed, Yuriko Kajiya, Julio Bragado-Young, Renata Pavam, Danny Tidwell, Stella Abrera, Sascha Radetsky, Michele Wiles, Eric Underwood, Luciana Paris, and David Hallberg.

Last year I was not enamored of this and the following, matched work. This year, I found them more entertaining. The out-sized, black plaster gowns on wheels, for women and men to roll around the stage, the swords as foreboding props, the headless illusions, the bubbles from above, the campy double-entendres, as images from Petite Mort echo in Sechs Tänze, and the hilarious makeup were all extremely well-conceived. These are perfect Halloween pieces and should be re-visited once a year. Mozart never sounded better, aptly interpreted by Conductor, Ormsby Wilkins.

Sechs Tänze (1986): (See October 31, 2003 Review). Choreography by Jirí Kylián, Staged by and Assistant to the Choreographer: Roslyn Anderson, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Six German Dances), Scenery and Costumes by Jirí Kylián, Tech/Light Supervision by Kees Tjebbes, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Erica Cornejo, Jesus Pastor, Misty Copeland, Jeffrey Golladay, Sascha Dmochowski, Buck Collins, Marian Butler, Jared Matthews, and the Company.

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