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Lori Ortiz
Performance Reviews
Sosnoff Theater
American Ballet Theatre
United States
New York
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

American Ballet Theatre— "Baker's Dozen," "Sinatra Suite," "Overgrown Path," "Company B"

by Lori Ortiz
October 19, 2008
Sosnoff Theater
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
P.O.Box 5000
Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000

Featured Dance Company:

American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
890 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

There are several thrilling things about ABT's performance at the Fisher Center, Bard Colleges Frank Gehry building, October 19th. I think I've mentioned them all.

The peak fall color, the spectacular 2003 architecture, with its nested, acoustically correct, Sosnoff Theater, and the American Ballet Theatre production, were not to be missed— even if you will see the company in a few days at the more convenient New York City Center.

The program began with "Baker's Dozen," a 2007 company premiere made by Twyla Tharp in 1979. The Elaine Kudo staging comes together beautifully on these dancers, each with a refreshingly individual interpretation. Its divided into five parts, the last recapitulating the first "Relaxin'," a continuous loop of loose, coming-and-going duets. In "Tango a la Caprice," ménage trois end in duets. Luis Ribagorda gives it a jazzy bent. Tharp's humorous, quirky poses are well appreciated by this audience. For example, when a dancer dangles upside down, legs hooked over her partner's shoulder. One behind each wing, they start out and then rethinking, draw back, and again. The dancers legs are splayed and feet flexed in a new definition of elegance. We're charmed. A sandy haired Blaine Hoven is wonderfully loose in a solo. Barbara Bilach played piano music by Willie "The Lion" Smith.

Misty Copeland meltingly dances "Sinatra Suite." She is untouchable glamour. Gentleman and heartthrob Marcelo Gomes smoothly partners. His purpose is devotion. His deference extends to Barishnikov; Gomes gives a populist performance in which he makes no evident effort to top or own the part created on the legendary dancer. They aptly respond to "That's Life" with Tharpian flexibility. To "My Way" he looks up at her 11:00 stiletto. Copeland is absolutely the star here. She's awesome.

"Overgrown Path" by Jirí Kylián is one of two company premiers. With two other Kyliáns ABT could now have an all Kylián evening. It isn't easy or entertaining work, though. Leoš Janácek wrote the music after the death of his daughter. Hee Seo and Manuel Carreño movingly linger and return to an open blackness between two floor-to-ceiling white scrims upstage until she's finally drawn in. The women wear long dresses in solid red, gold, brown, pumpkin, or champagne. When they wave their arms above and list from side to side, in these fall colors, they evoke the transitory. They are still dancing as the curtain falls.

The men excel. A trio of Blaine Hoven, Eric Tam, and Herman Cornejo, make "Come with us" a standout, and in the notable "Words Fail," Hoven, Cornejo, Tam, and Carreño, walk in unison with arching and contracting torsos. Also memorable: Yuriko Kajiya's crab-walk exit; spread legs and arms emerge from her pumpkin dress. I'm betting this classic divulges something more on each viewing. It's from 1980 when the shielded-eyes gesture was heavily appropriated in all the visual arts. Kylián is so much of modern ballet.

ABT's "Company B" is the crowd pleasing finale. Their technique and theatricality are win-win. Paul Taylor's 1991 dance to songs of the Andrew Sisters is great entertainment and forward-looking— to the euphoria of long-parted servicemen and their girls reuniting. It takes place post WWII, and in 1991, after the Gulf War, it was a hit. Gillian Murphy is the superb dreamy and vivacious bobby soxer, swinging long red locks. But Daniil Simkin, in a solo to "Tico-Tico," made this Hudson Valley audience of long-travelling balletomanes, Bard dance students, and the rural-born-and-bred, feel very lucky.

In this satisfying program of modern ballet, the dancers let their hair down. The sadness of life and death in "Overgrown Path" anchored it all, with wizard David LaMarche in the pit. The (invisible) baby grand was amplified and he watched the dancers on a small monitor. All this couldn't have been more eloquently spoken, anywhere.
Maria Riccetto and Blaine Hoven in Twyla Tharp's 'Baker's Dozen.'

Maria Riccetto and Blaine Hoven in Twyla Tharp's "Baker's Dozen."

Photo © & courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Karinne Guizzo, Sol Léon, Fiona Lummis and Cora Kroese in Jiri Kylián's 'Overgrown Path.' Courtesy of Nederlands Dans Theater.

Karinne Guizzo, Sol Léon, Fiona Lummis and Cora Kroese in Jiri Kylián's "Overgrown Path." Courtesy of Nederlands Dans Theater.

Photo © & courtesy of Joris Jan Bos

Misty Copeland in 'Company B'

Misty Copeland in "Company B"

Photo © & courtesy of Lois Greenfield

Frank Gehry's Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts

Frank Gehry's Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts

Photo © & courtesy of Peter Aaron/Esto

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