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American Ballet Theatre

ABT Brings Beauty and Boredom to the Kennedy Center

'Raymonda Divertissements', 'Without Words,' 'Within You Without You'

by Carol Herron

February 5, 2004 -- The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.

"Raymonda Divertissements" (Staged by Anna-Marie Holmes, after Petipa. Music by A. Glazounov)

I found the choreography to be less than inspiring, but the corps looked like they had resolved some of the timing issues they had had in the open rehearsal [held on Tuesday afternoon 2/3/04--ed.].  The bright spot was Xiomara Reyes -- she sparkled and danced as if she were in the most glorious ballet. Her arms were lovely, and in her solos her lines were very clean. Ethan Stiefel, on the other hand, looked like he was counting the whole time. Even his solo was disappointing -- not terrible, just no real passion. For the most part he looked stiff, and when dancing with Reyes he leaned way away from his partner (as if he really didn't like her). In the open rehearsal Marcelo Gomes danced Jean de Brienne and did a lovely job.

In the Grand Pas Hongrois, Sascha Radetsky danced beautifully.  He demonstrated how I would think a real Hungarian csarda would be danced - elegant, cocky, fluid and strong. But his partner, Sasha Dmochowski, tried a bit too hard and her movements were too quick, making her arms and especially her head movements rough.
The mirrored solos for the Two Men, and also the Two Ladies, didn't work well for me. The men were better mirror images but the beauty of the dancing got lost in the mix. The costumes for the csardas and the Classique were not very impressive.

"Without Words" (Choreography Nacho. Duato. Music by Franz Schubert).

I really enjoyed this piece. The patterns on the stage and the body positions were beautiful. The costumes, set and lighting were designed not to detract from the dancers' bodies and it was very effective. The relationships between the different groupings were dynamic and interesting. Of the women, Stella Abrera was the most fluid. Angel Corella was good, but Maxim Beloserkovsky had the best choreography for the men. When I saw the open rehearsal, Ethan Stiefel danced this part and was wonderful. Irina Dvorovenko danced with Beloserkovsky and though she danced well, her part looked almost too rehearsed.  She didn't really look like her movements were in response to him; but overall a very nice piece combining modern and classical movements to create an intriguing series of relationships.

The cello and piano were both played beautifully by A.F. Baumgarten and B. Bilach. In the open rehearsal it was noted that when the players received the music they had no metronome notation and as a result were playing a bit faster than the dancers had rehearsed. They slowed the music down a smidge and the dancers in this performance had no apparent trouble with the timing.

"Within You, Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison"

The costumes for this, at least, were mostly just jeans. Nice colors!

"Something" (choreography by S. Welch)
Angel Corella - Wow! He did a super job with the sometimes frenetic choreography. And, I am sure people will think I'm crazy....something in the way he moves...reminded me of Baryshnikov. Really!

"I Dig Love" (choreography by N. Weir)
I did not care for the choreography of this. (my notes say icky!) That said, Marcelo Gomes was extremely good. Gillian Murphy and Herman Cornejo did the best they could with the choreography, but were not as effective as Gomes.

"While My Gutiar Gently Weeps" (Choreography A. Reinking)
Again I did not care much for the choreography, a little too dramatic. But again Sascha Radetsky was so fluid. And again his partner, this time, Sarawanee Tanatanit, looked a little forced and too quick. Interesting ... I wonder what it is of his style and form that is so fluid and supple, that it contrasts his partner so that in two totally different dances, with totally different styles  -- the effect was the same?

"Isn't it a Pity?" (Choreography S. Welch)
Dark set at first, slowly becoming brighter. Enjoyable but not very exciting or particularly interesting.

"Within You, Without You" (choreography N. Weir)
Marcelo Gomes was phenomenal. I was wondering how someone would choreograph this song, and Natalie Weir did an interesting job.  But what made it work was Gomes's dancing. I could see how someone else might run into trouble and have it look just a mess. But Gomes made the choreography his own and really became the song. For me, the highlight of the whole dance (and this is not one of my favorite GH songs!).

"My Sweet Lord" (choreography D. Parsons)
Just a parade of dancers doing their thing. Not bad, not great. Fun but innocuous.

Overall an enjoyable evening and, perhaps because I sat up in the 2nd tier and did not pay a whole lot of money for my ticket, I did not feel cheated. But one of the advantages for me is that, especially with more modern choreography, the balconies are a better vantage point to see the patterns.

Edited by Jeff.

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