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American Ballet Theatre - 'Romeo &
by Mary Ellen Hunt
June 30, 2004 –
Metropolitan Opera House, New York
How wonderful is it when you
can walk into a Wednesday matinee on a hot sleepy summer day and be unexpectedly
transported by the sheer magic onstage? If I asked in my last review of
American Ballet Theatre where the old fashioned star power had gone --
well, apparently it’s gone to Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko,
the glamorous real-life husband and wife who gave an astonishing performance
in “Romeo and Juliet” during ABT’s last week at the
Metropolitan Opera House.
Indeed, the entire company performed this production -- which has become
for ABT something of a bread and butter show, an old standard that is
guaranteed to sell tickets -- with far more care and at a much higher
level than they did the previous week’s “Coppelia.”
Structurally speaking, Kenneth MacMillan’s version of the age-old
classic works the best in the first act, which has a vibrancy and anticipation
that the next two acts lack. This “Romeo and Juliet” is not
told as succinctly or dramatically as John Cranko’s, but the overall
production is bolstered by Nicholas Georgiadis’s beautiful sets
of steep stairs and loggias and towering walls, to say nothing of the
dancers who star in it, such as the handsome Beloserkovsky.
It was a treat to see him with companions Jesus Pastor (a serious, slightly
contentious Mercutio) and David Hallberg (a princely Benvolio). All three
are well-matched, with a comfortable and entirely believable camaraderie.
This is a trio of real boys nudging each other, fooling around with loose
women and generally cruising the piazza making idle mischief.
As Mercutio, the accomplished Pastor was perhaps more sardonic than clownish.
Hallberg, who has all the makings of a major danseur noble, is still young
enough to want to push tricks in his turns and jumps, but hopefully a
coach will let him know that with his technique and abilities, he won’t
need all that to become a star.
It’s almost a pity having Carlos Molina play Paris. As charming
and handsome as he is, clearly Dvorovenko’s Juliet was destined
for Beloserkovsky’s Romeo. Nevertheless, Molina’s partnering
was both deferential and princely in the ballroom pas de deux, making
Dvorovenko’s supported jetes look as light and yet intricate as
tracery on a Gothic cathedral.
Dvorovenko’s first scene, with her nurse and then with her parents
and Paris, was marvelous. Her skimming fleetness of foot mixed with coltish
curiosity puts me in mind of the film of Galina Ulanova in the same role.
When she runs, she does not so much gallop as fly.
I’m told that opinions on Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky vary -- although
I can’t for the life of me see why. Let’s say this though
– in the first act ballroom scene, as their spheres edged closer
and closer, my eyes hurt from trying to watch the both of them at the
same time. I didn’t want to miss a single one of Dvorovenko’s
slowly turning, endlessly mobile enveloppes, but I also couldn’t
stand to miss the look on Beloserkovsky’s face when he first glimpses
And it only got better from there. From their first glance, there was
a palpable sense that that a thread connected their eyes, even across
It’s of course tempting to ascribe this magic to the fact that they
are married, but there is canny skill and experience behind this partnership
too. Their duet in the empty ballroom was laudable not only for its lyricism,
but also the readability and logic of every move, whether dramatic or
Dvorovenko’s Juliet is not as willful as, say, Alessandra Ferri’s.
Rather she is an effortlessly enchanting and artless slip of a girl.
In the famous balcony scene, her pique jetes were almost inhumanly swift
and light. But what left the audience breathless and misty-eyed at the
end of act one was not the whirling turns and arabesques -- which were
beautiful -- or the exhilarating lifts -- which went moderately well --
but rather the obvious tenderness between them. In Beloserkovsky’s
hands, she and, indeed we, knew that she would be utterly cared for.
Small moments throughout the ballet detailed that tenderness, from the
way that he stroked her hair as she slept beside him at the beginning
of the third act, to the way that he carefully but discreetly arranged
the hem of her dress in the scene in the crypt at the end of the ballet.
And to say that I was deeply moved by the time we arrived at the final
curtain would be a vast understatement.
Swept reluctantly out of the opera house at the end of the matinee, I
emerged squinting into the sunlight, still unwilling to relinquish the
perfume of Verona to the rush of traffic and the steam heat of the New
York sidewalks, and imprinted with the memory of one of those extraordinary,
Edited by Lori Ibay
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