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American Ballet Theatre - Fokine Celebration

'Les Sylphides', 'Petrouchka', 'Le Spectre de la Rose', 'Polovtsian Dances'

by Lori Ibay

June 18, 2005 2pm-- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City

American Ballet Theatre’s “Fokine Celebration” featured four very different programs, all showcasing the many talents of the company.  The audience first settled down to “Les Sylphides,” with the women’s corps of sixteen opening, beautifully synchronized phrasing, breathing together as one. 

Marian Butler danced the waltz with wonderful leaps and excellent timing, never rushing ahead of the music, even with changes in tempo.  The mazurka was highlighted by Maria Riccetto’s grand jetes that spanned the stage, and Gennadi Saveliev’s crisp beats and pristine landings out of his leaps.  Kristi Boone’s intensity and gracefulness made the prelude section not feel as slow as it was, and Riccetto and Saveliev’s pas de deux floated as smoothly and beautifully as the orchestra’s woodwinds notes. 

The second piece, “Petrouchka,” (recently restaged in February 2005) featured Stella Abrera as the Ballerina, Angel Corella as Petrouchka, and Roman Zhurbin as the Moor, with Kirk Peterson as the Charlatan.  The opening scene was colorful and chaotic, the commotion settling just as Peterson’s bizarre Charlatan revealed his booth containing the three dolls. 

Unfortunately, the narrow and deep stage made it impossible for audience members seated on the sides to see the entire width of the booth, which was set upstage with the corps gathered around it.  From the side of the orchestra, my view of Petrouchka was completely obstructed by the crowd on the stage.  However, once the three came out of their compartments, Abrera, Corella, and Zhurbin were disturbingly convincing as dolls, dancing a wooden, jerky dance.

In the second scene, Corella’s miming skills clearly revealed that despite being a doll, Petrouchka had passionate emotions, desperation apparent in his attempts to escape from his cell.  Likewise, in the third scene, the audience got a glimpse of the Moor’s cell, where Zhurbin demonstrated the doll’s bizarre infatuation with a coconut, and then was temporarily distracted by the ballerina.  The two danced a stiff, wooden puppet-like pas de deux to Petrouchka’s dismay.

In the final scene, the crowd entertained themselves with lively dancing by the nursemaids (Marian Butler, Maria Bystrova, Nicola Curry, Sasha Dmochowski, Karin Ellis-Wentz, Zhong-Jing Fang, Caity Seither, and Hee Seo), as well as the spirited coachmen (Bo Busby, Matthew Golding, Blaine Hoven, Daniel Keene, Matthew Murphy, and Patrick Ogle). 

The festivities were interrupted when Petrouchka, the Moor, and the Ballerina ran out from their compartments in a chase sequence so quick and chaotic that Petrouchka lay dying, slain by the Moor, before it was clear what was happening.  However, the audience still had time to marvel at the lead dancers’ puppet-like qualities and miming abilities, as they stayed in character for several bows in front of the curtain.

In “Le Spectre de la Rose,” corps member Danny Tidwell added himself to the ranks of ABT’s high flyers with his impressively high leaps, crisp beats, and cleanly landed double tours in both directions.  Opposite him, Xiomara Reyes danced gracefully and effortlessly, even with her eyes closed as she dreamed of dancing with her Rose.  With a bit more polishing and more control over his strength, power, and athleticism, Tidwell is sure to make his mark among ABT’s solid men’s corps.

The final piece, “Polovtsian Dances,” set to the ballet music from the second act of the opera “Prince Igor,” opened with a mezzo soprano, September Bigelow.  Following Bigelow’s solo, Sascha Radetsky as the Warrior Chieftain, and Carmen Corella as the Polovtsian Princess led a series of rousing dances that are “just a display of magnificently savage dance, more or less in the Tartar folk idiom” (according to the press notes).

The dances featured large ensembles -- 12 Maidens, 12 Warriors, 7 Polovtsian Girls (led by Laura Hidalgo), and 4 Young Boys.  Between the stirring dances, Corella and Radetsky were featured soloists, showing off their grace and power as the leaders of the ensemble.  Radetsky completed so many double tours that his final airy sauté seemed to be missing revolutions; but, his wonderfully centered pirouettes and soaring leaps were especially thrilling in the final piece of the afternoon.


Edited by Staff.

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