American Ballet Theatre

"Clear," "...smile with my heart," "Symphony in C"

City Center, New York City, New York

October 23, 2002
by Kate Snedeker

The evening opened with a performance of Stanton Welch's Clear. This b ballet danced to Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe is a showpiece for ABT's talented male dancers and they clearly relished the opportunity to show their skills. Michael Kors' costumes, tight flesh colored pants, allow one to view both the dancer's technique and the sheer physicality of the technical feats.

Angel Corella performed the lead role, despite a minor injury to his wrist suffered the previous night when he collided with the wings while exiting the stage during the premiere of Robert Hill's new ballet. The role was choreographed on Corella, and provides ample opportunity for him to demonstrate his almost super-human ability to turn. It's not just the speed of Corella's spins that are so impressive, but the ability he has developed to keep them centered and in control. It's a huge contrast to just a few years ago, when he would sacrifice stability and control for speed.

As one of the demi-soloists, David Hallberg was especially impressive. Trained at the Arizona Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet school, Hallberg has a wonderful blend of solid technique and graceful elegance. After seeing him dance fast-paced roles in Symphony in C and Grand Pas Classique, it was refreshing to see him in the slower passages of Clear. With such long limbs, and accompanying flexibility, strength and technique, Hallberg was able to bring out the full beauty of the slow developpés in Welch's choreography. People sometimes talk about a ballerina who has legs that go on forever - Hallberg is a danseur with legs that go on forever. Its too bad that ABT does very little Balanchine as Hallberg is well suited to ballets like Agon or Apollo.

Ricardo Torres was the other demi-soloist, and Joaquin DeLuz, Sascha Radetsky, Carlos Lopez and Craig Salstein comprised the exceptional corps. Julie Kent was the lone ballerina, and demonstrated her exceptional skills as a partner in her pas de deux with Corella. Despite the mismatch in size, Corella and Kent have developed a solid partnership, and look very comfortable in even the more challenging choreographic passages.

Following Clear was the premiere of Lar Lubovitch's new ballet ...smile with my heart. Choreographed to music by Marvin Laird, Fantasie on Themes by Richard Rodgers", the ballet is part of the centennial tribute to Richard Rodgers. ...smile with my heart is divided into four sections - an opening with all six cast members and three duets. In the first section, Do I Hear a Waltz and It Might as Well Be Spring, the full cast, Corella, Marcelo Gomes, Ethan Stiefel, Sandra Brown, Erica Cornejo and Elizabeth Gaither were light hearted and joyful in manner, with the women frequently soaring in airy lifts. The ballet was danced in soft slippers, which reflected the more modern feel of the choreography. However, Ann Whitely's ecru costumes, simple dresses for the women, silky "dress" pants and shirts for the men, were too lacking in color for the deeply "colored" Richard Rodgers' music. The color was also not flattering on the non dark-haired members of the cast. Much better was the red dress and black pants and shirt worn by Brown and Gomes in the final pas de deux. Brian McDevitt's lighting did bring interest to the ballet -much of it was in half light with a backdrop creating the image of two long, pane-less windows letting light on to the stage.

In the Sweetest Sounds Lubovitch brought out the youth and joy in Corella and Cornejo. Corella seems to need no encouragement to smile on stage, and his joy was infectious. In a pleasant change, Lubovitch did not exploit Corella's bravura skills, but focused on high-spirited dancing. It was less a romance, and more two giddy young adults reveling in the spirit of dancing and sharing that enjoyment with someone else. Not a lack of romance, but not just romance.

Stiefel wooed Gaither in I Didn't Know What Time it Was and Where or When with fabulous dancing, but in the end, as the light dimmed, she left him alone on stage. The highlight of the ballet was My Funny Valentine, premiered by Gomes and Brown at the Career Transitions for Dancers gala on Monday night. It was movingly danced by Brown clad in deep red and Gomes in black. The choreography is clearly about mature romance tinged with deep passion, and the dancers put their every muscle and movement into the emotion of the ballet. They end up lying on the floor, bodies intertwined, cheek against cheek - the image of deep, contented love. Though I enjoyed parts of the ballet, I didn't feel like it was a cohesive whole. The costumes, excerpt for the last section, were painfully lacking in color and I did not particularly like the choice of music. I would have preferred the Rodgers music itself, not another musicians variations of it.

The evening finished with a rather lackluster performance of Symphony in C. The corps de ballet was more ragged than in previous performances and none of the soloist couples were particularly noteworthy. Maxim Belotserkovsky ably partnered Paloma Herrera in the first movement. Nina Ananiashvili replaced Veronika Part in the Second Movement. Though still somewhat of a mismatch in size with Carlos Molina, Ananiashvili was confident enough in her technique to smooth over any problems with the partnering. Molina still looked very focused and a bit strained in his partnering, and I think that this is just not a great role for him. He looked much more comfortable in Kudelka's choreography with Herrera, a slighter, smaller ballerina. In the Third Movement, a very energetic, but slightly ragged DeLuz never quite got in synch with Xiomara Reyes, and thus the dancing looked somewhat sloppy. Ricardo Torres seemed tired in the Fourth Movement, with less precision in his dancing that he had earlier in the week.


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Edited by Basheva.

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