Gala: 'Hereafter,' 'The Leaves Are Fading,' 'La Bayadere,' 'Esmeralda
Pas de Deux,' 'Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux,' 'Don Quixote,' 'Swan Lake,'
'With You Without You'
May 5, 2003 -- Metropolitan
Opera House, New York
On Monday night,
American Ballet Theater kicked off the 2003 Met Season with a smorgasbord
of ballet treats, ranging from a brief preview of Stanton Welch's new
piece HereAfter to excerpts from the lyrical Tudor pas de deux,
The Leaves Are Fading . The evening’s festivities, co-chaired
by Blaine Trump and Caroline Kennedy, celebrated Kevin McKenzie’s 10th
anniversary as the Artistic Director and provided a glimpse of the exciting
dancing that will fill the Met stage during the next two months.
In the Waltz & Pas D’Action from Natalia Makarova’s staging of La
Bayadere , it was Irina Dvorovenko who really shone, her extensions
high and unforced. Ethan Stiefel was a gracious partner and soared in
his solos. Carlos Molina stood out in the male demi solos, with the corps
in good form.
John Gardner returned
as a guest artist to dance the moving Leaves Are Fading pas
de deux with his wife, principal dancer Amanda McKerrow. McKerrow and
Gardner gave the piece an emotional performance, flowing to Dvorak’s “Cypresses”.
Yet, the ballet seemed lost on the large, deep Met stage, and is better
suited to the more intimate stage at City Center, where the company performs
The mood lightened
with Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes in Perrot’s Esmeralda Pas de
Deux . Herrera had difficulty with the tambourine early on, but recovered
nicely. The newest (and youngest) male principal, Gomes danced with his
usual elegant, natural smoothness. His tendency to cheat off the floor
in tours has lessened, but was still obvious in his otherwise notable
pirouette/double tour sequence.
Angel Corella lit up the stage with his electric intensity and trademark
whirlwind pirouettes in very short solo from Stanton Welch’s upcoming
HereAfter . Dancing to music from Orff’s Carmina Burana, sung
by baritone Thomas Meglioranza, Corella soared into the air, slid across
the stage in near splits, and splayed his body on the stage. The solo
was a mere four minutes, a somewhat disjointed preview, and it would have
be nice to see Corella in something more substantial.
Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreno evoked awe with their sensational
bravura skills in Vaganova’s Diana and Acteon pas de deux (Adagio
and Coda). Carreno did a high-flying series of barrel turns en circle
and Murphy liberally sprinkled multiples into her stunning series of fouettes.
The tricks were no less sensational Kevin McKenzie’s comic Don Quixote
Act III Pas de Deux a Quatre, but things weren’t always what one
would expect. Julio Bocca shared the stage with not one, but three highly
talented ballerinas, Nina Ananiashvili, Ashley Tuttle and the newly promoted
Xiomara Reyes. Appearing one by one to dance with him, they proceed to
bewilder, confuse and finally frustrate Bocca. Peeking out from the wings,
he seemed to think it was finally safe to dance, but half way through
his impressive solo, Ananshiavili darted out to finish it for him! Comedy
aside, the dancing was superb with Bocca doing a stunning series of at
least six double tour-pirouette combinations and splicing in huge laid
out leaps into his tour jetes en circle.
Though Maxim Belotserkovksy’s
dancing had a velvety smoothness and elegantly finished quality, the Act
I Waltz from McKenzie’s production of Swan Lake provided a rather
bland end to the first act.
The evening concluded with With You Without You , ABT’s tribute
to George Harrison, premiered last October at City Center. A collage of
choreography by Welch, Natalie Weir, Anne Reinking and David Parsons set
to George Harrison’s music, the tribute sometimes lacks cohesion, but
makes wonderful use of the company’s talented dancers. Notable were the
sinuous Sandra Brown and Jose Manuel Carreno in Reinking’s sensual pas
deux to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and Corella, holding nothing back
in Welch’s “Something”. The most fascinating and moving piece, however,
is the finale by Parsons to “My Sweet Lord” in which the cast leaps, twists,
tumbles, spins, jumps and soars against the deep red backdrop. The dancing
appears almost freeform, the choreography highlighting the talents and
emotions of each dancers-seventeen dancers moving in seventeen different
ways to Harrison’s evocative music. It was, in itself, a brief demonstration
of the company’s talent, and invitation to see these dancers use their
varied talents in the ballets during the Met Season!
Note: Contrary to the casting in the program, David Hallberg did not perform
and was replaced by Ricardo Torres in all three ballets. As of the writing
of this review, Hallberg is expected to dance in all of his schedule performances
during the Met Season.
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