ABT Review: Oct. 29, 30


Gillian Murphy and Cory Stearns, Piano Concerto #1. Click for more photos.

The ABT fall season, which concludes today, consisted of diverse, exciting repertory  danced at a high level, filled with energy and dynamism. New and established dancers were up to the challenge of the multifaceted rep, consisting of new works and classics. Herman Cornejo was spectacular as The Rose in Le Spectre de la rose and The Profiteer in The Green Table. Marcelo Gomes was pure evil as Death in The Green Table. Gillian Murphy excelled in Piano Concerto and The Brahms-Hayden Variations and Veronika Part in Monotones II. The fall season allows non-Principal Dancers to shine and many took advantage of the opportunity. Arron Scott and Gabe Stone Shayer were expressive in the Tico-Tico solo in Company B while newcomer Jeffrey Cirio was outstanding in the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy solo. Also making a mark in the fall were Skylar Brandt, Cassandra Trenary, Devon Teuscher. We were able to see Roman Zhurbin, an outstanding actor, in more dancing roles.

ABT debuted two works by Mark Morris and Marcelo Gomes. Marcelo has been an ABT fan favorite for many years, with his great musicality, athleticism, and dramatic abilities that rank him as one of the world’s great male dancers. In addition to his prodigious dance talents, Marcelo debuted as a choreographer with AfterEffect, an interesting and thought-provoking work. The work features three main characters: The Man-James Whiteside on Friday; His Loss-Misty Copeland; His Hope-Zhiyao Zhang and 24 supporting cast called The Community. The work is dedicated “To those who have fallen…and those who prevail.”

The work opens with dramatic lighting-a single spotlight on James with a dark background (Michael Korsch designed the lighting). What followed was a series of classical steps such as pirouettes in second position, nicely done to musical score Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70 by Tchaikovsky. Dancers were clad in white unitards with splashes of color, similar to the background painting by Françoise Gilot.

The excellent Zhiyao Zhang-a Corps member-performed a number of bravura steps including a nice tour/pirouette combination. Zhiyao has great promise and I look forward to seeing more of him. The Man seemed upset while others danced around him. The source of The Man’s grumpiness was revealed when members of The Community carried in His Loss (Misty). The two kissed and performed a passionate pas de deux but His Loss ultimately departed.

The work flows nicely, with various combinations of dancers, sometimes by gender, as they come and go from the action. Classical steps are the norm, but broken up with non-traditional, quirky steps and movements. At times the repetitive steps are tiring, but Marcelo puts in a number of bravura steps for the men to maintain interest. Overall, a nice debut effort. I look forward to future work from Marcelo.


Maria Kochetkova and Daniil Simkin, Piano Concerto #1. Click for more photos.

Piano Concerto #1 is my favorite of the three works in Shostakovich Trilogy by Alexi Ratmansky that premiered in May 2013 (to be performed in the 2016 Met season). The leads Thursday were Gillian Murphy/Cory Stearns and Maria Kochetkova/Daniil Simkin clad in unitards with scenery consisting of red objects hung in suspension against a blue backdrop, reminiscent of the hammer and sickle and other Soviet imagery.

There is plenty of non-stop action in this athletic, high-energy piece with the four main dancers appearing in various combinations. The plotless work showcases the leads in various forms, solos and ensembles consisting of numerous jetés and turns to a slow, searching pas de deux by Gillian and Cory, to a more frenetic duet from Maria and Daniil, featuring acrobatic triple supported turns in the air. Precise, rigid movements are the theme throughout-possibly representing the Soviet theme-with varying tempos in this unpredictable, at times exciting work.

Ratmansky gives the men a workout. Most memorable was a nice double assemblé diagonal done simultaneously that drew applause. The work showcased Daniil’s great turning capabilities as he performed several turns in attitude, converting to retiré position. Cory seemed to be having a great time, with a beaming smile that I have not seen from him in previous performances of this work.