Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita was one of my favorites last year. ABT debuted the piece in 1983; the work had a long dry spell from 1985 to 2013, with ABT reviving it in the fall season last year. The piece is set to Bach’s Partita in D minor, a thirty-minute virtuoso showpiece for solo violin that some consider as one of the greatest works ever written for the instrument. 26-year old violinist Charles Yang was at the helm, a lonely presence in the empty orchestra pit, standing next to a monitor so he could see the dancers (I thought he was on a raised platform last year so he was more visible). It would be an interesting touch to make him a visible part of the work, possibly to the side of the stage.
The leads on Thursday were April Giangeruso/Eric Tamm, Paloma Herrera/Marcelo Gomes, Isabella Boylston/Craig Salstein. I am familiar with all of the dancers except for 23-year old April, who joined the company as an apprentice in 2010. Nice to see new blood in the work and, given her fine performance Thursday, I look forward to seeing her more. She was paired with Eric Tamm, a Corps dancer that should be getting more work. I was impressed with Eric’s dancing as the lead in Nutcracker last December with Gillian Murphy.
Tharp’s piece features the three lead pairs with a seven pairs of dancers and 16 more female corps dancers as the supporting architecture, flowing in and out of the work to the multifaceted music. The piece is complicated, with the leads performing in short bursts to be replaced by other leads and other dancers with a changing array of corps dancers. The piece features constant action, flowing steps, and variability of movement. Sometimes the leads would perform together, on their own, and with other cast members, all to the music Charles brilliantly performed. The work is classical with generally simple steps, at times performed with quirky head bobs, flexed feet punctuated by bravura steps such as Paloma’s rapid well-done rapid fouettés.
Marcelo dominated the stage with his razor sharp technique with Paloma by his side, performing a nice duet. I enjoyed Sarah Lane and Sean Stewart in a partnering segment. Nice to see Sean as I haven’t seen him dance in awhile.
Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas debuted in 2009 and is set to piano music by Domenico Scarlatti. The piece consisted of three pairs of dancers: Veronika Part/Blaine Hoven, Sarah Lane/Arron Scott, and Christine Shevchenko/Alexandre Hammoudi. Like Bach Partita, the piece is multifaceted with various combinations of dancers on stage performing to the changing personality of the music, from somber to gleeful, set to classical steps. Like Bach Partita, there was one musician, pianist Barbara Bilach performing onstage.
The work starts out with all six dancers onstage, moving informally about, watching each other dance, similar to Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. The piece moves to several duets and solos, some bright and upbeat while others are somber. At the end, the dancers reassemble in a segment similar to the beginning, as some dance while others watch in an informal setting.
I liked Arron, who performed a brisk, bright solo followed by Sarah’s solo with rapid pique turns. The mood turned somber as Veronika and Blaine engaged in a dramatic, soul-searching pas de deux. They were working hard as I could hear them breathing heavily during this extended, well-done segment.
I have mixed views on Alexandre’s dancing. I thought his Rothbard in Swan Lake last season was weak and he struggled through a double tour section in this season’s Raymonda Divertissements. However, in Seven Sonatas, he was effective, paired with Christine.
I needed some spiritual uplift and energy after losing a lot of sleep in despair after watching my second favorite team Kansas City Royals lose a nail biter in the deciding seventh game of the World Series the previous evening (I grew up in Kansas with Freddie Patek, Steve Busby, George Brett my favorite players). Sinfonietta provided me with a much-needed boost with stirring AND LOUD horn fanfares. I provided more detailed thoughts on the piece in my October 24 review. I love the music and choreography in this inspiring work and look forward to seeing it again tonight, my fourth viewing this season.