Above photo: Christine Shevchenko as Myrta, May 16, 2018 Exciting news as American Ballet Theatre announced its Fall Season at Koch Theater schedule from October 20-31. With the New York City Ballet Fall Season from September 21-October 17, the New York fall dance scene is taking shape thanks to vaccines. In a departure from previous fall seasons, ABT will present a full length ballet-Giselle-for six performances with five more conventional fall season mixed rep performances. After two Met Opera House Spring Season cancellations, it makes sense to lead off the Fall Season with a full-length crowd pleaser. Casting is key as I hope to see many new faces in lead roles such as Skylar Brandt, Aran Bell, Christine Shevchenko and Zimmi Coker and Carlos Gonzales in Soloist roles.
On mixed rep, ABT will present the Theatre, Ballet, and an American Icon program three times with Lauren Lovette’s La Follia Variations; Anthony Tutor’s classic Pillar of Fire; and ZigZag, a premier from Jessica Lang consisting of Tony Bennett songs. Lovette’s work was one of the few that I enjoyed in ABT’s digital presentations, and Tutor’s work is always touching.
ABT will present the Rhythm and Rapture program two times, consisting of Alexei Ratmansky’s Bernstein in a Bubble; Christopher Rudd’s Touché; Clark Tippet’s Some Assembly Required; and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Indestructible Light. Brief excerpts of Ratmansky’s work were shown in the Summer Celebration digital presentation and I look forward to seeing the entire piece. I previously commented on Touché and thought it was high on shock value and low on artistic merit.
The start of live performances is welcome news for ABT. While some companies presented compelling and engaging digital at-home works from previous seasons (Royal Ballet, NYCB, Philadelphia Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem), ABT struggled with weak and awkward digital presentations of new works. For some reason, ABT does not have the ability or willingness to present previous performances at Lincoln Center or performances on the road. So instead, the company recorded recent works in socially distanced “pods” around the Tri-State region.
ABT’s Summer Celebration, on YouTube until September 15, consisted of largely uninspired works not likely to be seen on a major stage. The Celebration competes with the Fall Gala that I reviewed last November; it’s a close call on which is worse. With substandard new works, ABT focused on presenting its diversity and inclusion goals. Unfortunately for ABT, effusive virtue signaling is not a substitute for quality. Strangely missing from ABT’s diversity celebration was mention that Lucia Chase co-founded ABT in 1940 and served as its Artistic Director until 1980. Not many organizations can make the claim of female leadership starting in the 1940s and lasting 40 years.