Saturday evening’s programming consisted of ABT classics Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden), Fancy Free, and Sinfonietta. The casts for Jardin Aux Lilas and Fancy Free were the same as Thursday that I previously reviewed.
Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, and Cory Stearns were again outstanding Saturday in Fancy Free, which Jerome Robbins created for Ballet Theatre in 1944. I really enjoy their comedic timing and great technique. It is clear that they have performed this work many times and their experience in these roles shows as each step and movement is meticulously thought out and has a purpose. Stella Abrera and Julie Kent were the Passers-by and were great in expressing a wide range of emotions: concern over being pursued by three sailors, Stella’s anger over having to play keep-away with her purse the prize, excitement over the competition for their attention from three sailors. A great performance.
Jardin Aux Lilas was also performed well Saturday, with Devon Teuscher as Caroline, Cory Stearns Her Lover, Roman Zhurbin as Caroline’s fiancé, and Veronika Part as Caroline’s fiancé’s former mistress. It must be difficult for Cory to shift gears, from a tense drama to a slapstick comedy, but Cory demonstrated his depth of range in these two works. As in Fancy Free, the dramatic timing was very good, with all characters moving in unison.
I also enjoyed Sinfonietta with a different cast from Friday evening, which I reviewed in detail. A number of Corps dancers were in the work: Calvin Royal III, Arron Scott, Skylar Brandt, Nicole Graniero, Blaine Hoven, Grant DeLong, and Gabe Stone Shayer.
I look forward to Twlya Tharp’s Bach Partita next week. The piece was revived by ABT last year. Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas should also be interesting.
A notable feature in the first week was the short running times of some of the overall performances. The Thursday performance consisted of 21-minute Raymonda DIvertissements, 18-minute Jardin Aux Lilas, and 31-minute Fancy Free for a total of 70 minutes of dancing. Add two 20 minute intermissions leads to an overall performance that was just shy of two hours. Likewise, the Saturday evening performance consisted of 72 minutes of dancing.
I looked at a sample of NYCB performances in the fall season, and the performance time ranged from 86 minutes to 112 minutes. In the second week of the ABT fall season, performance times will range from 81 minutes (Saturday matinee) to 105 minutes (Sunday evening).
A performance with just 70 minutes of dancing is too short. There are other dances that could be added; the 9-minute Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux comes to mind. Tickets are not cheap, with orchestra tickets up to $149, First Ring generally between $149-$119 with some $89 tickets, and Second Ring generally from $89-$69. I’m not sure if audience members are getting their bang for their buck per minute of entertainment, even with the high level of dancing.
I’ve seen some empty seats in three performances I attended. I checked the box office website several hours before the start of the Friday performance. My guess is that about 10%-20% of the orchestra seats were unsold at that time with a larger percentage of unsold seats in the First and Second Rings.