ABT concluded its Washington D.C. run at Kennedy Center Sunday.
Sarah Kaufman of the Washington Post liked the mixed rep performance earlier in the week:
There was no end of pleasure in this program, which included an incandescent production of Antony Tudor’s “Pillar of Fire” and a shining if slightly blurred “Theme and Variations” by Balanchine. These works, with “Rodeo,” formed the core of the company’s repertoire in its early years in the 1940s and ’50s. “Pillar of Fire” was a corker at its 1942 premiere for its depiction of a young woman’s sexual fears amid the suffocating judgment of a small town — fresh, contemporary territory for ballet. It remains a masterwork of style and emotional breadth, told economically, without tedious explanation.
Sarah was impressed with Xiomara Reyes and Gillian Murphy, but less so with Daniil Simkin and Isabella Boylston in Theme and Variations.
Potomac, Maryland native Julie Kent was scheduled to preform Cinderella Saturday evening but had an injured calf and was replaced by Gillian Murphy. Sarah thought the performance was technically proficient but bland:
Those lovely few minutes contained a good deal more feeling than the ballet that preceded them. It wasn’t the dancers’ fault. The flatness in this rendition of Frederick Ashton’s choreography was a problem of pacing. The ballet cried out for a firm hand to direct it from a point of view of dramatic energy.
Where theatrical excitement was lacking, technical precision was abundant. Murphy was a sympathetic heroine who conveyed the quiet strength of an unhappy girl sustained by dreams of love. Given a chance to express herself, finally, at the ball, she whirled around the stage in a series of turns as seemingly effortless as it was dazzling. Marcelo Gomes was her gallant prince, with enough glamour quotient to wake up the production with his entrance alone. Kenneth Easter and Thomas Forster as the clownish stepsisters en travesti added comic texture to an otherwise bland atmosphere. The orchestra didn’t help much with its tame approach to the Prokofiev score.