Tag Archive: American Ballet Theater

The American Ballet Theater’s 75th Anniversary Performances

Misty Copeland in "Company B." Photo © Gene Schiavone.

The centerpiece of the evening was Monotones I and II, set to music by Eric Satie with choreography by Frederick Ashton. Each Monotone is a pas de trois; one for two women and a man; the other for two men and a woman with II made first. Both pieces look very simple but they aren’t, as each contains a lot of arabesques and attitudes as well as other moves requiring hard-to-sustain balances. The dancers stand out from the background lit by Michael Korsch—the first group in yellowish-green from neck to toes; the second in white, both with what look like squashed bathing caps adorned with jewels on their heads. (Originally, the head coverings were different and, apparently, more stylish.) The piece is classic and remote; at times the dancers made me feel they were under the sea, moving their arms and legs against the weight of water.

A Shakespeare Double-Bill at the American Ballet Theater: Ashton’s The Dream and Ratmansky’s The Tempest

American Ballet Theatre in "The Dream." Photo Gene Schiavone.

ABT’s The Dream is highly poetic, romantic and vaguely Victorian. It differs from the version presented by the New York City Ballet in that it is only one act and has a somewhat different story line as well as highly contrasting choreography. (I confess to a preference for the NYCB version, but so be it.) Herman Cornejo was unquestionably the star of the performance, a magical, energetic Puck whose leaps are astounding. He spins so brilliantly I couldn’t tell how many rounds he made; took to the air as though truly born an elfin sprite and displayed a keen a sense of humor. Oberon was danced by Cory Sterns in place of the injured David Hallberg. In one charming moment, Oberon partnered Puck; when the sprite leapt into his master’s arms, the audience let loose a collective chuckle. This Oberon, regal and compelling, does some of his own dirty work, sprinkling the love charm into Titania’s eyes so that when she awakens she is entranced by Bottom, complete with ass’s head, and danced with panache by Blaine Hoven.

Le Corsaire at the American Ballet Theatre

Xiomara Reyes in Le Corsaire. Photo by MIRA.

What is le Corsaire? Is it a ballet? Is it entertainment — mere divertissement? Is there any difference? I believe intuitively that there is. Ballet defines itself on telling a story (even if there are exceptions) rather than presenting divertissements in vignettes, it is not a sort of artistic form of gymnastics. One more often encounters le Corsaire nowadays, at least in the west, as the extraordinary virtuoso pas de deux on its own, with its impossible leaps and lifts and turns for the man and the ballerina, and so this is what the ballet is known for, now associated especially with male virtuosity, thanks to Baryshnikov’s dancing, but the ballet presented as a whole is still a working piece of theatre.