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Stars of the 21st Century gala in New York

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I sort of miss the wonderfully vulgar galas of the past. This one, which I've seen every year since its arrival in NY, has rounded out to be more tasteful, but well-balanced.

Highlights: Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky in the Known by Heart pas de deux. I really like this ballet. I wish it would come back to ABT's rep. I saw the premiere and thought it was almost a defining portrait of Ethan Stiefel. Maxim Beloserkovsky seemed to enjoy stepping into the boxing, shrugging American guy persona. And Tharp's work brings out the best in Dvorovenko.

It almost made up for the horrible Carmen the two did earlier in the program. Bleh.

Svetlana Lunkina and Sergei Filin in Paganini Pas de Deux and Pharaoh's Daughter pas de deux. Lunkina looked a bit out of sorts, like it just wasn't going to be her day. But Filin's wonderfully sharp footwork and ballon, and Lunkina's elegance made up for an blips. The Paganini allowed Lunkina to waft around in a lovely manner.

Andrian Fadeyev and Sofiane Sylve in Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. This was on the edge of being very good, except Sylve seemed to be constantly adjusting to the taped music and Fadeyev re-choreographed some parts. I was pleased with Sylve in Dances, she was playful and flirty.

Middle of the road:

Mathilde Froustey and Emmanuel Thibault

Grand Pas Classique, choreography by Victor Gsovsky, music by Auber

Giselle pas de deux from Act II, choreography by Coralli and Perrot, music by Adam

I had read about Thibault and seen him in a few things myself (loved in in the pas de trois in Paquita and Swan Lake), but I don't see him as an Albrect. The dancing itself was strong in both pieces, but my admiration wasn't as high as the rest of the audience, who really loved this pair. She is very light and delicate -- romantic parts really suit her. Her body sort of reminded me of Kirkland, with very slim legs and a sort of largish head. But she seemed weak in the Giselle and couldn't maintain the balances long enough in the Grand Pas Classic, although her solo was very brightly done.

Everybody loves Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre. I did too, at one point, especially after seeing Lacarra in The Cage and Agon with San Francisco Ballet. Now, they are a little like easy listening music. Pleasant enough. The Thais was the better of the two pas, for me.

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