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ABT Studio Co. and JKO School Spring ConcertsPACE University, May 4-5, 2012


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:50 AM

Did anyone else attend these concerts? I went to Friday night's Studio Company (with some JKO advanced students) performance at PACE but spent the rest of the weekend at Lincoln Center, so missed the Saturday student-centered event.

There's lots of promise among the advanced JKO students and other members of the Studio Company (formerly ABT-II). I was particularly interested in seeing a reconstructed Antony Tudor work, Soiree Musicale, created in 1938, set to Britten's arrangement of Rossini melodies. It's a delightful 13-minute work performed by 9 dancers in various Bournonvillesque costumes (e.g., a Sylphide and a 'James,' a tarantella pair, a Tyrolean couple and three Spanish senoritas a-la 'Ventana'). One could almost call it 'Tudor's Bournonvillesque Divertissements'! Paulina Waski was gently beautiful sylphide and Sem Sjouke a noble partner in the Canzonetta. The mood lit up with a bright Tirolese performed by Michaela DePrince and Alex Kramer, both spectacular jumpers and bright personalities. A slow Spanish Bolero acccompanied a languid pas de trois for three lovely ladies, Kaho Ogawa (leader), Claire Davison and Carolyn Lippert. The final episode -- which led directly to a group finale -- was the saucy Tarantella by Lindsay Karchin and the amazing Zhiyao Zhang, who has gorgeous long lines and clear entrechats...but needs just a little bit of pep and emotion to be the perfect danseur.

Balanchine's Tarantella was uneven -- a spectacular male and a pretty-but-weak female. The man, Shu Kinouchi, is definitely on the fast track to stardom. He was chanelling Baryshnikov's ca-1980 rendition of this work while making it his own. I barely could look at the somewhat-feeble and unmusical lady -- the very pretty Catherine Hurlin...somebody please give her a silent tambourine -- Kinouchi was so dynamic, musical, extraordinary in technique and pizzazz. Kinouchi has exemplary technique but it's his ability to PLAY with the music and infuse his performance with adorable nuances that had this audience on fire. Did I mention that I loved him???!!! Posted Image

Intermission

The slinky pas de deux A Tango (by Susan Jaffe) gave Ms. Ogawa and Lucius Kirst a chance to show-off their long lines and flexibility.

There followed Anton Dolin's showpiece for male virtuosi, Variations for Four, remembered by many as a number danced often by the original 'Kings of Dance' group. I'm not sure that all four of our pre-professional lads were quite up to the task...but I greatly admired them for 'trying' and, in fact, two of them are worthy of it, IMO: the aforementioned Shu Kinouchi and, a new member of the Studio Company via the Bolshoi Ballet's academy -- the extraordinary Gabe Stone Shayer, who paired virtuosity and elegance unlike anyone on the stage that night. The audience went absolutely crazy for both of these gents as they took their individual bows.

DeMille Broadway Suite promised excerpts from three Agnes DeMille musicals but, in fact, only two were presented (with the planned 'Riders and Postcards' number from Oklahoma! excised...maybe deemed too risque for the young ones?). What we saw -- excerpts from Brigadoon and Carousel -- was missing 'oomph' and came across as Amateur Hour. Big waste of the dancers' talents, IMO.

Intermission

The evening concluded with Susan Jaffe's hyper-modern and sexy We Insist, danced by most of the Studio Company. All members of the ensemble acquitted themselves splendidly but I was most impressed by Michaela DePrince as the leader of a featured trio of dancers. She is magnificent. I just hope that, upon graduation, a top-flight ballet troupe will accept her untraditional muscular beauty and nurture her to the greatness that is her destiny. Brava, Michaela! Bravi tutti!!!

#2 chiapuris

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:47 AM

Natalia,

That was quite a treat.
Thank you for spotlighting the singular performers, and the choreographers as well!

#3 shedances

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 10:13 AM

Another audience member here for Friday night's performance. Can't help but reply that I thought Miss Hurlin's performance of Tarantella was easily one of the most audience pleasing highlights of the evening and she seemed anything but weak for being 16. Quick on her feet, full of personality and in a well suited red velvet tutu, she provided a shot of delightful energy to the night. The crowd loved the pas! The theatre was small and she could have filled a big one. I can't imagine anyone wanting to quiet her tambourine! :)

#4 Natalia

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 02:54 AM

Shedances, I agree that both Shu and Catherine were well applauded. All in the eye of the beholder...my eyes saw a much stronger performing man, than the woman. Shu totally eclipsed her, IMO. Catherine was way behind with the tambourine beats and her general dancing...e.g., the final segment of pirouttes down the center of the stage, in which she totally went off the beat of the music and Shu, crouching down the stage beside her, kept pounding his tambourine to try to 'syncopate' her off-beats, to salvage the sound. That said, Catherine is a lovely-looking dancer (face, long line, perfect feet); I am wondering if her talents might be better served in slower adagio works?

#5 LiLing

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 10:02 AM

Student performances, and junior cos. are meant to give the young dancers experience, and casting is often done with an eye to stretching them.
Tarantella is a challenging show piece normally danced by principal dancers in major companies. Catherine Hurlin is not even in the junior co. yet, but still a student in the school. I think that should be kept in mind when judging her performance.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 10:08 AM

I believe that practically all of the featured soloists in the Friday-night show have competed in YAGP and/or Lausanne...some even in the big IBC competitions (Varna, Jackson and such). They are used to and welcome being judged and critiqued. Young dancers in pre-professional programs, as I've witnessed around the world for 30+ years (Vaganova, Bolshoi school, SAB, Kirov Academy-DC, etc.) are the best-of-the-best and are 'talked about' years before their graduations. Vishneva, Osipova, Wiles, Smirnova, etc. Progress is tracked years in advance.

#7 shedances

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:07 PM

You have a point there, Natalia, about their participation in competitions. LiLing does, as well. It's good to hear a perspective coming from very experienced eyes.

#8 aurora

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:17 AM

You have a point there, Natalia, about their participation in competitions. LiLing does, as well. It's good to hear a perspective coming from very experienced eyes.


Indeed! I would like to add however, that experienced eyes do not of course, always agree. While this is not the place to discuss reviews, it seems worth pointing out that at least one professional reviewer had the precise opposite viewpoint from Natalia--thinking Hurlin was "a delight" while critiquing her partner for sacrificing musical accent for height.

In other words, some very experienced viewers thought she was fantastic.

It would be a boring world indeed if we all liked the same things!

#9 carbro

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:33 AM

Student performances, and junior cos. are meant to give the young dancers experience, and casting is often done with an eye to stretching them.

And during the course of the year, when the Studio Company appears in venues across the country, I'm sure that's the case. At the end of the year, though, these performances are meant to show the dancers as accomplished dancers on the brink of professional careers. And no dancer can get by on one set of skills. The most eloquent adagio dancer must be able to deliver brilliant allegro work, and vice versa.

#10 Natalia

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:49 AM

....at least one professional reviewer had the precise opposite viewpoint from Natalia--thinking Hurlin was "a delight" ....


Indeed, that was Gia Kourlas, who also is on record as thinking that Alina Somova is fantastic. But you are right, Aurora: To each his or her own taste. :)

#11 Helene

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:32 AM

Yes, discussions of professional reviews have no place in company forum review threads: they're for what our members think about performances. Feel free to discuss professional reviewers in the "Writings about Ballet" forum.

#12 Natalia

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 06:56 AM

Gabe Stone Shayer -- who I so loved in the Dolin piece of this concert -- is now a full apprentice with ABT, as of the current Met season. I spotted him as one of the 12 'jumping corps guys' in Firebird last week. Way to go, Gabe!

http://www.abt.org/d...p?Dancer_ID=281


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