ABT Studio Co. and JKO School Spring ConcertsPACE University, May 4-5, 2012
Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:50 AM
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???!!!
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.
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!!!
Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:47 AM
That was quite a treat.
Thank you for spotlighting the singular performers, and the choreographers as well!
Posted 10 May 2012 - 10:13 AM
Posted 11 May 2012 - 02:54 AM
Posted 11 May 2012 - 10:02 AM
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.
Posted 12 May 2012 - 10:08 AM
Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:07 PM
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!
Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:33 AM
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.
Student performances, and junior cos. are meant to give the young dancers experience, and casting is often done with an eye to stretching them.
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.
Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:32 AM
Posted 15 June 2012 - 06:56 AM
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