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They opened with T&V, which had been set by Judith Fugate from the Balanchine Trust. One of my favorite ballets, this is also reportedly one of the most difficult to dance (at least, according to long-ago interviews with Kirkland & Baryshnikov -- he said he felt like his legs were going to fall off). Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov took the leads. She has remarkable technical prowess combined with attention to nuance that was as good as anyone I've seen (with the inevitable exception of Gelsey "gargouillades" Kirkland). He was a solid partner with just slight technical issues (travelling on a sequence of pirouettes, e.g.). The corps and soloists were also remarkably solid.
The new piece by Val Caniparoli, In Pieces, was the second ballet on the program, with just three couples. It was also a great success, with innovative partnering and plenty of athletic dash for the ensemble, pairs, and solos. The music was Concerto In Pieces by Poul Ruders, a contemporary work that was at times driving and at times bizarre and otherworldly. I couldn't figure out the structure of either movement or music on just one viewing and look forward to seeing it again. Rousing audience response.
The program closed with Glen Tetley's The Rite of Spring. This is the version ABT performed with Baryshnikov long ago and I had forgotten how driving and complex the choreography is for the large ensemble with endlessly fascinating group patterns and innovative and often gasp-inducing partnering. But the biggest surprise was that Mosina and Tyukov returned after their T&V performances just an hour earlier as the Earth Mother & Father -- and were fantastic. I can't imagine this kind of heavy duty performing in a larger company where there were more principals to draw from.
This company only does four programs a year, including their Nutcracker, so I suppose the dual-duty casting is necessary and something the dancers put up with to get to dance great roles.
Soloist Adam Still was impressive as The Chosen One. This performance got a standing ovation, almost instantaneously.
The top two tiers of the Opera House were closed off. The orchestra was maybe 90% full, with the Parterre and first tier about half empty (at least). For reasons I don't understand, their opening nights seem to have weaker attendance than later performances - perhaps they get a lot of mileage from word-of-mouth.
65 musicians in the pit were first-rate. For classical music lovers, that alone should bring them to the theater.
They have six more performances: Saturday, 2/23 at 7:30 and Sunday, 2/24 at 2:00, with four more the weekend of March 1-3. I gather it's difficult to sell tickets to any mixed bill, even in New York with its super-knowledgeable audience. Too bad -- so much great dancing and great music in this one program.