Managed to get up for four performances--very glad I did, overall very substantive programs, very well danced. I don't have a lot to add to what has been said above, but will say I find The Tempest lingers in the mind. It's not unproblematic, but I think it has real theatrical poetry. All of the principals in the roles created on them were very fine, and I appreciated Gomez' ability to communicate real anger. As wonderful as Simkin is, beginning with the narrowly arced grand jetes of his opening with their little pause at the very height of the arc, I felt special appreciation for Cornejo who, in the ballet's final scene, brings a kind of emotional power, that the ballet did not entirely prepare one for. Otherwise I shared some of the frustration expressed by others above that one would cast Cornejo as Caliban and not give Caliban a fuller, richer role. The Tempest was my first real look at Joseph Gorak and I agree with others that he looks wonderful--not just beautifully classical but genuinely graceful. Lane, too, at her best.
Other works I saw while in NY: I thought Clear was dreadful and not particularly well or excitingly danced--certainly not well enough to make it into any kind of guilty pleasure--with one exception, Thomas Forster. I would be very interested in seeing more of him. I saw Theme and Variations with Semionova and Stearns. She had moments of radiance, but both Stearns and she looked very much as if they were thinking their way through the ballet. I always enjoy the way the ABT ensemble performs in this ballet and this evening was no exception. However, I enjoyed both Semionova and Stearns very much in other works I saw over the weekend. She, in Bach Partita--in fact, I think that was my favorite Semionova performance ever: she seemed free, playful, sensuous, responsive or just alive on stage in a way I hadn't experienced before. Stearns impressed me very much (and kind of unexpectedly) in A Month in the Country. Here, too, I felt as if I was seeing him come alive as a dancer in a way I hadn't really before. Both casts of the Ashton had some flaws and some wonderful qualities (Kent/Cote/Bond & Reyes/Stearns/Lane) but I thought that in both performances the ballet came through as beautiful and moving and really in all of its extraordinary musicality, characterizations, dramatic clarity and nuances, as well as the richness of the pas de deux. I will mention too Simkin's Kolya--which I don't think could possibly be bettered. I saw Wayne Sleep who originated the role and unless my memory betrays me I don't think he was better. Gemma Bond was very well received as Vera and I think deservedly. Cote seemed to me a very fine actor. I do think ABT's Ashton here and in the Dream sometimes gets too broad and both Barbee and Zhurbin as Natalya's husband never rose above stock types--which I think Alexander Grant did. Reyes and Stearns didn't quite fill out the imagery of their major pas de deux, indeed neither Reyes nor Kent hit all the choreographic notes one might--but they gave effective, affecting performances. When ABT can stage this kind of repertory with consistency across different casts (even if this or that can be criticized)--well, in my eyes, that confirms the company's importance.
Other works I saw? Loved Bach Partita which I had never seen--am astonished that ABT has not tried to revive this before; Murphy was especially fabulous along with Semionova. Murphy is dancing with an extraordinary simplicity and easy command -- even the most difficult of choreography. I especially admire the freedom of her upper body. Enjoyed Gong as an intriguing novelty and wouldn't mind seeing it again. Here too Murphy's silken ease and quiet intelligence was a highlight. (She was replacing Teuscher.) In these works, I got my first look at Whiteside. In this 20th-century repertory I thought he did well.
I tend to admire Moor's Pavane more than I like it, and am quite sure I would enjoy it more with Limon/modern dancers, but I did appreciate watching Part put rather her stamp on the role of the Friend's wife. I saw the Ratmansky Shostakovich Piano Concerto no. 1 three times and it very much held up as a work at once festive and melancholy, ironic and touching. I'm not sure I didn't like the "second" cast (Shevchenko, Reyes w. Tamm and Simkin) better than the Murphy/Brand/Royal/Shayer cast. At least Saturday afternoon's performance had a rather fabulous energy about it. Though I should say I was also sitting considerably closer for that performance.
Finally, another word for Simkin at all the performances I saw: the creation of Ariel in The Tempest showed him not just as the airy elfin show-off of a dancer, but as able to become a strange, otherworldly being; his Kolya I have already remarked--he seemed remarkably inside the world of the ballet and its music; in the Vasiliev-originated role in the Ratmansky he was likewise excellent. As one might expect his dancing was first-rate, but he also seemed again inside the music/tone of the ballet. nothing show-offy (a common criticism) in his manner. Rather he belonged to the equivocal community that Ratmansky creates even as his dancing was actually quite spectacular. His dancing was a highlight of my visit, along with Stearns unexpected -- to me -- speed and grace as Beliaev, his energy, intensity even in all the role's different moods.
But the real highlight to me was, despite Clear, a chance to see ABT in multiple and varied repertory programs of genuinely high quality -- masterpieces alongside somewhat lesser-known neo-classic experiments alongside new work -- and whatever my criticisms of this or that performance, consistently well danced, and even very well danced. Also, love that they are dancing at the State Theater.