I've been reading with some amusement the scathing comments about "The Tempest." I saw it twice last fall across the plaza in its premiere week, with both casts, and decided then and there that I was done with that ballet. What a waste of so many talented dancers, as others have noted. Was this co-produced with another company, so at least the (apparently) extravagant cost could be shared? Perhaps they could recycle that boat for another ballet. At least we know that Ratmansky (as with Balanchine and other notables) is not perfect. They all make mistakes. It's just too bad so much money apparently went down the drain.
It seems that except for his trilogy last season, none of Alexei's short`ABT`` ballets has been succcessful enough to last for more than a season.His ballets made in other companies seems to have a longer run.
I loved Symphony No. 9 (the first of the trilogy) when it was presented by itself in fall 2012 at City Center, and I think it stands on its own. I hope they are not under performance restrictions that they have to present the entire trilogy or nothing at all. Bright Stream seems to have run its course -- it's the sort of ballet that's fun to see once or twice, but that's enough. Not enough serious dancing to want to go back again and again. I have a hunch his SB will do well, though, as he seems to have had success restaging classics for other companies.
Ratmanksy's NYCB ballets have certainly been very successful. I'm not myself a total convert to Concerto DSCH, but I found Russian Seasons lovely and think Namouna is one of the most wonderful new ballets in memory! But I wouldn't be so quick to write off Ratmansky's ABT creations.
I recently saw Seven Sonatas with the Atlanta Ballet and on them (admitedly a very different company, dancing on a smaller stage) thought it looked a very fine ballet. Subtle, but substantive. Atlanta Ballet is repeating it next season and I plan to go. I do not attend all Atlanta Ballet programs by any means. I note that it was created on a strange non-ballet stage--Avery Fisher--and that may perhaps account for the fact that there has been no attempt to transfer it to the Met. It might look good at the Koch theater.
Bright Stream always seemed like an odd choice for ABT: its history, its themes, its approach all have a real, if troubled, home at the Bolshoi where it was created. (Hearing a Mom tactfully explain to her -- very well behaved -- young daughters that the hammer and sickle above the stage stood for "hard work" did make me laugh.....ruefully. I say nothing about what the Koch brothers might have thought.)
Still ABT gave some excellent performances in the ballet -- both classical and character parts -- and as the heroine Herrera gave what I should think was one of her best recent performances. I would not mind seeing it again and would love to see it at least once with the Bolshoi. But I agree that, in addition to being a less than ideal fit with ABT, it may just not have enough substantive choreography to hold up over repeated viewings.
I have only seen the Piano Concerto no I from the Shoshtakovich trilogy, as it was presented at the Koch in the Fall as a separate ballet. I saw three performances with two different casts and loved every one of them. I won't say "masterpiece" because time will have to tell. But new ballet of substance? In my eyes, absolutely. It had tension; it had tenderness; it had wit; it was musical and it was splendidly danced by dancers both more and less experienced. The whole trilogy has already also been performed by SFB as well. I would love to see one of the major Russian companies take it on...but this work premiered at and thus belongs to ABT which is no small thing.
I'm on record as having mostly loved the Ratmansky Firebird (about which opinion was divided) and liked aspects of The Tempest (about which opinion has been largely negative), but these works did also feature ABT dancers in new and exciting ways eg Messmer in Firebird, Lane and Gorak in Tempest. (From what i read, On the Dnieper, did something similar for Hallberg.)
When I see Ratmansky's ballets I feel that ballet is alive as an art profoundly in touch with its past, while still offering new creative visions to the future. Would it be great if we had a list of more "slam dunk" Ratmansky ballets done specifically for ABT? Well, sure. And he seems to maintain a superhuman schedule of staging and choreography around the world that occasionally makes one wonder if he does not 'spread himself too thin.' But let's just say he appears very driven, and I for one am delighted he is working with ABT on a regular basis. It gives them a calling card as a serious artistic enterprise that they would otherwise, in my opinion, be decidedly lacking.
The Tempest? Let's say I'm wrong and it's simply an unsalvageable disaster. At any rate it's not "meh" (a word that is one of the internet's best contributions to critical vocabulary)--it's trying to do something serious.