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ABT Season recap?

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We've had lots of terrific reviews, and my sense is that people generally were quite happy with the season. Am I right, or off-base?

What's your take on the season generally? Were you happy with the rep? Did you go to all four programs, or one or two?

New ballets? Thumbs up, thumbs down?

Who or what was the hit of the season?

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I saw two programs, one of which I enjoyed very much and the other not so much. The former was "Master Works;" the latter, "Contemporary Works." The hit for me was "Pillar of Fire" with Gillian Murphy. "Diversion of Angels" and "Symphonic Variations" on that same program also came off well, I thought, unlike the Raymonda excerpt. I agree with something I read on this board, that you can't have a Grand Pas Classique without a central pas de deux.

The two Kylians on the "contemporary program" were enjoyable, although some of the humor in "Sechs Tanze" just seemed silly. The one thing I really disliked was "Dorian." It seems to me that with this work, ABT once again dealt a blow to the cause of the story ballet.

I'm sorry I didn't get to see more, because I'm always happier viewing this company in shorter works in the more intimate confines of City Center rather than in warhorses in the vastness of the Metropolitan Opera House.

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I was very happy with this season, both in terms of repertory and performances. After “growing up” watching ABT through about 1976 or 77 I then took a long hiatus from the world of ballet. It’s only in the past 2 or 3 years that I started going to the ballet regularly again. I went to quite a few performances at the Met last summer and I decided to take advantage of the (relatively) inexpensive seats at City Center this season to really try to get to know the company again. I don’t have a sense of continuity in terms of how this season differs from past City Center seasons, or how some of the dancers have developed over the years, but I'm pretty happy with what I see now.

I saw 3 performances of each of the 4 programs. My favorites pieces were Pillar, Symphonic Variations (despite what in my view was weak casting), Diversion of Angels, workwithinwork and Fancy Free. I liked the Kylians, but I didn’t love them, and I liked them less each time I saw them. In contrast, I started off thinking the Duato piece was forgettable, but liked it more each time I saw it. It’s not a masterpiece, but it was very evocative.

For me the best part of the season was the way ABT gave so many of the soloists and corps members a chance to grow. Many people on this board have bemoaned the fact that Part & Meunier were so underused, myself included. I think some kind of internal politics must be at work there, otherwise it’s incomprehensible. Still, this season I was impressed by Sandra Brown and Kristi Boone. What a pleasure to see Kristi in Petite Mort and again with Misty Copeland in the Forsythe work. Six members of the corps got a major chance to take the spotlight in the 2 casts of Three Virgins. I thought Erica Cornejo was adorable in Sechs Tanze, like a little rag doll!

Xiomara Reyes was also given a great range of roles this season. There has been much written here about her little sister and GPDD but she was also cast against her usual type in Without Words and workwithinwork. I really enjoyed her performances in those 2 works (and I don’t think she cracked a smile once in either one of them!).

The only real disappointments for me were Dorian, Theme & Variations and Raymonda. Dorian was dull & plodding. The first time I saw it Gomes & Hallberg were enough to hold my attention, they are both such beautiful dancers, and were perfectly cast (despite Hallbergs wig or dyed hair). Despite their wonderful dancing the second time I saw Dorian I had to force myself to keep my eyes open starting around midway through. I had tickets to see it a third time but just couldn’t stand the thought of sitting thru it again. I thought Raymonda was very thin, and didn’t think any of the ballerinas really captured the essence of the role. I thought Wiles was promising, but she needs more experience. Dvorovenko was my favorite, but I will concede that she overplayed it. Theme never looked quite right to me. Maybe it was crowded on the stage or maybe it was the lack of speed or attack in most performances. I can’t really put my finger on the problem but it just seemed to be missing something. I hope they keep this in the repertory and keep working on it.

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