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ABT at Kennedy Center - Mixed Bill, 2/3-5/2004

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I have not yet posted in this forum since I registered in the fall although I have been more or less keeping up with a number of the threads. However, after attending the ABT program on Wednesday night and then reading your reactions, I was motivated to add my opinion as well.

I only started following ballet about three years ago, so I have not seen a large amount of performances but I have tried to see every ballet/dance company that has performed at the Kennedy Center since. I have especially become infatuated with ABT, so I realize that I had a preexisting bias prior to Wednesday’s performance . . .


I loved Marcelo Gomes in this piece - he seemed to fit his role perfectly (I haven’t seen Raymonda, so I suppose he fit the role as I would imagine in since I don’t know what the role actually entails). I have also loved Paloma Herrera’s dancing in classical roles - she has such beautiful feet - and I thought her variations were good, but she seemed less comfortable when partnered by Marcelo. To me, they looked better dancing separately; I hope they improve on this since they are scheduled together for a number of ballets in the following months. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Paloma and Marcelo - but I always do . . .

The corps, however, was a different story. The Hungarian dance was fine (led by Karin Ellis-Wentz and Jesus Pastor) but really nothing spectacular - a little too mechanical perhaps. The corps in the grand pas classique did look like they could use a serious brush up on their classical technique - this was a surprise to me, coming from ABT dancers! Some of the men struggled during the lifts (I’ve had partners lift me more easily, and believe me, I weigh more and have much poorer technique than the ABT girls), and neither the “mirror” solos nor the pas de quatre dancers seemed to be in sync at all times.

I had no bones to pick with the costumes - I actually loved the white and did not see anything unflattering about the character costumes.

Without Words

As was the case with the other two on the program, it was my first time seeing the piece. I really loved it - but I do tend to like strange modern choreography that others see as too cold or even ugly. In my eyes, the dancers’ beautiful bodies and fluid movements (continually in motion!) created a great depth of emotion. Perhaps Nacho Duato does borrow a lot from other choreographers (as one of you suggested in an earlier post), but I guess I have not seen enough to be able to tell. My favorite part was Ethan Stiefel’s dancing, which always sends chills down my spine. He internalized the choreography so well - much better than Xiomara Reyes, his partner. I don’t have anything to say about Xiomara, for in this piece she was quite a non-descript dancer - the kind that Ashley Tuttle (also in this piece) has always seemed to me. She did the piece, she did it without mistakes, but that’s it. I must add, however, that Stella Abrera in the opening pas de trois was quite forceful, and I can’t wait to see her Gamzatti Saturday night!

I’ll leave the George Harrison piece for later . . .

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DancingGiselle: Jean Battey Lewis in the Washington Times also really liked Ethan Stiefel's "Without Words"

""Without Words" reached its apotheosis in Mr. Stiefel's transcendent solo. A dancer with finely burnished technique, he brings a feral alertness to everything he does. This combination of intensity and refinement made for a riveting performance."

I saw his performance of this in the open rehearsal and agree completely that it was 'transcendent'. I think that is why when I saw his performance in "Raymonda" I was so disappointed.

I also thought Marcelo Gomes was wonderful too. Such stage presence.

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I found the programming of the mixed bill in DC quite odd. Two rather similar pieces (Duato and Harrison) and the awkward Raymonda. Should have had more variety. As for the Harrison piece, it was purportedly, at least in part, an effort to encourage younger audiences. But, anyone who really remembers the Beatles has to be at least 50, not exactly the truly younger audience ABT should be attempting to attract.

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