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Works & Process: ABT's City Center Season

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Yes, I did with my daughter. The Millipied work loked interesting, and I am looking forward to seeing the whole thing at City Center. The rest of the program was OK,but I was underwhelmed, with the dancers, the panelists and the other excerpts. Then again, I am a big fan of NYCB, and of Balanchine in particular. Mr McKenzie did not show up to lead the panel, it was Wes chapman in his place.

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I was there, too. The evening was billed as "A Preview of the Season" and aside from the new Millipied work ABT performed excerpts from Fall River Legend and the Leaves are Fading (both about as far from Balanchine as you can get) and closed the evening with a snippet from Clear.

Wes Chapman was the moderator and he started off the program interviewing Ormsby Wilkins and Nico Muhly, the composer who got the commission for the Millipied piece. Knowing nothing about music I found the discussion fascinating, and was intriuged at how different the music sounded when a few themes were played on piano vs the computer generated version with full instrumentation. I'm not sure I have this entirely right, but I believe Muhly explained that the whole orchestra hadn't played it yet, so nobody's heard it in it's final form & the dancers have been rehearsing to the computer generated version. The music sounded melodic, the piece looked pretty lyrical, and I'm looking forward to seeing & hearing it in it's final form. McKenzie joined the panel later, and commented that he was excited because this was their first commissioned score since Othello, and they have another one scheduled for the summer season.

ABT's big stars didn't come out for this preview, so we got a good look at some of the young kids and some of the 2nd & 3rd cast principals. Isabella Boylston, Sarawanee Tanatanit, Blaine Hoven & Cory Sterns did the Millipied. They are all corps dancers rarely cast in featured roles and it was great to see how well all of them are developing. Next we got to see the 1st, 3rd & 4th pdds from Leaves, performed by Ricetto/Matthews, Melissa Thomas/Zhurbin and Wiles/Hammoudi. I have to say that none of these seemed as poignent as I remembered but they were performed out of context and in rehearsal clothes so I'll wait to see it on stage before deciding that they pale before my memories of Tcherkassky, Glushak, Kirkland et al. Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner talked about setting the ballet and about their experiences of working with Tudor.

Next Georgina Parkinson talked about working with De Mille on a revival of Fall River Legend when she first joined ABT and either she or McKenzie referred to it as the best Tudor ballet she ever created. They did the "Rocking Chair" scene with Wiles as Lizzie, Parkinson as the stepmother, Zhurbin as her father and Stappas as the pastor. It's quite tense & grim and Wiles' Lizzie reminded me of her Hagar, so I had no problem making that connection. This is certainly a dark piece, but I'm glad to see that ABT continues to revive De Mille & Tudor's work.

The evening ended with Xiomara Reyes, Hammoudi & Hoven in an excerpt from Clear.

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