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ABT opening-night gala

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I see there have been some changes made here lately. Sorry I've been away so long, but I'll try to make up for it.

ABT's opening-night gala at the Met started at the Ungodly hour of 6:30 pm (well, more like 6:45), but at least it let out at a decent hour -- 8:30. So it was short and mostly sweet, although the programming was bizarre, even for a gala.

Started with the corps dancing Ben Stevenson's choreography for the big ballroom waltz in Prokofiev's Cinderella. If there's a better soporific in this world than Stevenson's choreography, I'd sure like to know about it. Then came the NY premiere of Paul Taylor's Black Tuesday. I particularly liked this, and thought the dancers all looked great, especially Erica Cornejo in a long, despairing solo. It's one of Taylor's cheery overlays on a rather morbid theme. We have ragged and filthily clad ragamuffins gamely prancing away to some of Tin Pan Alley's more inane ditties about the Depression, said dancing only occasinally breaking into a true and realistic despair until Ethan Steifel's wonderful solo to the not-at-all cheery "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

After a brief intermission, we had a rather dismembered Tchaikovsky section, with various solos ripped bodily out of, not just their ballets, but even the pas de deux where they belong. We had three, count 'em three, Auroras!

The section started with the coda from the prologue to Sleeping Beauty. Not much to see here, except Shelkanova looked lovelier than ever, the new soloist whose name escapes me looks petite, gamine and promising, and Gillian Murphy was a very affectless Lilac (for all of the 3 seconds she danced).

Then we had (I may get the order confused -- forgive me), Carreno dancing the solo from the Black Swan pdd. He looked noble and romantic, as usual. He didn't finish his double tours with quite the precision he often shows (double-tours were iffy all night long, I thought), but made up for it with some beautiful double revoltades to the knee. Then Amanda McKerrow danced the solo from Balanchine's Tchaikovsky pdd. She's a lovely dancer in many ways, but she HAS to stop the mugging, already. Corella was his usual self (that is, bouyant, exuberant and flashy) in Desire's solo from the Sleeping Beauty pdd. Paloma Herrera tried mightily to invoke the image of a court surrounding her dancing Aurora's Act I SB solo, and it was nice to see her really inside of a role, rather than off in the limbo she often seems to inhabit. Maxim Belotserkovsky did a decent job with the man's solo from Tchai Pas, but seemed to have caught Carreno's iffy landings from double tours (even Corella wasn't immune).

Ashley Tuttle was perfectly cast in the Sugar Plum Fairy's solo from Nutcracker, as she often seems to aspire to being a ballerina on a music box. Susan Jaffe smiled a lot at every corner of the state, it seemed in Aurora's Act III solo, and Irina Dvorovenko glared and simmered her way through a Black Swan solo that wasn't quite up to her best standards (she had a Moment recovering from a renverse that didn't quite end up as she'd planned, I think).

Julie Kent was ravishing, ravishing, ravishing in the White Swan pdd with Robert Hill. I think she's entering her stride as a ballerina, except I don't undertand why she reduces the battus at the end to near-invisibility.

Nina Ananiashvili was, as one might expect, a lovely Aurora in the Rose Adagio, and seemed to remember at the end why she gets the big bucks, and pulled out an appropriately long balance, which, not surprisingly, brought the house down.

Then we had Julio Bocca looking rather coarse in the man's solo from, I think, Nutcracker, and, of all things, the Act 1 waltz from Swan Lake, complete with Maypole (I guess it was almost the right day for it). All the leads returned for bows to the Apotheosis from Sleeping Beauty, and then we could go home.

All those Tchaikovsky solos out of context really didn't work, although it was interesting to see which dancers just went out and danced, and which gamely tried to invoke a full-length ballet around themselves. I thought Black Tuesday bodes well for the season. It may not go down in the Taylor canon as a great work, but it's clear the company's dancers responded well to it.

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Guest hit-5th

in the abt gala i really expected more from all of the principles. the did not seem really prepared. i am sure that the will of course look better through out the season. julie, jose, and paloma were my favorites.

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