Performing Arts: Dance
April 6, 2021

Warm greetings by Susan Fales-Hill introduced the presentation of excerpts from three works by Alexei Ratmansky plus a 2021 debut performed by American Ballet Theater.

Shot on the City Center Stage, I can only believe Ratmansky had a say in the way the dancing was shot because the camerawork remained effectively conservative, framing the whole body and limiting special effects. This approach allowed the dance to speak as purely as possible through the screen.

Full of youthful awakening, The Sleeping Beauty's Rose Adagio captures Aurora, 16 year old princess, gaily unfurling her feminine treasures, and a sly bit of independence, for admiration by the her princely suitors.

In Seven Sonatas, Second Movement a male in white cleanly cuts through space. Clicking his legs together in mid-air, Herman Cornejo's airy jumps and sigh-filled sideways arcs form an unbroken line of motion. Luciana Paris breezes in with gurgling steps suggestive of traditional Russian folk dances.

In turn, Carlos Gonzalez breaks through with focused energy that alternates between short, rapid bursts and thoughtful pauses. Finally, the self-assured Devon Teuscher melds one shape into the other and re-engaging the band of dancers.

A pas de deux from The Seasons overflowing with tenderness and longing binds James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston. Physically well-suited, they glide through lingering looks and matched steps transformed into gentle lifts.

Stepping away from Russian composers, Ratmansky scoops up the music of Leonard Bernstein, the quintessential American composer and conductor, for a piece that heralds a time of hopeful expectations.

In Ratmansky's premiere Bernstein in a Bubble Bernstein cracks into his 1980 composition Divertimento with a chord that's reminiscent of West Side Story's iconic overture. And while the sore exudes optimism, Divertimento jauntily swings from one dancey mood to another. Elbows bent, dancers bubble into the frame, romping around as if in a hoe down--or perhaps it's a wink at Balanchine's Square Dance? Each section giddily toys with the ballet vocabulary spiking it with somersaults and jogs, splits and pumping arms.

Not unlike Michel Fokine, who equalized the onstage status of male and female dancers at the turn of the 20th century, Ratmansky inserts a physical equality between the men and the women.

Male groupings include same sex partnering, while the women mark out their own distinct territory.In one duet, the two men, Patrick Frenette and Tyler Maloney, quietly support and carry each other after somersaulting to the beat, dipping into side splits and glistening in double air turns.

There's a whimsical trio with Frenette and Maloney sailing through prankish intersections along with Skylar Brandt. Tossed mid-air from one partner to the other, Brandt proves she really doesn't need their help to do anything--including a remarkable 2 revolution turn while hopping on pointe in arabesque followed by a trip pirouette. What?????

A bright duet with Trenary and Hoven was playful and exacting while Aran Bell and Catherine Hurlin delve into a coquettish duet studded with languorous lifts and kitschy hip swivels. Soon, everyone in the cast returns for some last minute antics.

Despite the pandemic's toll on dance classes and rehearsals, these dancers are remarkably fit and sharp.

Bernstein in a Bubble is one of this pandemic's more satisfying productions. Ratmansky draws from his Bolshoi tradition, finding athletic solutions to clever and upbeat choices.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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