Performing Arts: Dance
February 17, 2017
NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts presented a unique opportunity to appreciate and compare the respective technique, training, and aesthetic signature of American and English ballet. Through an initiative that began in 2003, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and the Royal Ballet School’s company met to create and present a mixed bill performing both repertoire and premieres. This year, the program opened with Birthday Offering, created by Frederick Ashton and performed by the Royal Ballet School graduates.

Premiered in 1956 by the Sadler's Wells Ballet, excerpts of the ballet conveyed an elegant British signature, accentuated by the flamboyant royal costumes designed by Andre Levasseur.

Kabalevsky Violin Concerto followed, with a poetic interplay of duets from American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, choreographed by ABT’s e´toile, Marcelo Gomez. A magical moment was the fade-out transition between the first and the second movement, where a second duo appeared in the same pose as the former couple, causing the audience to gasp. In a glimpse through time, the romantic flow and delicacy conveyed by Zimmi Coker and Luigi Crispino recalled images of Gelsey Kirkland’s most memorable pas de deux.

The third work of the evening, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, framed a serene Royal Ballet School pas de deux in a warm, golden, visual composition of the choreographer’s signature dynamic progressions and spiraling inverted lifts. Comprising the middle of the program, Royal Ballet School’s Concerto Grosso, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, had aspects in common with ABT’s Studio Company’s Chromatic Fantasy, created by Dana Genshaft. Dancing to Spanish baroque music, the English company danced a Folia and the American company danced a Chaconne, both companies in close resemblance in their display of solid color unitard costumes and plotless storyline.

Sixth in the program was the restaging of "See the Youth Advance!" commissioned last year for both companies to premie`re in their 2016 annual exchange. Choreographed by Ethan Stiefel, ABT’s Studio Company’s dancers, dressed in empire-cut dresses and bolero pants, brought to life Beethoven’s 12 Variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes” in a display of bright allegro and sense of humor. The evening culminated with the World Premie`re of New Scarlett, created by Liam Scarlett to the third movement of Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Dancers from both companies adventured across enigmatic musical scenes through an interplay of breeze portes.

Having both companies performing together accentuated the strong and clean classical technique of the Royal Ballet School’s dancers and the flowing expressive versatility of the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. The collaboration between these two leading companies offered an extraordinary opportunity to sense the progression of ballet’s aesthetic.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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