Performing Arts: Dance
May 24, 2022
The Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the official school of American Ballet Theatre, gave its first in-person performances in years at the NYU Skirball theater. By presenting a handful of classical ballet repertory excerpts, the school positioned itself as steward of classical ballet style, and beautiful classical ballet style and training was evident in each and every one of those dancers.

The clarity of their port de bras and their joyful stage presence are just two essential elements of this tradition that are clear values being instilled in the young dancers. Kudos to outgoing JKO Artistic Director Cynthia Harvey for shepherding the students with such integrity throughout the many challenges of the past few years.

The program began with Conservatoriet, a classroom exposition by the 19 th -century Danish master August Bournonville staged by Petrusjka Broholm. It begins with a nerve-wracking series of grand-plies (in pointe shoes!) in the center of the stage, which will bedevil even the most seasoned dancers. Aside from one or two nervous baubles the dancers managed the fiendishly difficult choreography with assurance and aplomb. More than few dancers stood out for their ballon and carriage during batterie sequences – key ingredients for Bournonville technical virtuosity. Impressive control was displayed by Savannah Quiner in her variation, and the young men controlled the ends of turns and double tours with ease.

Le Petit Ballet by Robert LaFosse with lovely music composed by JKO student Charles Chaitman showed off the up-and- coming-dancers with well-executed simple steps and partnering.

Excerpts from Sleeping Beauty staged by Ms. Harvey herself showcased the gifts of particular dancers, especially the clarity and musicality in the Prologue fairy variations danced by Audrey Cross, Caroline Quiner, Rachel Quiner, Cle´mentine Boulle´, Julia Norr, and Fiona Quirk. It was nice to see the relaxed banter and mutual admiration expressed between outgoing ABT main company Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and Ms. Harvey, as they spoke while costume changes were happening backstage.

A lively rendition of Moiseyev’s Jota Aragonesa opened the second half, in a stellar example of cross-cultural homage. It’s hard not to love a Soviet Russian’s balletic transformation of a traditional Spanish folk dance danced by young American- trained dancers with respect and joy, to Glinka’s rousing score.

A bravura rendition of Black Swan by ABT company members Lea Fleytoux and Jarod Curley showed what the future might hold.

And excerpts from the beloved classic Coppelia, seamlessly staged by Robert LaFosse with Carmella Gallace and Ruben Martin spotlighting different couples sharing the leading role, wrapped up the evening. In the first and third act pas de deux, Ellie Iannotti and Max Barker, Silvie Squires and Brady Farrar, were charming and assured. And Vince Pelegrin radiated with joy while the corps de ballet supported through their own ballet dancing well done.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

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