Performing Arts: Dance
June 14, 2022
American Ballet Theater's season opened with sparkling comments about McKenzie's extraordinary service to the company. McKenzie, originally a favored ABT dancer who became artistic director for over 4 decades, will be succeeded by another former ABT dancer, Susan Jaffee. Change is-a-comin' to American Ballet Theater.

Intent on showcasing the company's wealth of talent, the Gala program embellished the major roles in Don Quixote with several different casts. A lively ballet full of comedy and overwrought drama is set to Ludwig Minkus' lushly romantic music flecked with Spanish cadences, crisp castanets and finger snaps.

Loosely based on the story of Don Quixote's quest the ballet hones in on the love story between the beautiful Kitri and her rakish beau Basilio and their village of characters.

In the first rotation, Aran Bell embodies a dashing young beau, raring to sweep away his sunny Kitri, Catherine Hurlin. Joo Won wins over his Kirtri with buoyant jumps that swoon over the powerfully delicate Hee Seo. A strong partner, Daniel Camargo frames Christine Shevchenko's crowd-pleasing technical prowess.

Two of the livelier roles, Mercedes, the street dancer and Espada, a famous matador allows dancers larger interpretive freedom.

The vainly dramatic matador finds favor in Thomas Forster who has his way with a cape, while Calvin Royal III charmingly claims his ground and Gabe Stone Shayer fires up tons of dash and daring. All three Mercedes' -- Devon Teuscher, Katherine Williams and Cassandra Trenary -- toss off impressive kicks, and flirtatious skirt flicks. A newer face, Williams (ABT soloist) demonstrates fresh verve and the pleasingly theatrical Teuscher returns in a convincing turn as the Queen of the Dyads (Act II).

Someone who nearly steals the show, the wispy corps member Lea Fleytoux, streaks through blurry quick point work, and pliant leaps and turns in the role of Amour.

Facing a new age, American Ballet Theater is building a strong foundation for a creative future that promises to continue its legacy of excellence and broaden its ranks to embrace America's rich cultural, ethnic and racial heritage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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