The American Ballet Theater’s spring season has sprung. The kickoff was a gala complete with celebrities walking the red carpet, followed by a performance that featured excerpts from this season’s ballets and a very pricey reception (which we did not attend).
We got to Lincoln Center early to watch the so-called celebrities walk the red carpet into The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. A friend brazenly critiqued everyone’s dresses as we tried to figure out who these pseudo-celebs were. Other than Selena Gomez, who looked stunning, we had no idea who most of these people were.
But back to the ballet… The ABT is sticking to a familiar repetoire, Coppelia, Cinderella, La Bayadère, and others. Also included was Nuages, a premiere for the company for this season. Not being a fan of ballets that tell stories I was less than enchanted. Luckily for me the two excerpts from Manon were very good since I have tickets to see the entire ballet later this season. The piece from Coppelia was dull. We kept waiting for the all the toys to come to life. Instead we got to see was a lot emoting from Swanilda and Dr. Coppelius. Excerpts from Gaîté Parisienne ended the evening. The costumes designed by Christian Lacroix were overwhelming and even managed to detract from Offenbach’s very recognizable can-can music. In my opinion the Nuages with Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes was the best of ballet of the evening. This production was lovely and the dancing spectacular.
Bravo to the male dancers whose performances, across the board, were astounding. For the most part, I felt the women’s performances were lackluster. With few exceptions, they appeared to be mere window dressing used to keep us focused on their male counterparts. Rarely have I seen male dancers leaping and pirouetting as remarkably as they did. I must make special mention of Daniil Simkin who performed the role of Puck in The Dream. Not only did his dancing take my breath away but he was funny! I also give a shoutout to James Whiteside for his performance as Oberon in the same ballet.
Although not crazy about the ballet selections chosen for the gala it is evident why the American Ballet Theater is consistently lauded as one of the world’s leading classical ballet companies. The technical profiency of the dancers is incomparable, yet their performances appeared robotic. That said, lovers of traditional ballet will not be disappointed by Kevin McKenzie’s, the ABT artistic director, ballet choices for the 2014 season. LAR
American Ballet Theater, 890 Broadway at The Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center
Tickets prices $20-$210
Discounted tickets at Goldstar.com