Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ABT 2014 - Shakespeare Celebration

I'm waiting on a few things from other people in my office to complete projects before the holiday so I thought now is as good a time as any to put down some thoughts about last night's evening at the ballet.  I can't believe it was my last ballet of the summer!  The season just goes by too quickly.  I look forward to it for months, try to savor and enjoy every minute, and still feel dejected when it's over.  Ah well.  At least I know ABT will be back for their fall season in October.  Only three or so months to go...

Oh, and if this report seems even more scattered than usual, Wimbledon is happening as we speak.  My internet tennis chums and I have termed our anxiety as 'frazzling.'  There is much frazzling happening.  Maybe I'll talk about it in another post at the end of the weekend.  We'll see.

So, ABT put together an evening of two one-act ballets, Ashton's The Dream (based on A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Ratmansky's The Tempest (I guess you know what that's based on), and called it their Shakespeare Celebration.  Worked for me!  I made sure this evening was on my subscription schedule because Julie Kent was dancing Titania on my usual night.  Yes, please!  I missed her last time and, as you know, she is my favorite.  I saw The Dream two years ago, I think, and I saw The Tempest last year.  I was looking forward to enjoying them both again. 

photo credit: MIRA
Which I did, but I definitely preferred one piece over the other.  The Dream is simply magical, which is apropos of a ballet based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, with all its magic and fairies.  The lullaby sequence was simply glorious, with the orchestra and the Young People's Chorus of NYC and the spectacular dancing, all set in a beautifully lit fairy land.  Marcelo Gomes is perfection personified as Oberon; I mean, hello, Marcelo is a king already!  Well, to me he is.  King of Perfection, ha ha.  But he was terrific as Oberon, with a majesty and regal bearing in his dancing and partnering.  He just owns that stage.  And Julie was lovely as Titania - just gossamer smooth, skimming across the stage, in silly love with Bottom, then passionate and thrilling in the final pas de deux with her king.  Julie and Marcelo are such a wonderful pair - together they raise the bar in acting and in-tandom dancing.  I loved them.  The shapes they created were simply stunning.

Daniil Simkin was a terrfic Puck - last time, I saw Herman Cornejo, who was a force of nature and stole the show.  Simkin is lighter, more ethereal, just light as air.  He reads much younger on stage, which was a nice and different take on Puck.  I thought he was great.  He had a great chemistry with Marcelo, too, which I liked.  I also liked Alexei Agoudine again as Bottom, he was very sweet.  The lovers were quite good and I was especially happy to see one of my faves, Roman Zhurbin, dance without a bunch of old man makeup or an odd costume!  His line and characterization was lovely.  Thumbs way up, really, on the whole thing.

photo credit: Andrea Mohin
Now on to something completely different.  For a ballet that's also based on a play with lots of magic in it, The Tempest is not very magical, though I did appreciate, for the first time, the dancers used as the wind and the water.  That made more sense to me this time than the last.  When I saw the ballet last fall, I was pretty confused about the plotting.  I guess having already seen it helped me out in that regard.  When the sudden flashbacks occurred, I knew what was going on, though I still thought a lot of the scenes just came on too quickly and ended too abruptly.  Maybe there's no way to make a coherent one-act ballet out of The Tempest.  Forty-five minutes just isn't enough...

I saw basically the same cast that I saw last fall - Cory Stearns as Prospero is still an elegant and stalwart dancer lacking in that certain extra something, in my opinion.  Of course, dressed in a wig that looks like a reject from Jesus Christ Superstar, or perhaps a musical version of Cast Away, doesn't help.  He was lovely in his solos and his partnering looked secure, but I just don't see him as the one controlling everything on the island with his magic.  Gabe Stone Shayer was again quite good as Ariel, very sprightly and airy in his dancing.  Blane Hoven was very good as Caliban - I had a new respect for the choreography given to Caliban, especially in his first drunk scene.  And I again feel the stuff given to Miranda and Ferdinand is superior to much of the other staging.  Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews (who I saw last fall) were even better and more lyrical than before.  ABT will miss them (they're headed to another ballet company) and so will I.

But, on the whole, even though I enjoyed The Tempest more on second viewing, I don't think I really like it as a ballet.  It's just too stuffed with plot and characters that clutter things and muddies the stage pictures, plus the music doesn't provide enough differentiation.  Much of the music is gorgeous, but it does all run together after awhile.  Maybe I need to listen to the music a little more before trying to tackle seeing this ballet again.  I guess it just depends on if ABT schedules it in the upcoming seasons.  OH, and Ratmansky's love of a shiny reflective dance floor is wreaking havoc on my curtain call photos.  None of them turned out, darn it.  Ah well...

And thus ends another ABT summer season for me.  I loved it, as you might imagine, though a couple of the performances were a tad less wonderful than I had hoped they would be.  I'm sure next year will be practically perfect in every way.

WIMBLEDON UPDATE, whether you want it or not: frazzling is over for today, the results are what I was hoping for, so I can exhale for a bit.  Hurrah! 

FYI, I may be blogging a little less frequently this summer - the bank has finally been broken, so I need to do some budgeting and some catch-up.  I have a few events coming up which I may or may not blog about, we'll just have to see.  I'm hoping to restart my Summer Friday adventures - I'll keep you posted.  I just didn't want you to worry if the blog isn't updated quite as often.  The Tour will be continuing, have no fear - and have a great holiday weekend, everyone!  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment