Haglund was happy for the rare opportunity to see both the
matinee and evening performances on Wednesday. The Met was nowhere near full
for either, which is a shame, because there was a lot of dynamite dancing on
Both programs opened with Twyla Tharp's The Brahms-Haydn
Variations which Tharp created for ABT ten years ago. It is a busy piece of
choreography of mostly PdDs that reflect the inspiration Tharp derived from the
unique dancers who originated their roles – especially Paloma Herrera and Julie
Kent, who danced in the afternoon.
Herrera and Marcelo Gomes embraced the choreography like
an old friend – its intricate interweavings of limbs, lifts and turns so suited
to Herrera's exquisitely tuned instrument.
Kent and Sascha Radetsky had a quieter, gentler PdD that
prompted Haglund to ask, "Why haven't these two dancers been paired before?"
They were extremely attractive together, and when Kent smiled at Radetsky
one could see his tension melt and the joy of his dancing shown through. He is
a perceptive and strong partner and one wonders if he might be the partner who
could keep Julie dancing for a long time to come.
Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreno as the lead couple
danced with high energy and Murphy scored those impressive pirouettes. But
folks, then came the evening performance led by Stella Abrera and Alexandre
Hammoudi, and it was a whole other level of energy.
Abrera was phenomenal in this ballet, and danced with the
sparkle and skill and confidence that just seemed impossible considering all the
months, years really, that she has been out injured. Tharp's accents were so
crystal clear in Abrera's command that one could nearly hear Tharp's voice
barking approval. This woman is on fire this season, no doubt about it!
Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo danced the PdD that
Kent/Radetsky danced in the afternoon. It looked very different but equally
beautiful. Reyes brought a modesty and shyness to the piece whereas Kent was
all elegance and poise.
Michele Wiles and Cory Stearns attempted the PdDs that
Herrera and Gomes inhabited during the afternoon. Wiles is not the dancer to
cast in a PdD that requires torso flexibility and horizontal lifts. Put her
upright and she is astonishing. Turn her loose on a cleared stage and she will
kill you with her brilliance. But she does not wear Tharp well, and Stearns
wears it worse.
Both programs included fabulous editions of Jerome
Robbins' Fancy Free. The afternoon was danced by Cornejo, Ethan Stiefel,
Carreno, Abrera, Murphy and Leann Underwood. The evening was danced by Daniil
Simkin, Carlos Lopez, Radetsky, Maria Riccetto, Isabella Boylston, and Lauren
Post. Julio Bragado-Young was the bartender for both performances.
The afternoon's performance was understandably stronger
given the experience of the cast. Carreno was so hot, Cornejo - so funny, and
Steifel - so full of charm. Throw in the cunning experience of Abrera and
Murphy, and when it was all over, you just wanted to hit the replay button
immediately. Steifel's PdD with Murphy had him working so hard to impress her,
and when he finally won her over, the whole episode became magical – the most
terrific F.F. PdD Haglund has ever seen.
The evening's F.F. included Simkin's New York debut as the
first sailor. Not a bad effort, and the characterization will come with time.
Radetsky danced the rumba as the third sailor for the first time in New York but also
performed the central PdD with Boylston. Radetsky was workin' what needed to be worked
in that rumba and was very funny. The PdD with Boylston needs a lot of
seasoning. It was nice to see Isabella's eyes look out every once in a while,
but we have to see a lot more of it.
Sandwiched between Tharp and Robbins were Taylor's Company
B in the afternoon and Ratmansky's On the Dnieper in the evening. Company B
looks a little thin on the huge Met stage, but it was well danced, especially by
Craig Salstein, Joseph Phillips and Misty Copeland in Oh, Johnny!, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and Rum and Coca Cola, respectively. Haglund was not all that impressed with Simkin's Tico-Tico probably because of the great memories of PTD's Andrew Asnes's hysterical rendition. Haglund overheard some
audience members say they had come to ABT just for this piece and to hear the music of
the Andrews Sisters. They were very, very happy with what they
Haglund has now seen On the Dnieper five times and has
finally figured out why he cannot be at ease with liking it: the level and
intensity of the virtuosity within the choreography - especially the corps' – is
not supported by either the music or the thin story. Much of the time, the
choreography comes across as steps for steps' sake and not to illuminate the
story or to make us hear the music any more clearly. The solos are extremely
complex, physically demanding, and were admirably danced last night by Gomes, Herrera,
David Hallberg and Veronika Part, but "the why" of all this intensity was never
conveyed. Still, the scenery is truly lovely. Haglund hopes that Ratmansky
will continue to revise On the Dnieper as he suggests he will, but no revisions
were apparent last night.
Haglund awards this sparklyPump Bump of diamonds and gold for Abrera's sensational performance in The Brahms-Haydn Variations and for Stiefel's and Murphy's PdD in Fancy Free: