Haglund had a different experience at Tuesday night's Firebird where the cast was Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo, Maria Riccetto, and Roman Zhurbin. The complaints about Alexei Ratmansky's ballet are the same, but somehow the production wasn't as annoying when steered by the ensemble instead of competing "stars." The choreography for the title character looked much better on a Firebird with beautiful legs and feet and an expressive face. Misty Copeland fit that bill on Tuesday night, and her on point interpretation of the mythical creature nearly induced a pyromaniac euphoria in the audience. The whole cast gelled in a way that the opening night's didn't. But still, the choreography was a lot of hurrying around with steps crammed into the music to cacophonic effect.
Ratmansky is one of the busiest choreographers in the world today, but it seems that the business may be preventing his best efforts from being fully realized. From Ratmansky, we need fewer poems and more poetry.
The evening included a tribute to AD Kevin McKenzie for putting in twenty years on the job. In any other workplace, the guy gets a watch, a few kind words from the boss and co-workers, and then goes back to his desk to work. Customers aren't usually asked to congratulate him.
There were two films presented – a retrospective short about his career and later a humorous collection of other ADs around the world offering their congratulations. For the occasion, Marcelo Gomes choreographed a brief ballet, Triptych, for Xiomara Reyes, Paloma Herrera, and Veronika Part to the Handel-Halverson violin and cello duet Passacaglia for Violin and Cello which was played live on stage by Charles Yang and Dane Johansen. The quirky hand, arm, and head movements within the choreography for these beautiful ballet dancers wasn't especially appealing. Nothing in it showed off the unique qualities of these wonderful artists.
As part of the tribute, Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes performed a PdD from Cruel World which was created for Julie and Robert Hill by James Kudelka. Yes, it is a cruel world for many of ABT's finest dancers – thanks to the director who was being celebrated last night. His legacy will include wasting much of this talent, while substituting homely eastern European imports and has-beens who cannot dance as well as ABT's own artists.
The evening concluded with Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions danced by the superb cast of Gillian Murphy/David Hallberg, Sarah Lane/Craig Salstein, Hee Seo/Gray Davis, and Devon Teuscher/Daniel Mantei.
The Pump Bump Award, a gem of a red stiletto with steel reinforced and diamond heel, is bestowed upon Misty Copeland for her wonderful Firebird.