The ABT Gala was a mixed bag that was extremely rough around the edges.
The first piece was Mark Morris' new project After You. It was just ok in my opinion. I didn't really hate it, nor did I love it.
The choreography was a bit staid. The only dancers who made something of it were Stella Abrera, Joo Won Ahn, Skylar Brandt and Gillian Murphy. It seemed to me a lot of rushing to and fro with the best dance parts for the male corps. The costumes were strange, like Grecian costume style pajamas. They didn't look bad on the men but they made all the women look a bit matronly, very wide in the hips.
So yes, it was just ok. I have no more to say.
Going on to....
Unfortunately Monotones I & II were complete disasters even with Stella Abrera, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster giving their very best.
In Monotones I, Gorak and Abrera were totally of one mind stylistically. Their bodies complemented one another with careful, caring, pure classical lines. But it was completely ruined by you guess who, "Welcome-to-Jurassic-Park" Boylston. I so tried to ignore her. But it was impossible since she was up front and center, dancing in the way of Gorak and Abrera's finely tuned, thoughtful work. For every rounded arm they gave us, Boylston covered it up with her broken elbows, broken wrists, claw hands, overly raised chin and jazzy style shoulder rolls. I swear I wished a hook would have come out to pull her out of the way. It was an insulting performance and deliberately meant to upstage Gorak and Abrera. It ended quickly mainly because I spent most of the performance hating Boylston's presence.
I hoped Monotones II would be better. But alas not. I'm sorry to say that lovely Veronika Part was grossly miscast in this ballet. She was just too tall. Her tallness got in the way of her partners and it caused her to move too slowly. The amazing, folding twists in the beginning were completely hampered by her inability to fold her long limbs quick enough, plus they seemed to entangle her partners. As they struggled to turn her, the music had to slow down to accommodate them. Also the folding turns were completely undramatic because she also could not unfold herself quick enough to open her arms and legs into arabesque. She missed a great deal of the pure classical nuance adding more where it should have been minimalist.
I know why they thought Part would have been great in the role. Because the choreography requires long, extensions. However these extensions are meant for a small ballerina whose line would be extended not by her own limbs but by the male dancers who would echo her movements. Since Part was so tall, this extension visual trick did not work.
Of the two male dancers, only Thomas Forster had perfect classical positions. Corey Sterns looked bored by comparison and his line was a bit sloppy.
Tharp's The Brahms-Haydn Variations the best out of all three performances but still hampered with miscasting. All with the focus of separating Sarah Lane from her regular partners, Joseph Gorak and Herman Cornejo. She spent the ballet with Danil Simkin who has a bad Russian dancer habit of just depending upon good training and not expending more thought on interpretation. He was blandly good. Lane seemed to over compensate with frequent, vivacious glances at him. Which did make him perk up but then he would fall back into his regular cow-chewing-the-cud blandness.
Gorak was paired with Christine Shevchenko. But it wasn't a comfortable pairing. Gorak seemed hesitant and nervous. At some partnering moments he would get this shocked look as if he was thinking "Oh crap, this is going to get gnarly folks!" To Shevchenko's credit she kept her cool during the ballet. At times I would see Gorak glance wistfully at Lane and Simkin floating past him.
Herman Cornejo and Maria Kochetkova.
Hells Bells. How do I put what I saw down on this blog? Lets be blunt about it.
Maria Kochetkova looks like a 13 year old teeny bopper. In this ballet Herman Cornejo went all out with the debonair style and flirty smiles. But it didn't look right. Instead of two flirts flirting. It looked like 13 year old Peggy Sue showed up at her Junior High gym dance with a 30 year old Lothario lounge lizard. Yes, it was that creepy. And it got more creepy as the ballet unfolded. I also thought of all those romantic ballets they were cast in come Spring 16 and was seriously creeped out even more at the thought of them being romantic together. Ewwwww. I cannot believe that McKenzie and the ballet masters are completely unaware of this inappropriate visual age difference between the two of them. However I will say that Kochetkova was very sweet at the end of the performance as she gave one of her bouquet roses to Cornejo as a thank you.
Other standouts were of course Gillian Murphy. Murphy seems to have the star power of the old school ABT. It makes the rest of the company look a bit amateurish at times. Courtney Lavine was very good in the Corps. However, again, she was shoved all the way to the back of the line, completely covered up by lesser dancers.
Then we had dinosaur claws Boylston again. Hell I wish I could have ignored her in this as well. But she had by far the most dancing parts. All the better to show off her crooked fingers my dears.
So tonight's performance wasn't that hot. It looked rushed in places and a bit unrehearsed. There were also fantastic dancers underutilized in lieu of the T-Rex of the stage and pre-pubescent child.