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BWW Review: Misty Copeland Has Begun Her Reign as Principal Dancer of ABT

Misty Copeland gave her first performance as principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre on November 24, 2015. I felt fortunate to be in attendance, as she began to weave her ballerina magic on yet another mesmerized full house.

Her opening role was in Paul Taylor's Company B to songs sung by The Andrews Sisters, which expressed the sentiments of Americans during World War II. This is a piece she has performed numerous times in the past. Copeland's bubbly persona shone through, making it fun for all in attendance. She was a delight, particularly reprising her featured segment, "Rum and Coca-Cola." Casting her in this piece, which speaks of life in Trinidad, asks her to play to type, which she did with a unique pizazz. While I thoroughly enjoyed her in this part, I would have enjoyed seeing her add that spark to another role in this ballet.

Closing the program was Twyla Tharp's The Brahms-Hayden Variations, with music by Johannes Brahms ("Variations on a Theme by Hayden for Orchestra, Op. 56a"). Copeland performed this principal role beautifully. Although this work was beige in tone, as described by both costumes and choreography, her dancing was decidedly not that. She was lively and strong, adding her signature to each segment of this work in which she participated.

The world premiere of Marcelo Gomes' Aftereffect, to music by Tchaikovsky, on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, featured Copeland as His Loss, partnered by James Whiteside as The Man. Light as air, she made a weighty impression. The ballet was like a painting in motion, no doubt the intention of the choreographer, who was inspired by a story told to him by Francoise Gilot, a lover and muse of Pablo Picasso, and painter in her own right. One of her recent paintings was used as the backdrop for this ballet. The mostly white costumes, with a splash of color by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, added to the impression of paints moving on canvas.

Gomes began by working on his first ABT commissioned work with Copeland, using only fragments of choreography. Having set other smaller pieces on her, perhaps it is not out of line to call her a muse. She brought her character to life with lithe body, arms, and legs, which appeared to go on beyond her frame. While diminutive, she can be minimized by no one on the stage, including her tall partner. Her aura is super-sized, filling the stage and the story with fluidity.

It is with excited anticipation that I await her future performances. This is only the beginning.

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