BWW Review: ABT Favors the Bold with THE NEW ROMANTICS at David H. Koch Theater

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BWW Review: ABT Favors the Bold with THE NEW ROMANTICS at David H. Koch Theater

The word "romantics" is defined in many ways: "a person with romantic beliefs or attitudes,"; "a writer of the romantic movement,"; "having no basis in fact." Despite the different definitions, the concept of romance is always rooted in a feeling of extreme passion. And it's this exact kind of feeling that the company of American Ballet Theatre brought to the stage, making a statement about what romance means-and looks like-in the 21st Century.

Up first was the American Ballet Theatre premiere of James Whiteside's "New American Romance." Whiteside's prior experience with Balanchine training was ever-present throughout the piece. From the diaphanous tutus and rich navy costuming to the syncopated sequential movements, it was a surprising and delightful layer that made the piece stand out on its own.

"New American Romance" was approached much like a cinematic experience, and it was clear what careful thought Whiteside put into casting. Hurlin and Bell portrayed the young ingenues finding love, while simultaneously showing off their penchant for speed with acrobatic inverted lift sequences and chaîné turns that made them appear to soar. A trio of supporting ladies-the comical reprieve-playfully flounced about the stage. Katherine Williams was a standout, setting the standard for Whiteside's homage to the playful.

But it was the piece's central pas de trois of Calvin Royal III, Devon Teuscher, and Joo Won Ahn that completely stole the show. Matched in physicality and grace, Royal III, Teuscher, and Ahn were a coupling you didn't know you needed. Their innate sense of spatial awareness and relation to each other was, honestly, spellbinding. And even though the choreography was bold, athletic, and exciting, the subtle moments were the most profound-and the most defining for Whiteside.

Jessica Lang's "Garden Blue" followed with an energy that was noticeably darker and more somber. The stage was set with movable architectural sculptures that acted as both props and settings for the dancers, who donned multi-colored unitards. The piece was visually striking, but served as more of a commentary on the nature of relationships when in context with each other-how are they similar? How are they different? What do they look like in different places? And with different people? Lang's choreography was reliably strong, using the dancers as vehicles to carve out shapes and structures in space.

The final piece of the evening was the World Premiere of Gemma Bond's "A Time There Was." Imbued with natural nostalgia, the dancers brought incredible warmth to their respective performances, and related to each other with deep sincerity; it was palpable in every gesture, lift, and embrace. A notable standout was Cassandra Trenary, who brings impeccable technique and daring athleticism to everything she does.

Moreover, this piece was successful because of Gemma's choreographic vocabulary-a blend of classical ballet technique with devil-may-care energy. She also requires her dancers to be ferocious-in spirit and execution, and it's a wonderful tension to behold.

Photo Credit: Erin Baiano

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From This Author Christina Pandolfi