BWW Review: ABT's Le Corsaire Proves the Classics Can be Modern Again

BWW Review: ABT's Le Corsaire Proves the Classics Can be Modern Again

In an age where entertainment is binged and consumed for instant gratification, it's refreshing to sit with something and savor it--to indulge your senses and truly enjoy. And an evening of indulgence is precisely what American Ballet Theatre offered on the evening of June 14, 2019, at the Metropolitan Opera House with Le Corsaire. A classic in every sense of the word--historically, choreographically, and narratively--the company tickled audience goers with refreshed nuance and self-aware tongue-in-cheek humor that brought this standard into the 21st Century.

Studded with an all-star cast, Le Corsaire tells the story of a dashing pirate (Cory Stearns) who falls for a harem girl (Devon Teuscher) and disrupts the patriarchal society in which this saga is set--all in the name of love. These two are perfectly paired in physicality, and yet their techniques are both opposites and complements of each other: Stearns is an incredibly grounded dancer; each movement is deliberate and steady. Teuscher, however, dances with sharp accentuation. Every arabesque, pirouette and jeté cuts the space with crisp, clean angularity, which made for an exciting cocktail of seeming spontaneity and drama.BWW Review: ABT's Le Corsaire Proves the Classics Can be Modern Again

As Lankendem and Gulnare, Joo Won Ahn and Katherine Williams, respectively, were an exciting duo. I've not seen either dance in featured roles before, and it was invigorating to see the sheer energy with which they attacked their choreography. But more importantly, they were well suited for the ballet and for each other; their lithe figures delicately balanced the line between proper technique and finessed stage presence.

But perhaps most notable was James Whiteside, covering for an injured Daniil Simkin. Tall in stature and impact, Whiteside brought the flair for the dramatic to the role of Ali, the Slave. A character traditionally intended to blend in, Whiteside does anything but; his long, lean lines and impeccable technique aside, James' presence is undeniable, jumping with incredible ease, turning with rapidity, and showcasing épaulement with contemporary flair.

It's always fun to return to something familiar, but it's even better if what you love has been improved upon and enhanced for the current time--just like Le Corsaire was.

Don't walk--run to see American Ballet Theatre this season!

Photo Credit: Marty Sohl and Rosalie O'Connor

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From This Author Christina Pandolfi

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