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BWW Review: American Ballet Theatre Studio Company Performs in New York City

On Friday, March 24, 2017, I attended the opening night performance of ABT Studio Company (formerly ABT II), fourteen young talents under the direction of Kate Lydon, at the Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College. Having seen their performance at the Skirball Theater just a month and a half ago, which they shared with the Royal Ballet School of London, England, I can see the progress they have made in a short time. They performed five ballets, by five different choreographers, one classic, four contemporary ballet.

Opening the program was Raymonda (Pas de Sept), staged by Martine van Hamel after Marius Petipa, to music of Alexander Glazunov. It was rather underwhelming, unfortunately, lacking polish and follow-through. The dancers looked like they were doing steps rather than dancing. Granted, this is a difficult ballet to perform, but I would have enjoyed it more to see the dancers enjoying the movement.

The second piece, however, changed the atmosphere in the theater by changing the level of dancing. Kabalevsky Violin Concerto (Second Movement), beautiful choreography by Marcelo Gomes, to music of Dmitri Kabalevsky ("Concerto for Violin in C Major, Op 48"). Meghan Lynch and Jarod Curley, whom I had seen perform this piece in February, showed improvement. Lynch was particularly improved. Her expression flowed with emotion and professionalism. Even when her partner may not have put her on her leg, she was able to save it, impressive for a young dancer. I could see a change in the shape of her legs and the way she danced on them. I look forward to seeing her dancing evolve in the future.

Six dancers performed Chromatic Fantasy, choreography by Dana Genshaft, to music of Dave Brubeck ("Chaconne from Chromatic Fantasy"), music performed by John Salmon. This piece, too, had been performed in February. The dancers, each in a different color, including beanie, socks and shoes, danced against a scrim that changed colors throughout. Girls wore red, yellow, and light blue, while boys were dressed in green, dark blue, and salmon. They changed partners and groupings repeatedly. Again, I found this piece to be about the changing color wheel. That said, this and all the contemporary pieces were better suited to these dancers, who seemed happy and freer in their dancing than Raymonda.

See The Youth Advance!, choreographed by Ethan Stiefel to music by Ludwig von Beethoven (after Handel), ("12 Variations on 'See the Conquering Hero Comes'"). Costumes designed by Natalia Stuart and made by Suzie Holland, courtesy of the Royal Ballet School were long, romantic dresses, in pastels for the girls; bright red or blue tights with blousy white shirts and knee socks for the boys. The twelve dancers looked good dancing this work which was well-designed for them, showing growth since the Skirball performances. Lynch, again, stood out in her small role, demonstrating that "there are no small roles, only small players".

Last on the program was Liam Scarlett's Untitled to music of Philip Glass ("Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark)"), danced at this performance by ten ABT Studio Company dancers and Carlos Gonzolez, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre. The piece had many lifts and tosses which were well-performed by the dancers, costumed in ivory leotards and skirts for the girls and ivory tights for the boys. The work was appropriate for these young performers and well-danced. This program ended on a high note.

ABT Studio Company is a training ground for young professionals, feeding dancers into the main company. It is exciting to watch dancers blossom and grow.

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

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