BWW Review: American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and The Royal Ballet School Share the Stage
On February 10th and 11th the ABT Studio Company (formerly ABT ll), under the artistic direction of Kate Lydon, and graduate students of London's RBS met at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to give three performances of classical and new classical repertory. The shared performances are part of a unique exchange, which began in 2003, between the ABT Studio Company and The Royal Ballet School. On alternate years, they perform in NYC, while on alternate years, they perform in London. I attended the opening night performance, February 10, 2017.
Students of RBS opened the evening with excerpts from Frederick Ashton's Birthday Offering, to music by Alexander Glazounov. Colorful costumes by Andre Levasseur, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre, were matched by the colorful excitement of the dancers. Ah, the enthusiasm of young talent!
Kabalevsky Violin Concerto (NYC premiere), choreographed by ABT principal dancer, Marcelo Gomes was beautifully performed by four dancers of ABT Studio Company, to Concerto for violin in C major, Op48, by Dimitri Kabalevsky. There was a natural flow throughout the three movements. The First Movement was danced by the perky Zimmy Coker and Luigi Crispino, who appeared well suited to the bright spirit of the pas de deux. The Second Movement was danced by the joyful and passionate Meghan Lynch and her attentive partner, Jarod Curley. From the opening pose and throughout this movement there was passion and professionalism. In the Third Movement, the four dancers danced together, grouped in various ways. This work was well done and well received.
Five young men, graduates of the RBS performed Concerto Grosso, choreography by Helgi Tomasson (artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet), to music by Francesco Geminiani, La Follia (after Corelli). Their unity was good, although I could see some of them still striving for technique. The dancer in red was very self-assured, while the dancer in Olive Green, too, demonstrated self-confidence, which is attractive.
Chromatic Fantasy (NYC premiere), choreography by Dana Genshaft, to Chaconne from Chromatic Fantasy, by Dave Brubeck and performed by John Salmon, was performed by students of ABT Studio Company. Each of the six dancers wore a different colored costume, with matching beanie and pointe shoes (girls). The transitions were smooth as they changed groups, hence changing color combinations, which seemed to be the focal point of this work.
Concerto, Pas de Deux, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, to Dimitri Shostakovitch's Piano Concerto no.2 in F, op.102, opened with a large, golden, full moon on the backdrop. Students of the RBS were costumed in the color of goldenrod, looking like they'd come right out of the golden moon. The partnering was well done.
Ethan Steifel's choreography, See the Youth Advance (NYC premiere) was performed by ABT Studio Company. The romantic costumes, long, pastel dresses with puff sleeves for the girls and billowy, white shirts and white knee socks for the boys were designed by Natalia Stuart and constructed by Suzie Holland (courtesy of the RBS). The music was by Ludwig von Beethoven (after Handel). This was a good vehicle for these dancers who enjoyed themselves dancing this style. See the Youth Advance was commissioned in 2016 as a joint work between ABT Studio Company and The Royal Ballet School as part of the 2016 annual exchange.
Closing the performance was New Scarlett (world premiere) choreography by Liam Scarlett, to music of Philip Glass, Piano Concerto No. 2, Third Movement. The two groups shared the stage for this final piece. The differences in training were evident only to the educated eye. They danced well together, with less than a week to rehearse together, despite the differences in their training. After all, it's all ballet and these performers are the next generation of ballet dancers, blossoming before our eyes.
Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor