The American Ballet Theatre's current program at the Kennedy Center, featuring works by Ratmansky, Robbins, Millepied, and Wheeldon (as well as the full-length Whipped Cream, not covered in this review), is extremely well done but a little uninspiring. It's hard to fault the fantastic ABT dancers, but I was merely appreciative, not enthralled, by most of the pieces on offer.

Benjamin Millepied's "I Feel The Earth Move" was the only piece that truly captured me. Set to music from Phillip Glass's Einstein on the Beach, the piece was athletic and urgent. The curtain legs were drawn back, exposing the wings and making the dance seem more immediate. Misty Copeland was fantastic of course, weaving in and out of formations, sprinting from the wings, and working with the other soloists with precision and power. The piece ended abruptly, when a flash of light followed by a blackout caught the dancers mid-leap, letting the anxious energy of the piece hang uneasily in the air.

"Serenade after Plato's Symposium", choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, was a nice showcase for the male soloists of the company. Beyond the impressive leaps and turns, I appreciated the glimpses of humor and character work allowed to shine through. The piece was set during a Greek forum debate, and the choreography allowed the dancers to get looser as they became more involved in argument (and more drunk). For a piece ostensibly about Plato's discourse on the meaning of love, however, it was lacking in a certain spark and left me feeling a little uninspired.

Jerome Robbins' "Other Dances" featured several solos and pas de deux by Isabella Boylston and Cory Stearns. Stearns and Boylston had great chemistry, and danced the very classical choreography beautifully. If you want your ballet traditional, partnered, and tender, this piece will do the trick for you. The program wrapped up with Christopher Wheeldon's "Thirteen Diversions", which was filled with striking tableaus set against Brad Fields' deliciously dramatic lighting. The piece had some fantastic partnering work and fascinating formations, but the program was long enough that I was too tired to really appreciate them.

The American Ballet Theatre's mixed program runs approximately 2 hours 30 minutes, with two intermissions, at the Kennedy Center. This program ran on January 30th and 31st, 2018, while Whipped Cream runs through February 4, 2018. Get tickets here.

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

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From This Author Hannah Landsberger

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