American Ballet Theatre – Mixed Bill

Friday, July 2, 2010

We have seen better mixed bills.  Not lacking in diversity in choreography, but it was not one of the ABT programs that keep us rapt from piece to piece.  The choreography was diverse, to be sure, representing George Ballanchine, Anthony Tudor, Sir Kenneth Macmillan and Frederic Ashton. 

The 2 Ashton works were the stars of the show, perhaps by design as ABT had held an all Ashton program just two nights earlier.

The music for Ashton’s Thais Pas de Deux, by Jules Massenet, was sweet, but it was the full length second act called “The Dream” which really made the program.  It was very un-ballet-like in parts which means ballet at its best!  There was a rare tuba solo in the Felix Mendelssohn music and a male dancer on point in a horse costume.  Our first impression was that the horse had to be a female dancer because on-point is a ballerina thing, but it sure looked and moved like a man;  a mystery which the program did not clear up.  Very interesting choreography in both of the Ashton numbers and we wish we had attended the aforementioned all Ashton program. 

Anthony Dowell, known as a dancer, also served as Artistic Director for Britain’s Royal Ballet.  He designed the costumes for the Thais Pas de Deux, which caught our attention.  Nowhere else is he cited for costume work that we could find.  Ashton and Dowell, both Knights of the British Empire, worked together, and Ashton personally asked Dowell to create the role of Oberon in “The Dream,” the major Ashton work represented here.  Of all the dancers we found Carlos Lopez as Puck to be the most interesting.  But how do you separate the dancer from the role?  Is there just Sean Connery or were there other good 007’s?  Only the shadow knows.

– Debra Randall contributed to this review