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THE ABT MIXED BILL––May 23, 2013

I saw the ABT mixed bill last night: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes (Mark Morris), A Month in the Country (Frederick Ashton), and Symphony in C (George Balanchine). This was an unusually well balanced program recalling my student days in the 60s and 70s when mixed bills were the norm and full-length ballets the exception at ABT. It’s really too bad the house wasn’t full but what does ABT expect when they emphasize Don Q and Corsaire instead of the gorgeous one-acts in their repertory.

I found Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes soothing and delectable without liking it very much. The movement was lyric and accessible. The phrases were academic and contemporary with interesting and amusing references to previous occurrences in the ballet. Structurally kind of brilliant without any obviously flashy formations. Still, it satisfied. The dancers, in their flowy white Santo Loquasto costumes, seem to be able to do anything, but only Yuriko Kajiya and Joseph Gorak stood out.

A Month in the Country is a beautiful ballet marred by a very few silent-movie histrionic gestures. Based on the play by Ivan Turgenev, this is a large scale but domestic ballet  with an impressive set and costumes by Julia Trevelyan Oman. Hee Seo began as a sumptuously detailed Natalia. David Hallberg is not a natural Beliaev but he offered some telling details of youth and inexperience. The pas de deux flagged at the end with the famous floating bourées not working quite right. And Seo’s final solo revealed the need for a more experienced, expressive dancer. She was no Lynn Seymour.

Symphony in C’s costumes (Karinska) make the ABT corps girls look thick in the waist and heavy of bosom. Not the ideal silhouette. So we start behind the eight ball. Stella Abrera was behind her music in the first movement (sacrilege in Balanchine). In the second, Polina Semionova was beautiful and correct but lacked the serene abandon of a Suzanne Farrell. Osipova and Vasiliev were brilliant in a rather Soviet way, so it was left to Simone Messmer, leading the fourth movement to infuse the ballet with authentic Balanchine brio. David LaMarche ably led the orchestra but took the fourth movement at such a clip that movements had to clipped. A bid for the Balanchine speed we hear so much about, I guess.

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