writers on dancing


In Brief

American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive

Each year, ABT's six-week New York Summer Intensive culminates in two performances by the 200-plus students, with each of the seven color-coded levels performing both an excerpt from one of the 19th-century classics and an original work, most of them choreographed by ABT alumni. At the first of the two July 29 showings of the generous program at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the old tended to outshine the new. However worthy they may have been as opportunities for the young dancers to experience working with a choreographer, most of the brief novelties did not advance past the level of studies. Brian Reeder's whimsical "Walk the Cake," a punning reference to the Gottschalk music known form Ruthanna Boris' "Cakewalk," provided a charming showcase for the second-youngest group to students. Two bakers mimed the preparation of goodies for an eager, adorably disciplined ensemble, out of which the gifted Tara Sorine (a School of American Ballet student familiar from her charming role in Susan Stroman's "Double feature") emerged for some deft solo passages.

Among the classical excerpts—uncredited in the program, although a general thanks are given to Ethan Brown, Kristine Elliott, Clinton Luckett, Kate Lydon, John Meehan (ABT's artistic director of education and training), Nancy Raffa, Brian Reeder for the stagings—the Wilis dance from "Giselle"'s second act came across particularly well, and Angela Kenny was a remarkably poised and expansive Myrtha. Leann Underwood, leading a spirited and precise performance of the "Paquita" divertissement, demonstrated why she is one of the two Summer Intensive students (along with Mary Thomas) chosen to join the ABT Studio Company. She captured her solo's air of mysterious allure with remarkable maturity, and her fouettes in the coda began with effortless doubles and concluded with clean, musical singles. Here was ballerina mettle on display, with the promise of exciting things to come.—Susan Reiter

The Bolshoi's Maria Alexandrova

Dancers, by the particulars of their art, are silent, but the Bolshoi Ballet's Maria Alexandrova makes a big noise whenever she takes the stage. Alexandrova practically made her own music during the Bolshoi's two-week season at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. In "Don Quixote," she played her castanets fetchingly while giving one of the biggest and most detailed accounts of Kitri I have seen. The dark-haired Russian provided her own percussion in the final act, when—during her solo—she stabbed her points in a meticulous run, before stopping in a perfect fifth position. Then she snapped open her fan and waved her smiling face. When she moved, Alexandrova's feet and legs had the same snap and flirtatiousness as her fan. As the Ballerina in "The Bright Stream," she— dancing a tour de force role made on hervdidn't create music as much as a sound effect. Her jetés, admired for the ease and height of their ballon, made the whooshing sound of a plane flying overhead; she needed only the smallest strip for takeoff. At each performance, the audience slowly got the idea, that this ballerina is one for the eyes and ears, and rewarded her with its own big sound at the end.—Dale Brauner


Volume 3, No. 29
August 1, 2005

copyright ©2005 Susan Reiter, Dale Brauner



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Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
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last updated on July 25, 2005