Herman Cornejo in \"Seven Sonatas\"

Classical, but Not Classic

What to expect from the American Ballet Theatre performances at AT&T Performing Arts Center this weekend.

published Friday, January 20, 2012

Die-hard ballet lovers may be a little taken aback by the program American Ballet Theatre offers this weekend at the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Winspear Opera House, presented by TITAS.

Famous for its classical repertory, ABT is ignoring the classics altogether.

But fear not. It's possible you are in for some nice surprises. First will be a new ballet by the company's artist-in-residence, Alexei Ratmansky.

Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas, set to the keyboard music of Domenico Scarlatti, premiered in 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall, a venue known for classical music and not for dance. It was an immediate success, called "spellbinding" by The New York Times and "luminous" by The Village Voice. It incorporates delicate solos, duets and groups, with only the lightest hints of a story, but fraught with meaning. When Mr. Ratmansky began the work, he had no interest in creating anything literal, saying instead that "when you have a man and a woman, it's already a story."

Deborah Jowitt of The Village Voice describes the work more poetically: "One of Ratmansky's great gifts is stitching together classical steps in ways that are full of trickery. Yet the unexpected twists or changes of direction or choices of movement never look plotted.  His choreography breathes, sighs, pauses, plays a joke, and runs off laughing."

Of the original six dancers, five will be performing Friday; there is a different cast Saturday. 

"It was my first work with him," recalls Herman Cornejo, who will be performing Friday, "and is a lovely and peaceful ballet. To me it is a masterpiece! With Xiomara Reyes I am part of 'a happy couple' and I will say that it is the most technically demanding solo in the ballet."

Despite the heavy emphasis on full-length ballets for its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, when the company ventures into smaller venues or tours, it often brings a mixed repertory heavy on modern works. And these are no lightweights, either. The TITAS program features Paul Taylor's delightful Company B and for stark contrast, Merce Cunningham's ultra-modern Duets.

Company B is no stranger here, performed most recently in this area by Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Eisemann Center 15 months ago. Originally created for Houston Ballet in 1991, the dance and the jaunty songs of the Andrews Sisters captures the ebullient spirit of the 1940s as youth lovers lindy, jitterbug and polka. It is impossible not to succumb to the mood created by "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Tico-Tico" and "Bei mir bist du schön." But behind the gaiety, the shadow of World War II looms.

Cunningham has no use for story, or for convention music, either. Duets, created in 1980, is set to John Cage's score consisting of electronic manipulations of Irish traditional drumming music by the Merciers, father and son. Rigorous in its clarity and bold in covering space, it offers every possible movement and connection two bodies in motion can have. The effect can be mesmerizing.

The program also includes George Balanchine's sublime Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. 

◊ Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.

◊ Look for a review of Friday's performance Saturday on Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Classical, but Not Classic
What to expect from the American Ballet Theatre performances at AT&T Performing Arts Center this weekend.
by Margaret Putnam

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :