For theatergoers whose typical stomping ground extends no further than 53rd St, heading a bit further uptown to the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center is a real treat. The exquisite lobby, the stylish auditorium with its grand chandelier, five rings of seats in opera house tradition and plenty of extra legroom, all create a sense of elegance no longer found on Broadway.
American Ballet Theatre just concluded its brief 10-day autumn season, with each night featuring what is known in dance terms as a mixed bill: three short ballets, as opposed to full-length works. Admittedly, it is not always easy to follow the story while watching a ballet, and those relatively new to the art may wonder what exactly the crowd is cheering for. At the performance attended by this writer, the evening began with “Clear,” with music by Johann Sebastian Bach, followed by “The Moor’s Pavane,” somewhat based on Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and of particular interest to this column, “The Tempest.” But the three works made for a pleasant evening, one that was more fulfilling than some of the better-known full-length ballets such as Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.
“Clear” was the best of the three – more modern dance than ballet – featuring thrilling performances by eight perfectly synchronized men, led by the entertaining (and tattooed) Sascha Radetsky, and one woman, longtime ABT veteran Paloma Herrera. “The Moor’s Pavane” was a tad less exciting, but offered the opportunity to watch the under-appreciated Roman Zhurbin, Long Island native Cory Stearns and the exquisite dancing of Veronika Part (whose Swan Lake is not to be missed).
“The Tempest” was the longest of the three and the only one benefitting from a full production of sets and costumes, even if both (slightly) suggested a production of “Cats.” In the lead role of Prospero was Marcelo Gomes, arguably ABT’s best known and most loved star. His daughter was danced by Sarah Lane, the wonderfully talented (and uncredited) dance double of Natalie Portman in “Black Swan.” Daniil Simkin, known for his fast turns and thrilling jumps did not disappoint (check out his “Les Bourgeois” on YouTube) and Herman Cornejo as the evil Caliban rolling around on the floor demonstrated why he is one of ABT’s most exciting performers.
It was a pleasant diversion from the madness of Times Square and one certain to be made again for the spring season.