Above: Devon Teuscher as Caroline in JARDIN AUX LILAS, in a Gene Schiavone photo
Thursday October 23rd, 2014 - Music, as much as dance, can draw us to the ballet. Tonight's ABT programme featured works by Alexander Glazounov and Ernest Chausson. You're unlikely to hear any of the enchanting score of RAYMONDA in the concert hall, and Chausson's poignant Poème for violin and orchestra seems rarely to get programmed (the composer's grander and even more gorgeous Poème de l'amour et de la Mer is equally neglected these days.) The opportunity to hear these works, as much as to see the ballets set to them, drew me to Lincoln Center tonight.
RAYMONDA DIVERTISSEMENTS, billed as a world premiere, seems to be a re-mix of excerpts from the ballet previously given by the Company. The Petipa choreography has been staged by Irina Kolpakova and Kevin McKenzie; they took a bow together at the end. The costumes, all white with black fur trim, were oddly bland. Hee Seo, that elegant ballerina, was a bit too reticent in the principal ballerina role. A touch more grandeur of delivery or a dash of spice would have cast her very fine dancing into higher relief. James Whiteside seemed somewhat miscast in this classically-styled work; his dancing was a little stiff, his plié needing a deeper cushion at times. Nonetheless, the steps were clearly executed and his partnering was fine. He's a handsome guy, and I look forward to seeing him in other ballets.
Misty Copeland and Sarah Lane danced well in a duo variation which did not allow them to display their finest aspects; a pas de quatre for four boys failed to have any sense of unity. Delightful varations from Skylar Brandt and Christine Shevchenko were highlights of the performance. The fussy bows, with the girls striking poses as they curtsied, were pointless.
In JARDIN AUX LILAS, violinist Benjamin Bowman played Chausson's romantically steeped score with silky tone. Devon Teuscher danced lyrically as the unhappy Caroline, doomed to be parted from her beloved; Devon's performance had the right feeling of grace under social pressure and was danced with a nicely nuanced sense of controlled urgency. Cory Stearns was superb as her beloved, so touching as fate intervenes in his hopes and desires: a poignant, noble youth in the throes of romantic despair. Veronika Part held the stage magnificently as the mysterious mistress, a character equally pitiable in her own right. Roman Zhurbin's cool, controlled performance as The Man She Must Marry left us wondering just exactly how much he knew.