Performing Arts: Dance
May 14, 2015
Sheer abstract dance encased in the ephemeral early 20th century ideal of the ballerina as an ethereal, pure creature of the air is evident in Michel Fokine’s “Les Sylphides” (1909). Performed by American Ballet Theater, the cast took pains to restrain modern, expansive athleticism into equally eloquent, but contained movements. Arms quietly frame the face, stretching away from the torso while allowing the legs to rise weightlessly under soft tufts of white, knee length tulle costumes. There’s a geometric formality to the ensembles as they bend and straighten into images of formal French gardens. The featured women Isabella Boylston, Melanie Hambrick and Hee Seo formed congenial shapes supported by the lone Thomas Forster.

Known for his psychological ballets, Antony Tudor’s “Pillar of Fire” (1942) is one of those great, angst filled dramas about a woman’s desperate love gone awry. Unlike most ballets, Tudor demands both technical exactness and dramatic depth. Gillian Murphy, as the middle, insecure sister—Hagar-- scores big. Dressed in 1900 period costumes, Hagar is embittered by her younger sister’s ability to attract the attention of a man she fancies. In a fury, Hagar races into the arms of the “bad boy” across the street, hunkily played by Marcelo Gomes.

Pulling up his chest, and strutting in convincing macho fashion, he pulls Hagar into his arms, and swings his legs wide around her. Remorseful, Hagar repeats a sinking to the floor, legs crossed only to rise onto her toes and then upright. That one step sums up Tudor’s understanding of movement’s multiple dramatic dimensions. Stella Abrera plays the eldest spinster sister, Cassandra Trneary is the Youngest Sister and Alexander Hammoudi is the Friend. Performed to a score by Arnold Schoenberg, “Pillar of Fire” is attentively staged by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner.

What’s can one say about Jerome Robbins ebullient “Fancy Free?” It’s one of those evergreen ballets that continue to delight audiences with its story of sailors on leave, competing for any female’s attention immediately busting into male rowdiness. The trio of men, Herman Cornejo, Cory Stearns and Marcelo Gomes connect like a band of brothers. Determined to enjoy their day of freedom, the fellows in sailor whites, lure a couple of ladies, Luciana Paris and Siabella Boylston into the bar. That’s where each man demonstrates his skill in a solo that includes some hip shaking rumba, high spinning jumps into floor splits and can-can style kicks! Always a joyful experience, this cast spread its magic throughout the theater, causing audience members to skip outdoors humming Leonard Bernstein.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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