ABT Studio Company

December 3, 2004

Hee Seo and Cory Stearns in Dominic Walsh’s
Alchemy. Photo: Gene Schiavone.


ABT Studio Company
Skirball Center, New York University, New York, NY

December 3–4, 2004

Reviewed by Susan Yung


The young members of the ABT Studio Company performed with skill beyond their years in a program that spanned styles and centuries. The 12 dancers, ages 16 to 20, are being groomed for careers with ABT or other major companies—a sort of farm team for the big leagues that performs regular, albeit short, seasons in New York and on tour.

Arthur Saint-Leon’s La Vivandiere, dating from the mid-19th century, at times felt every minute its age. But it served to test essential ballet skills while preserving an early pas de six. Joseph Gatti and Allison Miller showed some sparkle as the lead couple, with Miller polishing her steps with extra stretch in a plié or an extension, and Gatti appearing amply confident in his pirouettes. However, both had the wobbles in arabesque, which was apparently contagious—the four additional women also couldn’t find stability in this position.

Variations for Four (1957)
, by Anton Dolin, displayed one of ABT’s hallmarks—strong technique by men. Even at a young age these dancers have well-developed musculature and seem surprised when they fail to complete at least four pirouettes at a time. Although such technical prowess promises a good crop of future princes, it’s somewhat disconcerting to see it in youngsters who have yet to finish growing into their skeletons. It’s like a child actor reciting Shakespeare.Two newer works completed the bill. The choreography in the world premiere of Hush, by Stephen Mills of Ballet Austin, took on the abstract pathos evinced in the accompanying score by Philip Glass. Pairs of dancers rushed across the stage and the men slid the women on the tips of their pointe shoes, then lowered them in romantic dips.

Dominic Walsh’s Alchemy starred the electric Alex Wong. In a whirlwind of darting moves, silver leaf flaking off his palms, he controlled the fates of the other dancers (whom he was trying to transform into gold, judging by their metal-toned leotards with flame patterns). Wong is a powerful dramatic presence and technical dynamo in a troupe filled with tremendous potential, some of whom we’ll likely see with ABT soon.

For more information: www.abt.org/education/studiocompany.asp