American Ballet Theatre Studio Company

April 26, 2000

American Ballet Theatre Studio Company

Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse
New York, New York

April 26, 27, 2000

Reviewed by Gus Solomons jr

If these thirteen dancers, aged 16 to 21, are part of the talented pool from which American Ballet Theatre and other ballet companies will replenish their ranks, the ballet world can rest assured. Under John Meehan?s keen artistic direction, the 4r-year-old ABT Studio Company grooms budding artists in the finer points of professional performance with a busy schedule of school performances and residencies.

The New York City season programmed four new ballets, but due to an opening-night injury, only three were performed the second evening. Still, the program was satisfying in length and variety. Schulwerk, by William Tuckett of The Royal Ballet, set to selections from Carl Orff?s eponymous music, depicts the shenanigans of four pairs of uniformed schoolchildren. Coy grimaces and silly mime condescend to the young school audiences, to whom it is apparently geared.

However,  Bitter Moon?by Australian Ballet?s resident choreographer Natalie Weir (adapted for three couples instead of five)?is a well-crafted lyric study, set to romantic Rachmaninoff music. Lovely, twining duets, arranged in various combinations, represent passionate affairs between young lovers. It?s a stylish work that suits the skills and agility of its cast.

The company is well drilled, gracious and technically spectacular, but two dancers are standouts, fledgling stars. Tall, supple Kristi Boone moves with serenity, expressive conviction and a maturity far beyond her 17 years, and 20-year-old Ricardo Torres is a spinning wizard who seems to defy the physics of momentum by bringing multiple pirouettes to full stop in perfect balance.

ABT principal Robert Hill?s Marimba features three couples in sexy, sheer costumes by Santo Loquasto. Lighting by Brad Fields pierces the darkness with sharp diagonal beams that capture the fleet bodies flashing through space. Minoru Miki?s rhythmic score, played live by an ensemble of four, amplifies the excitement. As usual, Hill demonstrates his knack for highlighting his dancers? technical strengths with physically luscious, dynamic virtuoso dancing. The crowning moment is Boone?s long, breathtaking balance on one pointe that finally erupts into an arcing back attitude; that alone is well worth the price of admission.