Is Irina Dvorovenko Leaving ABT Too Early?

May 18, 2013

Irina Dvorovenko was more brilliant than ever in Onegin Saturday night—and sadly, it was her last. In her portrayal of the love-torn Tatiana, she traveled from a shy teenager to a married woman wracked with passion for the wrong man. She plunged into Cranko’s tricky partnering with spectacular pliancy. (See a rehearsal clip with her partner, Cory Stearns, here.) With a simple turn of the head she can communicate her exact cluster of emotions. At the end of the evening, the audience felt the full impact of Pushkin’s drama.

But this is the end of the line for Dvorovenko at ABT, where she has spent 17 years, the last 12 as a principal. She will continue to appear as a guest artist at international galas (especially in Japan and South America), and she may even have sparked a career on Broadway with her unexpected success in On Your Toes at New York City Center’s Encores! series a couple weeks ago. But ABT audiences will no longer see her. Time to move on and let younger dancers move in.

Or is it time? Dvorovenko has not lost an ounce of her dramatic power or her magnificently liquid port de bras, and she’s even more exciting in her willingness to take risks onstage. OK, so she doesn’t do Odette/Odile any more, but not all the ABT principals do that role anyway. And some of us would love to have seen her in Ashton’s A Month in the Country, which comes to ABT for the first time this season.

Usually when a dancer retires, the audience can discern at least a minor diminishment of technique or energy level. In this case, Dvorovenko was at the top of her form. I do wish she could have stayed on another couple of years.

For a glimpse of her in Dying Swan click here. This video was shot in 2010 when Dance Magazine gave an award to ABT ballet master Irina Kolpakova, and Dvorovenko paid tribute by performing the iconic solo.