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"The Masters" of Ballet Perform at Lincoln Center

Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak in Theme and Variations. © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo: Gene Schiavone.
A terrific evening—entitled “The Masters”—of the American Ballet Theater at the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center—presented on Saturday, October 20th—recaptured the glories of the company’s wonderful spring season.
The program opened entrancingly with a marvelous performance of George Balanchine’s magnificent Theme and Variations, set to extraordinary music from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 for Orchestra, here splendidly conducted by Charles Barker. The ballet features exquisite scenery and costumes designed by Zack Brown with lighting by Brad Fields. The choreographer here, in what is one of his most immediately pleasurable works, revisits the Russian imperial era of his youth, demonstrating his special affinity for the composer. Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak, who both have been moving from strength to strength, enchantingly led an excellent cast including Skylar Brandt, Sung Woo Han, Zhong-Jing Fang, Tyler Maloney, Luciana Paris, Cameron McCune, Cassandra Trenary, and Arron Scott, along with superb support from the remarkable corps de ballet.
Twyla Tharp’s delightful, postmodern A Gathering of Ghosts— set to the exceptional String Quintet in G Major by Johannes Brahms, with striking costumes by Norma Kamali and lighting by Jennifer Tipton—a fine example of her popular, contemporary idiom, provided a marked stylistic contrast to the Balanchine. This is the choreographer’s first ballet for the company in a decade and received its world premiere earlier in the week. The outstanding star of the evening was the bewitchingly handsome Herman Cornejo—currently celebrating his twentieth year with Ballet Theater—who dominated this work with his wit and dynamism. However, the remainder of the cast was very impressive, including Blaine Hoven, Stephanie Williams, Joo Won Ahn, Calvin Royal III, Catherine Hurlin, Aran Bell, Christine Shevchenko, Wanyue Qiao, Zimmi Coker, as well as Brandt, Paris, and Trenary again.
The evening concluded unforgettably with a dialectical synthesis of the first two works—combining the classicism of the Balanchine with the postmodern playfulness of the Tharp—with Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky’s enchanting The Seasons—one of his most engaging works and which received its world premiere at Ballet Theater this spring—set to a beautiful score by Alexander Glazunov—conducted with aplomb here by David LaMarche—written originally for the legendary Marius Petipa, with colorful costumes by Robert Perdziola and lighting by Mark Stanley. This work again featured a superlative cast, including Bell, Katherine Williams, Devon Teuscher, Hurlin, Paris, James Whiteside, Coker, Brandt, Isabella Boylston, Hoven, Maloney, Scott, Trenary, and Royal, along with more accomplished dancing from the corps.
With such a rewarding program I am again eager for the return of Ballet Theater for next spring’s season.

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