American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
New York, New York
June 5, 2018
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2018 by Mary Cargill
The Petipa/ Ratmansky soufflé "Harlequinade" has many ingredients, chief among them the older terre à terre style, with its sharp, fast footwork; making lace with their feet is a frequent description of those Imperial ballerinas. Columbine, the heroine of the comic ballet, has choreography packed with these terre à terre moves, as she hops almost continually -- slow hops, fast hops, backwards, forwards, in circles, even little jumps behind the back of the kneeling Harlequin. Those Imperial dancers had ankles of steel. Despite one slight slip, Sarah Lane, the second night Columbine, was a very fine lacemaker, especially in her second act solo where she had series of slow hops on point with rond de jambes, pausing for arabesques, as her upper body opened easily outward, signaling her complete happiness.
ABT corps in Act I of "Harlequinade" photo © Marty Sohl.
The Petipa choreography, as Ratmansky has reconstructed it, is full of delicate shades and shapes, as the arms and upper body twist and turn; I love the brief little grace note of ending a phrase with the palms facing outwards as the arms go overhead, a charming little shiver of movement which captures Columbine's charm.
Jeffrey Cirio, her Harlequin, combined an appropriately broad characterization with delicate but strong dancing (the role is full of little jumps), giving his Harlequin a light and airy charm. He did have a bit of trouble with the lifts in Act II, where he had to move through the assembled lark ladies while raising and lowering Columbine, and there were a few pauses for adjustments, but his dancing as a whole was crisp and clean and had an energetic and piquant charm.
So too did Stella Abrera's commanding Pierrette (she also had a lot of hops on point), as she defied her husband Pierrot with the shake of her finger and toss of her head. Her second act dance with Pierrot, full of teasing, affectionate kisses, was both sweet and spunky -- she was one who must be obeyed.
David Hallberg danced the largely mime role of the lazy, hapless, bumbling Pierrot. He seemed to be having a wonderful time, with a seasoned comedian's ability to make fun of his usual persona (danseur noble extraordinaire) while letting the audience in on the joke, as he did in his wonderful fake sylph in "The Bright Stream". The floppy, hang-dog moves were ever so slightly exaggerated, a small, knowing wink to the audience. I especially loved his terrified but thick-headed expression when he realized he was on the hook for Harlequin's supposed death.
The energetic and musical character dances set off and helped highlight the classical dancing, and the ballabile in Act I (rousingly led by Luis Ribagorda and Courtney Shealy) with its flowing waves of dancers merging into circles may have had nothing to add to the story, but the whirl of colors was irresistibly exciting.
The second act lark ballet, where, as in all proper vision scenes the ballerina's charm is mirrored and reflected by a swirling mass of corps women (who were beautifully rehearsed), also had nothing to add to the plot, but, like Balanchine's second act of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", is a magical meditation on love and beauty, and it was a joy and a privilege to watch it.
Photos © Marty Sohl
Top: ABT corps in Act I of "Harlequinade".
Bottom: ABT corps in Act II of "Harlequinade".
Copyright © 2018 by Mary Cargill