"Bach Partita," "Gong," "The Tempest"
American Ballet Theatre
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
November 3, 2013
By Carol Pardo
Copyright ©2013 by Carol Pardo
Alexei Ratmansky’s "The Tempest" is billed as both "a fragmented narrative as well as a meditation on some themes of Shakespeare’s play," a tale to tell and a theme to explore. The Bard has a proven track record as a ballet librettist ("Romeo and Juliet" everyone?). The power of intertwined themes of the play, vengeance, forgiveness and the power of your love has been proven at every performance of Petipa’s "Sleeping Beauty" since 1890.
But unlike "Romeo and Juliet" or "Sleeping Beauty", "The Tempest" is not hard wired in our DNA. Tybalt or the sleeping princess need no introduction; the same cannot be said of Antonio or Sebastian. Ratmansky is stuck trying to tell a less familiar story while simultaneously extracting its perfume. It’s a tough balancing act that doesn’t come off. The result is a "Cliff Notes" in costume, all but leached of poetry.