"Raymonda Divertissements", "Jardin aux Lilas", "Fancy Free"
American Ballet Theatre
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
October 23, 2014
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2014 by Mary Cargill
ABT opened its regular season with a fine triple bill, a set of ballets in contrasting styles. The so-called premiere was a collection of Petipa dances to the Galzunov music for "Raymonda" curated by the former Kirov ballerina Irina Kolpakova. There was nothing really new in the choreography--this is not a criticism, since the Petipa (or what we recognize as Petipa) suits the music so perfectly. The "Raymonda" score is one of the most melodic, danceable and luxurious collections of ballet music ever written. It originally was attached to a somewhat obscure and rather undramatic story, which companies, in their search for full-length blockbusters, keep trying to punch up. ABT tried a version a few years ago, but basically "Raymonda" works best as a suite of dances and producers just need to reach into the Petipa/Glazunov trunk and pull out any assorted jewels to create a beautiful necklace. ABT's newest version has pulled out many of the classical jewels from "Raymonda's" final act which celebrated the marriage of our heros with a Hungarian flavor. (One of the guests was the historical King Andrew II of Hungary, which was all the excuse Petipa needed to add some paprika.) The folk dances stayed in the trunk, and so, unfortunately, did any kind of setting, so the dancers had to create their own castles.
Hee Seo and James Whiteside in "Raymonda Divertissements". Photo © Rosalie O'Connor