School of American
Performance: 'Chopiniana,' 'The Flower Festival at Genzano,' 'Ballabile,'
'Swan Lake,' and 'Aurora’s Wedding'
May 31, 2003 -- Juilliard
Theater, New York
Each year the School of American Ballet Workshop Performances showcase
some of the top young ballet talent in the country. This year, on the
eve of the Balanchine Centennial celebration, the students in these, the
39th Annual Workshop Performances, performed ballets and excerpts of ballets
by four choreographers who were admired by George Balanchine: Michel Fokine,
August Bournonville, Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa. It was a display of
both lovely dancing and rich choreography.
First on the program was Chopiniana , Michel Fokine’s first version
of Les Sylphides, which originally starred the legendary Anna
Pavlova. Staged for the 2003 Workshop by former American Ballet Theatre
principal dancer, Cynthia Gregory, the ballet is captivating in its simplicity.
Lyrical and contemplative, Chopiniana is set to Chopin’s equally
lyrical piano music, played on this occasion by Whit Kellog. As in Alexandra
Danilova’s 1972 staging for the New York City Ballet, the dancers were
outfitted in simple white dresses, and for the lone man, black tights
and white shirt. Due to an injury, the sole male role was danced by Tyler
Angle, with Rebecca Azenberg, Polly Baird and Abigail Simon as the other
soloists. Both principals and corps seemed at ease in the delicate, paced
choreography that includes frequent explorations of the various port de
New York City Ballet principal dancer Nikolaj Hubbe staged the two Bournonville
excerpts performed in the Workshop, the first of which was the pas de
deux from The Flower Festival at Genzano . Danced with brio and
a nice attention to the detailed footwork by Arron Scott and Barette Vance,
the pas de deux is set to music by Edvard Helsted. The other August Bournonville
excerpt, new to the Workshop repertory, was the Ballabile from
Act I in Napoli . More often seen as part of New York City Ballet’s
Bournonville Divertissements , Ballabile is accompanied
by H.S. Paulli’s festive music. Led by Miriam Rowan and Daniel Appelbaum,
the spirited dancers demonstrated nice epaulment, a vital part of the
George Balanchine’s influence was seen in his version of the Act Two pas
de deux from Swan Lake , based on the original choreography by
Lev Ivanov. In Sean Lavery’s staging, Maya Collins and Ted Seymour were
solid, with Seymour a very strong partner. However, the Act II pas de
deux is not an ideal selection for a workshop piece, because to be more
than just a series of tricky steps, it requires an emotional maturity
that very few ballet students possess.
The program ended with a delightful performance of Aurora’s Wedding
from Peter Martins’ The Sleeping Beauty , after the original
by Marius Petipa. A joint effort of Sean Lavery, Jean-Pierre Frohlich,
Russell Kaiser, Katrina Killian and Gabrielle Whittle, the final act extravaganza
highlighted the vast and varied talents of the School of American Ballet
advanced students, with some younger students (including Nicholas Fokine,
the great-grandson of Michel Fokine) also included. Ana Sophia Scheller
and Tyler Angle,as Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré, were elegant and
noble in the final pas de deux and especially solid in the tricky fish
dives. Also of note were Barrette Vance as the Lilac Fairy, Olivia Goodrich
and Vincent Paradiso, who soared in the bravura Blue Bird pas deux and
the delightful jester trio of Anthony Carr, Troy Schumacher and Nicolay
Smirnov. Giovanni Villalobos, Maya Collins, Elysia Lichtine and Elisabeth
Holowchuk were the sparkling Jewels, Cassia Phillips and Barry Kerollis,
the playful White Cat and Puss in Boots, and Heathe Viernes and Ted Seymour
a solid Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf. The corps were appropriately
elegant in the court dances, with William Lin-Yee and Lindsay McGrath
the King And Queen and Choong Hoon Lee as Catalabutte.
The 2003 Mae L. Wien Award for Distinguished Service was given to Sheryl
Ware, a member of the SAB faculty since 1996. The Mae L. Wien Awards for
Outstanding Promise were awarded to Sara Mearns, Ana Sophia Scheller,
Vincent Paradiso and Giovanni Villalobos.
The orchestra was
conducted by Richard Moredock and the lighting was designed by Todd Elmer.
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