Friday, November 7, 2008

Young Dancers from ABTII Tackle the Classics

Tonight, New York City-based American Ballet Theatre II (ABII) treated the Mondavi Center audience to some of the most legendary ballet choreography in existence. ABII is a classical company of young dancers (age 16-19) handpicked from around the world. It serves as the training ground for the full ABT company, which has been home to ballet superstars like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Natalia Makarova and Robert La Fosse.

First on the program was George Balanchine's classically perky "Allegro Brillante" to the music of Tchaikovsky. The dancers handled Balanchine’s precise construction of pure lines, neoclassic technique and group formations with aplomb.

The jubilant "Interplay" by Jerome Robbins was a perfect vehicle for this young company’s strengths. With flicks of flexed hands and feet, the capable dancers mixed their stunning technique and facility with a jazzy flair and sassy personality.

Marius Petipa’s Swan Lake and the Don Quixote duets provided the highlights of the evening. ABT is known for its interpretations of “story ballets” such as these, and its future looks bright if these dancers are to go on to dance with the full company.

The female soloist in the Swan Lake pas de deux was mature beyond her years. She invested her movements with exquisite emotional weight and had a remarkable sense of musicality and phrasing.

Meaghan Hinkis and Joseph Gorak nailed the virtuosic Don Quixote pas de deux with impressive bravura. Hinkis awed with her confident displays of pirouettes and footwork, while Gorak channeled the athleticism of Baryshnikov in his leaps and turns through the space.

The program concluded with Petipa’s “Carnival of Venice,” a solid display which brought back the full ensemble to enliven the stage.

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