To Sir Frederick Ashton’s fast footwork and musicality belongs the Australian Ballet’s double bill “The Dream” and “Marguerite & Armand.” To the charming misadventure distillation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream bubbles “The Dream.” To the legend of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, dovetails Amy Harris’s Marguerite, in Harris’s last stage role before her retirement. After 22-years with the company, Harris bids farewell in a delicious camellia-bloom, echoing Marguerite’s own departure (thankfully for altogether different reasons; Harris is retiring from the stage, whereas her character Marguerite is dying of tuberculous).FREE ARTICLE
George Balanchine famously said, “there are no mothers-in-law in ballet.” Well, fifteen minutes into “Of Love and Rage,” Alexei Ratmansky’s new full-length production for the American Ballet Theater, there was one mother-in-law pacing the stage and two fathers-in-law in a reconciliation dance. By the intermission, the leading lady Callirhoe (Catherine Hurlin, exquisite) had been married twice, impregnated, threatened into a coma (huh?), buried alive, and abducted by pirates. In Act II she was nearly kidnapped twice more. She was saved only by the deus ex machina intrusion of a war that required the services of all the men in the cast. Last week I wrote that the English National Ballet’s production of “Giselle” was needlessly overcomplicated; the plot of “Of Love and Rage” made it feel like a haiku in comparison. But no one employs the music of Aram Khachaturian and aims for subtlety. Every uptempo number in the score could have been used for the finale of any other ballet. “Of Love and Rage,” was so over the top in every direction—plot, score, costumes, sets, steps—that it worked. And there was something thrilling about the fact that it hung together at all. That someone could take that beast of a narrative and wrestle it into something like submission (through dance!) was as much of a triumph as when the ballet’s co-lead Chaereas defeated his umpteen rivals in battle.
Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell in “Of Love and Rage” by Alexei Ratmansky. Photograph by Gene Schiavone
When a choreographer takes on volcanic and iconic works from American musical giants like Leonard Bernstein and John Adams one move they could take is to cool them down with a couple of more soothing European works in between.Continue Reading