David is the Next Nureyev, Herman is a Man-God, Jose is a Legend, and Marcelo Brightens the Whole World!!!

Yay, my favorites returned to City Center last night 😀 😀 😀 I feel like I should call them DOC (“Danny’s old company”); can’t figure out if that sounds funny or obnoxious: ABT/ DOC… Hmm, guess it depends…

Okay, well, I gave my sum-up of the evening in the title’s post, above, I have nothing more to say now… No, seriously, I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot to the gala program, it was a pretty short evening of excerpts, but nearly everything I saw was spectacular.

First, I just have to say, I found the perfect place to sit in City Center with its universally acknowledged evil sightlines: the very last row of the rear mezzanine. You sit all the way back there, you fold up your seat til it’s against the seat back, and then you sit on the top of the seatback. You’re not blocking anyone since you’re in the back. Of course I have a permanent indentation on the tops of my back thighs and I could hardly walk afterwards since my legs were numb from cut-off circulation, but I could see!!!

First on was David in Ballo Della Regina, a pretty, pastel, story-less Balanchine with about 10,000 women wearing simple light-colored leotards and flowing diaphanous skirts, and one man in a white blousy top and pastel tights. David was the man. Well, I just said that… I don’t know if I’m “supposed to” feel this way since Balanchine’s ballets are so female-centric, but David made the ballet for me. He was by far the most beautiful, poetic element in the whole thing. His high high HIGH demi-pointe (tip toes), the way he just flies about the stage with those ethereal jumps — forget Balanchine’s gender divisive, man is human, woman is soul universe. David is the consummate combination of both. In her 1996 New Criterion essay, “Figures in the Carpet,” (contained in her book “Landscape With Moving Figures”) Laura Jacobs wrote this, “When you first see this dancer set foot upon the stage, though blond and not overly muscled, you can’t help thinking of Nureyev. He has the deliberate walk and the stage-bound self-containment … Where Nureyev brings a dark force to his dancing, he brings lightness, restraint… He can break your heart with a tendu.” She was talking about Vladimir Malakhov; David was a child then. (I feel that unfortunately, being relatively new to ballet, I’ve all but missed the era of Malakhov.) But I feel like she could easily be talking about David here. He’s not so ferociously feline or animalistic like Nureyev and he’s certainly not dark; he’s sheer radiant perfection. And talk about “breaking your heart” with a simple point of the foot… By the time the ballet was over I had this pit in my stomach and I felt kind of sick, like when you see something truly sublime and someone so perfect. I don’t mean to be corny. Gillian Murphy was sweet and danced beautifully as his partner, as well. David just stole the show to me. I think he’s the greatest dancer in the world right now.

Next, they juxtaposed Balanchine’s beatific feminine universe with some excerpts from “Clear,” Stanton Welch’s glorious male-centric ballet. Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes had the pas de deux leads here. The more I see of this ballet, the more I’m loving it, and I’m realizing that though it is abstract, there is a little story in it. And I really love its spirituality. Herman is really starting to come alive to me. When I first started watching him dance I thought he was technically spectacular, but didn’t show enough emotion and so kind of bored me. Now I feel that he is really putting a lot of thought and emotional strength into everything he does. He was really intense in “Clear,” the way he’d brush off Xiomara’s advances, then hesitantly succumb to her. And the way he raises his chest, the way he jetes and pirouettes, he’s like a demi-god. He’s the antithesis of David, not ethereal at all but totally somehow grounded even when airborne (and he flies high). He’s a virile beauty.

Then there was a very short excerpt duet from Antony Tudor’s “The Leaves are Fading.” It was danced nicely by Michele Wiles and Alexandre Hammoudi, but the pas de deux was so short, it didn’t leave much impact.

(photo above by Roy Round, copied from ABT’s website; all headshots from ABT website).

Then there was a fun, flirty, Latiny pas de deux from the classical Petipa ballet, Don Quixote, danced by the now legendary Jose Manuel Carreno (one of my longtime favorites, and, for SYTYCD fans, Danny Tidwell’s chief idol!) and Paloma Herrera. I love Jose so much and I miss not seeing him as often as I used to; he doesn’t seem to dance all that often anymore. This fun, sexy Latin role is so perfect for him; he owns it like no other.

(photo by Rosalie O’Connor; Angel Corella in the air, also from ABT website)

And last was Jerome Robbins’s 1944 ballet “Fancy Free” about three sailors on shore leave and the comical little troubles they get themselves into trying to pick up women in a bar. This one “starred” (because that’s just the word that most comes to mind when I think of him) Marcelo, along with Herman, and Sascha Radetsky as the sailors, and Julie Kent and Stella Abrera as the unsuspecting pick-up-ees. So fun. I always love this little romp, especially when ABT does it. The guy next to me and I giggled throughout the entire thing. Marcelo is the best dramatic dancer out there, no doubt about it. He just brings the stage to life; he brings the whole theater to life. If anyone wants to learn how to have absolute massive amounts of stage-presence, look no further than the master!

That was it; then the party began (which I am far too poor to attend). Their City Center season is only two short weeks this year; usually it’s three. Two world premieres happen later this week: the Millipied, which I blogged about here, and the Chuck Close / Philip Glass / Jorma Elo collaboration, which I blogged about here. Just too much excitement for one week… Visit CC for tix.


  1. I’m seeing Wiles/Beloserkovsky in Ballo tomorrow but after seeing Matt’s pictures of David’s Ballo rehearsal I ordered tix (cheap ones) for Nov. 3. And now that I read your stunning description of it I know I did the right thing. CANNOT miss the chance to see him in this.

  2. No, you can’t, Barbara!! I can’t believe you ordered tickets to see someone else! — hehehe, just kidding; I know Max will probably be really good as well. It’s just that David’s so beyond anything of this world… sigh… Let me know how you like it!

  3. sounds like fun! how exciting, makes me excited to see them in berkeley on this side of the continent. 10,000 women? it sounds like ABT has expanded many times fold. 🙂

    ah malakhov is still one of my favorites.

    thanks for the review.

  4. Also, great to hear that Herman was dancing a lead!! I wonder if the article in the NY Times had anything to do with it. 😉

  5. David is simply sublime =) Speaking of Wiles and Beloserkovsky, I’ve never seen them dance together before but I didn’t think Beloserkovsky would be tall enough…seeing as how tall Michele is. Max certainly isn’t as tall as David or Marcelo, or am I mistaken? By the way, why isn’t Irina performing at City Center this year?

  6. Jolene, regarding Herman, it may well have 🙂 And your blog as well!

    Cathy, I know, I’ve never seen them dance together before either; I definitely don’t think Max is as tall as David or Marcelo. It’ll be interesting to see how well they work together — they’re on tonight! I don’t know why Irina’s out but I’m really disappointed, as I really like her. She was initially listed as a participating principal. I hope she isn’t injured.

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