American Ballet Theater’s “On To Act II” at the Guggenheim

Did you guys watch the live-stream last night or tonight? If you missed it, you can watch the video now archived on the Guggenheim’s ustream channel.

It feels weird to review a program that everyone can easily watch online, but I’ll just say my favorite moments last night were: the ABT II dancers in excerpts from Jessica Lang’s Vivace Motifs, which I thought looked like a lovely ballet; Hee Seo in the prayer scene from Coppelia; Susan Jaffe coaching Sarah Lane in another scene from that same ballet; and Jose Manuel Carreno’s interview by Wes Chapman.

I wasn’t really in love with the dance Carreno performed with Melanie Hamrick – Ronald Savkovic’s Transparante. I thought there was a bit too much falling down and standing up again, and, though some of the partnering and lifts were beautiful they were pretty basic and didn’t reveal much about the relationship of the characters and the dramatic action. But I loved hearing him talk – love how he still has that thick accent! Love that he said “oh shit” in reference to all the Don Quixotes he’s cast in during week one of ABT’s Met season! He doesn’t seem to have a plan for the future, but said he’d still do some freelance dancing for the next few years, and said he’s interested in exploring more contemporary work, other forms of dance. I think that’s why he wanted to dance Transparante instead of something from ABT’s season.

I liked Martine van Hamel’s discussion and performance of some of the character roles she continues to do – the wicked stepmother, always either drunk or hung-over, in Kudelka’s comical version of Cinderella, and the wicked fairy Carabosse in Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty. But they left out the Dacha Dweller from Ratmansky’s Bright Stream, which was on the program! None of us have seen that ballet yet and I was eagerly awaiting that excerpt … and then she said she wouldn’t do it because she couldn’t get something in it quite right yet. Well, I guess we’ll see it soon enough.

I really did like the excerpt from Jessica Lang’s Vivace Motifs. The ABT II dancers are always very good, especially Irlan Silva. Every time I see him dance I get annoyed that ABT hasn’t yet brought him into the main company. I don’t understand what they’re waiting for. He stands out so much to me. He seems better than most of ABT’s soloists and even some principals. And he’s not even in the corps yet. I really really really don’t get it.

Anyway, I’ll conclude this post with an excerpt of Carreno and Susan Jaffe dancing the Black Swan pdd from an earlier documentary about ABT:

And footage of Silva from the documentary, Only When I Dance:


  1. Tonya, I’ll have to check out that livestream! As for that dancer you mentioned, I can guess in one word: politics.
    High ups at the company are getting their nose bent out of joint over this new guy, because he probably IS better than ninety percent of them. He needs a champion.
    How about you?
    Your review made me think: One good thing about Mr. B’s dictatorial directorship, was that he promoted dancers whether other “senior” dancers got upset or not. If they were better than the established “stars”, oh well. That’s the business.
    One other thing: If this guy is not American, it may be as simple as getting the right kind of visa so he can work with the main company. He may be under some sort of student visa now. You have any info on such?

    • Yeah, it probably is political. I really don’t think he’s on a student visa since he’s been with ABT II for a few years now. And they always have him front and center, dancing the main role whenever I see the studio company so it’s not like they don’t recognize his star potential. It’s very odd. They do seem to be into tall guys right now at ABT – to partner all the tall women I suppose. And Irlan Silva is probably about the size of Jose Carreno or Angel Corella. That might be part of it. But argh, so annoying because he’s so good!

  2. I love it. Back in my day, that used to be considered median height! A few years you say? My, things really have changed! Again, “back in the…” no one would sit around for that amount of time in a second company…they would either leave or were told politely to hit the road, usually with some help securing a good job elsewhere. Unless it was me, who was just told to hit the road. Lol! There’s definitely something up here, or rather, there, in N.Y.C.

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