THE FIREBIRD/ALEXEI RATMANSKY
June 20, 2012
Saturated comic book colors infiltrate Alexei Ratmansky’s new version of “The Firebird” for American Ballet Theater. Altered from the original created in 1910 by choreographer Michel Fokine and composer Igor Stravinsky, this magical Firebird (Osipova) does not travel solo, instead she belongs to a flock of ruby red avians. In short, when the handsome Ivan (Marcelo Gomes) enters a weird, surreal garden erupting in red tipped octopus tentacles that belch smoke, he catches and releases The Firebird, who grants him her aid and protection in future scrapes.
A born jumper, Osipova’s leaps explode vertically and horizontally, while snapping her arms at sharp angles or excitedly fluttering her limbs. Crisp pointe work juts out of movements that twist upward and downward, referencing contemporary dance as much as ballet.
Bold and passionate, Gomes stretches into long leaps flanking Osipova and furiously getting his hands around a quicksilver dancer. Moving on, Ivan stumbles upon a squad of blonde, big- haired Stepford Wives in emerald green gowns, who move in mindless—and sometimes comical-- unison. One maiden (Simone Messmer) stands out, capturing Ivan’s heart. Enter the wicked sorcerer Kashchei -- a droll, over-the-top David Hallberg. He slinks around, ravenously whirling through the maidens, imperiously pulling up his tall, lean black-clad body over the proceedings. Well matched, Gomes and Hallberg exert equal strength.
Alas, Ivan, with the Firedbird’s help, finds Kashchei’s Kryptonite (an oversized Ostrich egg) and cracks it, ending his spell. The maidens are released, switching from emerald green to virginal white gowns and Ivan unites with his Maiden.
The program also included a strong performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Thirteen Diversions” to Benjamin Britten and George Balanchine’s Apollo featuring Maxim Beloserkovsky in the title role. Beloserkovsky’s discreet performance as Apollo suggested he was more man than God.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis