American Ballet Theatre Review – Auditorium Theatre Kicks Off its 125th Birthday with Four Landmarks in the History of Dance


American Ballet Theater helped kick-off the 125th Birthday of Auditorium Theatre with four staples from the history of dance that date back to 1983, 1989, and 1944. 


In the evening finale performance, the three male dancers of American Ballet Theater’s performance of “Fancy Free”—Danil Simkin, Eric Tamm, and James Whiteside--- left us feeling as light and light-hearted as their moves. 


Precursor of the Broadway hit “On the Town” and the first collaboration of Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein, “Fancy Free” tells the story of three sailors on leave.  Originally commissioned for American Ballet Theater in 1944, this gem gives male dancers a chance to make athletic feats look as natural and effortless as breathing in and out. 



Simkin, Tamm and Whiteside were a total treat.  Male dancers don’t get better than this.  Whether we were watching them rough house cavort with one another or re-enacting bravery in battle to try to interest a very bored date, we were charmed by the dancers and choreographer Robbins’ whimsy in storytelling through dance. 


That was just the cap on an already rich evening.



Before that was “Sinatra Suite” which had its world premiere in 1983.  No matter how many times you may have seen it, Twyla Tharp’s duet set to five Sinatra songs never disappoints.  Dancers Misty Copeland and Marcelo Gomes not only had the perfect moves, but also infused the dance with the color of Sinatra’s voice.



An interesting vignette about the pushes and pulls of a romance, “Some Assembly Required” set duo Sarah Lane and Sterling Baca dancing to William Bolcum’s “Second Sonata for Violin and Piano”, played by violinist Charles Yang and David LaMarche.  The pair makes their entry seeming to be the picture of the happy couple walking in concert and then we watch the layers of their relationship unfold before us.  The dance was as complex and layered as real relationships, a tribute to the choreography of Clark Tippet.



And as the opener we saw five movements and dozens of dancers move in such concert to violinist Charles Yang playing Bach’s “Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin” that we had to keep reminding ourselves that this music was not specifically commissioned for this dance. 



Revolutionary in its time (world premier 1983), choreographer Twyla Tharp moves the dancers around a landscape that shifts with each movement, with little quirky details like feet moving quickly from toe to flex.     


American Ballet Theatre performances will continue today and tomorrow.  In addition, Auditorium Theatre is offering a 30% discounted International Dance Series subscription that includes the American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Eifman Ballet and The Royal Ballet.  For information and tickets visit the Auditorium Theatre website or call 312 341 2357.




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