American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

May 20, 2019
“Plato’s Symposium,” “The Seasons” (New Ratmansky, world premiere)

Jerry Hochman

This is an “instant review.” I’ll fill in details later, and correct inevitable typos..

American Ballet Theatre’s Gala Program tonight was dedicated to Alexei Ratmansky, the company’s Artist in Residence who is celebrating his 10th Anniversary with the ABT this year. For the occasion, in addition to a film clip featuring Ratmansky in rehearsal, the evening included the only showing of his “Plato’s Symposium” this Met season, and the world premiere of his “The Seasons.”

“The Seasons” isn’t the best of Ratmansky’s ballets. But it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is: as Ratmansky stated, it’s a celebration – of his anniversary, and of ABT and its dancers. On that level, it’s both spot on and great fun. And if you add Ratmansky’s endlessly clever choreography, it’s often better than that.

“The Seasons” isn’t a rehash of Jerome Robbins’s “The Four Seasons.” For one, it’s not comic; for another, it’s not Vivaldi – it’s Glazunov. And it’s not linear. Well, it is, sort of, but the seasons overlap, and frequently return to steal time from the subsequent season – as happens in the real world. Also as happens in the real world, Spring and Fall are the shortest segments, and seem to appear and disappear much too quickly.

The ballet’s highlights were spread throughout the piece. They included all of “Winter,” particularly Katherine Williams’s “Frost” (that’s the character’s name), and Catherine Hurlin’s sensational “Hail”; Cassandra Trenary and Calvin Royal III’s exuberant Autumn (as “Bacchante” and “Bacchus” respectively); and a delightful dance for Summer’s “Cornflowers,” “Water Men” (both consisting of members of the corps), and “Poppies” (talented students from ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School). The audience was thrilled with James Whiteside’s (Spring’s “Zephyr”) bicycle lift of Isabella Boylston (Summer’s “Spirit of the Corn”}. And most special was when Spring dancers Sarah Lane and Skylar Brandt returned in Summer, and Ratmansky inserted a cheeky little sequence for Lane and the Water Men in which they each took turns promenading Lane while she was en pointe in arabesque. Lane’s character was “The Rose.” It was, in a way, the blossoming the Rose petal by petal. But it was also a wonderfully clever nod to The Rose Adagio.

Earlier, Ratmansky’s “Plato’s Symposium” was given a superb, powerhouse performances – and if you forget what Ratmansky was intending to do and just focus on the movement, it’s one of his best pieces.

The Seasons continues on a program with two other Ratmansky dances through May 23.