ABT II's Rising Stars
Last night I saw American Ballet Theatre's second company, ABT II, perform at The Joyce as part of the theater's 1.2.3. Festival. The dancers in the company have completed their training at ABT's feeder school, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and are in that in between phase: post-school, pre-company. But I think it's safe to say that a few of these second company members are going to be rock stars as they move forward in their ballet careers.
The first piece the company did last night was Interplay, choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The young dancers all embraced the flirty, carefree playfulness Robbins so often choreographs around. The standouts in this work — and throughout the night — were Brittany DeGrofft, Skylar Brandt and Irlan Silva. These are three dancers to keep your eyes on!
Throughout the evening's other pieces — Le Corsaire, Pavlovsk, Swan Lake and Ballo Per Sei — it became clear that ABT II's artistic director, Wes Chapman, really knows how to cast his dancers in fitting roles. Brittany, with her classic beauty (she reminded me of New York City Ballet's Kathryn Morgan), lovely extension and total control, was a total joy to watch. You never worried that she was going to fall out of a pirouette or slip on the stage. She displays exceptional confidence onstage, which is so refreshing to see in such a young dancer. I especially loved her in Pavlovsk, which was both romantic and heartbreaking.
Skylar was perhaps my favorite dancer of the whole night. We've featured her a whole bunch of times in DS, most recently in a fashion spread in the March 2008 issue (check it out — she's gorgeous). Skylar has the sweetest personality, and that comes through onstage. She's always beaming, but never over-the-top. She's also got killer technique. During the Le Corsaire Pas de Deux a Trois, she nailed those fouettes with speed and precision. It was so impressive, and the audience went crazy for her.
Irlan Silva was the man to watch last night. The other young men on stage were great, but Irlan stole the show. (Sorry, guys!) His turns were faster and more controlled, his jumps were higher and his flexibility was unmatched. And he's got stellar presence on top of it all. It's hard to imagine him transitioning into the corps at a company — he's like a young Marcelo Gomes in the making.
I can't wait to see what all of the ABT II company members do in the next few years. With training from some of the world's best ballet teachers (including our very own Editor in Chief, Kate Lydon!), it's safe to say they're all going to help shape the future of ballet.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
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