The Tempest

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.26.42 PMI have been champing at the bit to see the work of Alexei Ratmansky, the current “enfant terrible” of the ballet world. For the past few years since he left Russia as Director of the Bolshoi, he has worked for the New York City Ballet and is now Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theatre. Recently, I saw his “Tempest” at ABT, and what a good evening of dance it was.

Shakespeare lends itself well to dance, and particularly Ratmansky’s style, which is bravura Russian, but toned down, polished, and classically correct. Also, there is a contemporary edge that appeals to the American balletomane’s palate, and the incidental music by Jean Sibelius that he chose works well. The costumes and scenery by Santo Loquasto are fantastic.

The ballet offers many unexpected moments, which keep the audience alert Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.27.57 PMand involved. I will use hair as an example. Ariel’s hair is bright red coral; the island spirits have shiny blue lightning volts growing out of their heads; and Caliban is covered with most undesirable wooly mammoth curls.
Prospero is the most princely and attractive Marcelo Gomes. The various pas de deux with Miranda, danced by Sarah Lane, are almost a little too sinuous and voluptuous for father and daughter. On the other hand, Miranda’s encounters with Ferdinand, her cousin with whom she has just fallen in love, are completely naïve. They smile at one another, hold hands, and skip about the stage. This contrast makes Prospero appear even more male and dominant as do all the chaotic machinations of plot, which he capably transforms into order. Ariel and Caliban, danced by the terrific Daniil Simkin and Herman Cornejo, leap and twirl like dervishes, which in reality, they are.
Prospero tranquilizes his fractious group and they all sail away, leaving behind only Caliban, who can now tend to his bad hair days forever.

Walda Besthoff

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.