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American Ballet shows grace and energy at Sadler’s Wells

01:25 06 February 2011

Edgy, graceful, brave and at times brash, the American Ballet Theatre is in town with two UK premieres, writes Allis Moss.

This is the ballet of the New World rather than the old, full of bold steps and lithe energy, finishing today (Sunday) at London’s Sadler’s Wells.

There are two different programmes. Programme Two, which is being staged tonight, is more familiar with Pas de Deux from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Company B, which dishes up boogie-woogie to the wartime numbers of the Andrews Sisters.

Programme One introduced two new pieces to London audiences. In the first piece, Seven Sonatas, six dancers perform to Scarlatti’s ‘Keyboard Sonatas’. The piece is one of freshness, simplicity and grace.

Apart from Barbara Bilach playing the sonatas on the piano on stage, there is nothing else to sustain your engagement, but the skill of the dancers, starkly backlit by different mood colours.

Scarlatti gives way to metallic sounds of the city in the second piece, Known by Heart (‘Junk’) Duet, with Gillian Murphy and Blaine Hoven presenting a staccato techno world’ in contrast to the boneless grace and dewy freshness of the sonatas.

Stravinsky’s Duo Concertant follows, with the violinist and pianist on stage, around whom dance the enchanting Misty Copeland and Alexandre Hammoudi, a giant who seems to be lighter than air, a couple enjoying romance and intimacy in a private musical setting.

Finally, the second UK premiere is Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, a large ensemble choreographed by the New York City Ballet Principal, Benjamin Millepied, to the music of David Lang.

A real treat is to see the dancers warming up beforehand in legwarmers a la ‘Fame’. Featuring an urchin-type character who leaps in a series of spectacular mid-air catches, we are taken through moves and emotions from sombre to wired to bacchanalian acrobatics.

Catch this last night of the exhilarating American Ballet Theatre at Sadler’s Wells, if you can.

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