Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ABT Opens Spring Season

No matter the sense of occasion that a ballet gala affords — the gowns, the celebrity sightings, the air kisses — once the actual dancing gets under way, it’s best to consider the expression “one step forward, two steps back.” If you’re lucky, by the end the steps might more or less equal out, as they did on Monday night, when American Ballet Theater opened its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House.

The excerpt-a-thon mixture of season highlights included sections from “The Merry Widow,” “Giselle” and “Le Corsaire,” along with three complete short ballets. The highlight was the revival of “Judgment of Paris,” a comic gem from 1938 (and out of Ballet Theater’s repertory since 1958) by Antony Tudor, in which the Greek legend is set in a dive, a bar so dilapidated that you practically smell its stale smoke. The misery extends to its staff: a wearied Waiter (Victor Barbee) and three creaky chorus girls.

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