Atlanta Ballet: Modern Choreographic Voices

I think that Atlanta Ballet slowed down the tempi of Scarlatti’s sonatas for Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas.” The pianist sounded a bit too Classical period for me last season but this season it was downright Romantic period. There was waaay too much sustain pedal for a baroque keyboard piece, but it may have been necessary to make some of the pieces work with a slower tempo. The choreography seemed almost awkward at that pace, but at least Mara was able to keep up this time. Last year she was slinging her limbs into place but this time she was much more graceful and, of course, managed not to look like she was losing her balance as she had the last time that I saw it. She’s a decent dancer when given a roll that suits her but I honestly feel that this was poor casting. Nguyen really seemed to inhabit his part in the piece, but that was mostly because his general slacker approach to dancing smoothed over the sharp edges that looked out of place in the slowed down version of the piece.  The real person to watch was Lee, whose clean, intentional movements seemed to convey what the piece could be if performed at the pace intended. I have no complaints about Van Buskirk’s performance — she was performing it exactly as it was choreographed — but she came across as awkward and jerky because, when slowed down, the choreography doesn’t make as much sense. It’s funny: I was wondering if perhaps the tempo thing was just me but during the intermission they had a clip of last year’s performance and it really was faster. I’ve actually written to Ratmansky care of ABT to ask after the reference recording of the sonatas to find out what the original tempo was that he had in mind. I wonder if I’ll get a response.
Continue reading