ABT Studio Company, the junior company of American Ballet Theatre, develops the next generation of ballet dancers, choreographers, and audiences. The central mission of ABT Studio Company is to prepare its twelve exceptionally promising dancers (ages 17-21) for careers in American Ballet Theatre or other leading ballet companies worldwide. Nearly 80% of current American Ballet Theatre dancers are alumni of ABT Studio Company, including twelve Principal Dancers and seven Soloists.
ABT Studio Company regularly commissions new work by emerging and established choreographers, serving as a platform for new choreography, and is committed to commissioning female choreographers every season. The Studio Company engages the broadest possible ballet audience by performing in a range of venues around the globe.
Stars & Stripes pas de deux by George Balanchine
Courtesy of Kotomi Yamada and Jake Roxander, it got off to an effervescent start with the Fourth Campaign pas de deux from George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. It's a bright, optimistic, slightly cheeky duet, laced with humour that while not exactly subtle, is equally hard not to fall for.
Children's Songs Dance by Jessica Lang
Very different was the following Children's Songs Dance by Jessica Lang. A collaboration between the late jazz musician and composer Chick Corea, who unexpectedly passed away from cancer in 2021, the 17-minute piece manages to combine a childlike innocence and playfulness with striking elegance, the latter somehow magnified by the relatively simple costumes. The light but gorgeous choreography fits the selections from Corea's Children's Songs to which it's danced, and the dancers, like a glove.
Seven Sonatas excerpt by Alexei Ratmansky
Equally impressive was the first pas de deux from Alexei Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas that followed. The rich duet emphasises artistry. Partnered by Cy Doherty, SunMi Park was beautiful and nuanced in her movement throughout the ballet. Park in particular captured poetically every breath of Domenico Scarlatti's gently considered Sonata in F Minor, K. 481, her whole body speaking to the audience.
Lora by Yannick Lebrun
The World Premiere of Yannick Lebrun's contemporary solo Lora is set to music of the same name by Mpho Sebina. Aleisha Walker embodied beautifully a sense of dreams and hopes (the title means ‘to dream' in Setswana).
Grand Pas Classique, after Victor Gsovsky
From there to out and out classicism and that gala favourite, Victor Gsovsky's Grand Pas Classique. The technical and stylistic challenges it sets were risen to with aplomb by Park and Andrew Robare. I particularly liked the way they took every opportunity to ‘talk' to each other with their eyes.
For What Is It All Worth? by Hope Boykin
As part of the ABT Women's Movement, the Studio Company commissions at least one new work by an emerging female choreographer each year. The 2020 creation by Hope Boykin, For What Is It All Worth?, opens with a deeply thoughtful solo. Finnian Carmeci danced soulfully and fluidly, making the most of the choreography's pauses that make it seem that he is listening to the text spoken by Boykin herself that's a sort of reflection on life and growing together. Throw in Billy Laurence's gentle piano, and it is quite spellbinding.