American Ballet Theater’s autumn gala featured “ZigZag,” an energetic however dated premiere through Jessica Lang to songs sung by Tony Bennett.

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Jessica Lang’s “ZigZag,” danced to song by Tony Bennett. Couples, from left: Joo won Ahn and also Luciana Paris, Blaine Hoven and Cassandra Trenary, Cory Stearns and also Devon Teuscher.Credit...Rosalie O’Connor

Tony Bennett has actually long lived by a straightforward tenet: as soon as everybody zigs, the zags. For him, that a mantra — that prefers to go his own method — but as language, it’s likewise full that motion, favor a dance phrase about to be born. For the past couple of years, the choreographer Jessica Lang has discovered inspiration in pairing his smooth, functional voice with relocating bodies that have actually been known to zig. And also zag.

As component of American Ballet Theater’s fall gala presented Tuesday, Lang unveiled the premiere that “ZigZag,” she latest, come 10 songs videotaped by Bennett. In “It’s De-Lovely,” he’s joined through Lady Gaga; theirs is a musical partnership that has actually been together fortifying as it is sweet. Yet the exact same can’t be stated of “ZigZag,” which is like among those gleaming, architectural desserts organized together by a net of be crazy sugar — you take it a bite and also realize it’s made of air.

Is one more ballet set to songs sung through Bennett — “Let Me sing Forevermore,” Lang’s 2019 pas de deux, has actually been a feature of the that company repertory during the pandemic — what the people needs now? “ZigZag,” a tribute come Bennett and also to American renowned song, does lead off through “What the world Needs Now.” and clearly, the civilization could usage some love, the just thing, Bennett sings, that there’s just too small of. However this 30-minute ballet feels stuck in a fantasy past, and also that isn’t assisted by the nearly duration costumes, through Wes Gordon because that Carolina Herrera.


The male leads wear white, and even though they aren’t sailors, it’s tough not come think around “On the Town.” The three female leads are in bright dresses — fuchsia, royal blue, canary yellow — reduced in a 1950s silhouette through the eau of ladies who lunch. The dancers, consisting of the ensemble, in either black or polka dots, fully embrace over-the-top abandon and emotion, prodded on by the music. Yet “ZigZag” — formulaic in ~ best and clueless at worst — feel hopelessly regressive.


A scene from “ZigZag,” with a Bennett drawing as component of the stage design.Credit...Rosalie O’Connor

With see by Derek McLane, that incorporates a zigzag design (it’s favor the ghost of Charlie Brown haunting the stage), pictures of the brand-new York skyline and artwork through Bennett, the production functions 14 dancers in total. While Lang does a great job showing her ability at relocating dancers in and also out of she choreographic frameworks — they breeze through in sleek jumps and dash along with purpose — her way of tie gestures come the lyrics resides on the surface, just as the song choice feels favor a K-tel compilation of best hits.

Cory Stearns sweeps v “I Left My love in san Francisco” v silky turns and a fluently eloquence; two numbers later, we’re ago in brand-new York with Devon Teuscher in “Spring in Manhattan” with a jaunty — forgive me — spring in her step. Cassandra Trenary, with Joo won Ahn, tears up the stage in “De-Lovely” v frantic lifts and some an effective skirt swishing. Then, in “Smile,” the focus in top top the troubled, intertwined relationships that Teuscher, Luciana Paris, Stearns and Blaine Hoven. It has actually all the yearning arms and also lingering glances you would expect, and also then more, in a dance set to a song that speak you to “smile though your heart is aching.”

As the curtain dropped on “How carry out You keep the Music Playing,” the dancers to be still in motion, tho traversing the stage prefer a i cry of birds as if they can have preserved going forever. And also the dance really well can have; “ZigZag” hosted its shape only within each song. There to be no greater whole.


That ballet was the closer that a meandering evening that started with speeches by Misty Copeland and others, too a movie highlighting the A.B.T. Women’s Movement, an initiative to boost the number of female choreographers. The dancing part of the program contained works by Lauren Lovette, Darrell cool Moultrie and also Christopher Rudd. In the stage premiere the “Touché,” Rudd left little to the creative thinking in his explicate of a gay partnership featuring Calvin imperial III (Adam) and also João Menegussi (Steve).

Originally a digital work, it touched on themes the trauma, bullying and self-acceptance and ended through a steamy kiss together the dancers rolled across the floor. The audience go nuts. But as a mental dance drama, “Touché” was overly literal; that stunted that is power.

Along with a quick excerpt from Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light” — set to jazz recordings, the piece will it is in performed in that is entirety during the rest of Ballet Theater’s season — the company presented Lovette’s charming “La Follia Variations.” set to music created by Francesco Geminiani together arranged and also reimagined by Michi Wiancko, the ballet is a joyful expression the taking motion to the limits.


Anabel Katsnelson in the excerpt from Darrell cool Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light.” Credit...Rosalie O’Connor

Lovette, who freshly retired indigenous City Ballet come focus more time top top choreography, developed “La Follia” in 2020 because that Ballet Theater’s Studio agency when brand-new York City was around to get in lockdown. She has remounted it because that the main company — reworking parts of that — yet it maintain a youthful spark and also the id of time slipping away: dancing in the last crack of light before the curtain falls.


It starts with a heat of dancers extending from the front of the stage to the back. In one instant, they room in activity as the males spin in place and the women splinter turn off to the sides. Soloists peel the end of ensemble numbers and also fold earlier into the group, wearing Victor Glemaud’s jewel-colored, off-one-shoulder designs. Tutus bounced adorably.


Certain hand and arm motions feel tacked ~ above — Lovette’s work, detailed enough, doesn’t need the overfill so usual in modern-day ballet — if the lighting, by Brad Field, can overly mimic the move of the music indigenous exuberance to something an ext understated. Sometimes, you had actually to look closely to see the most striking details. In an intimate duet, Chloe Misseldine stretched into a regal arabesque top top pointe as Jose Sebastian, v one hand put gently at she waist, rotated she in the smoothest that promenade turns.

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From left, Kiely Groenewegen, Lauren Bonfiglio, Carlos Gonzalez, Menegussi, Jose Sebastian, Chloe Misseldine and also Abbey Marrison.Credit...Rosalie O’Connor

There might have been much more consistency, however the dancers didn’t play the safe. “La Follia” epitomizes a way of relocating that echoes Lovette herself. She retirement has actually been a difficult one come wrap the mind around, yet it’s still feasible to experience something of she luscious dancing in she choreography: anxious and heartfelt, spellbinding in that is quieter moments yet always, gloriously, alive.