Vienna Premieres Jerome Robbins Ballet With Humor


The sense of humor that the Vienna Ballet displayed at the start of the season is here to stay, if Tuesday's "Homage to Jerome Robbins" is anything to go by.

"The Concert," a brief one-act choreography brilliantly merging comedy and ballet, drew bursts of laughter and impromptu applause throughout, making this evening -- the first-ever performance of Robbins's works by the company -- a hit with the audience.

Until now, the few Jerome Robbins choreographies to be presented in Vienna had always been performed by guest companies and artists.

From playful ballerina Irina Tsymbal to cigar-chewing Eno Peci, awkward outcast Liudmila Trayan and the rest of the cast, the dancers seemed to revel in their cartoon-like roles.

The Homage had started off slowly with "Glass Pieces" to music by Philip Glass.

A relatively unimpressive ensemble piece and duet, set against a graph-paper background, was followed however by choreography more reminiscent of Robbins's legendary "West Side Story" -- including his signature leaps -- as male and female dancers faced off to percussion music.

In a change of pace, "In the Night" was more classical with three pairs, best exemplified by first solo dancers Olga Esina and Roman Lazik who turned in an airy yet dramatic performance, while the wonderfully expressive Irina Tsymbal and partner Vladimir Shishov drew cheers with their breathtaking lifts.

But it was the final "The Concert" that drew the loudest applause of the evening -- a stunning seventh premiere for the company this season, the first under Manuel Legris as director.

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