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Jeans and Beatles Music End ABT Season

November 10, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ American Ballet Theatre ended its fall season on a bare stage with nary a tutu in sight.

An interesting slate of modern works celebrated lean, agile bodies in plain leotards, casual workout clothes and, in one case, Calvin Klein jeans.

Jeans aren’t generally proper attire for a ballet stage, but they looked right in place for ``Within You Without You,″ a tribute to the late George Harrison that closed Sunday evening’s program on a joyous note.

The two ballets that preceded it were ambitious, but lacked the energy and spirit of the Harrison tribute, which the company premiered in 2002 and is sure to bring back frequently.

``Within You Without You″ is actually a set of six pieces by four different choreographers, each set to a different Harrison classic, beginning with ``Something″ _ performed by the compact but explosively powerful Angel Corella. In a tight red tank top and jeans, Corella moved with tight, jerky movements, at times seeming as though he would start break dancing. Luckily, Stanton Welch’s choreography also had him letting loose in a few fast and furious turns _ something Corella does better than most anyone.

``I Dig Love,″ choreographed by Natalie Weir, was a love trio, danced happily by Gillian Murphy _ radiant in bright red _ with Ethan Stiefel and Herman Cornejo. The buoyant feeling from that number faded into something darker and more intense with Ann Reinking’s version of ``While My Guitar Gently Weeps″: A fierce white light shone down on Stella Abrera and Isaac Stappas as they twisted, churned and wound themselves around a metal folding chair.

Ten dancers made ``Isn’t It a Pity,″ also choreographed by Welch, into an energetic romp, with the tall, leggy Michele Wiles the standout. The mood, and the stage, darkened again for Weir’s ``Within You Without You,″ a strong solo for Stiefel.

The showcase piece was last: ``My Sweet Lord″ was an ingeniously simple piece of choreography by the creative David Parsons, who had the full cast of dancers crossing the stage, again and again, always in the same direction to denote a journey. Some were leaping, some lifting, some turning, some walking, some moving fast, some slowly.

In one lovely move, Corella leaped fluidly across the stage, only to dip back quickly and retrieve a partner before completing his journey.

The evening’s first ballet, ``Without Words,″ was a solemn work set to six Schubert songs by the Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. The most interesting effect was the use of photography: A changing photo above the dancers would herald a move or pose yet to come, challenging the viewer to spot it when it did.

William Forsythe’s ``workwithinwork,″ performed by ABT for the first time this season, rounded out the program.

In this highly intricate work, set to violin music by Luciano Berio, a company of eight women and seven men worked in changing groupings _ athletic, sexy duets or strange solos. Some dancers just lingered about, watching the action. And in a startling effect, dancers strolled casually away from center stage _ as if they had completed a rehearsal and were heading out for a quick bite to eat _ once a section was finished.

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