I hadn’t seen Dances at a Gathering in years, and Wednesday night’s performance was a delight. The mostly young dancers I didn’t know very well were so good they kept my memories of the 1969 originals at bay, especially Bouder, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, and Amar Ramasar. Dances, to piano waltzes and other short pieces of Chopin (played by Richard Moredock), is a stream of little reflective solos and duets for men and women who might be strolling by in a park. The dances can be simple or complicated, but they’re all externalizations of private thoughts that could be expressed only by those individuals in that place.
Retiring principal dancer Damian Woetzel invited ABT’s Julie Kent as a partner for the Chopin Other Dances, an offshoot of Gathering. A much more declarative work, this Dances is really a trio. Pianist Cameron Grant is on stage, and the dancers take up his promptings to show off, experiment with steps, play little dance games. Woetzel was terrific in this — smart, passionate, technically masterful. Kent, never a wildly emotional dancer, seemed too temperate to match him.
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