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Dance Review

One, at least, keeps it real

David Hallberg is convincingly fiery as Romeo. Paloma Herrera, on the

July 20, 2009|Laura Bleiberg

Managing both thoughtfulness and spontaneity, David Hallberg was a fiery son of Montague as American Ballet Theatre presented its crowd-pleasing "Romeo and Juliet" again at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Paloma Herrera, who appeared as Juliet on Friday night, returned to the role opposite Hallberg on Saturday evening, replacing Gillian Murphy (out with an injury). If the wear and tear of this challenging part, performed two nights in a row, was a trial, the steadfast Herrera didn't show it. But her partnership with Hallberg was merely satisfactory, never rising to tragic levels.

Herrera has a sincere demeanor and oodles of technical power. But she has not developed into an inspired actress. She did register joy as she leapt into Hallberg's arms. She did cower before Capulet and fled doe-like to seek help from Friar Laurence. But she wore her emotions like her shawl -- rather than using them as the impetus for her actions.

At the moment of departure from Juliet's bedroom, Romeo is supposed to brusquely shake his lover out of a lunatic, grief-stricken state. Hallberg didn't have to -- because Herrera never mustered craziness.

ABT's youngest principal dancer, Hallberg has an expressive face and exceptionally smooth style. He soaked up the onstage action and burned it like fuel. His friendship with Mercutio and Benvolio (danced superbly by high-flying Craig Salstein and Blaine Hoven, respectively) was so close that the three leapt and spun in sync. Mistakes occurred when he pushed too hard, but at least he took risks.

There were a few road bumps. Patrick Ogle was a somnolent Tybalt. The balcony duet was well underway before someone turned on the spotlight. The mandolin sounded tinny.

But conductor David LaMarche and the full orchestra delivered Prokofiev's score with emotive power. And the idiots who Thursday night hooted sophomorically during the lovers' bedroom scene were nowhere to be heard.


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