Pittsburgh, PA
June 10, 2023
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
A & E
Tv Listings
The Dining Guide
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  A & E >  TV/Radio Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
TV Review: Calling them wild may be a leap, but star male dancers aren't tame

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

By Jane Vranish, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The title of "Born to Be Wild: The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre" is misleading, perhaps the figment of an overzealous marketing team's imagination.

The PBS Great Performances program, set to air on WQED Sunday, follows a quartet of virtuoso male dancers currently starring at American Ballet Theatre.

It is, as the narration suggests, a welcome sight, where four dancers so utterly different in style and temperament can attract so much attention in an art form where ballerinas generally are all the rage.

"Born to Be Wild: The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre"

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday



We follow them to their own respective corners of the globe. First is the explosive Angel Corella, sporting his Spanish roots and his new line of dancewear (Angel Body Wear) at the family shop in Madrid. Then the exotic Vladimir Malakhov heads back to Ukraine, where he was once deemed a failure, not suitable material for the Bolshoi Ballet. He would go on to win several important ballet competitions, reject a late offer from the Bolshoi and head for ABT.

The subtle Juan Manuel Carreno is a product of the Cuban National Ballet, with tantalizing glimpses of the system from which he emerged and rare comments from famed prima ballerina and Cuban icon Alicia Alonzo. (Ballet supporter Fidel Castro also puts in a cameo.)

Ethan Stiefel, technical wizard from America's Midwest, comes closest to a "wild" image. He is shown riding his Harley, which he also used in the film "Center Stage."

But mostly we see four highly disciplined men who have helped set a new standard for male dancers. As such, the real interest in the film comes from a new work by choreographer Mark Morris, who was attracted, we are told, by the opportunity to create a special piece for these "wild" ones.

Although Morris has choreographed for top companies like ABT and San Francisco Ballet, this is a chance to interweave uncommon ballet virtuosity into his mostly modern choreography.

We see tantalizing snatches of the rehearsal process in between the homecoming segments. And, at the end, we are rewarded with this piece d'occasion, performed before what appears to be an invitation-only audience in a television studio.

The work, apparently unnamed, is set to the fourth movement of Schumann's Piano Quintet Op. 44 and takes advantage of its lush textures in interweaving the various personalities and techniques with solos, partnering and a wonderful masculine filigree to the footwork.

It is suave and skilled, wonderful, but hardly wild. But there is a luxurious tension created by the four performers, whetting the appetite for more dance and more Morris.

Jane Vranish can be reached atjvranish@post-gazette.com

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections