My review of American Ballet Theatre at Berkeley:

“There was a moment at American Ballet Theatre on Wednesday night when everything changed. Herman Cornejo came tearing out of stage left at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall and launched himself so high you wondered if he’d used an invisible vaulting pole. It was the kind of jump in which the dancer seems to have created a ladder out of air.

The “Corsaire” pas de deux that followed was an intoxicating combination of recklessness and control. Cornejo’s pirouettes torpedoed right through the moment where most dancers give themselves a little break with the waltz step known as balanc?. He threw himself into the next set of pirouettes, threatening to veer across the stage like a Tasmanian devil – but when he centered himself by turn four or five, he looked as if he’d known what he was doing all along. Cornejo is small and muscled – he has a body like a Corvette. And watching him vroom through “Le Corsaire” was like watching an expert race car driver in the Grand Prix. No wonder his partner, Xiomara Reyes, no slouch in the technical department herself, looked on top of the world riding high aloft in his hands.

It was one of the more remarkable dance moments I’ve seen, all the more so because it created such a clear dividing line during a very odd show. The first half of this first of two repertory programs (Program B opens tonight) was so lackluster – almost like a graduation recital with the world’s most precocious students – that you wondered what had happened to American Ballet Theatre in the six years since it last visited Cal Performances. The second half was so scintillating that you wondered how the Bay Area has lived without seeing this troupe for so long.”

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