Love with the proper stranger

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes dance in “The Bright Stream,”now being staged 
at the Met.

Alexei Ratmansky, choreographer in residence at American Ballet Theatre, has a fondness for dances by his Soviet ancestors. During his tenure as director of the Bolshoi Ballet, he remade “The Bright Stream” to a score by Dimitri Shostakovich. Short and sweet, this very funny work — originally built in 1935 — foregrounds lust and practical jokes among the flowers of the Russian steppes.

The story includes a tractor driver disguised as a dog, ballerina emerita Martine van Hamel playing a dotty old broad and a ubiquitous yen for adultery among the leading characters. But under the frivolity lies a thorough grounding in the classical repertory; the randy young things throw off  riffs from “Swan Lake.”

Watch David Hallberg, ABT’s leading danseur noble, tricked out like a sylphid and dancing on pointe. Part of a touring troupe of performers visiting a collective farm for a harvest festival, he cross-dresses, along with his ballerina partner Gillian Murphy, to flummox a pair of randy seniors as well as Paloma Herrera’s wandering husband, Marcelo Gomes. The skill of these top-flight dancers lifts the two-act comic piece from soap opera to almost Shakespearean sublimity.

If you go
   
American Ballet Theatre
Through July 7
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
$25-$220, 212-362-6000
www.abt.org


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