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