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American Ballet Theatre; New York City Ballet

NYCB and ABT, America’s top two ballet troupes, have been playing rival spring seasons at Lincoln Center for more than two decades. Time was, the most profound and thrilling art lay with NYCB. Little by little, without Balanchine’s galvanizing presence as chief choreographer and—this should not be underestimated—chief coach, the power of attraction shifted to ABT, with its warmer performing style, its growing complement of male virtuosi, its recent cultivation of tall, fresh, and athletic “American Girl” ballerinas (Gillian Murphy, Michele Wiles), and the occasional dazzling guest star. Overall, ABT’s repertory can’t compete with the stock of Balanchine and Robbins dances held by the NYCB. But with that unique heritage now unevenly performed and glutted and dulled with an excess of Martins and Wheeldon, ABT has slipped into first place. With its ingratiating performances, it’s the company that offers more fun. Village Voice 05/28/03

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