• Kristyn Burtt

ABT's Christine Shevchenko Dives Into 'Of Love and Rage'

Updated: Apr 28


The partnership between American Ballet Theatre and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California continues to deliver major works on the West Coast. This week, ballet fans will see the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Of Love and Rage.


The classic Greek tale is based upon one of the earliest novels ever written, Callirhoe. The love story between Callirhoe and Chaereas is an adventurous tale filled with obstacles, drama and forgiveness along the way.


More: Why American Ballet Theatre Continues to Be Christine Shevchenko's Dream Come True


Of Love and Rage is not a fairy tale. Although it was written thousands of years ago, with the complexity of the relationship between Callirhoe and Chaereas at its core, it feels very modern and relevant," described Ratmansky in a press release. "Callirhoe is a strong woman in a world where women had very limited options and no power. After early experiences where her fate is determined by men, she learns that she can use her beauty and her brains to shape her fate.”


ABT principal dancer Christine Shevchenko is making her debut in the role of Callirhoe this week. She discussed her preparation for the ballet with Dance Dish back in December on To The Pointe.


More: Herman Cornejo Isn’t Letting 20 Years At American Ballet Theatre Slow Him Down


"This ballet is based on one of the oldest Greek poems that ever existed. It's crazy that he [Ratmansky] even found this," Shevchenko explained. "He did his research. He really spent time on this. It's based on Greek mythology and the Greeks love tragedy stories."


The company began working on the ballet in January after its Nutcracker season. ABT has been bringing Ratmansky's original works to the West Coast over the last several years. They brought the world premiere of Whipped Cream, in 2017, and the West Coast premiere of Harlequinade, in 2019, to audiences in California. It's one of the benefits of the ballet company having two homes.


One of the most fascinating aspects of performing on different coasts is the response of the audiences. It does vary from East to West Coast.

Photo courtesy of Christine Shevchenko. 


More: Gregory Dean Tackles Tradition With Royal Danish Ballet's 'Cinderella'


"New York is definitely the harsher critic," she laughed. "They know so much. All of the worldwide ballet companies tour there often. Audiences are well-educated. [In California,] the audiences are so great, they cheer you on. They're so enthusiastic here. They applaud for so many things."

Both audiences serve a great purpose to the dancers in the company because it gives them a variety of ballet palates to perform for.


"As a dancer, it makes you feel so happy that the audience loves what you're doing," Shevchenko said. "It makes you dance better."

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