Reyes will dance the leading role of Katrina Van Tassel, the coquettish love interest of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, in Artistic Director Septime Webre’s ballet inspired by the Washington Irving short story. Reyes is scheduled to dance Feb. 18 (the preview performance), Feb. 19 (opening night), the afternoon of Feb. 21 and evening of Feb. 22. She replaces the Washington Ballet’s Sona Kharatian, who injured her foot.
When Kharatian got hurt late last week, Webre said he considered putting company member Maki Onuki in as the first-cast Katrina. (Onuki will dance Katrina in other performances.) But Onuki has her own first-cast role as the lead witch, a young woman who is burned at the stake and returns as a ghost.
“I made a really wild variation for her that I don’t think anyone else can do, because her technique is so strong,” said Webre.
So he started calling other ballet companies for a replacement dancer. He said Kevin McKenzie, ABT’s director, suggested Reyes, who is one of ABT’s standout technicians with an exceptionally warm, charming presence. Webre was thrilled, particularly because they share a Cuban connection: Reyes is Cuban, as was Webre’s mother.
“I always thought she was among the most radiant dancers,” Webre said of Reyes. “So sunny and bright onstage. And also petite,” he added with a chuckle, “so she’s easy to partner.”
“She’s such a natural actress and storyteller, so things are going swimmingly,” he said. Since Reyes is retiring from ABT this summer, he added, “I’m lucky I got her before she went on to other things.”
As has already been announced, ABT’s Misty Copeland will be a guest star in the Washington Ballet’s “Swan Lake” in April. But Webre said he’s not planning to make a habit of hiring star ballerinas as guests.
“It’s really coincidental. It’s not a pattern,” he said. “We’re not traditionally a company with guest artists; we use them selectively in ways that feel like they’re family members who show up occasionally.
“This is one of those moments when we have a twofer from ABT,” he added. “It’s like Xiomara is the gift with purchase.”