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NYCB Opening Night Gala 11/20


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#1 sneds

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 12:17 AM

Hi!
The evening included "Serenade", excerpts from "Stars and Stripes" and "The Man I Love" pdd accompanied by the surprise guest artist, Wynton Marsalis, on trumpet. Marsalis also played a gorgeous jazz version of "America" during the first pause. The acoustics in the State Theater were perfect, even up in the third ring.

Overall, I thought the dancing was a bit flat, and though the selections were fitting, it was disappointing not to see many of the dancers (no Marcovici, Ringer, Millipied, Boal, LaFosse, Evans, Meunier, Whelan, Askegard, Angle, Taylor etc. etc.

"Serenade" was first with Kowrowski, Neal, Kistler, Fayette and Borree. I thought it was very well done..very haunting..though my mom thought the orchestra might have been too fast in parts (yes Andrea Quinn was conducting!). Philip Neal seems tailor-made for this ballet-long limbs and an understated classical style. The simple costume also enhances his wonderful lines.

Nilas Martins and Margaret Tracey performed the "Man I Love" pdd with accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis. Not my first choice of dancers for these roles (I'd love to see Ringer and Fayette do this pdd), but they did a lovely job. Since I was paying more attention to Marsalis than the dancing (I'm a former trumpet player and big Marsalis fan), so I can't really comment much more ahout the dancing.

"Stars and Stripes" was uneven, but still it's a great finishing piece. The men's brigade did a good job, though a couple guys were off at times and I've seen it done better. Wonder how they chose the guys..it seems like more experienced corps guys weren't on stage, while some newbies were.

Damian was well..Damian. I could have sworn he was ad-libbing quite a bit in the some of the solo bits...something didn't seem right (anyone with more knowledge care to comment?), but he finished off with spectacular seried of turns a la second (correct term??) which ended perfectly balanced to a dead standstill. And of course we got the series of tours interspersed with those uniquely Woetzeloid tours/jumps.

Unfortunately, Jennie Somogyi was decidely off-either very nervous or dancing with an injury. She was visibly shaking and having problems with the balances in the beginning of the pdd, and was just never quite there during the rest of the pdd. Such a shame-and it really was apparent in comparsion to Damian's dancing (even if he was a tad off in bits, he could cover it up with his cheek and bravado...ever the ham!)
One chuckle in the finale: Tom Gold was partnered either by Jennifer Tinsley or Dana Hanson-whomever it was was significantly taller than Gold. Rather amusing to watch the ballerina tower over the guy.

The night finished with the dancers and audience singing the national anthem...moving to hear so many voices in chorus.

All in all, a pleasant evening, even if I was disappointed not to see a lot of the dancers. Now it's on to the Nutcracker...how many Nuts does it take to go nuts??!!
Kate

P.S. THe gala was originally supposed to be comprised of new cheoreography from a number of people including Woetzel. Does anyone know if these dances will ever happen, or has that all gone by the wayside?

#2 liebs

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 12:48 AM

I second most of Kate's comments although I want to add praise for Kistler, Kowroski and the female corp is Serenade. Their is probably no such thing as a truly terrible Serenade, the choreography provides enough interest in every case I've seen but tonight's performance was very moving. Kistler danced with more freedom and power than I've seen from her in a while.

Tracey was terrific, one of the nigths when she transcended just being good and glowed with feeling.

Somoygi was the disappointment of the evening. Stars should be a good role for her but tonight it wasn't. Too bad but I look forward to her "Dewdrop."

Martins spoke well and movingly and the rest of the speeches were mercifully short. All in all a nice evening and I'm glad NYCB is back in NYC.

#3 Dale

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 02:19 AM

Good review Kate. I second Liebs.

At first I was a bit disappointed with the program -- it seemed a little thin. But after Serenade, some heartfelt words from Martins (who spoke movingly of the healing power and beauty of Balanchine's ballets), Marsalis's playing and Tracy's dancing -- I was won over.

I've always loved Kistler as the "waltz girl" in Serenade, but she has become a bit mannered and, in the words of an eduacated observer I bumped into, she over emoted a bit. She also lacks some of the flexibility and jumps the role calls for. For my taste, Borree is a little short for the "Russian girl", but she fully inhabited the role and Kowroski was magnificent in the "dark angel" role. After one super arabesque, somebody in the fifth ring shouted out, "Brava!" Quite inappropriate, but I agreed.

I got caught up in love of New York and patriotism -- lots of sniffing and wiping of tears in the 4th ring.

Tracy, I thought, was lovely in the Who Cares? pas de deux. I thought she was the perfect dancer to withstand dancing to the improvisations of Marsalis as she is always "full-steam ahead" and never gets flustered, even when Nilas Martin muffed a partnering move (a turn into a supported arabesque) -- the same one he blew twice while partnering Taylor in last year's gala.

I didn't sit close enough to see Somogyi shaking but she was filling in for Weese and just a few days notice. I don't remember her being cast in Stars before (she's done the 1st mvt), so I don't know if she knew the Liberty Bell pas de deux.

My only quibble was I wish they had done the whole of the last section of Who Cares? as it would have afforded the company a chance to cast more of its principal dancers. I do like a gala that trots everybody out so you can make sure they are in working order smile.gif

#4 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 10:39 AM

I seem to have been away for awhile, doubtless recovering from ABT's "Dvorovenko Does Balanchine" season at City Center. (Speaking of over-emoting Waltz Girls, can you imagine?)

I will pretty much second everybody's comments. I had had a very, very trying day, and it was a tonic to see Serenade again. I remember the last time it was performed before going out of the rep (a year or two ago). Kistler gave a very moving performance (I remember she briefly passed her hands together as in prayer in her last big port de bras as she was being carried off on that final diagonal.), and, given that she'd had yet another injury-filled season, I thought for sure we'd seen her last Waltz Girl. I was very happy to be proven wrong last night, although I do agree with the learned party who said she over-emoted. I hate seeing Kistler teetering on the edge of becoming a charicature of herself, but perhaps she feels a need to make up for a declining technique. Regardless, I was genuinely thrilled at her first entrance, with those big jetes landing with a full-stop. It was nice to have her back.

Heck, it was nice to have everybody back. Neal looked terrific, and Borree should have more opportunities to display her magnificent mane of lustrous, black hair. And, as Fayette turned Kowroski's Dark Angel in that arabesque promenade over the supine Kistler I found myself once again remarking that Kowroski's singing line in arabesque has to be one of the Eight Wonders of the ballet world. I did cringe a bit at that overwrought fan's cheer, but I could understand the sentiment.

I thought that Tracey and Martins could not but look constrained and pre-programmed when contrasted with Marsalis' high-flying improvisations to The Man I Love, but it was a piece d'occasion, and perfectly appropriate.

Speaking of fast tempi, (and I don't mind a brisk Serenade, myself), I was disappointed that Quinn didn't conduct the Stars and Stripes excerpt -- she makes so much else sound like Sousa, what would she do with the March King himself? Perhaps we'll learn one day.

Perhaps the men weren't as sharp as their wont, but they were quite fine, regardless, and Tom Gold did his usual spectacular job. I'm beginning to think my favorite part of his performance is the way he struts offstage after his final salute. It drives the audience as wild as any of his amazing turns and pirouettes.

Jennie Somogyi did have problems and look a little flat and sketchy in places (it was hard to miss her falling off pointe in her first arabesque in the adagio), but I still find her manner onstage to be more interesting every year. Damian seemed to have tossed in a few new tricks, and it was hard not to admire his mega-pirouette combination that slowed to a halt in a perfectly held retire position.

After the finale, the men removed their tall hats with military punctilio, and everyone sang The Star Spangled Banner. It was quite moving and it occured to me there was no place on earth I'd rather be at that moment.

#5 Michael

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 11:28 AM

You know that the dancing has been ragged when the high points of the the evening are a visiting trumpet player and the Star Spangled Banner. Yes, it's good to have them back. This wasn't a bad way to start either, they've got six months to tighten up their act.

The Star Spangled Banner, at the conclusion, was unexpectedly and quite profoundly moving to me. Earlier in the evening there had been a certain amount of dull, obligatory, post-September 11th talk, including the chairman of the company's board reading a proclamation from Rudy Giuliani praising the company -- the sort of thing I would usually go to the ballet to get away from. But when Fiorato, in mid curtain call for the last piece, led the orchestra unexpectedly into the anthem, I found myself unexpectedly standing there and weeping. Emotions numbed by two months of talking heads on t.v. had been touched after all and it was the music and its associations and the reactions of the audience and the company -- it was quite electric, the kids from the corps singing on stage, the audience coming to their feet as one -- that had done it. That's what dance is also all about, conjuring up emotions that transcend the intellectual and the merely sentimental. What an irony that it wasn't the ballets themselves last night that achieved that level. The end demonstrated though what profound emotions art should be able to touch.

#6 Calliope

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 11:46 AM

I echo the sentiment of the other posts.
I thought Tracey kicked off her last season with the Company in grand style and despite some of the bobbles, it was nice to see everyone back on stage.
I agree with Michael1 though, they've got 5 months to straighten up.
The Star Spangled Banner seems to be everywhere. I was at a different performance the evening before at Lincoln Center and the orchestra played the Star Spangled Banner and an entire audience, unprovoked, sang.
I think Mr. B would have been proud!

#7 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 12:19 PM

While I could've done without the "proclamation" from Mayor Giuliani, I found the words of both Martins and Solomon to be quite moving, particularly when Solomon spoke of, and I'm paraphrasing, the State Theater with NYCB as a refuge of beauty which we all need in these trying times.

Frankly, I couldn't have agreed with him more. I can't remember a fall when I've needed NYCB as much as this one.

#8 LMCtech

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 03:33 PM

I'd like to thank all of you for your great reviews! It is impossible for me to get to NYCB at this time of year and all your observations made me feel like I had actually experienced the performance. Thanks a lot!

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 03:59 PM

I'll echo LMCTech's thanks. Now, please keep it up!

Not only New Yorkers -- there are a lot of people here who see performances. Why keep them to yourself? Share. It's the right thing to do biggrin.gif


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