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NYCB January 9th


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#1 Michael

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 04:30 PM

Some notes regarding last night's program: Dances at a Gathering and Symphony in C.

Dances at a Gathering:

I haven't seen this for a couple of years and it got a good performance. As a ballet, I like the way Robbins take Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, polonaises, etc. -- surely the most evocative, romantic and dreamy of music -- and creates a vocabulary of evocative and dreamy dances which seems totally distinct and unrelated to the evocative dreaminess of the music itself. No literal treatment of the music, nothing cloying or trite (which could easily have been), but instead a kind of parallel emotional universe that lets the audience dream along with the dream of the dancers and the dream of the music. All three distinct, or at least to my eyes.

But perhaps this is blissful ignorance? Once
again I found myself thinking that perhaps there is a more literal plot or interweaving of motifs here, if only I knew it? I'm not sure I want to know it actually (though surely I should if it exists) -- because I kind of like my vaguer sort reverie.

As for the actual performances, I found Yvonne
Borree surprisingly good as Pink -- a very strong, confident performance. She beautifully shaped her steps in all ways, her legs, upper body, the use of her feet were all extremely soft and vividly etched. A flowing Henri Matisse sort of line when you get to see her. She also showed a very good complete surrender of herself in her lifts and supported balances. Altogther a wonderful night for her. The cast was full of debuts actually, and I loved the mix, with Eva Natanya debuting as Blue, and Alexopolous as Green, Ringer as Yellow and Rachel Rutherford as Mauve, with the men being Fayette, Hubbe, Marcovici, Millepied, and Woetzel. Marcovici was especially strong and (surprisingly to me) very fine in his partnering. The sweep and broad movement in Rachel Rutherford's dancing also was beautiful. I thought Alexopolous a little weak.

Symphony in C

Enough was said about this the other day, but Abi Stafford's debut in the First Movement and Jennifer Tinsley's in the Fourth Movement should be mentioned. Both were strong performances. Stafford was confident and understated, though she appeared a little (perhaps appropriately) nervous at first. I note that she's scheduled to debut in Theme and Variations the weekend after next in the full Tschai Suite No. 3 (this in Miranda Weese's absence) so First Movement last night is just the beginning. She did full justice to the steps and didn't make a great effort to project, and that was just a fine approach. I liked the fact that she just danced it straight. Tinsley's Fourth Movement was powerful but a little hard at the edges perhaps.

#2 Manhattnik

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 05:20 PM

Not much to add to what you've said, Michael.

I don't think of Dances as having a plot, but rather it's a series of evocative bits that can be assembled in one's mind to represent any number of situations. A lot depends on how the individual performers approach it.

It was nice to see Borree looking relaxed, for the most part. She did a great job, I thought. Natanya looked sweet, but a bit the new girl on the block, trying to fit in. I was surprised to learn Alexopolous was making her debut in green. It seems a natural role for her, but I agree she seemed a bit out of sorts, like she was still trying the comic and dreamy bits on for size. Ringer was her sweet and lovely self, and I can't say enough about how Rutherford took a fairly minor role and made it quite special.

The men were all wonderful, I thought. James Fayette continues to show how much he's improved, and that Woetzal, Hubbe and Millepied were fine almost goes without saying. Even Marcovici toned down his occasionally overdone romanticism.

In Bizet, Stafford was a bit low-key, but clean and modest in a refreshing way. She doesn't really project that ballerina aura, though, as does Kistler, even when she's having an off night, as she was last night. Ansanelli looked much more relaxed in the Third Movement, soaring almost as high, it seemed as Millepied, who continues to show a stunning ballon here. Tinsley was a bit hard-edged indeed, but at least she nailed all the turns.

I was quite astonished to see Ansanelli fall twice (once a minor bobble, once a bit more emphatic), doing the same step in the same place onstage -- that wicked turn to the knee all the ballerinas do in the finale. At least she picked up and carried on like a trouper -- I certainly hope she didn't hurt herself.

#3 Michael

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 10:32 PM

Actually, we haven't really seen a "Ballerina Aura" in First Movement these past two weeks. I thought Ringer also was also slightly understated last Thursday, although I liked her performance very much. Who was it who gave such a Ballerina-ish rendition of First Movement when the Bolshoi was here in July 2000 -- Goriacheva or Stepanenko, I think -- I can't remember except that Svetlana Lunkina couldn't dance the night I saw it and someone stepped in and just danced the hell out of First Movement, dancing modestly, almost anonymously in fact, but making a real tour de force out of the footwork in particular. What is the best treatment of this role, do you think? I think of Symphony in C, with its Palais de Cristal origin, as a very Paris Opera kind of Grand Ballet but that kind of thing can easily be overdone. That's why I also liked Stafford's performance -- because she stayed on the right side of the line and didn't appear to try too consciously to project.

[ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#4 cargill

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 10:56 AM

It was Goriacheva that substituted at short notice for Lunkina in the first movement, and she was stunning, I thought. I think the first movement really has to be danced by a real ballerina--it was Maria Tallchief after all who did it here. It should absolutely sparkle. The only time recently I have seen it (I didn't see the recent ones) really do that at NYCB was a few years ago when Somogyi danced it. I know she worked briefly with Tallchief for the Balanchine Foundation tapings, and that might have had something to do with it.

AS for Dances at a Gathering, Robbins wrote a short letter to Ballet Review saying in no uncertain terms that it was just about those dancers dancing in that space, and no one ever paid any attention to him. Though in some ways, it does seem to be about the dancers doing it, because it changes so when the casts change. I did an interview with Peter Boal (which I hope will appear sometime this spring), and he talked about Robbins coaching him as the boy in brown. Boal said Robbins explained the opening by saying that the brown boy was an older man returning to a place he remembered. I can't quite remember exactly how he put it, but it was definitely about a feeling.

#5 Michael

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 05:40 PM

Funny, but I also remember Somogyi in an extraordinary Third Movement two years back. The failure cast her in one or the other of these two roles during the past two weeks would only be rationally justifiable by injury.


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