Posted 26 September 2005 - 04:45 AM
I don't do this usually, but since there are most likely going to be very few press reviews of this show (the Dutch generally only review premiere shows), I will give some of my impressions, having watched a Apollo and Sym in C rehearsal in the studio and the The Hague stop of the Balanchine tour.
It was a very good night.
I had fairly low expectations of the Symphony in C, for two reasons. Nathalie Caris had been absolute magic in the previous season's performances - basically her valedictory victory lap as a DNB dancer - bringing an stunning intensity to the slow mvt, beautifully partnered by Altin Kaftira (one of the best partners in DNB). And this happened two or three times. How could those performances be equalled? Plus, on the down side, I had seen some really sloppy corps work before, particularly in the finale.
However the corps was excellent last week, and Larissa Lezhnina's performance, whom I can't recall having seen before in the slow mvt, was riveting. How should I put the difference between these two interpretations? While Caris seemed to be saying "please lift me, the air is crushing me", Lezhnina's partner (the excellent new Rumanian soloist Dragos Mihalcea) needed to keep her from floating upwards, as it were.
In the 3d mvt Marisa Lopez was partnered by Cedric Ygnace. The previous season Gael Lambiotte made a terrific impression (and he's no true Balanchine dancer), together with Julie Gardette, the company's natural comédienne. Ygnace has a rather low center of gravity and an uniquely fluid way of moving. Suddenly you realize a low jump, if well executed, can be more beautiful than straining for a high one - making you marvel, how can he jetée so close to the ground ? In mime roles (Petrushka) Ygnace is no success; I'm sorry to say he can't act his way out of a paper bag. However when the moves are the entire drama, as in Balanchine, you're truly seeing the music with Ygnace.
Apollo was a debut performance for Raphael Coumes-Marquet, a dancer who, on a good night, can make the classics look as new, being a favorite with some of the company's choreographers (notably David Dawson). I'd have to say in this first performance I didn't quite see the lethal menace integral to Apollo yet, but he had to jump schedule for an absent Boris de Leeuw.
The muses were wonderful: Sarah Fontaine's Calliope; Sofiane's powerful Polyhymnia, and a stellar Terpsichore by Igone de Jongh (I recall the studio pianist said she was going to get in trouble for taking it so slow - there was no trouble; just a spellbinding performance).
Who Cares? was premiered one and a half year back in Amsterdam. I recall the show kind of fell apart in subsequent performances, and the best thing I remember was a thrilling "The Man I love" with husband and wife Gael Lambiotte and Sabine Chaland. However last week's The Hague perfomance easily topped the best show in the first run. Everything felt natural, fun and great. Marisa Lopez in "Stairway", Yumiko Takeshima's fouettees in "Embraceable" and Kaftira in a moving "Who Cares?" solo.
For me there were two stars this night: Igone de Jongh who has definitely shed the introvertedness that sometimes, formerly, prevented her from being as big, bold and beautiful as she is.
Sarah Fontaine was the other star. She was in every piece, danced more miles than anyone else, and she has this fantastic wit. Even when there are twenty people on stage, as in Who Cares?, Fontaine's eyes are saying "you'd better watch me, 'cause I'm where the fun's going on." She does this every single time. It's never just steps with Fontaine. I love this dancer. (In case you've got the Sleeping Beauty dvd: she's Lilac. She was an amazingly intense Les Sylphides Waltz nr 7. And she's great in contemporary.)
And I have the feeling the new ballet master Eve Lawson should be mentioned. When I visited the studio she was working like a demon (a demon with a smile), and I think the results showed, in Symphony in C and Who Cares?