drb

NYCB Week 6: Feb 6 - 11

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Did anyone see the debuts of BAR, RAMASAR, TAYLOR :angel_not: , and MARCOVICI in Episodes, and of MEARNS and J. ANGLE in V W?

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Yes, Yes - Episodes was a fine performance - Bar and Amasar are well matched - Janie Taylor

looked fantastic - in top form with Marcovici - Kowroski's Ricercata sings.

Interesting to see a "real" black and white ballet next to the "fake" as is Tribute.

It's to very danceable Bach and a very watchable ballet. Lots of references to Mr B's work,

especially a lot of Barocco steps. It's broken down into 8 parts so it doesn't really flow.

The opening soloist Devin Alberda is outstanding. The costumes are black and white

practice clothes except for Ashley Bouder, clad in grey. Her pas de deux with TAngle is

lovely. At one point he offers his hand and she taps it away - a reminder that Mr B's

Ballerinas can dance it alone.

The finale was like a reverance - a respectful Thank you to Mr Kirstein and Mr B for

giving the dancers and the audience such wondrous gifts. And thanks to Chris D'Amboise

for this fitting addition to the repertory.

Vienna Waltzes rounded out the evening. Vienna Woods is a good role for Mearns, partnered

with JAngle. She looked lush and elegant.

Woetzel and Weese were sprightly as Springtime on a cold winter's night. Oh how I'm going

to miss her -

Although she embodies the Merry Widow, I'd love to see Jenifer Ringer in der Rosenkavalier.

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I've only seen it twice, but I feel like I could never tire of Episodes. It's as if a gloriously weird dialect of classical ballet (and music) developed independently in a parallel universe. I think Janie Taylor's performance in the third section was the highlight of the ballet. It may seem to be a reach, but for me, the choreography of the third section references Coppelia. There's no Dr. Coppelius figure; the dancers are like dolls who teach themselves how to dance. There are some spastic movements but Taylor presented them as if they were completely natural and unpremeditated, like synapses firing. Abi Stafford was good in the first section, but her approach was in direct contrast to Taylor's. I could see her shaping the tensing and releasing movements deliberately. Very apples and oranges, and if I had to pick I'd take Taylor's apple. Ellen Bar didn't live up to my memory of Teresa Reichlen in the second section. I don't like to base my opinion on physique, but Reichlen's unusual suppleness was so effective in that part. She made her splayed limbs look remarkable and strange, like I was watching a scary insect mating ritual. Yes, that's actually a compliment! Maria K. was very stately and beautiful in the final section, but a tad bland? It seems like a challenge to link the more conventional finale to the bizarre things that happened before.

As a ballet, I thought Tribute was kind of boring, not singular enough compared to the other works on the program or in the repertoire. It did make the dancers look good, though. I agree with everyone else, Devin Alberda's solo, wow. Was that choreographed on him? What a difference it makes when that's the case. Bouder gave her role the full ballerina treatment, but I wondered if she was pushing a narrative that wasn't really there in the ballet, some romantic quest that none of the other dancers recognized. She was exquisite anyway. I'd like to see her in more story ballets.

Vienna Waltzes is great theater! It was cast so appropriately, it's hard to believe that's the second cast. Mearns is someone you want to see waltz. She was both elegant, excited and a bit shy, very Young Girl in Spectre de la Rose. Jared Angle showed pleasant refinement as her partner. I don't yet see the shading in the relationship provided by Rutherford and Hubbe, whose take on it is a small masterpiece, in my view. I could feel the world narrow to just the two of them. But a good debut. Miranda Weese was in impressive form whipping off chaines, and Jennifer Ringer spectacularly nailed the woman of experience role.

Even though I'm not crazy about Tribute, I think this is a well-constructed program. While I could discern the different flavors among the leotard ballets on the Stravinsky/Balanchine bill, as an evening it was too much of a good thing. Contrast is illuminating.

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First off, the overal program looked like a great ticket: Serenade, Dybbuk and Violin Concerto. I was in NY on business so bought an Orchestra seat. That program had something for eveyone and I really wanted to see NYCB do Dybbuk.

I've always been a sucker for Serenade (As Balanchine said, "If you don't like the ballet, [which I do] then close your eyes and listen to the music.") and the orchestra sounded very good. I though some tempi might be too slow for dancing (especially in the waltz), but overall the music was lush and powerful. The corps was too ragged for my taste (maybe its the musician in me) but the soloists were good. Wendy Whalen can still get it done, although it's probably time for a younger, more flexible dancer to take the lead. Ashley Bouder was great to see (a first for me). Her technique perfect, her dancing flowed and her balances impressive. I thought the man (Charles Askegard) showed very good partnering (smooth lifts and invisible partnering) but his solo dancing seemed stiff. I enjoyed myself - myabe the dancing got a bit messy here and there, but the intent came through clearly.

I saw Yuan Yuan and Sarah Van Patten do Dybbuk in San Francisco. Dybbuk was better in San Francisco, I think. First off, the male corps, which is so important to the ballet, was better in San Francisco. I think the San Fransicso male corps' technique was generally better - steps were landed without wobbles; turns were cleaner, movements more in unison, more energy, finishing every step. I guess that 's no surprise, given that San Fran is known for its men. Jennifer Ringer danced the female lead very well, but I still think I saw more from Yuan Yuan and Sarah. The technical requirements of the role are not that demanding, but it needs someone who can act and take up big space on the stage like a Juliet, Giselle or Aurora. Both San Fran dancers did more with this part than did Ms Ringer. The orchestera was again great. They seemed very well-rehearsed for such as disjointed sounding, difficult piece of music.

Unfortunately, a lot of the New York audience left after Dybbuk, and never got to see Violin Concerto. How sad. The two lead couples: Yvonne Bouree, Maria Koworski, Nicholai Hubbe and Sebastien Marcovici tore it up as did the solo violinist, Kurt Nikkanen. This ended up being the performance of the evening. I wandered out into the 10 degree night warmed from their efforts.

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Bar and Amasar are not as good as REICHLEN and la COUR. The latter are much more confident and assured.

Taylor did not do very good job when sliding acrossed the floor. she reversed direction even before she fully extended her back leg. (comparing to Whelan)

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Dybbuk was better in San Francisco, I think.
Bar and Amasar are not as good as REICHLEN and la COUR. . . . Taylor did not do very good job when sliding acrossed the floor. . . . (comparing to Whelan)

Not to dispute either of your assessments, but experience may be a factor in both cases.

I believe SFB has been doing Dybbuk for quite a while. None of the dancers in NYCB's Dybbuk was even in the company to see it when it last performed. The ballet is very new to these dancers, and I don't expect them to have the thorough familiarity and comfort level that the SF dancers have.

Likewise, this was adebut for both Bar-Ramassar and Taylor-Marcovici. It was also Taylor's second performance after more than a year out with injury. I don't expect her to be at the top of her form. I was there Tuesday, and while Taylor is not yet back to full strength, and this is not a role where she could go for broke in her usual way anyway, she looked beautiful. I was happy to see her. I like beck_hen's take on the Concerto section of Episodes. I never thought of it as a late 20th C. doll dance. : ) .The timing in Five Pieces, with Bar and Ramassar, could have been (and will in time, I hope) sharper. I also thought the Bach section could have been grander.

Tribute was very well danced. Alberda was gorgeous, and it was fun picking out the Balanchinisms, but no, it does not hold together very well as a ballet, despite the symmetry of both opening and closing it with thorough explorations of reverence.

The evening's high point was (for my first time ever) the Merry Widow section of Vienna Waltzes. Ringer outshone the diamonds around her neck, Still, I miss her in Voices of Spring. I was disappointed with Weese and, especially Woetzel, and their rather earth-bound rendering of that section. It may be time for Damian to consider putting this role behind him. Most disappointing of all was Kistler's Rosenkavelier section. In a role that is not technically demanding, we hope to see her sweetness, vulnerability and heart. She looked like she didn't really want to be up there. The Vienna Woods brought a charming Mearns and snappy JAngle.

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Off-topic, but oh no. . .are the brothers to become JAngle and TAngle?

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JAngle and TAngle, to be sure!

Using last names, there's the issue of which Angle. Using first names, which Tyler/Tiler? Ergo, solving 2 problems (or one and a half) at once.

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Off-topic, but oh no. . .are the brothers to become JAngle and TAngle?

Still better than the years of Froman, Ky and Froman, Ku.

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Not to leave out the Frame brothers, Pa and Pe.

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I'd love to have another dancing Angle brother, but hope one is not named Mark or Michael.

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I'd love to have another dancing Angle brother....

If that third were to appear we'd have a TriAngle.

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I saw Yuan Yuan and Sarah Van Patten do Dybbuk in San Francisco. Dybbuk was better in San Francisco, I think....

.... Unfortunately, a lot of the New York audience left after Dybbuk...

I'm glad the San Francisco Ballet (which I greatly admired last summer at Lincoln Center) outclasses NYCB in Dybbuk and, for that matter, ABT in Othello. The New York companies would do well to drop these ballets from their respective reps.

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I agree with everyone else, Devin Alberda's solo, wow. Was that choreographed on him? What a difference it makes when that's the case.

Yes, that solo was choreographed on him - originally for the SAB Workshop Performances in 2005.

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I'm glad the San Francisco Ballet (which I greatly admired last summer at Lincoln Center) outclasses NYCB in Dybbuk and, for that matter, ABT in Othello. The New York companies would do well to drop these ballets from their respective reps.

I liked Dybbuk when I saw it a few nights ago, so it's a work that I would like to see the company grow into. Why should a company drop a ballet from its rep simply because they don't do it was well as another company? I don't like Othello, and think it should be dropped, period, but that's besides the point. Should NYCB stop performing Sleeping Beauty and the Royal stop performing Balanchine?

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...

I liked Dybbuk when I saw it a few nights ago, so it's a work that I would like to see the company grow into. Why should a company drop a ballet from its rep simply because they don't do it was well as another company? I don't like Othello, and think it should be dropped, period, but that's besides the point. Should NYCB stop performing Sleeping Beauty and the Royal stop performing Balanchine?

Sorry for my faulty logic, I dislike Dybbuk. But more to the point, the ballet, combined with the company's commitment to block programming, is driving people away (commuter timing reasons, fatigue) and thereby preventing their viewing a very great masterpiece, Violin Concerto. And the same will occur next season, as VC again will follow D. If there must be block programming, the problem could be solved by placing Dybbuk last, but we know how rough it would be for the dancers to perform before a near-empty house. Or at least next season they could have had another ballet, perhaps by Mr. Martins, follow it.

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Friday, February 9

Great dancing is enough

Kyra II. Tiler Peck's first Carousel found her continuing her growth into a complete ballerina. By the time she'd completed her opening cirlce of the group, not smiling but in character, one suspected that this currently underrated ballet was going to be good even without the captivating Alexandra Ansanelli. Once among her friends of course she smiled, but why not? Especially with Damian Woetzel on the scene. At first it was, oh, nice to see him on stage... But once their first PdD began, they really seemed to matter to each other and I really think she began to inspire him. The intensity built, temperatures rose, till the very end, when she seemed to awaken from her fantasy reverie and saw that the object of her dream was actually right there. Stunned, she recoiled and made her quick exit. The second PdD was for real, and though the kiss that ended it also shocked her, it was more an electric shock, and this time it gave her something very different to contemplate. Splendid chemistry. Another step on her march toward Juliet?

A pause, then the Feld/Brahms Intermezzo #1. Pairings were Ringer/Askegard, the Fairchild siblings, and Hylton/T. Angle. The late pas by Ringer/Askegard, where she expresses distaste for the light shining in her eyes was most powerful, but this was after the flagging invention of the middle of the ballet.

Bouder Triumphant. America's Assoluta did not fall in her Slice to Sharp debut. I think that is a good thing, and don't agree with those who celebrate her falls (sure it shows she dances full out, but it hurts, I'm sure, and I don't want our national treasure injured). She was utterly spectacular. Her partner Joaquin De Luz also shown, both dancing for joy. Maria Kowroski supplied the beauty, and her touches of humor, while Edwaard Liang spun brilliantly and was masterful in delivering Elo's jokes. Tess Reichlen and Amar Ramasar danced with grand amplitude, so much of the company's future is theirs. Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall were moving in the central adagio. I cannot describe it, because when they are together memories of their adoration PdD in After the Rain, perhaps the finest PdD performance I've seen at NYCB in this century, just pours in and floods my perception. After its incredible debut, this ballet flagged last season. But much of that early excitement came back tonight. Four curtains.

Friandises was the closer, and began after 10. But people stayed. One Tiler Peck is not enough. When the dancers burst upon the scene there were Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar together. I hit upon a plan, meaning no offense to the other wonderful dancers. Whenever they were on I would watch them as if it were a PdD, except of course when Tiler was there too. It worked the first time: what dancing arms she has and what a noble partner he is. And they looked at each other. Later, right after Tiler's extraordinary multiple pirouettes, the music softens and Peter's beautiful adagio for a number of couples begins. With Sara and Amar entranced with each other, what a magical adagio. In the finale, the corpswomen's last pirouette, Sara floated one to reach the rafters. Daniel Ulbricht and Tiler Peck were sensational, the ballet worked (moreso than I can remember). Despite the hour, three curtains.

NYCB is loaded with great young dancers, Tiler is well on the way to something very special, Ashley is a goddess.

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Hmm, maybe I will see that program after all. Thanks drb!

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February 10, matinee

Angelic Sara, the Wilis, and what Maria can do

This afternoon's Serenade featured Wendy Whelan, Ashley Bouder, and the debut of Sara Mearns. Wendy, partnered by Charles Askegard, continues on her run of outstanding performances, right down to a flawless finish. Ashley is at home now, nothing close to a fall, nothing pushed, new life breathed into what was already perfect choreography. She seemed to radiate Act 2 Giselle, as she previously had in Aurora's Vision Scene and in Act 4 of Danish Lake. I don't imply she was trying to layer that ballet onto Serenade, just that she has brought that level of soul and wholeness to her part. Leading the sisterhood Pd5, she was all interior soul-searching calm, but as the music changed so did she, becoming one with her sister "wilis", a joyful return to others.

Called by many the Divine Sara, how appropriate that Ms. Mearns was the Angel. A very accomplished beginning, but then came the moment when she leads Stephen Hanna toward his mystic Orpheo encounter with Whelan. Here she was the guiding creature of light. I don't know how, or why, Mearns has these moments. She becomes a living mystical experience. And so, a Serenade full of Russian Soul, danced by an all-American team. Could even the Mariinsky approach this? Who knows, but yet another proof that for Mr. B.: mission accomplished.

After an hour and a half intermission (all due respect to the hard working dancers for most of that time), came Violin Concerto.

Aria 1: Maria Kowroski and Sebastien Marcovici. Maria is very well-suited to this dance, her flexible back bends would even make Vladimir Malakhov envious. Only that ultimate erotic intensity Sofiane Sylve brings to this part was not quite there. Has Maria perhaps lost too much weight?

Aria 2: Here and throughout the ballet Yvonne Borree looked calm and happy, and Nikolaj Hubbe continued his come-back season. Partnering was solid and steady, it was an aria that often sung. With a certain job available at his home company in Denmark, how much longer shall we see him?

Then, the company returned to the stage, and Maria too.

Maria was ecstatic, swimming in the music in that way that has marked her very best moments. Extensions fly to heaven. The profile, the eyes alight, beauty fills the hall, she makes us ask the question only Maria can prompt: Is Farrell back on this stage that she alone can ever own, her sovereign throne?

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After an hour and a half intermission (all due respect to the hard working dancers for most of that time), came Violin Concerto.

Did I miss something - was there a 90 minute intermission?

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After an hour and a half intermission (all due respect to the hard working dancers for most of that time), came Violin Concerto.

Did I miss something - was there a 90 minute intermission?

There was if you skipped Dybbuk :)

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. . . was there a 90 minute intermission?
There was if you skipped Dybbuk :mad:

. . . which, in my opinion, on this occasion, was a mistake. The ballet began to gel for me. And I while I may not go as far as Tobi Tobias that this is Jenifer Ringer's role of a lifetime, she made the story come to life with song. It was barely recognizable as the same Dybbuk I saw a few nights -- or many years -- ago. Ben Millepied still doesn't quite look like he knows what he's doing, and I'm wondering which of the younger men might someday (i.e., next year, after Millepied leaves) meet Ringer on her level.

If I were in charge, I probably would have cast Violin Cto with Kowroski in the Mazzo role, based on temperament. I liked her pdd in the vonAroldingen role very much, but in the group dances, she looks like she was coached by vonA and picked up her personal mannerisms. I'm hoping that as she settles into the role, she'll shed those quirky postures. The creeping backbends, however, never looked better.

While the two couples are supposed to contrast against each other, the height difference betweeen Maria and Yvonne was just too much. Even when they were in sync in the finale, it didn't look it. I also think Yvonne is too petite (or just dances too small?) for the Mazzo role. It didn't read very vividly in the back of the house. However, she and Hubbe have made a good partnership -- nice rapport between them.

The Serenade was the afternoon's highlight. Again, much of the credit goes to the corps. To succeed in Serenade, a dancer needs two things above all: musicality and sweep. Mearns' extravagant cambre was elegant, taking sweep to a new level. Whelan again -- as she did in Piano Concerto recently -- flubbed the hops on pointe, indicating them while not actually doing them. I don't know whether she underdanced the whole ballet, or whether she just -- inevitably -- faded beside the two younger women.

My major complaint with Serenade this season is not a new one, but one which has been years in the making. When I started attending NYCB regularly around 1972-3, the Angel was supported for her big arabesque promenade below the fat part of the calf. Over the years, the man's hand has gradually crept up the woman's leg. Stephen Hanna is turning the woman from just below her crotch. This is very, very safe, which is not the intent of the moment (as I have always read it) and uncomfortable to watch. But worse, it causes the skirt to bunch up in the dancer's thighs. The picture is ruined. This needs a lot of work. A lot of work. Please. :beg:

Well, I've reviewed the afternoon from the inside out and in reverse, but I must have left happy, because I realized when I stepped outside into the 24-degree (and heaven knows what wind-chill!) weather that I'd left my gloves behind. After a frantic and vain trip back to my seat, I hurried to the stage door, and there they were! All in all a good afternoon.

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I'd go even further than Carbro in how much I've enjoyed Dybbuk this week and how highly I think of this work.

It's a tough piece to be sure. Not pretty pretty. Tough for the audience, forceful and a bit difficult. Like there are pieces of sculpture that people don't want in their apartments, but that are very serious works nonetheless.

The evocation of an entire foreign magical folklore world and the sustaining of it throughout is a major achievement by Robbins. If Nijinska's and Robbins' respective Les Noces are worthy of respect and have integrity, this has as much or more in the case of Robbins' prior creation. You also have the strength and, again, integrity of Bernstein's score and what an advantage is that. Few contemporary or nearly contemporary ballets have the like. Then too Robbins' ease with handling narrative is very evident here; the blocking for the corps de ballet vis-a-vis the principal characters and events is masterful. While the expressive pas d'action have big force.

Funny that Tobias said that abut Ringer -- I thought the same thing or nearly. That it was the most intensely serious dramatic performance of her life and I think very highly of Millepied too, it was by far the most I've seen him immerse himself in a character, he was every bit as responsible for the success of this as her. Everyone involved has done themselves honor in this -- I actually thought it was Max Van Der Sterre turning those bent knee pirouettes as one of the messengers (though the program said otherwise, who knows?); Christian Tworszyanski showing compression and plasticity in the more prominent messenger role; the fine duet for Tyler Angle and Adam Henrickson;

And then that group of men -- giving a full sense from the outset that there is a community out there with it's own rules and being, coherant -- Sean Suozzi, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jonathan Stafford, Antonio Carmenta, etc. -- the individual variations were to die for, and the ensemble work full of drama and force, very masculine. The corps de ballet of women had a similar sense of solidarity -- Stephanie Zungre, Gina Pascoguin, Glen Keenan, Amanda Hankes and company.

It is a long time since I've seen such a committed and serious performance from this company. Perhaps I can't remember one in fact.

I wouldn't have missed this for the world; and I'm happy for once that there's something for everyone at that theater, me included. There's other stuff I might choose to skip, personally, but I wouldn't want to let this season pass without recording my great pleasure at the revival of this ballet.

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I liked Dybbuk when I saw it a few nights ago, so it's a work that I would like to see the company grow into. Why should a company drop a ballet from its rep simply because they don't do it was well as another company? I don't like Othello, and think it should be dropped, period, but that's besides the point. Should NYCB stop performing Sleeping Beauty and the Royal stop performing Balanchine?

I agree. San Francisco has only been dancing Dybbuk for two years and I think the second year was much better than the first. NYCB would do well to keep it in the Rep. I think there's a lot in the ballet and it takes some time to discover it all as a performer and as an audience. I'd love to see NYCB do it again next year.

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drb wrote, above:

Bouder Triumphant. America's Assoluta did not fall in her Slice to Sharp debut. I think that is a good thing, and don't agree with those who celebrate her falls....

****

But she fell in yesterday's (Sunday) 'Slice to Sharp.' A huge belly-flop. Everyone gasped. I was amazed to see her return to the group finale, a few minutes later.

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