Jump to content


Balanchine and Robbins weeks


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 DeborahB

DeborahB

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts

Posted 19 February 2010 - 08:19 AM

I'm a bit surprised that no one has posted anything this week. I was there last night and loved Sara Mearns in her "Dances at a Gathering"
debut. In fact, the entire ballet was performed especially well. Jonathan Stafford's spectacular catches in some of the fish dives -- especially the final catch of Megan Fairchild -- elicited gasp from the audiences. Maria Kowroski was especially endearing as the woman in green; Gonzalo Garcia (in brown) and Jared Angle (in purple) were strong, elegant and yet playful (perfect), and the rest of the cast (M. Fairchild, Jenifer Ringer, Abi Stafford, Antonia Carmena and Amar Ramasar) were just splendid.

I haven't seen this much energy in "West Side Story Suite" in years. At one point it looked and sounded like one of the dancers (in the rumble scene) was about to fall off the stage. Andrew Veyette (Riff), Benjamin Millepied (Tony), Georgina Pazcoguin (Anita) reprised their roles
with extra zest. They were terrific. But a special shout out must go to Amar Ramasar. I have made no secret that Jock Soto was my favorite male dancer in the last 20 years, and he WAS Bernardo. Well, not anymore! Ramasar threw himself (literally too) into this role in a way that he hadn't
quite achieved in the past. He was totally invested in the role (talk about acting chops!). His dancing in the gym was brilliant -- quick and polished with a combination of joy and menace. And did I mention handsome and sexy too? You can see why Anita wanted this guy.

In her debut as Maria, Kathryn Morgan was innocent, beautiful and perfectly cast. Finally, special kudos to Gretchen Smith as Rosalia.
Her duet with Gina or Jeni Ringer in "America" is always a highlight. Gretchen really can sing, and she does a fine job in that charming role.

#2 Juliane

Juliane

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 19 February 2010 - 11:04 AM

Thank you! I too have been waiting to hear about the Balanchine and Robbins programs this week and I'm suprised that no one has posted anything!

#3 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,275 posts

Posted 25 February 2010 - 06:13 AM

A few comments on the All Robbins programs I saw last week and last night. I thought Tiler Peck was fantastic in DAAG in the "pink role". She is musical, and she is probably at the peak of her technical abilities. Tyler Angle was wonderful in the purple role. I preferred Sterling Hyltin's "yellow" performance over Megan Fairchild's. Hyltin made the choreography look spontaneous. Mauve, danced by Mearns, has not been danced this well since Helene Alexopolous left the company some 10 years ago. Chrisitian T. danced "blue". Unfortunately, in the big moment when the girl in yellow is thrown to him, he awkwardly caught Hyltin, sending gasps throughout the audience for all the wrong reasons. I know DeLuz has danced the "brown" role before, but I think he has improved a lot in the role, He has added a lot of small gestures to the quieter moments which add poignancy. Of course, he thrilled in his big solo and the audience applauded heartily. I didn't really care for G. Garcia in the brown role last week. There is no nuance to his performance, in my opinion. I caught West Side Story last week. Gina P. is tearing up the stage as Anita. She has improved tremendously in this role since she first took it on about 2 yrs ago. She is thrilling. Onwards to Jewels.

#4 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 984 posts

Posted 26 February 2010 - 05:51 AM

I always look forward to seeing Jewels, so last night's performance was strange for me. There were great performances by several dancers - Whelan & Neal were wonderful in Diamonds, De Luz was pitch perfect in Rubies and his arial work was gasp inducing, Reichlin reprised her world class "tall girl" and Mearns was indescribably luscious in Emeralds - yet for me the ballet as a whole just didn't come together. Perhaps this is a case of another infamous NYCB first performance/last dress rehearsal? I had actually planned to skip the opening show but added it when I realized it was the only night that Reichlin was dancing.

#5 Jayne

Jayne

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 864 posts

Posted 26 February 2010 - 09:09 PM

NYT Reviewer is not much of a fan of Whelan's Diamonds performance
http://www.nytimes.c...e/27jewels.html

Is he just harder on NYCB than other companies? Does he have a point? I've seen several interviews with dancers who have left NYCB for other companies mention the lack of adequate rehearsal time...just a thought.

#6 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 984 posts

Posted 27 February 2010 - 06:44 PM

Macaulay has his favorites (like Hallberg & Bouder) who can do no wrong and then there are the dancers who can do no right in his eyes. Wendy falls into the later category. I can see his point about her lack of classical line - it annoyed me to no end in her Swan Lake. But she doesn't dance for a "classical" company, its just not her style and that doesn't bother me in most of her rep. I think it's a shame he can't get over that point and appreciate her for the great artist she is. She always draws me deeply into the music and watching her dance is like evesdropping on a private reverie.

On the other hand, I did feel that the opening night Jewels was somewhat disjointed. Not bad, just not great despite some great individual performances. And my problem with several of their dancers is that they just don't bring much beyond the steps, and the steps are just the beginning. So it pains me to admit that I agree with part of Macaulay's analysis.

I'm happy to report that the performances improved after the first night. Abi Stafford looked as good as I've ever seen her in the Verdy role in Emeralds & she relaxed into it more with each performance. The overwhelming standouts for me were Janie Taylor in Rubies (Fri eve) and Sara Mearns in Diamonds at the Saturday matinee. Janie was unbelievable in Rubies, yet just what you'd expect from her. She really pushed it to the edge. She was a fiery, mischievous, sexy presence - just a ball of energy that exploded at all the right moments. Mearns' Diamonds has been beautiful from her first time out. She has such strong, sure technique coupled with that expansive, expressive upper body. She was breathtaking. So was Kowroski on Friday night, she just has a bit too much Odette in her Diamonds for my taste. But that's nitpicking, I actually think all 3 of NYCB's current Diamonds ballerinas are wonderful, each in their own way.

#7 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,275 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 07:44 AM

I saw 3 of the Jewels performances. Sara Mearns was incredible in Diamonds and also in Emeralds. Hyltin made a good debut in Rubies, but my favorite in this role is still Bouder. Unfortunately, I missed Janie Taylor's performances in Rubies. Ellen Bar had a lot of sex appeal in the "Tall Girl" role in Rubies, but she lacked the explosive technique needed for the role, in my opinion. Abi Stafford has improved a great deal in Emeralds since she initially assumed the role some 2 years ago. By the way, there is an article in today's NY Times singing the praises of various NYCB dancers, but most especially Sara Mearns.

#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,310 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 08:55 AM

By the way, there is an article in today's NY Times singing the praises of various NYCB dancers, but most especially Sara Mearns.

Indeed. It makes me wish I could have been there, despite the snow:

Then Ms. Mearns appeared in “Diamonds,” arching her wonderful back to catch individual moments within musical phrases, bringing to each section of the role a bold and different hue, eating up space with easy courage and finally flinging herself into the finale to lead the company with gleeful love of dance itself. Rightly, she won an ovation.

... the company’s most remarkable dancer; I’m inclined to think she is now also New York’s finest ballerina, even America’s

About the company as a whole -- including Macaulay's recent suggestion that they could take lessons on dancing Jewels from Boston and San Francisco -- what do you in New York think? It seems to me, going back to the old days, that NYCB was always prone to inconsistencies from night to night, and even within a single ballet. The "great days" of the company weren't "great" because everyone was great all the time. One learned to ignore inconsistencies because the rewards -- some great dancers, some truly stupendous performances where it all came together -- were always to be found.

Is it possible that the situation Macaulay laments is a reflection of everyone's enormous work load, as compared with companies with a different system? Isn't it inevitable that there will be some unevenness in a succession of Jewels performances? Or is the problem greater than that?

#9 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,275 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 09:35 AM

Unfortunately, I haven't seen the entire Jewels performed by another company recently. I recall seeing the Kirov perform it at the MET about 7 years ago (at least). However, that is too long ago for me to make a comparison. More recently, the Kirov performed Rubies at City Center. I was not impressed by their leading dancers in Rubies. The lead woman in each performance was Novikova, who was much too polite and not nearly energetic or angular enough. The leading males from the Kirov (can't recall who they were) also paled in comparison to NYCB. The only dancer from the Kirov who was memorable in Rubies was Kondourova (Big Red on this Board), who was a fantastic "Tall Girl." More recently, the opening night of NYCB in Nov 2009 featured dancers from Paris Opera doing the pdd from Rubies. They were not very good, to put it mildly.

#10 Kathleen O'Connell

Kathleen O'Connell

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 679 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 09:37 AM

About the company as a whole -- including Macaulay's recent suggestion that they could take lessons on dancing Jewels from Boston and San Francisco -- what do you in New York think? It seems to me, going back to the old days, that NYCB was always prone to inconsistencies from night to night, and even within a single ballet. The "great days" of the company weren't "great" because everyone was great all the time. One learned to ignore inconsistencies because the rewards -- some great dancers, some truly stupendous performances where it all came together -- were always to be found.

Is it possible that this is a reflection of everyone's enormous work load, as compared with companies with a different system? Isn't it inevitable that there will be unevenness in a succession of Jewels performances?


Ah, remember when Balanchine insisted on casting Merrill Ashley and Karin von Aroldingen in "Emeralds" season after season - now those were the good old days of Jewels-kvetching ... :excl:

I know that I edit my own memories of NYCB performances past into a personal highlights reel that omits the less-than-awesome moments -- and I suspect I'm not the only person who does so. I've probably cobbled a dozen performances of "Jewels" together into a Platonic ideal that no single performance could ever live up to. (The fact that I don't really like "Jewels" all that much doesn't help, of course.)

#11 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 984 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 01:34 PM

About the company as a whole -- including Macaulay's recent suggestion that they could take lessons on dancing Jewels from Boston and San Francisco -- what do you in New York think? It seems to me, going back to the old days, that NYCB was always prone to inconsistencies from night to night, and even within a single ballet. The "great days" of the company weren't "great" because everyone was great all the time. One learned to ignore inconsistencies because the rewards -- some great dancers, some truly stupendous performances where it all came together -- were always to be found.

Is it possible that this is a reflection of everyone's enormous work load, as compared with companies with a different system? Isn't it inevitable that there will be unevenness in a succession of Jewels performances?


Ah, remember when Balanchine insisted on casting Merrill Ashley and Karin von Aroldingen in "Emeralds" season after season - now those were the good old days of Jewels-kvetching ... :excl:

I know that I edit my own memories of NYCB performances past into a personal highlights reel that omits the less-than-awesome moments -- and I suspect I'm not the only person who does so. I've probably cobbled a dozen performances of "Jewels" together into a Platonic ideal that no single performance could ever live up to. (The fact that I don't really like "Jewels" all that much doesn't help, of course.)




Ahh, Bart and Kathleen - I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers the inconsistencies of NYCB's "glory days". I didn't see them in the 50's and I was too young to remember much from the early 60's but I remember the mid 60's to mid 70's very well and my recollection is that there were glorious, life changing performances and then there were other performances when I was bored to tears. And yes, sometimes in the same ballet.

I do think that with today's NYCB some of the Balanchine looks under rehearsed and that's a situation that I'd like to see remedied, but who knows if it's possible with their schedule. I also agree that there are many dancers who simply give small, unimaginative performances but that was the case even in Balanchine's day. Today's company is neater and sometimes that results in a loss of energy and daring, but not all the time. Dancers like Mearns, Kowroski, Bouder, Whelan and now Morgan are right up there with the best I remember of NYCB and there are several other dancers at all levels who flirt with greatness but are still a bit inconsistent (I include Reichlin in this category - I love her but she seems to be struggling just a tiny bit in the transition from soloist to principal the past season or two). Where I see big problems is with NYCB's male dancers. Since Soto, Boal & Woetzel retired the quality of their male dancers had declined precipitously. There are some men who are fine partners, but very few who are real standouts on their own.

Regarding comparisons to other companies, I haven't seen any other company do the complete Jewels live but I've seen the POB DVD (which I hated) and a bootleg of the Kirov from 1999 that I loved. The Kirov's performance was amazing. I couldn't identify the men in the first 2 sections but they had Ayupova & Part in Emeralds, Vishneva in Rubies and Lopatkina & Zelensky in Diamonds. It was just gorgeous however I agree with abatt that the Rubies we saw at City Center last year was not great, the whole cast was much too polite.

And while I haven't seen them in Jewels, I've seen the Boston Ballet, PA Ballet, SFB and MCB in Balanchine. I wasn't impressed with anything I saw from Boston or PA. SFB and MCB were both unbelievably great in 4Ts and MCB did the best Square Dance I've ever seen (with J. Delgado) but both companies disappointed me with several other Balanchine pieces (examples - from SFB the dryest, most academic Divertimento I've ever seen, from MCB very correct, earnest renditions of Western Symphony and La Source and a La Valse that looked good until I saw NYCB's the very next season. Also was unimpressed with their Rubies). So for me, today's NYCB is preferable for to any other Balanchine based company, despite their inconsistencies.

#12 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,310 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 01:57 PM

I know that I edit my own memories of NYCB performances past into a personal highlights reel that omits the less-than-awesome moments -- and I suspect I'm not the only person who does so. I've probably cobbled a dozen performances of "Jewels" together into a Platonic ideal that no single performance could ever live up to.

I think this is a very important point. It's almost impossible to "see" the real performance objectively. Everything is changed by context. We bring history (and expectations) to what we see on stage, and sometimes our expectations are so highly detailed and elevated that disappointment seems inevitable, especially for those who are truly knowledgeable and really CARE about things being as close to perfection as possible.

So for me, today's NYCB is preferable for to any other Balanchine based company, despite their inconsistencies.

I'm glad you say this, Susan. It means something coming from someone who actually has had the chance to observe so many other companies in the Balanchine rep.

NYCB should be the best, on the whole. It has geometrically larger resources and expectations. Sometimes I think that current critics of the company should think about what they are REALLY comparing it to. The best performance ever done in St. Petersburg? Idealized memories of dancers of the past? A one-shot experience of happening to catch Miami or another company at their best?

NYCB has to do this night after night after night, in a huge theater, in front of an audience that includes tourists and socialites as well as some of the most knowledgeable ballet viewers in the world. I don't envy them this challenge. Bravo for truly brilliant performers like Mearns. But bravo also for those dancers who have occasional flashes of brilliance but are, on the whole, merely very, very good ... not all the time, but more often than seems humanly possible.

#13 melange

melange

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 32 posts

Posted 01 March 2010 - 02:05 PM

More recently, the opening night of NYCB in Nov 2009 featured dancers from Paris Opera doing the pdd from Rubies. They were not very good, to put it mildly.

Maybe I'm just used to NYCB's way of dancing Rubies, but I thought this work quite a peculiar choice for the two visiting dancers, as it would seem antithetical to the Paris Opera Ballet style. Still, I preferred it to the horror that followed it...

#14 Sonora

Sonora

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 110 posts

Posted 03 March 2010 - 07:46 PM

More recently, the opening night of NYCB in Nov 2009 featured dancers from Paris Opera doing the pdd from Rubies. They were not very good, to put it mildly.

Maybe I'm just used to NYCB's way of dancing Rubies, but I thought this work quite a peculiar choice for the two visiting dancers, as it would seem antithetical to the Paris Opera Ballet style. Still, I preferred it to the horror that followed it...



I can't help asking, what was the horror that followed?

#15 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:02 PM

Peter Martins' "Naive and Sentimental Music," one of the biggest train wrecks ever on the stage of the New York State/David H. Koch Theater.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):