Hallberg/Murphy at Nantucket Festival

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Good news re: David Hallberg, Gillian Murphy, Blaine Hoven, Cory Stearns and Maria Riccetto (and a number of NYCB dancers) performing at the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival this weekend:

Hallberg/Murphy dance "Other Dances" :flowers: -- I have never seen Hallberg perform this, so looking forward to this very much.

Riccetto/Stearns dance Romeo & Juliet PDD.

Riccetto/Hoven dance Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.

I just bought a ticket for the Saturday evening performance. There is also a performance (seems to be the same program) on Friday evening. Despite the name of the festival, the venue is the Nantucket High School auditorium.

There are no more prime orchestra tickets available. I bought a ticket in the very side of the orchestra, but reasonably close to the stage, at $60.

It may be difficult not to stay the night Saturday night if one wanted a direct flight back to NYC (e.g., Delta or JetBlue), even though the performance begins at 6:30 pm. Nantucket Visitors' Center may have updates on any B&B availabilities, but The Nantucket Inn & Conference Center (close to the airport (ACK) and requiring a short shuttle into town) has rooms available (not inexpensive, however).

Benjamin Millepied is the artistic director of this festival. There are lots of NYCB principals dancing.

I was alerted to this by Hallberg's recent tweet re Nantucket.

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2010 Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival

Saturday, July 31, 2010, 6:30 pm

Nantucket High School Auditoriumn

This event took place at a better venue than the high school auditorium venue name suggests, although the stage was small and the musical equipment used to broadcast music (when soloist instrument musicians were not accompanying) left a lot to be desired.

I have not before seen dancers from so close. The Met has the area where the orchestra is that separates the audience from the dancers. This auditorium did not. My seat in the row second closest to the stage, on the side, left me with a closer view than that I have experienced even in the first seat of the first Side Parterre box at the Met :)

(1) Other Dances (Chopin/Robbins/Cameron Grant playing piano): Hallberg/Murphy

This piece seemed longer, in a good way, than the 18 minutes it actually was. What a wonderful opportunity to see this, sitting so close up to the stage. The dancers have never looked to me to be so immediate or tall. They are in beautiful, ethereal-looking, light lilac costumes.

Hallberg came across as being "spiffier" and more animated than his usual dancing style might suggest. He made good use of clean, sharp actions with respect to moving his elbows and hands at indicated times in the mazurka pieces. Nice use of a little rock of the head at opportune times, to add accents to some of the dance movements. Hallberg seemed to be making playful eye contact with Murphy at other times. First solo by Hallberg involved a lot of leaps and jumps that were beautiful, and involved somewhat abrupt hand and elbow movements initially, some connoting a salute from a military officer to me. Murphy danced very well.

The program has a background piece on the festival, by Joseph Carman. The piece includes the following: "Other Dances, created in 1976 for Baryshnikov and the legendary Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova, has its roots in an earlier Robbins ballet to Chopin's piano music, 'Dances at a Gathering'. Using four mazurkas and one waltz by Chopin, Robbins created a wonderful pas se deux that is now coveted as a showpiece by international ballet stars. In the beginning of the duet, the steps take the form of a warm conversation between two people who seemingly know each other well. The choreography alludes to Slavic folk steps and unadorned gestures. Each dancer performs two solos. For the man, the first solo is explosive with breathtaking jumps; the second variation is more muted and introspective. The ballerina engages in one solo, where she darts like a bird, changing direction. For her second solo, she she dreamily and languorously stretches her lines into space as if to joyfully experience the full magnitude of her surroundings. During the energetic coda, they both jump flirtatiously to a lively mazurka."

(2) Tschaikovsky PDD (Balanchine: coached by Millepied): Hoven/Riccetto

I thought Hoven danced very well. His jumps were high and his lines strong and classical-looking. It didn't look like this was only his second time performing this piece. His partnering was good, except that he looked too deliberate (i.e., too much like he was making a strong effort) when he was spinning Riccetto by turning her waist. I thought Riccetto could have been a bit more fluid in her movements, but she danced well. The prior evening (Friday; not watched) had been Hoven's debut in this piece.

(3) Suite of Dances (Bach/Robbins/Ann Kim playing cello): Millepied dancing

Well, this was the first time I have seen Millepied dance live. It's a modern piece, with Millepied relaxed at times in the performance, and not so at other times, as is intended by the piece. Millepied was dressed in a loose cherry-tomato-red blouse, with red pants of a slightly more red-orange hue. He danced the piece appropriately, but I left with the impression that any number of danseurs could have danced similarly (not that that is necessarily a negative). This was not a short piece and I saw an interesting effect, being seated so close to the stage. On several occasions when Millepied was spinning in the second half of the piece, a large number of beads of sweat were flung from his face/back of his head at high velocity.

(4) Romeo and Juliet Balcony PDD (Prokofiev/K MacMillan): Riccetto and Stearns

Being seated towards the far right, I missed the initial parts of this PDD where Riccetto was apparently on a simple construct that mimicked a balcony. This was the first time I had seen Stearns as Romeo. His Romeo seems a bit immature, and he did not convey a deep love for Juliet through his dancing -- infatuation and youthful exploration, yes; a soulful and life-sustaining love, no. At a few points, I thought Stearns moved too quickly, thereby causing his Romeo to seem a bit rash and seem almost impulsive.

Maria's Juliet was reasonably well-executed overall from a technical standpoint. Her positions were nice-looking on the lifts. I thought her back could have been considerably better-arched at certain times (other than during the lifts, where it was fine). However, batting one's eyelids at Romeo and smiling touch only a part of the surface of what character development could occur in this scene. Maria does not communicate how Juliet is falling deeper and deeper for Romeo as they dance. Also, Maria needs to act more with her body as well as with her face.

(5) Polyphonia (Ligeti/Wheeldon/Cameron Grant on piano): Whelan (NYCB principal), T Angle (P), J Somogyi (P), G Garcia (P), T Reichlen (P), A Danchig-Waring (soloist), Amanda Hankes (corps, replacing K Morgan, who is ill), C Forrest Hall (soloist).

I find this piece difficult to understand, and was disappointed by T Reichlen's performance, among others. I am going to leave it at that, because I have not tried to understand NYCB dancing and have extremely limited experience with watching it. I will invoke the politic approach that, if one doesn't have anything nice to say, it may be better not to say anything.

Overall, I enjoyed the Hallberg/Murphy and Hoven/Riccetto parts of the performance very much.

Stayed at the Jared Coffin house, right in the middle of Nantucket town. Ate at Cy's Lobster (an informal restaurant where a properly cooked Nantucket 1.5 lb lobster was $25), The Galley (where a slightly overcooked, 2 lb Nantucket lobster deshelled, prepared in a truffle butter poaching with hon shemeji mushrooms and English peas, was $59), and Black-Eyed Susan's (breakfast of egg scramble with Thai curry, broccoli and cilantro). The restaurants I visited would not confer an independent reason to go to Nantucket. Ice cream flavored with native island blackberries from the Juice Bar was good. Overall, Nantucket is such a sweet, relaxed place.

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Thanks for that post, Ambonnay! It sounds like an interesting program -- and it does make a difference what one sees when sitting close!

Did anyone else get to this event?

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Thanks for your review, Ambonnay.

I find [Polyphonia] difficult to understand, and was disappointed by T Reichlen's performance, among others. I am going to leave it at that, because I have not tried to understand NYCB dancing and have extremely limited experience with watching it. I will invoke the politic approach that, if one doesn't have anything nice to say, it may be better not to say anything.
Not to worry. As someone whose first exposures to ballet were through NYCB, that company (particularly the Balanchine rep) remains my touchstone. I don't think you can extrapolate a company's whole aesthetic on the basis of a single ballet. (I think City Ballet does a lot of work that you'd enjoy. I hope you'll make an effort to learn more about them. If you'd like some advice, please feel free to PM me.) I find most of Wheeldon's work unworthy of the hype accorded to him, and while Polyphonia seems to be one of his most popular ballets, the reason for its popularity eludes me, too. :dunno:

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Thanks for the detailed review. Was this David and Gillian's debut in OD? I don't remember ever seeing them in these roles.

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bingham -- No, according to my online research. I don't have direct information, but I believe Hallberg/Murphy were in "Other Dances" together in 2009 and possibly during the China tour.

(I think City Ballet does a lot of work that you'd enjoy. I hope you'll make an effort to learn more about them. If you'd like some advice, please feel free to PM me.)

carbo -- I'm making one attempt during the upcoming NYCB seasons, involving the A Ratmansky choreographed piece from last NYCB season. We'll see. I'm also considering seeing a performance of the Seven Deadly Sins, in part because I'd be interested in seeing the dance depiction of/singing with respect to gluttony.

As an aside, the celloist for B Millepied's piece, A Kim, seemed to be (I think) the celloist performing as part of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center recently when Gil Shaham was the violin soloist. The orchestra members, and Shaham, were in all white jackets or white tops.

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