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Opening Night Fall 2010


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#1 abatt

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 09:14 AM

Last night's performance was packed. It looks like lowering the prices is the way to fill every seat in the house. Peter Martins gave a curtain speech about how his dream of presenting a fall season has finally come true. He noted that it was due to a number of factors, including City Opera. He stopped short of saying how or why City Opera made this possible, but I'm sure everyone in the audience was well aware of City Opera's perilous financial condition. He thanked all of his principal dancers, and brought them all before the curtain for a bow. The only principal who was not in attendance was Millipied who is "somewhere in France", according to Martins. There is a new photo exhibit featuring photos of the principals on the walls at the Promenade level.

I thought Janie Taylor was sublime, intensely romantic and dramatic as the Waltz Girl in Serenade. I'm guessing her future performances of the role will be even better. It was good to see Askegard back, and he did an excellent job. He was a wonderful partner for Janie. Sara Mearns was gorgeous as the Dark Angel, with extreme arching of her back that heightened the drama. I only wish that Ask LaCour could manage to rotate the Dark Angel's leg in a less obvious fashion, so that her long skirt doesn't become all tangled. I was disappointed with Megan Fairchild as the Russian Girl. Her jumps were small and underpowered. Even in the easy sections, like skipping, she sometimes did not complete her phrasing.

Grazioso was a tour de force for Bouder, Veyette, Garcia and Ulbricht. There are many difficult technical demands in this ballet, and Ulbricht in particular wowed the crowd with effortless, gravity-defying jumps.

Last but not least was the Four Seasons. Pereira was adorable in the Winter section. Ringer and J. Angle were wonderful in spring. Ramasar and Krhon have improved in Summer since I last saw them. Krohn, in particular, has added new dimensions of sultry sexiness to her role. Tiler Peck and DeLuz danced with brilliant abandon in Fall. Carmena was good as the puckish faun, but he lacks the technical facility of other recent interpreters of the role at NYCB.

It was an excellent start to the season.

#2 vipa

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 07:48 PM

I went this evening and had a great time. I thought the curtain speech by Tyler Angle quite charming. I like this gimmick.

I had never seen Danses Concertantes before and found it very entertaining. I'd like to see it again. Megan Fairchild was spot on technically and delightful in every way. Veyette was excellent too (Angle mentioned in his curtain speech that Fairchild & Veyette are now engaged to be married). Corps member Lauren King was a stand out for her radiant presence and clarity of movement.

I love Maria Kowroski in Monumentum & Movements, and I love the ballets more each time I see them. An artist friend who had never seen the pieces before strongly associated Movements with Matisse. Maria K. for me has the right balance of depth, humor and beauty for the works.

Who Cares was a total pleasure. Tiler Peck & Amar Ramasar were sublime in "The Man I Love" pas. The connection between them, lifts, moments of suspension added up to a totally fulfilling audience experience. Peck was also wonderful in the "Facinatin' Rhythm" solo. She didn't have the same abandon that Patty McBride had, but she made it her own and was great. Hyltin was very expansive in "Stairway to Paradise" and it worked well. Her pas "Who Cares" also was nice. Scheller's "Embraceable You" pas seemed a little cautious, but was good (I love that pas). Her solo was not quite there for me. The "My One & Only" solo is for a turner, and Scheller is, sort of. She turns really well and did it, but didn't sail through it. For me Scheller is a fine, fine technician who is a nice performer and delivers the goods but she never has the "go for broke" quality. Ramasar was a great partner in each pas. I love his movement quality. There are dancers who can maybe turn more or who have cleaner double tours, but his movement quality and charm sell me. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't fall short technically, it's just that I know other dancers can do more dazzling technical things, but I don't care.

One last comment, Savannah Lowery was a stand out in "Who Cares." I love the way she devours space. She was a joy in the piece.

I think this fall season is great. I might quibble with the rep or casting but I love that NYCB is there.

One last thought - this program reminded me of the genius of Balanchine! What a great thing.

#3 bart

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 03:38 AM

Macaulay's NY Times review begins with the pre-performance appearance of all the principals.

On Tuesday [Martins]brought all the principal dancers onstage before the performance began, and toasted them. It was strange to see those dancers lined up before the curtain: some in elegant street clothes, others in rehearsal dress, one outfitted for the next ballet, and two combining full costume with extra layers to keep warm. This is all part of the new trend in ballet: demystification. If this helps the audience — and if it helps the dancers — I welcome it. But will we lose that glorious old feeling when the first stroke of the conductor's baton said "Enter a different world"? When curtain-up meant magic? It's too early to say. Still, this is climate change.

That last bit raises a good question. Those of you who were there on opening night -- what are your thoughts about this?

Did it work in the sense of benefiting and enhancing the actual dancing?

#4 kfw

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:06 AM

That last bit raises a good question. Those of you who were there on opening night -- what are your thoughts about this?

Did it work in the sense of benefiting and enhancing the actual dancing?

It's interesting that Macaulay is raising the same issue -- demystification -- we've discussed here in regards to Twitter and the latest NYCB ads and brochure.

#5 abatt

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:10 AM

I didn't think that introducing the dancers in their street clothes prior to curtain had a negative impact, or demystified the performance. However, I think that curtain speeches by the dancers every night this week is overkill.

#6 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:47 AM

Macaulay's NY Times review begins with the pre-performance appearance of all the principals.

On Tuesday [Martins]brought all the principal dancers onstage before the performance began, and toasted them. It was strange to see those dancers lined up before the curtain: some in elegant street clothes, others in rehearsal dress, one outfitted for the next ballet, and two combining full costume with extra layers to keep warm. This is all part of the new trend in ballet: demystification. If this helps the audience — and if it helps the dancers — I welcome it. But will we lose that glorious old feeling when the first stroke of the conductor's baton said "Enter a different world"? When curtain-up meant magic? It's too early to say. Still, this is climate change.

That last bit raises a good question. Those of you who were there on opening night -- what are your thoughts about this?

Did it work in the sense of benefiting and enhancing the actual dancing?


I understand Macauley's concern, but is ballet really such a hothouse flower of an art that its tender blossoms will wilt at the mere sight of a ballerina in street clothes? I think 2500+ years of theatrical history have pretty much demonstrated that the magic of the stage is nearly impervious to every kind of assault. If two guys with a blanket on a stick and a couple of papier-mâché puppets can enchant a crowd on a busy street corner I suspect that "Ballet's Magic Kingdom"* (and isn't that "Serenade" in a nutshell?) can survive even inept marketing ploys.

I wasn't there on Tuesday, Bart, so I can't answer your questions directy, but I've been put off by many attempts to make ballet more "relevant" or "accessible" or "sexy" or whatever – but mostly because they've been ham-handed and clumsy. Nothing makes you less hip than trying too hard. And, worst of all, some of this stuff—the pre-curtain chats, the little film clips a la Wheeldon—are epic fails as theater. I sat through NYCB's Calatrava featurette at least six times. Hello??? You spent how many gazillions of dollars to lure me in to see seven world premieres and you're going to make me sit through the same hum-drum film clip every single time as if you thought I was really only going to show up for one new ballet? If I had had to endure Morphoses' "My Excellent Vinyard Vacation" home movie one more time I was going to run screaming from the theater. But the minute the curtain went up, all was forgotten -- even the stuff I didn't like still worked its magic. The world on the stage may not have been one I particularly liked, but it was a different world than the one I live in day in and day out.


* Ballet's Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925

Akim Volynsky (Author), Prof. Stanley J. Rabinowitz (Editor)

#7 vipa

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:24 PM

I wasn't there on Tuesday, Bart, so I can't answer your questions directy, but I've been put off by many attempts to make ballet more "relevant" or "accessible" or "sexy" or whatever – but mostly because they've been ham-handed and clumsy. Nothing makes you less hip than trying too hard. And, worst of all, some of this stuff—the pre-curtain chats, the little film clips a la Wheeldon—are epic fails as theater. I sat through NYCB's Calatrava featurette at least six times. Hello??? You spent how many gazillions of dollars to lure me in to see seven world premieres and you're going to make me sit through the same hum-drum film clip every single time as if you thought I was really only going to show up for one new ballet? If I had had to endure Morphoses' "My Excellent Vinyard Vacation" home movie one more time I was going to run screaming from the theater. But the minute the curtain went up, all was forgotten -- even the stuff I didn't like still worked its magic. The world on the stage may not have been one I particularly liked, but it was a different world than the one I live in day in and day out.
* Ballet's Magic Kingdom: Selected Writings on Dance in Russia, 1911-1925

Akim Volynsky (Author), Prof. Stanley J. Rabinowitz (Editor)


I wasn't there Tuesday, but was on Wednesday. Tyler Angle gave the curtain speech. It was not a big deal at all, so I don't want to over analyze it. It was a charming couple of minutes of introduction to the evening, nothing more nothing less. I liked it, but I can't imagine that it would either draw or repel audiences.

I was thinking of the Dennis Wayne company of many years ago, I think it was called "Dancers". My husband was a member. Each company member (a small co.) had to step forward and give a brief, cute bio of him/herself. The challenge was international touring. Most dancers had to do it phonetically! Anyway, that was annoying. The NYCB intro IMO was at best a short treat and at worst innocuous.

I think I should get a prize for off topic connections!!

#8 Eileen

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:44 PM

I was in the first row of the Second Tier on opening night. Before the performance, Peter Martins announced he was bringing all of the principals out, one by one, to show them appreciation. He said, "Don't lets make this a popularity contest." Meaning please give equal applause to each. Each dancer stepped out in front of the curtain, one in overalls, some in street clothes, some in their costume for Serenade - light blue gauzy dress - but with a sweater or jacket on top, one with a muffler around her neck. They all stood in a row at the end and we applauded. It was a lovely moment.

The ballets, Serenade, Grazioso, and Four Seasons - I will take them in turn. It was my feeling that Janie Taylor, who is looking emaciated, was too dark in tone. Her gaunt face and expressionless eyes were difficult to watch. Sara Mearns was simply superb, perfect in every way. She also looks a healthy weight, which helps give her dancing strength. Megan Fairchild made less of an impression - I think she is more of a soubrette type than a Serenade type. The corps was perfect - for the first time, sitting in Second Tier, I could actually see the patterning of the choreography. I saw the two diamonds of corps dancers in the opening, you could discern what was going on - from the orchestra, it is a confusing mass of movement. Though it is wonderful to see the dancers from close up, too.

In Grazioso, one of my favorites, Ashley Bouder, was sparkling and totally dependable in her quickness of execution. Her three cavaliers took turns wowing the audience with pyrotechnics. Andrew Veyette is fabulous, but I have to say Daniel Ullbricht, hanging in the air an improbably long moment, made the audience gasp. Grazioso has the sort of music that reminds me of Nino Rota's The Leopard (Il Gattopardo). It's actually twinkling Glinka! This ballet was completely new for me, always a thrill to see something new. This is excellent work by Peter Martins.

Wonderfully, I had never see The Four Seasons either! The ballet arrived as a complete surprise, in its format and its theme, though I should have known the seasons would be depicted. Needless to say, I loved it. I will leave the technical descriptions to professional critics, but the corps dancers lent every section zest and zing. I adored the cuteness of Winter, with the corps girls shivering in white, and the soloists with icicles falling from their sleeves. Christian Tworzyanski is extremely dependable as a dancer and partner, I have been noticing him advancing in the past several years. Sean Suozzi is a standout always. Erica Pereira was, to me, perfect. In Spring, my absolute favorite principal lady, Jenifer Ringer. And she is a lady, always. Her technique is strong though not showy. Her tone is gentle, her beauty as she dances ethereal. Summer was hot! Wow! And in Fall, Tiler Peck was more refined than usual - she has a hoydenish aspect frequently, and here it was gratefully absent.

Did I write enough? I think I have. I'd like to hear from anyone who also attended.

#9 Eileen

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:22 PM

I should have posted this in the First Week Reviews section!

From Bart: Eileen, not to worry. I merged your posts into this pre-existing thread.

#10 Eileen

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:29 PM

On the issue of introducing the dancers before the performance: I thought it was a treat to see them as themselves in all sorts of get-ups, including costume. The appreciation idea was thoughtful. Peter Martins spoke well, and the intermission champagne was bounteous. I don't mind the "demystification". I think we can meet the dancers as "Ashley" or "Wendi" and then be transported into Ballet World as the curtain rises.

#11 canbelto

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 04:28 PM

I went to this afternoon's performance. What a great triple bill! Serenade, Interplay, and Who Cares? All masterpieces, and this time, all well-cast. No more Yvonne Borrees or Darci Kistler's. Some standout performances: Sara Mearns and Janie Taylor in Serenade, Daniel Ulbricht in Interplay, Tiler Peck in Who Cares? Sara Mearns has such a unique way of moving -- she often seems like she's dancing in another company. She favors slow and expansive movements, rather than the lightning-quick style of the rest of the company. Lovely. Tiler Peck danced the Patty McBride part in Who Cares, and was mesmerizing. Earned a well-deserved ovation.

The corps de ballet looks in great shape. Sharp, uniform, and these are obviously ballets they know like the back of their hands. I often feel during the winter and spring season that there are so many World Premieres and such a relentless schedule that the corps looks ragged and tired by the end of the season. So I'm really liking the idea of this short "just the basics" fall season.

#12 Drew

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:30 PM

On the mystique front: tonight (Saturday) Ashely Bouder gave the pre-curtain speech and alluded to the criticisms: I have forgotten her exact words but she more or less assured the audience that she will continue to have surprises in store for us once the curtain goes up on her dancing.

Both Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the pre-curtain events involved audience participation: Friday Peter Martins led the audience in rhythmic clapping to music from Namouna--from the passage where the dancers themselves play cymbals if I'm remembering correctly--and at today's matinee Daniel Ulbricht taught everyone the opening gesture of Serenade and some 'jazz' movement from Interplay. As far as I could tell, the vast majority of the audience participated.

I have no idea and even no opinion on whether or not this will 'work' as a way to build audiences, but I certainly cannot blame the company for trying and don't see the harm -- though I was myself far too self-conscious to join young and old as they gestured out the opening of Serenade. Interplay I don't much like anyway...

(For me, as a non-New-York who hardly ever gets to see NYCB, the repertory this weekend was irresistable -- major Balanchine, some of which, such as Who Cares, I have not seen in decades, plus the new Ratmansky, so I have been making it a weekend in NY; no disasters intervening, I return home late Sunday night and will arrive at work very unprepared on Monday morning.)

#13 balanchinette

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:54 PM

Both Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the pre-curtain events involved audience participation: Friday Peter Martins led the audience in rhythmic clapping to music from Namouna--from the passage where the dancers themselves play cymbals if I'm remembering correctly--and at today's matinee Daniel Ulbricht taught everyone the opening gesture of Serenade and some 'jazz' movement from Interplay. As far as I could tell, the vast majority of the audience participated.


I was there on Sat afternoon. I very much disliked the audience participation gag. With Serenade, Danny Ulbricht "counted" the audience through -- 8 beats from when the upraised hand meets forehead. Even though I didn't participate, I couldn't erase that from my mind when the actual ballet began. With the result that, when the actual company was performing the same part, I unwillingly found myself counting 8 beats. Ugh. This really lessened my enjoyment of the ballet. I don't need to know that it's 8 beats for that wonderful gesture. I used to enjoy it as a magical fluid moment, and now I will struggle to not count the 8 beats it takes. I, for one, really don't like this "demystification" of ballet. We're there to watch and enjoy our own reactions, not to be coached through the ballet. And what is with the announced intention to start Tues and Weds performances a half hour earlier (so they will start at 7) and to cut the intermissions from two to one? If NYCB wants to alienate young professionals, this is a surefire way to do it. It's impossible for young profs to get out of work early enough to catch a 7pm performance at Lincoln Center on a weekday. As for the new photos, sure, they're nice and all, but nothing about them tells me that these are pictures of ballet dancers -- it looks like a slightly better version of a hip clothing catalog. :(

As for the performances today, I thought Janie Taylor miscast (even though I'm a big fan of hers generally). And Megan Fairchild danced very "small". I remember when Ashley Bouder used to do Russian girl -- that was amazing! I would love to see Jennifer Ringer as Waltz girl again this season. And Amar Ramasar in Who Cares is not nearly as charismatic as Robert Fairchild, although much improved from last season. Interplay was the best performed ballet (even though it was my least favorite in terms of choreography among the three masterpieces Sat afternoon.)

#14 bobbi

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 05:21 AM

I too was at yesterday's matinee performance and -- with a few quibbles -- thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Ramdon thoughts:

Best hair award goes to Janie Taylor.

I too wished I didn't know about the 8-count opening.

Special kudos to the male corps in Who Cares. As one who has watched this ballet from its premiere, it's so nice not to have a "white knuckle" experience when the guys do their turns.

Some posters gave a "thumbs down" to Interplay as a ballet, but they should have heard the little girl behind me in Row B of the Second Ring, giggling at the movements, and thoroughly engaged by what she was seeing. Maybe she'll enjoy coming back again with her grandma. This is a ballet that can grab newbies and -- if it's demystification NYCB is aiming for -- Interplay does the trick.

Although I too very much enjoyed Tiler in McBride's role, I do wish Ashley would given a shot at it. Alas and alack, AB's career will be over before she's in all the ballets I want to see her in.....

#15 vipa

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 03:02 PM

And what is with the announced intention to start Tues and Weds performances a half hour earlier (so they will start at 7) and to cut the intermissions from two to one? If NYCB wants to alienate young professionals, this is a surefire way to do it. It's impossible for young profs to get out of work early enough to catch a 7pm performance at Lincoln Center on a weekday.


I believe the half hour earlier start is 7:30 (instead of 8:00). I love the intermissions being cut to one. It's nice to be able to get home a bit earlier. I think the early start and finish will work great for some (like me). For people who find getting there at 7:30 impossible and but don't mind a late finish, the other nights are a better option. I think it's a good idea to offer those optionns


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