abatt

NYCB Spring Season 2011

95 posts in this topic

Thank you, Melange and Krystin, for reviewing the cast I saw on Thursday night (the night of Maria's fall). Your impressions are spot-on. Jennifer Ringer in the second solo was delicacy, refinement,and beauty, all qualities she possesses in abundance. Her extensions are not jaw-dropping - but she has more than that, and what she has is artistry. Abi Stafford is to me, bland. She just doesn't register as a personality on the stage, though she does everything competently and efficiently.

Tess Reichlen was a marvel in Rubies. Then Miss Cuteness hurtled on, and the contrast between them was very effective.

Maria recovered swiftly from the fall - it was a startling moment - and she and Charles Askegaard were sublime. He will be missed, but he is retiring at his peak. (I still pine for Nicolai Hubbe and Damien Woetzel!)

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Here's a link to a NY Times article regarding NYCB's Chase Finlay and the amazing season he is having:

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/arts/index.html

Amazing? In what way? The fact that he stumbled and nearly fell in several of the Apollo performances I saw (I saw three in addition to one private rehearsal)?

Exactly! I, too, was bothered by his stumbles in Apollo (why more people weren't I don't know). He also seemed out of breath and his partnering with the tall muses was really rough. I don't get why people think he's such a spectacular Apollo. I wish they would let Garcia do it -- if his Opus 19 is any indication, he would make a very interesting and graceful Apollo. Can we at least have more Apollos who don't look just like Peter Martins? (I'm looking forward to reviews of Craig Hall's Apollo in Dancer's Choice). Aside from his stumbles, I haven't yet seen Chase Finlay do a decent double tour in any ballet.

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Saw Jewels again at today's matinee, the last performance, with different dancers in key roles. Rachel Rutherford replaced Abi Stafford in the principal role in Emeralds, and she was very popular with the audience and with her colleagues, who generously applauded her in curtain calls. But I do so love Jenny Ringer in the third variation I believe, her first solo, where her delicacy and refinement glow forth. In her second solo, she had a quality that I did not see in Rachel Rutherford, and that is sorrow. She was not acting, never that, but the music evoked a natural sorrow and she emanated humanity. I am not qualified to critique every entrechat six and pas de chat, but I do know a great artist when I see one, and Jenny Ringer has the inner depth that only come from experience of life and receptiveness to nuance. Her partner this time was Ask la Cour who greatly impressed with his noble bearing. He is definitely in the running for a principal role when Charles Askegaard retires. More on Charles later.

In Rubies, Tess Reichlen played the tall role again, and she is perfection. For a change, Sterling Hylton was the secondary soloist and danced with Gonzalo Garcia. I think Sterling seemed rather severe in the angular Rubies music. I prefer her in more natural, emotive roles, like The Concert or Western Symphony.

Replacing Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford, in a surprise announcment, were Maria and Charles Askegaard. Maria Kowroski is a marvel, her extensions 180 degrees, her demeanor carrying ballerina bearing. Charles Askegaard is a superb partner, totally strong, but his solo variations were not impressive.

So who will be promoted? I'd vote for Ask le Cour based on his courtly bearing and his height in Emeralds. But Sean Suozzi is also impressive. Among corps members, I am impressed with Lydia Wellington, who is also quite beautiful, and would be a very watchable soloist. Of course, balance must be maintained between men and women in the company so if a man retires, it makes room for a soloist man, and a male corps de ballet member moves up. In which case it may well be Chase Finlay, who gracefully took his place in the corps de ballet this afternoon and at last Thursday's performance. Thursday he danced with Lydia Wellington, an attractive couple indeed.

I always marvel at the fecundity of George Balanchine's choreographic output, the numerous patterns and repatternings in each ballet, the alternation of soloists with demi-soloists, the changes of position, the sheer complexity of his dance imagination. I believe Suki Schorer wrote, "Dance just poured out of him."

How fortunate that I live so close to Lincoln Center that an afternoon at the ballet can be a moment's decision.

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I think that Jewels performance was Rutherford's farewell performance w. the company.

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I think that Jewels performance was Rutherford's farewell performance w. the company.

I see, that explains the applause given her by the company and the audience's appreciation. I wasn't aware, thank you for telling me.

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I think that Jewels performance was Rutherford's farewell performance w. the company.

I believe it indeed was. (She's not listed on the roster in the 2011/2012 subscription brochure.) She gave a beautiful performance and took a well-deserved solo bow in front of the curtain.

I still remember her wonderful performances in Part II of "The Goldberg Variations," "Dances at a Gathering" (Mauve), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (she was my favorite Hermia), and "The Russian Seasons." She took over Ringer's role in the latter for a while, and I was very taken with the way she danced the first of the Autumn songs. (It's the one where the woman in green climbs and climbs towards what seems to be paradise with the help of three men who could be angelic spirits.) The text describes an eden where birds sing and angels sit on blooming flowers and Ratmansky's choreography suggests that the woman in green (or her soul, perhaps) gets a look at it. Rutherford's village maid took it in with the delighted wonderment of a country girl in the big city for the first time, and it was just perfect.

I'll miss her!

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Saw Dancers' Choice last night. Craig Hall was very impressive in Apollo, strong and poetic. His leaps were airborne, his motions perfect, and he was totally in command in the complex pas de deux with Terpsichore. Polyhymnia and Calliope were played by Lauren Lovette and Ashly Isaacs, who were perky and charming. The audience gave Craig an immense ovation.

I would not have chosen the very abstract pas de deux chosen by Amanda Hankes and Adrian Danchig-Waring - but! I got a chance to see Agon, after hearing the music many times on a CD of David Irving conducting NYCB repertoire, and that had accustomed me somewhat to its astringency.

I was also very impressed by the video showing Wendy Whelan coaching a corps member, Sara Adams, in her role in Liturgy by Christopher Wheeldon. The generosity that Wendy displayed in choosing a previously unknown dancer, unnoticed except by Wendy, who noted her beautiful feet, her dancing, her potential. This was an act of pure generosity. Wendy had been picked out when she was younger for her potential, and she said that you need someone to give you a chance to - her word was "bloom". When I have met Wendy, I have been warmed by her warmth and impressed by her sheer lack of pretension.

Exciting sighting at first intermission: Peter Martins and Darci Kistler in full regalia, proceeding through the hall with noble bearing, king and queen of the ballet.

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How was Sara Mearns as Tall Girl in Rubies during Dancer's Choice?

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How was Sara Mearns as Tall Girl in Rubies during Dancer's Choice?

She was replaced by Tess Reichlen, also replaced during Saturday matinee.

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Lest anyone think that I am not fighting boldly in Barbara Horgan's Alexander the Great-like campaign to extend George Balanchine's dominion over the entire world (and other worlds!), I attended the June 11th matinee of Jewels. (The truth of the matter is that the Limon company cancelled the Saturday afternoon performance I was planning to attend so I had a few hours to kill. But to paraphrase the famous line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- When there's a difference between fact and legend, print the legend!) :wink:

I must say I was shocked to see just how homogenous the matinee audience was in comparison to both New York as it exists on the walk up 8th Ave. to Lincoln Center and the very diverse audiences I saw at Limon on Friday and Saturday nights. The New York City Ballet may be superior in most respects to the moderns in general and Limon in particular but, in this one respect, those "fat dancers with dirty feet" (as Lincoln Kirstein so charmingly put it) have it all over City Ballet.

Onward . . .

Emeralds

This is my favorite segment of Jewels but, due to uneven casting, it was something of a disappointment on the afternoon. Rachel Rutherford was a pretty but bland lead and she lacked the kind of "fragrant perfume" this part demands. Worse yet was her partner Sebastien Marcovici. He would make a fine lead in Spartacus but is much too musclebound for this most delicate of ballets. A danseur must have muscle, of course, but not to the extent he becomes imprisoned by it. (I would compare Marcovici unfavorably with Robert Fairchild, who I saw outside the theater at one point wearing a tank top. He is highly muscled but the muscles are in beautiful proportion to the rest of his body.)

Jenifer Ringer was the second lead and she was beautiful in the part -- so mature and sophisticated. She also has a very womanly body which only made Rutherford appear more juvenile and unsophisticated in comparison. Her cavalier was Ask la Cour and I found the two of them something of a visual mish-mash in terms of their heights.

The standout in the trio of Erica Pereira, Anthony Huxley and Ana Sophia Scheller was Huxley. He is quick, light and musical -- in other words, the quintessenial Balanchine dancer.

Finally, heresy of heresies -- I hated Karinska's costumes. I was sitting up close and . . . no. I much prefer Christian Lacroix's Emeralds costumes for the Paris Opera Ballet.

Rubies

I have no particular love for Rubies and nothing I saw on Saturday afternoon changed my opinion. The partnership of Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia was chemistry-free and never came to life -- Hyltin just seemed woefully miscast in this. While Garcia tried to inject some life into events, it was all to no avail. This is not a partnership meant for legend.

People have raved about Teresa Reichlen but I have no distinct impression of her as the second female lead. Maybe I was distracted because so much sweat was coming off Garcia's brow and I became obsessed by the thought of someone slipping and falling?

In any event, I walked into the theater with Rubies being my least favorite part of Jewels and so it remains after seeing it on June 11th.

Diamonds

I saw David Hallberg outside the orchestra level during intermission so that was exciting.

Jewels finally came to true life with Maria Kowrowski and Charles Askegard in the grand pas. (They replaced Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford.)

Kowrowski and Askegard were beautiful together and Kowrowski, even more than Ringer, stamped her role with rock-solid technique and true ballerina authority. Askegard partnered her strongly and I'm sure his regular partners will miss his steady partnering skills. However, his solos were shockingly sub-standard and not of principal dancer level. (At ABT, his solos wouldn't even cut it at the corps level.) So, it's time for him to go.

I can report happily that Chase Finlay, who management shamelessly put up front for most of the finale, does not look dead, near dead or even half dead. He looked energized, actually, and had a big grin on his face. Enjoy that promotion buddy!

Don't lose hope Justin Peck fans -- your hero looked good as well. Anthony Huxley also danced in this and was strong again.

The finale was a bit of a hard sell but it ended the afternoon agreeably enough.

Overall grade: B-

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Lest anyone think that I am not fighting boldly in Barbara Horgan's Alexander the Great-like campaign to extend George Balanchine's dominion over the entire world (and other worlds!), I attended the June 11th matinee of Jewels. (The truth of the matter is that the Limon company cancelled the Saturday afternoon performance I was planning to attend so I had a few hours to kill. But to paraphrase the famous line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- When there's a difference between fact and legend, print the legend!) :wink:

I must say I was shocked to see just how homogenous the matinee audience was in comparison to both New York as it exists on the walk up 8th Ave. to Lincoln Center and the very diverse audiences I saw at Limon on Friday and Saturday nights. The New York City Ballet may be superior in most respects to the moderns in general and Limon in particular but, in this one respect, those "fat dancers with dirty feet" (as Lincoln Kirstein so charmingly put it) have it all over City Ballet.

Onward . . .

Emeralds

This is my favorite segment of Jewels but, due to uneven casting, it was something of a disappointment on the afternoon. Rachel Rutherford was a pretty but bland lead and she lacked the kind of "fragrant perfume" this part demands. Worse yet was her partner Sebastien Marcovici. He would make a fine lead in Spartacus but is much too musclebound for this most delicate of ballets. A danseur must have muscle, of course, but not to the extent he becomes imprisoned by it. (I would compare Marcovici unfavorably with Robert Fairchild, who I saw outside the theater at one point wearing a tank top. He is highly muscled but the muscles are in beautiful proportion to the rest of his body.)

Jenifer Ringer was the second lead and she was beautiful in the part -- so mature and sophisticated. She also has a very womanly body which only made Rutherford appear more juvenile and unsophisticated in comparison. Her cavalier was Ask la Cour and I found the two of them something of a visual mish-mash in terms of their heights.

The standout in the trio of Erica Pereira, Anthony Huxley and Ana Sophia Scheller was Huxley. He is quick, light and musical -- in other words, the quintessenial Balanchine dancer.

Finally, heresy of heresies -- I hated Karinska's costumes. I was sitting up close and . . . no. I much prefer Christian Lacroix's Emeralds costumes for the Paris Opera Ballet.

Rubies

I have no particular love for Rubies and nothing I saw on Saturday afternoon changed my opinion. The partnership of Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia was chemistry-free and never came to life -- Hyltin just seemed woefully miscast in this. While Garcia tried to inject some life into events, it was all to no avail. This is not a partnership meant for legend.

People have raved about Teresa Reichlen but I have no distinct impression of her as the second female lead. Maybe I was distracted because so much sweat was coming off Garcia's brow and I became obsessed by the thought of someone slipping and falling?

In any event, I walked into the theater with Rubies being my least favorite part of Jewels and so it remains after seeing it on June 11th.

Diamonds

I saw David Hallberg outside the orchestra level during intermission so that was exciting.

Jewels finally came to true life with Maria Kowrowski and Charles Askegard in the grand pas. (They replaced Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford.)

Kowrowski and Askegard were beautiful together and Kowrowski, even more than Ringer, stamped her role with rock-solid technique and true ballerina authority. Askegard partnered her strongly and I'm sure his regular partners will miss his steady partnering skills. However, his solos were shockingly sub-standard and not of principal dancer level. (At ABT, his solos wouldn't even cut it at the corps level.) So, it's time for him to go.

I can report happily that Chase Finlay, who management shamelessly put up front for most of the finale, does not look dead, near dead or even half dead. He looked energized, actually, and had a big grin on his face. Enjoy that promotion buddy!

Don't lose hope Justin Peck fans -- your hero looked good as well. Anthony Huxley also danced in this and was strong again.

The finale was a bit of a hard sell but it ended the afternoon agreeably enough.

Overall grade: B-

Promotion? Who has been promoted and to what level?

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Promotion? Who has been promoted and to what level?

No one. My reference to Finlay was in the realm of the still hypothetical but no doubt inevitable. Given the push Finlay is getting from the powers-that-be, I cannot see him staying at the corps level for long.

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Well, after having been the NYCB more times this season than I've ever been in any season, I can just say that it's such a joy to see so much Balanchine danced so well.

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I was at the Saturday matinee and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike the earlier poster, Rubies is my favorite act of Jewels and I thought Sterling Hyltin did a lovely job. Her technique is spotless, she's incredibly quick and her extensions and angularity are perfect for the role. I don't understand why someone would say she is miscast. Indeed, although my very favorite dancer is often Bouder and had wished to see her in the role this season. I imagined her in my mind's eye while watching Hyltin and I thought, "No, I'm not missing a thing -- Hyltin's doing a very fine job." I also thought Tess Reichlin was spot-on.

Emeralds has always been my least favorite act and so too on Saturday. I know people say you have to appreciate the perfume of the first act but I've never gotten it -- and I've seen Jewels performed many, many times. I was eager to see Sara Mearns but she was replaced by Maria Kowroski, who I think performs this role to perfection. Unlike many grand Balanchine ballets, Diamonds emphasizes arms as well as the feet and Maria really demonstrates this style beautifully.

Maybe it comes down to a matter of taste. If you don't like Rubies much, you won't like anyone's interpretation. And vice versa with Emeralds. (Although I'm not being critical of either Rachel Rutherford of Jenifer Ringer. It was fine, just a bit bland for me.)

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I don't understand why someone would say she is miscast.

It's not a matter of understanding or not understanding. Two people can look at the same thing and see two different things.

Maybe it comes down to a matter of taste. If you don't like Rubies much, you won't like anyone's interpretation. And vice versa with Emeralds.

You may be right.

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Actually I think Rubies is one of the most cast-variable ballets of Balanchine. With the right cast, it can really be very fun, hip, and sexy, but with the wrong cast, it can also look forced, cliched, and almost a parody of "jazz Balanchine." I didn't see Hyltin, but I saw the Rubies cast this year with Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz, and Fairchild has the steps but not really the Rubies personality. The whole section fell very flat. I've also seen it with Bouder where she was dynamite onstage.

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Unlike the earlier poster, Rubies is my favorite act of Jewels...Emeralds has always been my least favorite act and so too on Saturday. I know people say you have to appreciate the perfume of the first act but I've never gotten it
ah, a reviewer after my own heart! I adore Rubies and Emeralds, but Emeralds has always left me flat, even with the best of the best performing.

IMHO, this is *not* a ballet to sit close to the stage. You miss so much of the patterns made by the corps and the shapes on stage. There are other ballets where I do enjoy sitting very close, but Jewels - or any part of it in a mixed program - is best viewed from a distance of at least 20 rows back, or preferably from the balcony (or in the back of a steeply sloping orchestra section).

For me, Rubies and Diamonds get better and better every time I see them performed. Just my two cents.

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I think it's true about "Rubies" being the most variable in effectiveness. When I saw it with Gonzalo Garcia here in San Francisco, close-up in and on a smaller stage than State Theater's, I saw it in terms of the layering of dancers, with Garcia barrelling down the middle alley and acting as a strong counterpoint to the other dancers, somewhat as he did in "Apollo." Last year or so Maria Kochetkova and Taras Domitro danced it (against Sofiane Sylve) precisely in tandem, two happy red shadows of each other. And in the short video clip of Miami Ballet a few years back, it looked as though the corps were dancing with as much importance and snappy finish as the soloists (which they didn't in SF) – at least in the part where the girl is caught and turned about between four cardinal points.

But "Rubies" is a red box of a ballet – like the room in "Petrouska" – while "Emeralds" is so big and Shakespearean and about so many things – the porousity of love and coupledom, solitariness, the quiet play of pan and nymphs in a field, and some sort of troublesome reconciliation with the major gods ...

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I agree that your opinion of Rubies can be completely dependent on who is dancing. This season I first saw Rubies danced by Fairchild/Deluz/Lowery, and I was underwhelmed by Fairchild and Lowery's performances. I left the evening thinking that Emeralds was by far my favorite of the three acts. It is worth noting that on that evening Emeralds was danced by Tiler Peck and Sara Mearns, whom I thought were fantastic. Peck's musicality is pure joy to watch, and Mearns has the ability to draw your eye and refuses to give it up.

However, the next night I saw Bouder/Garcia/Reichlen in Rubies and I was blown away. Bouder dances with such precision and attack-- the music could be playing in fast forward and she would still keep up. And Reichlen has such a solid technique that she was free to play with the steps and really push her boundaries. And the many extensions in the Tall Girl role of Rubies seems tailor made to show of Reichlen's assets.

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