I'm in a Mea Culpa
mood. I need to take back much of what I said in this thread on 11/6 after seeing opening night of this rep. I have now seen it twice more, and altho much of my concerns about the rep remain valid (in my mind), I did find much to praise after more exposure.
First, my 11/6 statement that in a "Gala" constructed rep like this:
.....the drama just ain't there.
I still believe this to be so. The key is the word "drama"
. Taking excerpts creates good opportunities for dancing perhaps, but in terms of the delivery of character, emotion, meaning (if I can use that word), excerpts just can't deliver. What I missed picking up on in that first viewing on opening night is what a fabulous opportunity a rep like this is to show off great dancing by many dancers of all levels. What the rep loses in drama, it makes up for in pure display of virtuoso dancing and in showcasing up-and-coming dancers. On 11/6 I also made the comment that:
I don't know, maybe it was me, but on this opening night, something was missing.
I stand by that assessment also -- more or less. I "blamed" this "missing-ness"
on the Gala quality of the rep. I now believe the confusion and lack of precision and power I thought I saw in the dancing was the product of large numbers of substitutions and chaos caused by a large number of injuries (as Helene reported above, Peter Boal in a Q&A mentioned 11 dancers were injured.....a huge number in a company with less than 50 dancers). Well, this great company and its dedicated professionals, soon made short shrift of that problem. The 2 additional performances I saw the following weekend had none of that. Indeed, over last weekend, I saw some of the most together and powerful dancing I have ever seen.
Once I "got" that the power of this rep is seeing lots of dancers showing their stuff (leaving it all
out on the floor), my attitude totally changed. I was lucky enough to have seen all 3 performances of Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite in the Black Swan PdD. I have long claimed that these 2 are the most accomplished male and female dancers in the company. We rarely get to see them together (my guess is that Lucien isn't quite big/strong enough to match Carrie well). What they did over the course of these 3 performances was simply incredible
. It was mentioned in a Q&A that these 2 masterful principal dancers, who seem capable of doing whatever they put their minds to, fell into a playful match of professional competition. As each took their turn at the solos in this famous PdD, they challenged each other to "top that!"
.......and top it they did. They deservedly brought the house down every time. As great as the Ilmer/Postlewaite display was, there was so much else to see over these performances. As Helene mentioned above, overall this rep belonged to Jerome Tisserand
. Jerome is a corps man (promoted to soloist just a day or 2 ago) whose day had come. I suspect many dancers take their rightful place fully on the stage when, by chance, they are called on to step up to a challenge almost impossible on the surface. Naturally in ballet, such a calling often springs out of a situation of injuries. Jerome was originally scheduled as the 4th cast for "Afternoon of a Faun"
with only a single scheduled performance as the last performance of the rep on a Sunday matinee (often the time that corps dancers are given a shot at a principal role). Well, Jerome danced the Faun 4 times including opening night where he was a sensation. His "carry the company on my back"
opportunity was far from being limited to just the challenge of the Faun; Jerome also danced Romeo to newly promoted principal Leslie Rausch's Juliette in Maillot's R&J (Prokofiev) with, as I understand it, a mere 2 weeks to rehearse the role when the original cast(s) became injured. What Jerome and Leslie created (they did not dance opening night) was pure magic. I've been a fan of Rausch's for many years and have been very gratified to see her recent meteoric rise in the company. The characterization and the muscality she displayed in the role of Juliette on the 2nd weekend was nothing short of spectacular. She and Jerome created an artistic combination of teenage playfulness, genuine passion, youthful exuberance, and modern assertiveness that was different than any other pair I've seen do this ballet. I hesitate to say it, but their interpretation is the best I've seen.....and that's saying a lot.
I won't go on about so many other dancers we got to see "on display" in this rep since Helene has chronicled that very well above (Davis, Biassucci, Reshef, Clark, etc), but it was a joy to see these young dancers step up to the plate and pretty much universally knock it out of the park.
One final comment, and here I must make an apology to Balanchine. May the Ballet Gods strike me down cold dead if I ever doubt Mr B's genius again. After opening night I made the rash statement upthread that:
Even "Le Baiser de la Fee" .........I just didn't like it....a rare thing for me to say about anything Balanchine.
Well, of course it was me, not Baiser that was the problem. I just didn't "get"
the music that first time. I wanted to hear Stravinsky since I absolutely love his music. I knew there would be Tchaikovsky influence, but I just wasn't able to find a place in that music to stand. I was neither here nor there. For me, when the music doesn't click, I almost never like the ballet.....the two are just too intertwined in my being. Well, leave it to Mr B and his genius for educating one "to see the music"
it I did that 2nd weekend. For the thousandth time....thank you Mr B
. Baiser is different, more cut into short exploding gems, but how Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Balanchine blend in that piece is truly remarkable. As I think Helene said above, it is a piece for aficionados. It was like seeing a cubist painting for the first time: at first, it looks like boring nonsence, but in time its bits and pieces blend into a whole that could not be expressed with more traditional methods. Strangely, the piece "I just didn't like"
on opening night, in spite of the other spendors in this rep, is the very piece I'd most like to see again. Mr B moves even higher in my pantheon (if that's possible).