Good point about "playing it safe, kfw. ..."Going for broke" may be another way of describing the quality that both Christian and Jack are talking about. It's something I recall from the NYCB of the late fifties to the early 80s, my time of regular attendance. There were always some NYCB dancers who took this path.
I see Ashley Bouder's Dewdrop in this performance as "going for broke" on a high level. Of course she has the speed and footwork. What I raises the level of this performance for me is she also uses her upper body eloquently, despite the speed. Jeanette Delgado in Square Dance (Miami's PBS Dance in America earlier this fall and the first ballet on MCB's Program I this season) is like Bouder in this respect.
You can "go for broke" in non-allegro passages, too. Marzipan is a jewel of a role, with delicate music marked "andantino." The risk is blandness and affectation. With Tiler Peck, "going for broke means fusing delicate style, precise technique, phrasing, and charm. What is often the most insipid of Act II variations becomes lively and complex.
Surely "going for broke" like this should be a goal for all Balanchine dancers. All Giselles, too, for that matter.
I'll try to make the comparisons again when I can (Nichols's vs. Bouder's "Dewdrop", for instance) - but my sense right now is that "playing it safe" and "going for broke" bracket
the quality I tried to characterize just above. Not that that it's easy to put into words, but the quality I have in mind is, as the truth often is, "somewhere in between".
My time with Balanchine's company, not unlike bart
's, was from the mid '70s to the mid '80s, and the dancing was certainly energetic but never wild as I remember having seen a few of the present NYCB women who come in for comment do. (I do have very positive memories of Tiler Peck , but she was in Workshop, and prepared by the best.)
I do remember some Agon
pas de deux in the old days in which the "contest" came to something of a draw - the two dancers, glistening with sweat, not quite collapsing on each other at the end instead of the tidy moves we see today, and some "Rondo alla Zingarese"s (the last movement of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet
) by Farrell and d'Amboise where you could practically hear "dare ya
" and "oh, yeah?
" (we always hoped they were having as much fun as it looked) but the high energy level never broke the shape, the contour, of what they were doing, and so it was all the more legible for that, and, legible, it had effect, high effect, on us.
No "playing it safe" in those days, but no hint of violence to the role. But maybe I just misunderstand bart
's phrase. Maybe bart
will elaborate some more on this (for me) difficult-to-describe aspect.
Edited by Jack Reed, 20 December 2011 - 07:22 AM.