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NYCB Winter Season

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#31 cobweb


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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:09 PM

I too am enjoying the Company very much. Was there Tuesday night and tonight. What a great piece Concerto Barocco is. Tuesday night Reichlen and Mearns, and tonight Reichlen and Abi Stafford (replacing Rebecca Krohn). I couldn't take my eyes off Reichlen either night. She and Justin Peck were beautiful in the pas de deux. What beautiful legs, and what an incredible arabesque. Lovely.
I'm also enjoying the Kowroski-Tyler Angle partnership. Last week in In G Major, tonight in Les Carillons. He looks very comfortable handling her, and he's a joy to watch on his own too. Between Reichlen and Kowroski tonight, I was in long-legged-arabesque heaven.
Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig-Waring in In G Major Tuesday night -- good, but not nearly as charged or drama-filled as Kowroski and T. Angle last week. Especially in those bourrees back and forth on the diagonal -- I missed Maria!

#32 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:00 AM

I saw "Les Carillons" twice yesterday, once during the all-Wheeldon matinee (with "Polyphonia" and "DGV") and once again at the evening performance (with "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" and "The Firebird"). I was disappointed. The men's costumes--very traditional with the faux frisson of one bare arm--pretty much sums up the overall look of the choreography. Wheeldon has taken standard ballet vocabulary (some of it very pretty) and has tried to sex it up with "non-traditional" gestures and combinations. (I hesitate to say "modern" since it all looks very 15 years ago. Also, some of the gestures--a particularly baroque filip of the arms, some faintly hussar like posturing for the men--seem intended to evoke the past.) They look as fussy, mannered, and clichéd as the costumes. An arabesque is a beautiful and expressive thing all on its own; it's not going to bore us to show it to us straight. (And can I just say that Robert Fairchild has a beautiful arabasque.)

There were some Ratmansky-isms. I couldn't tell if Wheeldon was trying to use them or if he was poking a little fun at them. Members from the ensemble drift onto the stage in sculptural groups and hover in the shadows behind the main action. In Ratmansky's work they evoke the community in which the drama between two dancers plays out. In "Les Carillons" they look like voyeurs. Tiler Peck has a solo (interrupted by a trio with Gonzalo Garcia and Daniel Ulbrecht) in which she stops in relevé and swivels one of her points back and forth, looking for all the world as if she were crushing out the cigarette from "Namouna." (There are echos of "Emeralds" too, as well as of your standard-issue perky village maiden.) As in Ratmanksy, there are little dollops of dramatic action that hint at a larger tale. Remaining alone onstage after a duet with Fairchild, Wendy Whelan wanders sorrowfully among some frolicking couples (She appears to have been left behind by her man, something that happens a lot to Wheeldon ballerinas.) Sara Mearns is left alone too in some kind of stand-off with the principal men. (Later she gets a sorta gypsy, sorta flamenco solo that recalls the great solo Ratmansky gaver her in "Namouna"; it's not as good, but Mearns dances the hell out of it anyway.) But they add up to nothing: there's no sense of a Whelan story or a Mearns story implicitly driving the dancing. We see a sad girl, we see a fiery girl. End of story that never really happened. It's drama unearned.

"Polyphonia" looked very good -- and it was a pleasure to see Adrian Danchig-Waring back and getting some meaningful stage time.

Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle were partners in both "Les Carillons" and "DGV"; they continue to look wonderful together. There is life after Askegard.

I loved Teresa Reichlen's Firebird; her Berceuse was especially gorgeous and touching. I loved Savannah Lowery's big, sunny Princess, too. She didn't get lost in the costume for one thing, and her dancing is so open hearted and forthright that she's an effective foil for the more complicated Firbird. I've always liked Jonathan Stafford's Prince Ivan; there was a bit less juice to his dancing in the monster scene than I remember, but his witty, winsome portrayal really works in this production.

Kudos to the corps -- they looked great in everything at both performances. Special mention to Marika Anderson, Gretchen Smith, Devin Alberda, and Ralph Ippolito, who danced a hat trick (or three-peated?) at the evening performance. Megan LeCrone has been dancing beautifully lately -- somebody, please, pull her out of the back row -- I want to see more.

#33 cobweb


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:56 PM

Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle...continue to look wonderful together. There is life after Askegard.

Indeed there is. Angle doesn't have Askegard's elegant, princely bearing, but what he has instead is a muscular, masculine presence. Sexy!

IMHO Firebird is not the best role for Reichlen. She was beautiful, as she can't help being beautiful. But I find her too cool for this fiery role. I liked the authority and energy that Bouder brought, and especially, the warmth and vividness of Maria Kowroski's presence. I loved Reichlen in Rubies, so I'm not sure what the difference is. Maybe that a ruby gets its beauty from the way light reflects off its surface, whereas a fire (I'm conflating fire and firebird here) seems to burn from within.

A word about the "former Fourth Ring Society" (I can't get used to "Society NYCB"). I was very skeptical about the new system, but aside from the inconvenience of not being able to plan in advance, I've found it very workable. I've been able to get seats to almost everything I wanted to see, and typically much better seats than Fourth Ring. The price has allowed me to see a plethora of performances that I never could have seen at regular prices, making my heart very happy. I'm very grateful, and I fervently hope the program continues next year.

#34 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:32 PM

IMHO Firebird is not the best role for Reichlen. She was beautiful, as she can't help being beautiful. But I find her too cool for this fiery role. I liked the authority and energy that Bouder brought, and especially, the warmth and vividness of Maria Kowroski's presence. I loved Reichlen in Rubies, so I'm not sure what the difference is. Maybe that a ruby gets its beauty from the way light reflects off its surface, whereas a fire (I'm conflating fire and firebird here) seems to burn from within.

Oh, I like all kinds of Firebirds! One of the good things about the current NYCB roster is that it can offer many valid takes on the same role. I haven't seen Bouder's Firebird in a few years, but I liked her energy and attack. I really liked Sofiane Sylve's Firebird, too -- talk about vivid. I enjoy Reichlen's coolness in general, and appreciated it last night -- I thought it made her Firebird seem appropriately otherworldly, especially in the Berceuse. And I liked that her Firebird was true to her temperament as a dancer -- that she didn't put on some sort of "I am a fierce fiery creature" act.

And speaking of beautiful tall blond dancers -- I was sad to note that Kaitlyn Gilliland's name is no longer on the roster. I'll miss her.

#35 LiLing


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:49 PM

I also saw the all Wheeldon matt. Saturday. I didn't care for Les Carillons. For me the main problem was the music (Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suites 1 & 2). The short sections provide a lot of variation in tempo and dynamics, which probably seemed to offer possibilities for choreographic variety. The results however consisted of ideas that didn't have time to be developed before the music dictated a change to something else. Relationships and events were implied but never went anywhere.
Polyphonia was as always stunning, and what a cast: Whelan, J. Angle, T. Peck, Garcia, Hyltin, Danchig-Waring, Mearns, Hall. They were all terrific.
Now for DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse--- I loved it! I don't agree with some of the critics complaints. I found it exciting, and inventive. Wheeldon's facility with counterpoint and contrasting groups was on display at it's best. The structure was too complex to take it all in one viewing. To the critic who found it too busy, I think you need to see more Cunningham. This is a 21st Century ballet. I loved the (much maligned) set. It didn't look to me like a wrecked train as described in a review, but a very abstract suggestion of a train. I especially liked the way Wheeldon used the space behind it, with lifts showing dancers flying above it, and entering from it. And there were lights inside it!
I also thought the score by Michael Nyman served the work well.
The whole cast deserves kudos, but I especially remember Reichlen, Bouder, Kowroski and T. Angle.
The only glitch of the afternoon was a spotlight that was hung too low to be masked and was shining straight into the audience. It had a blue gel and I thought it was a suggestion of a headlight, but then it flew, and came back down, again too low, and without the gel. At least I hope it was a mistake!

#36 cobweb


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:45 PM

And speaking of beautiful tall blond dancers -- I was sad to note that Kaitlyn Gilliland's name is no longer on the roster. I'll miss her.

I also noticed her absence. Any official word on why she left? And speaking of missing dancers, I don't think Jenifer Ringer is dancing at all this season, nor did she (I think) do any Nutcrackers. Any official word on what's up with her?

#37 cinnamonswirl


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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:49 AM

Jenifer Ringer is on maternity leave!

#38 rg


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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:01 AM

the naked hanging lamp in DGV was consistently in place for all three performances that i saw, making it intentional not a mistake.

#39 4mrdncr


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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:31 PM

I went to the all-Wheeldon matinee Saturday too. I had to... After seeing Corella Ballet do DGV in 2010 at City Center several times, I had to see what NYCB did with it. Different and interesting:

First: Sets/Lighting
At NYCC, the back wall of the stage (ie. theater) was bare (no drop) and visible, which created very stark lighting patterns and contributed to the 'industrial' look of the set. Overall, I remember the lighting of Corella Ballet's performances to be much more low-key and stark. NYCB had a back drop of neutral reflective grey so the overall lighting fore and aft was much softer, smoother, and uniform; yet allowed for some back low cyc lights to create off/on line motifs. The crumpled steel panels of the set were almost the same in both performances, but I think NYCB had a few more panels to take up the larger space at the NYST/Koch. I was told that the lighting for NYCB's perfs were like the RB's and more "correct" than CBCL's had been due to the smaller City Center stage.
The costuming also differered for the NYCB principals in that CBCL's Mondrian stylings (which I thought reflective of the traintrack/line motif) were replaced in the NYCB costumes by a more abstract spattered approach, though color schemes remained the same.

DANCING (these are just impressions rather than distinct/detailed reviews):

CARILLON: I would have preferred to be in seats more elevated to see the choreographic 'architecture' better. Wheeldon is so good at moving people foreground vs. background, entering/exiting, elevation/or not. I was fascinated just watching what one ring of dancers was doing upstage-left while the principal couples danced in center or downstage-right... or vice versa. I saw 'sculptural' arrangements as usual, and swirling circles a la many other things he's choreographed (and/or absorbed from other choreographies?) I kept seeing glimpses of so many other works in sequences, but still they came together to form a harmonious whole. The girl's costumes flowed very nicely and I liked the dark jewel tones. Ditto the men, but having the guys with one arm bare only reminded me of studio attire and dancers folding up one leotard leg to better see the action in the mirror. I'm also not sure why the 'drama' was injected into the action; it's an abstract neoclassical piece--who needs a story?! And to only have snippets with no follow-through, kind of distracted from what I thought of as more 'pure dance'. But Mearns and Whelan stood out in my mind.

Polyphonia was interesting because I've seen so many other companies perform it now. I wanted very much to see the original NYCB cast do it--and at least I got to see Whelan et.al. this time. I was struck by how different body types can affect how the choreography looks. City Ballet was much more fluid and "open" with it than many others I've seen do it--who instead seem more tense, tighter and contracted throughout. So seeing NYCB do it created a whole different feel, and in many ways also made the ballet more approachable to view than the intellectual excercise I sometimes see. I agree with most that it is a standout work, and deserves to be done by as many companies as possible.

DGV: NYCB was larger, more expansive, and smoother. Corella Ballet dancers were MUCH more precise and distinct--especially the principals. I remember Adiarys Almeida's and Herman Cornejo's pas de deux (also seen in close-up excerpt at a NYCC Studio 5 interview) with those distinctive parallel feet sliding steps as smooth in execution and sharp in phrasing--NYCB's dancers sort of slubbed them. And the forward diving motions of the girls as they are pulled back were much sharper and expressive in the CBCL version. Why? The 'piston' move by the corps across the stage (sorry that's my term for what it looked like) was also neater and sharper when done by CBCL--City Ballet were not always in sync and lines a little ragged. All of this was VERY surprising to me, because, as was said in a previous review link, 'NYCB dancers "are thoroughbreds"' and I expected that sharpness of execution from them. Instead I did get the speed, comfortableness with off-balance/off-center steps, and beautiful long limbs and bodies just not the very sharp deliberate delivery I remember.
The other thing of note was my seat in the slightly left-of-center Orchestra--(since usually I've seen it from up high I thought I'd change for this perf.) This had a MAJOR affect on the music mix of Nyman's pounding score. I rather like the score (though do agree it's a little too long in spots) and look for the leitmotifs in the strings and other sections as the music progresses. But this time, all I seemed to hear was the minimalist v.repetitive driving sax/horns and hardly nothing of the other instruments in the mix. Either the theater sound engineer didn't balance things well or my ears didn't. It was rather annoying and diminished my appreciation of the dancers' phrasing.
Either way, I'm still very glad DGV is part of NYCB's rep now, though I do think CBCL had nothing to complain about in its previous New York incarnation.

Only other note I will add...Christopher Wheeldon was sitting a few seats over (yes, I did get to speak with him afterwards about DGV and other things) and I saw Wendy Perron (sp?) sitting a row in front. (As the only other person I knew who had seen both CBCL and NYCB do these works, I wondered what she thought. Maybe I'll read about it later?)

#40 California


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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:41 PM

If you belong to the Theatre Development Fund, they have tickets on-line for NYCB for Feb. 9 & 10 at $31. They don't say where they are, alas. Vienna Waltzes is on the program (along with Seven Deadly Sins...).

I don't know if tickets are also at the 1/2 price ticket booth for same-day purchase.

#41 SingerWhoMoves



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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:22 AM

Thanks California! I have been checking TDF regularly, and haven't seen NYCB yet this season. I can not sit through Seven Deadly again, so I won't be going this time.
I haven't been at all this season, since the end of 4th ring society and all the weird pricing. I didn't happen to join 4th ring last season, so missed out on Society NYCB. :(


#42 griffie


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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:28 AM

Hi, a few comments on last night's (Feb. 8) performance: three spectacular ballets and one Seven Deadly Sins. Sins was somehow a miss on multiple levels: staging, choreography, costuming and even singing. Patti Lupone was overamplified or something; her voice was muddied and sometimes it was hard to make out her words. Lupone always enunciates in her singing - sometimes to the point of distraction - so I suspect it was not her fault. Wendy Whelan as Anna did a good job with not much to work with. Weill and Bracht's music isn't the most accessible to begin with and piece on the whole was less than engaging.

Concerto Barocco, with Reichlen and Mearns, was exquisite. Flawlessly performed and just transcending. Balanchine for me can be like Shakespeare or the Beatles; everyone's always talking about what geniuses they were, and then when you come face to face with one of their best works you're hit over the head and stunned that they really are that good.

Tiler Peck and Daniel Ulbricht were spectular in Tarantella. Both of them danced at the level where they made it look easy, and tons of charm and humor. I felt they were having more fun than I was. And, as they say, the crowd went wild. That one's going in my mental shortlist of favorite performances.

Vienna Waltzes was a lovely way to cap off the evening, such wonderfully dancey music and lovely visual effects, especially the ending dance of swirling pure white dresses and black dress uniforms.

I can't figure out what's going on with pricing and seating: I got there a half hour before curtain and asked for the cheapest seat ($31, Fifth Ring). From there I was perplexed to see that the fourth ring was open, had ushers for all aisles, and less than a dozen people sitting there. The rest of the house was pretty well populated. Does anyone know what that's about?

#43 cobweb


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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:06 AM

I can not sit through Seven Deadly again, so I won't be going this time.

I couldn't sit through Seven Deadly Sins again either -- so I didn't. I saw the first part of the program, then ran out and did some errands in the LC neighborhood, before returning to the theatre for Vienna Waltzes!
Concerto Barocco with Reichlen/Justin Peck, and Sara Mearns -- beautiful beautiful beautiful!

#44 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:08 PM

I'm sorry to read that Seven Deadly Sins sounds just as disappointing as it was last year. I at least was hoping that the amplication problems would be solved by now. I'm going to see Sunday's performance. I have to debate whether I'll be able to sit through Seven Deadly Sins again (After seeing it last year, I knew what the eighth deadly sin is - boring the audience.) Unfortunately it's going to be very cold on Sunday, so I may not to take a walk during Seven Deadly Sins. I'm really looking forward to Vienna Waltzes however, At least the afternoon will end on a high note.

#45 cobweb


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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:30 PM

Colleen, I'd recommend going over to the Atrium for a snack during Seven Deadly Sins (that's what I did tonight). The caramelized onion and gruyere sandwich is delicious, as is the meatloaf sandwich.
Allegro Brillante -- another impressive night for Tiler Peck. Amar Ramasar has lovely form, but his lack of energy and commitment bother me. I preferred Andrew Veyette last week.
And on the topic of Tiler Peck, I want to second the post about the spectacular Peck-Ulbricht Tarantella last night. Both of them such high-wattage performers, and they danced with amazing crispness and clarity. The tambourines were slapped (or whatever it is one does with tambourines) with beautiful precision.
Vienna Waltzes, tonight and last night, left me in a dreamy and pensive mood. I could watch it again and again only for the dresses, the waltzing, and the music. I have no musical training and can't really comment on the quality of the orchestra, but I found the gold and silver waltz so moving. And when I got down to the subway, the 66th-St-station saxophonist, who every night does a piece from some Lincoln Center performance, tonight was doing the gold and silver waltz! How does that guy always pick out what I found memorable in that evening's performance, whether opera or ballet? Does he change his tune throughout the evening, depending on whether it's the opera or ballet or philharmonic getting out?

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