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Fall 2012 season

39 posts in this topic

Casting is up for the first week. No Sara Mearns. Not good!

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Nice to see Russell Janzen get another featured role, building on Les Carillons from this past spring. This time to open the season the first week in Orpheus.

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No Sara Mearns. Not good!

OFF TOPIC: Just noticed in the NY Times that Sara Mearns is scheduled to dance a non-NYCB gig in June -- the closing program of the NY Philharmonic's season, ...
... an evening of Stravinsky ballets ("The Fairy's Kiss" and "Petrouchka") with Karole Armitage creating choreography for the New York City Ballet dancer Sara Mearns.

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I'm just back from the Gala tonight. The stars were out in full force. In attendance were Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, Iman, Angelica Houston (wow, too much plastic surgery is dangerous), Misha, Karolina Kurkova, Barbara Walters, David and Julia Koch, Roberto Bolle and of course Valentino. In my opinion, the costumes upstaged the weak choreography of Peter Martins. Sophisticated Lady was minor ballet in which Chuck Askegard waltzed Maria K around the stage for a few minutes. Maria's dress was stunning, but the there was no sophistication in the choregraphy. Not My Girl, w. Tiler Peck and R. Fairchild, was a very brief duo in which Fairchild showed off his tap dancing, and Tiler flirted with him in her colorful Valentino tutu. The choreography, again by Martins,was more at the level of student workshop than NYCB. Thankfully, it was brief.

Things picked up considerably with This Bitter Earth, an excerpt of a new ballet by C. Wheeldon titled Five Movements, Three Repeats. I thought this ballet was sensational, and I hope that this one becomes part of the rep of NYCB. Whelan and Tyler Angle danced a tender and moving pdd of great depth. The costumes were much more neutral in this ballet than the other costumes that Valentino created for this evening. Wendy's dress had a sheer skirt that allowed you to see her line. Chris Wheeldon again strikes gold in creating a role on his muse, Wendy.

Rubies brought a number of significant debuts, and was cast primarily with corps and soloist members. Ashly Isaacs and Danny Ulbricht did the third section of the ballet, and they were brilliant. Their super charged technique and extroverted stage manner were spot on. Kikta initially looked tentative as the tall girl, but she improved as the ballet proceeded. It was good to see Anthony Huxley back on stage again after a long absence. He did the pdd with Lauren Lovette. I thought they were wonderful together, and that Lovette did an excellent job in bringing out the angularity of her role. This girl is going places. Pereira, Carmena and Lowery danced the initial section of the ballet..Why hasn't Ulbricht been cast in this ballet before? He is perfect for it, and he is, in my opinion, underutilized at NYCB.

The final ballet of the evening was Bal de Couture, to the music from Eugene Onegin. Again, I thought the costumes upstaged the choreography of Martins. Six of the women wear gorgeous dresses designed in various permutations of black and white. The dresses are so elaborate and have so many layers that there is no possibility of inserting any complex lifts into the choreography. The dresses, in my opinion, hamper any possiblity of demanding choreography for those who are wearing them. The main role of these beautifully dressed ladies is to waltz around the stage with their dapper partners during the polonaise from Eugene Onegin. In addition, there are three women wearing tutus (M. Fairchild, Bouder and Peck). Personally, I thought the six dresses were gorgeous, but the tutus were unflattering. They made these three women look short waisted and broad shouldered, in my opinion. (The women all have their hair done up in elaborate up-dos.) I thought the choreography for the ensemble was very pedestrian. The central leads of the ballet are Janie Taylor, Robbie Fairchild and Sebastian Marcovici. (Janie's dress is a lovely lilac color with billowing arms and a sequin butterfly in the center of the back. This dress is sheer and light, and is much more suitable for ballet dancing.) It is a romantic trio ballet which vaguely references the Onegin plot- Janie loves and is committed to Marcovici, but Fairchild is the man from her past for whom she still yearns. I was hoping that this would be developed more in the ballet, but it seemed to go nowhere. The choreography for the trio was pleasurable but uninspired.

All in all, a fun evening of costume and people watching.

By the way, the updated casting has Bouder replaced in her assignments for this week and next, but she danced tonight. Not sure what's up with that.

I'm not a big fan of Orpheus, but Taylor and Marcovici were compelling in this ballet earlier this week.

Although Sara Mearns did not dance, she looked sensational in her red Valentino gown on the red carpet.

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Thanks for the descriptions, abatt. I'm glad to hear about Lovette.

Did Valentino do new costumes for Rubies as well? I can't find any pictures.

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No, the costumes for Rubies were not by Valentino. The Rubies costumes are the same ones that they use every season. It was obvious that most of the audience had never seen Rubies before, because there was a collective gasp and spontaneous applause when the curtain was first raised for this ballet.

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No, the costumes for Rubies were not by Valentino. The Rubies costumes are the same ones that they use every season. It was obvious that most of the audience had never seen Rubies before, because there was a collective gasp and spontaneous applause when the curtain was first raised for this ballet.

That happens at EVERY performance......

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Friday's performance by the New York City Ballet of "Apollo", "Orpheus", and "Agon" represented an eagerly awaited lesson in IIIs and IVs. Peter Martins merits praise for putting these three ballets together on the same bill. They informed each other.

I have seen many different representations of the Orfeus myth, including the Paris Opera Ballet's version of Pina Bausch's "Orfeus", the Australian Opera's DVD version of Gluck's "Orfeo", Balanchine's "Chaconne", and, on Friday, Balanchine's "Orfeus". I did not notice any reference to Paradise or Elysian Fields in the Friday performance. I admit to experiencing some distractions. Did I miss it, or did the black hut represent this plane? Did Eurydice emerge from the black hut? Could Orpheus possibly have reunited Eurydice in the Underworld in this version?

In "101 Stories", Balanchine writes that Apollo tried to, but could not, retrieve the music or the lyre (I forget which). In the end, the lyre ascends by a prop that appears to be a rope/fish symbol/ broken figure 8/loop/near infinity image. Does that indicate the lyre was trapped and inaccessible? In the absence of Balanchine's explanation, I would have interpreted the image as perhaps hopeful. Usually a raising, elevation, ascension, or eternity indicates a form of salvation, not a failure. However, in light of Balanchine's writing, one must presume that the promise of retrieval or rebirth does not offer the benefits desired. Perhaps a souless, empty lyre, without Orpheus or Eurydice, offers little solace. The conductor explained the passage of music as similar to running in place, which I did not observe, but which would lend support to the conclusion contained in Balanchine's writing. However, this would appear to offer a negative commentary on Apollo's apparent triumph, in the previous ballet (which could be viewed as Act I in Friday's program), of his (a) birth/rebirth, (b) ascension, and © having conquered (i) his powers; (ii) his muses; (iii) his gifts; (iv) other levels or planes; and/or (v) time (?).

The following deserve special praise:

1. Ana Sophia Scheller, for her clean, beautiful performance as Calliope in "Apollo";

2. Amar Ramasar, for his beautiful lines, lyricism, and moving performance as the Dark Angel in "Orpheus";

3. Wendy Whelan, for being the incomparable Wendy Whelan, always on a different level, again on Friday as Eurydice in "Orpheus";

4. Megan LeCrone, for her self-reflective, thoughtful approach in "Agon"; and

5. Maria Kowroski, for her particular strength, athletic skill, ability to create dramatic tension, and near-flawless execution in the pdd in "Agon.

I wanted to see this program since it was first announced, and I waited until the last minute to buy tickets. Luckily, I obtained a $31.00 seat in the Fourth Ring. The same approach failed me with respect to the opera at BAM today, and so far, with respect to the upcoming ABT and Ratmatsky workshop at the Guggenheim. How early does one need to get on line to obtain canceled tickets to Works and Process generally?

Lastly, are Apollo's feet supposed to be sloppy, to convey his developing of mastery over his body, or do some dancers perform the steps in a neat fashion?

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Just came back from tonight's performance and wanted to share a few thoughts.

Scherzo a la Russe - It is short & sweet. A wonderful example of fine patterning and musical choreography. I could watch it several more time. It is a great opportunity for those SAB students to have stage time and be able to move big without technical challenges.

Divert La Baiser de la Fee - Tiler Peck, Tiler Peck, Tiler Peck - lush port de bras, beautiful musical phrasing, rock solid technique in every way. Who could ask for anything more. I'm not a fan of Gonzalo Garcia, he was OK. I just find that his movements are not completely finished, and he never dances in a way that lets you know he has time to spare.

Dances Concertantes - Very entertaining. Combine this with the two previous mentioned pieces and the choreographic inventiveness still is astounding. I loved Andrew Veyette in this. Everything looked sharp, taught and focused. If this is an indicator, this will be a great season for him. Megan Fairchild was also fine in this. They both brought a lot of humor and spice to the piece. It's funny, but to me the choreography isn't dated but the costumes are.

I didn't stay for Firebird. My husband dislikes the piece and I don't like it enough to sit through a 20 minute intermission to see it, particularly when I saw it twice last spring.

I'm going next Tuesday. Excited about Symphony in C - Reichlen in the 2nd movement and Lauren King getting a shot at the 4th. I'm hoping L. King will get promoted to soloist - there are only 2 female soloists at the moment.

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Vipa, I love Danses Concertantes, too! I saw it at earlier performances, a while back, with Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia. Hyltin has really progressed since her early 'light blonde days.' (Not that the darker hair color makes her dance better nowadays but she seems technically stronger than the coltish days when I saw her trip through Tarantella at the KennCen.) The trios were all amazing at the earlier perf I attended and, yes, Lauren King (in the jazzy 'blue group') is a dazzling stand-out who has spent far too much time in the corps, for her level of talents.

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Wow, thanks for pointing out that Lauren King is getting a major role. I look forward to it!

There has been a rash of injuries and replacements this season. I'm glad to see Ashley Bouder scheduled for next week, I've missed her. It seems Sara Mearns is going to miss the whole season (although they haven't posted the final week of casting yet).

I've seen several performances over the past few weeks. Will try to get it together to post some more comments. But I have to note the amazing Adrian Danchig-Waring, who I saw twice in Agon. Just amazing energy and form, every movement articulated to its absolute fullest with crispness and clarity, and jumps so effortless it almost looks like he's not even moving -- an uncanny effect. If this man isn't principal material, I don't know what is!

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I saw the trilogy last Saturday night and my disappointment was with "Orpheus" The performance fell flat due in a large part to Marcovici's Orpheus. I saw no longing, desperation or resolve in uniting with Eurydice in his performance. It was a distant laid-back performance---was Eurydice truly the love of his life? The anticipated "Curtain" also literally fell flat...it looked like an ordinary scrim. I am sorry if I come across as too negative but my long memory goes back to the first performance by Ballet Society....Magallanes, while not a technical dancer was a devastated Orpheus, and Tallchief, who I have always thought of as an actress-dancer was spellbinding as Eurydice....and that Curtain!! It had a life of its own---and literally ate up the stage and the performers.

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I saw the trilogy last Saturday night and my disappointment was with "Orpheus" The performance fell flat due in a large part to Marcovici's Orpheus. I saw no longing, desperation or resolve in uniting with Eurydice in his performance. It was a distant laid-back performance---was Eurydice truly the love of his life? The anticipated "Curtain" also literally fell flat...it looked like an ordinary scrim. I am sorry if I come across as too negative but my long memory goes back to the first performance by Ballet Society....Magallanes, while not a technical dancer was a devastated Orpheus, and Tallchief, who I have always thought of as an actress-dancer was spellbinding as Eurydice....and that Curtain!! It had a life of its own---and literally ate up the stage and the performers.

It's wonderful to hear from someone who saw the first performance, atm711. Marcovici (and Taylor) did move me, and in memory still do. It was the Dark Angel that disappointed, especially because in the person of Jonathan Stafford, he was of smaller stature than Marcovici’s Orpheus; also because of the rust color of his costume, which the black and white shots hadn’t prepared me for. Between the two, I found the character physically unimpressive and a little cartoonish looking. Likewise, the Furies struck me as the Funnies. Still, given the historical importance of the ballet, I was thrilled to see it again.

I’m curious about what you or anyone else who was there thought of Chase Finlay’s Apollo earlier. He sure does look the part, but even apart from his stumble, there were moments where he didn’t seem quite on the music. I expect he’s given better performances in the role.

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I thought Finlay's Apollo was marvelous at the Saturday evening performancem except for that one major stumble near the end of his second solo. He was brimming with excitement and energy. I also have to mention how wonderful Tiler Peck was in Baiser- so wonderfully musical and lyrical.

Some might be interested in this article, titled "Going Hollywood", in the Times regarding the Fall Gala, and how arts institutions are trying to incrrease their profile and their bank accounts by attracting celebrities to their galas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/fashion/going-hollywood-in-new-york-the-ballet-and-opera-are-stuffy-no-more.html?ref=style

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I have been surprised not to be reading more about the Stravinsky festival at NYCB--wonderful programming for many of us I should think and based on what I saw this weekend, the ballets are receiving some excellent performances. I went up to NY with a special eye to the program w. Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Monumentum/Movements/Duo Concertante/Symphony in Three Movements. I have to say that, previous to this trip, the last time I saw Stravinsky Violin Concerto at NYCB it was a dull affair and though I tend to defend NYCB in the Martins era, after that particular performance I thought 'well, that it is the sort of thing his detractors are talking about.' And the last time I saw Monumentum/Movements at NYCB it was with a past her prime Kistler. So I was particularly curious how this program would look.

I thought that at the Saturday matinee and Sat evening performances with partly overlapping, partly differing casts the company looked energetic, intelligent, and engaged. Overall, the dancers were terrific. And the ballets!!! Classical ballet broken down and reassembled from the inside out--to become something utterly astonishing and deeply moving. I have to admit that for me it's also a very challenging program, even mentally exhausting, like a blockbuster art exhibit; by the time you are looking at your 60th Cezanne you are just a little dizzy...

I don't have time to go into detail re performances plus or minus, but I will say that Sterling Hyltin was electric in Symphony in Three Movements and Megan Fairchild playful, womanly, and quietly radiant in Duo Concertante. Fairchild was also excellent--musical and even witty--in Danses Concertantes the night before, despite an opening slip; in fact, these three performances were the best I have seen her by far; she seems to have reached a new maturity and artistry as a dancer. In Duo Concertante Finlay and she made a nice Martins/Mazzo after image, but by comparison with her, he needs seasoning.

This weekend was also my first chance to see Robert Fairchild in a substantial dancing role (the Martins role in Stravinsky Violin Concerto) and I was very impressed. I had seen him in Double Feature and Liebeslieder last spring--in both of which I thought he was excellent,but this performance really sharpened my impressions of him as a dancer. In some ways, he seems to me the quintessential American male dancer of our era. I'm not forgetting Hallberg, but the latter seems to belong more to the Bruhn/Dowell line of elegant classicists; one recalls Hallberg's French training, supplemented more recently with the note of drama that the Bolshoi seems to be injecting into his persona. Fairchild more obviously recalls the NYCB lineage of D'Amboise, Villella, and Woetzel -- while also being just entirely himself. He is wonderfully easy and yet still precise in the quality of his movement--likewise boyish and yet manly, graceful and yet sculptural. The last quality is something particularly pleasing to see in a role created on the very sculptural Martins. Call me a fan.

Other highlights? Well, when the curtain went up on Stravinsky Violin Concerto Saturday afternoon and Janie Taylor was standing facing the audience with two men on either side of her, there was something so relaxed, attentive and subtly galvanizing in the way she held her body while just standing for the first few bars of the music, that I felt instantly that this was a performance it had been worth my while to get on a plane to see.

Lots more to say about the weekend--including my enjoyment of Reichlen in Movements for Piano and Orchestra Sat night (and the final sensual moments of her berceuse in Firebird the night before)--but I'll stop. For myself, I think that if NYCB can consistently perform the major Balanchine modernist works at this level, then they are doing very well indeed. Was every performance a home run? No. And in patches Symphony in Three Movements could perhaps have used more of a charge from the entire ensemble. (Actually I was a little pooped myself at that point in the program.) But no-one I saw dance was lax or out of their depth, as I have sometimes seen at NYCB. As for the ballets: I find them to be among the most wonderful works of art ever created. Sorry I can't see the Agon program as well.

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Apologies...I got all tangled up trying to edit something and ended up posting in response to myself. There's a metaphor...

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I thought Finlay's Apollo was marvelous at the Saturday evening performancem except for that one major stumble near the end of his second solo. He was brimming with excitement and energy. I also have to mention how wonderful Tiler Peck was in Baiser- so wonderfully musical and lyrical.

I'm so glad to hear that Finlay did so well. I've seen from you past reviews that you and I are very often in agreement! I haven't seen Finley yet this year - last year he seemed over his head in the things I saw him in, but I always thought he has it in him.

Agree with you about Tiler Peck in Baiser - one can't say enough.

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I went to tonight's performance (Tuesday). A couple of thoughts, but I'd love to read reviews if anyone else was there.

1. M. Fairchild and DeLuz looked great in Rubies.

2. Enough can't be said about Tiler Peck - her musicality and upper body are wondrous

3. Erica Pereira has been a soloist for a while now and continues to underwhelm.

I have other thoughts, but would love to hear from others.

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Hi Vipa. I was there last night, too. Fairchild has improved tremendously in Rubies since her debut a few years ago, but Bouder is still my favorite in this role. DeLuz was fantastic. I agree with you about Tiler Peck in Andantino.

I thought the most significant debut last night was Reichlin in the second movement of Symphony in C. I think this is still a work in progress for her. She is, in my opinion, a more natural choice in neoclassical ballets than tutu and tiara roles. (I would love to see Reichlin move up to the lead in Agon.) Last night sometimes Reichlin was tentative and/or not with the music. The bigger issue, though, was lack of interpretive nuance or connection w. J. Stafford. I thought her performance fell short overall, but I'm sure it will improve over time. This is an iconic and difficult role to master.

Scheller was marvelous in the first movement in her debut. Such speed and precision.

I think Pereira (third movement) is at a disadvantage because she still looks like a teenager, especially in a sophisticated tutu ballet like Symphony in C. I thought Lauren King (fourth movement) did well, but her performance, I'm sure, will look more polished in future outings. Carmena and Adrain D-W were very impressive in the thrid and fourth movements.

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The Thursday 10/4 performance at NYCB was a good one! All tickets were $29 dollars and the house was absolutely packed. I ended up on the fourth ring, where I have never sat, and loved the vantage point. I was on the side, so I wasn't very far from the dancers. I was almost on top of them, but it was a great way to watch them.

The program started with Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild in Duo Concertant. Their energy was refreshing. Sterling has always appeared almost coltish to me. Her lines are precise, and her footwork was clean. It probably doesn't hurt that she has beautifully arched feet. She really seemed to be having a great time while dancing. Fairchild was good, and I appreciated his attack. I have to say my focus never veered far from Sterling though.

After the Rain was next with Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall, and I felt very lucky to have been there to see it. This has to be one of Wendy's best roles. It fits her like a glove. Craig was a great partner but Wendy and the choreography of this piece just seem to be meant for each other. It was emotional and she came off as vulnerable. Beautiful.

Moves was next, and it's just not really my thing. It seems like there are a number of interesting things you could do in a ballet without music but this had none of them. The dancers were good, but the piece seemed long. Even the leotards worn by the women seemed unflattering and outdated. Just not my favorite!

After intermission the program concluded with Hallelujah Junction. This was the first Martins ballet I have ever seen. I loved the music and it was great to see the dancers moving at such a quick pace. As the lead, Janie Taylor was captivating. There were times when her technique didn't seem as strong as some of the other dancers in the company, but she is a dancer that you want to watch. It's hard to take your eyes off of her. Daniel Ulbricht was a firecracker, plain and simple. He's a small dancer that packs a huge punch. The corps couples seemed to have just as challenging of choreography as the principals. Lauren Lovette stuck out to me for having a truly lovely movement quality. She's musical, and she has beautiful lines. Surely she'll be dancing more soloist roles soon.

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