abatt

Spring Season 2013

52 posts in this topic

It WAS a great evening at the NYCB. I loved the costumes in "Who Cares"! The last time I saw the ballet live was over 40 years ago and I don't remember what they wore then. Sterling Hyltin was amazing and I really liked HER costume. So beautiful. Abi Stafford - a real cutie. Her "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" was peppered in the beginning with Balanchine's signature off-balance positions which Ms. Stafford accomplished with the requisite aplomb and assurance. Ana Sophia Scheller - stellar! smile.png What a beauty and a dancer of lovely lines (they all have lovely lines, actually) and presentation.

Lauren King, dancing "Oh, Lady Be Good" (with Daniel Applebaum) performed with the slightest sassiness befitting the choreography and the song (if you know the lyrics). She's such a watchable dancer (I started watching her when she was 12 years old and performing with the Eglevsky Ballet) and has a gorgeous ballet body that serves her well with Balanchine works. Her years with City Ballet have made her a confident, stand-out performer.

Finally, after the somewhat polite reception given the "Barber Violin Concerto", "Red Angels", and "Allegro Brillante", the crowd went wild with hoots and hollers for "Who Cares", for the ballet itself, the fantastic Gershwin repertoire of songs, and for the wonderful New York City Ballet corps and, especially, its exceptional soloists.

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I agree that Lauren King always shines. Even when she's in the corps I watch her. So glad she's now a soloist and she was lovely in "Oh Lay Be Good."

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I just read Mary Cargill's review of Chase Finlay's debut in "Stars and Stripes". It confirmed my belief that tall, princelike dancers like Finlay - the ones who excel in roles like Apollo, are not the best dancers for the lead role in Stars and Stripes. Although he danced it many times, I never liked Charles Akegard in the ballet. Damian Woetzl, Ethan Stiefel, now Andrew Veyette and Tyler Angle - these are the best dancers for the El Capitan role (in my opinion anyway). I am going to New York City Ballet's final performance of the season on Sunday and can't wait to see Bouder and Veyette in Stars and Stripes. I'll definitely post about their performances as well as about the performances in Serenade and Stravinksy Violin Concerto early next week.

You don't consider Veyette to belong to that first category?

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Braved the rain and Tiler Peck's Allegro Brillante was every bit as fabulous as everyone says. She manages to be so majestic and commanding and her pirouettes were so fast it was dizzying. Veyette and the wonderful Demi-soloists were all completely on tonight. The new costumes continue to ruin Who Cares? for me but Sterling Hyltin was lovely in the Man I Love duet with Robert Fairchild. Scheller has learned to relax her shoulders and gave a wonderful performance. Great evening.

What amazes me most about Tiler Peck is that her pirouettes accelerate as they progress.

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Just came from tonight's performance and want to comment briefly.

Barber Violin Concerto -First off I think the dichotomy between modern & ballet is a somewhat outdated idea. I believe it probably was even when the ballet was choreographed. People like Kylian, Forsythe, Tharp and others have successfully integrated movement qualities and vocabulary. Aside from that the choreography was pretty boring and arbitrary. The section with Megan Fairchild buzzing around plain annoying.

The Infernal Machine - Ashley Laracy's body looked great. It was only 6 minutes long but didn't fully hold my interest. My husband started watching the percussionists in the orchestra.

Allegro Brillante - Sara Mearns looked great and danced with her special brand of musical abandon. Veyette continues to have a great season. His solo sections (and sections with the men) were beautiful and clean. His partnering, presentation of his partner and relating to her in every way all wonderful.

Tchai Suite 3 - I am one who wishes they'd just do T&V. Is there a reason they don't? That said the first movements are easy to watch. I particularly liked Ana Sofia Scheller and Daniel Ulbricht in Scherzo. His jumps, the pictures he makes in the air and unaffected stage presence, as always a joy. She is a lovely dancer.

The Theme & Variations section - I have been a ballet goer for over 40 years and have seen T&V dozens of times. Tiler Peck did the Theme of my dreams. I've seen great ballerinas do it and always walked away thinking - if only this or that little section had been more this or that it would have been perfect. Not this time. Not a technical flaw, musical in ways that made me sit up and take note of a particular phrasing. Her way of moving fast with her upper being so fluid is amazing. She finds space to luxuriate during allegro that seems impossible. DeLuz had some uncharacteristic difficulties in his solos, but was still quite enjoyable. The opening theme with DeLuz and Peck was grand. The phrasing, port de bras and openness they both brought to it - nothing short of magnificent.

BTW - I saw Peck do it last year, and that was great, but this performance was in another realm. Like I said - The Theme of my dreams!

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Went again tonight. There was a last minute replacement -- The Infernal Machine replaced Purple, and Somogyi didn't dance. Hope she's not injured -- I saw her last night. Barber Violin Concerto is one of the few Martins pieces that gets better upon repeated vieing. Sara Mearns was an effective, if very different Allegro Brillante than Tiler Peck. Tiler Peck was all about dizzying accelerating pirouettes and lightning fast footwork. Mearns made the ballet more dramatic, heavier. The 8 demi-soloists that have accompanied Peck and Mearns deserve a huge round of applause.

Tiler Peck was absolutely magnificent in T&V. de Luz struggled with his variation and got kind of sloppy but he made it through the end of the ballet without dying. Peck however? It was like child's play for her.

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One more thing about tonight - I got great seats at the atrium today for tonight's performance - $45 dollars got me sitting in the second row of the second ring - almost center. I was hoping to go to the matinee, but there were no discount tickets available.

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Puppytreats, sorry I didn't answer you earlier. I was at ABT's Le Corsaire. I'm not saying I'm a great expert or anything, but in my experience of going to NYCB performances since 1980, I think the taller princelike dancers are not a good fit for the El Capitan role in Stars and Stripes. I don't Andrew Veyette is a princely dancer at all. I really like him, but I wonder how effective he'd be in Apollo. I don't think he's ever danced the part, but I could be wrong. I think he's best in roles that require bravura technique and often a sense of humor. So I would not place Veyette in the first category at all. I will definitely post about his performance in Stars and Stripes today.

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One more thing about tonight - I got great seats at the atrium today for tonight's performance - $45 dollars got me sitting in the second row of the second ring - almost center. I was hoping to go to the matinee, but there were no discount tickets available.

Yesterday morning when I saw online that the fourth ring had opened up for the matinee I called the box office and was able to get a "Society NYCB" ticket there (even though there were none available for this performance when I asked a week and a half ago). I guess these days you have to shop early and often. Anyway, I really enjoyed Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3!

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I don't think the replacement of "Purple" by "The Infernal Machine" means Somogyi's injured. I was also there when she danced on Friday night, looking great, and I noticed at that point the casting sheet already showed that "Purple" was replaced for Saturday.

It's been a great season (that is, except for a week or so of programs of little interest...). I've attended a ton of performances and been dazzled again and again. So many dancers looking so great, expressing such beautiful pieces, it's hard to know where to start! One thing: of the new soloists, Ashley Laracey seems to be getting the most opportunities, and making the most of it. She has a captivating quality to her and I can't wait to see more.

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Re Sara Mearns in Allegro Brillante on Saturday night... I had some misgivings about this casting. She is so intense and individual, I almost felt like this role needs someone who can stay a little more on the surface. She didn't look like she was leading an ensemble, but instead like she was having an intense, highly personal, experience. Even the peach dress, I felt, didn't quite suit her. On the other hand, her dramatic qualities are beautifully suited to Serenade, which I saw on Sunday. My current favorite cast of Serenade would be Mearns, Ashley Bouder, and Megan Le Crone.

Tons of fun at the season closer, with crowd-pleasing performances of Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Stars and Stripes. One of my regrets of the season is that I didn't get to see Troy Schumacher leading the Third Regiment in Stars and Stripes. Daniel Ulbricht was amazing, of course, and Bouder and Veyette looked like they were having the time of their lives. I was too!!!

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Mearns was heartbreaking in Serenade yesterday. What a way to close the season.

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Tons of fun at the season closer, with crowd-pleasing performances of Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Stars and Stripes. One of my regrets of the season is that I didn't get to see Troy Schumacher leading the Third Regiment in Stars and Stripes. Daniel Ulbricht was amazing, of course, and Bouder and Veyette looked like they were having the time of their lives. I was too!!!

Bouder and Veyette dialed the bravura -- and the shtick -- up to 11. They weren't just projecting to the back row of the fourth ring, they were projecting the back row of some theater in way out in Cleveland. I wouldn't want to see Liberty Bell and El Capitan danced that way every time, but it sure was a blast yesterday. Veyette has absolutely perfected the little trick of casually strolling past his madly pirouetting Liberty Bell and just happening to catch her as she opens up into arabesque. It's a tiny little moment, but it speaks volumes about the kind of guy El Capitan is. Veyette's performance yesterday made me forget all about Damian Woetzel, and if that's not a compliment I don't know what is. Bravo!

I also thoroughly enjoyed Savannah Lowery's great big sunny performance in Rifle Regiment (the Second Campaign). [Note to props department: please weld the mouthpiece to the trumpet body before the next performance. The damn thing fell out almost as soon as Lowery started her variation and it lay there in the middle of the stage just daring someone to trip over it. Lowery nudged it a bit off center and a member of the corps finally managed to scoop the thing up and carry it off, for which she got a round of applause.]

I saw two Stars and Stripes casts this season: Reichlen / Finlay / King / LeCrone / Schumacher and Bouder / Veyette / Pereira / Lowery / Ulbricht. Taken as a whole, yesterday's performance was much more in the jolly spirit of the thing -- even the corps seemed more energized. I preferred Reichlen's sweetly sexy Liberty Bell to Bouder's brassy flirt, but the wonderful thing about NYCB these days is that it can cast dancers as different in size and style as Reichlen and Bouder in the same roles -- they also share TPC2, Firebird, Swan Lake and probably something else I'm forgetting -- and get qualitatively different but equally thrilling interpretations. King and LeCrone are both favorites of mine, but they didn't seem temperamentally suited to Stars and Stripes: there's a whiff of cheerfully innocent "look at me!" vulgarity to the proceedings that neither of them can just groove on the way Lowery does. Ashley Isaacs kept drawing my eye in Corcoran Cadets (the First Campaign) -- I'd like to see her get a shot at leading the regiment. I liked both Schumacher and Ulbricht in Thunder and Gladiator; they -- like Bouder and Reichlen -- delivered different but equally enjoyable performances. (I adored Schumacher's Puck a few seasons ago -- I hope we get to see him in the role again next year.) Chase Finlay's debut was rocky: he won't be a good El Capitan until he's a better partner and has a fully developed principal's stamina and stage-smarts. If Reichlen isn't too big for Tyler Angle -- and they look terrific together -- then she shouldn't be too big for Finlay.

A comment on Colleen Boresta's observations above contrasting the different requirements of Apollo and El Capitan: two notable Apollos were also notable El Capitans -- Jacques d'Amboise and Peter Martins. I think a dancer with imagination could do justice to both. Apollo in particular strikes me as one of those genuinely "porous" roles that can accomodate good dancers of every type and temperament -- but then I'm on record as preferring my Apollos feral. (And would therefore probably enjoy watching Veyette take on the challenge.) I don't think Martins' insistence on "blond" as Apollo's defining characteristic has served the role or the company well.

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I was at Saturday night's show. Just a lovely night at the ballet. I thought Mearns was idiosyncratic in Allegro but so interesting and moving. Somebody mentioned Tiler Peck's upper body - I noticed that too. She brought her arms not just up and down but back and around. A perfect performance of T&V from the ballerina. Like Kathleen O'Connell, I can appreciate two ballerinas' interpretations and glory in them. I saw Bouder in T&V this past Winter and loved it.

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I should not have made a blatant comment about tall dancers not being good in Stars and Stripes. Sorry about that. I haven't seen Chase Finlay's El Capitan. I did see Charles Akegard in Stars several times and was disappointed in his performance. But that's just one dancer. I saw Teresa Reichlen as Liberty Bell (with Askegard) in 2009 and was disappointed in her performance as well. But that was four years ago, a long time ago in ballet ages. I will post more later (I know I keep saying that, but I'm finishing up my 'Le Corsaire' thoughts now) but Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette were absolutely senasational in Stars on Sunday. I may be wrong about this, but it seemed to me that when Bouder and Veyette were doing their solos, the music was even faster than usual (which is super fast to begin with). The whole afternoon was just incredible. Abatt is so right!! What a way to end the season!!!

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I was wondering about the protocol (if any?) when there is a mishap as there was at the Sunday matinee and something obviously hazardous ends up on the stage in the middle of a performance. When the mouthpiece fell off Savannah Lowery's bugle, who should have done what? I was thinking she should have just grabbed it and thrown it offstage, however out of character that might have looked. What would have happened if one of the corps girls hadn't taken it on herself to grab it as they exited the stage?

Also, presumably they will be offering contracts to this year's apprentices soon. I'll be interested to hear when there is official news.

Finally, I just had to add that Reichlen's "dark angel" arabesque on Sunday was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

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I was wondering about the protocol (if any?) when there is a mishap as there was at the Sunday matinee and something obviously hazardous ends up on the stage in the middle of a performance. When the mouthpiece fell off Savannah Lowery's bugle, who should have done what? I was thinking she should have just grabbed it and thrown it offstage, however out of character that might have looked. What would have happened if one of the corps girls hadn't taken it on herself to grab it as they exited the stage?

I always wonder why the first person in proximity to the item on the floor doesn't just swoop down and pick it up. These things are always a distraction for the audience, worrying about somebody slipping and falling, so it's just better to get rid of it.

I noticed that Vasiliev kicked something onto the outer edge of the stage that had been sitting on the floor for some time (was that at Don Q or Corsaire - can't remember at the moment). It seemed long overdue and the right thing to do for the safety of the dancers.

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I should not have made a blatant comment about tall dancers not being good in Stars and Stripes. Sorry about that. I haven't seen Chase Finlay's El Capitan. I did see Charles Akegard in Stars several times and was disappointed in his performance. But that's just one dancer. I saw Teresa Reichlen as Liberty Bell (with Askegard) in 2009 and was disappointed in her performance as well. But that was four years ago, a long time ago in ballet ages. I will post more later (I know I keep saying that, but I'm finishing up my 'Le Corsaire' thoughts now) but Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette were absolutely senasational in Stars on Sunday. I may be wrong about this, but it seemed to me that when Bouder and Veyette were doing their solos, the music was even faster than usual (which is super fast to begin with). The whole afternoon was just incredible. Abatt is so right!! What a way to end the season!!!

Colleen – I thought you were making a point about type—i.e. “prince” vs “not prince”—rather than height, hence my comment that I thought a dancer of imagination—great dancers like Martins and d’Amboise specifically—could make something of both roles. (And I certainly wasn’t trying to call you out on some kind of error—my sincere apologies if that’s how it came across. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen good Apollos be good El Capitans—I forgot Sean Lavery!—and simply wanted to note that it could be done.)

I’m in the camp that doesn’t think of Apollo as first and foremost a “prince,” but I see where people who do slot the role into the “prince” category are coming from. (Especially if their first Apollo was Peter Martins or Peter Boal.) I think you could also make the case that El Capitan is the American flavor of prince and that Liberty Bell is the American flavor of queen.

Getting back to height: I think there is choreography that, as a function of rhetoric, line, and form, looks better on taller (or maybe longer-limbed) dancers vs choreography that looks better on shorter dancers. I think Midsummer’s Titania and the Tall Girl in Rubies may be examples of the former. There are male roles that get a lot of their effect from the kind of explosive power that’s easier to see in a shorter dancer: I’m thinking of the Prodigal Son or the third sailor in Fancy Free.There’s also choreography that is simply easier for a taller or shorter dancer to do.

There’s choreography where height doesn’t seem to matter at all. Then there’s choreography that looks different on taller or shorter bodies in a way that’s both riveting and eye opening. Ib Anderson was my first tall Oberon, and I remember going “Whoa!” The bravura was just as brilliant, but it looked bracingly different on a taller body. I had the same experience last week seeing Liberty Bell danced back-to-back by Reichlen and Bouder – same steps, different thrills! I wouldn’t want to be without either one.

And Sunday was one of the best NYCB send offs into summer that I can remember -- I'm looking forward to your report!

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You're right, Kathleen, I was talking about type, not height. Tyler Angle is tall enough to partner Maria Korowski, but I thought he was good in Stars and Stripes (but nowhere in the same league as Andrew Veyette's performance on Sunday afternnoon.) When I saw Angle perform Stars this season, Sara Mearns was his Liberty Bell. She was good, but I think she's much better as an adagio dancer. Her performance in Serenade on Sunday was so hauntingly beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.

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I was at Saturday night's show. Just a lovely night at the ballet. I thought Mearns was idiosyncratic in Allegro but so interesting and moving. Somebody mentioned Tiler Peck's upper body - I noticed that too. She brought her arms not just up and down but back and around. A perfect performance of T&V from the ballerina.

My theory - well everyone saw Tiler at Osipova's "Don Q" and at the Ratmansky. Then comes this: an absolute breakout performance, one I've been waiting for from her. She stops smiling in Theme, raises her chin a little regally, and dances rich in the upper body, with a little epaulement, through her shoulders and into her arms - Imagines (with a capital "I") herself as a Russian Ballerina and nails the role. For Theme is very very Russian.

She's still got room to grow in it. Some of the phrasing in the big variation after the quiet stuff with the soloists, the one that takes of on a series of diagonal pas de chats flying downstage right after some complex phrasing in the upstage left corner, was a little punchy and rushed - compared to the Miranda Weese standard circa 2000 (which in my mind sets the bar in the ballet in the past decade) - but that's a quibble. That was a just a great, breathtaking, lovely performance from Peck and totally transcending her limits. By far the best she's ever danced the role. Imagination.

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New York City Ballet ended their 2012-2013 season with a ballet from each of the three composers honored this year. ‘Serenade’ has music from the Tschaikovsky Festival, ‘Stravinsky Violin Concerto” from the Stravinsky Festival and ‘Stars and Stripes’ from the American Music Festival. Even better, all three works were choreographed by George Balanchine.

The afternoon begins with ‘Serenade’. ‘Serenade’ is the first ballet Balanchine made in the United States (1933). This ballet is as moving as ever, starting with those 17 girls in blue raising their right arms to the moonlight. ‘Serenade’ is not a story ballet but Balanchine discovered the passion, mystery and drama in the Tschaikovsky music.

As the waltz girl, Sara Mearns is so hauntingly beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes. She loves and loses two men and at the end of the ballet is raised into the air and carried off the stage by three men. Has she died? Is she being taken to heaven? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Great art can be construed in many different ways.

Dancing the other main roles are Megan Fairchild as the Russian girl and Teresa Reichlen as the dark angel. Fairchild stands out for her quicksilver footwork, but her jumps lack height. Reichlen brings grandeur to the role of the dark angel. Her extensions are glorious and her arabesques look like they could go on forever. The corps dancers, whose movements are somewhat evocative of the wills in ‘Giselle’, are flawless. ‘Serenade’ is a ballet I hope to see many more times.

Next on the afternoon’s program is ‘Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto’. It is divided into four sections – the Toccata which introduces the dancers, Aria I and Aria II, which are both pas de deux for the principal dancers and the finale Capriccio.

The first pas de deux, Aria I, is very athletic and acrobatic. Maria Kowroski stands out for her amazing back bends. Her partner, Amar Ramasar, performs with exuberance and wit. The second pas de deux, Aria II, has a frail feeling about it. It is danced by the delicately petite Janie Taylor and her partner, the much taller Ask la Cour. Aria II ends with la Cour holding his hand over Taylor’s eyes and bending her head back. It is a beautiful moment. ‘Stravinsky Violin Concerto’ concludes with the entire cast dancing to Capriccio, which is inspired by Russian folk music.

The last ballet of New York City Ballet’s 2012-2013 season is one of my very favorites, ‘Stars and Stripes’. The work is divided into five campaigns, each based on the music of John Philip Sousa (adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay). The first two sections to “Corcoran Cadets” and “Rifle Regiment” are danced by female corps members led by a female soloist. The third segment “Thunder and Gladiator” is performed by the men in the corps de ballet with a male soloist as their leader. All the corps members impress with their perfectly synchronized dancing to Sousa’s stirring marches.

Both female soloists (Erica Pereira and Savannah Lowery) are very good, but Daniel Ulbricht is beyond compare as the head of the men’s regiment. His leaps and turns are thrilling. As much as I love Ulbricht in this role, I would like to see him dance the part of El Capitan. He is a principal dancer and it’s long past time for him to dance principal roles.

The El Capitan on Sunday afternoon, Andrew Veyette, was absolutely sensational, as was Ashley Bouder as Liberty Bell. Bouder stands out for the way she holds her balances and her scissor leaps. I also love the way she plays with the music and has so much fun dancing the role. Veyette is all great leaps and spinning turns. I really love his bouncy steps which highlight his unbelievable ballon. Both Bouder and Veyette perform their solos at the fastest speed I have ever seen. Lesser dancers would have crashed and burned, but Bouder and Veyette handle every move with aplomb.

The last campaign is danced by the entire company to “Stars and Stripes Forever”. At the ballet’s conclusion, as the American flag rolls down the entire back stage of the David Koch Theatre, I find my eyes welling with tears (as usual). This time the American flag was received with thunderous applause. What a fantastic way to end New York City Ballet’s 2012-2013 season.

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Daniel Ulbricht is beyond compare as the head of the men’s regiment. His leaps and turns are thrilling. As much as I love Ulbricht in this role, I would like to see him dance the part of El Capitan. He is a principal dancer and it’s long past time for him to dance principal roles.

I'm sure the reason Ulbricht doesn't do EL Capitan is because there is no female dance who is short enough for him to partner, who can do the dancing. Just think of the partnering section where he has to step back as she stays in arabesque and goes under his arm. I too wish I could see Ulbricht in more roles, but at the moment Erica Perreira is the only one short enough for him to partner and she is very limited in what she can do.

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Isn't Joaquin De Luz the same size as Ulbricht? I remember seeing Ulbricht as Mercutio and De Luz as Tybalt and when they are sword figting they looked to be the same size. De Luz partners Megan Fairchild a lot and I've seen her dance Liberty Bell (but with Andrew Veyette. Isn't Ashley Bouder on the small size too? I loved seeing Bouder with Veyette but it would also be sensational to see Ulbricht with Bouder.

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I'm pretty sure Ulbricht is shorter than De Luz. Ulbricht is able to do Tarantella with Fairchild and Bouder because there is no partnering to speak of in that piece. The Bouder/Ulbricht Tarantella really brings the house down.

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