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Spring Season 2014

115 posts in this topic

Which are the roles associated with Clara Schumann? Is it the first listed woman (Mearns in cast 1 and Reichlin in cast 2)?

In DanceView, Winter 2001 issue, Leigh Witchel writes

All the roles in the ballet assume some aspect of this relationship, although von Aroldingen (and Balanchine as well) referred to Lüders’ and her roles specifically as “Robert” and “Clara”.

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I opened the season by seeing two enjoyable performances of "Namouna" (Friday night and Sunday matinee). Robert Fairchild was amazing -- beautiful form, athleticism, and charisma. The cigarette girl is a perfect role for Ashley Bouder, showcasing her dazzling footwork and comic timing. Sara Mearns was her usual explosive self. I find Sterling Hyltin less interesting than Bouder or Mearns, although her technique seems to be up to any challenge. I'm having some trouble completely following the narrative of Namouna, though. Can anyone share their understanding of the plot? I gather that it's Fairchild and three women, and that in the end he winds up with the "right" one, but I don't really understand the obstacles, or what's going on with all the subsidiary characters (Ulbricht and his hench-maidens, the yellow-dress girls and the bathing-cap girls).

I'm enjoying Abi Stafford more than I used to. It was interesting seeing her dance side by side with Megan Fairchild. I'd swear Stafford has some way in which her body catches more light than Fairchild does.

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I opened the season by seeing two enjoyable performances of "Namouna" (Friday night and Sunday matinee). Robert Fairchild was amazing -- beautiful form, athleticism, and charisma. The cigarette girl is a perfect role for Ashley Bouder, showcasing her dazzling footwork and comic timing. Sara Mearns was her usual explosive self. I find Sterling Hyltin less interesting than Bouder or Mearns, although her technique seems to be up to any challenge. I'm having some trouble completely following the narrative of Namouna, though. Can anyone share their understanding of the plot? I gather that it's Fairchild and three women, and that in the end he winds up with the "right" one, but I don't really understand the obstacles, or what's going on with all the subsidiary characters (Ulbricht and his hench-maidens, the yellow-dress girls and the bathing-cap girls).

I'm enjoying Abi Stafford more than I used to. It was interesting seeing her dance side by side with Megan Fairchild. I'd swear Stafford has some way in which her body catches more light than Fairchild does.

Cobweb -- I think there is about as much "plot" to Ratmansky's "Namouna" as there is to Balanchine's "Scotch Symphony" or "Baiser de la Fée" -- or even "Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2" -- which is to say, only the merest suggestion that there might actually be one. These ballets all evoke earlier works with real plots ("La Sylphide" in the case of Scotch Symphony. e.g.) but don't really recapitulate them. The jolly Highland Lassie who opens "Scotch Symphony" sure looks like she's going to turn out to be Effie, but then pretty much vanishes from the scene. The male corps first bars the way between the male lead and the object of his desire, then hands her over to him about 20 seconds later: it makes no sense in terms of plot, but we've seen that kind of drama in a score of other ballets where it does have narrative coherence, and it resonates with us somehow.

"Namouna" looks like the same kind of thing to me: we recognize bits of dramatic business from other ballets -- a male lead choosing between three women? hmmm ... Where have I seen that before? -- but here the elements only hang together by dream-logic. Putting the dancers in costumes evocative of 30s sci-fi films plays with our heads even more. If Daniel Ulbricht wore a crown and a doublet instead of what looks like an early aviator's helmet and a proto space suit, we'd probably decide he was the King in charge of whatever magical kingdom it was and not give it a moment's more thought: giving our hero a hard time is part of the job description. (The headgear that everyone except the male lead wears is genuinely disconcerting the first few times you see the ballet, and I assume that's the point.)

I adore "Namouna," but my one reservation is this: the woman our hero chooses at the end feels less than fully formed as a character. We know exactly what kind of woman the Cigarette Girl is, and would no matter who danced her. (I agree that Bouder is wonderful in the role.) Ditto Sara Mearns' Sultry Temptress. Both get a lot of distinctive material early on. But the girl who ultimately wins the guy seems barely sketched in until almost the end: she's a problem even Wendy Whelan, the role's originator, couldn't fix. I actually think that Hyltin does a commendable job with her: she gives her oddball gestures a kind of goofy ingenue innocence that makes her seem like the right choice after all. (It doesn't hurt that she and R. Fairchild have a ton of natural stage chemistry as a partnering team. They always look terrific together.) I really enjoyed Hyltin's performance on Sunday and hardly remembered that the role was created on Whelan -- I think she's done a fine job making the role her own.

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Thanks for your comments, Kathleen! That's very helpful. I guess I was looking for a little too much plot, when it's more about pure dance.

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Brief note: A wonderful debut last night by Ashly Isaacs in the 3rd movement of Symphony in C. Totally confident and at ease, making the choreography look like child's play... and with a beautiful smile, looking like she was having the time of her life. Very impressive, and I totally look forward to seeing her more!

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Yes, I agree cobweb. In fact, there was not a weak link in the the entire performance by anyone. An excellent program, with everyone doing wonderful work. I especially loved Maria K's sublime and serene performance of the Symphony in C second movement w. Tyler Angle.

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I am curious & intrigued at how dancers get cast for parts/roles. Do they ask, audition, or hand picked by Martins??? Sorry. Am a ballet novice here.

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Yes, I agree cobweb. In fact, there was not a weak link in the the entire performance by anyone. An excellent program, with everyone doing wonderful work.

I still can't believe they wasted an entire week by not doing a single Balanchine ballet last week, so couldn't wait for last night's program. Loved Maria in the Adagio of Symphony in C, she's magical and the best the company has now that Wendy no longer does it (although Wendy was the only one able to do a breathtaking six o'clock penchee, head right to the knee). But I feel Lauren King is miscast in the 4th movement. Maybe she's not a natural turner? Every time I've seen her do it there are some waaay off balance turns, and there were 2 scary ones last night, both front stage center, one where she was completely saved (in the nick of time) from falling on her face by Adrian Danchig-Waring (brilliant and graceful, as usual). Not sure why no-one else seems to have gotten a shot at that role, who might be more secure in the fast turns. I have to say the male cast for Sym in C was outstanding last night overall. Veyette was wonderful (much better than Chase Finlay, who can't do a proper double tour at all), and Tyler Angle floated Maria through so many beautiful lifts I lost count. Garcia also had a great night. I missed Ana-Sophia in the first movement (Abbi was ok, not great), and that's another movement that maybe more should be allowed to attempt. At least Bouder should be doing it more.

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I thought Lauren King was much improved in the 4th movement compared to last season. However, she is not a great spinner. If I could have cast the ballet, I might have given the fourth movement to Isaacs, who is a really strong spinner. Tiler Peck used to be incredible in the 4th movement, but she has finally been promoted into the first movement (debuting either this week or next, I think).

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Agreeing with balanchinette for pointing out how stellar the male principals were in Symphony in C were last night. Andrew Veyette was completely sharp and a devoted partner. Tyler Angle, another fantastic partner, is a joy to the eyes with his form and elegance. Gonzalo Garcia seemed revitalized by dancing with the debutant. And Adrian Danchig-Waring, wow! Sometimes I just can't believe my eyes, he is so powerful and precise and committed. All in all, so different from another nearby company...

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I am curious & intrigued at how dancers get cast for parts/roles. Do they ask, audition, or hand picked by Martins??? Sorry. Am a ballet novice here.

In a video, Peter Martins said the dancers cast themselves. By which he meant they demonstrated the qualities needed for the role. So the answer is hand-picked by Martins.

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I attended the gala last night. It was a celebration of the 50 year anniversary of NYCB at the State Theater. The most exciting part of the evening for me was when they introduced on stage some of the dancers who participated in that opening night performance 50 years ago. Among the dancers who came on stage were Kay Mazzo, Arthur Mitchell, Mimi Paul, Jacques D'Amboise, Eddie Villella, and many more. Various film clips from the opening night festivities 50 years ago were shown, including one with Jacques D'Amboise being interviewed on his thoughts on the opening of the new theater. Such a downer that this wonderful hall now has the name Koch forever attached to it. (Koch was there. Saw him on the promenade during intermission.)

As for the dancing, Mearns and Jared Angle danced Allegro Brilliant. They were fine, but I don't think this kind of allegro dancing is what Mearns excels at. Bouder or Tiler Peck would have been a better choice, but Tiler Peck was busy with a lead role in the new Justin Peck ballet.

The new Peck ballet was very busy - too busy I would say. A very large cast, including numerous principal dancers. I liked parts of it, but for me it just didn't gel. It started to become monotonous, repetitive and somewhat pretentious. There was a repeated motif of people falling to the floor and then raised up off the ground by a partner. Was there some grand point to all this that I missed? The best parts were allegro solo passages for Reichlin, and intimate pdds for Robbie Fairchild and Maria K. The worst parts were when Justin tried to fill beats of music by having the dancers wave their arms around. The women's costumes were very unflattering body suits. I'm sure there will be photos in the paper. Anyone else attend?

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Such a downer that this wonderful hall now has the name Koch forever attached to it.

Well, we thought it would be forever be named "the New York State Theater," so this may only last till the next renovation.

Thanks for the review of the Peck ballet.That may be the first negative review he's ever received. I can't wait to read what others thought.

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I would say it's a mixed review, not a negative one. If you want negative, you should ask me about La Stravaganza.

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Chase Finlay replaced both last night and tonight, announced just before the performance. He was still listed for both on the casting sheet in the lobby. Hoping it's something very minor!

More tomorrow, but what a wonderful performance of symphony in c tonight! Sara Mearns, just so so beautiful.

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I appreciate this site because of its serious discussion of ballet that tends to eschew gossip and politics. Not all dance lovers despise the Kochs. I'm grateful for all the private citizens who donate to the arts.

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I just got back from Sun. Mat. and want to give my impressions.

Raymonda - Ashley Bouder was glorious. Her super assured technique (beyond assured) was on full display with amazing speed, balances, sustained turns etc. She was also musical, radiant and the total ballerina. Her pas with Veyette was perfection. Vayette was not as successful in his variations. Nothing terrible, but he didn't seen comfortable with the choreography and his upper body got stiff. The soloists were Sarah Adams, Emilie Gerrity (nice musical phrasing), Megan LeCrone, Faye Arthurs & Ashly Isaacs (strong dancing) were mostly good with a few flubs here or there.

Steadfast Tin Shouldier - Megan Fairchild & Anthony Huxley. Nicely done. Fairchild does a lot more acting than Patricia McBride did. I don't know if this is a result of Balanchine's coaching of McBride. Either way it's an enjoyable, pleasant piece.

Tombeau de Couperin - I always enjoy this piece. I love that's it's all corps, mostly about formations but is very human. Everyone on stage is a person.

Symphony in C - 1st Movement - Catazaro replaced Finlay (I hope Finlay isn't out for long). Tiler Peck stunning in her musicality and technique.

2nd Movement - Sara Mearns amplitude, the fullness of her arabesques and freedom with which she danced was heart stopping. Jared Angle was the wonderful partner that allowed her to be herself and give so much. He is a great partner. One of the things I love about NYCB is how great the partnering is - Angle is one of the best.

3rd Movement - Antonio Carmena looked sharp and fantastic - ready to move to the principal ranks. Erica Pereira is a dancer I don't get. She has a good double pirouette but still seems under powered and dances very metrically (hardly ever phrases or plays with music.}

4th Movement - Lauren King was improved from last year. I get the feeling that the turns make her nervous, but she got through them better than she did last year, and she is a radiant dancer. I've always loved the way she relates to her partner, the others on stage and the audience. If she gets those turns sorted out, she'll be wonderful in this. Sean Suozzi was OK with some shaky moments.

All in all a great program. What a terrific company. BTW the audience seemed pretty full. They opened up part of the 4th ring.

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Vipa, I second everything you posted. And just want to emphasize how much I enjoyed Ashley's performance. She played with the music; your description of her performance as "glorious" is perfect. I would add that I too found Steadfast more "acted" than in McBride days; yet it was a very affecting performance. I would add the Mearns in second movement Bizet was heavenly. Has she changed her lipstick color? Something in her makeup seemed a bit different to me (but it was a lovely change). I am looking forward to Tuesday's Raymonda to see how Lovette and Huxley do in Raymonda (one of my most favorite ballets). One day I'd like to see a program of all "first" ballets: Scotch, LaSource, Raymonda......

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I was also at the Sunday matinee - what a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day! The performances were delightful with magnificence thrown in by Ashley Bouder and Sarah Mearns. I'm becoming reacquainted with NYCB after following ABT almost exclusively and am finding the experience well worth it to say the least. One question since I'm not familiar with the personalities of the dancers. I couldn't help notice that Megan LeCrone seemed to have a sour look on her face; especially noticeable in Symphony in C where all the rest of the dancers looked to be having best time in the world. To me she didn't look happy to be there.

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I was at the performance as well. Barbara, Megan LeCrone - while an attractive dancer with lovely long legs - is not a smiley sort. She has a dramatic face. I found my eye drawn to her all day and I believe she performed in every ballet that featured soloists/corps!!. It could be that she was a little tired smile.png

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I agree Megan is not a smiley face in a tutu. I look forward to hopefully seeing her in Agon and Four T's next year. In a video clip available on YouTube she talks about how she was inspired by Agon.

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I saw the Robbins program Friday night and Saturday matinee + the Balanchine program Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I don't see the company often enough to identify corps members and soloists, let alone their progress, alas. In the Balanchine, Ashley Bouder (in Raymonda), and Tiler Peck and Sara Mearns (in Symphony in C) were fabulous, both performances. I agree that Veyette in Raymonda seemed stretched technically -- leaps not very high off the floor, rushed, etc.

I hadn't seen Opus 19/The Dreamer in years (decades?). I was especially interested in the choreography, which seemed tailored at the time to Baryshnikov's many gifts (e.g., his presence just standing still...). Robert Fairchild Friday night captured that best, I thought. I wonder who would have coached him in that or if he studied old archival tapes of Baryshnikov in the role.

I adore Glass Pieces, as many times as I have seen it. One trivial puzzle for me: the first entrance in the first movement is a corps girl wearing black trunks, but no skirt -- the only female without a skirt in the entire thing. At first, I thought perhaps there was a costume malfunction, but she reappears in the second movement in the line across the back in silhouette and it's the same at all performances. Is this some subtle message from the costume designer ("if you're paying attention to that, you're focussing on the wrong thing") or perhaps the intentional Amish quilting mistake (so they wouldn't threaten god with perfection). I've asked several people about it and nobody has any idea. Thoughts?

The music for Glass Pieces has been available on CD for many years. The main downside to listening to it so many times on my iPod is that I hear every mistake by the orchestra in performance -- and there were quite a few! But it's such a treacherous score, perhaps that's to be expected, and most people wouldn't notice anyway!

People sitting next to me at one performance were certain that changes have been made to The Concert. The only deviation I noticed was the light blue smocks that the corps girls wear in the last ("butterfly") movement. When did those appear? Any other changes people have noticed?

I noticed one funny thing during The Concert: several orchestra members stood up and peered over the stage to see their colleague's antics at the grand piano. She does do a great job, so I can understand wanting to take a peek.

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I saw a couple of performances over the weekend (Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday matinee).

I enjoyed the all Robbins program (Glass Pieces, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and The Concert). Maria Kowroski was delightful in The Concert. I think of her look in the "black and white" ballets as "the implacable Maria Kowroski stare," so it can be surprising when she is so funny and expressive. Rarely have I heard a ballet audience laugh so heartily. In Opus 19/The Dreamer, Tiler Peck danced with explosive force.

On the other program (Raymonda variations, Steadfast Tin Soldier, Tombeau de Couperin, and Symphony in C), I could do without Steadfast Tin Soldier. I enjoy the formality and inventiveness of Tombeau de Couperin. In Raymonda Variations, Ashly Isaacs especially stood out. She looks perfectly natural and at ease, unaffected, with a beautiful smile. All this while executing the steps with bravura, including fouettes slowed down enough to time perfectly with the music.

Symphony in C. Tiler Peck was a marvel of technique and musicality in the first movement. Sara Mearns was beautiful. Antonio Carmena looked terrific. There is a real wealth of talent at NYCB! I enjoyed both performances very much... and looking forward to tonight!

Re Megan LeCrone, I enjoy her in more serious roles like the shortened Swan Lake, and the Dark Angel in Serenade.

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I attended the May 10th matine. I loved Glass Pieces, especially the last segment, Akhnaten. Glass' commanding music, accented by a pulsating bass drum, is matched by the thrilling dancing of the male corps de ballet. Just thinking about this last section makes my heart beat faster.

Opus 19/The Dreamer is a ballet I never got until I saw it danced by Janie Taylor and Robert Fairchild. Their performances were so haunting that I was taken away to some otherwordly place. On Saturday afternoon, Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia's dancing did not take me anywhere. For me Garcia lacks Fairchild's line and emotional connection to the piece. Hyltin's performance is missing Taylor's fearlessness and sharp attack.

The Concert was a perfect way to end the afternoon. It really is a comic masterpiece. I haven't seen it for a number of years but I did not see any changes. All the dancers were great but Maria Korowski, Andrew Veyette, Gwyneth Miller and Georgina Pazcoguin stood out for their perfect comic timing.

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