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Spring Season 2014

115 posts in this topic

I saw the last two all-Balanchine performances. They were quite wonderful but standout performances:

Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette in Raymonda - such beautiful partnering (Sunday)

Sara Adams in Variation I of Raymonda - wow did she sail across the stage! (Sunday)

Megan Fairchild in Steadfast Tin Solider (Sunday)

Daniel Ulbricht as Tin Soldier (Tuesday)

the corps de ballet in Couperin (both days)

Tiler Peck in Movement 1 of Symphony in C

Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen in Adagio of Symphony in C

Ashley Isaacs in Third Movement of Symphony in C (Tuesday)

Lauren Lovette in Raymonda (Tuesday)

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And I would like to add kudos to the debut in Raymonda on Tuesday of Anthony Huxley. It was a very polished performance in a major assignment.

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I thought Lovette's Raymonda was a work in progress. It looked under-rehearsed. She came off pointe during the pdd, but I'm not sure if that was due to Huxley's partnering, which was rough. Huxley was much better in his solo work than the partnering work. The very end when the ballerina does a dive into her partner's arms was the safest and dullest performance of that move I've seen.

I liked Reichlin in Symphony in C second movement. She is not as regal as Maria, but it was a very fine performance. She is too tall for Tyler Angle. Tiler Peck can add the first movement as another role triumph in her already long list of triumphs. Catazaro did not have a role triumph as her partner. Ashly Isaacs again was terrific in the Third movement, and Garcia looks like a re-born dancer. Taylor Stanley was excellent in the Fourth.Ashley Laracey is not a great spinner, so I did not think she was particularly well suited to the Fourth Movement.

Last night was a celebration of SAB. There were many,. many SAB students in the audience. There was a short film in which various present and former SAB students (including Chita Rivera) talked about SAB. Peter Martins then came out and gave a short speech about SAB. He then introduced the faculty on stage, one by one, including Darci, Jock, Dena Abergel, Katrina Killian, Kaitland Gilliland, J. Stafford, Kay Mazzo, Yvonne Borree and others..

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Alastair Macaulay in the NY Times has written an excellent review of the May 14 program (Davidsbundlertanze and Union Jack). I especially appreciate his discussion of Schumann's music and the music-dance interaction in Davidsbundlertanze.

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And the accompanying picture to the Times article is terrific, especially the one online. I too thought it was a wonderful performance.

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I attended half the May 14 performance (skipped Union Jack). Sara Mearns was compelling and heartbreaking in the lead role. In particular, the way she used her flexible back in deep backbends added to her portrait of grief. It was never overdone, just right. Unfortunately, Ask LaCour was not her equal, and whenever they were onstage together in an intimate pdd, his presence became almost an afterthought. The rest of the cast was terrific. In particular, Robert Fairchild blazed with passion and excitement, and brought the best out in Abi Stafford (who I normally find to be efficiently dull). To my surprise, Chase Finlay did perform. He has been replaced in every other performance this season. Hopefully this means he's recovered. Sadly, this dramatic masterpiece apparently doesn't sell. There were abundant emply seats, and the third ring looked about 30 percent full. Agree that the Times photo is gorgeous, any only hints at the brilliance of the performance.

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I love Union Jack. From the second that rolling drumbeat starts I am rapt in my seat, and at times -- like when the two women's regiments approach and pass each other backwards, and during MacDonald of Sleat -- I find myself clutching the armrest with tension and excitement. Even the simplest of movements, like watching the regiments walk forward in unison, with arms swinging left to right, and then coming to a halt, feels thrilling. The Royal Navy section by contrast is pure high-energy enjoyment.

I enjoyed Davidsbundslrtanze, a new piece to me -- but I really missed Dances at a Gathering, which made a big impression on me when it was paired with Union Jack in the winter season. I feel Davidsbundlertanze will grow on me, though.

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I myself loved the combination of Dances at a Gathering and Union Jack. I really love love love Union Jack, especially the Royal Navy section. I am sorry I am not able to see it during the Spring season.

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I saw the Davidsbündlertänze / Union Jack double bill at the Saturday 5/17/14 matinee.

Every member of the Davidsbündlertänze cast was debuting in their respective roles, as follows:
Teresa Reichen / Russell Janzen = Karin von Aroldingen (white) / Adam Lüders
Rebecca Krohn / Zachary Catazaro = Suzanne Farrell (blue) / Jacques d’Amboise
Ashley Laracey / Sean Suozzi = Kay Mazzo (yellow) / Ib Anderson
Tiler Peck / Tyler Angle = Heather Watts (lavender) / Peter Martins
Since I'm going to see the same cast on Tuesday, I think I'll wait until then to post about it in any detail. Some members of the cast looked very comfortable in both the ballet and their roles; others looked like they'd need a performance or two to really get it into their bones, so I'll hold off until I get a second look. (Since the company has gone through the trouble of teaching the ballet to twelve new dancers this season, I can't imagine why it's not on the schedule for 2014-15.) My overall take was positive, though; here are a couple of quick observations:
  • Ashley Laracey looked absolutely lovely -- and completely at home -- in Kay Mazzo's role. I'd never noticed before what a beautiful arabesque she has -- and not just the achieved pose, but the getting there too: supple, musical, fluid, even at speed.
  • As one might expect, Teresa Reichlen's Clara is very different from Sara Mearns' but equally valid: I'd be hard pressed to chose between them and it's good to have them both. For whatever reason, the roles Balanchine created for von Aroldingen really suit Reichlen, and this one is no exception. The choreography just looks gorgeous on her.

Re Union Jack:

  • Abi Stafford should dance everything the way she dances in Union Jack. She looked like she was having the time of her life and the difference it makes in her dancing is astonishing.
  • Megan Fairchild and Amar Ramasar were delightful in the Costermonger pas de deux -- it looked like they were having fun, too. The new (and very adorable) pony got a bit rambunctious towards the end: after dispensing a couple of serious head-butts to his young handler, he entertained the notion of trotting off on his own in the wrong direction, but then Ramasar got a firm grip on his bridle, and he thought better of it.
  • Sara Mearns was on fire in MacDonald of Sleat; Ashley Isaacs was on fire in WRENS.

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I thought Russell Janzen was terrific in Davidsbundlertanze. It was a wonderful role debut in the central role. Reichlin was indeed completely different from Mearns in the Clara role, but not in a good way. In order to express "drama" Reichlin tends to give us the furrowed brow expression, which is the same thing she does as Odette. The drama is in the choreography, but her execution/phrasing could not convey the meaning. She tended to clip the end of a phrase as she moved to the next phrase, thereby diminishing the overall impact of her choreography. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle were striking, with Peck especially daring in her abandon and attack. Laracey was lovely, but I felt there was no romantic chemistry with Suozzi. Remember when Alexpolous and Hubbe danced together in this? They sizzled with romance. I never got that impression from either Hyltin/Finlay or Laracey/Suozzi. Forgot to add that Catzaro makes a very wonderful romantic lead and partner for Krohn. He is much better in these types of roles than in ones that completely expose his technical weaknesses, as in the first movement of Symphony in C. I didn't stay for Union Jack.

Wendy Whelan was absorbing and compelling in Glass Pieces today. She is a marvel.

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I agree about Wendy. I loved Sterling Hyltin and Joaquin de Luz in The Concert today. So charming and funny. And what beautiful hair Hyltin has.

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I attended both performances on Saturday (Davidsbundlertanze and Union Jack at the matinee, Glass Pieces/Opus19 the Dreamer/the Concert in the evening). I enjoyed it all -- a wonderful day at the ballet, really showing the range of the company.

Russell Janzen was terrific in Davidsbundlertanze. Teresa Reichlen is a beautiful dancer, but I felt she was a little too cool and didn't bring out the inner life of the role; I preferred Sara Mearns from earlier in the week.

I love Union Jack. Sara Mearns was explosive in MacDonald of Sleat. Ashley Bouder -- as when I saw her in this role in the winter season, she is noticeably ahead of her regiment, or they're behind her -- whichever it is, it ruins the unison effect (in both RCAF and WRENS). Megan Fairchild and Amar Ramasar made the Costermonger section more enjoyable than I've usually seen it. Ramasar in particular is a wonderful comedic actor, very engaging with the audience.

I enjoy Glass Pieces very much. The final section with the men running around is mesmerizing. In Opus 19/The Dreamer, I find Gonzalo Garcia much improved this season. Seems to have lost weight, seems more energetic and committed. The Concert was delightful, and so funny. My favorite parts are the pas de six that goes so wrong, and the ballerina attempting to do a pas de deux with the man who's scared of her. Oh, and the umbrella section is quietly poetic. Thanks NYCB!

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"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."

Cobweb wrote that previous page. Years ago, Maria Kowroski's career took off with her explosively funny performance as The Ballerina in Christopher Wheeldon's Variations Serieuses - which despite the name, is a laugh-out-loud funny ballet to unexpectedly serious Mendelssohn. I wish it would be programmed again at NYCB, it is such a vehicle for Maria's comic talents, which have been underused, if only because she is so superlative in every other genre.

Pacific Northwest Ballet apparently revived it in 2011, and there are a few snippets of trailers on YouTube.

Note to Peter Martins: Please program Variations Serieuses while Maria is still before us.

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I have been enjoying the season very much. I saw Tiler Peck in her debut in "Green Montgomerie" in Union Jack. She was delightful. I was surprised that I found it refreshing to see her in a non-bravura role. Without the distraction of technical wizardry, she was appealing and genuine (I mean, she always is, but it was easier to notice in the absence of chaines at the speed of light). Ashley Bouder drives me crazy in the RCAF/WRENS role by continually being ahead of her troops... unlike Tiler Peck, who was a team player. The new pony doesn't seem to be working out. He seemed extremely restless and fidgety at one performance, until Amar Ramasar took him firmly in hand, and then on Tuesday night he bolted into the wings way ahead of schedule.

I saw several performances of Davidsbundlertanze, which I had never seen before. I love it. There were quite a number of memorable performances, but I particularly enjoyed Russell Janzen and Ashley Laracey. Janzen seems to be growing in leaps and bounds since January, when I saw him looking a little tentative in his debut in Diamonds, and crashing into one of the wings on one of his exits. He now looks commanding and authoritative. As an audience member, it's very gratifying to see that kind of growth!

Casting is up for Midsummer Night's Dream. Many debuts to look forward to! It seems to be the season of Ashly Isaacs, Ashley Laracey, Lauren Lovette, and Russell Janzen.

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Ashley Bouder -- as when I saw her in this role in the winter season, she is noticeably ahead of her regiment, or they're behind her -- whichever it is, it ruins the unison effect (in both RCAF and WRENS).

A few people mentioned Ashley Bouder being ahead of her regiment. I've never seen her in this ballet and I'm curious. I saw her do Square Dance (she was amazing, great role for her), in the last section she was ahead of the corps but the only one on the music. Clearly the conductor was conducting for Bouder's speed and it didn't matter to me that the corps didn't really keep up. Union Jack is a different thing, unison matters more - so my question is - Was the she ahead of the music or was she dancing at the start of the note not the end? I'm sorry but I can't think of another way to phrase that. Or was she doing the kind of musical phrasing in which she speeds up some steps so she has time to hold a balance. Just curious, if anyone has the time to answer

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A few people mentioned Ashley Bouder being ahead of her regiment. I've never seen her in this ballet and I'm curious. I saw her do Square Dance (she was amazing, great role for her), in the last section she was ahead of the corps but the only one on the music. Clearly the conductor was conducting for Bouder's speed and it didn't matter to me that the corps didn't really keep up. Union Jack is a different thing, unison matters more - so my question is - Was the she ahead of the music or was she dancing at the start of the note not the end? I'm sorry but I can't think of another way to phrase that. Or was she doing the kind of musical phrasing in which she speeds up some steps so she has time to hold a balance. Just curious, if anyone has the time to answer

I am not musical enough to answer that with any confidence, but I'd be interested if someone else can answer. What I notice is that she starts her movement earlier than the others, and on top of that she moves so fast that she arrives at the final position very quickly, so by the end of the movement she's even further ahead of the others.

You mention Square Dance -- I am glad it's coming back in the fall!

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A few people mentioned Ashley Bouder being ahead of her regiment. I've never seen her in this ballet and I'm curious. I saw her do Square Dance (she was amazing, great role for her), in the last section she was ahead of the corps but the only one on the music. Clearly the conductor was conducting for Bouder's speed and it didn't matter to me that the corps didn't really keep up. Union Jack is a different thing, unison matters more - so my question is - Was the she ahead of the music or was she dancing at the start of the note not the end? I'm sorry but I can't think of another way to phrase that. Or was she doing the kind of musical phrasing in which she speeds up some steps so she has time to hold a balance. Just curious, if anyone has the time to answer

I am not musical enough to answer that with any confidence, but I'd be interested if someone else can answer. What I notice is that she starts her movement earlier than the others, and on top of that she moves so fast that she arrives at the final position very quickly, so by the end of the movement she's even further ahead of the others.

You mention Square Dance -- I am glad it's coming back in the fall!

Without having seen the examples you're using, I would guess this might be an example of precipite -- the quality where you arrive at a place on the downbeat rather than moving through that beat. It's pretty easy to see in pointework -- the mechanics of getting onto pointe lead you in that direction, but it's also a timing issue. A precipite moment usually starts in the preceeding upbeat, and gives the finish a kind of punctuation. There are plenty of opportunities for it in Square Dance -- I wish it were on the schedule here as well!

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I saw Jewels this afternoon. The David Rubenstein atrium across from Lincoln Center had discount tickets for SAt. mat & evening, and Sun. Mat. I was going to go tomorrow but they had better tickets for today. Center - Row B of the 3rd ring 50% off. I wish ABT would participate. There were lots of empty seats when I went.

I love this ballet more and more as time goes on. George Balanchine hit upon so many emotional truths in many sections of partnering. The way the man holds the woman, or uses the crook of her arm to promenade her or reaches behind her head to take her hand - so many places have emotional resonance.

Today Emeralds - Abi Stafford is looking good. She was out injured for a while and last year seemed unable to jump or move with freedom. She was beautiful in Emeralds, not mysterious as some present the role, but full of joy. She was partnered well by Jared Angle. Rebecca Krohn and Jonathan Stafford were also quite good. The delightful pas de trois was done by the always radiant Lauren King, Anthony Huxley (looking great, I see principal in the near future}, and Megan LeCrone who is not a natural for romantic roles but danced with a wonderful freedom and musicality.

Rubies - Ashley Bouder WOW - Playful, nuanced, sharp - all I can say is see her do it folks. Gonzalo Garcia looked better than he has but there is something unpolished about him that bothers me. It's as if he doesn't really gel his positions and give them a finished look. He is not a match for Bouder when they dance side by side. I loved Savannah Lowery in the "big girl" role. She is such an out there, go for it performer that she makes me smile. I love her big dancing.

Diamonds - Sara Mearns - riveting. The pas was gorgeous and Ask la Cour gave her the ability to be free in all the off balance places where the woman does the impossible. Not in a acrobatic way but in a way that allows her to be what she wants. One of my favorite critic quotes of all times is Arlene Croce writing about Suzanne Farrell in this role "The riveting spectacle of the freest woman alive." I truly feel this way about the piece when it is well done.

Ask la Cour was way less satisfying in his solo dancing. He doesn't have much of a jump but coordinates his way through double saut de basques and double tours well enough. His a la seconde turns are quite anemic. He is definitely put in the role for the partnering. Not a bad reason if it allows Mearns to dance the pas the way she does. She was also quite wonderful in her solo work.

All in all a very satisfying afternoon at the ballet.

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I saw tonight's performance. Amar Ramasar is an awkward fit for the Emeralds role -- too athletic and bulky in build, not enough of a cavalier type. Ashley Bouder was great although not a natural in Emeralds. Abi and Jonathan Stafford were also okay as the second couple, but Abi doesn't exude enough mystery.

Rubies was much better. Fairchild and de Luz are old hands at this and it shows. Tess Reichlen is maybe the best Tall Girl I've ever seen and I reckon I ever will see. Those legs! The way she uses them almost as weapons.

Diamonds was gorgeous with a stunning pas de deux between Kowroski and Fairchild until disaster happened in the Scherzo. Maria took a sudden fall with her butt on the ground and legs in the air and for a second I didn't think she'd get up. But she snapped up and finished the rest of her scherzo solo albeit a bit carefully and she was fine in the finale.

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I definitely agree with Canbelto about Reichlen being the best Tall Girl ever. I'm sorry to hear about Korowski's tumble but that's one of the things about live theater. You never know what will happen. Glad to hear she recovered so quickly.

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I saw Jewels this afternoon. ...

I love this ballet more and more as time goes on. George Balanchine hit upon so many emotional truths in many sections of partnering. The way the man holds the woman, or uses the crook of her arm to promenade her or reaches behind her head to take her hand - so many places have emotional resonance.

And it has become a real staple for many companies -- the kind of ballet you do "to prove you can," like Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty.

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I was there Friday night and Saturday matinee. Needless to say, I agree with everything said in praise of Teresa Reichlen as the Tall Girl in Rubies. Her grand jetes were spectacular, and that one where she dashes out from the wings and does a huge grand jete in the middle of everything was high, fully stretched out in every direction, and right on the music. I appreciate the energy and sunniness that Savannah Lowery brings to the role, but Reichlen is a hard act to follow.

How old is Joaquin de Luz? I found an article from 1999 that said he was 23, which would make him 38 now. I don't know how he continues to dance at this level. In Rubies on Friday night he looked amazing, with far greater height, precision, and charisma than the young guys trotting along after him. I enjoy that section with the men playfully jogging along after their leader.

In Diamonds on Friday night, I felt Maria Kowroski was losing steam toward the end, getting sloppy in her form. (Related to her spill on Saturday?) Sara Mearns on Saturday was resplendent.

I enjoy Jewels and the multitude of forms and relationships that it expresses.

Does anyone have a report on the Jonathan Stafford farewell?

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My thoughts on Saturday eve and Sunday mat Jewels:

Emeralds--The two leading couples for both performances were the same. Ashley Bouder in the Verdy role was partnered by Amar Ramasar. Bouder's approach to the ballet, particularly in the Saturday night show, was not to my taste. She dances beautifully with tremendous control, but she was excessively emotional and almost vulnerable in a way that she might be if she were interpreting Odette, but this didn't work in Emeralds. Amar Ramasar has polished technique; however, he had a very saccharine presence which clashed with Bouder's dramatic aura. Abi Stafford didn't have the necessary mystery for the second ballerina role, but she and Jonathan Stafford (performing his last show in Diamonds today) danced an elegant walking pas de deux.

The pas de trois yesterday was really poor. Not Lauren King, who was radiant. But Megan LeCrone, in spite of her beautiful extensions, simply doesn't have the presence to be a major dancer in this company. Sean Suozzi was dreadful with fudged double tours and a total absence of turn-out, stretch, clarity of position and line, etc. Antonio Carmena in the pas de trois on Sunday was dour but at least technically assured, and Ashley Laracey and Erica Pereira were elegant.

Rubies---Saturday night: Joaquin De Luz as the lead male was a force of nature, spectacular from start to finish with ballon and charisma in spades. His jumps in the air would float up and down with plush landings. In such a difficult ballet he had barely a care in a world. While Megan Fairchild may have lacked fire, she held her own and danced a technically and musically sharp performance. All of her turns were right on point. Teresa Reichlin as the tall girl was spectacular both shows, giving a master class in how the role should be danced: musical, tremendous lines, and best of all, BIG dancing.

Sterling Hyltin was stellar in the lead ballerina role this afternoon, the best I've seen her. Andrew Veyette was sadly not to her level, as he seems more the cavalier type. He was technically strong, and he did have a certain showmanship in the section with the men, but otherwise his performance wasn't to the level of De Luz's.

Diamonds--Saturday eve: The corps in the first movement experienced shaky spots, but the finale was beautiful. Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle were an ideal match as the lead couple, and Angle is a great partner for Maria in that his strong support lets her have the freedom to unfurl those long, everlasting limbs. Kowroski had a certain iciness throughout the ballet, but in the pas de deux it worked. Her extensions are remarkable, if even too high at times. In the scherzo, Kowroski suffered a fall on a soutenu, a step she has probably done since she was six years old: no doubt there was a slippery spot on the stage. She took awhile to get back up and pick up the choreography; it even looked for a second she might be injured. However, after showing some nerves during the rest of the scherzo, she had the confidence to pull herself together and finish with a beautiful finale.

Sunday--This performance marked the end of Jonathan Stafford's career with his farewell. He was paired with Sara Mearns, and you couldn't find two more different interpretations of this ballet between her and Kowroski. Mearns had a certain serenity in this ballet, a radiance, a warmth, that was gorgeous to watch. She clearly enjoys dancing with Stafford as he is a giving, serious partner, if not nearly the strongest technician. There was just a certain generosity evoked in the pas de deux and in the entirety of Diamonds (by all the dancers) that was special for Stafford's farewell.

Perhaps the most special moment of the matinee was at the end of the pas de deux when Stafford kisses Mearns's hand, she was already looking at him and smiling. There was just something just so beautiful in that moment that will stick with me forever.

The scherzo was cut from the matinee performance, was this due to time because of Stafford's curtain calls?

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