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NYCB, La Sonnambula, January 13


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#1 Michael

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Posted 14 January 2002 - 12:02 PM

Sonnambula:

I saw the Boal, Borree cast of Sunday afternoon and it received a good performance. This Ballet is not a star vehicle so much as a compact, meaningful dance drama and how often can you say that about performances these days? I went home moved by and meditating upon the work, more than the dancers.

Alain Vaes's set (he designed the costumes too) is rich and striking. Before a blue, starry backdrop glimpsed through the span of an arch (where you will see the Sleepwalker's candlelight moving from window to window) the Chennonceau-like chateau of the Baron extends into wings on either side of the stage. The costumes are restrained Second Empire. The corps de ballet and protagonists are beautifully masked when the Poet enters.

The series of social dances which ensue were well performed. Ashley Bouder and Megan Pepin were perfectly classical, with restrained bravura in the Pastorale. Amanda Edge and Jeroen Hoffmans were wonderful (very wonderful) in the pas de deux (I can't imagine this divertissement being better performed, Bravo Amanda) and Adam Hendrickson was superb as the Harleqin.

Since his memorable Jester in Peter Martins' Swan Lake three years ago, this is the best Adam Hendrickson has looked to me. For one thing, unlike other demi-character dancers at City Ballet, Adam's line is stretched and elongated, and not the least bulky or overmuscled. And unlike many of Adam's other performances in the last two seasons (his Faun in Four Seasons, for example) where Hendrickson has sometimes tended to be "all over the place" -- even whacky -- at times, yesterday he had himself perfectly restrained and under control and carefully balancing the comic moments. From the way the rest of the Corps watched and responded to his performance I think he must be very popular in the company -- I've not often seen the other corps dancers become so visibly responsive to a dancer's performance.

A continuing criticism I have of City Ballet's Sonnambula -- which I first noticed in the Ringer, Hubbe, Whelan cast last spring (how could you miss this gaffe) -- is that they don't seem to know what do wo with the characterization of the Coquette. Last sping, Ringer misplayed the Coquette as a "Romantic Heroine". Alexopolous was only a little better yesterday by portraying her as a "Siren-In-Love." The Coquette, however, is not a nice person and is certainly not "In Love" with the Poet. She is the personification of the Erotic and even something darker. For the Poet she wears the "Mask" of love but, unmasked, she has him murdered -- not out of unrequited love or jealous passion, but simply out of vanity, boredome and malice. Thus Alexopolous (and indeed the entire production) was completely wrong when, upon the Poet's entrance, they have the Poet and Coquette fall in "Love at First Sight," with the two protagonists staring rapt at each other for ages. And the production is even more wrongheaded when the Coquette finds the Poet with the Sleepwalker and seems to have him murdered out of despairing, anguished jealousy. The motive isn't jealousy, but vanity and the corruption of the world.

Alexopolous' pas de deux with Boal was fine and the complexity of the dance, and the contrast between it and the merely social dances that precede it, was well portrayed. It's hard not to notice how weak Alexopolous's feet are becoming or have become, however. It's been evident these past three weeks that Kistler and Alexopolous are in the Twilight of their carreers. They are still capable of giving great performances, which are all the more poignant and full of emotion for that, but Alexoplous's feet are going and Kistler is at times quite constricted in her movements and, with Tracey retiring in a month, the urgency with which one watches for the continuing development of Somogyi, Borree, Van Kipnis, Korbes and Weese (both out), Ansanelli, Taylor, Rutherford, Stafford, Bouder and others is heightened. That Whelan is a Ballerina goes without saying -- But this is a company which is being carried by its corps de ballet at the moment and the corps was stunning again yesterday.

After the pas with the Coquette, of course, the Poet becomes captivated by the Sleepwalker. But this is not Love either, but instead a narcissitic dream. He is capable of investing her unconscious soul with anything he wants, and of toying with her unconscious body in any other way. That was well conveyed by Boal and Borree.

Re Yvonne Borree -- this was in fact another confident and assured performance by her (after last week's Dances at a Gathering) and I think that, whatever it was that has been ailing her, she's getting over it. If only Martins' casting of Borree will allow her to continue to build upon these strengths and gain further confidence as she goes forward, instead of putting her in situations where she is misemployed and must try to be a dancer she isn't. This is crucial -- Borree is a stunning, beautiful dancer, with a gorgeous line and total sincerity and committment to her craft, and this company needs her, but she's been woefully misemployed since being made principal.

Also I can't forget to mention that James Fayette stepped in as the Baron yesterday and was superb. What a winter, he's quietly having.

Other More General Things:

4Ts received a performance yesterday a little off the level it was at the day before. Again it was evident that Kathleen Tracey is miscast as Choleric. The corps was again great, however, Bravi to Amanda Edge, Carrie Riggins, Glenn Keenan, Melissa Barak, Ellen Bar, Mary Bowers, and all the others.

Soiree was a little dull and blurry, but it's the first time I've seen it. What a pas de deux by Janie Taylor, however -- very interior and distant, yet animalistic at the same time (That's almost a definition of Taylor when she's in form). But for those who saw it last spring, which dance was made on Korbes last year and which on Bouder and which on Taylor? Yesterday Mandradjieff did the first variation, then Bouder, then Taylor did the adagio.

[ January 14, 2002: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#2 AmandaNYC

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 01:01 PM

Michael...
re: Soiree
New cast- Debut cast
Bouder- Taylor
Taylor- Korbes
Mandradjieff- Bouder

THe middle, most soulful duet is quite different with Taylor instead of Korbes. It was in this pas de deux last year that I truly discovered how beautiful a dancer Korbes is.

Although I believe Bouder can do anything, I think her original role showed her off better than the one made for Taylor. I think the Taylor-made pas de deux(pun somewhat intended) is the weakest of the three, so it could just be that.


While I can't say I agree with Michael about Borree, in general, I do think that she has done quite nicely this season in several parts-- ones that suit her very well-- Dances, Romeo & Juliet, and La Somnambula. I am, however, quite... um... not happy that she's doing Raymonda. Ringer had been rehearsing back in December.

I totally agree with Michael about the Coquette. Something always bothered me about that part, and reading comments here helped me figure out just what it was. Thank you.

And, it was lovely to see Amanda Edge. For years upon years I've been wanting to see her do more solos and pas de deux. The Barak piece really showed her off nicely. The way Michael thinks of Borree is the way I think of Edge: "beautiful dancer, with a gorgeous line and total sincerity and committment to her craft". Even in her corps and demi roles you can see how involved she is in her dancing. No emptiness there.

Ok... one of these days I am going to write up the rest of my thoughts about Nutcracker and the first two weeks of the rep (I have seen 6/14 perfs).

-amanda

#3 Calliope

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 01:21 PM

It's nice to see Edge dancing so well. I still long for the day she does "Square Dance" (the principal role)
Both she and Elizabeth Walker deserve promotions on the merit of their dancing as well as what the epitomy of a corps dancer is!

#4 Manhattnik

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 01:53 PM

Well, I think Edge and Walker, lovely as they are, will have to take a number behind Rutherford. But what do I know? If handicapping NYCB promotions were how I made my living, I'd have gone broke long ago.

#5 Calliope

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 03:14 PM

Rutherford's been a soloist in my book ever since she did Emeralds. NYCB just keeps forgetting to mention it to her! Hopefully this year they tell her .

#6 Michael

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 11:02 PM

Rutherford was beautiful tonight in Dances at a Gathering, even better than she was last week. And I've always been one of Amanda Edge's fans. And, Oh Boy, was Monique Meunier ever good tonight in Cortege Hongroise. When talking about dancers who have a "Ballerina Aura" and who can hold the stage, we mustn't forget her.

Amanda NYC, regarding Borree, I don't want to see her dance that role either. She's not suited to it and I'm dissappointed too at that casting. That's my point exactly. And I think that it's the people who do the casting who are to blame. It's also cruel to the dancer in question, when that happens, if not outright damaging to his or her career and development. It's like raising kids -- nothing is crueler than setting them up to fail. You want to do just the opposite.

[ January 15, 2002: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#7 Dale

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 11:23 PM

Michael, I was thinking the same thing tonight about Meunier (and Ash too). I thought she looked more comfortable than in earlier performances of this ballet the previous two weeks, and she was great then. Her musicality tonight was awesome -- the way she would play with a phrase, turn a slight wobble into a grace note. The pas deux with Askagard was notable too in the way that they made all the potential pit falls look easy, like when the woman does a pirouette and the cavalier comes in at the last moment to support her. There's no rushing here because Meunier has such strong turns and balances, Askegard can just come in easy without worrying that she's going to fall off point. And in her hand clapping/hungarian solo, she uses her eyes so well -- knowing when to look at the audience, when to look away...seducing without being precious -- and she draws your attention to her even when standing still.

[ January 16, 2002: Message edited by: Dale ]



#8 Michael

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Posted 17 January 2002 - 09:50 AM

Ah Dale, I'm glad for a sign of life. You have described Meunier's performance so much better than I could have. I looked for you at intermission, by the way, as I thought you might be there for Monique. Did Meunier always have such finesse, by the way, or is it the product of all the time in the studio the past two seasons? The huge jump, centered pirouettes, sweeping steps, I remember. But the finish, the "grace notes" as you call them, is that something new? I don't remember seeing Meunier as so finished before.

Also it's presumptious of me but I hope people will post some notes on the performances they see. (Even shorthand current impressions can serve as a focus to introduce other performances by way of context so don't let the weight of all those unwritten reviews deter you Amanda). So far we have a pretty steady record of the season but the flow may tend to be stopping now (I sense) and also (because I'm going to be away from the theater for a while) it would be particularly good to have some accounts right now.

[ January 17, 2002: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#9 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 January 2002 - 11:38 AM

I've still been meaning to get around to last Saturday night's performance. And the matinee, too. Ah well, it's all water under the bridge, now.

I think Monique has been a goddess in every Cortege I've seen her do, starting with Saratoga last July. Her performance of the solo last night is already one of my high points of the year. I love the tremendously musical and perfectly timed little rat-tat-tat bourrees she does at the beginning.

Monique can be sensational in many roles -- I'll long remember her Hippolyta -- but I've also noticed that when she looks uncomfortable in a role, she can look very uncomfortable indeed, as in Kammermusik last, was it Friday?

Ash looked like she was having the time of her life up there as the Czardas girl. Certainly this is a role that needs to be sold, and sold hard, but Ash's heavy-handed salesmanship felt just a bit over the top to me.


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