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AmandaNYC

Four T's at NYCB

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I am always grateful to see Albert Evans perform, as every movement he makes, to me, is a work of art. But, perhaps, b/c the renowned Dance in America performance was all that I knew for years, I have always felt like Evans was miscast in Phlegmatic. I have thought him more suitable for Melancholic. When, at downstage right, he does the initial, upper body isolations, it always seems *too pretty* to me... Still too beautiful and controlled for someone who is supposed to be lethargic... Perhaps, I'm misremembering Adam Luders. But, somehow I feel like I don't get the distinction b/w the two main men's parts with Evans in Phlegmatic and Boal in Melancholic. Given, there may not be a huge difference b/w feeling lethargic and sad... but I still get the distinction in two main women's parts, though both are of a more firey nature.

It's been so long since I've seen anyone besides Evans do the part.

What are others' thoughts about this section of Four T's?

-amanda

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I saw 4T's last night as well, and I agree Amanda. I don't think Evans looked sad OR lethargic. On the other hand, I never saw Luders do the part (or the video) and I have a tough time envisioning that variation as embodying a phlegmatic, sad or lethargic temperment. Why is that? Is it the music, the dancing or the choreography?

In fact, I think that the choreography in the entire ballet is quite subtle, in terms of mimicking melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic, and choleric temperments. The first variation does not seem to embody melancholy to me. And the women's parts, even though they are different from one another, are not obvious reflections of the temperments that they are supposed to represent.

Overall, the subtlety seems refreshing. Balanchine doesn't need to draw us a detailed map, complete with mime, IMO.

In any case, Evans did indeed dance beautifully. As you say, a work of art. So even if he didn't seem phelgmatic to me, he was totally enjoyable.

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Amanda, I have always wanted to see Evans to Melancholic, too. I think he has almost too much presence and tension for Phlegmatic. My favorite Phlegmatics were Mel Tomlinson and Adam Luders, who had a sort of boneless quality to their upper body that just seemed to ripple with the music. And such a deadpan expression when they picked up and put down their foot. Evans makes it seem so significant. But yes, it is wonderful to see him in anything.

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I've never seen Phlegmatic as truly a "phlegmatic" role, but as an exotic one, so I have no problem with Evans in the part. The role has changed a lot since its originator, Todd Bolender, and I think with Tomlinson and Luders became "exotic" roles.

Also, how does one dance lethargy? It's a conundrum. It reminds me of Swoosie Kutz playing Bananas Shaugnessy in The House of Blue Leaves - a character that is supposed to be catatonically depressed. Well, how the heck do you make that theatrical? Kurtz' solution was to make the character manically active, constantly searching for a solution to her illness. I take Evans' performance the same way, that the activity is a an attempt to shake the character free of a rut.

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