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Alexandra, May 1, 2002
Posted May 1, 2002
Well? Well?? Well???
Don't tell me nobody went!!!
I didn't know where to put it - here, or in recent performances.
I'll try to write more later, but it was a wonderful all-Balanchine evening.
I was most impressed by Symphony in C. We often gripe about the casting, but this was perfect. Somogyi/Neal in 1st mvt, Korowski/Askegart in 2nd, Bouder (in a debut)/Millepied in 3rd, and Van Kipnis/Ritter in the 4th. What a pleasure it was to see a Balanchine work performed in the Balanchine style -- nothing was static, everything was danced through with the utmost musicality, the beginning steps that form the basis for most of the ballet were performed by the entire group by delight and clarity. Each movement had something that recommended it Somogyi had great beauty in her legs and feet. Korowski was lovely in the adagio, very regal. It was the first time I saw her do the move where the head goes to the knee in arabesque, but it was done easily and she was totally within herself. She did not call attention to it. The same goes for the 3rd movement. We all know that Bouder and Millepied can jump through the roof, but they were as one, moving together one in the many unison passages in the movement. BM also made some amusing flourishes with his head that accented the music. It also was nice to see Ellen Bar back (as one of the demi-soloists in the 3rd movement and in the corps in the Stravinsky Violin concerto). Van Kipnis showed great style 4th movement. The finale was wonderful as usual, with the dancers filling the stage. And it was great to see the ending in which everybody was able to keep the pace. Everybody was cheered at the end, with three curtain calls.
Serenade and Stravinsky Violin concerto were especially notable for some debuts, and looked good with the new additions (Janie Taylor/Kathleen Tracy in Serenade and Ansanelli in Kim Mazzo's part in the Stravinsky) and both ballets will look even better when the dancers become more comfortable.
The condensed version:
It was just great to see the company again. In a few places the corps had a bit of opening-night raggedness, but nothing extreme. Andrea Quinn conducted marvelously -- the orchestra sounds great, and I'm getting more fond of her rapid tempi. And there were some auspicious debuts.
Ringer has always been a powerful and moving Waltz Girl; here, she takes care to show you the pain and fragility behind her sometimes placid beauty. I'm beginning to think it's one of her best roles (who wouldn't want to dance this, though?). Janie Taylor made a great debut as Russian -- her occasionally over-the-top romanicism and Upper West Side edginess contrasted perfectly with Ringer's serenity. Kathleen Tracey (I guess no need to differentiate her from Margaret anymore, is there?) gave a good, clean rendition of the Dark Angel, but she never quite seemed dark or other-wordly enough. Lyon and Fayette both danced well, particularly Fayette with Ringer.
Stravinsky Violin Concerto:
Alexandra Ansanelli made an early debut in the second aria, with Nikolaj Hubbe, replacing an indisposed Yvonne Borree. This was one of the best performances of this duet I've ever seen, even better, perhaps, than by its creators, Kay Mazzo and Peter Martins. Ansanelli dances with a enchanting combination of power and vulnerability, never more in evidence than in this role, which calls for both. Anyone who's followed her career knows how she's strong yet fragile, and it's part of her charm that she quite often looks that way onstage. Mazzo had a bit of this quality, but also a great passivity which obviously inspired Balanchine in making this rather odd adagio. I don't see that passivity in Ansanelli, and the dynamic between her and Hubbe is far more balanced than between Mazzo and Martins. Normally I'd sputter and say "But this duet has to be about the woman's passivity -- remember Mazzo!" yet here I found Hubbe's flamboyance to be both collaborative and protective. I suppose it might sound dismissive to say that Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto were their usual selves in the first duet, except that they're usually magnificent here -- I find it hard to say enough good things about Whelan, a real goddess of a dancer whose strength and reliability sometimes, I think, encourages her to be thought of as a "workhorse" ballerina. She is, of course, but she's much more than that.
Symphony in C:
Oh joy, oh rapture!
The company was in fine form here, helped along by Quinn's sprightly (got it right that time!) conducting. The "bookend" ballerinas, Jennie Somogyi in the First Movement and Pascal van Kipnis in the Fourth both served their purposes admirably: Somogyi, who welcomes us to the party, with her power, insouciance and musicality (with a very poised and elegant Philip Neal) and Van Kipnis, who brings everyone together for the grand finale, with her familiar sunny disposition and ease with those killer fourth-movement turns (with a welcome Jared Angle). In the second movement, Maria Kowroski gave one of the best performances I've seen from her -- strong and bright in the small allegro bits and regal and breathtaking in the grand adagios, although I really wish she'd lose the ten-after-six head-to-the-knee penchee. It's over-the-top (literally) and a little frightening and grotesque. Aside from that, she was gorgeous. A good share of the credit here has to go to Charles Askegard's attentive partnering.
The big news was Ashley Bouder's long-awaited debut in the very allegro Third Movement. She's always been a magnificent jumper, and she certainly didn't disappoint here. She's beyond fearless, and she seems to have an instinctual flair for the dramatic -- she'd have been a great Baby Ballerina in another generation, I think. Of course Benjamin Millepied was also a treat here -- he seems to get stronger and cleaner every season -- but, as usual, I had a hard time taking my eyes off of Bouder.
What do you mean by "Upper West Side edginess"? This doesn't compute for me as I don't think of UWS as edgy.
When I saw Ms. Ringer at Barnes & Noble for the Pointe Mag.
talk, she indicated that waltz pieces were her favorite as she never quite made the transition to the 'fast pace' of SAB & NYCB.
I'm glad to hear that Ms. Bouder was magnificent, although I worry about a young dancer debuting on a twice-sprained ankle.
About Taylor's debut as the Russian Girl details that stick with me are the beautiful camber in her upper back in both the passages where she relevees into arabesque with her arm held high, and the passages where she jumps into arabesque with the supporting foot flat to the floor and her arms winged behind her. And also a beautiful soft pliee in her supporting leg during those same jumps into arabesque.
The development of her upper torso, and the work on her pliee, are very noticeable in Taylor over the past year or so. It was good to see her so in command in a Balanchine (as opposed to a Peter Martins) role. Command is a good word because she does now also hold the stage much more than in earlier years. Finally, I know what Manhattnik means as "edginess" as it was a performance with an indefinable emotional weight, approaching characterization, yet evading it, as is appropriate for Serenade. This was certainly the best I've ever seen Taylor dance Balanchine (apart from Ivesiana).
It was a grand and glorious evening, and I really can't add much to the perceptive and thorough accounts previously posted. Kowroski, Ansanelli, and Bouder were the stars of the night, and I also want to put in a good word for Kathleen Tracey. This says more about me than about her, but I never used to notice her when her sister was around and now I do. There's a regal beauty about her and her dancing.
It was also a great night in the audience. There were many former and future dancers in attendance. The applause was enthusiastic but never inappropriate. Before the performance, a couple of people came up to me and said they enjoyed my balletalert postings. And Allegra Kent was sitting in the seat in front of me. What a night!
Kathleen Tracey has had an up-and-down career. I remember when first returning to viewing NYCB after a rather long hiatus, I thought she was by far the more interesting sister (it's shameful how we make such comparisons, isn't it?), particularly the dreamy way she'd do the walking solo in Emeralds. Since then, and particularly after she was out for awhile recovering from breaking her arm in a freak accident while performing Union Jack in Saratoga, she's often seemed to be phoning in her performances, giving perfectly professional renditions of her roles, but with, it seemed, little joy or enthusiasm. I've noticed a marked change in her manner since Christopher Wheeldon gave her that wonderful role as the Stage Manager in Variations Serieuses (showing us she has the best head of hair in NYCB, too). I've enjoyed seeing this trend continue.
And, ooops! It was Ritter, not Angle, with Van Kipnis in the Fourth Movement. That's what I get for dashing these things off without checking a program.
Posted May 2, 2002
I agree with all of the previous postings. It was a great night at the ballet. Serenade was danced very well. Jenni Ringer was beautiful. The way she swooped and worked her tulle. Janie was right on, she had just the right amount of energy and wasn't over the top. She seems to be growing into a very mature dancer. Katy Tracey was nice as dark angel, but she really was kinda dark.
Stravinsky was danced nicely too. The corps seemed a little bit cold to me. I mean they were good but they didn't really have that edginess. I love Wendy in the first pas. She is so intense. She really commands her roles and puts lots of thought into it. I love the way she accents things. Jock Soto was Jock. Ansanelli was beautiful. She was so calm yet alive. I think this is a great part for her and I am sure that it will continue to get better. Hubbe was very edgy and powerful. Just right for the part.
Symphony in C was definitely a highlight of the program. Somogyi was so on. She hit every line. She is so strong and reliable. She had lots of percision, but yet she wasn't introverted. She was glowing. Maria was so beautiful in the 2nd movement. She is so long and thin(extra thin) When she did that head to knee penchee it scared me. It was a bit extreme, but hey if you can get that leg there then why not? Bouder was great in 3rd movement. It was hard not to watch her, but I had to take a peak at the corps just to see what was going on. They were good, except for that one girl who danced with her shoulders up the whole time. 4th movement was great Pascale was very bright and seemed comfortable with what she was doing. This ballet came together very well at the end with everyone together. I was a bit scared, but it turned out good. This is gonna be a great season. I can't wait to see more.
Posted May 3, 2002
Thanks for all of these posts, but I wanted to especially welcome Prisma, who I don't think has posted a review before (apologies if you did and I missed it, Prisma). Welcome, thank you, and more please
Amanda NYC, if you're reading this, you said you'd try to post more this season, and we're taking you at your word
Originally posted by at Amanda NYC, if you're reading this, you said you'd try to post more this season, and we're taking you at your word
Amanda NYC, if you're reading this, you said you'd try to post more this season, and we're taking you at your word
I shall! Tonight and tomorrow afternoon are my first performances this season. Alas, I think I shall miss seeing Bouder in Symphony in C. On the other hand, I am getting to see her in her glorious role in Raymonda and in a debut in Reunions. I'm not complaining.
I didn't have my laptop for a few days, so I am just now posting about opening night. But, as it turns out, I am just "ditto-ing" all of the positive posts about it.
It was a first-rate night both repertory wise and dancing wise. I was very pleasantly surprised that the ballets were so well rehearsed; I was afraid with all the upcoming new works that the Balanchine rep would get short shrift. But I was wrong!!
Personal highlights for me: Jenny Ringer's exquisite legato work in Serenade; Janie Taylor's rhine maiden look in Serenade; Maria Kowrowsi's maturity and strong technique in second movement Bizet; and Wendy Whelan's amazing Violin Concerto. But those were just the highlights. . . .
Major gripe: Why didn't the first-string critic of the New York Times review opening night of the New York City Ballet? I'm sure ABT's opening night will be on the front page of the Arts Section and reviewed by AK. Anyone want to take bets on that?
I hear you Bobbi. It does not make sense that NYCB didn't get the critical attention it deserves.
I have not seen the company since last spring, but the performance I saw (All Balanchine), was impeccable.
I cannot say the same for what I saw at ABT.
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