This was one of those rare evenings that only NYCB can provide, three extraordinary and very different Balanchine ballets danced with passion and musicality.
The program began with Agon with Boal, Somogyi, Evans and Korowski. Boal danced with his usual comittment and elegance. Somogyi made her debut in the the pas de trois and restored the musical accents and details that I remember from the best performances of Calegari and her predecesors. I wouldn't have thought that Evans and Korowski were an ideal couple but they give a terrific rendering of the ppd. They brought a passion and sexuality to it that I haven't felt since the days when its was danced by Farrell and P. Martins.
I hadn't seen Whelan's performance in La Sonnambula prior to Tuesday and was unprepared for the beauty of it. In many ways, her unorthodox physique makes her seem an unearthly creature but I wasn't expecting that quality to work so well in this romantic context. And those bourees are magic. Hubbe gave her excellent support and threw himself into the role of the Poet. Many here have commented on Ringer's sunny personality but she was convincingly vindictive as the Coquette. Soto was frightening when he pulled out the knife and rushed into the tower. What a strange ballet this is. Every dance has some undertone of decadence and some moments are overtly nasty. There was a moment when Capps as one of the guests leaned over and whispered soemthing to his "date" that was delgihtfully malicious. I also want to mention lovely dancing by Edge and Hoffmans in the divertissment ppd. I had never noticed before how well stretched and pointed his feet are and how well he uses them.
Who Cares clased the program and despite a few partnering glitches and one or two little mishaps, it was a magical performance. The corp and demis performed well. Philip Neal gave his ballerinas strong support and was freer and more charming in his solo than I remember him being in the past.
Based on tonight's performance, each of the ballerinas seemed to represent a Broadway archetype. Ringer was the glamorous leading lady, Asanelli the dainty ingenue and Stafford the perky soubrette. All related with great charm to Neal - a dashing leading man.
I've seen many ballerinas in The Man I Love and remember McBride and Kistler with particular affection. But now I have to add Ringer to the pantheon - she was born to dance this role. The wittiness of her dancing in Fascinating Rythem was delightful.
As Leigh said, Asanelli looks great when she's moving and as the girl in blue she was terrific - radiant and carefree in her difficult solo.
Tuesday was the first time I've felt Stafford could be a ballerina, her technique is stunning but she has always seemed somewhat remote. Not this time. Maybe musical comedy is just something that comes naturally to American dancers but this role released a confidence, charm and gaiety in Stafford that I hadn't seen before. With her pony tail bouncing, she tackled and conquered the difficult Stairway to Paradise solo that Balanchine choreographed for Von Arnoldigen. Stafford didn't have Von Arnoldigen's power (she's proably half her size) but she handled the technical challenges much more successfully than Ash did a few years ago. And she related to well to Neal in the ppd.
I left the theatre in pure bliss.
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