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Royal Blue

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About Royal Blue

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
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  1. 2017 Spring Season

    How is it that the lighthearted Namouna, A Grand Divertissement follows on a program Russian Seasons, a serious work whose ending is somber and deeply moving, yet does not seem misplaced or anticlimactic? Great beauty in art, I would argue, is inherently serious and poignant; and Namouna—with its unfaltering stream of ravishing movement (for soloists and corps members alike) and delectable melodies—is dazzlingly beautiful. Credit belongs not just to Alexei Ratmansky, but also to the little-known nineteenth century French composer Édouard Lalo: his score abounds with wit and charm, and genuinely touching moments. Although the intimate Russian Seasons is absorbing throughout, its evocative final scene stands out as the finest. Choosing a favorite part from Namouna is not easy. In the spring I was particularly enchanted by the “cigarette segment,” featuring a self-assured, impish Ashley Bouder backed by three of the best women from the corps: Marika Anderson, Mary Elizabeth Sell and Lydia Wellington. Like every other ballet Ratmansky has choreographed for NYCB, Russian Seasons, too, benefits from a splendid score—by Leonid Desyatnikov. Using the schema from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as a framework for the composition, and relying on traditional tunes (and text) for a ballet depicting major passages in the lives of ordinary Russian people are both felicitous. Additionally, the soprano voice is employed to haunting effect, especially in the chilling last segment. Again, just like in the other three ballets, the colors utilized for the apparel and scenery background in Russian Seasons and Namouna are exceptionally vivid and intense—they contribute handsomely to a rich visual experience. (The costumes in the latter—including the headpieces—are fantastic!) Out of the entire, engaging cast of the evening, the indefatigable Sara Mearns deserves special mention for her efforts in both pieces. None of the women on the NYCB roster looks more like an American than Mearns. However, no doubt partly owing to her passionate nature, no one seems more convincing as a Russian in Ratmansky’s ballets either. So, from my vantage point, there were no longueurs in Program No. 2 of the Festival!
  2. 2017 Spring Season

    I neglected to mention in my earlier post that one of the four women in Spectral Evidence was Ashly Isaacs. Her role in Preljocaj’s ballet also—obviously—contrasted interestingly with the one in Stabat Mater. Isaacs was actually scheduled to dance in Fearful Symmetries instead of Unity Phelan. Regardless, I think both women had a very productive Festival.
  3. 2017 Spring Season

    How I wish I could have seen the recent NYCB performances of Dances at a Gathering at Saratoga, particularly in light of Rebecca Krohn’s impending retirement … By all means, contemporary choreographers should be held to a high standard, and their works accordingly criticized. However, even though I recognize that the recent works created for NYCB are not groundbreaking and do not compare favorably with the best that the company has to offer, it would be untruthful to maintain that (generally speaking) I find absolutely nothing to savor in them. Many people—I would imagine—disliked the ballets that made up Program No. 4 of the Festival: Neverwhere, Mothership, Spectral Evidence, and The Times Are Racing. Regarding the last, what I would add to my comments above is that Robert Fairchild and Ashly Isaacs, through the exceptional quality of their respective performances, have amply demonstrated the efficacy of the unisex role in Justin Peck’s “sneaker ballet.” There was something of interest in all three other works also, especially Spectral Evidence. Quite possibly, the dancers find the attire they have to wear in Neverwhere cumbersome. Nevertheless, notably the women—Emilie Gerrity, Sterling Hyltin, and Lauren Lovette—looked grand in them, resembling personages from a Wagnerian opera. Some difficulties Lovette experienced with her steps, I suspect, were not attributable to the unwieldy apparel. Benjamin Millepied’s choreography is serviceable; the piece is not long; combined with the unusual but magnetic costumes Neverwhere is pleasant to watch. So too is Mothership, mainly for a different reason. Again, Nicolas Blanc’s choreography is acceptable, and the ballet brief. Its cast, however, is made up of eight members of the corps; and it is absorbing to occasionally witness featured somewhat prominently in a work dancers perforce usually relegated to the background. Jacqueline Bologna is endearing; Baily Jones has an auspicious stage presence. Perhaps others in the audience were struck by an encouraging trait in one of the other young dancers. Like the John Cage music it uses, Angelin Preljocaj’s Spectral Evidence is bizarre, hallucinatory, ominous; and in its entirety—in a similar manner as its apparent subject: witchcraft—fascinating. In the leading male role, Robert Fairchild (in a highly commendable impromptu appearance necessitated by Amar Ramasar’s injury) evinced plenty of aplomb; but much credit is due to the seven other dancers on stage, too. The way light and dark contrast in this piece is, naturally, prominent. Its foremost, distinguishing characteristic, however, is the usage of four cabinets. Although the female lead in Spectral Evidence monopolized (as is her wont) my attention, the synchronicity all four women observed peripherally in my vision displayed as they moved or slid on top of the cabinets, beat their hands on them as if they were drums, twisted magically inside them, and, finally, jumped off them at the ballet’s conclusion was astounding.
  4. 2017 Spring Season

    Jeu de Cartes is a ballet I can watch with pleasure only if one ballerina is cast in the leading role; and wouldn’t it be far more desirable to observe her weave her magic instead in masterpieces like Serenade and Symphony in C, in which she belongs? Notwithstanding the solid effort and élan of the dancers, and two or three satisfactory moments, ten in seven appeared likewise unsubstantial and weak. As I pointed out previously, on the other hand, the pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain was eloquent and touching. While not as affecting, Lauren Lovette’s For Clara is an amiable work in traditional style which offered three promising female soloists—Emilie Gerrity, Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward—a chance to shine. So it is justifiable to claim that for 2/3s of its span, Program No. 5 of the Festival was rather mediocre: the strengths of two ballets were counterbalanced by the weaknesses of two others. Alexei Ratmansky’s new work for NYCB, which followed after the second intermission, changed the entire tenor of the evening. Odessa came across as a serious and important, rich and exciting work of art. Unfortunately, I missed the first cast; but the second one, which included Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild, and Unity Phelan in the female leads was wonderful. Particularly impressive was Ms. Fairchild’s mature, adult rendition of her role. Leonid Desyatnikov’s score—“Sketches to Sunset"--was compelling throughout, but reached its emotional peak during the first 2 ½ minutes of VIII, “Evening”. Frankly, it would have been preferable if more than four performances of Odessa had been scheduled during the 2017-18 season. Incidentally, one of the finest particulars about the Here/Now Festival was the opportunity it offered to have seen Unity Phelan perform major parts in six ballets: For Clara, The Blue of Distance, American Rhapsody, Fearful Symmetries, Polyphonia, and --most importantly--Odessa. I have every expectation that as she grows (as a human being, as a woman, as an artist), as she gains greater confidence in her abilities and powers, and as she sheds all vestiges of self-consciousness during performance Phelan will blossom into a first-rate ballerina, especially with respect to adagio dancing.
  5. 2017 Spring Season

    Apropos Brittany Pollack: not only is she an admirable ballerina, but she also stands out on account of her conspicuous womanliness. It is no wonder, therefore, that Justin Peck casts her so often in his ballets. She appeared in no less than three of the four works featured in the program of the Festival (No. 3) dedicated to Mr. Peck's choreography. In Creases has not had the benefit of an extended run during any season since its premiere five years ago. Regardless, it is a lovely ballet. An ensemble work for eight dancers who during its course create luxuriant patterns, all in the cast during the spring charmed, especially Pollack. On the other hand, I have already seen The Dreamers (2016)—a pas de deux for Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar set to the music of a movement from a Bohuslav Martinu Piano Quintet--several times. A stream of directional changes (left to right and vice versa) in the ballerina’s pirouettes—signifying perhaps capricious, volatile thoughts and feelings?— characterizes this work. Mearns’ and Ramasar’s proficient performances combined with Martinu’s arresting music ensured this ballet’s enjoyableness. More problematic was New Blood, whose unprepossessing music by Steve Reich I should have listened to beforehand. Maybe having done so would have made watching it a more rewarding experience. Undoubtedly, however, the experience would have been even less gratifying if Pollack was not in the ballet--both due to her dancing and the fact that she always looks nifty, even when attired in as outlandish an outfit as the one on display here. After the program’s only intermission came the main piece of the evening--Everywhere We Go. While there are similarities between this and other ballets, it is, nevertheless, a captivating work which contains moments—from both a musical and choreographic standpoint—of considerable delicacy, as well as power. All the men impressed; but the women signally dazzled in Janie Taylor’s bright costumes for them. Pollack and several members of the female corps were fabulous. Yet, although it is an effective, endearing ballet in any case, what made watching Everywhere We Go so richly satisfying was the incandescent dancing of the four female principals in the cast: Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, and Tiler Peck!
  6. 2017 Spring Season

    One curious aspect of Program No. 7 of the Here/Now Festival is that it seemingly took this motif of “the play of light and shadow” referenced by Chiaroscuro and extended it throughout the evening. Two ballets representative of “shadow”--Funérailles and Oltremare--were interspersed between the three (Ash, Common Ground, and Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes) in which “light” was predominant. Ash, Funérailles, and Common Ground were separated by pauses, while the other two followed intermissions. Hardly anyone would consider Ash a distinguished ballet; but it is pleasant to watch Ashly Isaacs in this role, and each one of the various members of the corps in the cast (there was a soloist actually among them in the spring) is notably afforded the opportunity to momentarily gain the spotlight. Darkness--literal and metaphorical--pervades Liam Scarlett’s Funérailles. This work appears to be about a nineteenth century aristocratic woman’s yearning for—love and death! Franz Liszt’s brooding, eerie yet potent and haunting piano piece (with a singularly gorgeous interlude); Tiler Peck’s stunning look wearing that ornamented dress and hairdo, and the extraordinarily expressive way she used her arms and head; Jared Angle’s mysterious allure and deft partnering--all combined together to generate out of the choreography a mesmerizing pas de deux. Dispersal of the gloominess came after the pause by way of Common Ground, which featured the cavorting of seven free-spirited, lively creatures dressed like flower children. Whether it is composed of peculiar movement or not, a ballet which showcases the lovely, strikingly graceful Ashley Laracey commands attention. And how imposing a presence Teresa Reichlen always remains on the stage, even when dressed in such garb! A difficult, three-jump sequence which occurs towards the end of Troy Schumacher’s work is especially memorable. Even though I had seen Common Ground before my enjoyment of it in May exceeded all expectations, in part because its contemporary score was attractive throughout and even gained force in its closing moments. To be sure, Oltremare is not conventionally beautiful; but that should not be surprising given its subject matter—immigrants around 1900 leaving their homeland in search of a better life. What a remarkable contrast there naturally is, in terms of music, costumes, and style of dancing, between Mauro Bigonzetti’s work and Vienna Waltzes! Maria Kowroski, Ashly Isaacs, and Tyler Angle in particular made vivid impressions here. Tiler Peck’s suitably plain dress seemed too large and consequently made her look shorter; but that—putting aside how her mien befitted the role of a fin de siècle immigrant—only enhanced her glamorous appearance earlier in the evening, and her dancing was (as always) superb. To have seen Ms. Peck portray two women in such differing socioeconomic circumstances on the same program was a treat! Recollecting Maria Kowroski’s and Tyler Angle’s aristocratic portrayals in Balanchine’s famous ballet is, of course, also interesting. In the program note, Bigonzetti mentions--while discussing Oltremare--“the excitement and joy of a new world.” And that is opportunely what Aaron Copland’s acclaimed Rodeo embodies, as does Justin Peck’s ballet. Undeniably, the vibrancy and effervescence found in the score and choreography of the 1st and 4th Episodes of Rodeo are catchy; and the men of NYCB--principals as well as members of the corps--served both well during the Festival’s performances. What haunts the imagination, however, is Copland’s “Corral Nocturne” or 2nd Episode. Mr. Peck’s choreography for five men in this section is appositely beautiful and illustrates how graceful men too can be in ballet. Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Preston Chamblee and Andrew Scordato were all marvelous, while Taylor Stanley’s part in this Episode is simply unforgettable. Familiarity has softened the initial impact of this ballet’s peculiarity. Being the sole female in the cast merely heightens the importance of whichever ballerina is assigned the role; and her dancing in a colorful leotard amply compensates for the rugby apparel several of the men are clothed in. Brittany Pollack was delightful in Rodeo, especially in the 3rd Dance Episode—a pas de deux, in which she was partnered by the choreographer himself, set to Copland’s captivating “Saturday Night Waltz”. In my opinion, Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering is one of the most moving and profound works in the NYCB repertory. Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, and Brittany Pollack have been the women cast so far as the ballerina in Rodeo. All three together participated in outstanding performances of Dances during the Spring of 2016.
  7. 2017 Spring Season

    Over the summer I listened to the music used in two ballets shown during the Here/Now Festival, and which will also be performed during the 2017-18 season. As a non-musician, I perceive two thematic strands in the first of the four pieces from Dan Deacon’s America to be utilized in The Times Are Racing. Let’s call them A and B. The pattern in this section is ABA. However, the same music is used in the fourth and final section of the album (and ballet); but the pattern there is BA. This A strand is, in my opinion, powerful and even majestic. As I listened further to the music, I came to appreciate the B strand also, especially since the cumulative effect of both the buildup and the transition from B to A in both sections is thrilling. Similarly, I became more appreciative of the admittedly rhythmical, pulsating music of the second and third pieces, being particularly taken by the vocalized portions of the former. This type of composition is not, of course, what is typically heard during NYCB performances; but Dan Deacon’s work is loud and thematically unappealing only for those who simply don’t like this type of music. Incongruous and peculiar as it may be, especially given the aggressively pedestrian clothing the dancers on stage wear, there is actually a majestic quality to the opening choreography of The Times Are Racing also. This quality is perfectly captured in the photograph from the ballet displayed in the brochure for the upcoming season. The greater portion of the dancing in this work, however, is likewise atypical of what patrons are used to at NYCB. Justin Peck’s “sneaker ballet” is a work of contemporary dance instead of a ballet. Divergent opinions about its quality and value are, therefore, naturally unsurprising. Even though I am as unfamiliar with this kind of dancing as anyone could possibly be, I happen to find The Times Are Racing rousing and life-affirming. Nevertheless, the versatility shown by NYCB’s dancers should elicit general admiration! In an earlier post, I suggested how delighted I was to have watched Ashly Isaacs during the spring perform so capably in two such vastly dissimilar works as The Times Are Racing and Stabat Mater within the space of a few days. Likewise, within a week or so after doing all those handstands and twisting motions last winter, Tiler Peck gave impeccable performances as—of all things—Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty! Fortunately, Ms. Peck is wearing a traditional, attractive ballet costume in The Times Are Racing. Thanks to a leisurely, fortuitous stroll one warm summer weekend day in the vicinity of 14th Street, however, I came to realize that the outfits the other dancers wear in this “sneaker ballet” are not that far off the mark after all. Excepting Teresa Reichlen’s presence in it, Year of the Rabbit—which I had seen two or three times previously—was one of the most disappointing ballets at the Festival, partly as a result of the music by Sufjan Stevens seeming insipid. How pleasantly surprised I was after listening to the complete album—titled Enjoy Your Rabbit—to discover that (alongside a few strange sounds) it contained gorgeous music! Initially thinking that too many performances of it had been scheduled for the upcoming season, I look forward to watching Year of the Rabbit again and determine whether the orchestration devitalized to any extent Stevens’ music. Be this as it may, a pattern is discernible here: it is easy to underestimate this composer’s music, and sundry musical compositions in general.
  8. Promotions

    During the past few years my attention has been held captive by the amazing ballerinas of NYCB, so I am not that familiar with the current members of the ABT female corps. But it is gladdening to hear that many of them are outstanding dancers. When reflecting about promotions we must always remember the absolute necessity for some women who are impressive to remain in the corps—both at ABT and NYCB! Everyone who appears on the stage performs an important function in the respective repertoire of each company and should feel valued.
  9. Promotions

    Gemma Bond provided an opportunity through her engaging program in the 2017 Ballet Festival at the Joyce Theater for some of her colleagues to make wonderful impressions (pun intended). Skylar Brandt and Cassandra Trenary exude such great self-confidence and seem so eminently worthy of becoming principal dancers in a prominent ballet company that it is simply inconceivable they will not soon be promoted. On the other hand, the recent promotions of Devon Teuscher and Christine Shevchenko appear entirely justified. Hopefully the ascendancy of these four (along with Sarah Lane) will help restore some faith and hope, as well as a semblance of order to the current dysfunctional ABT realm. And even if she never manages to move up the ranks, Stephanie Williams is such a lovely ballerina!
  10. Macaulay on NYCB

    By doing precisely what Alastair Macaulay claims in the first two paragraphs of his article she does (along with much else one can point to in praise of this incomparable ballerina), Tiler Peck through her artistry in ballet is making “space and time … directly perceptible to the heart.”
  11. 2017 Spring Season

    But what if when Titania opened her eyes the first being she laid eyes on was a prince who had lost himself in this humongous universe? Just kidding, of course! Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as Balanchine’s ballet based on the play, are both truly great. This week’s NYCB performances at Koch Theater, therefore, invite plenteous comment. For now I will simply say that with a cast that includes Ashley Laracey as Hermia, Brittany Pollack as Helena and Ashly Isaacs as Hippolyta, I would happily have attended tonight’s performance if I had the appropriate ticket. Although I did have a ticket for the matinee, after the utterly sublime, ennobling performance of the Divertissement last evening by Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle (the wonderful Sleeping Beauty pair from this past winter) there was no way—much as I respect all of NYCB’s artists—I could bring myself to go to the theater.
  12. 2017 Spring Season

    On paper it might seem a tad dull. Program No. 9 of the Festival, however, which was made up of Red Angels, Varied Trio (in four), Barber Violin Concerto, followed after intermission by Polaris, After the Rain pas de deux, and Concerto DSCH was a genuine feast for the eyes and ears. Color dazzles me; so, the use of red in the first ballet—particularly in the final tableau, with its obvious resemblance to Agon—was entrancing. Dove’s choreography may not be extraordinary, but with Angels such as Rebecca Krohn and Teresa Reichlen in the cast this was highly enjoyable. With its use of light blue contrasting sharply with the previous production, Varied Trio—notwithstanding its nondescript title; and echoes of at least two Balanchine ballets—was radiant and thoroughly delightful. Not being familiar with the music of this composer, I was surprised by how lovely the Lou Harrison score (partly utilizing peculiar percussive instrumentation) for this work is—particularly the third movement. Sterling Hyltin’s use of the arms and hands in this ballet was striking; and the ending was adorable. Assuming at least a decent performance, it is no longer possible for this listener to hear Barber’s Violin Concerto without being stirred: it is one of the finest of all concertos. Its first two movements are breathtaking, the second being especially poignant. Martins’ decision to choreograph Barber Violin Concerto for just two couples, one from the world of classical dance and one from the world of modern dance, which effectively change partners in the latter two movements is intrinsically intriguing. Howsoever one regards the humor and friskiness of the short last segment of this ballet, its two first parts—always taking account of the haunting music—are impressive. Sara Mearns was superb in the role of the female classical dancer; and seemingly danced with every fiber of her being, as she typically does. With his body type, Jared Angle is uniquely suited for the role of the male modern dancer and partnered her with great finesse in the evocative second section. Color again plays a significant role here, with the white of the costumes blending beautifully with the dark blue of the backdrop. A mixture of black and white and gray characterizes the palette of Polaris, which appropriately (since this ballet is about the stars in the heavens) makes it plausible for the empathetic viewer to feel they are looking into space. Listening several times beforehand to William Walton’s Allegramente from Piano Quartet in d minor made it easier to concentrate on and enjoy Myles Thatcher’s choreography. In addition to all the balletic motions she performs so beautifully, what struck me here were Tiler Peck’s contemplative gazes. When facing the audience, she seemed to be peering at—the cosmos. For several years, Maria Kowroski has been the de facto senior ballerina of NYCB. (All three women who could have laid claim to the appellation were plagued with injuries during their final years with the company.) This contributed greater poignancy to all the recent performances of the pas de deux from After the Rain, performances which were among the highlights of the season. Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel is a repetitious, but powerful and spiritual composition to which Wheeldon created apt and irresistible choreography. The beauty of Kowroski’s long limbs and extensions, as well as her noble demeanor were evident throughout this run. Ask la Cour partnered her superbly. A dazzling array of color suffuses Concerto DSCH—its production, its music, its choreography. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 in F major is as haunting a composition as is Barber’s Violin Concerto: in its mere 22 minutes or so it combines brilliantly an infectious vigor and liveliness with a profound, gentle yet aching melancholy. Ratmansky matches his compatriot’s brilliance with some of his own and provides every conceivable ballet lover with something to relish in this work. In the outer movements, in addition to all the sparkling activity for the corps there is bravura galore not just for the main couple, but for three other soloists, two males and a female. Gonzalo Garcia and the amazing Joaquin De Luz shone in this season’s performances of the ballet. Although she has been experiencing a slight problem with her turns during the spring, on Sunday afternoon, Ashley Bouder—in a part which takes advantage of all her dynamic qualities—was fantastic! What is probably the most thrilling moment of the ballet, however, is the lift involving the main couple—in this run, Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle—that occurs during the musical climax of the first movement. Mearns’ poise and Tyler Angle’s strength in this sequence took the breath away. And yet, the heart and soul of both the music and the ballet lie in the sublime, pensive few minutes inserted between the livelier segments. Three other couples, in addition to the main one, share the stage and immeasurably enhance the beauty of this section—the section for which this work by Ratmansky will likely be long remembered.
  13. 2017 Spring Season

    I beg forgiveness from Kristen Segin and Rebecca Krohn even if during the premiere of The Decalogue they fell down unintentionally. Segin has generally a tendency to smile too much when dancing. Otherwise, she is one of the loveliest members of the female corps: her presence in The Decalogue is a boon. Last evening, in the pas de deux with Gonzalo Garcia from Slice to Sharp and throughout The Decalogue, Rebecca Krohn was magnificent! Original or not, Justin Peck’s new work is indeed quite beautiful; and its music is becoming attractive to my ears. Not only does it use ten dancers, but it is divided into ten sections. In the 8th—a pas de deux with Jared Angle—Krohn was especially wondrous. Geminiani’s adaptation of Corelli’s famous Concerto Grosso is not just attractive: it is splendid—which is in part what made these performances of Chiaroscuro so marvelous. No matter what Stravinsky thought, Vivaldi did compose excellent music; so, of course, a portion of the music used in Slice to Sharp is pleasing. But the best here is probably that used in the pas de deux mentioned above. Notwithstanding the strikingly tepid response from the crowd, the cast in Stabat Mater gave another excellent performance of this work. Something notable in this run was how ethereal, how spiritual Lauren Lovette and Ashly Isaacs seemed when their respective countenance was serious. For reasons not worth relating, from a musical standpoint last night’s performance was superior. A greater portion of the score than I realized is in a livelier mode, which paradoxically makes it easier to use in a work of dance.
  14. 2017 Spring Season

    Should a spectator who views a ballet for the first time be concerned whether it was created in 1994, 1998, 2006 or 2017? Or if it was choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Peter Martins, Jorma Elo or Justin Peck? Like other contemporary ballets Chiaroscuro contains sequences which seem strange or peculiar. Set to attractive Baroque music, it is nonetheless an appealing, riveting work. Seeing Ashley Laracey and Brittany Pollack (both looking positively gorgeous) in this piece alone was worth the price of admission to program No. 8 of the Festival. These two were well-complemented by Lauren King and the three men in the cast, particularly Andrew Veyette, who had an effective part. This is the sort of ballet with a vague narrative that intrigues you. Conversely, the Baroque music chosen for Slice to Sharp is less engaging, despite being mostly by Vivaldi. Elo’s reaction on first listening to the latter’s composition, as described in the program note, is worth noting: “he felt ‘It was extreme playing on the edge of madness’ “. This explains somewhat what transpires onstage; but I find neither the baroque melodies nor the accompanying “modern movement” in this ballet especially beautiful. Watching the four(!) principal women—Ashley Bouder, Maria Kowroski, Rebecca Krohn and Teresa Reichlen—cast here dancing, however, has its own rewards. Artists should never consider any subject—no matter how difficult or controversial—as off-limits for treatment in their work. Things are not so simple in practice, however—particularly one would suppose for choreographers. That Martins’ Stabat Mater served as a tribute to a much-loved ballet teacher who had recently passed away is certainly laudable. Yet is it proper or easy to create a ballet in any way connected to the crucifixion of Christ and Mary’s suffering? A convincing, powerful effort would manage to be at the same time undeniably beautiful (the main function of ballet) and absolutely shattering. Stabat Mater is only the former. Would it be palatable fare to NYCB audiences if it were somehow also the latter? Inevitably, one wonders how the words being sung are reflected in the movement displayed onstage while watching this. Pergolesi’s justly famous opus may not be the most solemn musical treatment of the Catholic hymn, but it is wonderful and moving. (A couple or so sections are mildly jaunty enough to afford the dancers an opportunity to smile.) While it is a score best heard outside the confines of Koch Theater, the fact remains that it is the best music of the program and one of the chief reasons—along with the lighting, the background setting, the colorful costumes and (yes!) the choreography—why the ballet is so beautiful. Lauren Lovette, Ashly Isaacs and naturally Sterling Hyltin (who soared upwards toward the sky when lifted by Jared Angle) appeared and danced like angels. (To have seen Isaacs, incidentally, in both The Times Are Racing and Stabat Mater during the same week was fascinating.) Chase Finlay and Joseph Gordon completed what turned out to be a winsome cast. It is highly improbable to put Sara Mearns and Rebecca Krohn on the stage, have them execute various common balletic steps and motions and not come up with anything beautiful. So, of course, there is beauty to be found in The Decalogue! But what makes this particular work so original, so different from numerous others? Presumably, it is linked to the Ten Commandments; but how so other than the number of dancers it utilizes? More importantly, after hearing the score a second time on Sunday afternoon I find it merely acceptable; and for a ballet to be truly inspiring and touching its music must be arresting! Everywhere We Go and its composition have been much criticized in this forum, but as of now, I find nothing as compelling, as alluring in the new work as the segments assigned to Maria Kowroski (exquisitely also danced by Krohn) in the earlier one.
  15. 2017 Spring Season

    I beg forgiveness from Kristen Segin and Rebecca Krohn if during the premiere of The Decalogue they fell down intentionally. To Drew: “You could not step twice into the same river.” Perhaps we should view a work of art as being, in a way, like a river? It seems best to me to be and remain as open-minded as possible about any artwork. None of us sees, thinks, feels or understands--and can therefore judge--perfectly.
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