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City Ballet 2016-2017 Season

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Very nice Helene you got to attend the gala unexpectedly. I often react exactly the same way to Mearns..."a goddess" as you wrote.

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I saw three performances of the Divertimento No. 15/ Episodes/ Vienna Waltzes program. Sadly, I must miss the final performance this afternoon.

 

I had not seen Divertimento before and I love it. I’m baffled as to why they’re not bringing it back in Winter or Spring. I enjoyed both casts, but especially the pizzaz of Indiana Woodward (a last minute substitution for Brittany Pollack – I notice Pollack was also replaced in a few other pieces), the beautiful long arms and hands of Ashley Laracey, and the piquant charm and musicality of Abi Stafford.

 

In Episodes, both casts of the Concerto section were excellent: Taylor Stanley and Ashly Isaacs, and Preston Chamblee (a debut, I think) and Unity Phelan. It was hard to believe these last two are young corps members.

 

I’m getting weary of Vienna Waltzes. I only stick around for the Rosenkavalier section. I find the Vienna Woods section lacking in magic; it seems like a bunch of NYC kids in fancy clothes, rather than a sense of being transported to another world and era.

 

Voices of Spring – both Joaquin de Luz and Gonzalo Garcia looking good, and Ashley Bouder seems in fine form. (This may have nothing to do with her, but there was a baby crying throughout the performance, so resonant that my partner wondered if it was in the orchestra pit! I wondered: could it be Ashley’s baby, backstage??). Megan Fairchild also good; more about her later.

 

Gold and Silver Waltz – I like Chase Finlay and Lauren Lovette in this. Finlay brought intensity and almost a sense of aggression that was much more compelling than Ask LaCour’s air of boredom and lassitude. And not only is Lovette beautiful, she gives the role complexity, toying with Finlay much of the time but also conveying sorrow and despair in her inner thoughts. Her youth only adds to the poignance. I look forward to one day seeing her in the Rosenkavalier section.

 

But a question: I notice that the woman repeatedly holds out her hand for the man to kiss. Whereas in a youtube video of Peter Martins and Karin von Aroldingen, he approaches her, pleading for her hand, which she bemusedly offers him. I wonder when this switch happened, and what would have been correct manners of the time?

I’ve noticed growth in several dancers. Not that I ever had any complaints about Taylor Stanley, but he seems more confident, more adult, and has more authority. Ashly Isaacs seems to be settling down into a calmer, more centered, and less exuberant-athletic mode. I’m also liking Megan Fairchild way more than I did previously. So far this season I've seen her in Divertimento No. 15, Duo Concertant, and Voices of Spring. She seems to have more freedom and enjoyment in her dancing. However, I wish she could relax her smile more.

 

I also saw the “black and white” program on Sept. 21. Just one comment: Robbie Fairchild seems back in form! … unlike the spring season, when he seemed chunky and labored.

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I saw this afternoon's performance and so agree with Cobweb's puzzlement that Divertimento 15 isn't done more often.  It's a wonderful, moving, inventive ballet (yes, it still feels inventive).  I haven't seen it for years, and today's cast was fine.  Megan Fairchild's fleet, clean footwork was coupled with playful musical phrasing and an expansiveness that I used to not see from her.  Joseph Gordon and Harrison Ball were clean, crisp and assured, as was Chase Finley.  The other soloists were Indiana Woodward, Erica Pereira, Ashley Laracey and Ashly Isaacs.  Each was charming in her own way while sailing through challenging footwork, turns, balances and direction changes.  The 8 corps women were terrific.  Please do this ballet more often.  

 

Episodes - Abi Stafford seems too have become something of a specialist in ballets with atonal scores.  She and Sean Souzzi were fine, if not compelling in the first movement.  Savannah Lowery and Jared Angle, in the second movement, each were in a spotlight that moved.  I've always felt that this moment stirred the imagination if done with an kind of inner drama.  These dancers delivered.  Unity Phelan and Preston Shamble led the 3rd movement.  She has a big future in this company IMO.  The last movement is the most musically accessible, being based on Bach's Musical Offering.  There is a ritualistic, almost religious, aspect to the movements that is very satisfying.  Sara Mearns was wonderful in this. The fullness of her movements and ability to be inside any tempo was perfect for this piece.

 

Vienna Waltzes - Rebecca Krohn and Russell Jensen were fine in the first movement.  In the second movement, Ashley Bouder looked so happy to be on stage, it made me smile.  Ladies and Gentlemen, she is BACK.  I can't  wait to see her in Rubies next week.  Gonzalo Garcia looked great.  I used to find him unpolished and unrefined.  I don't know who changed!  The Polka section is a "cleanse your palate section.  By that I mean - let's have some silliness and forget drama before we go back to more drama.  It works!  Troy Schumacher replaced Taylor Stanley.  I love that Erica Pereira threw herself into this with such gusto and joy.  Silly but a pleasure.  

 

Lauren Lovett and Chase Finlay in Gold and Silver didn't work for me.  They looked like 2 nice teenagers who got into the attic, put on dress-up clothes and decided to play act. I know this is a tough one for young dancers.  You have to convey worldliness and stature by the way you walk on stage, stand, look around, raise a hand.  Maybe these two will improve in time.  I'd love to see Mearns do this role.  

 

Teresa Reichlin surprised me in the last movement.  I didn't realize she had that kind of drama in her. I thought she was wonderfully introspective.  Holding the stage while you're waltzing around by yourself, trying to convey your feelings, isn't easy.  I though she was right there emotionally.

 

The audience reaction to Vienna Waltzes was tremendous!  The house looked quite full, although the 4th ring wasn't open.

 

Promotion predictions - Indiana Woodward, Unity Phelan, Alexa Maxwell, Joseph Gordan, Harrison Ball.

 

Retirements - perhaps Maria K.

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Attended today's matinee. Indiana Woodward shining in Divert, as was Unity Phelan in Episodes, aided in no small part by an impressive Preston Chamblee. Between Chamblee in Episodes and Harrison Ball and Joseph Gordon in Divert, a lot to celebrate from the men of the corps. 

 

Throughout this week, I've been marveling at the growth in the women's port de bras and use of épaulement -- is there a new ballet master or mistress working with them this season?

 

Taylor Stanley was subbed out, but I didn't catch the name of his replacement and left before Vienna Waltzes (I share many of cobweb's reservations and prefer to skip it these days). (EDIT: looks like it was Troy Schumacher. Thank you vipa!) Here's hoping that it's nothing serious and that he'll be back soon.

Edited by tutu

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Thank you for the reviews.I meant to attend Friday, but couldn't make it. I will say, Megan Fairchild is at the top of her game right now. I think she's dancing better than she ever has. But then a lot of City Ballet dancers truly hit their stride in their 30's. 

 

I too am waiting for promotions of Woodward, Phelan, and Maxwell. They seem due.

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I agree about Gordon, Woodward, Phelan, and Maxwell being promoted soon. Although not likely to be promoted as soon as those previously mentioned, I wonder if Claire Kretzschmar and Kristen Segin are headed for more featured roles (and promotions down the line). I feel as though I've seen both casted in more performances since the latter half of last season.

Edited by wonderwall

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Canbelto, I enjoyed reading your review.  Thank you.

 

I saw a different cast for the Divert, et al. program.  There were excellent moments, dancers, but I was very unhappy with how fast the tempi was for everything.  The dancers looked rushed or even behind the music, especially during VW. 

 

The only section that benefitted from a faster tempo was the first section of Episodes with Megan LeCrone and Zachary Catazaro in the leads.  Megan LeCrone is absolutely fascinating in this part with her mix of girly and tom boy accents, gorgeous lines, long limbs with a combo of both angular and feminine movement. 
 

For me, Tiler Peck's solo in Divert was stunning - bright, perfectly on top of the speedy music with her little flourishes here and there.  But her other movements, adagio, larger jumps requiring leg extensions, seemed stiff.  (I've been watching so many Russians over the summer.....) 

 

It was a joy however to see this ballet once again after (5?) years in the closet.  Ana Sophia Scheller, one of the Principals, was confident, warm, radiant, a true classical, tutu, ballerina beauty throughout.  Ashley Hod also stood out for me in the corps. She needs work on her upper body (stiff) but this Ashley has an amazing quick, out of nowhere, big jump with full, sharp extensions.  She's also very pretty, seems tallish in her dancing, with long limbs.  Now I'm thinking of some (several) ballets I'd like to see her dance as a soloist or principal. 

 

Cannot leave this page without mentioning Sara Mearns in the Der Rosenkavalier section of VW.  So gorgeous! It was conducted too fast, but she made a wonderful, dramatic role live with womanly lush arms and upper body. 

Edited by sz
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On September 28, 2016 at 4:39 PM, sz said:

There were excellent moments, dancers, but I was very unhappy with how fast the tempi was for everything.  The dancers looked rushed or even behind the music, especially during VW. 

 

Tempo issues tonight for Jewels as well. Rubies was sadistically breakneck (you know it's too fast when Bouder looks rushed). Tempo was the least of the music issues, though: some sour notes in Emeralds gave way to complete disorder for Rubies' Stravinsky, with every section of the orchestra apparently following a different conductor. Enormous credit owed to the dancers, who stayed clean and calm and, God knows how, musical through the madness, but the genius of Balanchine choreographing Stravinsky was mostly lost -- you can't appreciate musicality of choreography when you can't hear the music.

 

Minus the music issues, Emeralds looked good, with Indiana Woodward a particular highlight in the pas de trois, Tiler Peck's bracelet solo looking lovely, and some fine work from the apprentice-filled corps. That Woodward promotion's got to be coming any day now.

 

Rubies corps also looked great, as did Teresa Reichlen's tall girl and Bouder's McBride, under the musical circumstances, though Andrew Veyette didn't quite measure up to the women.

 

Diamonds was a relief after Rubies. Demis were wonderful: I love the way Mary Elizabeth Sell's port de bras often seems to be based in her spine, giving this sense of breath for each of the balancés in the opening waltz. Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle are a favorite in the pas de deux, and they delivered, again. Mearns may have tweaked something either at the end of the pas or during the scherzo; though she finished the ballet with the strength, presence, technique, and consummate professionalism she always exhibits, it looked like she may have been in pain, especially during the curtain calls. Corps was once again excellent.

Edited by tutu
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Just returned from tonight's Jewels.  Wonderful night at the ballet.  It looked pretty sold out.  The 4th ring was open.  I ran into a couple of former company members that I know, in the audience.  On to the show.

 

Emeralds looked great.  Everyone talks about Tiler Peck's musicality, as they should, she is extraordinary in that way (and in many other ways), but I want to mention Rebecca Krohn's beautiful musical phrasing.  Her solo was enchanting in the subtle way she played with the music, and the "walking" pas was lovely.  Amar Ramasar, who partnered Peck, looked a bit cautious in his solo work.  I get the feeling he may not be totally comfortable in "white tights" roles.  

 

The curtain going up on Rubies got a reaction from the audience. I love that this still happens.  IMO this is Teresa Reichlen's best role.  She is sly, cheeky, free and commanding all at the same time.  Her legs slice through the air to amazing effect. The difficult exit with the arabesques was not only secure, but done with style.  She kept the sprit of the piece going.  Bouder and Veyette were the couple.   I'm delighted to see Bouder back.  I've seen her do this role better, with tighter movement, longer balances and better turns, but the performance she delivered was one most dancers could only dream of.  This is only her 3rd performance back from maternity leave, the best is yet to come.  I am a big Veyette fan but I found some of his dancing a bit forced and strained.  He looked like he was working hard, not having fun!

 

Means and Tyler Angle were wonderful in Diamonds.  He is an amazing partner.  In so many lifts she looked like she just floated.  No preparation was seen.  Angle's variations were also well done. I also enjoyed his simple, manly, very unaffected presentation.  Because of his partnering, Mearns was given the freedom to be the dancer and artist she can be in the pas.  Her amplitude, gorgeous lines, musicality were all on display.  Her solos were technically on spot and musical.  

 

It was a wonderful night to be in the audience.  As my husband and I were walking home, and talking about the ballet, we realized that Mr. B is still surprising us.  We've seen this ballet a number of times, but there are still moments when we find ourselves amazed by the inventiveness of a step, partnering moment or corps formation.  I'll never tire of this ballet and seeing it this well danced is an amazing gift.

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Having trouble quoting but I so agree with Vipa --  as I was watching Emeralds, after having just seen the Gala ballets and Everywhere We Go, I was once again wowed by how endlessly inventive and fascinating Balanchine's choreography is.

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The performance of Jewels last night was surely one of the ten best performances I've seen in my life, and I've seen a lot of ballet over the decades. I agree with everything vipa and Olga said above. I will add only that I fell in love with Rebecca Krohn, whose pliant use of her upper body in Emeralds was rapturous. In Rubies, Teresa Reichlen brought the house down as she sliced the air with her gorgeous long legs. And Sara Mearns in Diamonds was a study in classical perfection--placement, turnout, technique, musicality--everything came together to make a performance I will never forget. I should add that this was the first time I'd ever seen Mearns in a classical role, and I've been wondering for a long time what all the fuss was about. I'd seen her in a YouTube clip of Swan Lake where she lost the line in between poses, and it's taken me up to now to see her live in a role like this. She won me over totally last night. I adore her.

 

I don't yet know the individual soloist and corps members, but I grew up in the days when it was fashionable for the NYCB corps never to dance together. Last night I thought they were superb--maybe not Mariinsky mirror images or POB mirror images, but dancing in a way that made me feel they were all in it together doing this joyous thing. What a glorious company NYCB is these days!

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I also enjoyed last night's performance very much, for many of the same reasons mentioned by others above. The glowing Indiana Woodward in Emeralds, Tiler Peck and Rebecca Krohn; Teresa Reichlen's amazing Tall Girl, and the sublime Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle -- vipa described Angle's presence as simple, manly, unaffected. Totally agree. I thought Antonio Carmena looked sloppy in Emeralds, Veyette heavy in Rubies, and Bouder not as sharp and crisp as one expects from her. I also thought Amar Ramasar was wonderful in Emeralds, I didn't detect any discomfort and thought he was pretty great. I also just thoroughly enjoy the corps, especially the majestic ending of Diamonds. So many youngsters, brimming with energy, excellence, and pride. I love it. Oh, and also the four guys running around in Rubies. So fun. 

Among the up-and-comers, of course Woodward is making herself indispensable. I would also guess Unity Phelan would be promoted soon. Ashley Hod and Alexa Maxwell also seem to be on the fast track, but IMHO both could use a little more time in the corps to percolate. As possible soloist material, Lydia Wellington also comes to mind, and was just radiant as a demisoloist in Diamonds. 

On to tonight. I see casting changes up -- Aaron Sanz's debut in Symphony in 3 Movements, scheduled for Oct 8, bumped up to tonight! Fantastic!! He is magnetic. Can't wait. Hope Taylor Stanley okay though!

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Just got back from tonight's All Stravinsky. 

My very first time watching NYCB live, and in their home theater no less! My seat was in the middle of the last row of orchestra. 

 

Finlay and Lovette's Aria II in the Violin Concerto was not as full of feeling as what I saw in the NYCB video clip of Hyltin and Fairchild. I know there's much difference between watching an edited video and a live performance, but I just felt their timing was off by a tiny bit at a couple points, and during the part where their arms were tangled together while they both moved slowly across the stage, there seemed to me to be a bit disconnect between their bodies. The ending, an image rich in association as seen in the Hyltin/Fairchild clip, did not leave a particularly strong impression. Lovette's overall quality of movement I thought was highly enjoyable. Mearns and Danchig-Waring were their usual mature, present and expressive selves. In the final section Lovette had a slip while moving fast across the stage front; She and Finlay had a brief moment of trouble during the supported Pirouettes, causing her to wobble. 

 

Monumentum and Movements were two pieces that I felt needed a more expert eye to discern all the subtleties. Janzen certainly showed stage presence. And I was happy to see one of my favorite corps members Sebastian Villarini-Velez, who also danced in Symphony in Three Movements later on.

 

Duo Conertant with Bouder and Fairchild was probably the highlight of the night. Their dancing was precise, lyrical, articulate, full of joy, play, touching reverie and evocative melancholy at the end. Easy rapport between them, though less romantically tinged. Great audience reaction. Three curtain calls. Two French ladies in front of me were also clapping vigorously.

 

Sanz replaced Stanley, as mentioned by cobweb, in Symphony in Three Movements. The opening formation drew a hushed gasp from the audience. Strong corps dancing with the support of the full symphonic score. Hyltin was in form, LeCrone's stage presence was not so strong as I imagined. Sanz danced beautifully and to my eyes partnered Hyltin well. He had a pretty big slip towards the end where he lost his balance while lifting one leg high to the side, and had to support himself with one hand to the ground. It was when they all faced the audience with their backs. Huxley was the standout to me: Clean and articulate lines, secure and confident in fast movements, great elevation. Would love to have seen Stanley though!

 

 

Edited by bcash
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Aaron Sanz looked terrific during his unexpectedly early debut in Symphony in Three Movements last night. I felt he didn't quite live up to his usual standards of imperturbable confidence and elegance, but no doubt more experience with the role will help. I had already bought tickets for next Saturday night, specifically to see his debut, so I'm happy to wind up seeing him twice. Best to Taylor Stanley, though!

Replacing Sanz as a demisoloist was Preston Chamblee. I don't know if he's done that role before, but he looked impressive as well, dancing with confidence and elan. Look forward to seeing both of these guys in more roles. 

Watching Sara Mearns in Stravinsky Violin Concerto, I had the uncanny feeling I had seen her in this role before -- many times before. I was certain of it... except that it was her debut. Finally concluded that it was Maria Kowroski I was remembering, but Mearns has so many of Kowroski's qualities, a certain loose playfulness, humor, and warmth, that they were blurring together in my mind. What's up with Kowroski anyway?

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I saw the Saturday and Sunday matinee performances of Jewels. It was interesting to compare the casts. The Saturday performance in particular featured a series of outstanding performances from the principals. Rebecca Krohn, as the "walking" principal in Emeralds, was mesmerizing. Increasing age is wearing  well on her; she carries herself with seniority and a brook-no-nonsense authority. Watching Ashley Laracey (one of my favorite dancers) in the same role on Sunday, I thought that she could benefit from some of what Krohn has, a greater sense of confidence and authority. Also interesting was comparing Indiana Woodward and Meagan Mann in the pas de trois. Mann has a lovely gracious presence, but Woodward did a far better job of articulating the phrasing with clarity. Her little solo section was such a beautiful and poignant expression of the music that I got a little teary.

In Rubies, Reichlen is, if it's possible, only getting better. Her leg movements are terrifically angular and knifelike. I have seen Reichlen countless times in a variety of roles, and yet somehow her legs seemed longer than ever. In the pas de deux I enjoyed the revitalized Megan Fairchild and the evergreen Joaquin de Luz, who amazes and delights his audience by outclassing the four guys jogging along behind him, who are all probably 10+ years younger than he is. As to the Bouder-Veyette pair, Veyette doesn't look like he's having a very good time. Why so glum, Andy? 

As for Diamonds, I loved both the Mearns-Tyler Angle, and Reichlen-Janzen pairs. Mearns, with her drama and expressiveness, makes the pas de deux an intense interpersonal event between her and her partner, whereas Reichlen with her coolness turns it into an impersonal exposition of glamour and technique. The audience was wildly enthusiastic about both pairs. 

Others have commented on the inventiveness of the choreography. I'm struck by how sympathetically Balanchine approached such different worlds. Each section of Jewels portrays a totally different world, and yet when you're immersed in each, you feel the rightness of this approach to the world. Then you move onto the next, and it's totally different, but it too feels like the right way to live.

Edited by cobweb
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I too saw both Jewels casts. I can't decide whether I like Reichlen better in Rubies as Tall Girl or as Diamonds. I loved the purity and elegance of her line in Diamonds, but I also love her iconic Tall Girls. I also disagree about Bouder/Veyette compared to Fairchild/deLuz. I think that Bouder's sass in the role is preferable to the cutesiness of Fairchild/DeLuz.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

I can't decide whether I like Reichlen better in Rubies as Tall Girl or as Diamonds. I loved the purity and elegance of her line in Diamonds, but I also love her iconic Tall Girls. 

 

Here's how I think about it: I'm a big fan of Reichlen's Diamonds ballerina, but I fully expect to see other dancers shine as brightly in the role, both now and in the future. I don't expect to ever see Reichlen's equal in Rubies, however: she's practically the Platonic ideal of the Tall Girl. 

 

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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I meant to post while in NY but was slightly under the weather. It was fun to see friends and acquaintances that I have met on previous trips, or online and even in DC previously. I enjoyed the All Stravinsky Black and White program on Thursday. Symphony in Three Movements is one of my favorite "modern" Balanchine ballets.

 

The two Jewels I saw (Saturday and Sunday matinees) were interesting to compare and contrast. There were pros and cons to both, but it was nice seeing Reichlen's tall girl in Rubies and Diamonds!

 

I also caught Nina Stemme in Tristan und Isolde at the Met (despite losing most interest in opera I love Nina Stemme and a chance to see her Isolde was a big incentive for this trip).....I joke that Tristan und Isolde is a 5 hour opera where nothing happens and Tristan's death is a killer (by that time you are ready for it to be over)......most artists suffer for their art.....Wagner wanted the audience to suffer too.....LOL......basically, they drink a love potion and 5 hours later die as one with the universe.......glorious music.......wonderful time, but glad it is over!!!!!!!!  ........and I have seen people say that Swan Lake and Raymonda are long.....wait till they see Tristan und Isolde or the Ring Cycle.......oy vey!!!!!! .........I can sit through Swan Lake or Raymonda with broken ribs and zoned out on vicodin (and this has happened) with no trouble!!!!! They are SHORT to me.

 

I also saw Diane Lane in The Cherry Orchard. Loved seeing this actress play a grande dame type personality........she's around my age, and I have watched her over the years go from child actress to sex kitten to serious adult actress and now a very commanding stage presence that can carry a show with a voice very similar to Kathleen Turner.......

 

 

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Sounds like a wonderful trip.  Symphony in Three Movements is also one of my favorites!

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It was good to see you Birdsall.  Glad you had a good time in NYC.

 

Mearns was replaced on Friday in the Rondo of Western Symphony due to illness. Did she appear yesterday (10/8) , or was she replaced?  Thanks

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At the matinee she was replaced by Reichlen who did double duty (after Serenade). If she was tired, there was no sign of it!

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Thanks.  Mearns performed her two roles (in Glass Pieces and in Thou Swell) on Sunday afternoon. 

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