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NYCB Spring 2016 Spring Season

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The Trust has become WAY more relaxed about YT videos. Not going to point out the links but many full versions of Balanchine stuff is easily searchable on YT, just sayin'.

As for Devin Alberda, don't know what happened but there's no such thing as bad publicity as the last 24 hours NYCB dancers have been inundating their instagram with backstage pictures he took. It's sweet to see such solidarity against an order from up above, but I have a feeling this is some sort of internal turf war between the official CB photographers and Alberda with a lot of office politics.

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Count me in as another youtube watcher who gets so excited about what she sees there that she buys tickets to NYCB despite living 2.5 hours away and it's a major sacrifice to drive down the city. I think the youtube videos are a great introduction: how do you know if you'll like something if you've never seen it before? Most people won't part with their money for something they don't have a clue about. I'm committed to ballet, but my friends and students certainly aren't. Recently, I showed some young teen students the McBride/Baryshnikov video of Tchai pdd. They are Irish dance students. They got so interested that they got a group together to go into the city to see NYCB perform. These were kids who would roll their eyes as soon as someone said the word "ballet." But they had no experience to draw on to judge it accurately. Now they're psyched to see more and more live ballet. This is how to build a youth audience.

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The Trust has become WAY more relaxed about YT videos. Not going to point out the links but many full versions of Balanchine stuff is easily searchable on YT, just sayin'.

Yes, there are many complete Balanchine ballets available online. I won't put a bull's-eye on them by posting the links, but the Trust is relatively relaxed about this reality. The Cranko people, for example, are draconian about keeping his ballets off the Internet, and many production companies and broadcasters are pretty strict about enforcing copyright, and this is a frustrating state of affairs when the films are not available for purchase. It varies from company to company as well. The Bolshoi, for one, is much more likely to demand the removal of material than the Mariinsky. But in any case, I don't regard the Balanchine Trust as YouTube's enemy #1.

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Maybe the most frustrating is Paul Taylor's aversion to YT. The last couple years I've noticed the aging audience and dwindling excitement for his new works, and it's a shame he's so strict about pulling his works off Youtube. I agree about Cranko's vigilance. I'll add Ratmansky as well. He's extremely vigilant about getting his stuff pulled from YT.

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This L.A. Times article, although nearly 30 years old, gives some useful background information about who established the Balanchine Trust, why, and what it sees as its mission. (It's also worth visiting the Trust's own website to learn more about its mission as well as the particulars of licensing the ballets.)

Keep in mind that 1) the Trust's mission is to preserve the integrity of the ballets and their associated copyrights and 2) to protect the interests of the people who now own the copyrights, most of whom are former Balanchine ballerinas. It's primary goal isn't to broaden the audience for Balanchine's ballets or ballet in general, as lovely as that might be. That's more the objective of the George Balanchine Foundation, an entirely different organization.

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Just got back from the matinee today. Happy to realize I do like modern stuff after all, as I enjoyed most of what I saw today.

I'll start off with the highlight of the day for me: Pictures at an Exhibition. I've been wanting to see this for a year and half, and it was as amazing as I thought it would be. I think the costumes and changing background are genius. My favorite part was the pas de deux between Rebecca Krohn and Tyler Angle, which was stunning. I've seen a lot of Rebecca Krohn over the last two weeks, and I am really loving her dancing. She has such beautiful long legs and arms, which makes for gorgeous lines. She moves through the music so beautifully. For those who saw this with the original cast, was this the part that Wendy Whelan danced? Because when I was watching Krohn, that is who I thought of. Not to take away from Krohn, who again was the highlight of the program for me, but it just looked like choreography built for Whelan, and I wish I would have gotten to see her in this.

The rest of the cast was also good--I especially enjoyed Georgina Pazcoquin and Claire Kretzschmar. I was a bit disappointed with Zachary Catazaro's solo, as I didn't think he attacked the choreography as well as the clips I've seen of Ramasar doing that part.

I also enjoyed Estancia, even though I wasn't sure how I felt about it when the horses first came out. But I actually ended up enjoying it, and thought that Scheller and Danchig-Waring had great chemistry together. There was a lift bobble that didn't quite happen the way I think it was suppose to, but they covered well. While I've seen Danchig-Waring before, this was the first time I felt like I SAW him. He was great in the "city boy" role with strong dancing and a smoldering sexiness that I was not expecting. I'm officially a fan, haha! :innocent:

My least favorite was Peck's Everywhere We Go. It's not that I hated the choregraphy, because some of it was quite interesting, especially some of his formations with groups. But I hated the Stevens score, it was too modern for me. It's amazing how much the music can influence the performance for me. Plus, the choregraphy (probably by design, but I still didn't like it) was too repetitive. I felt like it was never going to end. It was a let down after the electricity and beauty of Pictures.

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Kaysta, Everywhere We Go (I think) was intended to have a deliberately retro jazzy feel. But Peck fell into Trap 101 when choreographing to jazz music, which was that he didn't really have a mix of uptempo and contemplative jazz. The commissioned score tended to sound the same after awhile, and so did the choreography. I wonder if Peck would have done better with actual jazz music than faux-jazz.

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Kaysta, Everywhere We Go (I think) was intended to have a deliberately retro jazzy feel. But Peck fell into Trap 101 when choreographing to jazz music, which was that he didn't really have a mix of uptempo and contemplative jazz. The commissioned score tended to sound the same after awhile, and so did the choreography. I wonder if Peck would have done better with actual jazz music than faux-jazz.

Exactly! That was my problem with it! It felt loud, all horns blaring, all the time. No subtlety. It gave me a headache and definitely influenced my opinion on the overall piece.

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Exactly! That was my problem with it! It felt loud, all horns blaring, all the time. No subtlety. It gave me a headache and definitely influenced my opinion on the overall piece.

Ditto

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Also, I just want to add that the placement of the piece wasn't well done either. If they had placed Everywhere We Go first, maybe the loudness wouldn't have bothered me, and I'd be able to concentrate on the choreography. But to have it follow the simplicity of a single piano, with Mussorgsky's full of emotion Pictures, was a mistake, at least in my opinion.

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Also at the matinee yesterday, and wholeheartedly agree with others' comments above, especially re: Everywhere We Go.

Taylor Stanley saved Everywhere We Go for me, though -- he fills out the movement in the most lovely way. Also really loved seeing Kretzschmar in Pictures at an Exhibition and was thinking how much I'd love to see those long limbs and that musical attack deployed in The Cage or Agon. She's just a compelling dancer.

re: claws: they were toned down, at least in this rep. I think it might be a point in the season thing -- when you've got a raft of new apprentices fresh out of SAB, they're more likely than not to have the full claw (and you see it in, say, fourth movement symphony in c, in chaconne corps), but it fades with experience.

On a tangentially related note, really appreciating the raft of talent that was the class of 2012-2013; it's been wonderful to watch Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward, and others come into their own.

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Anyone see the all-new Emeralds/Rubies cast today? How'd they do?

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Laracey blew me away in Emeralds today. She was excellent. Deep back bends, beautiful arms. She had a small bobble (came off pointe) but the rest of her performance was gorgeous. More of her please. The rest of the new cast performed well, but there is definitely room for improvement for each one of them. Watching the Emeralds performance today made me realize the deep pool of talent at NYCB in the corps - H. Ball, I. Woodward, A. Scrudato are the future of the company.

The new Rubies cast was exciting. I especially liked Huxley's performance. He has such a strong technique, and just seems to get better and better. Emily Kikta had a lot of flexibility, but isn't a big jumper. I disliked Megan LeCrone's tall girl earlier in the week. She is too tentative and too stiff. I've seen Lovette do the main pdd of Rubies before, but never the entire role. She has definitely improved, but she can't touch the brilliance and technical finesse of either Sterling Hyltin or La Bouder in Rubies.

Mearns and Tyler Angle in Diamonds = Pure Joy

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I enjoyed Jewels yesterday very much. Many good performances, best of all the sublime, transporting Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle in Diamonds.

Emily Kikta as the "tall girl" in Rubies had a very credible debut. She wields her legs like they're weapons, and at other times shows them off with a daring pride. Mixes a sense of fun with a sense of menace. Has room to work on the role. I felt like the iconic bent-leg second-position pose, with arms up in the air (don't know how else to describe) was not etched as sharply as it could be, either in the moment before she's partnered by the four men, or when she's stalking off stage alternating that position with big arabesques. Overall though, very lively and makes me look forward to seeing her do it again in the fall. She's a much better fit for this role than Megan LeCrone.

Lauren Lovette had a rompy, playful feistiness that I enjoyed, but was not well matched with Anthony Huxley. His solo work is more dazzling every time, but I wish he could look more confident in his dealings with women. The partnering was shaky at times.

Backing up to Emeralds, Ashley Laracey's hands, wrists, and arms mesmerized, along with her air of deep contemplation.

Today I find my mind a crazed melange of Faure, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. A little distracting at times, but not a bad addition to my Monday!

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Emily Kikta as the "tall girl" in Rubies had a very credible debut. She wields her legs like they're weapons, and at other times shows them off with a daring pride. Mixes a sense of fun with a sense of menace. Has room to work on the role. I felt like the iconic bent-leg second-position pose, with arms up in the air (don't know how else to describe) was not etched as sharply as it could be, either in the moment before she's partnered by the four men, or when she's stalking off stage alternating that position with big arabesques.

I was interested in your description here -- though the tall woman in Rubies is often performed with a kind of cheerleader verve, I've often thought that she could have a real dark sense. Ariana Lallone had a very Weimar vibe going on when she danced the part with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

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Yes, the "tall girl" role is more interesting when it's not just bright cheerleading, but brings out that imperious, legs-as-weapons tone of menace. Kikta seemed to understand this, whereas I found Megan LeCrone inscrutable, which is different.

BTW, I would enjoy meeting fellow Ballet Alerters at upcoming NYCB performances (will be at the occasional ABT performance too, but only a few). If anyone is interested in meeting up at intermission, PM me.

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I was hoping they would give Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild a Duo Concertant.... sigh....
but hopefully Wheeldon's new Gershwin will be a big success.

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I was hoping they would give Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild a Duo Concertant.... sigh....

but hopefully Wheeldon's new Gershwin will be a big success.

I actually think R. Fairchild and S. Hyltin have better stage chemistry than R. Fairchild and T. Peck do. Real life doesn't always look as compelling in the theater as make-believe does.

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The andante (second) movement of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 always makes me a bit weepy but tonight, watching Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle dance Ratmansky's choreography to it for Concerto DSCH, was a two hankie performance. Sara looked as though she could float away on some of those lifts. Thank heavens there was one more movement after the andante to regain my composure before the lights came up.

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I was hoping they would give Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild a Duo Concertant.... sigh....

but hopefully Wheeldon's new Gershwin will be a big success.

I thought American Rhapsody was extremely dull and unimaginative. Robbie looks kind out of shape and maybe that's all he could do but the dance vocabulary seemed very limited. I actually liked Nicolas Blanc's Mothership better (though neither was anything to write home about). I especially liked that of its 8 dancers, 3 are apprentices and the others are young, not very senior corps members. Of course Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH was the best piece on the program. Unfortunately, I think Sara is miscast as the lead woman. The choreography requires the man to swing his partner around from his neck a lot and Sara is too big to have that look easy and playful. It is also a shame Ana Sophia was out in the female demi role, though Brittany Pollack did an adequate job as her sub. The last time I saw this piece it was performed by the Maariinsky and Filip Stepin and Kimin Kim were the demi men. As good as Anthony Huxley and Gonzalo Garcia are, they can't hold a candle (in technique and charisma) to Stepin and Kim so I felt a bit disappointed. In fact, this evening had very little dance. American Rhapsody was under 20 minutes while Mothership was 8 minutes; Concerto DSCH is about a half hour. This was an evening to come to look at the wealthy celebrities all dressed up but not a great night for dance.

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Gala thoughts:

It was a bizarre night. They started the evening with a tribute to the Chairman of NYCB, who is apparently the head of Travelers Insurance Group. We had to watch a film clip praising him, and then the company did an excerpt from Robbins' The Concert. It was the section Rain, where the dancers open and close their umbrellas. At the end, one dancers opens up a red umbrella. (A red umbrella is tTravelers corporate symbol.) Really. Pandering of the highest order.

The Ratmansky DSCH was the only good ballet on the program. Somehow, the performances were not as wonderful as in prior seasons. Mearns layered on too much Drama. I preferred Whelan's more subdued approach to the material

Regarding Mothership, I suspect this is another one of those ballets that came out of the NY Choreographic Institute, a division of NYCB for nurturing new choreography. This ballet should have never made it to the main stage. It was slight and looked like a classroom exercise in terms of the steps.

The Wheeldon had some good moments. I particularly found the way he used the corps to be moderately interesting. However, the choreography for the 4 leads looked pedestrian, for the most part. Some nice moments in the pdd for Peck and Fairchild. I think part of the problem was that the music is not suitable for dance. Is Janie Taylor going out of her way to make people in the company look hideous? R. Fairchild looked like a leprechaun who escaped from a Lucky Charms cereal commercial in that awful green costume. The petite Tiler Peck looked like she had huge hips and a wide torso in the costume designed for her.

Before the premiere of the Wheeldon ballet, we watched an extensive film clip about the Broadway show An American in Paris. Was there a point to this? Robbie isn't even in AiP anymore, so why was NYCB showing clips and interviews regarding AiP? Strange.

The orchestra pit was then raised. Chris Wheeldon and guest conductor Rob Fisher reminisced about how wonderful it was for them to work on An American in Paris together, and the genius of Gershwin. The audience then got a little Hear the Music lecture about Rhapsody in Blue. Yes, just what the dressed up audience members who go to the ballet once a year wanted - a music lesson. Then the Wheeldon ballet commenced.

In sum, the only remarkable choreography of the night was DSCH. Viva Ratmansky!

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The corporate part (Travelers) is reminiscent of ABT's gala, which I've decided to skip. The music lessons seem to be a new thing which we're going to have more of. Sometimes it feels NYCB is trying too hard and is off base w the ancillary stuff, but check out the piece in today's Times about the Met Opera -- I'm feeling good that NYCB is able to pack the house many nights.

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Sounds awful in terms of corporate branding and the American in Paris commercial. Glad I wasn't there. What are they thinking and what direction are they going in?

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