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2018 Spring Season

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Re Warren Carlyle. This is more about him than NYCB spring season, so mods move if appropriate. 

I saw the program with the Robbins mashup yesterday afternoon. Today I saw City Center Encores superb "Me and My Girl". Wow. You would have no idea this is the same choreographer. 

I admit that seeing a larger than life photo of Jerome Robbins broadly grinning while 50 dancers, who never worked with him but clearly recognize genius when they dance it, stood in tribute to him brought tears to my eyes. But even as I was brushing the tears away I was aware that my emotions had been manipulated. "Something Wonderful" is my absolute favorite R and H song and I get the subtext, it's a description of Robbins' well known difficult personality, but without presuming to speak for Robbins I don't think he would have liked this at all.

IMO the piece is a mess. Choreographically you can see the Robbins style and influence, but since Robbins did it all about a million times better why would you want to watch this? Why would it even have been commissioned? Theatrically it makes no sense. The vignettes are out of context and unless you are familiar with the shows it doesn't hold together. 

Doesn't the three glorious weeks of programming including seldom performed gems provide the appropriate tribute? I think so. Maybe a revival of Jerome Robbins' Broadway could have been mounted in a Broadway theater? 

So with pre purchased ticket in hand, I approached City Center this afternoon with a little trepidation. Wow. I laughed through the entire show and left humming The Lambeth Walk. The choreography is smashing. The note perfect Christian Borle and Laura Michelle Kelly led a gifted cast of musical theater veterans and it was a rip roaring old fashioned real good time. 

It helps that Stephen Fry revised the book and it is hilarious. It also helps that these are musical theater dancers who can tap, kick and shuffle.  Having also seen recently the splendid "My Fair Lady" I loved the sly (and not so sly) references. This production deserves more than a five day run. 

 

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6 hours ago, rkoretzky said:

Re Warren Carlyle. This is more about him than NYCB spring season, so mods move if appropriate. 

I saw the program with the Robbins mashup yesterday afternoon. Today I saw City Center Encores superb "Me and My Girl". Wow. You would have no idea this is the same choreographer. 

I couldn't agree with you more.  We saw both shows in reverse order:  Me and My Girl yesterday, and the Robbins program today.  Warren Carlyle has staged Encores musicals for many years, and is a marvelous choreographer.  The number which opened the second act of Me and My Girl, "The Sun has Got His Hat On," is absolutely the most insane and hilarious piece of staging I think I've ever seen on Broadway or anywhere else.  And with the contributions of Rob Berman, Jonathan Tunick and Toni-Leslie James, all of whom are associated with Encores (Rob Berman is their long-time Music Director), I expected a much more generous and Encores-like offering. 

My problem with “Something to Dance About” was the concept of this program as “moments” from great production numbers by Jerome Robbins.  By slicing out a couple of random minutes from here or there in a dance number, the drama and characterization encapsulated in the original number is completely lost.  These production numbers aren’t just bits of choreography, they’re about characters in dramatic situations in each show.  But for some reason, they’re treating them here like excerpts from the Cliff Notes version of the dances, slapped together in a non-meaningful way.  Even if you’re familiar with the shows and the original numbers, it’s a deeply disappointing experience to get merely a fragment or a snippet of something which is so much better in its original place, as part of the larger piece.  Just as you’re getting ready for the “good part” of one number, it simply vanishes in front of your eyes as characters from another show suddenly dance onstage for their 2 minutes in the spotlight.  And on and on it goes. 

I disagreed with many of the choices they made.  Andrew Veyette and Ashley Bouder in “All I Need is the Girl” were so poor at line-reading, as well as such weak tap dancers, the number should have been cut and the extra 2 minutes or so added to, say, the Billion Dollar Baby Charleston.  As it is, all we saw were the Charleston’s final 2 minutes, when all the fun and characterization in the number happens in the first two minutes.  And “America” from West Side Story was little more than Sara Mearns in a sparkly red dress.  Really?  Come on!  In addition, I disliked  “guest vocalist" and her nasal tone.  It was especially grating listening to her shout her way through songs closely identified with the much warmer voices of Mary Martin and Barbra Streisand. 

It makes me wonder what Carlyle’s mandate was for this work.  “Do whatever you want but bring it in under a half hour.”  Or something along those lines?  Honestly, I was so disappointed by this piece, I “forced” myself to down two martinis with dinner afterwards.  And I’m still depressed just thinking about it.  And all this after the really smashing first half of the day’s performance.  The four Robbins ballets which opened the show – The Four Seasons, Circus Polka, Suite of Dances, and Easy, were superb, and so beautifully danced, it made the second half of the program doubly disappointing.  Outstanding dancing in the Four Seasons from Joseph Gordon (Winter), Emily Gerrity (Summer), Roman Mejia (Fall), as well as Daniel Ulbricht (Suite of Dances), and the entire cast of Easy; I would have sat through each of them a second time.  If the performance had ended right there, it would have been enough.

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I was there on Sat afternoon, and I agree that the pastiche of the Robbins Broadway catalogue didn't really work.  The costumes were terrific, though. 

Sat afternoon also had a lot of new casts.  I liked Ulbricht in Suite of Dances, but I thought his delivery sometimes was over the top cutesy.  I don't remember that problem when Woetzel performed the role. (I did not see DeLuz.)

I thought Spring was a very fine role debut for Lovette and Huxley.  She had a lightness to her dancing, which is exactly appropriate.  (By contrast Mearns's tornado approach to Spring is all wrong, in my opinion.) Huxley was also marvelous, although there were some partnering rough spots. Gerrity sizzled in Summer, and I loved her languid style.  I thought she and Ask made a wonderful pairing.

Hmm. Now to Fall.  Mejia was amazing In his elevation and speed.  I can't wait to see him develop at NYCB.  Veyette was taxed to the limit by this choreography.  I know he used to be thought of a virtuoso type, but those days are long gone.   For the most part, I thought Phelan did a good job.  However she is not a gifted turner.  She started losing control at the end of one variation where she spins several times as she moves toward the wing of the stage.   Moreover, when she spins she lacks the confidence (or ability?) to continuously spin.  As a result she hesitates before placing her foot down to being the next spin in a series.  She did this sever times.   This makes the phrasing look very choppy and lacking in flow and speed.  She also came off pointe once during her fouettes.

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Hi, in the defense of Warren Carlyle, with Me and My Girl he was working on recreating choreography that was already famous. For instance the Lambeth Walk can be seen in a 1939 film version:

The show also had very successful revivals in 1984 in London and in 1986 on B'way.

Here is the big tap number "Sun Has Got His Hat On":

Something to Dance About is a pastiche and a piece d'occasion and I think meant for people who already know and love Robbins' B'way choreography. I think the goal was to get as many dancers and numbers onstage as possible. It was enjoyable for what it was and I much preferred it to the other NYCB efforts to "get everyone onstage dancing in fancy costumes" piece d'occasions like Bal de Coutre and The Most Incredible Thing. 

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ITA on the horrible mess that is Something to Dance About. The Charleston was the one saving grace but we didn’t see enough. 

NYCB already does West Side Story Suite, with dancers in the roles. Mearns and her red bling dress in the Carlyle Crap are ALL WRONG as Puerto Rican Anita!!!!

The Fiddler “bottle dance” without the bottles...imagine the Manu Dance from Bayadere without a water jug on Manu’s head!

The #s from Funny Girl (from which Robbins was fired (?) before opening) and Gypsy are totally boring and useless. To add insult to injury, one of Robbins’ most celebrated B’way numbers - the Mack Sennett ballet from High Button Shoes, with the line of beach hut doors & everyone running in and out - is omitted. The one rarity that I expected to see went AWOL! Bummer.

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Posted (edited)

 

 

 

6 hours ago, CharlieH said:

ITA on the horrible mess that is Something to Dance About. The Charleston was the one saving grace but we didn’t see enough. 

NYCB already does West Side Story Suite, with dancers in the roles. Mearns and her red bling dress in the Carlyle Crap are ALL WRONG as Puerto Rican Anita!!!!

The Fiddler “bottle dance” without the bottles...imagine the Manu Dance from Bayadere without a water jug on Manu’s head!

The #s from Funny Girl (from which Robbins was fired (?) before opening) and Gypsy are totally boring and useless. To add insult to injury, one of Robbins’ most celebrated B’way numbers - the Mack Sennett ballet from High Button Shoes, with the line of beach hut doors & everyone running in and out - is omitted. The one rarity that I expected to see went AWOL! Bummer.

Wow, I can't imagine this being viewed as an awful mess, but to each his own.  My husband and I loved "Something to Dance About"!  This was not meant to be a complete set of numbers from each show, so omissions of favorite scenes was no surprise.  We would have loved to have seen more too, but we thoroughly enjoyed what was presented.  The dancing was spectacular, and they did Broadway proud with all the quick changes of the beautiful and colorful costumes! 

Edited by NinaFan

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Posted (edited)

STDA was an anomaly, as I thoroughly enjoyed most of the rest of the four Robbins-100 programs seen during the past two weekends. I initially did not report on the Carlyle to not dampen the rest of the celebration, until I read all of the above negatives. Glad that some folks liked it.

Edited by CharlieH

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Posted (edited)

A ray of light in a world filled with darkness—that is what NYCB is. And on every occasion the company presents Jerome Robbins' sublime, majestic The Goldberg Variations that light shines a little brighter. Especially if the work is as lovingly performed as it was on Saturday evening by Ashley Bouder, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns (from all three of whom I have been accustomed to expecting efforts of the highest caliber); Lauren Lovette, Emilie Gerrity, Anthony Huxley, Taylor Stanley, Daniel Applebaum, Joseph Gordon and twelve members of the corps in the Part I Variations; Jared Angle, Andrew Veyette, Tyler Angle, nineteen more corps members (as well as two apprentices) in the Part II Variations; Susan Walters at the piano; and, finally, Miriam Miller and Aaron Sanz as the gorgeous couple in the opening Theme and haunting closing of the ballet. Except for Hyltin and the Angle brothers those named had also appeared a few hours earlier—most in substantive roles—at the matinee "Tribute to Robbins" program!

Even more than those frustrated by what I regard as the "heavenly length" of this ballet, I welcome the intermission that arrives at its conclusion when placed first on the program ... for a manifestly different reason: it provides the indispensable interval to recompose myself after the inner thrill I have experienced while viewing it! No matter how vast the universe is, all its entities—living and inanimate; material and spiritual; visible and invisible; gargantuan and infinitesimal; fathomable and incomprehensible—are interconnected. The Goldberg Variations is one of those rare, monumental works of art that makes me feel acutely conscious of—and at the same time guardedly optimistic about—this immense interconnectedness. From my perspective, its performance on Saturday amounted to a deeper and more genuine tribute to Robbins.

Edited by Royal Blue

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So glad, Royal Blue, that there is another fan of Goldberg Variations.  I remember the days when it was performed on a harpsichord and with a note slipped into the program asking the audience to wait until the end to applaud.  And, of course, the audience started to clap at the seeming "false" ending and was quickly hushed.  Quite frankly, I was quite amazed that today's audience was able to sit through it at all as well as they did. 

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11 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

A ray of light in a world filled with darkness—that is what NYCB is. And on every occasion the company presents Jerome Robbins' sublime, majestic The Goldberg Variations that light shines a little brighter. Especially if the work is as lovingly performed as it was on Saturday evening by Ashley Bouder, Sterling Hyltin, and Sara Mearns (from all three of whom I have been accustomed to expecting efforts of the highest caliber); Lauren Lovette, Emilie Gerrity, Anthony Huxley, Taylor Stanley, Daniel Applebaum, Joseph Gordon and twelve members of the corps in the Part I Variations; Jared Angle, Andrew Veyette, Tyler Angle, nineteen more corps members (as well as two apprentices) in the Part II Variations; Susan Walters at the piano; and, finally, Miriam Miller and Aaron Sanz as the gorgeous couple in the opening Theme and haunting closing of the ballet. Except for Hyltin and the Angle brothers those named had also appeared a few hours earlier—most in substantive roles—at the matinee "Tribute to Robbins" program!

Even more than those frustrated by what I regard as the "heavenly length" of this ballet, I welcome the intermission that arrives at its conclusion when placed first on the program ... for a manifestly different reason: it provides the indispensable interval to recompose myself from the inner thrill I have experienced while viewing it! No matter how vast the universe is, all its entities—living and inanimate; material and spiritual; visible and invisible; gargantuan and infinitesimal; fathomable and incomprehensible—are interconnected. The Goldberg Variations is one of those rare, monumental works of art that makes me feel acutely conscious of—and at the same time guardedly optimistic about—this immense interconnectedness. From my perspective, its performance on Saturday amounted to a deeper and more genuine tribute to Robbins.

Thank you, Royal Blue. You perfectly captured my feelings about Goldberg, in general, and last Saturday night’s performance in particular! Now imagine the thrill of following THAT with Robbins’ magnificent  Les Noces - more powerful, colorful, forceful & dramatic than the Nijinska original (a masterpiece in its own subtle way). Full chorus, vocal soloists, four grand pianos and full percussion ensemble AND dancers on the stage...with special kudos to Indiana Woodward and apprentice Andres Zuniga as the bride & groom. Goldberg + Noces = A Double-Whammy of a Sensorial Delight!

Also delicious, in a much lighter vein and on another program: Fanfare...a far more effective music-education experience than “Show the Music” lecture that preceded The Cage on Friday night. 

I’m looking forward to seeing the fifth and sixth programs on Saturday, especially the one that includes Dances at a Gathering. A mostly wonderful festival thus far. 

Edited by CharlieH
Mentioning Fanfare

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7 hours ago, bobbi said:

I remember the days when it was performed on a harpsichord and with a note slipped into the program asking the audience to wait until the end to applaud.  And, of course, the audience started to clap at the seeming "false" ending and was quickly hushed.  Quite frankly, I was quite amazed that today's audience was able to sit through it at all as well as they did. 

Needless to say, bobbi ... I would have loved to have seen those performances also, not least in order to have heard Bach’s transcendent music played on the harpsichord! The request concerning refraining from applause is interesting. Soon after I first saw The Goldberg Variations a few years ago, I realized that applauding during a performance was inappropriate. Of course, such restraint—if not specifically requested, at least—will never be exercised by everyone in attendance. Nevertheless, as CharlieH observed earlier, the warm response to Saturday’s performance by the audience was gratifying … and well-deserved by the artists. Finally, both the "false" and the actual ending of Robbins' ballet certainly are extraordinarily moving and beautiful.

6 hours ago, CharlieH said:

Now imagine the thrill of following THAT with Robbins’ magnificent  Les Noces - more powerful, colorful, forceful & dramatic than the Nijinska original (a masterpiece in its own subtle way). Full chorus, vocal soloists, four grand pianos and full percussion ensemble AND dancers on the stage...with special kudos to Indiana Woodward and apprentice Andres Zuniga as the bride & groom. Goldberg + Noces = A Double-Whammy of a Sensorial Delight!

CharlieH, you are completely right about Saturday evening's program providing quite a "Sensorial Delight". NYCB's presentation of Les Noces was no doubt magnificent. Stravinsky's music did not sound as loud as I expected, and the clarity of the voices came through marvelously. This music sounds better live! Additionally, since the ballet is new to me, I find your comparison with Nijinska's version intriguing.

Edited by Royal Blue

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The attachment indicates that it's Bouder and Gordon.  Veyette is dancing with Hyltin.

 

Thanks Susan!

Edited by abatt

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Indeed! Glad to see I have a ticket for a Bouder-Gordon night. Can't wait to see him. 

But rather than Erica Pereira, IMHO they should have tapped Sara Adams for this. 

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20 minutes ago, abatt said:

The attachment indicates that it's Bouder and Gordon.  Veyette is dancing with Hyltin.

 

Thanks Susan!

Oops, you are correct

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Great news about Erica. I’ve admired her more & more this year, most recently as the featured (pdd) lady in Robbins’ Interplay.

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Week 6 casting is up. Some exciting debuts in the final performance of the season, including Ashley Laracey debuting in the lead role of Concerto Barocco!! Savannah Lowery dances the second lead as her final performance with the company. And Silas Farley debuting as well. Can't wait!!

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On 5/16/2018 at 3:57 PM, cobweb said:

Week 6 casting is up. Some exciting debuts in the final performance of the season, including Ashley Laracey debuting in the lead role of Concerto Barocco!!

Great news!! After seeing Laracey's debut as the "second ballerina" I was wondering if/when her debut in the "first" ballerina role might happen -- I see the company didn't waste any time.

Edited by Drew
Missing word

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I suspect Erica has only been understudying only a couple of weeks. She has shown us she is a quick learner remember Raymonda. Erica learned that in under a day.

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On 5/15/2018 at 5:12 PM, nysusan said:

Isn’t Huxley the amazing technician who stole the show dancing the Tarantella in Peck’s Pulcinella Variations? (Saw him in PV twice in NY & once in DC) Wow, I just realized...what a pairing that should be, Pereira/Huxley! I can’t wait to see them going full throttle at that last Coppelia matinee on June 2. It’ll be my last big trip of the season - Coppelia NYCB matinee, SAB Workshop in the eve, last NYCB mixed bill on Sunday, then ABT Harlequinade performances on Monday/Tuesday. I think I’m now a certified ballet fan (or certified loco, as my wife & kids would say).

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Ashley Bouder and Joseph Gordon getting coaching from perhaps the best possible source:

 

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I saw the Robbins programs No. 2 and 3 on Wednesday and Thursday nights. No. 3 was a nicely chosen sampler of five Robbins pieces spanning his entire career. Interplay was made in 1945, his second ballet after Fancy Free. I was intrigued that there were glimmers of movement ideas we saw fleshed out later in his career. E.g., the heel step by the men that opens the third movement of Glass Pieces was seen in a brief section. The playfulness and Broadway glitz were much in evidence and quite nice to see.

Goldberg Variations is overwhelming. I had seen it years ago and knew what to expect, but there are just so many movement ideas packed in that it's hard to grasp the overall structure and relationships between sections. I wish a dance writer of the caliber of Nancy Goldner or Arlene Croce would take a good look at it and help us out. Hallberg posted a Tweet about an earlier performance and, quite appropriately, was stunned at the choreographic genius. 

The most extraordinary performance had to be Tiler Peck in Other Dances. I was reminded of a comment Robbins made in his interview in 1980 with Tobi Tobias when this work was shown on Dance in America: He loves to see dancers dancing for themselves, not an audience. That captures her rapturous performance so well. The details of extensions, stretch, position were also amazing. Joaquin de Luz seemed to be trying too hard with some of the emphatic phrase-enders and stomps. They seemed very forced and unnatural. 

As the odd applause at the Wednesday Giselle was noted, let me note here the strange applause for Other Dances. At the end of the first section, Peck and de Luz walked to the front of the stage and started bowing -- in complete silence. The audience slowly realized it was supposed to clap, so they eventually did. During the next segment, the first male variation, the audience clapped repeatedly whenever he did something special-looking. Very disruptive and, fortunately, that died down for the rest of the ballet. This was a knowledgeable and attentive audience, so it was all very peculiar.

Edited by California

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With all the hubbub and excitement last night about Hallberg and Osipova, I was seriously wondering if I should bail out on the evening performance of NYCB, and instead score a standing room ticket for Giselle. Not wanting to waste a perfectly good ticket (it was too late to exchange), I went to the all-Robbins program of Opus 19/the Dreamer, Dances at a Gathering, and Glass Pieces. And so glad I did! Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I bought a ticket to see the program again tonight. Let me just say that Dances at a Gathering is an utterly beautiful piece. Humble and modest, laced with humor, and studded with unexpected, heart-wrenching moments. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle were particularly beautiful, especially in that lovely quiet pas de deux near the end; and also in the earlier section where he carries her offstage upside-down. I haven't seen much of Lauren Lovette recently, but she was wonderful as the girl in yellow. The playful, partnering-heavy section between her and Joseph Gordon was thrilling and very well-received by the audience. He looks great in his solos and pulled off all the partnering with aplomb, but it had an edge of uncertainty that leads me to think he is still developing his partnering skils. Sara Mearns and Chase Finlay were an unfortunate pairing. She is so big and she moves with such power and decisiveness, that she needs a strong partner who can offer total assurance, and Finlay is not that partner. It was a little worrisome. Still, she is an incredibly compelling dancer. The three-men-tossing-three-women went off powerfully, with Lovette landing dramatically upside-down in Catazaro's arms. And beautiful, rich, deeply lyrical piano from Cameron Grant. I was sitting way house left, close to the piano, and it was tempting to watch him rather than the stage. Just overall a lovely, lovely performance and a very enthusiastic audience. 

Opus 19/the Dreamer. I'm sure I've seen this before, but have almost no memory of it. Taylor Stanley's debut in the lead. He was magnetic, compelling, and authoritative. What a spectacular artist he is. Seeing him in such an exposed role, all in white, it got me  thinking - how would he be as Apollo? 

Glass Pieces. Not an especially distinguished performance, but enjoyable anyway. The final section was disappointingly lackluster. I don't find Preston Chamblee the best choice to lead the male section. His elegance shines in other roles, but he lacks the sharpness and angularity for this role. Also, there has been a lot of casting turnover since we last saw this piece, with the male section filled out with new corps and apprentices. They looked ragged and under-rehearsed. 

Overall, though, a very rewarding night and I look forward to more of same tonight!

Edited by cobweb

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