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Whereas the one time I saw her in a featured role, Lowery was spectacular as Hippolyta in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and she was anything but lackluster and low-impact.

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I happen to love Lowery's can-do sunniness, but she is one of those dancers who benefits from thoughtful casting. As Helene pointed out above, she's a wonderful Hippolyta. She's also the best Firebird Princess I've ever seen — she didn't disappear into the costume, for one thing, but she was also bold, merry, and warmly human in a way that made her seem a truly fitting bride for Prince Ivan. (The contrast between her Princess and Reichlen's cool, moonlit Firebird was great theater.) I liked her in the "boots" role in Cortège Hongrois, too, and also in The Times Are Racing.  

 

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Lowery is one of those soloists who I think sort of floundered in that purgatory. Dancers have often mentioned how difficult being a soloist is -- Tess Reichlen said that she was on the verge of quitting dance altogether. She didn't dance very often after she was promoted and when she did dance she often looked out of shape. For instance she used to do a decent Tall Girls in Rubies but the last time I saw her do it she barely had the strength to hold the unsupported arabesque penchées.

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Chase Finlay is very inconsistent and so it goes for his Apollo. Physically he looks the part and when he's on he's amazing -- such a pure body line. But as I said, he can be very inconsistent and I've seen him stumble out of many a variation. I saw him make a complete stumble in the soccer variation once. 

Tiler P. I assume started dancing Terp because her then husband Robbie Fairchild was Apollo. She dances it well (she never dances poorly) but the role isn't a natural fit for her. 

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I thought Tiler Peck was miscast as Terp.  She is too short for that role.  Terp. looks much better on someone with long limbs.

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17 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

She was very disappointing in this role last season, and, indeed, in every work I've ever seen her in.

This was my worry. I liked her enough as Hippolyta in Midsummer Night’s Dream, but not so much as a the tall girl in Jewels. I know I’ve seen her in a couple of other things, but I can’t remember what or how I felt about her dancing. 

I was hoping she’d be good in this role, since I prefer a tall Choleric. I’m curious to see how Emily Kikta might do in this role. 

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24 minutes ago, abatt said:

I thought Tiler Peck was miscast as Terp.  She is too short for that role.  Terp. looks much better on someone with long limbs.

I agree. But Martins seems to like casting shorter girls in roles for in roles that I think better suited for taller girls. ex. Ashley Bouder as Choleric and Sterling Hyltin in Mozartiana. They were good in their roles, but sometimes longer limbs help a lot.

 

When I saw Maria Kowroski and Tiler Peck last fall do “In Memory Of...”, I felt like I was seeing two different ballets. 

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52 minutes ago, abatt said:

I thought Tiler Peck was miscast as Terp.  She is too short for that role.  Terp. looks much better on someone with long limbs.

The NYCB website seems to indicate that Mearns and Reichlen only dance Polyhymnia; is that right? Why aren't they cast as Terpsichore? In terms of the principal roster, I see Mearns, Reichlen and Kowroski as go-tos for goddess roles. For shallow reasons, I do wish there were also a non-blonde, tall principal who danced these roles.

Are there any promising soloists or corps members who can, or have already have, taken on this rep?

Edited to add: It seems like I've seen Savannah Lowery in roles that aren't really a great fit. I'll keep an open mind when I see her in the future, since others have seen her shine as Hippolyta and in other roles. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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In the Director's essay in the retirement booklet distributed at last season's PNB Encores program that honored the retirements of Carrie Imler and Bakurel Bold,  Boal wrote that when he saw his first rehearsal of PNB's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in which Imler was Titania and thought that she was miscast and more of a Hermia until he saw her move.  Now, he includes the shortest soloists and Principals in Dewdrop casting, so he's broadened his thoughts on that.  The shortest Dewdrop I've ever seen at NYCB was Heather Watts, like Imler, a "medium."  I prefer the variety.

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Is it a relatively new development for Martins to cast shorter women as Dew Drop? Megan Fairchild immediately comes to mind but I imagine Ashley Bouder and Tiler Peck are on the shorter side for City Ballet dancers, if not "short." To be fair in the real world, Fairchild is definitely average height.

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I don't think it's a new development.  There have been a lot of shorter Dewdrops. That role looks good on both tall and short dancers. 

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It's not a new development at all. Allegra Kent was rather short and she was the Dewdrop in the Playhouse 90 Nutcracker. And then there was Gelsey Kirkland who was even shorter, and her Dewdrop was legendary.

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Here is Kent as Dewdrop:

 

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Also some roles seem to me to lend themselves more readily to greater variations in type/height/etc than others.

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9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

The NYCB website seems to indicate that Mearns and Reichlen only dance Polyhymnia; is that right? Why aren't they cast as Terpsichore? In terms of the principal roster, I see Mearns, Reichlen and Kowroski as go-tos for goddess roles. For shallow reasons, I do wish there were also a non-blonde, tall principal who danced these roles.

Are there any promising soloists or corps members who can, or have already have, taken on this rep?

Edited to add: It seems like I've seen Savannah Lowery in roles that aren't really a great fit. I'll keep an open mind when I see her in the future, since others have seen her shine as Hippolyta and in other roles. 

Peter Martins pushed Miriam Miller for those roles -- she danced Siren in Prodigal Son, the Agon pdd, and Titania in MSND, but right now she just isn't strong enough technically to handle that chunk of the repertory. And she is very tall and very blond. 

As for Tiler Peck as Terp., it wasn't just the height but more the proportions and the style. Tiler Peck is probably the company's foremost classicist and 5th position ballerina. But when I see her in some neoclassical ballets she looks oddly constrained. She doesn't really have that flexibility in the legs and spine to create those long, angular shapes. The freedom and joy she shows when she dances T&V and Allegro Brillante are nowhere in sight. I've seen her in Symphony in 3 Movements, Four Temperaments, Apollo, and she always looks like one of those beautiful actresses who is somehow dressed in an unflattering gown at the Oscars.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

As for Tiler Peck as Terp., it wasn't just the height but more the proportions and the style. Tiler Peck is probably the company's foremost classicist and 5th position ballerina. But when I see her in some neoclassical ballets she looks oddly constrained. She doesn't really have that flexibility in the legs and spine to create those long, angular shapes. The freedom and joy she shows when she dances T&V and Allegro Brillante are nowhere in sight. I've seen her in Symphony in 3 Movements, Four Temperaments, Apollo, and she always looks like one of those beautiful actresses who is somehow dressed in an unflattering gown at the Oscars.

Thanks so much for this extremely vivid and helpful description, canbelto.

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On the casting sheet, for Divertimento No. 15, how are the dancers ordered, in relation to their variations in the second movement?

Would it be this?

  1. Gordon and Sanz
  2. Woodward
  3. Pereira
  4. Phelan
  5. Isaacs
  6. Finlay
  7. Bouder
Edited by nanushka

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On 1/20/2018 at 10:17 PM, nanushka said:

On the casting sheet, for Divertimento No. 15, how are the dancers ordered, in relation to their variations in the second movement?

Would it be this?

  1. Gordon and Sanz
  2. Woodward
  3. Pereira
  4. Phelan
  5. Isaacs
  6. Finlay
  7. Bouder

Should be. They usually do list the women in order of variation, and the first man is the lead.

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29 minutes ago, AmandaNYC said:

Should be. They usually do list the women in order of variation, and the first man is the lead.

Thanks! I was trying to figure out the logic of the listings, since it didn't seem to be the same for each gender.

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The first two men are the demi-soloists in the set-up (Theme and Variations).  The rest are listed in variation order:  Kent's, Hayden's, Adams', Leclerq's, Magallanes', and Wilde's.

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Even though I am “acutely disappointed” that Tiler Peck will not be performing in Divertimento, it is simply unreasonable to complain about Ashley Bouder. Making allowances for the general qualification I previously expressed about casting, the second week of the season looks fantastic too. (It is surprising, however, that Sterling Hyltin is not listed for anything.)

Given its cast and title, I don’t believe I have ever been as curious about an upcoming NYCB premiere as I am about Peter Walker’s dance odyssey.

Although I am open-minded about the four new ballets presented in the fall, it is appropriate that they will be performed in two different programs … and even seasons. (For various reasons I prefer Not Our Fate and Pulcinella Variations, but I also wish to see The Wind Still Brings and Composer’s Holiday again.)

Since there are so many talented individuals in the current NYCB roster, there are casting felicities in every forthcoming performance. Even so, the January 27, Saturday matinee is especially fascinating.  

One of my favorite performances last spring was Rebecca Krohn’s in The Decalogue. It will be interesting to see who is cast in that role during the last couple of weeks of the season.

 

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On 1/12/2018 at 1:33 PM, abatt said:

Certainly all the dancers are highly professional.  However, I think part of what drives the high caliber performances at NYCB is a sense of competitiveness, especially at the soloist level.  Now that there is nobody with authority to promote in charge, I'm concerned that go-for-broke performances may not be in the cards at the present moment.  

The name of the game for people who are on the cusp of promotion at the moment is probably to just stay healthy until the next AD arrives.

I also have to wonder how this state of limbo is going to impact programming for next season.

About the programming, absolutely!  Perhaps some plans were already in place for next year?

Doubtlessly, a “sense of competitiveness” versus the right person(s), for the proper reasons may inure to the benefit of everyone—performers and audience members alike. Short of risking serious injury to one’s self or another (simply falling down is another matter), go for broke, “dancing on the edge of a volcano,” “like there’s no tomorrow” performances should be the aim of all serious artists of the company. I, furthermore, believe that these individuals are motivated to pursue excellence, no matter what the circumstances. 

Regarding specifically the situation of the female soloists in the company—

There are twelve of them: some are shoo-ins for promotion, some are unlikely to be promoted, and some are situated in a gray area between. In my opinion, it would be a grave error for those who are favored to grow complacent, or be overly cautious or lax in their efforts—whether an artistic director is observing them from the wings or not.

Finally, I can certainly understand why someone would want to be promoted. However, for a whole variety of reasons not everyone is cut out for principal, or even soloist status. And no shame should be associated with remaining in the corps! The contributions, for example, of dancers like Likolani Brown, Marika Anderson, Jenelle Manzi, Mary Elizabeth Sell, Meagan Mann and Lydia Wellington during the past few years have been invaluable!

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I agree. Im looking at the principal dancers in the playbill and we currently have 14 men to 9 women. It seems likely that the company will be looking to promote ballerinas in the near future. I don’t think it’s in any of the female soloists’ best interest to get complacent just because there’s no permanent AD if they’re gunning for a promotion. 

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It was my first time seeing Chase Finlay in Apollo. He looked like a Greek god, and danced it very well. For whatever reason, I’m always fascinated by the way Finlay uses his arms and hands. There’s strength and softness at the same time. I’ve only ever seen Robert Fairchild do this role, and I think I remember one of the moments in the pas de deux as being danced “jazzier” when Fairchild did it. It’s this moment (see 0:44 at https://youtu.be/ce0YxtyZIGM done by Herman Cornejo in the clip).  I was expecting it to feel like three steps, but with Finlay it felt like one continuous movement, if that makes any sense. All the muses were fantastic.

Loved seeing Maria Kowroski is Mozartiana. The prayer was particularly moving. I loved all four ladies in the pas de quatre, and it was good to see Isabella LaFreniere back on stage. I thought Tyler Angle was great in his solos. I always see him as a great partner, that I sometimes forget how good he is in his variations. Daniel Ulbricht was great in the Gigue, but he just looks so short next to the four tall girls and Maria. 

Cortège was great fun. Lauren King continues to dazzle as the first solo girl in Cortège. She is a joy to behold in that variation. Sara Mearns was great, but something felt a little off to me with her performance. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It looked like she was dancing on the precipice, unnecessarily getting as close as she could to disaster, but coming back from it somehow. Russell Janzen was great, maybe could’ve steadied Mearns a bit more. His a la seconde turns were very exciting. I love him in this role. I was not expecting to like this ballet as much as I do, but the more I see it, the more I enjoy it. I just want to keep re-watching Lauren King’s variation. 

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