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NYCB 5/18 Matinee

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After leaving Pennsylvania at noon, I ended up getting to Lincoln Center by 2:30, and got a ticket for what remained of the matinee. The 4th Ring at the State Theater is a long way up when one is in a hurry!! I saw "Opus 19/The Dreamer" and "Symphony in C", both for the first time.

"Opus 19/The Dreamer", cheoreographed by Robbins to music from Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No.1 in D major, was the second ballet of the matinee. With Woetzel and Whelan in the leads, the ballet was nicely perfomed, but it won't go down on my list of favorites. Woetzel seemed almost to relaxed in the role of the dreamer, bobbling slightly on the end of a pirouette that should have been no problem for him. I think Whelan and Woetzel work well together as they are both powerful, yet graceful dancers with lean, angular physiques.

"Symphony in C"

Wow!!! I think that, along with "Serenade", "Symphony in C" is one of Balanchine's finest ballets...a real masterpiece. I could watch the ballet many times, and each time find something different to focus on-the lead couple, the soloist couples, the corps, the patterns... Each section has a lead couple, two demi-soloist couples and a female corps of 6-10 dancers.

After finally seeing this ballet, I can see why it doesn't work as well over at American Ballet Theatre. First of all, it takes a large (34 women), competent female corps that can handle Balanchine's fast footwork. I count 34 women in the NYCB corps, plus five apprentices. ABT is a slightly smaller company, so it must be a strain on resources to rehearse and put on this ballet to begin with at ABT.

Also,the principal couples must be able to stand out, but also not take away from the corps. The patterns,interaction and dancing of the corps and demi-soloist couples in each section are as important as the the dancing of the principal couple. In this way, this ballet seems to define the very idea of the NYCB-a company without true stars, where all can be equal on the stage. At ABT, where there are defined stars, I think it's harder to have this blend on stage: the stars are used to standing out because the company markets itself on the talents of the stars.

Getting back to the actual performance...The ballet was well performed, though the corps wasn't as tight as it could have been-either unde-rrehearsed or tired at the end of the week. The simple costumes allowed me to admire the nice lines of Philip Neal and Charles Askegard-Askegard seems well matched with the tall Maria Kowroski.

The highlight of the ballet for me was Ashley Bouder and Antonio Carmena in the 3rd movement. He, though not tall, has light airy jumps and a delightful precise manner of dancing and she is a talented, fearless dancer. She appears to be taller than he when on pointe, and there was a sense of daring in the supported arabasque penchees (I believe this is the correct term).

I also was very impressed by the men in the demi-soloist roles. They all were very much up to the challenge both alone and in partnering-and it speaks highly of the depth of the NYCB male corps. With dancers like Stuart Capps, Stephen Hanna, the Fromans, Craig Hall, Jason Fowler and Antonio Carmena, NYCB has a great male foundation.

The grand finale of "Symphony in C" is simply spectacular with more than 30 corps women in their white tutus around the edge of the stage. Initially the corps was a bit scattered, but they got in back together for the rousing finale-how wonderful to see so much talent on one stage!

As a final note, I want to mention the costumes. The tutus for this ballet are among my favorite-they are plain white with wide silk ribbon decoration for the corps, and narrower white silk bows for the principal women. Their beauty is in their simplicity, much like the white ballgowns in the finale of "Vienna Waltzes". The men are in all black, subly highlighted with a smattering of black sequins. At first the black costumes seemed jarring as they contrasted so much with the white tutus. However, especially on the tall men, the black served to throw the focus on the women by highlighting the white tutus. When the men were alone on the stage, the black stood out, but when they were with the women, the black provided a background for the women in the white tutus to stand out.

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Sneds, thanks for the thorough review. I think Bouder is the cat's pajamas in anything that involves jumping, and most things that don't. She's a natural for Third movement, and, although she doesn't have the physique one would think of as appropriate for Second Movement, she wears the mantle of the Grand Ballerina as if she'd been swaddled in it at birth. I suspect she'd be dynamite in it.

Regarding Kowroski and Askegard, the certainly seem to be an great partnership. While I'll let others speak as to the mechanics of his partnering, he addresses his partners with an attention and awareness I'd like to see others in NYCB emulate. Askegard's long line complements Kowroski's own beautifully, of which he seems to be well aware. I used to call them City Ballet's "Twin Towers." Sigh....

You should be thankful you never saw Symphony in C in the days when the men were dressed entirely in black except for white socks. I never could understand THAT costuming decision.

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