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Royal Blue

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About Royal Blue

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
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    New York
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  1. This was the fourth program of the 2018 Ballet Festival at the Joyce Theater. An unassuming new work (a solo) by Lauren Lovette, Red Spotted Purple served its purpose as an introduction to the evening pleasingly. The audience is made aware that the setup includes having musicians—members of the New York Jazzharmonic—situated in the background, and is acquainted with the efficacious way lighting and vibrant color will be utilized in the upcoming pieces. Wearing a brightly-colored dress, Ashley Bouder enters confidently from stage left and proceeds to dance with customary poise. However, a change of tone effectively mirrored in the music shortly occurs in the work, which results in her expressing through dance—also symbolized finally through letting her hair down—powerful feelings of unease and uncertainty. In a way, Red Spotted Purple functions suitably as a metaphor for the emotional trajectory the artistic director may have experienced from initial assurance about her "project" to any misgivings she possibly harbors about its prospects and how it will be received by the public. Additionally, I personally consider the opportunity to view in such an intimate setting as that provided by this theater one of the finest ballerinas of our day in virtually any work anything but trite and commonplace. There is, indeed, nothing to indicate that the next piece, Duet by Liz Gerring, was not originally choreographed for a couple of men. This work, in which the two dancers mostly looked like they were exercising, lacked the sparkle and brightness, as well as the musical interest found in the rest of the program. However, Taylor Stanley is one of the most beautifully proportioned and poetic of all male dancers in ballet, and a pleasure to watch in everything. Since Damien Johnson looks fantastic and is an intense performer also, there was a wonderful parallelism in the motions of the two. Having admitted as much, I would prefer of course to have seen Bouder together with Sara Mearns perform this. What marvelous surprises the two premieres which followed (one before, one after the intermission) turned out to be! Not only was the choreography by Abdul Latif for Alas~ attractive and exciting, and presented all six dancers in a glowing light, but the music—which included a part for a violin soloist and enchanting “vocalizations” (by the choreographer!), and is credited to Henry Purcell, Vivaldi, Max Richter, Ron Wasserman (Director of the New York Jazzharmonic) and Latif himself—was superb throughout. For someone barely out of ballet school, Roman Mejia possesses incredible aplomb and giving notice that he is aiming to make his mark in the ballet world. Although she too is young and hardly dances flawlessly, India Bradley is lovely and has style and wonderful lines. In contrast, Olivia MacKinnon's dancing was impeccable, and in the pas de deux utterly thrilling! Without a doubt, MacKinnon is somebody who by virtue of her own loveliness, her talent and her diligence henceforth deserves serious consideration for soloist opportunities at NYCB. Watching in this theater Symbiotic Twin, a new pas de deux with haunting choreography by Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa and music by Kate Moore, magnificently performed by the strikingly attired Bouder and Stanley, was a deeply moving experience. Therefore, it hardly mattered that after the two preceding works Bouder's In Pursuit of... was, notwithstanding its colorfulness and briskness, less appealing to me. (As explained in an article cited in one of the NYCB threads the movements of the work "referenced styles of international dance.") At least with the splendid MacKinnon in the cast I had no trouble watching it.
  2. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    For a program in which none of the splendid female principals that chiefly make NYCB performances rewarding to attend participated, Sunday afternoon’s spring season finale—Concerto Barocco; Agon; The Four Temperaments—proved eminently engaging. No matter how magnificent the ballets on a program may be, having appealing dancers enact the most significant roles is essential of course to imbuing these works with life. Happily, although no one generally should be promoted to principal (or soloist) status at the drop of a hat, NYCB currently has such dancers in its lower ranks. First of all, Savannah Lowery and Cameron Dieck, each appearing in two ballets during the afternoon, were both in excellent form for their farewell performances. And Likolani Brown for one last time graced a ballet—fittingly the divine Concerto Barocco—with her lovely presence in the corps. During certain rare moments in life suddenly time appears suspended, and an instant (through some ostensible supernatural alchemy) paradoxically acquires the aspect of—infinity! A reminder of this phenomenon occurred Sunday in the course of the pas de deux in Agon, when the male dancer drops to the floor on his back while grasping the hand of and supporting the ballerina on pointe in a 180 degree extension. This sequence was pulled off distinctively by Tyler Angle and Miriam Miller, who appeared utterly at ease and held her unswerving position for what seemed like an eternity! No doubt Angle's steadying influence aided the comparatively inexperienced Miller's overall solid performance Sunday in Agon. A memorable debut by Sebastian Villarini-Velez in "Melancholic" and a superb turn by Emilie Gerrity in "Sanguinic" anchored a wonderful rendition of The Four Temperaments. All the corps women (and apprentices) in the Variations, through their laudable efforts, drew attention to Balanchine's stupendous choreography. Two that appeared early in the First Variation throughout this year’s run of the ballet—Meagan Mann and Olivia MacKinnon—are standouts. To be sure, I wanted to witness Mimi Staker's debut as the second woman in "Theme," a role she performed impressively. However, what sealed the deal for me buying a ticket for Sunday’s season finale was the casting in Agon and The Four Temperaments—debuting as the third woman in "Theme" in the latter—of Unity Phelan, who was dazzling in both. Yet what truly made the final NYCB performance of the season unmissable was the debut of Ashley Laracey as the main ballerina in Concerto Barocco ... an estimable artist performing a magnificent part in one of the greatest of all ballets. The gracefulness which is intrinsically an essential attribute of every admirable ballerina appears in Laracey—partly on account of the exquisite shapeliness and proportionality of her limbs, partly as a result of her experience, her skillfulness, her artistry, and partly (perhaps) since she is not observed in roles with splashier choreography—in concentrated and primordial form. And Concerto Barocco provided her with plenty of scope Sunday to showcase her strong suit. Not surprisingly, therefore, her time on stage in this pivotal role resulted in a continuous flow of wondrous, ethereal movement that was enthralling. In consequence of the height of Silas Farley, who in his debut was an outstanding partner, spectacular lifts materialized during the gorgeous second section of the ballet. All three performances of Concerto Barocco this season with Laracey in the primary and secondary ballerina roles were, in sum, among the most treasurable in what was another fantastic NYCB season.
  3. Royal Blue

    Winter 2017 Season, Attempt Deux

    Usually we do not differentiate between the Four Suitors, and inevitably so. In the final analysis, whether they are portrayed as perfectly respectable young men, or as vain fops and braggarts the point is that none of them is right for Aurora. No matter how confusing it may be, there is no escaping the realization that Carabosse prevents the marriage of Princess Aurora to the wrong individual! Effectively, Désiré and Aurora meet through the intervention of both the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse! Having the same ballerina play both characters during a run of The Sleeping Beauty, as happened with Sara Mearns in the winter of 2017, is a master stroke. Similarly, it is fascinating for a ballerina who formerly portrayed the Lilac Fairy to enact later in her career the role of Carabosse.
  4. Royal Blue

    The Lilac Fairy

    Love is a match made by the heavens. All great lovers are brought together by forces way beyond human understanding and awareness. What makes The Sleeping Beauty such a beautiful, powerful, timeless tale is the stirring insinuation that Aurora can only be awakened by the right person—someone who matches her qualities with those of his own … someone who truly loves her and whom she can love back. Without genuine, abiding and mutual love there is no awakening! All the "love at first sight" productions of The Sleeping Beauty remain true to the spirit and essence of the story. Obviously, the story can be interpreted differently. I view it as being—deep down—about profound love, not about following the "dictates" of other people. This is, indeed, an astute observation. Either way, the Lilac Fairy is a wonderful role. However, since this is a ballet I prefer it as a tutu one.
  5. Royal Blue

    2017 Spring Season

    In the midst of the “All Balanchine” and “All Robbins” programs of the Spring 2018 season, that devoted to “21st Century Choreographers”—including two ballets (Pictures at an Exhibition and Year of the Rabbit) appearing in the Here/Now Festival a year ago—still offered considerable value and thrills. Fortunately, none of the absurd amplification problems which marred the first presentation of this program were an issue in the next two, which took place exactly three weeks apart and featured some significant cast changes. Whether in its original piano version or the famous orchestral one by Ravel, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the most popular and magnificent classical music compositions of the nineteenth century. Last Tuesday the sound pouring forth from the piano lacked the brassiness I sometimes need to block out during performances of Ratmansky's ballet, and the resulting clarity, beauty and power of the notes overwhelmed me. To be sure, in her debut Indiana Woodward failed to match the sparkle in the same role shown by Tiler Peck. Nevertheless, the younger ballerina is an admirable and exciting performer herself. Besides, the parts for Sara Mearns and Sterling Hyltin, both of whom reenacted their roles with enthusiasm, are frankly a bit more substantial. (I am extremely fond of "The Gnome", "The Old Castle", and the tremendous "Bydlo" segments.) Finally, the proximity of the performances of Dances at a Gathering allowed for a closer comparison between the two ballets. Whatever the similarities, repeat viewings of Pictures at an Exhibition have only led to a greater appreciation on my part of its originality and worth. Just as there is only one Tiler Peck, there is only one Teresa Reichlen. Consequently, Reichlen's absence from Year of the Rabbit might have proven a greater obstacle to the full enjoyment of that ballet as a result of the central nature of her role. Apart from the need to tailor her penchant to smile to the needs of the music, Isabella LaFreniere made a praiseworthy debut in this vital role: her comparable height and length of limbs made possible the display of exceptional lines, and her turns were flawless. Even more effective and moving was the debut of Sara Adams in the part earlier danced beautifully by Woodward. Although her performances in a pas de deux in Neverwhere during the winter strongly indicated the earnestness with which Adams approaches her work, she remained for me up to a week ago the most inconspicuous of all the female soloists on the roster. That permanently changed with the eloquent rendition of her part in the sublime "Year of our Lord" segment of Year of the Rabbit, which was firmly abetted by the commensurately eloquent rendition of Sufjan Stevens' music by the orchestra. (In my opinion, Adams has a maidenly appearance which may evoke in someone a visualization of Joan of Arc—something which, notwithstanding the irony of it being a pas de deux, subtly worked wonders here.) It certainly helped that Ashley Bouder reprised her role in this run; yet the bottom line seems to be that this early Justin Peck ballet also has staying power. In a previous post I suggested why it is preferable that women wear tights in ballet. There is categorically no hard-and-fast rule about this: dance odyssey—which came first on the program and premiered during the winter—provides another instance where the female dancers (dressed in attractive leotards) appear glamorous barelegged. My original reaction upon viewing this work by Peter Walker has only intensified: I like everything I liked about it initially—its colorfulness and lighting; the choreography for the ensemble; Tiler Peck’s role; the music by Oliver Davis (especially for the finale)—even more. Still, the crowning glory of this ballet remains its concluding, haunting pas de deux. Like Adrian Danchig-Waring, Andrew Veyette is well-suited for the leading male part. However, even when Walker is substituting, like earlier in the season, the finale has always touched me by virtue of Ashley Laracey’s sophisticated, affecting gem of a performance.
  6. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    Details provided by a writer about a person's "age, gender, and appearance" are as important as a reader makes them. I mentioned nothing about her appearance. Others may have understood why in context of her remark her age mattered. The person who made and deserves credit for the joke in the elevator was a woman. A reader has the right to draw implications from a text. The implications a reader draws from a text, though, may be erroneous. Language is an imperfect instrument of communication invented and used by beings who are imperfect.
  7. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    It is also entirely possible—irrespective of one’s age—to like Antique Epigraphs a lot and still not much like The Goldberg Variations. Or, of course, to not much like either. And that is why, in part, I used the word "presumably" in my sentence. Every child born "might plausibly be described as headed in the direction of 'elderly'." Any person who does not respect the oldest among us on account of their age is a fool. There has to be a way of describing people, however, without offending anyone. Since I consider you as one of the wisest posters on BA, Drew, I do not believe you took offense. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that you highlighted the term "elderly" I have to point all this out for the benefit of those readers of the subforum who may not be as wise as you. I thought the woman in the elevator actually displayed a sharp sense of humor.
  8. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    My position on the "See the Music..." talks affixed to certain programs is neutral. Nevertheless, the one at the start of Saturday's matinee "All Robbins No. 4" program proved arduous and vexatious. After relating some amusing personal experiences and providing the audience with a few intriguing facts about Ravel and his music, Andrew Litton eventually began what suddenly loomed as an interminable discussion of the "Piano Concerto in G" which included snippets played by himself on the instrument. Unlike his case, this piece—atypically—was familiar to me long before attending a performance of Robbins' ballet at NYCB, and I consider its second movement among the most hauntingly beautiful music ever created. (The section during which Robbins has the ballerina execute bourrées forwards and backwards is a supreme musical expression of the pathos of human existence.) Analyzing it before a performance is, to put it kindly, superfluous. Consequently, it took a while on account of this annoyance for me enjoy In G Major once it begun. Maria Kowroski with her superlative form in the pas de deux which is the heart of Robbins' work, however, saved the day! Observing this artist masterfully weaving her spell to the strains of Ravel's unforgettable music made all my previous irritation promptly disappear. Nor should the value of Tyler Angle's highly skilled and dependable partnering ever be underestimated. A mysterious, hypnotic quality in Debussy’s music; using the front of the stage (beyond which the audience—significantly—is located) to represent a mirror; the splendid recreation of a brightly lit and exquisitely colored dance studio; the simple yet alluring costumes; the adorable, gentle kiss on the cheek—all of these made Afternoon of a Faun spellbinding and a work which beckons one to dig deeper into. Both Sterling Hyltin (bewitching with her lush blonde hair loose) and Chase Finley looked fabulous, and danced and acted admirably. Perceiving a connection between painting and sculpture on the one hand and ballet on the other is uncomplicated. That a choreographer should derive inspiration for a ballet from ancient Greek art is completely natural. One work in NYCB's repertoire I eagerly waited to view was Antique Epigraphs, apparently last presented seven years ago. Partly due to the languorous harmonies of Debussy's score, it will never be a crowd-pleaser. After Tuesday's rendering, for example, an elderly woman in the elevator uttered in a quiet, displeased manner, "That last piece almost killed me." Nevertheless, it is as elegant and refined as I suspected and the fact that no presentations of it lie in the horizon after only two during the past seven years is frustrating and deeply troubling. Unity Phelan and Ashley Laracey were perfectly cast in the ballet, with the more experienced ballerina particularly offering another striking performance. From what I could tell Tuesday evening's rendition of The Concert was successful. However, the notion of viewing the comical work after having seen Kowroski in the second part of In G Major, Hyltin in Afternoon of a Faun and barely twenty-five minutes before Laracey's sublime impersonation of a statuesque woman from a distant time was unpalatable to me. On Saturday afternoon I did not repeat my egregious error of earlier in the week and left the theater at the second intermission. No work of art is designed for everyone; nor can it be enjoyed at all times. Presumably the aforementioned woman in the elevator had prudently steered clear of The Goldberg Variations.
  9. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    Neither the lighthearted Interplay nor (bafflingly, given the excellent cast and Chopin's haunting music) the earnest In the Night made for particularly compelling viewing during the first segment of the "All Robbins No. 3" program. Undoubtedly, I am eager to revisit the latter work soon. By contrast, despite having seen it often during the past few years and notwithstanding its controversial character, I was engrossed by the performance of The Cage—a ballet that contains some of the most inventive and original choreography for both soloists and corps in the entire NYCB repertoire. Stravinsky's score is appealing throughout, and truly moving during the outlandish yet marvelous pas de deux. Savannah Lowery as the Queen, and Justin Peck and Sean Suozzi as the Intruders were highly convincing. Although longtime balletgoers are seemingly dissatisfied with how expertly the role of the Novice is performed nowadays, I found Sterling Hyltin’s portrayal mesmerizing. Similar and perhaps even greater issues are at play, of course, with contemporary presentations of Other Dances. Suffice it to say that watching Tiler Peck’s exquisite dancing in a work almost totally new to me brought indescribable joy. While I can understand why Fanfare is offered infrequently on account of its educational nature, what a pity that is! Viewing it for the first time, I was dazzled by the ballet’s magnificence—matching that of Purcell’s theme—the moment the curtain went up. The representation of the woodwinds and strings (a lovely Lauren King among them) was spectacular! And right at the center was situated the regal, breathtaking Ashley Laracey—in my view, uniquely suited to “distill[ing] the essence of [the] instrument into movement”—personifying the harp. Unfortunately, the role is brief and made me wish that Robbins had created another suite of dances: a solo work for a ballerina set to music for the harp!
  10. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    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. 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.
  11. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    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.
  12. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    No individual whose views about the importance and value of The Goldberg Variations are unclear should be hired as the next artistic director of the company. It would be an unpardonable crime against art and culture for this masterwork to ever disappear from NYCB's repertoire. All the uncertainty about the direction of the company aside, this past week has provided further proof—by way of her marvelous performances in Something to Dance About and Les Noces—that Indiana Woodward being cast as Swanilda is just a matter of time.
  13. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    My limited experience with Broadway suggests that musical theatre has its own special beauty. However, it is different from that of ballet! Broadway-themed ballets, therefore, are less appealing, and programs focusing on such works—any pragmatic reasons behind them notwithstanding—problematic. The second week of NYCB's Spring Season is not comparable to the first. With such talented performers the "Tribute to Robbins" program (I did not attend "All Robbins No. 1: Bernstein Collaborations”) nevertheless could not be devoid of any delights. Principal among them being that it begun with The Four Seasons, a traditional ballet with a colorful splendor which makes its 37-minute duration—depicting a year, partly through shades of white, green, yellow and red—seem brief. (How fascinating that music from Verdi's operas was culled for this work!) Central roles for three women are among the highlights in Robbins' choreography. To what extent Lauren Lovette, Emilie Gerrity and Unity Phelan will be able to match in their roles the excellence of the ballerinas in the first two casts of The Four Seasons is the main point of interest in this coming weekend's NYCB performances. Best seen from the rings in order to appreciate the patterns created as the stage is flooded by little girls (ballet students) separated into three distinct age groups, Circus Polka—the first work comprising the middle portion of the program—is about five minutes long. To be sure, Bach is a titan of classical music; Robbins, a great choreographer; Joaquin De Luz, an outstanding dancer. And yet, A Suite of Dances—which followed next—made me pine for some more ... Dances of Isadora! There are, indeed, solos of exceptional beauty and power for men in ballet; however, their span is understandably limited. A 14-minute solo dance act (for a man, especially) is a challenging proposition. The youthful effervescence of the six dancers—my gaze was mostly engrossed by Phelan—lifted the performances of Easy, an innocuous, jazzy new Justin Peck work. After the second intermission came Something to Dance About, with its own sort of splendor. Even though it would, of course, be preferable to view the shows the excerpts were extracted from, watching how impressively the (numerous) NYCB dancers as a group performed this material was an enriching, eye-filling experience. Among the soloists, Indiana Woodward in particular stood out in her segments. Ultimately, however, what makes Something to Dance About eminently rewatchable are the phenomenal contributions of Sara Mearns and Tiler Peck. (All the adroit, rapid costume changes in this work, one must add, are noteworthy.)
  14. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    What a magnificent week this has been for NYCB and its dancers, especially the three ballerinas in Apollo: Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen! The sublime harmony, correspondence and beauty in the looks and movements of Reichlen and Ashley Laracey, combined with Balanchine’s glorious choreography for the corps and Bach’s inspired music made Saturday afternoon’s performance of Concerto Barocco … celestial!
  15. Royal Blue

    2018 Spring Season

    Among other choice roles, each of the three distinguished tall blonde principals of the company—Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen—has performed the respective female lead in Diamonds, Symphony in C and Prodigal Son. Each has been featured in one of the three ballets comprising the first of two all-Balanchine programs of the spring: Kowroski in Concerto Barocco; Reichlen in Agon; Mearns in The Four Temperaments (the first two are scheduled to switch roles for the next two presentations of this program, and the last is to be replaced by Emilie Gerrity). Seeing all three perform together in the seminal Apollo during the second all-Balanchine program was nothing short of incredibly marvelous! Nevertheless, Apollo is such an amazing work and the other six ballerinas cast during the 2017-18 Season are so talented that watching the ballet recently has been a grand experience. The precise way the women were split into three groups (for a total—ironically—of nine muses) was impeccable! Three other "muses" that deserve to be seen in future performances are Ashley Laracey, Brittany Pollack and Unity Phelan. Favorable impressions by a particular dancer on a viewer at the ballet are achieved through a unique amalgam which includes both artistry and the physical characteristics of a person. As the comments above attest, Kowroski has displayed plentiful artistry this week. The striking individual quality and beauty of her extensions, seen abundantly in both Concerto Barocco and Apollo, however, are partly attributable to the exact shape and proportionality of her long limbs. If there ever was a ballerina who should be described as being slender as opposed to thin it is Kowroski. (Since Abi Stafford has a different body type, incidentally, the pairing in Concerto was asymmetrical.) A performance of Agon with Reichlen and Laracey in the cast—despite any detracting partnering issues involving the former—cannot be dull. From the moment casting was announced, the upcoming performance of Concerto with these two has been one of the most anticipated items on the calendar. Balanchine’s singular, wondrous choreography for the female corps in The Four Temperaments is a main reason why this ballet—a leading gateway for new dancers into the company, and the collective mind and heart of the audience—is not wearying after numerous viewings. Furthermore, Mearns performs her role in this with an ease and authority which negate the thought that there ever existed a time during which she had to learn it. On Wednesday evening, Sterling Hyltin seemingly picked up where she left off during the winter and gave another polished, commanding performance in Symphony in Three Movements. To the accolades about that evening's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux I will only add my continuing personal wonderment regarding Tiler Peck's dominion over the dimensions of time and space during a ballet's duration, her tremendous musicality and her infallible artistic instincts.
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