I've been to several performances in the last week and a half, and thought I'd share a few impressions while they're still fresh in my mind. Attendance looks to be good -- and considering the heat, that's relatively amazing. Last week was especially brutal, and I give the dancers huge props for getting out there and giving it their all. In the past few years, we've seen a lot of rain, but I can't remember heat like this in forever.
There truly is something special about seeing Midsummer here. I was at the Wednesday evening show and enjoyed everything about it. Joaquin De Luz and Maria Kowroski were terrific -- Maria's one of my favorites, and I love how she's able to project majesty and comedy here. Tess Reichlen and Erica Pereira, along with Henry Seth, were also stand-outs, as were the assorted little creatures of the forest. What a wonderful opportunity for these young "bugs!"
I also enjoyed the two new premiers on gala night. Having read reviews, etc., I was prepared for the length of Namouna and really quite loved it. (My husband, on the other hand, just hung his head when the stage turned still and blue leading up to the pas, and I told him "It's not over yet...!) I thought the score was beautiful and many combinations for the corps were absolutely breathtaking. It's been great to see Sara Mearns again, as she didn't perform here last year -- she and Robert Fairchild have such vibrant stage personalities. It's a real pleasure seeing what an assured partner he has become. The sections for Abi Stafford, Megan Fairchild and Daniel Ulbricht were intricate, difficult and exceedingly well-danced. Estancia was fun, concise and accessible. The two Ty(i)lers were perfectly cast as the leads, but those wild horses stole the show!
Last night, there was an especially appreciative house. Marcia White, SPAC's president came before the curtain as she always does, but was shortly joined by Peter Martins to honor the retirees of the spring season. Albert Evans, Yvonne Borree, Philip Neal and Maurice Kaplow each received bouquets, and Martins comically conducted the orchestra in a "drumroll" for the maestro, who in turn led one for the dancers. A standing ovation ensued. Lovely performances of La Source, After the Rain, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto followed. Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall were stunning in the pas and completely deserving of the standing ovation which followed. The 6 dancers all came out for an extra curtain call -- something rarely seen at SPAC. Wendy truly is in her element in this choreography! I'm always so amazed at how current -- or perhaps I should say timeless -- Balanchine's black and whites can look. The Stravinsky was in top form and earned a standing ovation from the very satisfied audience.
Has everything been perfect? Of course not, but with only 2 weeks of performances, we're a rather forgiving lot here and dwell mostly on the positive. Thankfully, there's plenty of that. I know that there is hard-core lobbying for a 3-week season next year. Fingers crossed we'll get there!