Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Winter Season Wrap Up

Recommended Posts

I know there are two more performances but I saw my final one last night, so I thought I'd get this started.

Winter 2002-2003 started with a disappointing tribute to Richard Rodgers but I saw 3 or 4 strong performances of Nutcracker. Repertory featured the revivals of some long unseen Balanchine and Robbins works. The season also introduced guest artist Sofiane Sylve and new principal Robert Tewsley. It was also notable for the happy return of two long unseen dancers - Weese and Higgins and injuries to three male principals - Woetzel, Hubbe and Tewsley.

MVP - has to be Benjamin Millepied. With the above mentioned injuries, Millepied got lots of opportunities and for the most part rose to the occasion. I did not find him as convincing in Carousel as Woetzel was, although he is closer in age to Asanelli. Woetzel knows the bad boy, Billy Bigelow, in his bones but Millepied seemed too angst ridden and had a harder time making the bravura parts of the role his own. But in fairness, I saw him last night and he also had to dance Hallelujah Junction after Carousel. He may have been saving his energy. Millepied certainly earned his principal dancer status this season.

Most enjoyable revival - Robbin's Piano Pieces. This is not a masterwork but it is craftsman like and had great charm. Somoygi, Kowrowski and Asanelli gave strong performances as did the small corps.

Most interesting juxtaposition - Ballade with Kammermusik. Neither is a Balanchine masterpiece but together they show us the range of his genius and his eclectic musical tastes. It was a pleasure to see Sylve paired with Kowrowski in this and Askegard and Neal gave strong performances.

I never would have thought that Whelan could be successful in this piece but by softening her movement and linking each phrase into an unbroken chain that ran throughout the ballet, she made it her own. Tewsley gave her adequate support but both times I've seen him (in this and with Ringer in Nutcracker), he seemed to struggle with the intricate partnering. He dances well and is very good looking but I found him bland. Hopefully he'll find his way into the Balanchine style and be an Ib Anderson but a Leonid Koslov.

Most welcome return - Miranda Weese. Weese's long term injury gave opportunities to many younger dancers like Asanelli and Taylor but also made us aware of just how valuable she is. A dancer who can successfully negotiate everthing from Divertimento #15 to Who Cares? leaves a big gap when she's gone. I loved Weese's recent performance in the Voices of Spring in Vienna Waltzes - the perfect 2nd Empire ballerina.

Arch Higgins was also missed and I enjoyed seeing him in Carousel and Vienna Waltzes.

A big concern - Both Asanelli and Ulbricht seem to be pushing harder to sell some of their roles than seems necessary. As Leigh said, we want Asanelli to get stronger not tougher. Right now, she is dancing with a kind of pearly glow that is very appealing. The next step seems to me to be for her to develop a full fledged ballerina authority that was the only element missing from her Sugar Plum Fairy.

Ulbricht is a gifted dancer, wonderful technical skills but in Eight Easy Pieces and Tarantella, he already seemed almost lacquered. Every effect and gesture and look was so calculated that I couldn't take much pleasure in it. I much preferred the lower key performance of Carmena in Eight Easy Pieces and have enjoyed watching him in corps parts as well.

Ballerinas - Along with the return of Weese, it has been a pleasure to watch Whelan, Somoygi and Ringer this season. A Barocco last night with Whelan and Somoygi and a corps of senior ladies was beautifully done. Somoygi was also great in Agon.

Kistler has I hear had her ups and downs this season but the performance of Vienna Waltes I saw was lovely.

I'm taking a break now - more later.

Link to comment

I was there Friday night too, and was struck by how the program represented the best of NYCB today: a fine performance of a Balanchine masterwork; a Balanchine showpiece for the tambourine kids; a surprise hit by the Resident Choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon; one of Peter Martins' better recent pieces, Hallelujah Junction; and the Robbins favorite, I'm Old Fashioned. The audience was large and enthusiastic, and on such a night it was possible to think that all's right with the world.

I certainly agree that Millepied was this season's MVP. :)

Link to comment

I've been going back on forth of my highlight of this winter season ... was it Kyra Nichols glorious and triumphant return or was it the sensational debut of Sofiane Sylve, an outsider who energized the whole company.

Nichols, the most steadfast of the last era of Balanchine ballerinas, she was promoted before Caligeri, Fugate, Saland, Lopez, and Hlinka and yet outlasts them. Truly a study in longevity, amongst other things. One hopes that the new generation of dancers, Korbes, Bouder, Fairchild, Stafford (not to mention Kowrowski, Ansanelli, Taylor and Somogyi) have the chance to learn from her tempered, balanced and tasteful but still fufilling performances. Its not about superlatives, lifting the leg higher or whatnot completely matching and living in the music. Her performances of In G Major, Davidsbundlertanze, Vienna Waltzes, Pavane and Mozartiana will long live on in my mind.

Sylve, on the other hand represents (hopefully) the future of the NYCB. Sharp, witty, all-out performances of Kammermusik 2, and Western Symphony and Slaughter on 10th Avenue were opposite in flavor of Nichols performances but both completely fufilling. Please, please, please bring her back!!!

To round out the ballerinas. IMHO Whelan is the NYCB ballerina now, she holds the lion's share of the reperatory and does it well, and her range is simply unparalleled, particular highlights include In the Night, Chaconne, Agon, Symphony in 3 movements, Barocco, and Ballade. Somogyi came into her own with Piano Pieces and Concerto Barocco as well as setting a new standard in Sernade and 1st movement Symphony in C. Kowrowski ... hmm unquestionably a talented dancer, but unless she's in a completely abstact role (Kammermusik 2, Sonatas and Interludes, or acting Western Symphony) she doesn't do it for me, I feel she's still trying to find herself and hides behind her talent instead of using it to express herself. Ringer contiues to shine, never having seen McBride perform its hard to compare but I've never found her performances lacking in Coppelia and Who Cares? I would prefer her in Tales from Vienna Woods though.

Borree is a hard dancer for me to comment on ... I have a tendancy to avoid her performances, that being said her Raymonda was nerve racking, let I saw a nice recovery from falling off point in Square dance. Weese has made a nice comeback ... hopefully she will be strong enough to return to full use. Kistler: I wish Nichols could share her secret with her. She still has and always will the soul of a great ballerina, but her body is unquestionably deteriorating and its hard to watch. Finally I'm including Ansanelli with the principal women, its the role she plays in the company now, she dances with joyousness and vulnerability unmatched by anyone in the company, just lovely in Piano Pieces and Carousel, looking forward to new Ansanelli/Wheeldon colaborations.

Amongst the soloist, Rutherford continues to be lovely and is slowly developing her rep. Stafford is still finding her stage presence, she does best when she can just dance as in Square Dance, she still has to work on presenting herself in Who Cares? and Symphony in C. Taylor contiues to shine in Martins works. Van Kipnis is perhaps the most misused dancer in NYCB, Martins seems to throw her around wherever he needs a dancer, hopefully he can work on developing her into the principal she deserves to be.

Corp standouts include Korbes, used very cautiously, Mandradjieff, Fairchild had quite a season. Edge, Abergel, Ash, Walker and Ash are amongst those who give the corps some stability. Most missed : Ashley Bouder.

Among the men, ditto MVP Millepied, always a great jumper but now has refined his dancing and partnering. Neal and Askegard held the company together. Soto remains the partner of choice. Boal doesn't seem to be danceing as much as I'd like. Martins ... another dancer I try to avoid. This season we also saw the long-awaited return of Angle, and then he disappered again, hopefully he will have the chance to make a full recovery, as he seems to have the most potential amongst the current soloists.

Corp: Orza, Ulbricht, Carmena are the ones that seem to standout, all have great (and different qualities, but I've rambled on long enough) still works in progress.

Link to comment

ADORED Sofiane Sylve in Western Symphony.

I think I'd like to see more of Carla Korbes in soloist roles, I can't take my eyes off of her even when she's in the corps!

I think Ansanelli deserves to be a principal dancer at this stage,

she had an exciting season, and I thought her second "Tarantella"

was wonderful.

Abi Stafford is a great technician but I think it would be nice to

see more improvements in her overall presentation and expression. Her "Raymonda Variations" pizzicatto variation for eg was techinically impeccable, but I'm looking forward to her improvement on her artistry, which I'm sure she's extremely capable of.

And I hope they invite Zelensky and Sylve back!!

Link to comment


I will post more later on, but I wanted to add that Jessica Flynn and Ashley Laracey's names have appeared on the Dancers section of the company website, so they must have gotten their corps contracts. Both were performed in the 2002 SAB Workshop and have been apprentices in 2002-03.

Congratulations to both!


Link to comment

Rookie of the Year: Megan Fairchild

Most Valuable Player -- Woman: Kyra Nichols

Most Valuable Player -- Man: Benjamin Millepied

Best Single Performance (I saw): Mozartiana, February 16th

Worst Single Performance: Symphonic Variations (any time)

Most Amazing Thing: Kyra Nichols Amazing Epiphany

Best Winning Streak: Sophiane Sylve's time with the Company

Most Surprising Thing: How the Corps improved Towards the End

Most Worrying Thing: That the new audience on the weekends seems to prefer Tanner/Martins/Wheeldon to Balanchine. But that's Direction's agenda, isn't it?

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...