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Spring '03/Week 8

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Tues.: Glass Pcs, Piano Pcs, West Side Story Suite


Glass looked very good. I was so moved by the central movement, danced by Wendy Whelan (what a ballerina is she!) and Robert Tewsley. She managed to make the pas a deeply felt, internally driven statement, and it never looked more authentic. As noted on last week's posts, yes, the men's section of the last movement is exhilirating.

I was glad to see, at long last, the revived Piano Pieces. I always liked it, and watching last night I realized that the last one I'd seen had corps dancer Margaret Tracey in the Polka de Salon! It was absent for way too long! Somogyi gave the only fully realized performance, both in the Reverie pas de deux and in especially her Natha Waltz. She gave the waltz all of Nichols' power, but tempered it with a lyricism all her own. I look forward to seeing her do more of these. Ansanelli looked very pretty in the role originated by Watts, but I would have liked to see her emphasize the accents -- particularly in the frisky duet with Marcovici -- rather than give every moment equal importance. The role needs punctuation. In the killer role originated by Ib Andersen, Carmena did remarkably well.

West Side Story Suite was the ballet that gave the whole audience a night to remember for a very, very long time. I've seen WSSS maybe five or six times, plus a version of it in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, plus the 1980 West Side Story revival on Broadway. But the power on that stage last night was so much greater than it had ever been before. To begin, there's that thrilling music coming from from the pit under Paul Gemignani's visiting baton. The ensemble was tight and going full steam, and the the whole cast was true to their roles in absolutely every respect. Who expected Jenifer Ringer (Anita) to be such an earthy jazz dancer? And in that short wig looking just like Elizabeth Taylor in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof! Fine singer, too, as was Damian Woetzel (Riff). Kudos and thanks all around to the entire cast: Millepied (Tony), Soto (Bernardo), McBrearty (Maria), Edge (Rosalia). My head was buzzing, my heart was pounding, and although no one spoke the cue, "Te adoro, Anton," the tears were spilling from my eyes. I want MORE!!! :):(:)

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carbo, I "WANT MORE" too! Absolutely fantastic - look out Broadway! Wow! Amen to your description of Jennifer Ringer - never would I have imagined. Damian Woetzel, Millipied, Soto, Stafford, and so many more showed themselves to be incredibly versatile and they can act and some even sang!!

I'll let Treefrog fill you in on the rest...after her whirlwind NYC ballet experience.


P.S. Can we resurrect Jerome Robbins? If not, here, at least is a wonderful site about him and his work: Jerome Robbins ! :)

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Wed Night

Ansanelli and Boal in the Andante of Brahms-Schoenberg tonight was the best thing I've seen all season. Twelve to fifteen minutes of sheer heaven, this is as good as it gets, it doesn't happen to me very often (perhaps once or twice a year, if I am lucky) but this is the reason I go to the Ballet. Anything that can take you so far outside of yourself and at the same time so deeply within yourself is great art. The role was perfect for Ansanelli and she was perfect for the role.

I can't concentrate, in my memory, on anything else. Although the corps de ballet, in its various groupings, was superb throughout the Brahms and Somogyi's debut in the Intermezzo was also quite strong (on any other night that is what we'd be talking about, it's been Jenny's season as well as Alexandra's).

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Glass Pieces: I haven't seen this since it was new but was not Bart Cook (in the pas de deux) wearing a coppery-orange costume?

I remember Jock Soto in the red unitard (worn by Tewsley last night) AND I remember Jock leading off the last movement & followed by the rest of the corps. It seemed so right, as the movement has that Native American theme going on, by both Robbins & Glass (this was done shortly after "Koyaanisqatsi", I believe) & it seemed so appropriate, with Jock's Native American heritage & his wonderfully earthy, groundedness.

Did I imagine this or did I only have eyes for Jock & everyone else just faded into the grid?

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For those of you who are local, and have not seen West Side Story Suite - get thee to The New York State Theater ASAP - Sunday, I believe is the last performance this season.

Attended today's matinee and it was just as wonderful today as it was on Tuesday.

Also saw The Cage in which Alexandra Ansanelli danced a role so outside of anything you could ever imagine and did it so well, that even though I thought the dance was very strange - I still appreciated the program and was astounded at the versatility, once again, of the NYCB dancers!

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It must be said: Peter Martins's ballet is an audience favorite. Friday night's performance was greeted with long and loud applause, cheers, and even the shrieks one sometimes hears from young dancers. I saw the ballet on opening night of the Fall season and thought that NYCB had a hit. I liked it. So I was quite startled when it turned out other people didn't. Just about everything was panned: the shoes, the costumes, the set, the singers, the expense, and of course, Peter Martins's choreography. The only, grudging, praise was for Bernadette Peters, who made a surprise one-time-only appearance at the end. Robert Gottlieb's review in the New York Observer appeared under the headline, "Thou Stink."

Being easily influenced, on Friday night I was ready to view the ballet with a more jaundiced eye. The cast was the same as on opening night, except that Janie Taylor was in the Yvonne Borree part. So the cast was Darci Kistler and Jock Soto, Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, Taylor and Nilas Martins. The singers were the same, too: Debbie Gravitte and Jonathan Dokuchitz. Gravitte, in particular, was superb. The conductor was Paul Gemignani, who, as noted is also conducting West Side Story Suite. True, the choreography doesn't break any new ground -- but the cast was adorable and romantic; even Nilas was quite likable, despite his pointless cameo at the onstage piano to deliver a nondescript riff. The big tilted mirror still steals the show. And the amalgam of Rodgers and Hart with Rodgers and Hammerstein is both fascinating and irresistible. Prepared to see the error of my ways, I still liked "Thou Swell."

The audience's happy mood carried over into "Western Symphony," which also got cheers, well deserved. It was a special treat to see Albert Evans in the adagio with Alexandra Ansanelli. The program began with Wendy Whelan and Robert Tewsley in "Ballade," a marvelous bit of Balanchine.

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Originally posted by Farrell Fan

. . .  even Nilas was quite likable, despite his pointless cameo at the onstage piano to deliver a nondescript riff. The big tilted mirror still steals the show.

And Jenifer Ringer, obscured, perhaps (depending on where you were seated), by the rest of the combo, took a turn on the drums. What a multi-talented lady she is: all singing (West Side Story Suite), all dancing, all drumming!

As a harsh critic of Peter Martins' ballets, let me say that I have some misgivings about this work but think that on balance, this is a pretty good work. Perhaps because word-of-mouth had given me such low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Martins has gone beyond his customary step-for-note musicality, and while this work's roots are clear (a little Who Cares, a little Liebeslieder, a little Vienna Waltzes), it is less obviously derivative than most of his ballets. Then of course, there are those irresistible melodies. (But why include the incongruous Rodgers and Hammerstein "Getting to Know You" of 1951 among the Art-Deco era Rodgers and Hart?) Sitting in the Fourth Ring, the mirror is conspicuous, yes, but has less impact than I suspect it does from lower (particularly orchestra) levels.

Charles Askegard danced elegantly in Tchaikovsky pas, which Andrea Quinn pushed along in record time. Jennie Somogyi simply flew through her variation with remarkable clarity. Throughout, her sophisticated phrasing and well-tempered attack were gratifying. First fish-dive, a near miss, left my heart in my throat.

Brahms -- closing ballet if ever there was one!-- opened the evening. I liked Pascale van Kipnis' glamorous reading of the first movement. Somogyi and Fayette in the second were not a well matched pair in this particular choreography. The lifts into backbend look best when there is more discrepancy between the man's and the woman's sizes. But I LOVED Ansanelli and Boal in the Andante. His emphasis of the low sweeps against the airborne jumps added drama. Ansanelli gave the role a happy urgency. In the Rondo, Whelan and Woetzel pulled out all their knowing, prowling stops.

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