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Week 5, Spring 2005


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I had a soul satisfying evening last night seeing 'Goldberg Variations' and Glass Pieces'. I spent weeks before seeing the 'Goldberg' listening to Glenn Gould's recordings and Robbins choreography made Bach sound even better. In an excellent cast it was Weese and Boal in Part II who stood out. Weese was so beautifully langorous and lyrical. Robbins makes Philip Glass palatable for me; the choreography and music were a happy match. Who knows! some day I might even listen to Glass without the benefit of Robbins. The slithering line of ladies in the 'facade' section were as mesmerizing as the 'shades' of 'Bayadere'. Whelan and Tewsley tried in vain to keep our eyes focused on them alone. Having read Leigh Witchell's witty review of the 'Akhnaten' section ('West Side Story' meets 'The Jungle Book) I watched it with a broad smile on my face.

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The first Brahams-Schoenberg of the season had Kyra and Steve Hanna as the leads with an exceptionally fine Ellen Bar as the featured demi. If there were a subtitle to this ballet, it would be Tricky Partnering 101. Kyra's vast experience and great aplomb carried the day. There were one too many times when Kyra's hand was a nano-second in place before Steve was there to support it. In any event, Kyra's directional changes were a marvel and a joy, and Steve did his job here: he just let Kyra be Kyra. Ellen Bar was truly outstanding in her phrasing and technique by the way.

In the marvellous second movement (the Intermezzo), Mr. and Mrs. Fayette -- after a very rocky start -- turned in a nice performance. But I'm sure they will do better with the subsequent Intermezzos. There were two highlights of the Andante for me. One was Nikolaj because of his innate musicality and phrasing; the other was a corps girl (who, upon information and belief, as there was no slip in the program) was Ashley Laracy (who was subbing for Carrie Lee Riggins). I had not really focused on her dancing, but Ashley Laracy met the challenges of dancing in the spotlight, and is definitely one to watch. In the last movement, Wendy and Damian turned in their usual wonderful work, although I would characterize it as "subdued exhuberance."

The Four Temperaments again worked its magic. Of course, it was the last time I will see Peter Boal in the Melancholic section, so that section was indeed aptly named. I tried to make a mental snapshot of his exiting backbend because we won't see the likes of that for a long time. (However, I said the same thing years ago when Bart Cook retired.) It was good to see Sofiane Sylve back (as she was not in many ballets last week), and she certainly seemed to be in tip-top -- actually stunning -- shape. Again, Teresa Reichen in the Choleric section was a show-stopper.

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Me again. . . but I just had to convey how happy I am with the "second" cast of Emeralds, i.e., Ashley Bouder and Jared Angle, and Sofiane Sylve and Ask la Cour as the leads. Wow!! My expectations were high, and they were met and then some by ALL hands. Not since Violette have I seen such incredible phrasing and rubato from the female leads. There were no discreet "steps" from both Ashley and Sofiane; their variations were one continuous motion in keeping with the line of Faure's music. I'm just bowled over, and I think the audience as a whole realized they were seeing something very special indeed. Jared and Ask were excellent partners, and both danced well in their own right. I hope lots of people on this board will be able to catch this cast tomorrow evening.

Query about the Rubies: Is it possible to thoroughly enjoy a performance and at the same time have reservations about it? What prompts this question is Alexandra Ansanelli's "take" on this role. Please, please don't get me wrong; I am a big fan of hers. But in my memory, Patricia McBride danced this as a classical (neo-classical) ballet with a few "kinky" steps or distortions. It seems to me that Alexandra distorts the entire ballet from her first entrance. Now, I'm not saying it's not fun, but I really came away thinking that I didn't see a Balanchine ballet. (As an aside, I noted that Patricia McBride taught at SAB for a week this past January, and I would love for her to come to NYCB to "clean up" this ballet.) All that being said, Benjamin Millepied was everything he should be.

The Diamonds had Wendy and Nilas in the leads. Wendy's performance was good enough to make me wistful for Suzanne, but (surprisingly) not enough to forget Suzanne. Maybe it was an off night (or maybe a different partner would make a difference).

It's been a long day, so I'd better sign off. I'm looking forward to other posts about this new cast.

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JEWELS 5/26

I really dislike the new sets; in my opinion only the EMERALDS setting is a success. RUBIES is too dark and DIAMONDS looks cheap. The settings in all 3 sections tend to dwarf the dancers.

EMERALDS has, over the years, become my favorite of the three segments. The music is so beautiful and the choreography is cohesive, elegant and refreshingly free of "tricks". A year ago if anyone had suggested Bouder in this ballet I would said "miscasting". But something has happened to her lately, a refinement and new romantic attitude which made her very appealing in this subdued piece. That she danced it to perfection hardly needs to be said. Jared Angle partnered her very well; Jared is a big dancer who manages to be lyrical without being in the least bit affected. Excellent. Sylve was just engrossing to watch, a sophisticated dancer of enormous personal appeal. Ask LaCour's partnering was attentive and noble; any questions as to his being promoted on merit or otherwise should have been silenced by his recent performances. Very nice pas de trois from Suozzi, Dronova and Keenan.

Ansanelli was at her most audacious in RUBIES; blazing multiple turns and nearly hitting herself in the nose with her extension. She takes huge risks as a dancer and once in a while seems about to go off track but she extricates herself from any potential traps and plunges ahead. Seeing her in this and in her incredible solo in POLYPHONIA within one week speaks volumes about her range. To say nothing of Columbine. She & Millepied were having fun, teasing and tempting one another. Ben is one of those dancers who can give the illusion that he can momentarily stop in midair. I was not really taken with Savannah Lowery in the

pencee-girl role. RUBIES drew an excited ovation from the crowd.

I've seen Wendy in DIAMONDS countless times and find it a very satisfying interpretation. She is so musical and refined, and puts a lusutrous finish on everything she does. I simply love watching her dance; more so than any other dancer past or present. Nilas was an affable partner; they seem very comfortable together. Rebecca Krohn did not materialize among the demi-solistes and was replaced by Gwyneth Muller AND Saskia Beskow at various points in the ballet.

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Well since oberon brought up the sets, I would like to express my contrary opinion. I hate the emerald set - reminds me of Vienna Waltzs set. It is sort of in a forest - not a clean set like the original one. I love the rubies set. I think that is the real winner. It goes perfectly with the ballet. The bright costume and black background work. I also disliked the diamond set - it does look cheesy compared to the original.

Ok, enough said about that. On to the dance. Does size matter? I thought that Ashley was just too small for this role. Not that her dancing wasn't outstanding, but it seemed like a taller, more long legged dancer is called for. On the other hand, I never did like this ballet and still don't, so take my comments with a very small grain of salt. I find the music just boring.

Rubies is possibly one of my favorite masterpieces. Last week I thought Ansanelli did a fantastic job in Polyphinia, surpassing her wonderful role the week before that in Harlequenade. Now Rubies. Even better. Is there no end to how good a dancer she is becoming? She seems to be dancing so well. And I think that she gets the role. I think it is full of fun. And she and Ben seem to throughly enjoy themselves out there. Just a delight to watch. And I was one of those screeming bravos and asking for more curtain calls. Lowery was lovely if not angular enough to my taste in this role. I recall Karen Von Aroldingen doing it with much more angularity. As for "getting it". A couple of years ago we saw POB (sorry dont recall the dancers) do Jewels. The Emeralds section was well done, but they just didn't get Rubies. All seriousnes and little energy.

I also generally enjoy Diamonds. Whelan was very graceful and artistic. She is my kind of dancer - slim (ok, skinny) and long legged with wonderful extension. I doubt if anyone will ever be Farrell in this role - but that is now ancient history of course. And as I recall Farrell was waif like before she left for Brussles.

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And as I recall Farrell was waif like before she left for Brussles.

Well, she was a young woman before she left but she was not waif-like. I believe it was thought to be the exact opposite -- she was kind of lush. Look at the clips in "Elusive Muse," she was thinner after joining Bejart.

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Saturday matinee 5/28

Many, many years ago BAISER DE LA FEE was the first ballet I saw at NYCB; I have not seen it often since then. The score is beautiful, and the corps looked very pretty. Amanda Edge and Dena Abergel were both very fine. Fairchild & deLuz danced the steps very well but I did not feel the sense of mystery & romance surrounding this couple.

When it was announced that TALA GAISMA would replace GUIDE TO STRANGE PLACES I was not happy; I did not think much of Peter's new work at the Gala, and liked it only slightly better when I saw it a second time. My partner warned me that he might fall asleep during the piece this afternoon. As it turned out, we were both drawn into it and found many passages to enjoy. It is not a masterpiece by any means but today I realized I do not have to add it to my "avoid" list. It showcases Jock Soto's partnering skills and provides a great role for Sylve, who dances so excitingly here - their duet is the high point of the piece. Carla Korbes replaced Darci and her dancing was both very strong & very feminine; her beautiful hair is an added attraction. Was this the first time she & Jock danced together? They seemed very at ease together...I imagine Jock immediately puts any ballerina at ease. Special kudos to Miranda Weese, who excelled with her wondrous turns and the swiftness & clarity of her steps. Splendid violin solo by Kurt Nikkanen and the fascinating score lovingly played under Andrea Quinn's baton. Audience seemed very taken with the piece and the dancers won a much-deserved extra call.

So nice to see Kyra again, dancing with remarkable elegance and musicality in the opening segment of B-S QUARTET. She is what she has always been, a dancer to whom the word "lovely" most truly applies. Stephen Hanna took immaculate care of her and seemed to realize she is a special lady; his solo passages showed his increasing comfort & control in virtuoso moments. And he's handsome to boot. Gorgeous performance by Ellen Bar...in her deeply feminine and lyrical dancing I see many echoes of Kyra, and that is a high compliment. Bevy of beautiful corps girls. Then when Golbin, Korbes and Krohn came on for the Intermezzo, I could not decide who to watch. If this were a beauty contest, they would all win. But then Jenifer Ringer came on and just gave an incredible Intermezzo. Jenifer always seems to find the most entrancing details of hands, arms & facial expression that sets her performances in their own realm. Just thoroughly wonderful! Fayette's a great partner, and Jenifer's swoons had the depth and abandon of real passion. Yvonne Borree and Nikolaj Hubbe renewed their long partnership in the refined Andante, and Amanda Edge & Elizabeth Walker were joined by Ashley Laracey who is a dancer I love to watch: unconventionally pretty, she is techically adept with a nice breadth of phrasing. Again, too many pretty girls in the corps to keep track of...Glenn Keenan did catch my eye several times with her enchanting smile. Then Wendy & Damian polished off the afternoon in high bravura form; they seemed to be having a grand time and I love Damian's casual devil-may-care multiple air turns and Wendy's sauntering gypsy lass with her legs that hypnotize me. New tall guy in corps, William Lin-Yee; we always need tall guys. Excellent guest maestro Colin Metters who gave wonderful weight and body to the Rondo section. Big response, 3 calls.

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Loved the Emerald ballet. Couple things however ;

think Bouder too short too unexpressive for a beautiful

Jewel! No offence it's obvious she is on the fast track,and iIlike her

in much of what she does. She is as much athlete as dancer.

Come to think of it, almost all girls are pretty short compared

to the Farrell days. What did we like? Suozzi dancing with

Dronova(who is moth-like thin) and Keenan who dances and looks

as fresh and glistening as morning dew. And the costumes were

beautiful. It's great having Balletalert to talk over BYCB and casts.

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A couple of people have said that Bouder is too small for Emeralds, but the role she is dancing was made on Violette Verdy, who was quite small -- probably smaller than Bouder. I wonder if those who found Bouder too short would explain why they thought a taller dancer was called for.

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Saturday Matinee 5/28

I would have enjoyed seeing the original full length Baiser de la Fee. In contrast,

the Divertimento has no story so we can concentrate on fine dancing to fine music.

Again Balanchine tells us what is most important.

De Luz and Fairchild are technically proficient but don't yet have the sparks

we want to see. Maybe with more experience we will see some spontaneity from them.

Tala Gaisma is complex and has a lot of references to Apollo. It is a final piece for

Jock and a gift for 3 ballerinas who have a last chance to dance with him. I never

saw Jock as Apollo - he must have done it - anyone know how long ago and with whom?

BS Quartet was very well done - Kyra was so elegant and well partnered by Hanna.

The intermezzo was outstanding. Can Jenifer Ringer be more beautiful?

She and Fayette are lovely together. I'd like to see them in Baiser de la Fee.

Of course Whelan and Woetzel brought the afternoon to an exuberant close.

3 curtain calls for them too. We tried for a 4th ........maybe next time.

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Sunday Matinee

I couldn’t attend the Goldberg Variations, however it was mentioned in the program that Adam Hendrickson would replace Joaquin de Luz. I did make it to see Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and was glad I had decided to go. This afternoon’s performance was the perfect example of how Jock isn’t only a great partner, but also an amazing dancer. The clarity and sharpness of his dancing was incredible, not to mention his technique. At the same time he also displayed that maturity and attitude that is required of this ballet. His dancing was flawless. However at one point during, I guess the ‘finale section’ of the ballet, he almost missed his entrance and so came sprinting out on to the stage, and just made it in the knick of time to start the steps. He did this of course beautifully *hehe*. For those who dislike Yvonne, I just don’t see it. This afternoon she wasn’t ‘shaky’ at all. In fact I thought she was beautiful, and she reminded me somewhat of Kay Mazzo doing this role in the Balanchine video. Wendy of course was stunning, and Tewsley pulled out a solid performance being his first time in the role. It is interesting that Tewsley is doing more now as a guest, than last year when he was an actual company member. So, I don’t comment much on this board, however I felt it was necessary to mention this brilliant performance.

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Thanks, Stanley, for your post. I'm so glad you shared your enjoyment with the rest of us and hope you will continue to write up your reactions -- good or not-so-good -- to other programs.

I never saw Jock as  Apollo - he must have done it - anyone know how long ago and with  whom?

Balanchinomane, I've never seen Jock do Apollo, either. It is not listed among his roles in his bio on the NYCB website. [snip]
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[ADMIN BEANIE ON]

This thread has forked off topic, and is getting speculative about the private and non-ballet professional life of dancers. [Edited to add]: I've removed the original comment and the posts in response.

[ADMIN BEANIE OFF]

If anyone has seen Week 5, Spring Season performances, please share your impressions with us.

Edited by hockeyfan228
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However at one point during, I guess the ‘finale section’ of the ballet, he almost missed his entrance and so came sprinting out on to the stage, and just made it in the knick of time to start the steps. He did this of course beautifully *hehe*.

That moment is part of the ballet, Stanley. It's in the choreography. :lol:

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However at one point during, I guess the ‘finale section’ of the ballet, he almost missed his entrance and so came sprinting out on to the stage, and just made it in the knick of time to start the steps. He did this of course beautifully *hehe*.

That moment is part of the ballet, Stanley. It's in the choreography. :lol:

That makes sense now. It was a very exciting moment in the ballet, and I assume that was what Balanchine had intended.

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[Donning Moderator's beanie]

The "expert vs. slinky balletomane" discussion may warrant its own thread, but in the meantime, let's keep the talk here to what's been going on on the State Theater stage.

[Doffing Mod's beanie]

Update:

The posts on "Slinky Balletomanes" have been moved to their own thread on the Aesthetic Issues forum:

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=19565

Edited by hockeyfan228
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Just a few comments on Friday's Jewels.

Emeralds. Ashley Bouder has had little opportunity in her race through the repertoire to suggest that she is a R/romantic dancer. However, she met the demands of Emeralds on Friday. She captured not only the romantic aura but also the neo-Romantic style beautifully. Her performance was very gratifying. It lacked the depth that Rachel's had the previous week, but Rachel's been dancing the role for years. An auspicious beginning here for both Ashley and Jared.

Sylve was strangely subdued here. Not only was her attack too muted, her entire presence was, most uncharacteristically. I liked the way she and Ask look together. The trio (Dronova, Keenan, Suozzi) did very well. Glenn's lyricism fit the ballet perfectly. Anyone else notice that Sean is beginning to resemble Eddie Villella facially?

Rubies. The reverse of last week's. Here, the woman, Alexandra, brought the sass and pepper, but the man, Ben, was flat. Savannah Lowery will be better when she becomes comfortable with the overt sexiness of her role. She is the very nice girl any guy would love to bring home to his parents.

Diamonds. Nilas continues to defy the laws of physics. How can anyone of his build be so incredibly light in petit allegro??? Wendy had an off night. She was clearly fatigued by the end and missed some signature moments in the pdd. Of the demis, Dena Abergel's musicality and warmth made her a standout.

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carbro, I think you have defined what it was about Lowery in the RUBIES role that made me less-than-enthusiastic about her; she may be too wholesome looking! I have tried to think of other girls at NYCB now who might be fun in this piece and come up with Tinsley, Bar or Krohn. And yes, I do see Eddie V in Sean's face. And yes, Glenn Keenan is a treasure...

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Diamonds.  Nilas continues to defy the laws of physics.  How can anyone of his build be so incredibly light in petit allegro???  Wendy had an off night.  She was clearly fatigued by the end and missed some signature moments in the pdd.  Of the demis, Dena Abergel's musicality and warmth made her a standout.

For once, I think we disagree! I have never seen Whelan give such a beautiful performance of this ballet before. Perhaps, I was just in the mood for it, but she seemed more ethereal than usual and seemed to capture the essence of a Diamond-- exquisite and slightly untouchable/unreachable. She had some back bends that gave me chills.

-amanda

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Ari, I did not find Bouder's height a detriment in EMERALDS. Jared does tower over her somewhat but they formed a rapport of refined romance. I thought she was just beautiful in the role and for the first time her eyes began to draw my attention.

I also found Wendy's DIAMONDS especially gratifying this year; she is almost transparent in her lightness & multi-faceted presentation. The music seems to radiate from her; and yes, the backbends are remarkable. I was not there the night carbro attended, so can't comment on whether she was looking fatigued (meaning Wendy, not carbro!!), but last night in CAGE & AGON she was on top form. I always apply a slightly higher standard to Wendy than to other dancers - unfairly perhaps. I expect more from her. And I usually get it.

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We saw Jewels on Friday, 27 May. This was a lackluster performance. The chorus needs a lot more rehearsing. They were each dancing to their own beat. It was very messy looking.

Emeralds: between the orchestra playing badly and the dancers not caring, it was a very tedious performance.

I was so shocked at the whole performance. Are they bored?

The one and only time we saw the whole of Jewels was many years ago when NYCB came to London. The Royal Ballet sometimes does Rubies alone. As soon as I knew we were going to NYC I went on line to book.<s>

We could not imagine why they were given such raptureous applause. A real disappointment.

Carol

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Carolm, I was at the performance you saw and loved it. But I also loved your post, because it brought back "the good old days." Your comment that corps members each seemed to be dancing to their own beat was one heard frequently about Balanchine's company back then. And since we frequently debate here whether the performance of his ballets at NYCB isn't what it used to be, it's nice to know that this one, at any rate, still is. Seriously, I've seen many performances of the complete "Jewels" over the years, starting with the original cast, and I thought this performance was a good one. I don't know how to convince you of that, so we just have to agree to disagree. :yahoo:

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Query about the Rubies:  Is it possible to thoroughly enjoy a performance and at the same time have reservations about it?  What prompts this question is Alexandra Ansanelli's "take" on this role.  Please, please don't get me wrong; I am a big fan of hers.  But in my memory, Patricia McBride danced this as a classical (neo-classical) ballet with a few "kinky" steps or distortions.  It seems to me that Alexandra distorts the entire ballet from her first entrance.  Now, I'm not saying it's not fun, but I really came away thinking that I didn't see a Balanchine ballet.

Sorry for resurrecting somewhat ancient history, but my different take from Bobbi on Sylve's Titania reminded me of Ansanelli's Rubies performance, about which we are in total agreement.

My feeling was that Ansanelli gave equal weight to each step & each step was danced beyond its limit. There were no highlights because it was all highlighted. It seemed the dance equivalent of shouting.

Perhaps future performances will allow her to ease up a bit in this role because she can certainly dance it.

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