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Spring 2006, Weeks 1 & 2 (April 19, May May 3-5 and 7)

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Satuday night's all-Feld evening was a bit of a marathon; we didn't get out until just about 11 p.m. I was looking forward to the Intermezzo, which I hadn't seen in years. However, I found that although it was charmingly danced and costumed, it was a bit of a bore. One minor note was how nice a couple the Fairchild siblings make (ala Fred and Adele).

What has held up very well and what the audience -- as well as I -- seemed to really enjoy was the Ives piece, The Unanswered Question. All the dancers (Askegard, Hendrickson, Tyler Angle, Pazcoguin, Rutherford, Carmena and (yippee!!) Korowski) were superb and riveting.

The Backchat piece with Adrian Danchig-Waring, Craig Hall and Andrew Veyette was really fun. The main prop was a wall on which the dancers danced (climbed really) in all sorts of combinations. It went on a little too long but did hold one's interest.

In "a star is born" tradition, Etoile Polaire had the young and enchanting Kaitlyn Gilliland doing a solo turn. What stage presence this young one has; you just can't take your eyes off her. Like Tess Reichlin, she's another tall blond to watch. There was a big round of applause and lots of bravas for Kaityln.

The world premiere called Ugha Bugha danced by Wu-Kang Chen was interesting for the first several minutes, but it too went on too long. The closing piece -- A Stair Dance -- was energetically danced by Ellen Bar, Adrian Danchig-Wring, Robert Fiarchild, Sean Suozzi, and Giovanni Villalobos. The prop was a series of wooden staircases which took a bit to set up. (The stage hands got lots of applause for their efforts throughout the evening.) Perhaps it was at the end of a long night or that we had seen much of the same thing in Backchat, but the piece seemed very repetitious. But the dancers gave it their all.

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Ok, disclaimer: I love Eliot Feld! I have only seen a few of his works (from the Spring 03 Joyce season and his MANDANCE Project), but his aesthetic appeals to me down to the core. So, this is a very biased review. Another disclaimer: I don't usually see NYCB more than 2 or 3 times a season, and only for the past couple years.

I had never seen Intermezzo No. 1, and it was much stuffier than I expected (romantic tutus and classical vocabulary and all that). I came to realize that it has a lot of personality, and enjoyed it very much. Jennifer Ringer was so lovely! Her head and shoulders really expressed this beautiful lovesickness, which was perfect for the part. I'm glad it's in the rep.

The Unanswered Question: honestly, I feel like I missed something with this one. I hadn't seen it before, and I don't understand why they've been doing it for almost 20 years. If someone has some insight to this, or can point out something I don't see, I'd appreciate it very much. There weren't really any useful program notes. In general, I think Feld use makes excellent use of props, but they seemed really boring in this ballet. The only really interesting part, to me, was the group of silhouetted women (as far as I can tell, Feld's best work is for groups). They made such wonderful shapes, especially with their hands and fingers. And it was exciting to see Maria Kowroski taking all those leggy positions, but in general, all the movement seemed totally monotone.

Backchat: I saw this at the MANDANCE Project and loved it! It has three men climbing, bouncing, and hanging from a wall, to this tinkling, hypnotic electronic music. I have to say it was better on Feld's own shorter, boxier dancers-- I think it's a little too acrobatic for NYCB's men, particularly the parts that rely solely on arm and abdominal strength. Essentially, when I saw its premier, it looked like the dancers were in space: they seemed to go up as easily as down, not to mention out perpendicular from the wall. And they had this slow-motion moonbounce suspension to their movement that made it absolutely breathtaking. NYCB's version is flatter and more vertical, but to be fair, part of that is because the State Theater is so much larger than the Joyce's.

Etoile Polaire: I guess this was the Diamond Project offering? A solo for Kaitlyn Gilliland. It was fine, a little heavy on the "turning bourrees with pretty arms" kind of stuff, but I thought it was fine.

Ugha Bugha: this wasn't in the printed program, but announced in an insert as a world premier for guest dancer Wu-Kang Chen from Feld's Ballet Tech. I'm not sure how appropriate it was to include this on a NYCB evening, but I thought it was great. Chen made a solo of running, tossing his torso around, and standing on his forearms quite exciting-- which in turn showed how far Feld's movement is from City Ballet's comfort zone.

Stair Dance: I saw this at MANDANCE, too, and of all the pieces after Intermezzo, I thought it looked best on the company. It's perky and vertical, with some musical theater tinges that I assume NYCB dancers are used to from Robbins' pieces (Stair Dance is an homage to Gregory Hines, "a great dancer and an avatar of cool"). It's also a fun piece to watch; Feld gets a lot of mileage from five people going up and down steps. There is a part where dancers sit on the steps and slump their way down, which looked a little stiff, but in general the dancers seemed pretty comfortable in it.

Now, I personally will take Mr. Feld where I can get him, and I'm thrilled that I got to see Backchat and Stair Dance again, stylistic differences aside, but I am curious as to what the audiences think. The couple next to me seemed increasingly alienated (in general, the evening moved from the "safe" to the unfamiliar). They said Backchat "wasn't ballet" (they're right), and then they kept commenting on how "interesting" the following dances were. "This has certainly been an unusual evening," they said on their way out, and I suspect most people felt the same way.

As a sidenote, Damien Woetzel was sitting at the end of my row, and I'm curious as to why he wasn't in any of the dances. He was involved in the MANDANCE Project, and it seems appropriate that he would have participated in NYCB's All Feld program. Sadly, I still have never seen him dance.

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I generally tend to fall in line with Bobbi -- Balanchine babies that we are. No difference on this program. I have to hand it to Megan and Robert Fairchild, though. I tried to imagine dancing a romantic pas de deux with a brother of mine, and I don't know how they managed to make eye contact without cracking up. They look great as a pair, so it's easy to imagine them dancing together often in the future. I know brothers and sisters often skate as couples, but there is something a little -- you know -- about it.

At any rate, if it required an extra bit of concentration, that may explain how, in the final waltz with all six dancers on stage, I couldn't take my eyes off Megan.

Was it Rockwell who likened Intermezzo to Liebeslieder? Well, they do share Brahms. To me, Intermezzo feels more like an extended In The Night.

I enjoyed both A Stair Dance (as klingsor pointed out crossing paths with me during intermission, the title's article "A" puns the name of one of Hines' predecessors) and Back Chat. whitelight's term "hypnotic" was no exaggeration, because I actually experienced a change of consciousness during that piece. After it was over, I turned to my neighbor asked, "I know it's not classical, and I know it's not ballet, but is it dance?" I'm still not sure. It is choreography set to music, but I have to mull this over a bit more. I did like it. Unfortunately, having A Stair Dance and Back Chat on the same bill -- in the same segment -- did neither work a favor. Too similar.

Ugha Bugha became annoying very quickly. I couldn't see Mr. Chen's legs, obscured as they were by the shiny plastic cups.

It also occurred to me that in all four ballets that comprised the final act, there was no human interaction as we know it. It was entirely cerebral. To say it was emotionless is overstating the case, but I missed human warmth. I look at this and see it's the same criticism leveled at Balanchine a few generations ago. Funny how perspective shifts.

Regarding Unanswered Question, it lacked logic, but it reminded me of Fellini. Whimsy by the bucketful, tempered by Ives dark music.

Saturday night was, in short, quite a mixed bag.

I hope you get to see Damian Woetzel, too, whitelight.

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Just to note that on Friday's performance, in Symphony in C, the ever-lovelier Wendy Whelan not only touched her forehead to her thigh, but continued to curve her incredible neck!

I haven't been able to attend more than just that performance yet, and miss everyone's reviews!

Let's hear what you think. Thanks.

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I guess new reviews were supposed to be under week 1 & 2, but the only thing new was In Vento, which was covered on the Kowroski thread. Otherwise, in week 2 rep there was only Feld, except for three Symphony in C's, each with the same cast already seen frequently last season. A week for trading in your subs tix for later on in the season...


Moderator's note: This thread was opened, covering rep programs in both Weeks 1 and 2.

Edited by carbro
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Just to note that on Friday's performance, in Symphony in C, the ever-lovelier Wendy Whelan not only touched her forehead to her thigh, but continued to curve her incredible neck!

When she did, some of the audience responded with startling, mood-killing applause.

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Just to note that on Friday's performance, in Symphony in C, the ever-lovelier Wendy Whelan not only touched her forehead to her thigh, but continued to curve her incredible neck!

When she did, some of the audience responded with startling, mood-killing applause.

Yes, that wouldn't have happened even about 5 years back

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