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

NYCB Winter 2008: week 2


drb

Recommended Posts

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bouder and the debutantes; Whelan and Evans forever.

Not sure how we're to post rep reviews this year, but I couldn't bear to use one of those commercial theme titles beloved by City Ballet's marketeers. Having missed a couple weeks due to that Bug that seems to have bit the city, but finally sans the noisy nose cacophony that would drive nearby balletomanes crazy, and legally no longer posing a health risk, I ventured weakly home to the State Theater.

First up, Ballo della Regina, led as three years ago by Ashley Bouder and Ben Millepied. Also dating from that time, Ana Sophia Scheller, while the quartet was filled out by three debutantes, in order of appearance, Ashley Laracey, Erica Pereira and Kathryn Morgan.

The quartet. first out was Ashley Laracey, whose cheery dancing quickly showed she wasn't just cast for sharing a name with Ms. Bouder. (In fact, neither was Ashley Bouder, who doesn't really share a name with her teacher and role originator Linda Merrill (known to us as Merrill Ashley).) As Ana Sophia Scheller entered, tippy-toed, she rose-jumped-floated into a grand jete that must have been the Platonic Ideal of that step, almost claiming by itself her ultimate right to the ballet's lead role. Ms. Pereira and Ms. Morgan often danced together as the stage left pair. They are so totally different in configuration, one a wispy spirit with a touch of Bouder, the other a beauty with a taste of Mearns. Both share that you can't take your eyes off her magic. Later in the ballet the four are dancing coltishly through the corps: has there been such a colt as Ms. Pereira since Ashley Bouder--or even Darci Kistler?

While Merrill Ashley danced this, her role, in a world of mathematical purity, geometric grandeur, Ashley Bouder reigns in a world of power calmed by sudden unexpected moments of rubato. How does she find time for these breaths of peace: passion matured by lyricism? A couple of Bouder moments: early on she does her Plizetskaya head-kicker Kitri jete that seems twice the speed of the great Maya! Later Ms. Bouder completed her sequence of single and double fouettes with a triple pirouette, so fast yet its ease and perfection made it not a trick, it was just music.

Ben Millepied was a fine partner, and danced with clarity and elevation, and with a sense of fun. Of course not with quite his partner's brio, that would be impossible until Fate pairs her with Ivan Vasiliev on some Elysian stage, but darn good.

As the ballet nears its conclusion there is its signature movement. One can never forget the thrill as Merrill Ashley brought down that raised leg in a staccato zip-zip-zip-zapp to a kneeling placement. Ballet most mightily vertical. Partnered by Ben, the present-day Ashley somehow showed us that this movement is also horizontal. It happens so quickly, but I think she made this about an opening up of the upper torso as well.

A pause, then Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy, starring Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans. Every time I see this there is somehow more. Perhaps, partly from having seen his Morphoses season. This duet to music of Arvo Part does have its formal beauty. There is a bit, not so much as in those later works, of floor work. Floor work is so much easier to see at the State Theater than at City Center. While one of course applauds City Center's long-term confidence in and support of Morphoses with its multi-year assurance of future seasons, I wish he could bring his company home to the State. As time passes each partner's movement more-and-more mirrors that of the other. Their moves become the same, the music begins its fade, and still the same, and the music ceases to sound, and still the same, and the lights fade away, and still the same. Harmony in eternis. Once assured that it will be forever, the audience bursts into prolonged applause. Numerous curtain calls, for simply great dancing. Mr. Wheeldon, please come home. Here is where you really did it.

Already feeling a little tired, and not motivated to stay for the next choreographer ('though wish I could have seen the eight debuts!), health won out over valor. But that first half hour certainly gave me my money's worth. After all, Wendy and Albert are still dancing.

Link to comment

drb, so glad you are feeling better. I had missed your wonderful posts.

Certainly last night's Ballo was as perfect a tonic as anyone could get. It was exhilerating. As drb pointed out, Ashley somehow managed to be lyrical in this fast-paced ballet. For me, last night's demis (Laracey, Sheller, Periera and Morgan), three of whom were new the roles, were fabulous. They danced with the spirit and technique of the originals (Borne, Saland, Ware and Austin). There was only one strange thing at the end of the performance, where the orchestra didn't seem to be in sync with the dancers. But this is a cast not to be missed.

But what's with this "new" audience? Although Ashley and Ben (who was good too) were called out for a curtain call, it seemed (despite the scattered bravos) to be grudging. Hey, folks, you won't see dancing like this any place else in the world.

Link to comment

I was planning on going last night but at the last minute had to attend to something. I have never seen Ballo della Regina and look forward to it. It was a great review.

Any thoughts on Les Gentilhommes and Fancy Free? I love Les Gentilhommes for the music and the masculinity of the men. It is one of the few Martins' ballets that I find watchable.

How does this Fancy Free compare to ABT's?

Link to comment

Of all the current ladies at NYCB, Bouder is the most suited for the *sometimes* circusy nature of this ballet, Ballo. The music is light, bubbly, and the piece comes across as an appetizer rather than a full ballet. Bouder started off with lovely grace and warmth, but quickly forgot that soft, beautiful femininity along with strong, stunning leg work is what wins the audience. Bouder was too punchy 99.9% of the time. It's lots of fun to watch strong, high-energy technique, but Ballo needs beautiful style too. Most general audiences don't understand how difficult Ballo's technique is, and I think that's why they, last night, didn't respond with more gusto.

General audiences, I think, respond more to the beautiful types, eg, Morgan, Scheller, and beautifully moving or dramatic music. But I loved Ballo -- it's a short, fun ballet, and I really loved Katie Morgan as one of the demis. She has the easier solo (actually 2 1/2 solos), but danced both with much gorgeous, calm, womanly glam. In Nuts, Morgan was often kitteny and pretty. Then last night in Ballo, she came alive with a new burst of mature confidence and radiance.

Wendy, on the otherhand, was an exotic creature of jaw-dropping, extremisms, rather than glam, in Liturgy. Wendy has such extreme range and flexibility with her stunningly long, sculptural legs, and arms, and she knows exactly how to make these contemporary pieces (pretzel pas) fascinating on her. Wendy has such a unique body to begin with, and when it is barely covered... you can see every fine detail. Added of course, was the usual darkish lighting and haunting music. All very moody indeed.... and in this atmosphere, Wendy is mysterious, as well as soulful and deeply genuine. And that's why the audience went wild for her. You couldn't turn your eyes away... and Liturgy was just long enough.

The guys in Les Gentilhommes were excellent. One better than the other, all long limbed and big movers. Laurent replaced Danchig-Waring, and I was at first very disappointed about that.... but Laurent (will need to gain body weight) was quite elegant in style with a technique of huge jumps and movement lines. I spotted Laurent in Nuts' Tea in December and thought the same. He's very talented.

The other outstanding men were Carmena (really fine, the best actually; why isn't he used more often??!!!) and TAngle. Carmena and TAngle had the right feel of the music with no difficulty or strain in executing the tricky technical challenges. The feel of this piece is a bit melancholy, serene, with lanky male technique. Lots of Peter Martins' style (as he once danced) in this ballet. I kept seeing Peter (in my mind) as the perfectly cast lead man.

It was rather sad to see Ulbright attempting the lead, because unless he is jumping, turning and dancing at break-neck speed, Ulbright looks much less clean and interesting in line. Not flattering with the long-limbed, taller guys all around him. Ulbright looked uncomfortably cast, but did a professional job.

Fancy Free did not appeal to me last night, after seeing one too many during ABT's Fall season, so I left NYCB for the opening night party at Cedar Lake. A full night--

Link to comment

SZ,

Are you sure that Martins performed in Les Gentilhommes? I know that he is the choreographer and SAB lore has it that he choreographed it for the advanced men years ago.( I know I will corrected here if I am wrong).For me it is the male version of Serenade. So beautiful and yes, melanchaly.

Link to comment
I shouldn't answer for sz, but I took her to mean that she felt the ballet is choreographed in the style Peter Martins danced, his strengths.
I agree. As with so many of PM's early forays into choreography, the men's steps tend to stress Martins' strengths as a dancer. You can almost imagine the choreographer thinking, "Hmm. I've always liked this step. I'll use it here!"
Link to comment
Certainly last night's Ballo was as perfect a tonic as anyone could get. It was exhilerating. As drb pointed out, Ashley somehow managed to be lyrical in this fast-paced ballet. For me, last night's demis (Laracey, Sheller, Periera and Morgan), three of whom were new the roles, were fabulous.

But what's with this "new" audience? Although Ashley and Ben (who was good too) were called out for a curtain call, it seemed (despite the scattered bravos) to be grudging. Hey, folks, you won't see dancing like this any place else in the world.

I totally agree with everything, but wish to add that it struck me that the corps danced with tremendous energy and joy.

Link to comment
I shouldn't answer for sz, but I took her to mean that she felt the ballet is choreographed in the style Peter Martins danced, his strengths.

You are probably correct. Thanks for the insight. :)

Yes. Sorry to be late in replying. I meant Peter was in my mind, I kept thinking of him.... Peter never danced this ballet. He's the choreographer.

Link to comment

Nobody else here saw Sara Mearns last night as the principal lead in Diamonds?!

Her debut was intense with concentration. I wondered if Sara had had much time to learn the ballet... Anyway, she was beautiful and did a strong, lovely job of it. Her partner J. Stafford was very impressive as well. Both dancers were lush

in movement, having earthy elegance in style, and in time will probably bring more of their personal selves to the details of these parts. This was a fine beginning.

And with many, many thanks to the conductor, Maurice Kaplow, who made the entire evening a wonderful joy.

Link to comment

Well, we can all agree about Ashley Bouder tonight in Rubies!!!.... She was A+ excellent, with the good fortune of Kaplow's fine conducting and Millepied's attentive partnering.

Bouder was technically brilliant with electric jumps and turns galore. I even noticed that her grand battement extensions have loosened up allowing some very striking lines during the playful pas de deux. This on top of her individual power-house, very musical dancing, Bouder was especially flashy-sexy fun. It seemed as if she couldn't wait to do this ballet... and finally got it. So, if you get a chance to see Bouder with Millepied (or Woetzel) with Kaplow's conducting, where the dancers can dance everything to their fullest, don't miss it. BRAVA!!!

Link to comment

Thanks, sz. By all means count me among the agreers. :) At least as far as Bouder and Millepied go. I wish I could enjoy Savannah Lowery, the "Tall Girl," but her clunkiness seriously detracted from the overall effect of the ballet. A companion noted, "She's trying." I'm sure she is. It's not enough.

Diamonds, by the same cast as I saw last week (Kowroski and Askegard) did not rise to the very high level of last week's, but was still a fine performance. Where it fell short: Kowroski gave several overextended arabesques penchees -- the 6:05 kind. Tsk, tsk. And she seemed, in the final moments, a bit tired. It was hard to peel my eyes from TAngle among the demi men in the finale. Such aplomb! He knows how to announce his presence quietly, but so you cannot fail to notice.

I was too distracted during most of Emeralds (after which I moved) to be able to write even a few lines, but I will take this opportunity to apologize to anyone who was disturbed by a woman crying out loud, "Oy, for cryin' out loud!" It was my totally involuntary response to a pair of neighbors who were talking, then pspspspspssspspssssing, through most of the ballet. They ignored my shushes and death stares, and my self control finally plummeted to the level of theirs. I'm sorry.

Link to comment

Carbro, I sympathize with your frustrations in dealing with noisy neighbors at the ballet. Over the decades I have had many a ballet and opera evening ruined by people who come to the performance and then don't know how to behave. I've learned to spot potential distractions in my vicinity pre-curtain (small children, people with lots of shopping bags & gear, folks who talk too much before the show starts) and move to the 5th Ring which is usually half-empty. It's not the best vantage point but at least you can concentrate. Of course, once the ballet starts you are stuck and must endure inconsiderate people.

Some of the regular 4th Ringers have been talking about asking the Management to set aside the AA area or at least one side of it as a "members only" spot where children and the uninitiated won't be allowed. There ought to be some small safe haven in the house where those who really care about the performance won't be disturbed by those who don't.

Link to comment

Thanks for the tips, and I'll keep them in mind, but I had no clues that these would be disruptive. In fact, as they settled in, the woman said something about not being able to see well over the leaner in the row before. I said, "Usually people sit back once the curtain's up, but if not, they generally don't mind if you gently tap them and ask them to sit back." With that, the leaner turned back to us and asked if she was blocking the view. I explained that when someone leans forward, they do. She promptly sat flat back. A model of courtesy and good citizenship.

The pair to my left, however, failed to get that making noise is very nearly as intrusive as blocking the view.

Link to comment
Thanks, sz. By all means count me among the agreers. :angel_not: At least as far as Bouder and Millepied go. I wish I could enjoy Savannah Lowery, the "Tall Girl," but her clunkiness seriously detracted from the overall effect of the ballet. A companion noted, "She's trying." I'm sure she is. It's not enough.

Diamonds, by the same cast as I saw last week (Kowroski and Askegard) did not rise to the very high level of last week's, but was still a fine performance. Where it fell short: Kowroski gave several overextended arabesques penchees -- the 6:05 kind. Tsk, tsk. And she seemed, in the final moments, a bit tired. It was hard to peel my eyes from TAngle among the demi men in the finale. Such aplomb! He knows how to announce his presence quietly, but so you cannot fail to notice.

I attended on Saturday eve, same casts, and concur completely! Kowroski's extra 5 minutes in EVERY penchee tired me out. I was thinking about how to articulate Lowery's "clunkiness" in Rubies and a more charitable read, perhaps, would be that she exemplified an athletic approach as opposed to a more witty (knowing? sophisticated?) one. Wit is definitely called for in that role--along with the technique, of course--or at least a sense of the otherworldly (pace WWhelan or Allegra Kent).

Link to comment

I am looking forward to seeing tomorrow night's performance. I adore Les Gentilhommes. I have only seen it on the advanced men at SAB workshops over the past few years with 4 different casts. To me it "reads" like a performance for young men and I can't wait to see it with Sean Suozzi et al. He would make a beautiful center man.

Link to comment
Kowroski's extra 5 minutes in EVERY penchee tired me out.
I was thinking, Ray, after reading your post (and well after composing mine), how well controlled and perfectly perpendicular MK's penchees had become since her long absence. Askegard often seems to controlling her line by keeping her hip in check. I wonder if, on Saturday, his mind was elsewhere.
I was thinking about how to articulate Lowery's "clunkiness" in Rubies and a more charitable read, perhaps, would be that she exemplified an athletic approach as opposed to a more witty (knowing? sophisticated?) one. Wit is definitely called for in that role--along with the technique, of course--or at least a sense of the otherworldly (pace WWhelan or Allegra Kent).
Oh, I don't need otherworldliness for any role in Rubies. They're all pretty earthy. But Tall Girl needs sleekness.
Link to comment
I was thinking about how to articulate Lowery's "clunkiness" in Rubies and a more charitable read, perhaps, would be that she exemplified an athletic approach as opposed to a more witty (knowing? sophisticated?) one. Wit is definitely called for in that role--along with the technique, of course--or at least a sense of the otherworldly (pace WWhelan or Allegra Kent).
Oh, I don't need otherworldliness for any role in Rubies. They're all pretty earthy. But Tall Girl needs sleekness.

Now that I review my post, I guess I didn't mean otherworldly, exactly. Something more like "oddness," a kind of sense of the absurd (who is this woman, anyway, and why is she doing these funky--and really difficult--steps that no one else does?). But sleekness is a quality that she could've had too, and it was definitely lacking from Lowery.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

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