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Tonight's program was "Four by Four," with Ana Sophia Scheller making her debut in the ballerina role of Ballo della Regina and Gonzalo Garcia with all stops pulled out as her partner.

The guest conductor was Andrews Sill, and someone should really tell him that human beings have to dance to the tempi he is giving, and not the locomotives he seems to be conducting for. Poor Ana Sophia! After her lovely entrance, she showed an unbelievable extension leaning on the arm of the very handsome and able Garcia, Maestro Sill just took off and left her in the dust. She kept up for the most part, but there were many steps that she just couldn't complete. I don't even think Merrill Ashley could have done it! Those very devilish triple turns that end in an extension (parallel to the floor) to stage left as she is traveling towards stage right (Merrill describes these in her book) were very abbreviated, and didn't end pointing in the correct direction. And that's just one example.

I don't know how she feels about it (probably not too good) but I am angry that a lovely dancer was denied the premier she deserved.

Garcia was fabulous partnering and soloing. His turns across the stage on the diagonal were thrilling. Hers were very good as well.

Liturgy was soft and soothing and beautiful, as ever. Wendy and Albert Evans treading water in the air. (I thought -- during that ballet -- that many of this kind of pas de 2 owes a great deal to Elisa Monte's work, Treading -- one of the first in this genre.) BUT Arturo Delmoni's solo violin was very squeaky, if you can believe it.

Les Gentilhommes is a very attractive, likeable ballet without much juice in it -- not to mention zest. But it is pretty, and the dancers look beautiful. But it really doesn't have a lot of spark. Daniel Ulbricht led this time, looking very serious and mature. As refined and slick as it is, sometimes I think that Martins' choreography in trying to be original, is clumsy.

Fancy Free had a few changes in the way it was done -- much like when Robert LaFosse did it. Tyler Angle, genuine and believable, played the innocent kid -- the one that gets stuck paying the bill all the time -- and did the pas de 2 with the girl in the purple dress (Rachel Rutherford, very good, too!). I thought that part usually went to the "Rhumba Sailor." He and Adam Hendrickson (as the little guy) really gave us complete characterizations. Amar Ramasar as the "Rhumba sailor" just seemed very easy-going and that was the whole of it.

The two women seemed to have personalities very different from the way they are usually played. Georgina Pazcoguin as the girl with the red purse seemed more priggish than most -- but she played it totally consistently. Great "dance-off" scene and great fights too, and it worked.

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January 22, 2008

And where else would I have been on the anniversary of what would have been Mr. B's 104th birthday?!!

While I agree with ViolinConcerto, that the guest conductor, Sills, took Ballo della Regina into speeds that were ridiculous at times, I thought Ana Sophia Scheller did a beautiful, feminine, strongly-excellent technical job.

She executed everything very fully, including the faster than heck pique turns into arabesque plie, three in a row before a breath can be had. There are no triple turns choreographed for the female lead (unless partnered).

The only moment where Scheller seemed a bit tight was at the end of Ballo, when the few fouettes were executed right next to the orchestra pit, center stage. Choreographed that way, yikes! Merrill Ashley used to do them turning inside (good grief!). Very difficult to do, but there was less momentum involved than with the ever-popular, outside, whipping turns everyone does these days.

Yes! I too caught Scheller's jaw-dropping, gorgeous develope a la seconde. It began plenty high as a held extension, but then Scheller took advantage of the slower music, the opening brief adagio, and let her already high develope bloom even further (upward) with lush style! I hope Paul Kolnick got a few pictures of that!!! Wow!

As for the fast-allegro, jumps, turns, of Ballo, I thought Scheller handled them all with a warm, feminine maturity. Of course, if the tempi had been a bit slower, Scheller would have enjoyed herself even more.... ditto the audience.... But this is already an old record....

Perhaps Scheller didn't receive the premiere she deserved, but she was most certainly an outstanding, fine principal dancer last night. (Her current rank in the company is soloist).

Gonzalo Garcia seemed comfortable with the technique and manner required of him, but he also looked a bit sloppier overall than I recall when he debuted in Ballo at NYCB with Lorna Feijoo (the womanly powerhouse from Boston Ballet, Nat'l Ballet of Cuba). I think Garcia's style will improve with the seasons ahead. It takes time to get used to the rushed rehearsal schedules (and tempi) at NYCB....

Liturgy was as good as ever as a showpiece for the extraordinary Wendy Whelan.

Les Gentilhommes I thought looked better than ever with the return of Adrian Danchig-Waring and the debut of David Prottas. Prottas is regal, a cavalier in style, masculine, with a gorgeous, clean, strong technique. Danchig-Waring - I've always enjoyed him for his big-mover style. He's a meaty guy with a touch of feminine lushness. Tough to describe, Adrian has a bit of Bejart in him, and I love that.

Tyler Angle and Antonio Carmena were also dancing with their usual handsome styles and beautiful lines/jumps.

I'm not so much a fan of Peter Martin's ballet, Gentilhommes, as I am a fan of watching nine of NYCB's best male dancers, all at the same time, performing big, classical, lanky, masculine movements.

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SZ, I agree with you about the intrinsic beauty of Scheller's performance and I also noted a momentary bit of sloppiness from Garcia. What I loved most was seeing how clearly taken with his partner Gonzalo was.

David Prottas actually debuted in GENTILHOMMES last week in place of Rob Fairchild (Rob was also to have been in a FANCY FREE debut last night but Tyler Angle replaced him). Prottas has a wonderfully vivid presence and sense of self-assurance. Adrian D-W is one of the most intriguing guys in an intriguing Company of dancers.

I'm so happy to have seen Scheller's BALLO!

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SZ. while I know you are much more a keen and educated observer than I am, several of us felt that Ana Sophia wasn't able to complete some of the movements, especially when travelling.

There are no triple turns choreographed for the female lead (unless partnered).
You're right, it's a single, very fast turn, followed by a leg whipping out parallel to the floor. That is one of the steps she was unable to finish -- the leg was not at the correct angle, and she didn't end up facing in the right direction, as best as I recall. What really bugged me about the conducting was that he seemed to slow down for the soloists and the corps!!

Yes, Carmena was bright and all smiles in his dancing, and Adrian D-W was wonderful as always (I mentioned that last week with his work in "Spring" in the 4 Seasons). But my heart belongs to Sean Suozzi -- his proportions and execution are so beautiful to me.

And, yes, I sang "Happy Birthday" to Mr. B. in the morning yesterday as I got ready for work, and flashed my old trusty NYCB brass ticket key ring with the date "January 22, 1984, seat number A101 in the first ring (price, $30.00).

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>...several of us felt that Ana Sophia wasn't able to complete

>some of the movements, especially when travelling.

Yes, I know what you meant there. I also missed the huge Kitri jump... Scheller did it well enough, but I sense, that if the tempi had been more danceable, she would have made it much bigger.

Btw, I rarely go into too many details on BT because then.... well, my comments would easily become a 4-page bore.... (to me as well).

>What really bugged me about the conducting was that he

>seemed to slow down for the soloists and the corps!!

Yes, it did seem that way, although I thought the tempi for the jumper soloist, Dronova, that night, was as fast as I've ever seen it done. Although I am not at all a fan of Dronova, I had to admire how quickly she was able to get into the air - in that oddly angled grand jete. The other soloists had, as you said, better tempi.

>Carmena was bright and all smiles in his dancing...

What I noticed most about Carmena in Les Gentilhommes was that he wasn't smiling as much as he usually does.... I liked that he showed us a more elegant and meaty, serious, classical dancer in Gentilhommes. We usually see him in very different parts as cast by Martins/Robbins Trust. I've always suspected that Carmena is capable of more. His technique is one of the best at NYCB.

>But my heart belongs to Sean Suozzi -- his proportions

>and execution are so beautiful to me.

I am very fond of Suozzi as well, but I didn't think Gentilhommes, with the men in white tights, flattered some of Suozzi's less than gorgeous natural lines. And he tends to have a bright, high energy attack which doesn't work in Gentilhommes. Suozzi looked to me as if he was holding back on his natural style in order to blend in with the other men of Gentilhommes and that didn't quite work for Suozzi. I'll agree, he is extraordinary in many other ballets.

>...flashed my old trusty NYCB brass ticket key ring with

>the date "January 22, 1984, seat number > A101 in the

>first ring.

I look up at that seat often when I'm attending NYCB performances...

p.s. Oberon, nice to see your post on BT again...

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Fri eve Jan 25th

I have way too many thoughts but I had to take this opportunity to mention the amazing performances of Gina Pazcoguin tonight. First in Oltremare (so haunting) and then in the lead role in Russian Seasons. She was so commanding, expansive, expressive and luminous.. I can't really think of enough words to describe what a star she was for me tonight.

I'm very interested to hear what others have thought of Oltremare. I was completely taken in and very moved by it. I was amazed at the movement of the NYCB dancers, and their acting and commitment to character. Maria K. and Tiler Peck were both breathtaking.

Ok, I should stop gushing...

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Sylve created the role of the Woman in Red in RUSSIAN SEASONS and it was later danced by Rebecca Krohn. Krohn was announced for this revival but was replaced by Pazcoguin. Glenn Keenan stepped into Pazcoguin's smaller role...very nice...and Rachel Rutherford took on the Woman in Green which Ringer created at the premiere. Wendy, Abi and Alina Dronova retained their roles as did all the men. I did think the vocal soloist Irina Rindzuner was not quite as attentive to pitch as last year's Susanna Poretsky...also Rindzuner being a soprano and Poretsky a mezzo cast a different light on the songs.

I did feel that OLTREMARE and RUSSIAN SEASONS do not make a good programme match-up...a bit too much darkness and working class/peasant feel...not that I have anything against the working classes!...but I think each ballet will benefit by being seen in a more contrasted programme.

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And, yes, I sang "Happy Birthday" to Mr. B. in the morning yesterday as I got ready for work, and flashed my old trusty NYCB brass ticket key ring with the date "January 22, 1984, seat number A101 in the first ring (price, $30.00).

and I have NYC brass ticket key ring dated Wednesday May 20 for 1st ring seat A2 for $25.00.

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I've enjoyed all three ballets Mauro Bigonzetti has choreographed for NYCB. I think one reason is that he's Italian, and I am an Italian chauvinist. (I use the word in its original sense.) My parents and grandparents came to America from Sicily in the early years of the twentieth century, so I was naturally caught up in "Oltremare," although to tell the truth, I wasn't always sure what Bigonzetti had in mind. There seemed to be some spousal abuse going on aboard that ship, and I wondered if that's what the northerner Bigonzetti considered the norm for his southern co-nationals. Be that as it may, Bigonzetti chooses the cream of NYCB dancers and they go all-out for him. But I think the main reason I like his works is the music of Bruno Moretti. Theatrical and evocative, it as essential to a Bigonzetti ballet as that of Nino Rota was to a Fellini film. And I was pleased that the audience was as enthusiastic for "Oltremare" as for the earlier "Vespro" and "In Vento."

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Yes, Oberon, I totally agree. I would rather see Russian Seasons and Oltremare on separate programs. I'm trying to think of what can follow Oltremare... I may want it to end an evening... not sure!

Farrell Fan,

I am the descendant of Italian immigrants who came on the boat- perhaps that's why I was so moved.. also have performed in Fiddler on the Roof many times, and so have at least imagined myself in that situation. ;-) This was my first Bigonzetti- and I agree about Bruno Moretti's music. I look forward to seeing his other ballets, and hearing the other music!

ETA: I didn't see the dancing as spousal abuse.. I saw it as the physical manifestation of the despair and anguish.. and perhaps what in a verbal argument would be translted into "Why did you make me leave? How are we going to live without our land? Please let me go back? " etc.. and the answer of "I am doing this for our future... We must look forward not back.... I will be here for you... please don't feel despair... " or even "snap out of it!" ;-)

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I am so glad to see that more BT'ers are posting on this thread.... I was beginning to think that no one was attending performances!

I saw both performances today, and the matinee was 4x4 again. I am happy to report that Andrew Sill slowed down and gave Ana Sophia Scheller the time to perform beautifully in Ballo della Regina. It was entirely different. Someone else at the performance said that she didn't quite finish the ballet perfectly, but I didn't notice (or didn't see it). She and Gonzalo Garcia both gave excellent performances.

Liturgy again was stunning. I had a seat in center orchestra, in the back, and that was perfect. There was a gasp towards the end when Albert Evans literally folded Wendy Whelan in half, and then total silence at the very end, when the music has stopped and the dancers maintain the flowing sequence they have been doing.

In Les Gentilhommes this time, I mostly watched the choreography, and found it sorely lacking, though the men never look anything less than beautiful and elegant. There is practically no footwork, and that seems inadequate in a work to Baroque music. Coming after Ballo, with its stunning, complicated, delightful footwork, it seemed rather poor. It's so regular: this section for all of them, then sets of threes, then sets of fours, then threes, then blah, blah, blah. Daniel Applebaum substituted for Allen Peiffer.

Fancy Free was livelier and more relaxed than on Wednesday, and the characterizations by the men especially were much more richly detailed. Each of the sailors, but ESPECIALLY Tyler Angle, was marvellous. (And just think, they had all performed in Gentilhommes.)

The evening performance was The Goldberg Variations, Tschaikovsky Pas de 2 and Western Symphony.

In truth, I am too tired to say much about them, so I guess I'll just say that Abi Stafford, Megan Fairchild, and Tyler Angle (I seem to be becoming a big fan of his!) stood out among the Principals in Part 1 (hmm, they all have siblings in the company), and Philip Neal with Maria Kowroski and Wendy Whelan with Benjamin Millepied in Part II. I will confess that it was the first time I ever really liked Millepied. He always seems too remote to me.

In Western Symphony the Adagio with Sterling Hyltin and Albert Evans was the most delightful, and Teresa Reichlen with Damian Woetzel really communicated a great time to the audience. She looked wonderful in the hat, and did an excellent job in her diagonal cross with that series of extensions on pointe. (What are they called?) I wish only that Balanchine had let us watch them spin for another bar or two of music....... I love that ending!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Son is Born

Prodigal Son, the middle ballet on this afternoon's program, offered debuts by Daniel Ulbricht and Teresa Reichlen in the two lead roles. Soon after his entrance the rebellious boy jumps toward the fence in front of his family's house. It was the right day to be sitting at orchestra level, for that leap was so high, and so fierce, that it was a veritable anthem honoring Mikhail Baryshnikov's birthday, he being the greatest Prodigal I ever had the honor to witness. One could feel, even hear, the audience's collective gasp. Mr. Ulbricht danced with limitless ferocity, as if a slave unbound from the rigors of some archaic patriarchy. Until reality caught up with him, as he was seduced by that towering image of Woman, debutante Teresa Reichlen. While, of course, it will still take some doing to match the brilliantly drawn portrayal that Maria Kowroski has developed, it was a fine beginning for Tess, whose glamor, beauty and stage-filling charisma is ideal for this role. Honored by five (from that notoriously dead Sunday matinee audience!) curtain calls, the fourth a screaming, cheering, stomping one for Mr. Ulbricht, his was a major triumph. Yes, those fabulous leaps, those pirouettes whirling right down into the floor (toward Hades?), great expressiveness, were manifest throughout his performance. This ballet is alive again, not that it was ever dead, but alive as it once was with Misha.

The program began with Square Dance, danced by Megan Fairchild (whew!, not with the change that was posted in the lobby) and Nikolaj Hubbe. Two weeks to go for this dancer, it is a shame that he danced so infrequently during much of his tenure at City Ballet. For what a partner he is for Megan. You could see them relating with their eyes, her reflecting some of the subtle arm ornamentations in his port de bras, how he seemed to draw her out of herself and into the music, as she added a new dimension to her dancing. He, still a virtuoso: this noble prince, a royal dancer unlike any other man at NYCB.

A number of cast changes from last week featured in the closing ballet, The Four Seasons. In Winter Sean Suozzi and Christian Tworzyanski flanked Sterling Hyltin in Robbins' delightful take on Ashton. In Spring, Jared Angle was the new partner of Sara A. Mearns, who continued her exploration of the Farrell style (the years... how few of today's happily young audience will see the allusions, appreciate the difficulty of her task). Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar, another debut, brought a needed dollop of youthful enthusiasm to the sweltering Summer. A terrific Antonio Carmena, replacing last week's Daniel Ulbricht (who was, so obviously and brilliantly, otherwise engaged today), was joined by regulars Ashley Bouder (dancing so purely today, the Plisetskaya leap so clean, so easy a display of pure beauty) and Ben Millepied (despite a little slip just before his multiple turns, this time he inserted three hops, and that made all the difference to the cheering audience).

But this was Daniel Ulbricht's day. The Prodigal Son has returned.

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Anyone who attends City Ballet performances regularly knows that Daniel Ulbricht is if nothing else a crowd-pleaser. His jumping, splits, and pirouettes show great virtuosity and athleticism; he is also an ideal bad boy character for such roles as Puck, the Swan Lake jester, and the short sailor in Fancy Free, as well as extrovert allegro parts like Tarantella. Uh, yes, he's a bit short. Not exactly a midget, mind you, but of medium height, sort of like his counterpart at ABT, the phenomenal Herman Cornejo - which means neither man fits into the danseur noble mold and both are more likely to be thought of as character dancers. I think as a technician Cornejo has it over Ulbricht, but that's nothing for anyone to be ashamed of; I remember reading some reviewer claim that Cornejo is the most technically accomplished male dancer in the US today. But despite my overall enthusiasm for Ulbricht's performances, I also have had some reservations; he has tended to upstage his colleagues (especially in Swan Lake), he sometimes mugs too much, and he has seemed in danger of becoming a 1-trick pony who hasn't quite the range of (say) Sean Suozzi, to name another City Ballet dancer I always especially look forward to seeing. Or perhaps Daniel just hasn't been given the right opportunity to show any greater range. Until last Sunday, that is.

No doubt this was a make-or-break moment for Daniel Ulbricht, as the lead roles in R+J were for the young people like Robby Fairchild and Erica Pereira who essayed them last year. And the intent of the casting was similar - have someone very young play someone very young. There was no doubt that Daniel, who can still pass for 17, would have the athletic ability for the part. But could he carry off the emotional demands - the defiance, the arrogance, the seduction, the final crawling back to the Father? I think he did it very well. I have otherwise seen only Baryshnikov in the role, both live a zillion years ago and on DVD last week, and I think Daniel modeled his characterization on the great Russian to a degree. But there was also the bad-boy cockiness that seems integral to an Ulbricht performance, and in his confrontations with the bald creatures he at first came across as naive and open. I'm not so sure he carried off the seduction scenes with Theresa Reichlen; here the height differential was bothersome, especially with her tall headress, but he did suggest a teenage kid aware of sex for the first time in his life. The ending scene, however, where he crawls home and finally lands in the arms of his father, was just about perfect in my mind. Here he came across as a lost little boy, contrite and ashamed, and the final tableau was very moving. If anything marred the effect, it was that Jonathan Stafford's makeup failed to make him look enough like an old man. Minor, however, and the audience called both principals back repeatedly.

With Daniel we seem to get a characteristically American, open, brash type of personality performing a work that could be set in a remote Biblical time and place; with Nikolaj Hubbe in Square Dance we got a classically trained European dancer performing in a work based on American folk tradition. Both he and Megan Fairchild did a splendid job; and to cap off the long but eventful afternoon we had The Four Seasons to some of Verdi's (I'm afraid tritest) music. This was bracingly done throughout, with especially notable contributions from Ashley Bouder in Fall and Antonio Carmena doing the Ulbricht thing in the same season. Benjamin Millepied slipped in his first combination but otherwise held his own; and in the other seasons I was especially taken by Jared Angle in Spring and Sterling Hyltin in winter - ably flanked by Sean Suozzi and Christan Tworzyanski, a hard-working corps dancer who deserves more exposure. The music under Karoui was also very well done; I really think the City Ballet Orchestra has improved greatly over the past few years.

I haven't seen much ballet of late (I boycotted all performances this past season of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker ), and before Sunday I went to only one other performance this season, where I saw Le Tombeau de Couperin (marvelous opportunity for the corps), Tarentella with Daniel and Megan (exhilarating), Bugaku (weird, faux Japonais crap I hope never to see again), and Sonnambula (also weird, but Hubbe was super, and how did Wendy Whelan hold him without dropping him at the end?). So I was not overexposed, and very much looking forward to this performance. It did not let me down.

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I too saw Daniel Ulbricht make his debut on Sunday matinee in Prodigal Son. Wonderful on many levels. Technically, Danny was beyond anyone I've yet seen in the role, with the exception of Mikail Baryshnikov. The audience gasped over Danny's jumps, turns and rebellious, youthful-faced, Son energy. Acting wise, Danny was quite excellent too, and in time/experience I'm sure he will further explore this role and its music. Danny's Prodigal is already a huge success! It was so great to see him finally take on such a big role.

I also saw Danny's (with Tess Reichlen's) second performance of Prodigal last night. Just as exciting as Danny's first. And Tess was much, much improved over her debut last Sunday. I suspect, for her premiere, she looked it, Tess was extremely nervous, and/or felt under rehearsed.... and the sexy, evil, seductress, Siren is not a natural role for Tess to begin with... but she was, last night, coldly evil enough and beautifully seductive enough to make her role believable and stunning to watch. Then there's her difficult costume to manage, eg, that huge, velvet cape and her very tall hat. There is quite a bit of tricky partnering involved too, but by performance two, last night, Danny, Tess and props worked well together.

Square Dance, on both Sunday's and last night's performances, was brilliantly danced by Megan Fairchild and Nicholai Hubbe, although Hubbe got a bit too wild with energy last night -- understandably, as it was his last Square Dance with NYCB. Overall, Nicholai, as always, was a very handsome, meaty, sexy, a large in style mover to Fairchild's petite stature, technical perfection and lovely, sprightly joyfulness. Not a pairing I'd select, but somehow it worked, definitely bringing out the best in Megan. She has improved a lot in her delivery of Square Dance this season. She now shows the audience how much she loves the challenges of this ballet.

The corps was for the most part, also excellent with sparkling, beautiful execution.

Four Seasons was as always such fun, as the closer ballet for Square Dance and Prodigal last Sunday and last night. I especially loved three of the four frogs, string beans, whatever you call them, the male soloists of Spring. TAngle, Danchig-Waring, Austin Laurent, they were so striking and awe inspiring with one breathlessly gorgeous (line and height) jump after another. The fourth guy, was more the runt of the litter and didn't belong in this fine group of men.

The principals and corps of Four Seasons were all fascinating to watch, such diversity, although Ashley Bouder seemed the most confident with her double fouettes (I think about 7 in a row) along with her overall daring, flashy approach to Fall's technical and *star* demands.

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I saw Daniel Ulbricht's Prodigal Son Tuesday night, and want to add my bravos to those biblically initiated by drb. Comparisons have been made to Baryshnikov in the role and, while these are no doubt warranted, for me, THE Prodigal Son will always be Edward Villella, and in Danny's performance I saw the second coming of Eddie -- from the audience's audible gasp at his first jump to his heartbreaking return home. I too look forward to his increasing mastery of this signature NYCB role, as well as to Teresa Reichlen's powerful Siren.

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Unfortunately, I don't think I have seen Villella in Prodigal Son. But from knowing Eddie at NYCB during his later career, I can well imagine his intensity, powerful athletic ability, and drama.

Who was/were Eddie's Siren(s)?

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Who was/were Eddie's Siren(s)?
Diana Adams was the first, in 1960. Later: Suzanne Farrell, Jillana, Karin von Aroldingen, Gloria Govrin, Patricia Neary.

Wow! He and Karin must hold the record for the longest period of time in that ballet. Karin v.A. joined the company in 1962 and retired, probably still doing the siren (maybe with Barishnikov though I can't remember for sure), in 1984.

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I've got to add my rave to this. I didn't expect it, but Ulbricht's Prodigal was extraordinarily good. The best thing was the way he brought the entire ballet into focus, dramatically and stylistically. It's good to have a youthful Prodigal; the immense energy in the first entrance made his rebellion clear. The choreography seemed to have been made on someone of his fireplug build (was it Lifar?). The final crawl home was likewise in dramatic focus because in such complete contrast to the opening explosion out.

The middle of the ballet was muddled and they'll need to find a siren for him. Neither Kowroski nor Reichlen are suited to this role -- neither has an easy time being sexy; both tend to be a little slack above the waist, not what you want for this. Watching Reichlen and Ulbricht, you'd have though he was doing the seducing half the time. Helene Alexopolous was a great Siren.

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I don't recall seeing Diana Adams in the Siren role in Prodigal, nor Farrell. The best siren I ever saw was Karen Von Aroldingen. She had extraordinary broad shoulders and just looked amazing in the role. She just oozed sexiness and power. I also thought that Darcy did a very good job as well. She also has broad shoulders, sexiness and power. Reichlen was technically fine and I thought she was sexy enough - but her slight long build didn't exude the power that I think is necessary. Her height I thought was a plus. I think the siren needs to tower over and overwhelm the son.

I thought Ulbricht was very good in the role. Not Baryshniko, but very good. I think Woetzel also did a great job in the role as well. Unfortunately I don't remember seeing Villella doing the role.

I am just reading a wonderful book, Barbara Milberg Fisher's "In Balanchine's Company". She relates this wonderful story about Prodigal. Mr. B. was working on the role with Francisco Moncion (aside - I can't imagine him in this role - after only seeing him perform in the 70s - well past the time he should have retired). But of course this was in the early 1950's. There were a number of dancers watching and Mr. B. related a fantastic story of teaching the original role to Lifar. I wont spoil it as I am too lazy to type in the all the paragraphs needed to explain it - so buy the book - it is worth it for the story on pages 56-57 alone. Or just read that part at your local B&N.

I have nothing to do with this book, and I have not finished it - but if you are interested in the very early days of NYCB it is fascinating. Milberg was a soloist with the company. She became a literature professor at City College so the book is very readable. I highly recommend it.

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