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NYCB Winter 2008: week 6


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Thursday, Feb 7, 2008

Megan Fairchild and Benjamin Millepied were the leads in tonight's opener, Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fee". While they danced very well together (admittedly Mr. Millepied is not yet fully back to his old technical level), the partnering fine and Ms. Fairchild continuing to show some of her new level of complexity, and some delightful lightness, there was a certain lack of story. But. As the end neared, from the moment she denied him her hand, and two corps women pulled him back, away from her, and the stage cleared for their final PdD, the story happened. This heartbreaking duet of eternal separation, of a future of loneliness, as Stravinsky meditated on Tschaikovsky's None But the Lonely Heart, brought an unending sensation of chills, it was both intense and deeply moving. Brava, Bravo, and thank you. Faye Arthurs and Alina Dronova were the beautiful soloists, and I was happy to see my favorite Apprentice, Garnetta Gonzalez, in the corps.

After the intermission, Ballet-Master-In-Chief Martins' The Chairman Dances began as Kaitlyn Gilliland led out the Red Brigade (the eight tall women), followed by the Purple Brigade of eight smaller women. Mrs. Mao was danced brilliantly by Abi Stafford, in blue and white, with red shoes.

Then followed the new dance by Christopher Wheeldon, Rococo Variations, to Tschaikovsky's score (Fred Zlotkin, the orchestra's First Cello was the soloist, Paul Mann was the evening's conductor). After Sara A. Mearns was joined by her partner Adrian Danchig-Waring (who has danced frequently with Mr. Wheeldon's company), and quickly by the other pair, Sterling Hyltin and Giovanni Villalobos, the two couples began dancing in mirror-images to one another. Eventually the couples assumed individuality. Mostly there were duets. The first one of extended length was for Hyltin/Villalobos. Ms. Hyltin was very vivacious, and Mr. Villalobos both as a soloist and a partner may have well been the biggest news of this ballet. Toward the end came the most extended duet for Mearns/D-W. This one seemed more serious, with a tinge of the tragic, and even an Odette/Siegfried moment. As the ballet concluded the two couples were, as early on, dancing the same steps. But not in mirror, as both couples now faced in the same direction. The 20 minute ballet was very enthusiastically received.

The program concluded with Mr. Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. Jennifer Tinsley-Williams led the First Campaign (the baton part), and Savannah Lowery, the Second. Daniel Ulbricht supplied the flash for the Third, but after his magnificent Prodigal Son I want to see him in more dimensional roles too... Ashley Bouder was ON, which means total joy. But so was Liberty Bell(e)'s Capitan, Stephen Hanna. He was terrific, and not only in the audience's eyes: when Ms. Bouder had the chance she shot a congratulatory smile at him that would have even thrilled Baryshnikov!

An evening that began with sublime sorrow concluded with divine joy.

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Last night, I thought that there was no chemisrty between Benjamin Millepied and Megan Fairchild. Divertimento From "Las Baiser de la Fee seems to be a Balanchine ballet that is tired and should be put into pasture. I was seating in the 3rd ring and from up there, the corps was very loud in their landings. Hopefully when the State Theater is re-done, the sound traveling from the stage will be taken into consideration.

PM's ballet, "The Chairman Dances" was visually lovely in terms of the costumes, but once again, he takes a few steps and repeats them throughout the ballet. Nothing original.

Wheeldon's ballet was beautiful, romantic and spot on. It is wonderful to see Giovanni Villalobas moving up. He is the kind of dancer I love to see. Smallish in stature, but takes up the entire stage. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. When I saw him last year in "Square Dance", I knew that PM had his eyes on him.

Stars and Stripes is always a crowd pleaser. I love the male regiment. Ashley Bouder and Stephen Hanna were terrific.

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My reaction to the Wheeldon ballet last night was that it was fluent, pretty but totally unmemorable. Very few choreographers have Wheeldon's command of the classical idiom but I found it like many Richard Tanner ballets. There is nothing wrong with them, they look nice, the steps fit the music but have nothing to add to the music and you forget the whole thing five minutes after the curtain falls. I also felt that the solo cellist did not have a great night and flubbed several notes (lots of knotty scale work in this piece).

My other strong reaction is "Oh, my God, is Sara Mearns gorgeous or what?". Not just the lovely stage face with the wide-set eyes and high cheekbones but the creamy phrasing and lush movements that are fully filled out. Frankly, merely as an excuse to watch her for several minutes at a time, the ballet seemed worth it.

I also wonder if the ballerina role in the final pas de deux section of "Stars and Stripes" has ever been better performed than by Ashley Bouder. Insouciance, attack, technical command and sheer, overwhelming joy in movement radiated throughout. She seemed to be having a wonderful time up there and it radiated througout the entire house.

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I was seating in the 3rd ring and from up there, the corps was very loud in their landings. Hopefully when the State Theater is re-done, the sound traveling from the stage will be taken into consideration.

The complaint (from the New York City Opera) has always been that NOT ENOUGH sound reaches the audience from the stage.

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drb, you are such a wit that I can't tell whether your reference to Wheeldon's "Rocco Variations" is simply a typo or some sly allusion to yesterday's raid by the authorities on the Gambino family.

Thank you, Farrell Fan. I assure you that I'm purely witless, and have corrected the typo. Is there a Witless Protection Program?

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Thursday, Feb 7, 2008

Stravinsky meditated on Tschaikovsky's None But the Lonely Heart, brought an unending sensation of chills,

For some reason I thought that None But the Lonely Heart was used in Suite 3, in the first or second section. I used to not like that ballet until they got to the Theme and Variation section and the gauze lifted, but now I miss it!

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