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NYCB at the Kennedy Center

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Did anyone else attend? I watched Serenade, visited the gift shop and bar during Moves, and rather enjoyed Symphony in C (nice to see Abi Stafford looking so strong). Impressions?

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DD saw the show last night and reports that she's seen Serenade almost too much and didn't see anything unusually exciting last night. But she does love the music. She wishes that she had visited the gift shop (too young for the bar) during "Moves," and says she doesn't really like dancing with no music (inside joke -- anyone that knows her will understand this). She also enjoyed Symphony in C, as she has not seen it for a few years, and felt it was definitely worth seeing.

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I wonder when I will arrive at the point where I feel I've seen Serenade 'almost too much?'

Unfortunately, I have two tickets for Sunday's matinee which I will be unable to use (second tier.) Email me if you'd like them.

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Mike, I did see the program this afternoon, and I thought Carousel and The Concert were very well danced. Damien Woetzel, as we know, has the technique of a man half his age; Tiler Peck, at 19, probably is half his age, but they were both fine actors and looked good together. I've seen just enough Wheeldon that this looked like Wheeldon to me, and I was caught up in it immediately and wanted to see it again, and absorb more of the choreography, as soon as it was over.

Not so with "Zakouski." The word means "appetizers," of course; didn't someone say it's about three too many? The folk touches were nice, but overall I found this pretty dull, and far too long. The audience did give it a good hand.

I don't get to see NYCB in the black and white ballets nearly often enough, but when I do nowadays they never look as taut and energetic as they do in my imagination. The dancing lacks snap, crackle and pop. There were individual exceptions in "Agon" this afternoon: Reichlin in the Bransle Gay and Bransle Double, and Evans and Whelan for the most part. Certainly these three and others gave committed performances, but too often dancers couldn't quite fill out the shapes, and one young woman looked scared to death. Would that Villella would coach this up north; I'll bet it gets a great performance in Florida. I don't know if this one was under-rehearsed, or if the company was just tired from their long season, or both.

I haven't seen "The Concert" in 20 years, so I don't know what a great performance of it looks like, but I did love this one. Sterling Hyltin told an interviewer not long ago that she hoped to dance this ballet, I thought she'd be a natural in it, and in this her only 2nd chance, I thought she was. But as with "Carousel," everyone onstage seemed engaged. How could anyone not have a good time in a ballet this fun?

So, it was very good to see this company again, but for once at the Kennedy Center it would be nice to think we're seeing them dancing Balanchine at their best.

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I was at the matinee performance yesterday and can offer some agreements and dissension from other comments. (Perhaps dirac or Mme. Hermine can link Sarah Kaufman’s two reviews from the Washington Post.) Overall, I felt it was an overall impressive performance that demonstrated the tremendous depth for which that the NYCB company is known. First, I thought Serenade was danced beautifully, as clear and crisp as would be expected by the NYCB performing Balanchine anytime. There was no notice of any lack of coordination by the Corps, the famous turnout to first as sharp as ever. Dancing along with Janie Taylor and Ashley Boulder, Kaityln Gilliland proved that she will not be in the Corps for much longer. Confirmed by this beautiful performance, agreeing with Juliet’s comment, I also believe the point when I’ve seen Serenade too much is still some time off.

My major dissension from previous comments is regarding Moves. Stripped of music, the piece becomes truly a dancer’s performance. I admit that the Robbins ballet is more challenging to watch and is more appealing to those who can be willing to engage closely with the dance and appreciate the technical virtuosity required for up to 12 dancers to perform the intricate synchronized movements in the absence of musical cues. Contrary to what others observed as the piece moving slowly, given the absence of the musical cues, I actually think it moves quite briskly. I’m reasonably certain the dancers probably felt that way also. Another testament to the depth of the company, most of the women dancers were from the Corps, with no women principals in the performance. Kaitlyn Gilliland stood out once again and in the first pas de deux, Teresa Reichlen from the local DC area was simply sparkling. (I would have liked to have seen her perform Agon alongside Wendy Whelan in the other program.) Given a company whose reputation is built on its musicality, in this rarely performed piece, it was fascinating to see just how innately musical they can truly be.

Of the three pieces, Symphony in C may have been the only performance that confirmed some of the other criticisms. In this, I too saw some raggedness in the Corps. While some have attributed it to perhaps being tired at the end of a long season, I wondered if it also may have had something to do with the Kennedy stage being somewhat smaller for the number of dancers and choreography. The headlines to Kaufman’s review this morning was that “everything sparkled except the stars.” To some degree, I also felt this was evident in this performance. The principle dancers turned in performances that was perhaps without flaw, but also seemed just a bit flat. The outstanding exception was Gonzalo Garcia. Paired with Megan Fairchild in the third movement, both his stage personality and his quick, long floating jumps gives great hope for many future appearances. Overall, the performance still provided the distinct pleasure of watching NYCB perform a Balanchine masterpiece.

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kfw, thanks for such a fine review. I didn't see the Sat. matinee, but they really hit their marks on Sunday. Total commitment from everybody for the closing performance. Like you, I remember Agon as having being danced more crisply in the past. But their "softer" style was so consistent (at least on Sunday!) that I wonder if it is being deliberately coached that way now. Like a different way of interpreting the piece.

The folks in NY are so lucky to see this company 23 weeks in the year! What a fine way to wrap up a great winter season of dance here in DC.

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The principle dancers turned in performances that was perhaps without flaw, but also seemed just a bit flat. The outstanding exception was Gonzalo Garcia. Paired with Megan Fairchild in the third movement, both his stage personality and his quick, long floating jumps gives great hope for many future appearances.

I enjoyed your review, dancesmith, although to my mind the principals in Symphony in C were anything but flat. Sarah Mearns in particular in the 2nd movement was everything I'd hoped for, luminous and grand and self-contained, and I loved the way she really looked at Askegard. I agree that Garcia was terrific, and it was a special pleasure to see Fairchild charming and dazzling after making little impression in the inferior Zakouski the previous afternoon.

Any program with the moving Serenade and the exhilarating Symphony in C is a favorite program of mine, no matter what's in between, and both have such hummable scores and lovely costumes that Moves isn't a bad choice. When the Merce Cunningham Company performs, the dancers must be counting like crazy, but except during partnered movements, if their timing falters, how often would we notice? These dancers accomplished an even more impressive feat, and there are hints of emotional drama in this work as well.

Serenade is so lyrical and finally elegiac that I always forget how much fleet footwork it contains. Phillip Neal was his unfailingly elegant self, and I won't stretch my paltry powers of dance description further on the other lovely protagonists except to quote with admiration for them Balanchine's rebuttal to those who called his ballets abstract: "how much story you want?"

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