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NYCB Spring 2008: Week 4

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baroque to "Jazz"

That evil insert again: Ashley Bouder was replaced.

Her replacement in Brandenburg was Megan Fairchild, whose partner in BC3 was Gonzalo Garcia. Another Boal role for the ex-San Franciscan, and, as with Opus 19, another success. The pair was a beautiful match. Ms. Fairchild continues to grow this season, in coordination of upper with lower body, yielding a more flowing stream of motion through her body. Yet quite different from the more Mariinsky flow shown by that too-infrequently seen Sterling Hyltin. Her greater variation in facial expressions tonight was also pleasing, perhaps aided by Gonzalo's engaging partnering, or maybe due to the differing choreographic demands from Robbins than from Balanchine? While Mr. Garcia doesn't remind me of Boal, in fact I got a momentary sense of a very different former guest of the Company, Jorge Donn, Gonzalo's charismatic "look" and interaction with his partners suggest he'll be an artistic and box-office hit in quite a range of Robbins works.

Janie Taylor did dance tonight, warmly partnered by Philip Neal in the Andante from BC2. She seemed strong, dancing as if a river made of ribbon, every exotic moment connected: unfurling beauty in motion. Her arabesque is not a single thing, not trapped in any moment, but your heart remembers it went by.

The Corps and soloists all seemed to love dancing this ballet tonight. Maurice Kaplow's just-right conducting must be praised for contributing to this happy state of affairs. If it is true that Robbins the year before his passing wasn't his most original, that he rehashed a lot of his old ideas here, well, he had a lot of good old ideas, and these dancers must have found they felt as good to dance in this work as anywhere else. (The evening had opened with a film of Mr. Robbins dancing, in 1993. His voice over spoke of how he loved to choreograph.) The four couples brought great life to the Menuetto-Polacca from BC1, and in the finale from BC6 it was especially interesting to see Janie Taylor dance allegro: the lightness of a carefree butterfly.

In the middle was In The Night, with piano soloist Cameron Grant. Rachel Rutherford* (Amethyst) and Tyler Angle were first out, the freshest lovers of the three couples. Early in their pas, in her lyric swirling, the back of her gown flipped up and stayed caught in her hair. TAngle, as he's sometimes called, gallantly untangled the dress at first chance, to the audible pleasure of the full-house. Youthful exploration was followed by the more knowing couple, dressed by Sir Tone (Dowell) in more earthly colors, Sara A Mearns and Charles Askegard. No need to experiment, so theirs was the most classical choreography. As men retire all around him, how fortunate the Company still has Mr. Askegard, a man who clearly relishes partnering beautiful women. And he certainly seemed to enjoy showing off the Divine Sara! Experienced as these lovers may have been, the new was still very much with them, as shown by the startling lift as he carries her off. Then come the bickering long-weds, Wendy Whelan and Jared Angle. Always scrapping and kvetching, yet when the chips are down, she knows every one of his buttons to push, and they all work.

N Y Export: Opus Jazz completed the evening. No doubt about the commitment of the dancers to this work, given the film they've made of it. And it showed in their dancing. There is an especially powerful moment in the film, where Rachel Rutherford and Craig Hall dance a parting PdD. Here, his back to us, she perched on his shoulders, he kneels to one knee and she slides off. They exit to opposite wings. This ballet gives Georgina Pascoguin a chance to star. And does she ever!

It was great to see the house packed, and the crowd so enthusiastic, granting many curtains through the evening. Just two quibbles. 1. That music just isn't jazz, any more than aspartame is sugar. 2. The rarely seen Mr. Hall was in splendid form. Why on earth has he been replaced in a forthcoming Afternoon of a Faun partnering Ms. Taylor? Last time 'round that pair delivered the hottest Faun I've ever seen.

*Ms. Rutherford has an extraordinary video on NYCB's site in which she speaks of working with Jerry Robbins.

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