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NYCB Spring 2008: Weeks 6 & 7

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where have NYCB viewers gone on this Forum? Last week, there wasn't even a week 6 thread! Yet I personally saw two very well-attended programs that week.

At any rate, it just doesn't feel fair to the dancers to ignore a program that featured six debuts.

OK, so the first five were in Ballet-Master-in-Chief Peter Martins' River of Light. A very glamorous Rebecca Krohn, with Amar Ramasar, both in black, were the first couple. This 10 year old work is very typical of the choreographer, reminding me of those entangled twisted metal rings puzzles that were popular when I was a kid. You had to manipulated them till you got them to come apart, or perhaps form a simple chain. Looking at Mr. Balanchine's Agon Pretzel PdD is rather like watching a master magician solving such a puzzle, and obviously Mr. Martins is much attuned to this sort of dance. It is just that all I usually see in his work is more like a cleverly printed instruction sheet. This dance looks like a sequence of puzzles. The second pair out were in red, Erica Pereira and Jonathan Stafford. Ms. Pereira looks like a Balanchine ballet waiting to happen, and I hope we see her in such soon. The third pair, in white, were Kaitlyn Gilliland and Robert Fairchild (not a debut, he replaced Tyler Angle's announced debut, as Mr. Angle had two more major performances in the evening's program). But something special happened when Ms. Gilliland and Mr. Ramasar danced together. Of course they had the work's main duet, and it seemed more inspired. When she saw him a look of awe seemed to fill her eyes, a sense that something new and mysterious was about to befall her. Their pairing conveyed a feeling of wonder and discovery, and the choreography eventually expanded beyond them, as other dancers joined in, leading to the ballet's finale. Ms. Gilliland is really flourishing this season, what with a splendid earlier debut in Robbins' Piano Pieces. Kaitlyn brought composer/conductor Charles Wuorinen on stage, and placed him right between herself and Erica. Lucky man!

The final debut, and surely a major one, was of Tyler Angle in Ben Millepied's role, partnering Wendy Whelan in Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH. With 19 dancers, this is the Bolshoi master's largest work for City Ballet, and bears comparison to his evening length Bolshoi masterwork, Bright Spring. As in that work, and on a smaller scale in his NYCB Russian Seasons, we see the choreographer filling the stage with dancers, and every one is worth watching, no dancer-as-scenery or wallpaper, each an individual, yet there is never a doubt where our attention should be. Truly corps as dancers, not decoration. When soloists are the main focus, the corps amplifies or resonates or serves as counterpoint. A couple of other choreographers who don't seem to waste a dancer would be Balanchine and Ashton? The outer movements are centered on Ashley Bouder and her suitors Joaquin De Luz and Gonzalo Garcia (what an addition to the Company!). Is this the first major work made on Ms. Bouder? Ratmansky certainly can see and challenge her! Mr. Angle, an ideal partner, was superb with Ms. Whelan, and his technical leaps forward, already seen this season, served him well in the virtuosity created on Ben. At the beginning of their adagio movement, three pairs of corps dancers first occupy the stage alone. One by one, a dancer will have some little problem, and the others come to that dancer's aid, and the group is sympathetic. Ratmansky's dancers are a community, they care for each other. He seems a very human choreographer, in that way a little like Ashton.

The program began with Wheeldon's Rococo Variations (I still don't get it), and third was Bigonzetti's Oltremare (that I really didn't want to see again, but I was wrong).

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Thanks, drb. I've been meaning to post. Not even sure I'm posting on the right week*, but here we go.

I agree with you on Rococo Variations. It was terribly boring. The costumes are downright gorgeous, and they should be put in climate-controlled storage until there's a ballet worthy of them. I felt that Wheeldon had mentally and emotionally packed his bag and just threw together steps to fulfill his NYCB obligation. Truly lacking in inspiration. Better luck with Morphoses, Chris!

As Concerto DSCH unrolled, I found myself thinking, "Well, Ratmansky must have been observing rehearsals for the Robbins ballets," because it reminded me of Interplay and its ilk. Then there were a few passages for Bouder (used, unfortunately, as an ingenue) that looked like "Let's see how fast she can dance." I missed a lot of what drb described, and look forward to seeing it again. I also found the corps men's costumes -- unitards that cut off a mid-thigh -- singularly unattractive. The women's costumes of a dress with contrasting underskirt that hits the knee, were better, but somehow unflattering on some of the dancers. Maybe we'll get photos that show it more clearly, but for now, I guess this will have to do.

I saw the other cast of River of Light, with Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle as the central couple, with Savannah Lowery, Sterling Hyltin,

Ask la Cour and Robert Fairchild. I'll never love this ballet, but after Rococo V's, River rose in my estimation.

I enjoyed watching the dancers in Oltremare. Bigonzetti's ambitions may have got the better of him, as it grows increasingly repetitious in the last third. I don't know if there's much of a life for this ballet, whether other companies (including, perhaps modern companies?) have any interest in staging it, but for now, it shows us that these dancers have an aptitude for sustained dark, dramatic dancing.

*I'm not, so I'll expand the headline of this thread to include weeks 6 & 7.

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