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NYCB 21 June 2 pm, 21 June 8 pm, and 22 June 3 pm

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June 21/2 pm

Dances at a Gathering

Y Borree (pink) M Fairchild (apricot) S Mearns (green)

R Rutherford (mauve) A Stafford (blue)

J Angle (purple) A Hendrickson (brick) J De Luz (brown)

A Ramasar (green) J Stafford (blue)

Other Dances

Julie Kent (ABT)-Gonzalo Garcia

The Concert

S Hyltin, A Veyette, G Muller

We were able to see some NYCB working rehearsals (19th and 20th) before our ticketed performances; one of the rehearsal works was Dances at a Gathering. What a treat! What a beautiful work!

Having memories of original cast members in the work - dancers with vivid personalities, who would never be confused with anyone else - I found the cast overall, of June 21st, outstanding.

I found particularly fine dancing in the linchpin of the piece, Joaquin De Luz, and I enjoyed as well the fine partnering and nuanced musicality of Jared Angle.

Yvonne Borree, a dancer who has appeared to me in other works as sometimes mannered, I found in this work to be entirely convincing and committed.

Rutherford was totally cool in her control and savoir–faire.

Sara Mearns, whose Lilac Fairy I remember as first-rate, looked to me, in Dances…, uneasy in the shoulder line.

This is a ballet where I paid more attention to the choreographic text than to the dancers, whom I hardly know. I was really impressed with the work at NYCB.

But I couldn’t have ‘seen’ the choreography if the dancers hadn’t shown it to me.

Ergo, the dancers were excellent.

Other Dances

We lucked out on seeing one of the two guest performances of Julie Kent in Other Dances. (Serendipity- not planned).

This was truly a memorable occasion to see Ms Kent in this fine-lined and lovely piece made in 1976 by Jerome Robbins for artists he admired, Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

The occasion was enhanced by the partner of Ms Kent, Gonzalo Garcia, NYCB principal, who joined the company in 2007 (from SF Ballet, I think).

The muscular, virile Mr Garcia complemeted the partnership with Ms Kent like a yin/yang of strength/fragility. The fragility of Ms Kent, without a trace of a superfluous gesture or movement, created lines of transcendent purity.

This pas de deux reaffirmed my belief in values, that I, among many, view as important and embedded in classical dance.

The program ended with Robbins’ The Concert, his tribute to Chopin lovers and under-rehearsed dancers everywhere, exemplified by Saul Steinberg’s wonderful frontdrop and Irene Sharaff’s witty costumes.

Clotilde Otranto was the guest conductor.

June 21, 8 pm


Wendy Whelan

Tom Gold (Gigue)

Philip Neal

D Abergel, S Beskow, D Johnson, G Muller (Menuet)

Le Tombeau de Couperin

Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fee

Megan Fairchild Joaquin De Luz

Faye Arthurs, Alina Dronova

La Sonnambula

Coquette Sara Mearns

Baron Amar Ramasar

Poet Sebastien Marcovici

Sleepwalker Yvonne Borree

Pas de Deux Ana Sophia Scheller Vincent Paradiso

Harlequin Daniel Ulbricht

This was an evening where all the works (all Balanchine) were interesting to me, no matter who was dancing them; but especially the two middle works, which I was least familiar with; although I had seen both before.

Whelan’s Preghiera had her unique signature of creating a crystalline abstraction of the subject at hand and offering it to the audience without fuss or bother.

Tom Gold gave what seems to be the definitive interpretation of the Gigue among current casts.

Philip Neal in the fourth section (Theme and Variations) danced with a verve and energy that seemed freshly minted compared to some other performances of his I have seen.

The quartet of SAB students in the Preghiera section appeared to me to be a very accomplished lot.

Fortunately I saw an hour’s rehearsal of Le Tombeau conducted by Rosemary Dunleavy on the 19th, which helped me become familiar with the structure of the piece: two quadrilles (of four couples each) dancing in unison or echoing the movements of the opposite quadrille as they proceed with Ravel’s music through the 18th century forms of the Prelude, Forlane, Menuet and Rigaudon. Enjoyable performances from all. What extraordinary dancers are in the corps!

The performance of “Le Tombeau…” on the 21st was an exhilarating experience.

The work that thrilled me the most was the Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss. The final scene evokes so much pathos and serves to justify the size of the corps de ballet involved; for it is the corps that creates the conditions for the mystery and the inevitability of the parting. A wonderful cast with excellent leads.

La Sonnambula used to strike me, in my earlier years, as a disjointed work.

Now, it appears to me to tell a dark tale in a perfectly natural way.

The orchestra was led by guest conductor Andrews Sill.

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I also saw the matinee and was very impressed by de Luz in Dances. Mearns, not so much, she really overplayed the flirtation waltz and that made her seem a little crazy. On the other hand, I think it is a good role for Mearns, who sometimes seems to heavy trouble with quick changes in direction. There is a lot of that in Dances and perhaps, it will improve that part of her dancing. Abi Stafford looked relaxed, happy and stylish. And the tosses in the big waltz were terrific - Rutherford, Stafford and Fairchild are all so light and Jared Angle is so strong that the girls went flying. Fairchild even seemed a little surprised by her flight. Angle is looking terrific and the duet with de Luz was one of the high points of the piece.

I didn't care for Kent or Garcia in Other Dances. She has a very low sight line and it just makes her look droopy. Everything was on one level in Kent's dancing, which made for a very unintersting performance. Garcia pushed too hard at some points and just looked sloppy at others. He is very heavily muscled now and dances heavily, I wonder if a few years with NYCB will remake his body as it did for de Luz.

Sterling Hyltin was much improved in The Concert. She now brings out the humor as well as the dance values. And I loved Rachel Piskin in the Mistake Waltz - her face and her body language make everything even funnier. Muller has been having a great season and her wife is priceless.

All in all, it was a great afternoon.

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.......Garcia pushed too hard at some points and just looked sloppy at others. He is very heavily muscled now and dances heavily, I wonder if a few years with NYCB will remake his body as it did for de Luz.

Garcia seems to me to have a low center of gravity. That could be changed somewhat with the right kind of classes.

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I hadn’t seen the Robbins/Chopin ballets in years – how refreshing to see them again!

I have really enjoyed Yvonne Borree’s dancing this past week, on Wednesday with Damian Woetzel, and in Saturday’s Dances. She seems to be letting go.

Whereas Joaquin de Luz danced beautifully, I didn’t feel he really fit the easy-going Robbins style in Dances. Too classical!

On the other hand, I thought Garcia had a great energy in Other Dances.

And The Concert - just so much fun. Particularly enjoyed Tom Gold, as always.

The Robbins choreography brings out a different feeling from the NYCB dancers. The movement of the upper body, and relaxed arms, is a great counterpoint to some of the precise classicism of the Balanchine ballets (which I felt the corps didn’t always “get” last season – ie. Serenade.) Working some of these ballets consistently back into the repertory would really play up NYCB’s strengths. In years past, some of the Robbins style of movement (as captured in the videos they have been playing during the Festival), was absorbed into the Balanchine ballets as well.

In Sunday’s performance of Goldberg, I thought Wendy Whelan and Gonzalo Garcia partnered very well together. And I enjoyed Sara Mearns performance here, as well as in Dances at a Gathering, where I thought her dancing was sharp and precise, and yet lyrical.

Also, Amar Ramasar has been exciting to see.

Fun to see Wendy Whelan again in the second ballet, Brahms/Handel, with the energetic Ashley Bouder bright as ever.

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NYCB June 22 3 pm

The Goldberg Variations

Part I

Abbi Stafford Megan Fairchild

Tyler Angle Amar Ramasar

Adam Hendrickson Andrew Veyette

Part II

Rachel Rutherford Jared Angle

Sara Mearns Stephen Hanna

Wendy Whelan Gonzalo Garcia


Ashler Bouder Philip Neal

Wendy Whelan Andrew Veyette

Jason Fowler Amar Ramasar

Rebecca Krohn Teresa Reichlen

Georgina Pascoguin Tyler Peck Ana Sophia Scheller

Adrian Danchig-Waring David Prottas Giovanni Villlobos

The Goldberg Variations is a work that requires enormous concentration to absorb its musical and choreographic intricacies. It’s a work that deserves several viewings before releasing its wealth of architectonic construction and linearity in development. I really enjoyed this rare for me viewing of it and wish I could see it several times more in rapid succession.

The opening Theme led by Kaitlyn Gilliland and Jason Fowler was followed by the variations of Abi Stafford and Megan Fairchild and their partners. While both impressed me in past performances, both have grown in their command of stage virtues: Stafford in spontaneity, Fairchild in variety of expression.

The variations of Part II were equally rich in the diversity of dance gifts offered.

I have to single out as my favorite the pairing of Rachel Rutherford and Jared Angle. What gifts!

My profoundest admiration is reserved for the ensemble dancers (What is it? three dozen in this work?) who create magic, so easily, on the stage to the sounds of Bach and the steps of Robbins.

Brahms/Handel is a work I had never seen before. I benefited from watching an hour-long rehearsal of it on the 20th of June. Let me tell you, it was exciting to see, first thing, Ashley Bouder, claiming the stage as her own, from the second she steps on it. Her rehearsal was as exciting as her performance. No holding back.

Whelan and Veyette were great in the intricacies of Tharp’s dance-making.

The surprise of the piece was the effervescence in the dancing of Philip Neal.

Anyway, the blue team (Robbins) and the green team (Tharp) dance it out until the end when they merge into a close-color-match whole. Great fun.

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