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Sunday 2/15 and Tuesday 2/17

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I rarely get to performances these days, but on Sunday and Tuesday I got to see some wonderful dancing and beautiful choreography and practically floated out of the theater.

Of course, since Stravinsky Violin Concerto was first up, and I obviously love that ballet (that's what drew me back to Balanchine) I could have floated out right after that ballet. The entire cast was just wonderful and I was grateful to see Sterling Hyltin and Ask LaCour in Aria II -- it's been many years since the casting of both of those roles was that good. Sterling Hyltin showed a real depth of feeling that I hadn't seen in her before, and her dancing (line, musicality, footwork) was excellent. Ask LaCour was a stalwart partner. He was not as sharp as a Balanchine-trained dancer would be in the Toccata, but in the "Adagio" section (Aria II) he was beautiful.

Maria Kowroski was startling in Aria I - her backbends (which I call the "spider-walk") were clean and looked natural if that could be possible. She also did a penchee where her legs were absolutely vertical. Absolutely. Marcovici was quite adequate, which, IMHO, is quite good for him.

The corps should also be commended for an excellent performance - energy and exuberance with attention to the incredibly detailed feet and hands.

Speaking of the corps, this was Kyle Froman's last performance, and he was in each ballet, excellent as usual. In West Side Story, I swear that Andrew Veyette, singing "Cool," said "Easy, Kyle" (instead of "Easy, Action"). At the end of that ballet, when the men corps members took their boy, they all gestured to him, and the whole cast cheered when the curtain came down. I'll leave it to others to discuss La Valse and West Side Story.

Tuesday's performance, the 21st Century section was uneven but interesting. I had never seen Slice to Sharp and found it interesting, best of course for the quality of dancing. If the choreography to Hallelujah Junction had been set to other music, I might have liked it, but I really dislike the Adams. Melissa Barak's ballet was charming to the eyes and ears, the dancers were lovely, it was not earthshaking.

But what a difference was Mercurial Manoeuvres! Right away, Wheeldon's visual sense takes over and you're in another world. He responded to the music so rightly, including the humor. I thought it was beautiful and beautifully danced. I remembered the moment at the end where Miranda Weese injured her ankle... and was glad this went flawlessly. Whoever set the ballet chose the right dancers, and did an excellent job. I have never been a fan of Aby Stafford's, but she was just beautiful and unaffected in this ballet, merging the technical and the artistic.

In each ballet this evening and on Sunday, all the men were better than they've been in many years. Every single one in every single ballet. One of the four soloists in Mercurial Manoeuvres, I am not sure of his name, just threw himself (and flung his head and curls around) into it so totally that the word "abandon" came to mind. It was wonderful to see.

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