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Week 1 Performances: April 28-May 3

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If this is the wrong place I apologize. I just saw Coppelia. I'm interested in everyone's opinions.

My question - there are 2 dancers who danced Jesterettes who don't seem to be on the roster. Kristen Segin & Callie Bachman. Who are they? Or am I just wrong?

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Vipa, I know that Kristen is an apprentice, and am guessing Callie is now one as well.

Thank you for the information, nice role for an apprentice. BTW of the four I thought Lydia Wellington was outstanding. Again, I am interested in everyones thoughts (I suspect it will be a different topic strand)

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I won't be able to see the performances, but I did get to read the review from the New York Times, by Alastair Macaulay, of course. Here's the link:


Mr. Macaulay seems to be unable to say something nice about a dancer without saying something negative immediately thereafter. Here are a few examples:

"Janie Taylor is wonderfully right for the reckless and death-bound heroine of “La Valse.” She should by now, however, be presenting the role with more incisiveness and elegance."

"Barocco” was led by Wendy Whelan, who first danced as a City Ballet apprentice 25 years ago. Both the first and second movements showed at times her most admirable qualities of scale and authority, but intermittently; and in the third movement her arms were sometimes clawlike. This role, anyway, like that in “Agon,” calls for more sheer fullness of line than she can provide."

"Sterling Hyltin, beside him, could be a paragon of beauty and skill if only a similar slickness does not start to characterize her, as it sometimes threatens to do."

I think if I was in NYCB I would never read his reviews...even when he's complimenting dancers he finds a way to insult them in the same or next sentence. I'm glad we can rely on dance bloggers as a second source of info. Hopefully other BTers will be watching NYCB this season and share their experiences with us!

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I saw Coppelia on Wednesday. Megan Fairchild was wonderful. I hadn't seen her for a couple of years and remember being not taken with her, well times change. Her first solo was so musical and lovely that it set a wonderful tone and expectation for the rest of the ballet (that she then fulfilled). For me, in respect to her performance, there was a second here and there that was not perfection, but I don't think you will find a better overall performance of the role. Moments of the wedding pas were heart stoppingly beautiful. She really carried the ballet.

I liked De Luz and La Fosse made a very sympathetic Dr. Coppelius.

I've never seen the NYCB Coppelia before, and found the character dances weird. Some mighty tall peasants!!

I thought Kathryn Morgan lovely in the Hours, but was disappointed in Dawn & Prayer. Reichlen seemed strangely unco-ordinated in Dawn. Her upper body didn't match her legs. Krohn didn't seem to get Prayer. She didn't have the amplitude and fullness of movement that the music asks for. I did enjoy Faye Arthurs Spinner and Bar and Hendrick in War (which seemed very Monty Pythonish to me).

I really enjoyed the ballet and the main revelation to me was Megan Fairchild. I fell in love with her (my husband did too). Anyone else go? I'd love to hear.

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I saw Coppelia on Wednesday. Megan Fairchild was wonderful. I hadn't seen her for a couple of years and remember being not taken with her, well times change.

Has anyone else something to report about NYCB so far?

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I went to the Sat matinee. I was very impressed with the performance of Concerto Barocco. Wendy was excellent. Ellen Bar was wonderful. Albert Evans looked better than I have seen him in years. The Tschai pdd was good, but not incredible. Scheller was wonderful, but she kept the bravura tricks to a minimum. She did manage to throw in a triple turn. Garcia stumbled at the end, but managed to avoid falling over. He seemed to leave out or modify the steps that I have seen others perform in this role. For me the highlight was Janie Taylor in La Valse. She was incredible. Every second she is on stage is mesmerizing. Danny Ulbrict induced gasps in his high flying leaps in Symphony in 3 Movements. Abi Stafford and Jared Angle were excellent in the pdd.

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I went to the Coppelia today. I was dismayed to see the rows and rows of empty seats, especially in the fourth ring. Usually a matinee like this would be teeming with moms and kids, but not today. Too bad because it was overall a delightful afternoon of dancing, especially Tiler Peck's Swanilda. She looks a bit like Patty McBride. She started off a bit brittle but came into her own in the second act, when she became believable both as a lifeless doll and a mischievous girl. The instantaneous changes she would make from dancing to lifeless freezing were a delight to see. Andrew Veyette I thought was only okay as Franz. I remember Herman Cornejo and Marcelo Gomes making more of this role at the ABT. On the other hand I was happy to see how much mime Balanchine preserved -- I imagine he and Danilova learned it when they were at the Mariinsky.

The NYCB production is candy box cute. This is a great intro to ballet for kids. Too bad the economy seems to be hitting the ballet companies. :(

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I attended Opening Night and Friday night; the house was packed for each performance.

Friday night's performance (reviewed in today's NYT) was simply outstanding. "Divertimento No. 15" was danced beautifully; I especially loved Tiler Peck, but everyone from Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette, to Sterling Hyltin and the (wonderful)Tyler Angle and Amar Ramasar were excellent. If you haven't seen "Firebird" with Maria Kowroski, please check casting and try to get a ticket immediately. Yes, she's that terrific in this role. A special shout out goes to Dena Abergel, a longtime corps member (and a personal favorite), who is the very essence of the warm and welcoming princess/queen in this role.

The middle ballet in this program, "After the Rain" was the highlight of the evening.

Let me get my biases out in the open straight away: I am a huge Wendy Whelan fan, and have been since I first spotted her in the corps so many years ago. I also love Arvo Part (the music in this ballet) and Christopher Wheeldon (the choreographer). Chris just knows Wendy

and you can clearly see this in the ballet. The pas de deux in this ballet was originally made on Wendy and the irreplaceable Jock Soto. Friday night it was danced by Wendy and Craig Hall (although it was a debut for Craig at NYCB, he danced this with Wendy for "Morphoses" -- Chris's company). As a special treat NYCB is (finally) showing the entire "After the Rain" -- not just the pas de deux. In part one, Teresa Reichlen (another favorite) and Jason Fowler, as well as Savannah Lowery (subbing for Kaitlyn Gilliland) and the stellar Adrian Danchig-Waring were all terrific.

Part two is the pas de deux, and although I've seen this dozens of times, it never fails to leave me choked up. Friday night Wendy was simply superb. Craig -- an excellent, and underused dancer who deserves more roles -- made it look easy despite the tricky holds, steps and lifts. They were a lovely couple, and a memorable one.

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I also attended the Saturday matinee. Concerto Barocco looked excellent for the most part, especially the ensemble: so sharp and well rehearsed. Wendy Whelan often appears awkward and strangely angular to me, but especially on Saturday. Her lower body is perfection, but her arms are distractingly sharp and unballetic. They appear weightless, but not in a good way, sometimes crashing down against her body or flying up alongside her ear. In general NYCB dancers all do the broken wrist thing a little too much for my taste, but Whelan is the worst offender. Perhaps Whelan's peculiarities were accentuated in contrast with Ellen Bar's beautiful port-de-bras and shoulders. (My mother, who is not ballet trained, even commented that the two did not move their arms the same way!) I haven't seen Ms. Barr dance before, and I hope to see her again: gorgeous lines, expressive movements, and a beautiful face. Despite her tall frame, she seemed to tackle the allegro portions effortlessly. Albert Evans did look superb, although it's mostly a partnering role.

The Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux was a real audience pleaser. Gonzaga Garcia has nice ballon, and Scheller is an assured spinner. You can tell the audience loves those fish dives. It's such a pity they botched that finally lift (it appeared they stepped on each other a bit during the preparation and never recovered).

La Valse was definitely the highlight for me. Wow. I have not seen this piece live or recorded, and I was completely enraptured by the choreography and the music. I wish I had my program, because the supporting couples were excellent in addition to Janie Taylor, the perfect willing victim. The creepy gleefulness of the piece is something I haven't seen in many other ballets. I also thought Philip Neal was wonderfully theatrical.

Last was Symphony in Three Movements. I thought the whole ensemble danced with energy and great musicality. This piece (in addition to Concerto Barocco) really made me think that Balanchine wanted to challenge his dancers, to see how fast they could possibly move. The end is so fast!

Replying to Krystin’s comments above on Macaulay’s review (same program/cast, different night), I understand your reaction to his seemingly harsh criticisms. It is natural to feel defensive about dancers we love. I think he can point out strange details (like Danny Ulbrict having small feet. Duh. He’s really small.) and at times be a bit harsh. However, I do think that he is seriously invested in the future of ballet as an art form. He wants to see these companies flourish. He wants to see dancers grow, tackle challenges, and improve their artistry. He seems to review more performances and companies than critics of the past, and I am enlightened by his comparisons and the historical context he often provides. I’m a bit of a convert, I guess. Just my two cents . . .

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By Colleen Boresta

Coppelia, choreographed by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova, is one of New York

City Ballet’s sunniest ballets. I am very happy that NYCB is dancing Coppelia during their 2009

Spring season. The Coppelia I saw on May 3rd was even better than the production I saw this

January. As Franz, Andrew Veyette is even better than he was in January. Veyette is an endearingly

goofy Franz. He makes the audience believe he is love with both his fiancée, Swanilda, and the

mechanical doll, Coppelia. In the past year, Veyette has become a very exciting dancer. He has

incredible elevation. Like Superman, Veyette jumps as though he can “leap tall buildings in a

single bound”.

In the role of Swanilda, Tiler Peck does not put a foot wrong. She has great musicality as

well as sheer speed and power. She makes Balanchine’s fiendishly difficult hops on pointe look

both easy and lovely.

Peck’s comic timing is also spot on, especially in Act II when Swanilda is impersonating the

mechanical doll, Coppelia. Swanilda’s battle of wits with Dr. Coppelius, Coppelia’s creator, is a

highlight of the ballet. Peck is especially playful when she shows Dr. Coppelius that he really

has brought her to life. Peck’s Spanish and Scottish character dancing is lively and fun.

As the elderly Dr. Coppelius, the young soloist, Adam Hendrickson, is both funny and very

moving. In Act II, Hendrickson’s acting shows the audience that Dr. Coppelius really believes

Coppelia has come to life. The look on his face when Swanida shows Dr. Coppelius she is just

pretending to be Coppelia is tragic. Hendrickson holds the naked limp Coppelia doll in his arms

like she is his dead child. At that point, Hendrickson has convinced the audience that Swanilda’s

pretending went too far.

In Act III, Swanilda and Franz’s wedding, the soloists perform beautifully. Dena Abregal, as

Prayer, is a real standout. Abregal has a lovely, light jump, and her extension is glorious. As

always, the biggest round of applause was for the little girls in pink. Some of the tiniest ones

look very young, no more than six or seven. They definitely deserved the acclaim the audience

gave them.

It was great seeing such a perfect production of Coppelia. The orchestra plays the delicious

Delibes score flawlessly. My one complaint is that NYCB only danced Coppelia four times

during this Spring season. Many little girls attended the May 3rd matinee of Coppelia. (And

their behavior was perfect.) I think Coppelia should become an annual event, and run for at least

eight to ten performances. This is a family ballet right up there with Balanchine’s Nutcracker.

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