Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Week 8 Casting and Reviews

Recommended Posts

Week 8 casting for Midsummer's Night Dream is now up:


I must admit to being rather disappointed that Darci Kistler is performing Titania in the first performance. I don't think she has the technique, at this stage of her career, to fully do the role justice (I have very fond memories of Sofiane Sylve in this role). I'm also a little disappointed that Yvonne Borree is performing the second act divertissement this season (with Marcovici) -- although I am very glad to see that Janie T. and Tyler A. will be doing the divertissement later in the week -- that should be very exciting, as will Tess Reichlen's Titania. :)

Link to comment

I too was surprised to see that Kistler is cast as Titania. I guess we can expect that until her retirement, she will revisit all of her old beloved roles, irrespective of her current ability to perform them well.

Link to comment

Albert didn't do Puck during the last MND run, either. It is sad, but perhaps he has outgrown the role and we're better left with the memories of his brilliant, poignant past performances of the role than to see him not able to deliver as he once did.

Link to comment

Thank you for the code!

I just ordered a ticket, but through CenterCharge instead of the website, because the website doesn't have an option to pick up the ticket at the Box Office for US addresses, and I'm going to be leaving for the East Coast before it would get here by mail.

Not to mention that the seat I got through CenterCharge is a lot better than what the website offered as its best...

Link to comment

There is a piece by Alastair Macaulay in Sat. NY Times "Every Day a Different Ballet Star: How Cast Changes Cleanse the Palate" in which he raves about the performances of Teresa Reichlen, and bemoans the fact that she isn't given more performances. A wake up call to P. M.?

I will see MND Sunday.......Reichlen AND Ringer, I can't wait!

Link to comment

Okay people, there have been enough empty seats at the Met, and enough people at the Koch Theater, that I can only conclude that I am not the only Ballet Talker who has seen A Midsummer Night's Dream in a run that started Tuesday (and I don't even live here :lol:)

Teresa Reichlen's Titania was imperial, her long limbs smooth and reaching, her chest and shoulders open and expressive, and her head high on her neck, but loose and graceful. She was particularly lovely in the Pas de Deux with the Cavalier, each time she reached with her head back, her back flexed, and her focus to the rafters.

Gonzalo Garcia, who I'd seen in a number of roles with San Francisco Ballet, was Reichlen's Oberon, his first full performance after saving the day earlier in the week. While on the one hand, I've been blessed to have seen wonderful Oberons in the last 35 years, the downside is that I've been spoiled. I had always appreciated how difficult each individual section of the "Scherzo" is, and how hard it is to do so many difficult passes in a row, but what I didn't really understand was how hard it was to do all of those different types of dancing equally, or close to equally well. There was a heaviness to Garcia's dancing in this role -- and I'm a fan of juicy dancers -- and it was also uneven: he excelled in the sections with beats, performing them clearly and with wonderful ballon, but his jumping passes were a bit stolid. His presence and characterization as Oberon the king, though, were equal to anyone I've seen.

All of the lovers were new to me. Ask La Cour was a rough and tumble Demetrius, but he was not afraid to be the butt of the joke, which, for me, is key in the role. Robert Fairchild was a full-blooded Lysander; there was nothing wussy about his portrayal of a man in love. Dena Abergel's Helena was disappointing in the first Act: except for the opening phrases of her solo, she was so relentlessly on the beat that for me her performance was like connecting the dots. She looked more comfortable in a tutu in the second Act during the wedding scene. Sterling Hyltin's Hermia nearly stole the show. Although a very different dancer from the role's originator, Patricia McBride, Hyltin made me see the underlying qualities that inspired Balanchine's choreography, while putting her own stamp on it. Her characterization was as powerful and clear as her dancing.

The dancer who did steal the show was Troy Schumacher as Puck, an announced replacement for Sean Suozzi. His dancing was juicy, full-bodied, and clear, but the genius of it was that in his characterization, he avoided every obvious, cheap, guffaw-creating, slapstick moment in the ballet to which even the best Pucks I've seen have succumbed. One comic moment after another, he pulled back and created a moment of stillness, from which a quieter gesture hit the comic dead spot with complete clarity. It was masterful. Kudos to him :lol:

In their own ways, the lovers and Bottom's retinue embodied a disciplined approach to the mime, which often gets smushed together and is difficult to decipher. They slowed it down for a split second pause, and in that room created a dramatic moment without an over-the-top gesture, which made it that more dramatically appealing, because there are already so many over-the-top gestures built in, like the scene where each lover dismisses the one who is pursuing him or her. In the scene where Bottom's troupe sets up for the show, it was not the undifferentiated clowning I've often seen, but a precise scene in which each actor is given direction. Bottom was an endearing Henry Seth, who in the beginning of the Pas de Deux made some wonderfully actorish gestures, Bottom being, after all, an actor.

Savannah Lowery was all big jumps and smooth, wind-stirring fouettes as Hippolyta, well in the line of tall, muscular dancers I've seen in this role. Jason Fowler had a lot of presence as Theseus, especially in the Wedding Scene.

This was my first time seeing Janie Taylor and Tyler Angle; they danced the Act II Divertissement. I can't imagine that Taylor will ever be my kind of dancer. Despite some lovely legato phrasing, she just has physical characteristics that I dislike: broken wrists, foot wrap on pirouettes, and a head that is not loose on her shoulders; when she bent it back to to the side, she looked compressed. Angle, by contrast, danced tall and strong, with smooth pirouettes, and the presence of a cavalier, but especially with ease.

The Divertissement couples were very strong. Among the women, there was a shorter, dark-haired dancer I thought was especially fine; carbro, who saw the ABT program this afternoon, thought from the cast list and from my description it would have been Georgina Pazcoguin, if the program was correct.

The singers, Erin Morley and Alison Tupay, were wonderful, and the woman's chorus was strong and vibrant.

Link to comment
Gonzalo Garcia, who I'd seen in a number of roles with San Francisco Ballet, was Reichlen's Oberon, his first full performance after saving the day earlier in the week.

This was not Garcia's first full performance. He danced Oberon on Fri night as well.

Link to comment

NYCB 8 pm 20 June 2009

A Midsummer's Night Dream

Titania Maria Kowroski

Oberon Antonio Carmena

Puck Adam Hendrickson

Helena Faye Arthurs

Hermia Abi Stafford

Lysander Andrew Fayette

Demetrius Arch Higgins

Hippolyta Ana Sophia Scheller

Theseus Henry Seth

Titania's Cavalier Jason Fowler

Bottom Adrian Danchig-Waring

Butterfly Alina Dronova

Divertissement Yvone Borree/Sebastien Marcovici

Conductor Faycal Karoui

Soprano Erin Morley

Mezzo-Soprano Allison Tupay

Earlier this week I had a chance to watch two working rehearsals of MND with different casts preparing for their upcoming performances. Thus, before this performance I saw Kistler's and Reichlen's Titania, Jennifer Ringer/Philip Neal and Jamie Taylor/Tyler Angle in the Act II divertissement, Hyltin/Fairchild and Abergel/la Cour as well as Krohn/Ramasar and Somogui/J Stafford as the pairs of lovers, and so on. The rehearsals were a nice kind of preparation for the performance of this evening. I don't remember how long it's been since I last saw Midsummer's Night Dream, a Balanchine masterpiece, not least for his selection of Mendelssohn music.

Maria Korowski created a wondrous Titania -dancing with amplitude, luscious extensions, and a space-embracing presence. She was ably partnered by Jason Fowler as her cavalier. Adrian Danchig-Waring was an excellent Bottom, giving a subtle and poetic reading.

Antonio Carmena was an aristocratic Oberon, fulfilling all the technical demands of the role, even the glissades en arriere with developpes sauté en avant, with poise and equanimity.

Adam Hendrickson struck a nice balance in his choices with comedic

'lines' by stressing a steady hard-working character for the role. Compared to

the other Pucks I saw in rehearsal, I like his 'take' best.

Both lover-couples were amply gifted for their roles. I preferred of the two

the Hermia and Lysander of Abi Stafford and Andrew Veyette.

Both men gained nothing in having to wear those pageboy wigs. But their fencing skills were spiffy.

Ana Sophia Scheller was an athletic and soaring amazon. She was also impressive in the second act.

The SAB children were exceptionally at home on stage, garnering some enthusiastic audience applause.

The second act was graced by an exceptionally vibrant and precise ensemble led by Yvonne Borree and Sebastien Marcovicci. Ms Borree met the challenges of her role with poise, although a tightness in her shoulders and neck continue to mar her technically proficient dancing. Mr Marcovicci shows a pleasant stage personality, which, I for one, continue to enjoy.

The propelling force behind this performance was the conducting of Faycal Karaoui. Mr Karaoui showed us his love for the Mendelssohn music. The Mendelssohn music sounded wonderful.

Link to comment

NYCB 3 pm 21 June 2009

Midsummer's Night Dream

Titania Teresa Reichlen

Oberon Andrew Veyette

Puck Troy Shumacher (for Sean Suozzi)

Helena Dena Abergel

Demetrius Ask la Cour

Hermia Sterling Hyltin

Lysander Robert Fairchild

Hippolyta Savannah Lowery

Theseus Jason Fowler

Titania's cavalier Justin Peck

Bottom Henry Seth

Butterfly Brittany Pollack

Divertissement Act II Jenifer Ringer/Jared Angle

Teresa Reichlen truly glowed as Titania, her movements flowing into

elegant extensions, her body stretching into arabesques of golden lines.

That should be enough of purple prose to get my meaning: I really liked

her dancing; unmannered, musical and full. Her cavalier, Justin Peck,

provided her impeccable support.

Andrew Veyette's Oberon cut a fine figure, and danced his various sequences

with authority, although he left out each time one of the two developpes, in the sequence moving diagonally back.

Troy Shumacher (substituting for the listed Sean Suozzi) danced a

gentle, more lyrical Puck, harkening back to earlier interpretations of the role.

The couples of Athenian lovers were wonderfully drawn, one and all.

Sterling Hyltin was outstanding as Hermia throughout; she made of her solo variation an extremely moving dance study.

Ask la Cour, with his athletic grace, created a vivid portrait of Demetrius.

Other brilliant soloists were the Hippolyta of Savannah Lowery and the Butterfly of Brittany Pollack.

Jennifer Ringer and Jared Angle shone brightly in the demanding divertissement of Act II. Ms Ringer, with her open manner and solid technique, together with Mr Angle navigated the choppy waters of the supported adagio with such finesse and nonchalance that made sense of the ecstatic, liquid, final pose of the dance.

Maurice Kaplan conducted with authority.

Link to comment
Gonzalo Garcia, who I'd seen in a number of roles with San Francisco Ballet, was Reichlen's Oberon, his first full performance after saving the day earlier in the week.

This was not Garcia's first full performance. He was danced Oberon on Fri night as well.

Ah, so he subbed for De Luz on Friday. Did anyone see his debut? He may have been a bit tired for Saturday.

Link to comment

I saw his performance on Fri night. I thought that he did a lovely job and didn't notice any of the heaviness that you noted. In fact, I thought he positively sprung about the stage. I expect two performances back to back, as well as the stress of having to jump in on Tues, perhaps took its toll on him by the Sat matinee.

Though I have to admit that, sadly, just about anyone would have looked good next to poor Darci Kistler's Titania. I am all for giving a legendary dancer her due, but to say that her performance on Fri was painful (both to the audience, and from the looks of it, her as well) would be an understatement of kindness. Her ankles and calves shook when she was en pointe. Her jumps had no height. Her form was sloppy. And from my second row seat, the fear in her eyes was apparent. I spent most of the time that she was onstage silently praying that she would get through it. And I sort of think that she did too. Happily, I had seen Maria Kowroski earlier this week, so that's the memory of Titania that I'll be keeping in my mind.

I enjoyed Ulbrict's Puck quite a bit, but I prefered Hendrickson's earlier this week.

For me, the night was made by Jenifer Ringer's Divertissement. Borree's performance in that role on Tuesday left me feeling empty. Ringer filled it, and then some. She was lovely.

Link to comment
just about anyone would have looked good next to poor Darci Kister's Titania. I am all for giving a legendary dancer her due, but to say that her performance on Fri was painful (both to the audience, and from the looks of it, her as well) would be an unstatement of kindness.

I just noticed on the casting for Saratoga that Darci will be revisiting her role old role in Slaughter on 10th Avenue. Oy!

Link to comment

It was a shame to me. I really wanted to see her do justice to this role and to her legacy the other night. I've been following ballet for a relatively short period of time, but I'd like to think in that time, I've gained a decent appreciation for the art and, particularly, the NYCB company. I had seen Kistler in several pieces through the season and while she was not a stand-out performer to me, she hadn't embarassed herself either.

I had read several opinions online expressing that she was not up for the challenges of the role, and I was really rooting for her to prove them all wrong. I wanted her to succeed.

Physically, I'm not particularly optimistic that she's up to do Slaughter on 10th Avenue justice, either, but I hope that the more playful style and mood of that piece detracts a little from the obvious technical issues that she was having with Titania. Plus, there is the very real possibility that she was just having a particularly bad night. I do hope so. I understand the desire to hold out for another year to end on a nice even number. I definitely think she's earned that right. I just hope that the casting over the next year is done in a way that allows her to do justice to herself and to the ballets that she is dancing. I hope it isn't just a constant stream of allowing her a final visit to roles that she is no longer able to dance efficiently. Everyone in this scenario deserves better.

Link to comment

As someone who has loved and watched Ms. Kistler from her first week of performing (I was a college student) -- in her brief time in the corps (how exquisite she was) -- until now, I can understand the frustration of watching this once magnificent dancer (who has been riddled by injuries, as well) not live up to her own legacy. However, there's still usually some glimpse of the "past" Ms. Kistler -- the last true Balanchine ballerina -- in almost every performance. Surely, Ms. Kistler is not being cast against her will, which means that for whatever reason she wants to

revisit some of her best roles (and to have missed Ms. Kistler, in her day, as the "strip-tease" girl in "Slaughter on 10th Ave," was to miss a

a landmark performance).

I will be going to Saratoga again this year for a couple of performances, albeit not for Ms. Kistler's "Slaughter.." (I bought the tickets, and booked the hotel before the casting). That said, I am sure that the SPAC audiences will be thrilled to have her perform this role, and will overlook (at least those who remember her back in the day) what she can no longer do. Surely, this is Ms. Kistler's last SPAC visit (at least as a ballerina), and if she wants to dance this role, it's okay with me. She has earned this right.

Link to comment

Kistler clearly does think she has a right to keep dancing, but performers have a responsibility to their audience, and not just to the members of that audience who live in New York and have the opportunity to see multiple casts. I had just one chance to see Vienna Waltzes this year, and I didn't pay good money to see "some glimpse" of what the ballerina role in the Rosenkavalier section has to offer. She was wrong to go on stage when all she was capable of was a sketchy, creaky, lousy performance. Kistler and hubby swear fealty to Balanchine. Would he still be casting her? Hard to believe.

Link to comment
Would he still be casting her? Hard to believe.

As I'm sure you know, Balanchine cast some dancers in roles when they were long past their prime (I saw some of them).

What might be "lousy" to you, might be "lovely" to someone else.

Finally, NYCB has a fairly liberal policy (even though the tickets say "no refunds or exchanges") of exchanging tickets (ABT does as well. I had to suddenly exchange a ticket this year, and the ABT box office was great about it). Also, the casting for NYCB, is always up well in advance.

Save for sudden injuries or illness (which, surprisingly, doesn't happen that often at NYCB), you can almost always choose your performance (and dancers). If you don't like a particular dancer in a particular performance, and there's no way you can adjust your own schedule, that's the just way the cookie crumbles.

Link to comment

Audiences to tour cities are going to judge the company by the state of the few, limited performances that are put on there, and most likely will take what they see as an indicator of the state of the company. Then they will decide whether to return, which is why casting for tours is such a tricky business.

Link to comment

Kistler is well beyond "well past her prime" from what I saw and what I've been reading, and is more often than not reviewed as lousy here and in print. And the Kennedy Center has no such liberal exchange policy, or at least doesn't publicize it. I wouldn't have taken advantage of it if they did, because I wanted to see other dancers in the other ballets.

If you don't like a particular dancer in a particular performance, and there's no way you can adjust your own schedule, that's the just way the cookie crumbles.

I'm not asking for your sympathy.

Link to comment

With all due respect, DeborahB, I believe that you're speaking out of affection for Kistler rather than acknowledging the implications that truly inferior performances may have on the company. You seem to be working under the assumption that everyone - or even the majority of people - in the audience have the flexibility and know-how to avoid performances in which the ballerina may be cast due to sentimentality rather than ability.

I am sure that there are many long term patrons and subscribers who have also watched the progression of Kistler's career and are willing to overlook what many would consider to be flaws in her dance. However, in all honesty, those are not the people that the company currently needs to wow. I was recently at a Studio Talk and it was said that the "six million dollar question" was how to attract and keep a young audience. With the current recession, arts throughout the city have been hurt financially. It is acknowledged that the NYCB's core audience is getting older. The company needs to impress people who are sitting in the seats for the first time *now*, not just people who were sitting in the seats when a young Darci Kistler graced the stage. You simply can't assume that tourists, families, and new audience members are going to know one dancer from another, let alone know that they can go to the website a few weeks in advance to see who is slated to dance when. You can't assume that THEY will know that she's a legendary ballerina, a year short of retirement.

Presently, I represent the audience that the New York City Ballet needs in order to continue to thrive. I am fairly young. I am financially in a position to attend the ballet with some regularity. And I have friends who are in similiar positions. In fact my first experience with the NYCB was only a few short weeks ago when I saw the lovely Kathryn Morgan dance the role of Juliet. She was absolutely intoxicating, and before I even left the theatre, I was craving more. In every single week that followed, I attended the ballet at least twice. I purposely sat in a variety of seats to learn the perspectives of the theatre. I trained myself on who the dancers were. I studied the choreographers. I developed preferences. And most importantly, I brought friends. And I can tell you that if "Romeo + Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" were reversed and the performance that I saw last Fri was my introduction to this company, I would not have likely returned (even though I easily prefered the actual ballet of AMND). By the time I attended last week I had seen enough and researched enough that I pretty much knew what to expect out of all the leads. I was attending with someone who was there for the first time. When the lights went up after Act I, the FIRST words out of her mouth were, "How old is Titania? She can't even get her leg up." She may not have known the technicalities and the nuances to look for, but she knew that it was not a good performance. Another friend who was not sitting with us was STILL able to tell that her entire leg was shaking, even though he was significantly further back in the house. This type of performance, quite simply, isn't fair to people who are paying top dollar for good seats. Nor is it going to inspire new audiences to return.

I mean no disrespect towards Darci Kistler. I admire her for what she has accomplished as well as what she represents. I think that she exhibits a personal lovliness and a natural graciousness. And I believe that she will always be an asset to the company through her dedication to passing on her craft. I absolutely agree that she has earned the right to see it through for another year. And I will even go so far as to say that she should continue to be cast in leading roles that a expert may see fault in but a neophyte like myself would find to be passable. Some roles are easier to "fake it". However when the quality of her performance has the potential to be so questionable that it would be offputting to someone who isn't nit-picking the little details, I believe that is where the line should be drawn.

Link to comment

Thanks for the perspective, Beatrice. Though I agree with you about Morgan (she along with her cast made a surprising case for Romeo + Juliet), to me the pernicious thing is if all you have to go on is the performance you see, what happens when someone decides that Romeo + Juliet is a better ballet than A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Link to comment
As I'm sure you know, Balanchine cast some dancers in roles when they were long past their prime (I saw some of them).

What might be "lousy" to you, might be "lovely" to someone else.

Very true, DeborahB, and I understand that sometimes his decisions really made people shake their heads, but I also think Beatrice is right to say that there is a line that shouldn't be crossed, and from her detailed and excellent report (thanks, Beatrice, I look forward to reading more from you!) Kistler may have crossed it as Titania.

Slaughter was one of the ballets Farrell relied on as her hip was failing her, so perhaps the style of movement required for it will be easier on Kistler - and on the audience.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...