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Week 7?

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I didn't see a thread for week 7 performances of NYCB--which happens to have been the week I was visiting New York and able to see the company for the first time in a year, so I thought I would put in a word about the two performances I saw.

First and foremost I wanted to say something about Liebeslieder Walzer which I thought was just beautifully danced on Saturday Afternoon (Kistler, Whelan, Somogyi, and Taylor were the ballerinas). This must be one of the most physically and emotionally inventive ballets ever made--at least that's how it felt to me. Every moment seems to lead deeper into the music and the music, in turn, to lead deeper into the dance. The performance was one of the highlights of my trip. (I should say I have only seen the work once before -- many years ago when the Mitchell production was new. I liked it then, but think it made a bigger impression on me this time.)

I'm a little surprised I haven't read more reports on its performances this season (I recall ViolinConcerto was disappointed with the performance s/he saw). I can believe that those who have memories of earlier casts (e.g. the original cast or casts from the 80's) might have criticisms and, as someone who has seen a fair amount of ballet I can "extrapolate" as to how this or that moment in the performance I saw could be deeper, sharper, more exciting etc. but I have NO complaints. I thought the whole cast was beautiful and gave a performance that really presented the ballet to me like a gift.

I guess strictly speaking the men were weaker than the women -- I admit I was focused on the women -- but they set the women off in a way that--for my taste--let the ballet take flight, so...more than good enough. If I had to single out any ballerina for special praise, it would be Whelan whose every gesture and glance seemed utterly inside the ballet's world or, rather, her own intimate relation to that world, and yet able to share that experience with me.

Les Noces on the same program made for an intriguing closer. I remembered seeing and admiring the ballet with ABT, but could not help feeling at this performance that the whole exercise felt too patently artificial--the women in particular looked like long-legged NYCB ballerinas playing at primitivism for reasons that were not entirely clear to anyone involved. Morgan (as the bride) looked like a child-bride, which I think could work very well in this ballet, but she danced almost gingerly, which did not seem right to me. I did like Andrew Veyette as one of the matchmakers and found him rather more convincing in (and convinced by) the ballet.

The other performance of NYCB I attended gave me my first chance to see Mercurial Maneuvers. One sees immediately why it attracted such attention for Wheeldon. I particularly liked the opening and the pas de deux though I found the finale a bit frantic. (The person I was with, who did not much care for the music, actually liked the finale best of all and thought the early sections dragged.) Tyler Peck, replacing Stafford on Wednesday night, danced with a clean, quiet elegance. She seems to be turning into one of the company's most reliably strong AND reliably beautiful dancers. (Her dancing was a highlight of one of my other New York trips which is why I say this.) The ballet also gave me my first chance to see Kathryn Morgan and Erica Pereira. I liked both and especially enjoyed Morgan's supple upper body and glowing presence. But really both were very appealing.

The same program included Lifecasting and what I gather was Ashley Bouder's first performance back after a long lay off--she danced well though perhaps not as spectacularly as I remember her, so I'm guessing she is still getting up to speed (literally and figuratively). Although the ballet has the rubbery contemporary/eclectic type of choreography that tends to make everyone look alike, I did think that, even so, Kaitlyn Gilliland -- whom I was seeing for the first time -- managed to stand out. I don't really know how she did it, but you can believe I am eager to see her again...preferably in Balanchine.

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