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NYCB @ The Kennedy Center

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There are reviews posted at Danceview Times and the Washington Post, in case you're interested.

By the way, Ashley Bouder states on her twitter page that she will debut in the 4Ts tonight in Choleric. The casting notice (posted on Mar 25) on the NYCB website lists Lowery for that role.

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Two debuts last night -- Ashley Bouder in 4Ts and Sara Mearns as the second violin in Barocco.

Bouder was fantastic in Choleric last night. She's the first "not tall" dancer I've seen do Choleric (as opposed to someone like Savannah Lowery or Sofiane Sylve), but the energy and drive she had last night was just incredible. I was so happy to see Jennie Somogyi do Sanguinic. She such an intelligent, elegant presence, but she dances so rarely now.

I was underwhelmed by Agon. I've always found Andrew Veyette to be a very competent, but he has no personality on stage. Utterly bland. The highlight for me was Tess Reichlen, Craig Hall and Amar Ramasar in the pd3.

As for Barocco, Maria Kowrowski was divine as the first violin. As others have noted, she has grown into a truly wonderful adagio dancer. Mearns looked a uncomfortable. Her shoulders were hunched up, she rushed through a lot of the movements, and all those off-kilter arabesques just looked off. I'll be interested to see what her interpretation looks like after she has more performances under her belt, since the 2nd lead in Barocco is not a role I would have imagined her in.

My main critique of the evening though, was the order of programming (which went Barocco, Agon, 4Ts). Agon and 4Ts are too similar to be programmed next to each other; I would have ordered them 4T, Barocco then Agon. Although I've always thought of both Barocco and 4Ts as "openers."

Now let me backtrack to Wednesday evening.

I was very impressed by Taylor Stanley in Square Dance, but Bouder gave a really sparkling performance. I'm surprised this is only her first year dancing it, since it seems like a natural fit for her.

Reichlen & Ask la Cour were mesmerizing in the second pd2 of Episodes, and to me Wendy Whelan & Sebastian Marcovici had much more ooomph in their Episodes pas than in the Agon pd2 on Thursday. And Mearns, so lush and generous in the finale.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto -- Korowski and Ramasar were magnificent in the first aria. Majestic. Janie Taylor I found a little diminished on stage. I haven't seen her dance in several years, but I remember her having tremendous presence and sweep on stage before her injury. I prefer Sterling Hyltin with Robert Fairchild in the second aria.

Overall, I would say the dancing on both evenings was good. Certainly the company's strongest overall run in DC in several years. I'm looking foward to seeing the Fairchilds in Apollo and Duo Concertant tonight.

Also, as a side note, I wish Mearns and Taylor would get some help with their makeup. Mearns is certainly pale, but the foundation she used on both nights was practically white and made her look like a kabuki dancer. Taylor, who has such light features, was wearing very thick black flash eyelashes, and it was not flattering at all.

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Have any of you been at the performances? Would love to hear from you!

Sorry but I'm still waiting for "Balanchine Color Week"...just kiddin'! I'll be there this afternoon for Square Dance/Episodes, etc.

This is "Washington Super Ballet Weekend" with both NYCB and Washington Ballet (Corsaire) at the Kenn Cen and my old "favorites" (ahum) the Radchenko Russian National Ballet Theater at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with their infamous "Petipa" Romeo & Juliet tonight and Swan Lake tomorrow afternoon. I'm going for the Triple Crown: NYCB in the afternoon, Corsaire at night and -- do I dare? -- Radchenko Swan Lake tomorrow afternoon. This is almost like living in NY, Moscow or St P; not quite but ALMOST. :)

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Went to the Saturday matinee, as mentioned above. The performance was quite well attended (a little over half of the 2nd Tier section seats occupied), considering that this is not a series of 'audience friendly' (recognized) ballets.

Without a doubt, the first was the best and most appreciated by the audience: Square Dance, due to the (a) extraordinary technique-with-musicality of Ashley Bouder, (b) a gloriously uniform corps and (c ) Vivaldi's traditional-sounding melodies. Taylor Stanley, a corps member, was quite impressive as the male lead, dancing elegantly, if a bit tentative in the final slow set of turns of his solo to Corelli's Sarabande.

I'm afraid that I lost quite a few fellow-2nd Tier audience members after the middle ballet of the bill, Episodes, to four unique works by 20th-C abstract composer Webern, each performed by a different set of dancers. All were wonderful but I never fail to admire the taut beauty of Tess Reichlen in the quirky 'Five Pieces' segment, partnered by Ask LaCour. My first 'live' look at Sara Mearns -- leader of the final Ricercata-Bach segment -- did not disappoint. What a generous, musical performer!

Alas, a lot of folks did not stick around for the final ballet, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which is a shame, as they missed the fresh energy of the lively corps and impecable dancing from both pairs of soloists. Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar were most effective in the Aria I, although kudos must also go to Janie Taylor (finally back in full force!) and Ask LaCour, who subbed for the originally-announced Robert Fairchild.

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I attended the NYCB movement class Saturday morning taught by principal Daniel Ulbricht and corp ballerina Sarah Villwock. They both mentioned that they started out in gymnastics before beginning ballet training. How Daniel was one of four and Sarah was one of eight students when selected from SAB to be apprentices in their respective year. Also present were NYCB Orchestra pianist Alan, violinist ?forgot name? and NYCB education outreach coordinator Erin. The pianist mentioned he was using a score reduction actually done by Balanchine a blurry photocopy for our class. The Musicians also talked about the problems which occurred during the open rehearsal of 'Episodes' on Wed. Both Wendy Whelan and Ask La Cour had issues with timing the music. But they did great on Saturday.

The class of about 25 persons ranged in age 16 to 65. Daniel led a warm up tendus and plies in center. We were in the Kennedy Center Theatre Lab stage no barres. The choreography were extracts from 'Square Dance' the same steps we would see in the performance later that day. Only simplified and at a slower tempo. This is the first time NYCB has offered a participation class at the Kennedy Center for non dancers. Daniel told me he did teach class on Friday at Maryland Youth Ballet and back in 2007 Ashley Bouder taught a class in Bethesda Maryland when NYCB was at the Kennedy Center, which I did take. Ashley has gotten stronger and she makes it look so easy. I loved watching her in 'Square Dance'. Daniel kept speeding up the tempo in class and we still never reached what they did on stage.

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My quick take on NYCB perfs at KC: first of all, what a treat--to see 11 "black and whites" in 3 performances, including a few that I realized I had not seen in a very long time. So:

Ashley Bouder in Square Dance: Amazing and terrifying. Certainly setting a new standard for technique, energy, and commitment; not sure about the poses that she does at one point--they're done with such high voltage (voguing for the flashbulbs!) that it's almost laughable. But you can't look away, that's for sure.

Bouder in Choleric: interesting to see, as others have reported, such a small woman in the role. And while it's of course wonderful to see such clarity in the shapes and movements, part of what makes this role interesting for me is the struggle that it seems to entail for some of the dancers who've performed it in the past. (That makes me sound old, I think!

Men in Agon: I had the rare opportunity to see PA Ballet's Agon fast on the heels of seeing NYCB's. A wattage difference, that's for sure (not to mention NYCB's superior emphasis on turnout). At the time I saw the NYCB version, I wasn't wowed; Whelan especially seemed to be playing it safe (but I do love watching her). But by comparison, again, there's no beating the shared sense of values that sometimes shines through at NYCB.

Sarah Mearns in Barocco: Lovely, warm, interested in communicating something. Can't beat that; that's rare anywhere. So her shoulders didn't really catch my eye, as it did for Cinnamonswirl.

Sébastien Marcovici was not my favorite Apollo--is he new to the role? I liked him fine in other roles.

OK, that's it!

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Ray, I thought Robbie Fairchild was scheduled to dance all of the Apollo performances in D.C. From what you said, Marcovici performed the role when you saw it. Who were the 3 Muses when Marcovici danced? Was it Hyltin, Peck and Scheller? I think Marcovici danced Apollo on the NYCB tour in Europe last year.

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I believe those were the muses--I don't remember any other changes on the program insert aside from Marcovici replacing Fairchild. Sorry to hear that he's an experienced Apollo--while it would be going to far to call him sloppy, he made some choices that I didn't think suited the role.

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Marcovici danced Apollo on Friday. I thought he was ok. Preferable to Nilas Martins, but certainly not in the league of Peter Boal or Nikolaj Hubbe. Robbie Fairchild did debut on Tuesday, and got very good reviews (in the paper and from friends who saw him). Hopefully he's not injured. The muses for both casts were Hyltin, Peck and Scheller. Hopefully as these ladies will grow into the roles (Hyltin in particular) over the next few years. Overall I thought Apollo was mediocre, an ok performance but not moving or particularly memorable. I much preferred the performance by Suzanne Farrell Ballet (last year? two years ago). Her dancers aren't on the same level, but there was something there, the spark, that was missing from NYCB.

I was very impressed by Megan Fairchild in Duo Concertant. There's depth to her dancing now that I didn't see a few years ago.

To echo Ray, it was a real treat to see all black and white ballets, especially the all Stravinsky program.

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