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NYCB 2/12/02

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Brief remarks on what seemed notable to me.

Swan Lake - Kowroski has acting instincts in the role, if someone spent some time with her she could really mold it into something. I think one of the most interesting items in the future of NYCB will be finding out who Maria Kowroski really is. It's not that she's false on stage, I just don't think any of her roles have yet perfectly summarized her personality, which seems a mixture of beauty and glamor, but also broad humor. It will be quite an event when she gets to show herself totally. There were very nice performances from the demi soloists, a very impassioned one from Dana Hanson and Pascale van Kipnis' lovely musicality.

Serenade - on the subject of signature roles, I think the "Russian Girl" could become a signature role for Jennie Somogyi.

Theme - Abi Stafford was less secure than at her debut (she had about four bobbles which looked like nerves, she recovers well, but they're bald when it happens). They seemed like they occured because she's really working on delivering a

performance as well, and you sometimes can't do both at once. Even though less secure, her performance was more accented and vivacious than her debut. There is something in the way she's using her head and shoulders and a quick directness in her port des bras that recalls Merrill Ashley. I'm guessing she's getting coaching from her in the role. Woetzel was having one of his more decadent nights, losing his spot utterly in his tours and turns (but still making all of them, natch).

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It was also a great night for Maria K. because of her performance as the Dark Angel in Serenade. She is so perfect in this role that in one's dream cast it would be her. And as Jenny Somogyi was also the best Russian Girl I've seen, with Ringer as Waltz Girl this was close to one's dream cast. The performance was mesmerizing and strongly emotional. When the curtain fell, there was almost a moment of silence.

Andrea Quinn is conducting Serenade very well and indeed the orchestra is sounding better this season than I've heard it in recent years. Thus I was even more disappointed with Maurice Kaplow's super slow Tempi in both Swan Lake and in Theme. In Swan Lake, Kowroski -- with her facility for creamy adagios -- was able to make something out of it recompense. But Kaplow took the pop right out of Theme.

In Swan Lake, Kowroski also showed how far she has come as a dancer with a beautiful series of entrechats and relevees, retiring in a line directly down stage, in a choreographic section which would have been hell for her in the old days. And, as Leigh mentioned, she also showed dramatic clarity throughout entering into the role and who she was from the very first moment.

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A slightly dissenting (and late) view here.

I found Kowroski in Swan Lake too cold and distant to really be enjoyable. Technically, she was very good, but did not give me any sense of the dramatic or emotional components of the role. This changed a bit near the end, but to me it looked more as if Askegard was pulling the emotions out of her than that she was doing any of that work herself. It also looked, as I think it has too often this season at NYCB, as if the partners hadn't spoken to each other before they hit the stage.

On the other hand, Kowroski looked lovely in Serenade. Quinn, as she has each time she's conducted, really made an enormous difference. If only she'd conduct more!

Theme: Stafford struck me as a very young dancer doing her best. Which was nothing to sneeze at, but she doesn’t have much projection or confidence on stage yet. At least she looked human (I saw Janie Taylor in Ash last weekend, and, when I think of her and Kowroski being the kind of dancers Martins favors, I get a chill all over).

Someone, I don’t know who, needs to find a way to make Woetzel look, or be, interested in what he's doing on stage. There is no question his technique is breathtaking, and he has personality to burn. But even a casual viewer (like the friend who accompanied me on Tuesday) gets the impression he's bored out of his skull. "I will toss off this variation. Then I will go have a sandwich." I wonder if a change in casting could make a difference. For all their faults, the roles Feld made on him, in Unanswered Question and Organon showed me a very different, and less bored, dancer than I see in Woetzel’s usual roles.

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