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NYCB Winter 2015 Season

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Another question. Can anyone explain what in the world was going on in the orchestra pit at the start of the performance. The conductor took her bow and she seemed ready to start. For no apparent reason, there was a long delay and she just stood there. Then one of the cellists started walking around in the pit. He got out of his seat, walked around in the pit, and took his seat again. Strange.

Erica Perreira did a wonderful job in Serenade. She seems to be reaching new peaks of artistry.

Maria K. and Ramasar were electrifying in Agon. Huxley was also terrific.

Overall a wonderful performance of Symphony in C, too. Chase looked better than he did earlier in the season.

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Amour -- or anyone else who received the Yellin book: Can you identify the ballerina on what may be page 16 or 17? Some friends said it might be Cynthia Gregory but I'm not sure. Tis a mystery to me.

It doesn't look like Cynthia Gregory to me but I have no clue who it is.

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For those of you who have seen Peter Martins' R&J please forgive me if I vent. I've never had the desire to see the ballet but the opening night cast was so good I thought I'd give it a try. How bad could it be? Well bad. Actually awful! Epically awful. If you haven't seen this ballet don't go. It is a waste of money and 2+ hours you'll never get back.

The ballet's choreography is basic, uninspired and extremely repetitive. Clearly, Martins has absolutely no idea how to tell a story with movement. The steps looked just like that- random (and very basic) steps to random chunks of Prokofiev's score ( which is kind of chopped up). If I hadn't seen Macmillan's R&J I doubt I would know what the story was. There was no sense of story or plot. The whole point of Juliet seemed simply to be to unfurl her long, lovely limbs. Not once did I sense she was in love with Romeo (Robbie Fairchild). And I've never seen Martins' ballet vocabulary so limited. Juliet (Sterling Hyltin) did arabesqe, développe to the front, and attitude derrière over and over again ad nauseum. No skimming jetes, no feverish pirouettes, pretty basic partnering. The fencing scenes looked similarly basic. And I absolutely hated the ending. Instead of Romeo and Juliet alone strewn onto each other,even if only on the stairs (the marble slab is so much more poetic), apparently half the town decided to enter the crypt at the same moment (really?) and our last look is of half the cast onstage (which makes no sense to me).

To make matters worse, the NYCB dancers could not act to save their lives (except Joaquin de Luz who played Tybalt). There is a kind of exaggerated lift of the head and sternum needed for dance acting and no one but De Luz had it (and he undoubtedly learned it at ABT). Everyone else, especially the corps, again looked like they were just doing steps. And whose brilliant idea was it to cast Aaron Sanz and the very tall Silas Farley as the friar and the Prince of Verona? These are two of the company's youngest dancers. Generally (and rightly so) these roles are reserved for older dancers past their peak because these are characters with some authority, who others look up to. Aaron Sanz looked especially comic (he can't act at all) as a friar at least 10 years younger than the supposedly 14 year old Juliet. Just pathetic. I had begun to forget them, but there are things (like full length dramatic story ballets) that ABT does better.

Lest I forget, the color coded costumes and the set were also very cheesy and cheap looking. However, had the choreography been even half way decent I could have overlooked them.

The only saving grace for me was that Mercutio was Danny Ulbricht and he gets a very tricky bravura solo in the middle of the ballroom scene. He was great (and is criminally underused). It was also cute to see the mandolin dance (which I believe is generally done by Mercutio) reserved for 5 young male SAB students. And finally, it was good to see Rebecca Krohn onstage in the relatively easy role of Lady Capulet. I'm guessing she is at least partially recovered from her injury.

As someone tweeted me, pity the poor first time NYCB goers who might be seeing this monstrosity tomorrow for Valentine's Day. As for me, I will never see this ballet again.

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Things turned out much better Wednesday evening than I anticipated. Pictures at an Exhibition received a far from perfect performance by the nine dancers, but they all had some exquisite moments; and I found myself anyhow luxuriating in the sheer inventiveness of Ratmansky's choreography. I love the entire work, but the "Bydlo" segment particularly. Cameron Grant played the wondrous score beautifully. Mr. Grant is having an outstanding season of his own with his performances of Bach and Mussorgsky.

Rodeo is filler and was wisely placed in the middle of the program. I enjoyed watching it Wednesday for three reasons. First, the initial disappointment from seeing it last week had worn off; and at the same time I approached this viewing with lower expectations. That always helps, I say. Secondly, the men of NYCB really make a nice effort here, and in one part it certainly pays off. Having resigned myself to the fact that no woman would appear during the playing of some of Copland's loveliest music, I found this time around that I actually liked the choreography for the 2nd Episode. (It reminded me of the effective way Lar Lubovitch used men in a work of his I had seen once at the Joyce.) The last and most important reason was, of course, Tiler Peck. This was a routine performance from her; but in her case that means one of unparalleled excellence and beauty. Tiler Peck makes every ballet she appears in look better.

One advantage of having placed Rodeo between the other two works was that it made the initial appearance of the female corps in Mercurial Manoeuvres even more impressive. Manoeuvres is a very fine piece that was superbly performed Wednesday evening. It was especially gladdening to see Russell Jansen display such strong partnering skills, because this made possible yet another magnificent debut by Sara Mearns.

So there seemed to be an interesting progression in what took place on stage at the Koch theater that night. Pictures amounted to an instance where the choreography prevailed over any deficiencies in the dancing. Rodeo served as an example of a dancer triumphing

over any shortcomings in the choreography. Manoeuvres was what you hope to see whenever you go to the ballet: an occasion of the quality of the choreography being matched by that of the dancing.

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And I absolutely hated the ending. Instead of Romeo and Juliet alone strewn onto each other,even if only on the stairs (the marble slab is so much more poetic), apparently half the town decided to enter the crypt at the same moment (really?) and our last look is of half the cast onstage (which makes no sense to me).

Have never seen this, though I think I did see a production Martins did for the Hartford ballet long before the NYCB Kirkeby one and in any case can certainly live without it. But I did want to register that having the opposed clans discover the bodies in the crypt at the end is true to Shakespeare (as you may know) and can be very moving. The lovers' deaths leads to reconciliation so that they become a kind of sacrifice for the community. (I think in the play that the explanation is that a page witnessed some of what happened in the crypt and went yelling to the townspeople about it)...

I'm not saying Martins' version is moving, but that the conception is not absurd. Lavrosky includes this as well. I did find Lavrosky's version compelling the one time I saw it with Bolshoi. (Filin was Romeo...)

Had trouble with multiple quote feature, but wanted to write a resounding Ditto to what Royal Blue said about Tiler Peck: Her "routine" is "unparalleled."

("This was a routine performance from [Tiler Peck]; but in her case that means one of unparalleled excellence. Tiler Peck makes every ballet she appears in look better.")

Also: a huge thanks to everyone for their reviews this season.

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For those of you who have seen Peter Martins' R&J please forgive me if I vent. I've never had the desire to see the ballet but the opening night cast was so good I thought I'd give it a try. How bad could it be? Well bad. Actually awful! Epically awful. If you haven't seen this ballet don't go. It is a waste of money and 2+ hours you'll never get back...

The ballet's choreography is basic, uninspired and extremely repetitive. Clearly, Martins has absolutely no idea how to tell a story with movement. As for me, I will never see this ballet again.

Agreed. I was tempted to go to see Peck or Lovett, but no - decided I couldn't sit through it again.
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As people who read my posts know, I go to see numerous casts of the same ballet during a one or two week period. You know R&J must be really bad if I have seen the Martins R&J only once - the opening night way back when it premiered in 2007(?).. That premiere was enough to send me racing to the box office to exchange all additional tickets I had for the production. I have not revisited the production since that initial premiere, despite the fact that it has been revived numerous times.

I thought this year I would go back and re-examine the production to evaluate whether I continued to feel so strongly negative about it. (Had a ticket for today, but exchanged it a few days ago when I heard that today's temps were going to be BRUTAL) I had a strong curiosity to see Tiler Peck/Catazaro and Lovette/Finlay, so I am so far hanging on to my tickets for those casts next weekend. However, Amour's post reminded me of all the things I hated about this R&J.

Stay warm all you brave souls going outdoors today. Howling winds and record busting low temps today. Dreading going out there to do my grocery shopping. Peanut butter sandwiches are starting to look more appealing...

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I vaguely remember watching the Martins R&J on PBS many years ago and thinking it would not be worth the trip to see it in the theater. Reading the numerous reviews here makes me conclude that was the right decision, then and now! But I'm curious: what does the house look like? Are the top two tiers closed off, as I understand they are for most of the rep? If it sells, that might be the main (only?) reason to keep performing the thing.

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I vaguely remember watching the Martins R&J on PBS many years ago and thinking it would not be worth the trip to see it in the theater. Reading the numerous reviews here makes me conclude that was the right decision, then and now! But I'm curious: what does the house look like? Are the top two tiers closed off, as I understand they are for most of the rep? If it sells, that might be the main (only?) reason to keep performing the thing.

Opening night when I saw it, even the few 5th ring seats were sold. I think those who hunger for full length story ballet sometimes go to see productions like R&J or SL at NYCB not realizing these are Martins' versions of the ballets. However, on opening night the audience started fleeing even before the lights went up.

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2/17/2015 Performance

Went to NYCB out of curiosity – all young dancers in the first three pieces.

First on the program was Peter’s Hallelujah Junction: Lauren Lovette was luxurious in her movements, then again the choreography wasn’t very difficult. She’s short, but moves well with lovely, expressive port de bras. I hated that huge French twist on her little head. It was distracting and too heavy a look for her. Otherwise, she was a pleasure to watch, and very comfortable in Gonzalo Garcia's excellent partnering.

Of the guys, David Prottas stood out for all the right reasons: masculine, meaty movements, dramatic and large with every step. He has a powerful look and he knows how to use it. Danny Ulbricht was fantastically strong technically but often too forced. Danny was impressive as always but this piece needed a more cohesive presence.

I didn’t like the music (John Adams), and didn’t care for the costumes and scenery. The backdrop was solid black, and the ladies were all in black including long sleeves except for Lauren who wore white. Danny was also in black which hid some of his physical stockiness. The other guys were in white. So…. if you weren’t wearing white, or danced overly strong, you were swallowed up (hard to see) by the black scenery.

Next was Tarantella: I think it was a Koch Theater debut for Claire Von Enck who was a cute, round-faced, light blonde with lots of personality. She started out very strong in her entrance with Spartak Hoxha, but barely made it to the end of her first entrance without looking weak, or tired, too weak to execute the exit jumps well. Overall her technique needs a lot of work especially when it comes to jumps. Claire was much more comfortable with her turns although some of those weren’t executed that well either.

Spartak was good, but not my cup of tea. He seemed a gentle personality, not at all the boldly sexy, meaty, masculine and showy performer required for this part. Spatak danced all the technique very well, but the spark was missing.

Paging David Prottas! (Maybe he’s not quite back in shape from past injuries for a big part like Tarantella.)

Interplay: Harrison Ball! With his sexiness and blonde mop of hair, he stole the show. Harrison, so handsome, was strong technically on top of his personal style of being a sensitive, maturely playful, witty actor. He managed to pull away from the cuteness this ballet can feel too full of. Instead he managed to make the very basic choreography feel fresh and genuine. Megan Mann and Lydia Wellington stood out among the ladies for some of the same reasons. Brittany Pollack as the pink girl, the adagio girl, was lovely but I think she might have given more of herself with a different partner. Peter Walker is very tall and very thin but has a way to go in performing double tours and in his partnering skills.

I left after “Interplay.”

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Great ballerinas are not just surpassingly graceful. They are also exceptionally strong. Perhaps it is this juxtaposition of the tremendous strength next to the pronounced beauty they display whenever they are on stage that accounts for the special fascination some female dancers exert over us. They appear somehow to have mastered the confines of time and space. They move --while maintaining a beautiful posture-- from one point to another with the greatest ease and facility during a specified time period. They can speed things up or slow them down as necessary, and apparently with the slightest effort. And their clear, precise, yet fancy footwork is always perfectly attuned to the sounds emanating from the orchestra pit. Extra steps are never needed by them to reach the wings of the stage. In short, everything --their entire body and its movement through space-- seems harmonious, essential, inevitable ...perfect! I reflected about all of this after I watched Claire Von Enck's fine but premature debut in Tarantella last evening. Von Enck is a charming young dancer who needs a bit of time to develop her strength and endurance (the Koch theater stage was a little too big for her). This ballet was not scheduled for this season so preparations for its performance must have been understandably hasty. Anyway I am glad I saw it and felt the audience's warm response towards Von Enck and her partner (Sparta Hoxha) during the curtain calls was appropriate.

Also on the program were Martins' Hallelujah Junction, ably led by Lovette, Garcia and Ulbricht, and Robbins' Interplay, which afforded an opportunity for some dancers who are not principals to get a little more stage time. Whatever mistakes were made during the later piece were amply compensated for me by the pleasure of watching the likes of Brittany Pollack and Lydia Wellington dance.

Yet even on a quiet night such as this (both in terms of repertoire and performers appearing) one is likely to see something marvelous at NYCB nowadays. The classiest, most professional performance came last. Both the soloists and the corps made Robbins' Glass Pieces --with a splendid Maria Kowroski in Facades-- seem appropriately glorious.

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Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Royal Blue. I also find Claire von Enck a very charming and appealing dancer, but she seemed underprepared last night. Hopefully she will gain more ease. Spartak Hoxha, however, was terrific. He looked like he was having a grand time, hamming it up, slapping the tambourine with vigor, huge leaps that hung in the air, and showing the audience a ton of personality.

I also found Glass Pieces the best piece on the program. In fact, if it hadn't been that I wanted to see Glass Pieces, I would have skipped this program entirely. I enjoy the whole thing, but the last movement, with the men running around, is mesmerizing.

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Tonight's performance of Square Dance was fantastic with Ashley Bouder and Anthony Huxley as the leads. After the performance, memories of Merrill Ashley came flooding back to me (and that had to be 30+ years ago) because Ashley's performance was reminiscent of hers. This ballet is fiendishly difficult. Much of it is at breakneck speed with lots of petit batterie, gargouillades, sauts de chauffeur, echappes, grand jetes, etc. The slower parts have penchees, and attitude derrières that Ashley holds. She was terrific in everything. Anthony was also wonderful. Clean, precise and musical. In his solo, especially the backbends with arms outstretched, memories of Peter Boal and Ib Anderson came back (tonight for me was full of memories). I thought his partnering was also quite good, although Ashley unfortunately gives off a vibe of "don't touch me" unless Andie or Joaquin is partnering her. But all in all, a tremendous performance and one I'd like to see again.

Harlequinade, on the other hand, is just not my cup of tea. I simply prefer Balanchine's plotless ballets (which is 99% of them) and this comes off to me as a kind of poor man's Coppelia. I thought it was well danced: Ulbricht as Pierrot, Pereira as his wife, Joaquin as Harlequin and Tiler as Colombine. Tiler was especially lovely and lyrical, Emilie Gerrity was fine as La Bonne Fee and Lauren King was strong and swift as the lead Alouette. But it just didn't save the ballet for me. I thought the best part was all the young SAB students it uses. In the 2nd act, they come out, about 8 at a time, as small versions of the main characters. A tremendous opportunity for them to get stage experience, even more so than Nutcracker, IMO, because they're doing some real dancing. So that was a big plus. But if I see this night again, it will be for Square Dance. Still kudos all around tonight because everyone gave it their all, successfully.

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I have to agree w. Amour. The cast of Square Dance was first rate in every way. Bouder and Huxley were both marvelous. Bouder's technique is so strong that every bit of complex footwork is crystal clear. Huxley looked great too. I watched Marcovici do this so many years, and was so disappointed because of his lack of plastique. Huxley has the upper body flexibility to bring out all the nuances of the choregoraphy. (Though I didn't mention it previously, I fell the same way about Huxley's recent excellent performance in Agon.)

Harlequinade is utterly charming, but I now recall why they revive it so infrequently. Everyone was doing excellent work, but this just isn't top drawer Balanchine. Did DeLuz seem a bit awkward in his partnering of Peck during the first act. It seemed like there were some blips, but nothing major.

The Third Ring was largely empty, the Fourth ring was closed. There were some pockets of empty seats in other locations. It appears that Harlequinade doesn't sell well.

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Performance 2/18/2015

I agree with Abatt and Amour that Bouder and Huxley were absolutely wonderful in the leads of Square Dance. Individually they were both strong, joyous, full of personal style while being completely comfortable with the extremely speedy, allegro footwork and jumps, turns, et al. However, I'm not sure that these two are the best fit for each other. Huxley is on the short side for Bouder, and Huxley seems more poetic - reminding me of Peter Boal. Bouder was all razzle dazzle with plenty of flashy technical sparks. They seemed from opposite worlds instead of a blending partnership. Andie Veyette might have been a better partner for Bouder if he were not injured, but we would have missed the brilliant solo that Huxely gave us. It was like entering his very personal world. Not only did Huxley have gorgeous lines, but his expressive face and port de bras added so much to a slowly controlled solo.

Harlequinade is charming, witty, full of humor. Sitting up close in Orchestra helped much to see all the acting that was performed so perfectly last night.

DeLuz was brilliant in his solos and acting. I agree he was a bit awkward in his partnering of Tiler Peck during the first act, but again that could have been their height differences. DeLuz is a bit too short next to Tiler.

Harlequinade's first act is my favorite. I could watch it over and over, and I have watched it many times. The second act is primarily for the kiddies and their parents and can seem a bit long. I'm fascinated though throughout this ballet with Balanchine's creativity using large groups of dancers, big and small. The leads are perfectly choreographed.

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I was there last night and totally agree about Square Dance. Bouder was amazing and made it all look fun and easy. I can't imagine a better performance in this ballet, it was a privilege to witness. Huxley is showing himself to be principal material. He had tremendous control and expansiveness in the man's solo (I have seen many a dancer defeated by it). As abatt mentioned, the flexibility of his upper body suits this choreography well. I also really enjoyed his stage manner, pleasant, warm and very human.

I also agree that Harlequinade is charming but not among Balanchine's best work. I enjoyed the children very much. It was like a trip through the levels of the school, and the degree of musicality and attention to detail in these very young performers is a delight.

Tiler Peck, as she alway is, was wonderful. She brought tremendous warmth, lovely musical phrasing and strong technique to the role. There was one thing I felt unusual for her. There were a few arabesques when she had to open her arms and lean back, and I saw an unexpected stiffness to it every time. Usually everything she does is so full movement-wise so I noted this.

Emile Gerrity as the good fairy danced with great amplitude and presence. Her sweeping lines are gorgeous. I look forward to seeing her more.

DeLuz as always, charming and exciting to watch.

Ulbricht as Peirrot was stuck in a baggy shirt. I noticed he had to push up the sleeves quickly for some partnering moves with Pereira. He had a bit of showy dancing to do, which was fun to watch, but the role is a waste of his talent.

Lastly, Erica Pereira - she danced nicely and looked happy in her role as Peirrot's wife. She seems to have made some strides this season (I saw her in Serenade) but still at times seems a bit underpowered and uncoordinated. I see she's cast in Square Dance and wonder how she'll fare. If anyone sees it, I'd love to hear a report.

One last thing - in honor of Fashion Week, I have to add that the hats in the ballet are pretty amazing!!!

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I think Huxley will ultimately get promoted, as will Taylor Stanley. Janzen and Catazaro will, in my opinion, definitely get promoted sooner rather than later. At this point, their entire workload is principal roles. The question is how much money and how many slots are open for male promotions. I think Lovette is also a definite for promotion.

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To add another word of praise for Ashley Bouder last night - she had wit and style and a certain "le chic" to her phrasing. Ashley really enjoyed the jazzy touches in "Square Dance" thrusting out a hip here, pointing out her knee or cocking her arm on her side with insouciance. She would do a combination and then the corps girls would echo it but Ashley's had a certain style that the other girls did not have. I also loved Huxley's precision and lightness. He is actually rather small and slight next to Ashley (or anybody) and is a little short to partner her. But he lifted and promenaded her with great confidence.

As for "Harlequinade" - I think it is just what it wants to be and what it wants to be is charming and delightful. I loved the color, the sense of fun, the innocence and the delicious Drigo music. I loved the children in Act II and the cast was delightful. Joaquin de Luz must be pushing 40 but he looked in top shape and the audience gasped at his tours and spins (he has been dancing professionally since 1992). I noticed that Daniel Ulbricht is almost exactly the same height as Joaquin and I think he should dance Harlequin and not Pierrot, where indeed he was wasted. Pierrot wakes up and does some bravura dancing in Act II with Pierrette but frankly, someone like Sean Suozzi or Antonio Carmena would do just as well in the part and Ulbricht would be in his element as Harlequin who is sassier and more extroverted and playful. They could pair him with Megan Fairchild as Columbine when she is done with "On the Town".

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I can't think of any ballet that delivers such an intense shot of pure joy as Square Dance, and I enjoyed last night's performance very very much.

However, I don't think Bouder and Huxley are well matched. He is sophisticated, elegant, and restrained, while she is a showoff (I mean that in a good way... I think). I don't understand why they paired him with Bouder, and Taylor Stanley with Erica Pereira. Huxley seems a better fit, and also more relaxed, dancing with Pereira. Despite that, the performance was a shot of pure joy.

Harlequinade... as Amour said, it's not my cup of tea. The most enjoyable part for me was the children. They are wonderful. You can't help but be impressed with such beautiful training and preparation. Oh, and also I thought Emilie Gerrity looked wonderful as the good fairy. When the pedestal turned around and there she was ensconced in the niche, with her long blond hair and filmy gown, I thought for a second I was in another ballet, seeing Teresa Reichlen as Titania, nestled in her fairy bower.

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