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NYCB January 11

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Another fun night at City Ballet, this time an All-Robbins evening.

Dances at a Gathering was the same cast as reported on previously. It really is an uncommon treat to see Yvonne Borree looking as if she's actually having fun onstage. Her Peach girl was playful, effervescent and darkly serious, by turns, and actually was the linchpin of this performance (she was truly lovely in the "hands" duet with Damian Woetzal). Let's hope it continues.

Nikolaj Hubbe, in Mauve, seemed to be having way too much fun up there last night, heel-stomping the stage with reckless abandon in his first solo (were there roaches or something?), and turning his comic duet with Woetzal into a real in-your-face confrontation. Woetzal, who's been looking polished indeed this season, was a happy accomplice -- could he have jumped into a battement any closer to Hubbe's face?

The Four Seasons had a largely different cast, most of whom I'd seen in July in Saratoga. Carrie Lee Riggins was fine in Winter -- sweet and charming and appropriately spunky in thawing away the winter nasties with petite-allegro aerobics. The Divine Pascale was all I remembered and more. Beautiful, joyful, ever-animated, ever changing. It's not just that she's a gorgeous dancer, but she projects such a vivid personality, presenting an ever-changing smile to the audience, and to Philip Neal (who always looks good in this role). (Van Kipnis has that ballerina aura in spades, and she'd be a natural in the First Movement of Symphony in C, more so than the Fourth, where she has been cast this season.)

Rachel Rutherford again showed her sleek, almost kittenish sensuality in Summer (she's a natural for the Stephanie Saland repertory, such as there is), blissfully oblivious to Sebastien Marcovici's rather lupine advances.

In Fall, Carmena's Faun also verged a bit into the "too-much-fun" category, if it is actually possible for a dancer playing a role which requires him to wear horns and a tail to be "too much" of anything. Still, I'd prefer to see a teeny bit less mugging, to better set off, perhaps, his spectacular leaps and turns.

Millepied did well in the male lead -- he's got a huge jump himself, and he's a fine technician. It's not his fault that, due to his physique, he'll probably inherit a lot of the Damian repertory, and, yet, he's not Damian. There are few men with Woetzal's truly amazing facility.

If possible, Ansanelli was even lovelier this time around, although somoene in NYCB's wardrobe department should be scolded for making her dress too darn short! One of the things that makes Ansanelli so appealing is her almost-contradictory blend of ease and repose. It requires a technical mastery (she's a demon turner, for one thing), but only as a foundation for her great musicality. In other words, she's a delight to watch.

I was concerned to see her take a slight stumble when it appeared her ankle twisted under her. I worry about her fragility -- I don't want to lose her to injury again now that she's finally back to the form she was at a couple of years ago!

[ January 12, 2002: Message edited by: Manhattnik ]

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