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More on NYCB- late Jan/ early Feb.

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It's been a little quiet regarding NYCB, so I thought I'd take a break from my paying job and post my latest reviews...

By ballet

Raymonda Variations (3x now, once with Ringer, two with Borree). How much do I love Ashley Bouder as a dancer? Let me count the ways...

She sure knows how to make a debut (at the same performance as Borree in the lead). I had been enjoying the overall performance- the soloist casting is superb this season. Then, shot out of a cannon comes young Bouder. It's not that she jumps so high. Or is so sharp and musical. Or that she so obviously enjoys herself up on stage, and makes others enjoy themselves too (watch her interactions with other dancers on stage). Or that she commands the stage like a true ballerina. Or that she is fast, but not in a rush to get to the next step. It's all of those things and more. I truly let out a laugh when she did her first x-stage jumps (i don't remember the specific steps). It was a truly joyous laugh... in awe. Though I have seen her stunning debuts in other parts, I don't ever seem to be prepared for her effect on me. I crave more when she finishes. I honestly felt sorry for Abi Stafford, both having to follow Bouder's solo and having to be beside her in their big corps section that ends with the fouettes. The contrast in energy, passion, life, whatever you want to call it, was startling. Stafford is not a bad dancer. It's just that Bouder seems to have an extra special something. It was just too bad she was not the lead ballerina. At one of Borree's performances, she fell out of her turns (the ones where the leg starts in passe but moves down to the ground), unlike the soloist girls who did it. And, she didn't even do one of the final pirhouettes (sp?). It was quite bad, even for Borree. Ringer, on the other hand, did a beautiful job. THis ballet is not one that stands on its own for me, looking great no matter who performs it. It very much depends on the ballerina. And, here, her warmth worked to great effect. Philip Neal was her partner. I can't ever say anything negative about his dancing. He can be quite beautiful. Personally, though, he does nothing for me. Damian Woetzel, on the other hand, excites me even if he does not seem to be so into what he's doing. Go figure.

As far as the other soloists go, Natanya was gorgeous and joyous. And, Edge was simply perfect. In my numerous years (< sarcasm &gt wink.gif of attending NYCB perfs., I don't recall seeing someone execute those turns (where the leg goes out and back in again. What's it called?) so perfectly. She's having quite the season, with her perfect Marzipans, perfect Raymonda, and finally getting a principal role that shows her off at her best (Barak's Telemann ballet).

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3.

To start off on a bitter note, I must admit to taking the 2nd mov't (waltz) and 3rd (scherzo) as opportunities to figure out who all the new girls are (read: I don't watch much of the principals). I saw K. Tracey. So wrong a role for her. She doesn't convey the drama or the beauty of this role. Jennifer Tinsley did nothing for me in the Scherzo. It's a small principal role that needs to balance the excitement and *big-ness* of the music. She's not exciting enough as a dancer, I think. Of course, we know who I would truly want to see in this role... Bouder (until she gets Theme).

By the time I saw Abi Stafford in Theme & Variations (Fri., Jan 25th), I think she might have relaxed a little bit more. I do agree with others that she does not (yet?) have the ballerina presence required for the role. But, watching from Orchestra row L, I must say I thought she was quite beautiful in it. She drew me in and made me see the dance clearly- graceful articulation. She pushed through the air at the required moments (a big pet peeve of mine is when the ballerina does not take such care with her arm). While I would have preferred to see Somogyi in the role, I was nicely surprised by A. Stafford's performance.

I'm Old Fashioned.

For a few years, I got quite tired of this ballet. But, seeing it with a new cast has led me to enjoy it quite a lot. Although I often find Kowroski too internal a dancer for me, there's just no denying (IMHO!) how gorgeous a dancer she is. And, I am very glad to have Ringer in the blue dress role, over the very small yellow dress role. She's a natural for this part. Van Kipnis was great as the blue girl, but I still just don't find her feminine enough in these *womanly* roles.

Back to Bouder-- she seems to be dancing A LOT across all types of roles (me=worried, but also happy to see her)). She seems to be in the corps of anything that has a costume for a small girl. She ended up replacing someone in the corps of I'm Old Fashioned on Sunday the 3rd, and was gorgeous. I can't help watching that girl. ;-)

Swan Lake-- Everything I seem to say seems to have a negative and positive paired together. No different here. There are a limited number of parts that I can watch Wendy Whelan do these last few years, as I honestly find her body not pretty to watch (I wouldn't say ugly). But, the tutu seemed to cover her up enough as a swan. She really became a bird on Thurs. the 31st. When I first started attending performances over a decade ago, I thought her a rather affectless, but fascinating dancer. She has grown into a commanding presence, enjoying herself, and passionate in the roles she undertakes. All this she conveyed in Swan Lake. I was sitting rather close (row L again), so I could see faces more clearly. Not sure if her passion would have carried several rings up, but it did several rows out.

Allegro Brillante. I am quite upset to admit that I was a bit disappointed in Somogyi's performance (thurs., 31st). I went especially for her performance so excited was I. I could have had too high expectations. She articulated the steps beautifully-- no one has a neck quite like that. But, something seemed missing. I didn't get excited. I recall seeing Ansanelli's debut and finding it thrilling. I'm not saying everyone needs to dance Allegro that way, but Somogyi's energy level did not seem to match the music's energy level. She certainly has it in her (Dewdrop!). Maybe she just needs to get more comfortable and reacquainted with the role (this was her SAB workshop piece, right?)

Div. from "Le Baiser de la Fee". My final performance seeing Margaret Tracey. As with Philip Neal, I don't think she does anything necessarily *wrong*-- well, I don't think she's musical, but she is never really off the music-- She just has never moved me or excited me...

Didn't think Raymonda and Baiser should be on the same program. Great difference b/w the music and *stories*, but a lot of similarities, as well-- For me, it was instructive, seeing the similar uses of the corps. But, for an audience that sees the ballet a handful of times a year, I though it bad programming.

Good programming, great programming, in fact, was Sunday the 3rd: Raymonda, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and I'm Old Fashioned.

I enjoyed the Royal Danish guests quite a lot. I saw new things in their roles that I hadn't seen before. Lindstrom was not as achingly beautiful as Mazzo (on video), but she brought her own quiet passion to the role. Both Lindstrom and Bowman are beautiful to behold. Watching Bowman highlighted for me how much NYCB is lacking in the premier danseur type. Sure, all Martins, most Robbins, and a great deal of Balanchine doesn't require such a type (some may argue), but still. I wouldn't mind seeing more of him at NYCB. He has a perfect male dancer body-- not too short (sorry Tom Gold), legs not too short (sorry, Ben Millipied), lean (sorry Jock Soto and Nilas Martins), and commands my attention (sorry Philip Neal). I loved seeing Bowman and Evans dance side-by-side. Reminded me how NYCB does have a great male dancer in their midst, but for political or whatever reasons, does not get to dance so much (I mean Evans). Boal and Woetzel can't do everything.

A silver lining to the huge number of injuries and illness this season has been getting to see who replaces whom. Tess Reichlen and Genevieve Labean seem to be among those getting to dance more. Sarah Ricard, too.

Ok. Now it's others' turns...


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Hi Amanda -

Wow! That's quite a rundown!

I saw Somogyi the same performance, I think (her second Allegro) and I thought she was the cat's meow. Go figure. I loved her avidity and courage in the role. I'm beginning to make further divisions in my head as to roles, and she and Bouder are a different type of allegro dancer than someone like Weese; more about power than about speed. I think of them as "heroic" - and we haven't seen that type for a while.

Going tonight, tomorrow and next Tuesday, hope to see you there!

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I too attended last Thursday's performance, and, like Leigh was wowed by Somogyi. She has a depth to her power that is formidable. I have seen many people in the lead, not just at City Ballet, and Somogyi is the only person I have ever seen who did the double/triple pirouette combinations both times. Now, while this does not make the ballet, it is a testament to her onstage confidence and plain ol' "guts". I wish she were getting more to do; I feel that she's been passed over for a few roles that I would love to see her in, such as the aforementioned Theme.

I agree with your assessment of Wendy's performance, Amanda. She did indeed project much farther back than the orchestra. I was in the second ring, and I was amazed at how moved I was by her performance, especially at the end. There was a moment when she touched Nilas' face just before the diagonal bourree backwards just before the final exit. It was so small, but it summed up so much of the role, even in the condensed version.

I'd also like to mention Yvonne Borree's lovely performance in the R&J pas. I am pleased to say that she seems to be moving out of her trouble phase. I didn't see her Raymonda, however. I hope she continues to define herself as a principal. She did the pas with the abandon one expects from her, and none of the tension and/or technical "hiccups" we've seen a lot of since her promotion.

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I also saw the perf on 1/31. I was impressed again by Whelan. She is not everyone's idea of Odette but has found a way to make this Balanchine version of the role work for her even with a partner as stolid as Martins. Whelan is more creaturely than human, it seems to me and within that framework brought great passion to the role. I love the corp of 32 swans in their black tutus. Their lines may not be straight but they generate so much physical power and excitement that I am swept away every time. Was that Bouder as the first swan?

I was disappointed in Somoygi in Allegro, well danced certainly but lacking in warmth or aura or something. I'm not sure what I thought was missing, only that I expected more from her than I got. But the small corp of Van Kipnis, Tinsley, McBreaty, Ritter et al was divine.

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Also on 1/31, in Swan Lake, Dana Hanson was beautiful in the pas de neuf, which is really a soloist role with a corps of 8. And in Firebird that night I thought Rachel Rutherford as the Hungarian Girl and Charles Askegaard carried the performance, far more than Kowroski in the principal role of the Firbird itself. Maria was good but remained Maria and quite earthbound. The contrast between her and Bouder last year in the menage of jumps when the Firebird "enters" (really appears) to rescue Charles Askegaard could not have been more pronounced.

That indeed was Bouder as the first Black Swan on the right in the Swan Lake corps. She must be cast in principal roles because no one can survive on stage next to her. Your eyes are drawn to her no matter where she is or what she's doing. Even a simple balancee sequence with porte de bras -- as in the Swan corps -- is fascinating and hypnotically and beautifully phrased when she performs it. She's beautiful in the upper body too and not just a jumper. I was so sorry she didn't get a Firebird or a Theme (I heard she was being taught Theme but got taken out). Her Firebird last year was not just a great debut, but the best Firebird I've seen, although I've not seen that many and don't go back that far (I have seen Kowroski, Whelan and Tracey, however, and no one compared to Ashley even the night after she learned the role).

I'm another one who really loved Somogyi in Allegro Brilliante. I thought she danced the role with technical bravura but with a very soft, romantic affect in the piano cadenzas against which the principal dances her solos. She could have attacked more in the pas de deux, perhaps, particularly in the two repeated sequences where the male principal spins her into arabesque penchee and if she had attacked more there she would have varied the softness of those solos and set them off with more contrast.

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