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SAB Workshop Performance

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Not sure if this is the correct place for this topic. If anyone is wondering why NYCB dancers are performing so well right now, you only have to turn to the SAB Workshop Performance, which I saw this afternoon. This particular group of dancers was astonishingly good and if even only a few of them make it into the company, things will be looking ever brighter for years to come. I attended sort of as a palate refresher after seeing the ABT "SB" opening night, but was unprepared for the level and depth of the talent today. It began with 32 of the most delicious little ones dancing in a Harlequinade excerpt. On an unadorned stage with delightful costumes, these young dancers shone like small gems. The feet and legs, the arms and placement and especially the quality of the schooling which was evident everywhere was truly a delight. While a bit younger than the kids in ABT's"SB", these little ones clearly showed what the future has in store for all of us. I especially was impressed with one Avery Lin, who has to be no more than seven or eight. Wow! Remember that name. Next up was a pas from"," William Tell", Bournonville style. Danced with sheer delight and clean batterie by Alston Macgill and Christopher Grant. They looked as if they may have benefited from the recent coaching for the "La Sylphide" across the Plaza. Then came the Grand Pas from "Sleeping Beauty" (as we remember it). Cleanly executed by one Clara Ruf-Maldonaldo and Dammiel Cruz, this was Petipa done as we know it can still be danced. Ms. Ruf-Maldonado channeled her best Meryl Park here and was so genuinely gifted as Aurora, you wanted to walk her across the Plaza to the Met stage and say, "here, dance"! Every fish dive was there, every nuance of port de bra. Every aspect of the role. Just wonderful. I can barely describe the next ballet, "Valse Fantaisie" Coached by the extraordinary Suki Schorer, this is why I go to see dance! Dance as we dance it NOW, TODAY! The speed and clarity was astonishing, breath taking in it's scope and urgency. Emma Von Enck and Ethan Fuller were more than glorious. Please give them both a contract immediately! "Stars and Stripes" (Thunder and Gladiator) showed the depth and strength of the men here and several were outstanding. The second Act was given over to "Fanfare" and the entire cast glittered and shone like cut crystals. The humor of Robbins choreography was well enunciated and everyone danced beyond miraculous! Yet again I am reminded that there is no choreographer to match Balanchine and today's performance proved that he is so alive and well at SAB. Thanks to all who participated for this amazing performance. My palate is cleansed!

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I was at the evening performance, which had a different cast, and it was WONDERFUL. Because of other distractions in the evening, (drinks with NYCB dancers which lasted 3 hours until 1am) I haven't gotten to write my review yet. But I did meet the guy, Kennard Henson, who I thought will to be the next Carlos Acosta or Herman Cornejo. He was that wonderful, I even took notes on my playbill. So definitely a more detailed review to come.

The chosen few who are going into the company now know in March. So really there are no surprises at least regarding whose getting a job after the Worhsop. For example, Miriam Miller who is technically still a student was given her apprenticeship early so she can dance Titsnia in Midsummer, They're just told not to accept other offers. On the other hand back in 2005, students had to wait 2 days to learn the news.

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Ok, finally writing about the SAB workshop. The evening cast is apparently the second cast (first cast is the matinee) but they were wonderful.

Harlequinade was first. mimsyb has already described it in great detail and I have nothing more to add. The little ones did shine like gems.

Next up was the William Tell PDD, coached by Darci Kistler and performed by Larisa Nugent (16 years old) and Kennard Henson (17). I agree with mimsyb that this looks like these guys got some coaching from Nilas and whoever else coached Bournonville at NYCB. Larisa was charming, light on her feet, held balances well and quick footwork. But Kennard. This guy is going to be a STAR!!! I haven't seen as exciting a young dancer since I saw Herman Cornejo do the peasant pas in ABT's Giselle in 1999. Kennard is extremely flexible. When he did a battement to the front, his leg practically touched his head! His cabrioles were huge and his jumps just ate up space. His tours were perfect. And what great charisma and stage presence. Apparently, he still has 1 year left at the school but he is going to be a star-I know it. When he showed up at Rosa Mexicana after the show (where my husband and I and most of NYCB were) he had an entourage with him. Again, this kid will be a star.

Next up was The Sleeping Beauty PDD, coached by Yvonne Borree and Jon Stafford, performed by Sasonah Huttenbach (17) and Alec Knight (19). This was very well executed if a little less exciting. Alec is blond and handsome, a very princely type. His grand jetes were outstanding as was his partnering. Sasonah was delicate and feminine. Considering Petipa is really not NYCB's thing I thought they did very well. The fish dives were a little shaky as well as the supported pirouettes. Still, good job.

Next Balanchines's Valse Fantasie, coached by Suki Schorer with Leah Christianson (18) and Thomas Davidoff (16) in the leads. It's been about 10 years since I saw this at NYCB so I can't really compare this performance to the company. But Leah! Ok, here we have the next Ashley Bouder:) this girl was SO FAST, I couldn't believe it. She also held balances forever, had a great jump and covered so much ground I couldn't believe it. Thomas also did very well. Tall and long legged, great stamina, nice line. VERY well done.

Then the 3rd regiment of Stars and Stripes (all men), coached by Jock Soto. EVERY one if these guys had huge jumps, great tours and pirouettes. And all done in perfect unison. So wonderful to watch. Again, so much talent, especially among the men. Any one of these kids could be dancing professionally now.

Finally, Robbins' Fanfare. This was stage by Christine Redpath and Susan Pilarre. Well, who doesn't love Susie. I think she is very beloved by everyone, especially former (and probably present) students. This work gets everyone on stage, as many men as women. My favorite was Christopher D'Ariano (17) who did the double bass. This is all Italian jumps. SO HARD! He did a fantastic job. The harp, which is the main female role) was performed by Christina Clark (17). She is tall, blond and lanky. She reminded me of last year's Clara Miller, who is now a NYCB apprentice. I thought she did very well, maybe needs a little more work controlling those long limbs.

For those who have fretted about diversity, there were quite a few African American and Asian students in the workshop. Kennard is black. Sasonah is Asian. There was 1 black ballerina - Alicia Holloway - who performed the oboe in Fanfare. Clearly a talented dancer.

So a wonderful workshop and good luck to them all!

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