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Emma

2016 Winter Season

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Ramasar had some trouble partnering Peck in that backwards gliding sequence too. The key to doing that I think is to do tiny little backwards steps much like the Balanchine angels in Nutcracker. Ramasar stepped too wide and couldn't complete the menage. He also came to grief in the Act One series of cabrioles and brises. But overall he was much better than La Cour.

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I am not at all interested in who is "the best ballerina in the company in the Tschaik Concerto". I am very interested in the issue of size (and hair color, I guess).

It was a great honor and a privilege to have witnessed last night's performance of Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Another lead part, another triumph.

And I could not care LESS about size or hair color.

Peck was indeed terrific, but Reichlen has reached a new level in this role (and she was always good in it, from the outset.)

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Yes, Reichlin is stellar in Tschai Piano Concerto. Mearns is still working out the intricacies of the choreography and gives a good, but not stellar, performance. She may also be hampered by her partner, Ask LaCour. On Tuesday he flubbed the portion where he has to do a turn in the air and then drop to his knee while partnering the ballerina.

Tiler Peck's execution of the choreography last night in Tschai Piano Concerto was very, very impressive, as was her musicality. Nevertheless, I felt like the choreography lost some of its grandeur because she does not have long enough legs or feet to really show off all of the many elongated lines and extensions built into the ballet.

Of the three soloists in Tschai Piano Concerto, my favorite was Savanah Lowery. She dances with exuberance and covers a huge amount of space in jumps. She radiated joy. I thought both Scheller and Lauren King were too small scale and dull.

Garcia was just sloppy as James. The footwork and speed are too difficult for him at this stage of his career.

Reichlen has become even more brilliant in this role. However, the role was not made on a tall woman (Marie-Jeanne had long legs for her size, but she was rather short by today's standards) and many 'shorter' ballerinas like McBride, Mary Carmen Catoya, and Bouder have made huge successes in it.

I find Lowery's dancing ungainly and extremely crass. I found King utterly exquisite in the second ballerina role. Garcia, sadly, has been sloppy and inadequate for years.

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Reichlen has become even more brilliant in this role. However, the role was not made on a tall woman (Marie-Jeanne had long legs for her size, but she was rather short by today's standards) and many 'shorter' ballerinas like McBride, Mary Carmen Catoya, and Bouder have made huge successes in it.

That's what I was trying to find out --whether size matters in this ballet. The reference to the hair is silly but someone above suggested that only blondes were cast in certain roles.

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That's what I was trying to find out --whether size matters in this ballet. The reference to the hair is silly but someone above suggested that only blondes were cast in certain roles.

I DID NOT SAY THAT. I said that blondes seem "favored" to be cast in certain roles: Titania, Apollo, Diamonds. I know you love Tiler Peck and I do too but stop misquoting people and making offensive comments about Aboriginals.

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Ramasar, as noted above, needs a lot of improvement in Tschai Piano Concerto. Saying that he was better than Ask LaCour is the ultimate backhanded compliment, in my opinion.

I'm hoping for future casting of the male lead role in some future season to go to Janzen or Catazaro. You've heard of fantasy sports teams. This is my fantasy ballet casting.

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How about Adrian Danchig-Waring with Sara or Tess? I think he's a great partner, and has the technical chops! He was terrific in the lead of Chaconne a while ago with Tess.

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Program order for Feb 19 has been changed. 4T's is moved to the middle spot, and Justin Peck's ballet is the closing ballet.

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Wow I wanted to like la sylphide so much and being a huge megan fan as you guys know when to see tonight's performance. Well perhaps it was sitting behind a huge tall big headed man who alternated between dozing off to one side then bobbing his head to every beat of the orchestral music but not the best ballet experience I've had. I mean the choreo was beautiful and I appreciated the sweet rapport between megan and Gonzalo but it's suuuccchh a downer of a ballet!!!

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sonatina, I think you saw the wrong cast. I don't mean Megan and Gonzalo aren't wonderful dancers, but this ballet is really not their thing. Woodward and Hyltin IMO are the best Sylphs and Huxley is the best James.

How was Tiler tonight? She was tremendous last night.

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I agree Sonatina, I saw the Lovette/Huxley cast last Spring. While I thought they were both tremendous (such crisp petite allegro the both of them!), I left the theater feeling rather depressed. Normally I leave feeling exhilarated...kind of why I like to go to the ballet! I don't plan on seeing it again.

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I saw Tchai piano concerto 2 again last night (although I prefer the name Ballet Imperial, which seems both more felicitous and more apt). I really hope they bring this back next year. It is a magnificent piece, full of everything I love about Balanchine, and I have not seen nearly enough of it. I never thought I would say this, but I'm feeling that I've seen enough Symphony in C to last a little while. Maybe give it a break next year and put in Ballet Imperial?

Tiler Peck was spot-on with the technical demands, of course, but I prefer the warmth that Sara Mearns brings. Unfortunately, I missed Reichlen this time around. Ramasar cuts a very good figure on the stage, but he didn't look entirely comfortable. I liked both Savannah Lowery and Lauren King as the soloist, but especially enjoyed Lowery's big jump and her driving force.

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Went to this evening's free (but ticketed) event. Anyone else there? It was a coaching of Tchai Pas with advanced students from the school followed by a performance of the adagio section by Chase Finlay and Anna Sofia Scheller.

First of all Kudos to NYCB for rescheduling this free event. It was cancelled because of the snow storm last month. It can't be cheap for a company to have the theater open for an event like this (ushers, stage hands, pianists etc) so thank you NYCB for rescheduling. Peter Martins made a point of asking how many people had tickets to the original event, and seemed pleased that so many of us made it to the rescheduling.

Martins, Darci Kistler & Jonathan Stafford were the coaches. There were 6 advanced SAB students. One couple did the adage, another did the variations and a third did the coda. All the students had novice mistakes (they are students after all) but also showed amazing presence being out there on the big stage with a packed orchestra section and largely full first ring.

I haven't seen Scheller for a while (I think she's been out injured). It was a pleasure to see her beauty and warmth grace the stage again.

All-in-all the evening provided some insights, laughs and gasps (as the students fell - and then were graciously given 2nd chances by Martins).

It was a delightful time.

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Vipa, I was supposed to go to the January 23rd event. My daughter and I had flown in from California and Texas respectively and boy, were we disappointed that the snowstorm necessitated canceling this plus the regular performances that day. Glad to hear it went forward today and thanks for letting us know how it was. Wish we'd been there!

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One of the students coached - Kennard Henson - is someone I first saw at the 2015 Workshop performance. He was VERY impressive then and has just gotten better. His partner (I don't recall her name) was also very good. I hope they get into NYCB.

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It's that time of year when they announce the Janice Levin award. IMHO the top candidates this year would be Ashley Hod, Unity Phelan, and Joseph Gordon. My bet would be Joseph Gordon, and that a promotion to soloist would come soon after. A look at the male soloist ranks seems to show some room for a promotion or two. Russell Janzen and Taylor Stanley presumably are on their way to the top. Catazaro has had a lot of injury and down time since his promotion to soloist. He probably needs some time to stabilize before he can be considered for further promotion. I believe that if Sean Suozzi, Craig Hall, or Antonio Carmena were going to be promoted it would have happened by now. None of them is getting major new roles. Besides Joseph Gordon, I could also see Devin Alberda getting a promotion to soloist. Others at the junior level who seem to be getting attention are Cameron Dieck, Peter Walker, Harrison Coll, and Preston Chamblee. Some of these are still very young, however. Harrison Ball's star seemed like it was rising a year or so back, but I haven't seen a lot of him lately.

I wonder what people think of Sebastian Villarini-Velez. I really enjoy his musicality and movement quality. An example would be the brief moment in the video for Rodeo on the NYCB youtube channel, where the 4th movement was shown and discussed. I thought he stood out the most out of all the men on stage in that section.

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Wednesday evening at NYCB was simply magnificent --both in terms of the choreography and the dancing on display. Balanchine's ballets are so rich that they demand to be seen many, many times and from multiple perspectives. It is just impossible to fully appreciate everything that is going on stage at any single viewing, especially if one is as inclined as I am to concentrate on what the soloists are doing. I particularly liked Abi Stafford, Ashly Isaacs, Rebecca Krohn, Ashley Laracey and Brittany Pollack; but many other dancers (male and female) were excellent also. At the center of each ballet fittingly stood the respective performance of each of the leading ladies from Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2: Sara Mearns' in Episodes; Teresa Reichlen's in Agon; and Tiler Peck's in The Four Temperaments. All three women were superlative.

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I saw the matinee All Balanchine performance today. This was my compensation for my ticket to the canceled 23 Jan. performance. The ballets were:

Walpurgisnacht Ballet featuring Teresa Reichlen & Adrian Danchig-Waring

Sonatine with Megan Failchild & Gonzalo Garcia

Mozartiana featuring Sterling Hyltin, Anthony Huxley, and Troy Schumacher

Symphony in C featuring Ana Sphia Scheller & Andrew Veyette, Sara Mearns & Jared Angle, Ashly Isaacs & Joseph Gordon, and Lauren King & Andrew Scordato.

Some observations:

Walpugisnacht Ballet:

Teresa Reichlen & Adrian Danchig-Waring seemed well matched. They both give the impression of being very precise without being calculating, if that makes sense.

The surprise of the night was a solo by Alexa Maxwell. It wasn't (as far as I could tell) intrinsically notable or difficult choreography, but she's a very expressive dancer. It was one of those moments where afterwards I said to myself, "Wow, that was great!" I was surprised to look her up online later and find out she's listed in the corps, not even a soloist.

This ballet made me wonder why more ballets don't have the female corps dance with loose hair. It's a great effect.

Sonatine:

I was not particularly impressed by this. The choreography seemed weak.

Mozartiana:

I was not really impressed by this either, but I couldn't really tell you why. The choreography was fine, the dancing was fine, but nothing about it made me sit up and take notice.

Symphony in C:

This is one of Balanchine's big spectacle ballets, with the women in sparkling white tutus and the men in sparkling black body suits. I think the ability to choreograph the corps well is a sometimes overlooked skill, but one which Balanchine excelled at, and it showed here.

Three of the movements are allegro and one is adagio (i.e. slow). The closing PDD in the adagio movement, with Sara Mearns and Jared Angle, was one of those transcendentally beautiful dances which has made me a ballet fan. I think Mearns is better at some aspects of dance than others, but when it comes to elegantly expressing emotion there are few better.

I was also impressed with Ashly Isaacs & Joseph Gordon. This was a much livelier movement, and Gordon especially seemed to be able to make it look effortless. At the end of the fourth movement all four couples are on stage dancing the same steps, and my eyes kept wanting to watch Isaacs and Gordon.

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Ashly Isaacs stepped in for Savannah Lowery as Choleric in yesterday's Four Temperaments. It was announced before the performance. Can someone remind me if Isaacs has done this role before, or was it her debut? IMHO, she delivered a blistering performance. Flew out of the wings as if driven by a huge blast, and never lost that propulsion. Even when standing still, she smoldered like a volcano simmering with molten lava.

She also delivered a 100% committed account in the "Bransle" section of Agon on Saturday evening, alongside a stellar Joseph Gordon and Harrison Coll. Can't wait to see more of those two. Isaacs practically dragged them along as she flew across the stage. Not to mention a polished "Concerto" section of Episodes with Taylor Stanley on Sunday afternoon. She is turning into a very valuable dancer.

I saw all three of the final performances of the season. Many memorable performances, and a ton of talent evident throughout the company. Alexa Maxwell makes a very good impression with impassioned performances as the soloist of Walpurgisnacht Ballet, and is noticeable in corps roles. It's great to see the long legs of Emily Kikta back in action, especially lovely as one of the demisoloists in Mozartiana. Unity Phelan made an authoritative debut, with Craig Hall, in the Concerto, opus 24 section of Episodes. She may have been a better choice for the big debut in Agon, rather than Miriam MIller who, IMHO, is getting more thrown at her than she can handle just yet. Needs more polish and poise. Give her a little more time. Anthony Huxley was a standout Melancholic in yesterday's 4T's, setting up suspense and momentum that hurled the season to a memorable end.

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Forgot to mention Sara Mearns in Symphony in C second movement at the Saturday matinee. Beautiful and ardent. The quality I most value in a ballerina is the ability to convey a sense of inner depth, something otherworldly, transcendent, transporting... ??? Obviously, I can't fully describe this quality in words. If anyone else knows what I'm talking about it and can describe or define it, I'd love to hear it. I see this quality in Mearns, Kowroski, and Veronika Part. It is the quality that I most hope they can develop in the younger dancers.

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She also delivered a 100% committed account in the "Bransle" section of Agon on Saturday evening, alongside a stellar Joseph Gordon and Harrison Coll. Can't wait to see more of those two. Isaacs practically dragged them along as she flew across the stage.

Unity Phelan made an authoritative debut, with Craig Hall, in the Concerto, opus 24 section of Episodes. She may have been a better choice for the big debut in Agon, rather than Miriam MIller who, IMHO, is getting more thrown at her than she can handle just yet. Needs more polish and poise. Give her a little more time.

I was at Saturday evening's show and I thought Ashly Isaac's take no prisoners performance in the "Bransle" section of "Agon" was one of night's real standouts. Because she was so musical, her swift, pointed attack seemed brilliant rather than fraught or forced. Andrew Veyette looked like he was getting through the "Sarabande" section on heart alone, but his phrasing and the shapes he made in space turned it into a very interesting performance; I haven't seen anyone else -- even Veyette himself -- approach the role quite that way. With the exception of the pas (more on that below) it was overall just about the most full-tilt "Agon" I've seen in an age. Bravo to all, but especially Isaacs, Veyette, Joseph Gordon, Harrison Coll, Ashley Hod, and Gretchen Smith.

Miriam Miller has long legs and promise, but at the moment, that's mostly all she's brought to the two big roles -- "Midsummer's" Titania and the "Agon" pas -- that I've seen her in. Both of them require authoritative, Capital-B ballerinas, and the very young Miller just isn't one of those yet. (This isn't a criticism; she's barely out of apprenticeship and needs time to grow into the lovely dancer she promises to be.) If Martins was hell-bent on throwing a woman from the corps into the "Agon" pas, he had plenty of more seasoned dancers who are at least as talented as Miller to choose from ... like Lydia Wellington, who looked particularly strong in the first theme from "Four Temperaments" or Ashley Hod, one of the evening's "three-peaters," who pretty much burned up the stage in everything.

Unity Phelan's "Episodes" debut was indeed very, very good; she brought out some lovely little details I'd either forgotten about or never noticed before, and I remember thinking that she had very eloquent feet, which is not something that usually crosses my mind when I'm watching "Episodes"! And it was so good to see Craig Hall again.

Teresa Reichlen was a last-minute sub for Savannah Lowery in the "Five Pieces" section of "Episodes." As far as I'm concerned, Reichlen has no peer in Balanchine's tall-girl roles: she absolutely blew the doors off of the "Choleric" section of "Four Temperaments."

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I don't get Miriam Miller, sorry. She doesn't seem to have the necessary extension for these kinds of roles, particularly in Agon, leaving aside her obvious "greenness." I didn't like her as Titania, and I thought the Agon pdd was so amateur looking that it brought down the rest of the ballet. In contrast, Tess Reichlen and Adrian Danchig-Waring were riveting in the Agon pdd. Although no-one really comes close to Maria K in that. I totally agree Unity Phelan would have been a better choice if they were looking for someone new -- she does have the extension and flexibility (and how) and is just beautiful to watch.

I'm not really an Ashley Isaacs fan, either -- she has a habit of scrunching up her shoulders and looking like she has no neck. Her Choleric was disappointing -- first, I don't like short girls in that role (even the amazing Ashley Bouder). Not only do they not stand out from the rest of the dancers, but the part where the guys have to duck under their arabesque is just awkward with a shorter girl. Ask la Cour had to really try hard to scrunch down to get under Isaacs's leg, and he still managed to bang his arm into it. I understand if it was her debut but to me it just destroys the effect when the dancer has to put her hand down on the stage to steady herself -- not once, but twice -- on that whirlwind Choleric entrance. Tess was amazing as Choleric on Saturday -- AND she has the most breathtaking, flying gargouillades across the stage I've ever seen in that role. (Isaacs barely did them). I'm not a fan of Martins's recent penchant for casting shorter girls in the Balanchine tall girl roles. How about trying out LeCrone, Phelan, or Kikta in some of these as opposed to Isaacs?? And ugh, if they cast Miller in Diamonds instead of someone like Laracey then there must be something weird in the water there. :(

Other standouts for me in the Black & White program were Veyette, Alberda and Applebaum in Agon; Ashley Laracey (such a beautiful dancer, wish I'd seen a lot more of her in the Balanchine ballets this season and a lot less Sterling Hyltin); Phelan and LeCrone in Episodes, and Sara Mearns in the Ricercata section -- gorgeous and moving (they should take Krohn out of that role, period).

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Looking at the "Agon" video with Diana Adams, it becomes clear that big extensions in the role, particularly the pdd, were not part of the original but developed over time.

I prefer the precise geometry of Adams above all, but everyone has his or her own preferences.

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