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2017 Fall Season

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30 minutes ago, abatt said:

For me, R. Fairchild's most stunning and memorable performance was in Who Cares with Tiler Peck.  Many people could do the steps, but when those two danced to "The Man I Love", there was enough electricity to power all of New York City.  So sad that we will never see that again.

 

 

I do agree that R. Fairchild and T. Peck were terrific in "The Man I Love"! They both have a certain kind of Broadway sheen that makes that pas something special. (It may be because neither has any particular qualms about being Broadway, rather than just evoking it: i.e., they understand the difference between a performance and a show.) I really don't expect to see it done any better during my lifetime. 

 

Since I prefer Stravinsky Violin Concerto as a ballet overall, and because I am particularly taken with the way Hyltin has (to my eye) re-imagined Kay Mazzo's role -- with Fairchild's full participation, without a doubt -- it's still the performance that will shine particularly bright in my memory. Well maybe that smokin' hot Intermezzo, too ... 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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55 minutes ago, Olga said:

Kathleen - Sorry for the inversion. I knew that was how you phrased it, but slipped up in repeating it. More importantly, I was curious to understand your meaning since I found the word itself curious and susceptible to different interpretations and in the context, potentially loaded. You've made your point quite clear. 

 

 

I realized after I hit submit that my comment might look a bit ... odd ... given that he was married to a different ballerina. But I did mean their stage partnership, not their personal lives. 

 

The latter really doesn't matter in theater at the end of the day: if people are pros and invested in their art, they make the fantasy work regardless of how they feel offstage. 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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October 15 is the last day of Fall Season. Personally speaking, I would prefer to end on a broader and more uplifting

note than Robbie Fairchild's departure. So I can certainly see programming Duo in the third rather than the last slot. 

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24 minutes ago, Olga said:

October 15 is the last day of Fall Season. Personally speaking, I would prefer to end on a broader and more uplifting

note than Robbie Fairchild's departure. So I can certainly see programming Duo in the third rather than the last slot. 

 

Agreed. I'm sad to see Fairchild go, but better to end the season looking forward, not back. It's forward for both NYCB and Fairchild, after all.

 

ETA: I think it's fine for NYCB to make a little fuss over Fairchild's final performances, even though he's departing rather than retiring: he's an audience favorite and has put his artistry at the company's service for many years. He -- and the audience -- deserve as much.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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I remember seeing a Nutcracker with Fairchild and Peck last December. Something was definitely "off" between them. Their timing was poor, he struggled with the partnering, and for the final fish dive he was having trouble holding the pose and she quickly jumped back on her feet. But there was no chemistry or warmth between them -- it wasn't like their performances of Who Cares? 

 

Anyway he was a remarkable dancer and I'm sad but I think this is a new beginning for him. And I think fans of his dancing probably won't have to go far to see him again. I'm sure he'll be on Broadway soon again.

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3 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

First things first - she was his truest partner, which is not quite the same thing as the other way around. Anyway, I mean simply that their stage chemistry was exemplary and that he looked his absolute best when he was dancing with her. (I think Hyltin makes all her partners look good, but Fairchild especially so. IMO, he needed her more than she needed him in that regard, but I will still very much miss their special chemistry.)

 

I still remember their genuinely electric performance in the Intermezzo of Balanchine's Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, not to mention Aria II of Stravinsky Violin Concerto. 

I agree that she was his truest partner. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that they were very young when cast together in Martins Romeo & Juliet. I don't like the ballet, but I think that might have been a significant part of their early partnership.

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3 hours ago, abatt said:

 

For me, R. Fairchild's most stunning and memorable performance was in Who Cares with Tiler Peck.  

 

 Agree Abatt, seeing them in Who Cares was a major ballet viewing experience for me in the more than 40 years I've been watching ballet. It was a privilege to see. I'm grateful to them both for that gift. 

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I was planning on skipping the fall season at both NYCB and ABT as I have too much going on in the fall on weekends, but I ended up caving and nabbing tickets to both Mearns and Peck's matinee performances.  I just cannot pass up a chance to see Peck dance.

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Opening night of Swan Lake Sept. 19: I attended last night's performance, which IMO was wonderful. Packed and enthusiastic house. First, the music, always so enthralling, played so beautifully by the orchestra. Bravos to the conductor and to the oboist(?) who caught my attention with his soulful solo. Now to the dancers. I had not seen Sarah  Mearns as O/O and she captured both roles. Can one be both statuesque with exquisite extensions and pliant with deep backbends and liquid motions? Yes she was. But it was the last act where she transformed into her tragic character. The audience was with her all the way. I had read an article where she talks about how she becomes the character. It was heart-catching. And catching her was Tyler Angle, sturdy and strong smooth and showing her off to advantage, the perfect foil to her fiery performance. A great partnership. His solos showed he still has the goods IMO. Btw, Mearns did what appeared to be 26 traveling fouettés (I counted), 2or 3 of them doubles. If you count the doubles as 2 fouettés (do you?) then she may have done 32.

 

Other standout performances: 

 

What can can be said about the pyrotechnics of Daniel Ullbricht that have not been said before? He was on fire, high in the air defying gravity, all jumps and steps perfection. The audience gasped. And he played his jester role with glee. 

 

Joseph Gordon was a whirling, stage gobbling dynamo with fantastic energy in the pas de trois. Electrifying performance. And so tall--great roles should come his way. 

 

In the Russian dance Rebecca Krohn was fluid and mesmerizing. She still has lots of dance left, which I'm sure she will be teaching her new students. Sad to see her career coming to an end.

 

The four small synchronized swans gave the best performance I have ever seen in this show-stopping number. They were all the same size and synchronized perfectly as one body.

 

The SAB children were delightful and beautifully trained, and all looked thrilled to be part of the show. Bravo to them and their teachers, and to Peter Martins for orchestrating the whole production with all the groups and divertissements seamlessly.

 

My reservations were ones I'm sure others have mentioned on seeing this production before: (1) the atrocious scenery; the less said, the better. (2) IMO there are too many white swan corps numbers; by the last act my eyes were glazing over. (3) the Elizabethan ruff, balloon pants and heavy dresses costumes; very distracting as they took up space in the background,and of course their costumes masked their bodies. This is ballet, folks! 

 

I have seen Sterling Hyltin as O/O, in her first year's performance (2007 or 2008) as a young colt, and would dearly love to see her this year in her mature performance, but will have to rely on your impressions. I am also sorry to miss the O/O debuts of Tiler Peck and Megan Fairchild, so will hope to read your comments. I must admit as I watched Mearns I sometimes envisioned how I thought Tiler would handle the role. I think it's a natural for her.

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I thought the conducting was much too brisk, and resulted in diminished performances from a number of dancers who were just battling to keep up with the music.  I thought this was also an issue with Mearns' performance, especially during the second act.  The last act was brilliant and left me emotionally spent.   I counted 25 or 26 fouettes in Act III, although I don't recall doubles.  Mearns  was traveling forward a great deal,  in a  more or less straight line.  I think Mearns' performances with Jared Angle were more intimate; she and Tyler seems to be still working out some of the details.    I suspect that her next two  SL shows with Tyler will be even better.

 

Kudos to Ulbricht, Gordon, Pollack, Isaacs, King, Huxley and Woodward.  Almost all  the secondary cast was utterly stellar. 

 

 

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Yes I wondered whether the music was a little fast in places, although so thoroughly engaging. I noticed at the end of one of Ullbricht's solos, he kneels down and raises his arm on the last note, but this gesture was a second after the music stopped. And I too meant to give a shoutout to Brittany Pollack--her performance was exquisite. 

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1 hour ago, CTballetfan said:

Yes I wondered whether the music was a little fast in places, although so thoroughly engaging. I noticed at the end of one of Ullbricht's solos, he kneels down and raises his arm on the last note, but this gesture was a second after the music stopped. And I too meant to give a shoutout to Brittany Pollack--her performance was exquisite. 

I wonder if the quickness of the music negatively affects the pacing of the ballet as a whole. The last time I saw the Martins Swan Lake, I felt as if things moved along so quickly that there wasn't really time for character development, expression of emotion or detailed storytelling. It felt more like "City Ballet dances a swan-themed ballet," if that makes any sense. And, of course, I think the sets and costumes appeal to virtually no one. I also felt as if the pacing and structure of Martin's Sleeping Beauty were really odd, but in a different way, because of the cuts he made, the music he applied to transitions between scenes and the way he divided the acts. There was a disjointed quality; not sure how to more accurately describe it. 

 

I was really torn about whether or not to go this season, given the great casting, but for me, a great Swan Queen still can't save this production. I still may suck it up at some point for the chance to see Mearns in this role.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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The problems relating to Litton's brisk pace are that  positions could not be fully stretched or held, and feet were sometimes not pointed. The  dancers were rushing around madly trying to keep up.  I'm using these as examples, but I'm sure others could expand on it.   I'm not advocating the funereal tempo we sometimes encounter at ABT, but I think all of the performances would have been better with a slower tempo.  This is NOT Allegro Brillante. I looked at the schedule, and it appears the Mearns/Angle cast is getting Litton as conductor for every one their three Swan Lake shows.

 

Added:  The one place where the tempo worked best was the pas de quatre in Act III.  Since that choreography is pure Martins NYCB, the fast tempo looked great and everyone kept up well.  The briskness did not work well elsewhere.

Edited by abatt

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

I wonder if the quickness of the music negatively affects the pacing of the ballet as a whole. The last time I saw the Martins Swan Lake, I felt as if things moved along so quickly that there wasn't really time for character development, expression of emotion or detailed storytelling. It felt more like "City Ballet dances a swan-themed ballet," if that makes any sense. And, of course, I think the sets and costumes appeal to virtually no one. I also felt as if the pacing and structure of Martin's Sleeping Beauty were really odd, but in a different way, because of the cuts he made, the music he applied to transitions between scenes and the way he divided the acts. There was a disjointed quality; not sure how to more accurately describe it. 

 

I was really torn about whether or not to go this season, given the great casting, but for me, a great Swan Queen still can't save this production. I still may suck it up at some point for the chance to see Mearns in this role.

 

The quickness of the music, the abstract setting (with no lake whatsoever) and the garish & non specific costumes for everyone except the swans all contribute to creating a distance from the narrative and the characters. 

 

However, I find NYCB's rendition of the music very powerful and emotional, as compared to ABT's which is somehow very flat. I also find the final lakeside scene to be really moving, with a heartbreaking end that always gets to me. So despite its faults, and the need to tough it out through the first scene, this production always leaves me with the cathartic feeling that you get from a great Swan lake. DEFINITELY not saying that this is a great production, just that in this case the end and the music justify the production.

 

Although last night the music certainly was played way too fast. Perhaps the pace, compounded by adjusting to a new partner, contributed to what I felt was not a performance from Mearns  at the level of her earlier O/Os. Though she was still pretty great, and I'm glad I went.

 

By the way, the Washington Post recently published an article called "This is your brain on art" that explores the relationship between art and the brain and uses Swan lake as an example. There is some great footage of Mearns and Jared Angle from 2013 interspersed throughout, as well as footage of former ABT corps member Nicole Graniero and her partner Corey Landot

Click here to see it.

Edited by nysusan

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Casting is up for Week 3.  Lots of debuts in Polyphonia.  Of course, Red Violin has been out of rep for so long, the entire cast is new.  It's been so long I can't recall what I thought of Red Violin. 

 

Maria K is debuting in In Memory Of.  Not surprised - they frequently use "older ballerinas" in this one.

 

Most interesting, no Robbie Fairchild in The Times Are Racing - a signature role for him, created on him, that does not require a ballet body.  Ashley Isaacs is doing R. Fairchild's role. Tiler Peck is cast in her usual role in this ballet.  Draw your own conclusions.

 

 

Added:  I looked at Mearns' instagram, and she says there are many things she needs to work on for her upcoming SL performances.   She knows last night's show was not her finest as O/O.

Edited by abatt

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Interested to hear how LeCrone performs in her Red Violin and Chairman Dances debuts. I saw her Dark Angel once and was absolutely taken in-- interested to hear how she stacks up in these pieces.

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10 minutes ago, DC Export said:

Interested to hear how LeCrone performs in her Red Violin and Chairman Dances debuts. I saw her Dark Angel once and was absolutely taken in-- interested to hear how she stacks up in these pieces.

Based on the way the casting is listed, it seems that Unity Phelan is doing the lead role in Red Violin - the role created for Jennie Somogyi.

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26 minutes ago, abatt said:

Based on the way the casting is listed, it seems that Unity Phelan is doing the lead role in Red Violin - the role created for Jennie Somogyi.

 

Original cast: Darci Kistler, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, Peter Boal

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I was hoping for some debuts in Square Dance, say, Indiana Woodward and Harrison Ball. It's looking like probably not. Probably next week will be Ashley Bouder or Abi Stafford. 

What is "The Chairman Dances"? I was picturing something with Peter Martins in some new piece... hoping not!

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3 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

I wonder if the quickness of the music negatively affects the pacing of the ballet as a whole. The last time I saw the Martins Swan Lake, I felt as if things moved along so quickly that there wasn't really time for character development, expression of emotion or detailed storytelling. It felt more like "City Ballet dances a swan-themed ballet," if that makes any sense.

 

It does. Martins is not a natural storyteller, and the pace at which the company is inclined to take his version of Swan Lake - compounded by his enthusiasm for stripping out anything that isn't dancing doesn't help. He seems unwilling to let this ballet breathe. 

 

He seems to have left La Sylphide pretty much alone, for which we should be grateful. (But that set ... )

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

It does. Martins is not a natural storyteller, and the pace at which the company is inclined to take his version of Swan Lake - compounded by his enthusiasm for stripping out anything that isn't dancing doesn't help. He seems unwilling to let this ballet breathe. 

 

He seems to have left La Sylphide pretty much alone, for which we should be grateful. (But that set ... )

 

I saw Swan Lake live for the first time last night.  (I had previously been 0/3 in my attempts to see it and had been crossing my fingers all day there wouldn't be a storm/subway fail/etc.)  I thought Sara was absolutely incredible and I loved both white acts and the ballroom act as well.  The first act has been rightfully panned above/every time I read SL reviews and I can't understand why they don't replace those horrible costumes. 

 

I agree it felt like "City Ballet dances a swan-themed ballet," but this is why I loved it!  I'm not crazy about story ballets -- I find mime to be rather boring and the stories generally contrived.  This was beautiful music and beautiful dancing.  I thought the orchestra played wonderfully.  Sara had minor technical issues but her characterization and fluidity were even better than I had expected and I had high expectations.  I felt real emotion at the end of Act IV.  I was shocked.  Sara was that compelling.

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16 minutes ago, Emma said:

 

 

I agree it felt like "City Ballet dances a swan-themed ballet," but this is why I loved it!  I'm not crazy about story ballets -- I find mime to be rather boring and the stories generally contrived.  This was beautiful music and beautiful dancing. 

 

I run hot and cold on story ballets myself. I like the ones that tell a good story well — Bournonville's La Sylphide, for instance, or Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream, or Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardée.  I'm less enthusiastic about the ones with nonsense plots that seem mostly to be vehicles for bravura effects, lavishly costumed pageantry, and exotic locales — although I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone their enjoyment of them. (As someone who relishes every silly minute of Spectral Evidence, I can hardly throw stones ...)

 

Mime isn't strictly necessary, but when it's done well (and when you've learned even a little bit of the language) it can be absolutely beautiful. A few years ago, The Dutch National Ballet produced a lovely mime "explainer" to accompany its new production of Sleeping Beauty and it was a real eye opener for me, at least. Alas, it doesn't appear to be available online (it's on the DVD).  PNB has a nice subtitled excerpt from Giselle. And this is just plain fun.

 

What I've finally wrapped my head around is the fact that an evening-length story ballet needs the changes in texture that mime, divertissements, and pageantry all offer. 

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I am tired now, will write more later but thought Tess gave a very lovely performance tonight, and for those counting, she did about 30 fouettes with 4 doubles thrown in and landed in a clean fourth position.

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On 8/18/2017 at 3:59 PM, FITTB85 said:

Question Re: Fall Gala.  Has anyone ever attended the NYCB gala as a ticket holder, not attending the dinner/receptions?  Is it fun or do you feel oddly out of place?  Is it all the same if we just saw the program on a different evening later in the month? 

The gala can be fun, especially in the spring, because of the celebs. I don't attend the dinner but generally sit in the 2nd ring. Depending on my mood and the weather, I try to dress up a little. It's good if you can't wait the week to see the program at the normal prices.

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