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Winter 2019

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8 hours ago, Helene said:

It's the original cast, except Patricia McBride dances instead of Melissa Hayden.  If this is the Business Couple, their penultimate pas in Part II to a slow section belies all sense that it's business that holds them together.

The Business Couple?!? I had to wipe away more than few tears every time I saw Wendy Whelan and Nikolai Hübbe dance that pas! No couple has packed more yearning and tenderness into those oh-so-simple but oh-so-glorious moments when the man gently lowers his partner to the floor and then even more gently lifts her into an arabesque while she slowly sweeps her foot forward along the floor. 

Since it's beyond description (like the last few moments of the glorious Midsummer Divertissement pas) here's some footage with Lauren Lovette and Jared Angle. The moments I'm trying but failing to describe start at about 23 second mark:

This same couple also get a few iconic moments in the first half when they dance to "Am Donaustrande." To me it always looks like they're recalling a lovely spring day when he pushed her in a swing. 

 

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re: video recordings of LW, there's mention above of a 2004 PBS program with some footage of this ballet, can anyone give further details?

in the case of the CBC '61 recording, as mentioned here in the holdings of the JRDD for viewing on the premises, there seems to have been a time when the CBC released the film on DVD, a college library in NYC has a commercial copy but efforts to track down its current availability have come up empty. 

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2 hours ago, rg said:

re: video recordings of LW, there's mention above of a 2004 PBS program with some footage of this ballet, can anyone give further details?

It's a 15-20 minute segment from "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker. The Liebeslieder cast is Kistler, Nichols, Ringer, Weese, Angle, Hubbe, Neal and Soto. Catalogue description of the NYPL holding:

https://catalog.nypl.org/search/?searchtype=X&searchscope=98&searcharg="lincoln center celebrates balanchine 100"

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I noticed that Harrison Coll has been replaced all week and I'm hoping that he's not injured.  Does anyone know why he's been out?

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So this afternoon's performance of Liebeslieder did not cast the same spell that Thursday and Friday night's performances did. But I'm hopeful that the fact that there is new casting means they might bring this back next year. (I can hope, anyway.) It's hard for me to really pinpoint why the different cast made for such a different performance. The partnering, while not showing glitches that I could see, was perhaps not as fully coordinated, timed on the music, or fleshed out as it should be; I noticed this particularly in the replacement of Joseph Gordon for the stalwart Tyler Angle. Those lifts where he swings the ballerina around from behind, with his outstretched arms held straight under her armpit (sorry for my lack of correct vocabulary here), did not have the amplitude that Tyler gave it. Abi Stafford, who I usually find delightful, looked stiff, heavy, and without a decent arabesque. Even Sara Mearns did not have her usual blaze. I thought the new pairing of Unity Phelan and Taylor Stanley fared best. All in all, I hope they bring it back and everyone gets more rehearsal time. I thought the music and the singers were beautiful, and I hope they bring them back too. In the first two performances, Maria Kowroski was the heart and soul of the piece, with emotional complexity and mystery, not to mention command of every nuance and movement. With her legs mostly hidden under the gown, it was startling and striking when suddenly the shape of her leg became visible through the silk, and then stretched, so it seemed, to the sky. 

Mr. Cobweb says that he could see Liebeslieder "a thousand times." On the other hand, he is not a fan of Prodigal Son. While much admiring the intense and musical performance of Daniel Ulbricht, he complains that the narrative distorts, if not perverts, the true meaning of the parable of the prodigal son, and instead positively wallows in the lurid. (Similar to Salome, the opera.) True, I think. But, taken on its own terms, so delicious to see!

Edited by cobweb

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10 minutes ago, cobweb said:

So this afternoon's performance of Liebeslieder did not cast the same spell that Thursday and Friday night's performances did. But I'm hopeful that the fact that there is new casting means they might bring this back next year. (I can hope, anyway.)

Sigh. Liebeslieder is like Halley's Ballet: it only comes around every seven seasons. This wouldn't be the first time that NYCB threw a bunch of new dancers at Liebeslieder for a single performance at the tail end of the season and then didn't bother to give them a chance to dance in it again until three years later (if then). The last time this happened I had the same happy thought you did, cobweb, but alas it wasn't to be.

I agree that today's performance was a uncharacteristically muted, which I chalked up to a mostly new cast. It looked as if they hadn't quite sorted out who they were, or at least, how to convey who they were. The vocal quartet and the two pianists were very, very good, however. 

 

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9 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

here's some footage with Lauren Lovette and Jared Angle

Thank you for that footage, Kathleen!  I wonder why Lauren didn't dance this time. 

PS. I also have great difficulty describing the particular moments in this piece. 

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14 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Sigh. Liebeslieder is like Halley's Ballet: it only comes around every seven seasons. 

 

Yes.  Ditto with Robert Schumann's Davidbundertanze.  I guess audiences are more into electronica music (Times are Racing) and hiphop lyrics (Runaway) than "old fashioned" masterpieces.

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

Yes.  Ditto with Robert Schumann's Davidbundertanze.  I guess audiences are more into electronica music (Times are Racing) and hiphop lyrics (Runaway) than "old fashioned" masterpieces.

Well, to be fair, they are also into a lot of other Balanchine ballets. 

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21 hours ago, Quiggin said:

It's a 15-20 minute segment from "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker. The Liebeslieder cast is Kistler, Nichols, Ringer, Weese, Angle, Hubbe, Neal and Soto. Catalogue description of the NYPL holding:

https://catalog.nypl.org/search/?searchtype=X&searchscope=98&searcharg="lincoln center celebrates balanchine 100"

many thanks for this information; it's much appreciated.

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Can anyone clarify for me the roles in Liebeslieder Walzer, relative to the original cast? I got confused about which was which. In cast with Kowroski, Bouder, Hyltin, and Laracey, which was which? Thanks for any help!

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1 minute ago, cobweb said:

Can anyone clarify for me the roles in Liebeslieder Walzer, relative to the original cast? I got confused about which was which. In cast with Kowroski, Bouder, Hyltin, and Laracey, which was which? Thanks for any help!

Kowroski = Diana Adams role (later danced by Suzanne Farrell)

Hyltin = Melissa Hayden role (later associated with Patricia McBride)

Bouder = Violette Verdy role

Laracey = Jilana role

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On 3/2/2019 at 6:07 PM, cobweb said:

Abi Stafford, who I usually find delightful, looked stiff, heavy, and without a decent arabesque.

How has she looked the rest of the season? I haven't seen much of her this year and just assumed she was nursing a mild injury or having an 'off' day. It's a shame because I always find this couple the most ambiguous of the Liebeslieder couples.

I did love Daniel Applebaum as her partner in this. His innate elegance and splendid épaulement is always a highlight for me. He and Stanley were a joy to watch. 

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2 hours ago, Inge said:

How has she looked the rest of the season? I haven't seen much of her this year and just assumed she was nursing a mild injury or having an 'off' day. It's a shame because I always find this couple the most ambiguous of the Liebeslieder couples.

I did love Daniel Applebaum as her partner in this. His innate elegance and splendid épaulement is always a highlight for me. He and Stanley were a joy to watch. 

Stafford was an okayish Polyhymnia. But she barely dances. It's hard to stay in shape when you're barely onstage. She also has a young child at home and goes to law school. I think she's transitioning out of her ballet career slowly. 

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A great ballet does not depend on the effectiveness of its original or any single cast to produce an impact: it proves its worth on the stage continually. Neither on this run nor the previous one did the dancers of NYCB have the slightest difficulty in convincing that Liebeslieder Walzer is a great ballet. Grasping its manifold intricacies, however, requires numerous viewings. The paucity of its performances by the company is consequently annoying.

Several observations on what I saw—

For the second time in a year, Ashley Laracey’s impersonation of a woman from a bygone era—in this instance the nineteenth century—proved profoundly moving. Observing her (as closely as possible) throughout was sheer enchantment. In particular, Laracey’s masterly performance during the first pas de deux of her character with that of Justin Peck’s—complete with strikingly elegant placement and movement of arms, hands, and head—proffered a sublime distillation of what Liebeslieder Walzer and ballet in general are all about.

Casting a young soloist such as Unity Phelan in such a challenging role was a courageous yet praiseworthy decision. Her dramatic take on the character was keenly affecting, and contrasted markedly with the merrier interpretation of the same woman by the seasoned Sterling Hyltin.

Customary marvelous touches and brilliant dancing characterized Tiler Peck's portrayal of the role originated by Violette Verdy. No one in the current NYCB roster matches her capacity to consistently accent choreographic sequences so exquisitely.

During the first part of the ballet the dancing by Sara Mearns occasionally appeared somewhat overdone in an elegant 19th century drawing room setting. During her long sequence with the character depicted by Russell Janzen in part two, however, her ardent, supernal dancing—especially considering her incredible, extraordinarily busy week—was nothing short of phenomenal.

 

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On 2/6/2019 at 5:18 PM, Balletwannabe said:

Oh I didn't realize she was tall.  I'm seeing her dance for the first time on the 15th (courage fairy I think?).  Looking forward to it!

Nadon was outstanding, btw, as Courage.  I cannot remember anyone dancing Aurora in their teens.  Bouder debuted at 20.

 

On 1/30/2019 at 9:50 AM, DC Export said:

So many debuts during the variations! Glad to see Dutton-O'Hara getting more opportunities.

Overall, there were dancers that had been overlooked for too long finally getting a few roles - but not enough.  Dutton-O, Habony, Alberda, Applebaum ... some new faces in the corps this year that truly shined!  It will be interesting to see what happens in the Spring and Fall with Whelan on the team.  Hopefully Justin Peck will cast something other than his regular dancers and give someone else a chance to shine.  There are so many dancers on the roster.  Many are capable of much, much more if they were given an opportunity to rehearse and grow.  Fingers Crossed!

 

13 hours ago, canbelto said:

I did a wrapup of the Winter Season which includes a link to my review of the last All-Balanchine program at Bachtrack:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2019/03/a-review-of-nycb-at-bachtrack-winter.html

great write up!  Totally Agree on Devin Alberda.  Both this season and last fall.  He has flourished since Martins left.

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I don't have time for a more comprehensive wrap-up, but I thought I'd pass along a brief take on the 2/10/19 Herman Shmerman / Principia / The Runaway triple bill.

My husband was only going to be able to take in one NYCB performance during the winter season. I asked him if he'd like to see either the Balanchine / Stravinsky program or the Balanchine / Tchaikovsky program since these ballets have been among his favorites. "No!" he said, "I want to see something new!" So, off to Forsythe / Peck / Abraham we went.

His thoughts, in no particular order:

1) He thought Herman Schmerman was the most well-crafted ballet of the three and thought that in the end it would prove to have the longest legs of any of them.

2) He LOVED Emily Kitka in Herman Schmerman. (And truly, what's not to love?) He thought that she, along with Taylor Stanley, was one of the afternoon's standout performers.

3) He thought Principia was  ... meh. He found Sufjan Stevens' score to be very well orchestrated, but badly in need of editing with little by way of thematic or stylistic unity or clarity. 

4) He really enjoyed The Runaway and was in awe of Taylor Stanley's performance. He liked the costumes and lighting, and enjoyed the music so much that when we got home he fired up our streaming service of choice and spent an hour or two listening to Kanye et al at full volume. He would like to see more Abraham, too.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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4 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I don't have time for a more comprehensive wrap-up, but I thought I'd pass along a brief take on the 2/10/19 Herman Shmerman / Principia / The Runaway triple bill.

My husband was only going to be able to take in one NYCB performance during the winter season. I asked him if he'd like to see either the Balanchine / Stravinsky program or the Balanchine / Tchaikovsky program since these ballets have been among his favorites. "No!" he said, "I want to see something new!" So, off to Forsythe / Peck / Abraham we went.

His thoughts, in no particular order:

1) He thought Herman Schmerman was the most well-crafted ballet of the three and thought that in the end it would prove to have the longest legs of any of them.

 

Thank you for this report. Staying power is the key IMO. I've seen a lot of new ballets at NYCB over the years. Most of them were there for one season only. The big exceptions being pieces by Peck, Wheeldon and Ratmansky. NYCB has a huge and impressive rep of Balanchine and Robbins, so deciding that there is room for new works to enter that rep on a permanent basis must be a challenge.

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I do hope that The Runaway stays in the rep. Even more, I hope that NYCB is able to develop a dancer who can, with justice, take over Taylor Stanley's role when he decides to retire it. 

Also, I'd like to see "Behind the China Dogs" again. It was my very first Forsythe.

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On 2/13/2019 at 1:42 PM, fondoffouettes said:

Sean Suozzi seems to be another soloist who has been completely absent, and not cast in any Sleeping Beauties. Is he injured?

I should have checked the dates. It was actually three weeks during which she wasn't cast at all.

I don’t think it’s unusual for soloists to go several weeks without performing. Reading memoirs many dancers write about the shock of being promoted and adjusting to a more limited performance schedule. Serenade only has 3 principal women, and there were fewer in the Stravinsky evening. Laracey not being cast sounds like happenstance to me. 

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I think there are certain soloists who are cast fairly regularly.  Among the women it's Unity Phelan, Emily Gerrity and to a lesser extent Megan LeCrone .  Lauren King finally got some important new roles this season.

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5 minutes ago, abatt said:

I think there are certain soloists who are cast fairly regularly.  Among the women it's Unity Phelan, Emily Gerrity and to a lesser extent Megan LeCrone .  Lauren King finally got some important new roles this season.

I feel like Erica Pereira and Brittany Pollack are cast quite often, as is Indiana Woodward (I'm hoping she will be promoted soon, though I have no idea if and when new leadership will decide to make roster adjustments). 

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On 2/23/2019 at 11:06 AM, atm711 said:

Replacing R&J is a good start..I suggest they pay homage to one of their 'giant' choreographers by reviving Tudor's R&J--and he did it all in one hour!

Martins’ R & J has got to go!! It has no redeeming features. They can sell the costumes to a football team. 

What offended me about Martins’ behavior, as reported in the article, was that he went against Jonathan Stafford’s instructions not to go backstage. I would dump his choreography just for that (and the choreography being hideous, of course). Ashley Bouder hardly comes into it, since a choreographer does have the right to change casting. But the how and when of the changes should be looked at. 

I’d love to see the Tudor R&J. Who would restage it?

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