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Winter 2019


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I was at last night's program, and it was the most exciting evening I've had at NYCB in awhile.

I specifically purchased a single ticket to this program after seeing In Vento in the fall; I loved it so much then that immediately I wanted to see it a second time. There's something about Bigonzetti's choreography that leaves me so moved and breathless. I have tickets to see Oltremare in the spring and I'm looking forward to it, and I'll be on the look out for the other two pieces he's done for NYCB next seasons.

(Side note: does anyone know how I can get my hands on the Moretti music? I searched in vain back in the fall and my searches now have been similarly fruitless.)

I was absolutely blown away by Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir. Do you ever find yourself watching a piece for the first time and smiling so hard in constant wonderment and bewilderment that your face hurts after? Mine did after this piece; I was beside myself with delight at intermission. This was the most unusual Balanchine piece I’ve ever seen and it’s absolutely my new favorite. (It also drives home that he had a much greater “range” as a choreographer than I formerly gave him credit for—I know, shame on me.) Kowrowski deserves a medal for not slipping or getting caught in that train; the techs deserve a round of applause for the fabric moves. The whole thing was, in turns, both hilarious and breathtaking. Are there other Balanchine works like this one? I’d see them in a heartbeat.

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29 minutes ago, vendangeuse said:

(Side note: does anyone know how I can get my hands on the Moretti music? I searched in vain back in the fall and my searches now have been similarly fruitless.)
 

 

I've looked for the music to In Vento extensively and have always come up short. It was a commissioned score, so I don't believe it's been recorded and released.

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4 hours ago, cobweb said:

I don't know that the issue is just the angular facial structure. She rarely smiles, and when she does it doesn't look relaxed or genuine. She looks good technically, especially this season where she seems very solid, but her facial expression makes her look tense and not happy (let alone conveying joy or radiance, as one would hope to see in Lilac and Sugarplum). 

I think her eyebrows can give her a stern or angry look.

 

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Vendangeuse, I was also at last night's performance, and was similarly blown away. I've never seen any of Bigonzetti's ballets at NYCB, and was traveling for work during the New Combinations program this fall, so missed In Vento then. Harrison Ball was breathtaking, and I was on the edge of my seat through the entire performance. Ball's solo parts were strong but light, and really stood out against the corps work that brought to mind a combination of the Barocco's daisy chain, Keith Haring's dancers and "partnered" figures, and something else that I can't put my finger on. Maria Kowroski's performance reminded of elements of Stravinsky Violin Concerto and the Cage that I love seeing her perform while watching, and all of the women in the cast had a seductive quality that I wasn't expecting. I've never seen any Balanchine like Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir, and was thrilled throughout. Kowroski's performance in the Sleeping Beauty trailer was hilarious, and this ballet showed a similar nuance. 

Sara Mearns was beautiful in After the Rain, and brought to life the memory of the piece to me, which I had not been expecting from the cast. Jared Angle seemed to lag next to her, and her never-ending lines reinforced where his could have reached further.   

Sterling Hyltin and Anthony Huxley are a lovely pair, I think, and I enjoyed their performance of Duo Concertant, though my non-ballet-going friend who came with me mentioned that the pink tights felt out of place on this program. 

The Times Are Racing brought down the house, though I noticed a few older couples seated around me duck out before it. I was glad to see Ashly Issacs on stage—she was captivating and really carried the piece. I'm sorry to say that I missed Amar Ramasar in the PDD with Tiler Peck. Watching the two of them, particularly with the turn into the suspended/rotated handstand sequence, was magical.   

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23 hours ago, vendangeuse said:

I was absolutely blown away by Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir.

Thanks to those of you who have been posting about this piece. I have never seen it, and I wasn't necessarily going to see this program, but after reading your reactions, I'm going to try to make it to the last performance, on Feb. 6. I looked up the score (or should I say "score") on youtube, and while I was a little befuddled and Mr. Cobweb groaned, it got me intrigued to see something different. 

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Saw this afternoon’s program of Herman Schmerman, Principia, and The Runaway. 

Newest first: I found Principia really uneven. As an earlier poster said, the group choreography is the highlight. There is a repeated motif in which dancers clustered into tight circles around a single dancer, who breaks free and then touches another circle, starting the chain of movements over again—beautiful and engaging. But the pas de deux are really flat and choreographically repetitive. The work didn’t sustain my attention, which I found flagged outside of the group dances. I liked the music as music, but felt like it lacked momentum and was pretty scattered. The choreography felt this way too, a bit all over the place. Though the closing minutes of group dancing are strong, and the final position of dancers holding hands in one long chain at the very front of the stage with heads raised up is arresting, I was left wanting more from the work overall. 

Not so with the Runaway, which I loved. Very positive audience response, including a much-deserved standing ovation for Taylor Stanley. His dancing in this piece is the most exciting male dancing I’ve seen in a long while. He was able to instantly shift from the convulsive, shuddering movements that open the ballet into the most incredible, perfectly controlled balances. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him for even a moment, every gesture was so fully realized and captivating. 

The Runaway had great performances all around—a thrilling manege from Sara, especially. And I was glad to see Georgina dancing with all her wit and spark. I really hope NYCB commissions more work from Kyle Abraham. He definitely brought out the best in the dancers and created a unique, thought-provoking, and exciting work.

Herman Schmerman—as others have said, the structure is rather odd leaving you feeling like it’s really two ballets with two separate casts (the pas de deux was choreographed later). I enjoyed both (liked not loved), though I disliked the music and felt like it was really dated and kind of grating. 

On to Sleeping Beauty! 

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I was at Sunday's matinee as well, and completely agree with Marzipan's comments regarding the score of Peck's new work. It felt like music that I'd choose to listen to when I wanted to get work done, and though various instrumental accents were interesting (the accents corresponding with the cluster/fountain motif, the sections corresponding with the female dancer's hands coming together first with their palms facing themselves, then turning to the audience), the score didn't seem to give the choreography much of a direction and, though the group choreography at the end was definitely the highlight of the piece, it wasn't reflected in the music. I was happy to see it, and really love Justin Peck's ability to create formations in group choreography that are as visually intriguing to me as those of Balanchine, but if I came back for this program, it would be to revisit the Runaway (though Claire Kretzschmar's performance was truly lovely). 

I didn't see the Runaway this fall, and was initially hesitant, wondering how Kyle Abraham would incorporate the music I'd seen was in the score, and especially after seeing photographs of the costumes after the debut. Though the more excessive costume elements didn't add anything for me, as soon as the dancing began, I wasn't thinking about them. Taylor Stanley deserves every bit of attention he's received for this roll. I've always heard that Stanley is incredibly introspective and serious as a dancer, and I hope that working with Abraham was as rewarding for him as it seems to be based on the output. The impeccable control of his first solo brought a unexpected gravity to his second, and his performance made me think back to the NYT profile earlier in January—I can only hope that he stays with NYCB! I agree with Marzipan—I also hope that NYCB continues to work with Kyle Abraham. I saw an interview with him a few years ago (I think it was part of a PBS special) where he spoke about the difficulties of choreographing quickly enough to keep up with his demand post Genius grant receipt, and how it had led him to debut some pieces he didn't really feel were finished. I don't remember exactly, but I felt like the press surrounding the Runaway mentioned the timeframe, and I wonder how he felt about it. It felt realized, but I'd be interested to hear his thoughts. I was impressed by Ashley Bouder (a side of her that I didn't know existed!), and Sara Mearns and Georgina Pazcoguin both had wonderful performances as well. 

I'd held out on seeing this program because I was hoping to see Sterling Hyltin in Herman Schmerman, and was sorry to re-check the cast list to see that she was not dancing. However, I enjoyed watching Naomi Corti, and thought that she, Emilie Gerrity, and Unity Phelan's dancing was the highlight of that piece. Tyler Angle looked good in the PDD, conscious of matching Tiler Peck's energy and bringing a presence that I haven't noticed the last few times I've seen him perform. 

I'm attending the open Sleeping Beauty rehearsal tonight, and am looking forward to seeing who's dancing and a "preview" of what's to come! 

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Ashley Laracey’s thoughts on not being cast for the first four weeks of the winter season. Unless she’s been dealing with an injury, I find it puzzling that she has been so underutilized. I’d happily see more of Laracey and less of dancers like Stafford and LeCrone.

 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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I find Laracey to be a much more interesting dancer than a couple of the other soloist women who are cast more often — and not infrequently in ballets that either don't make the most of their talents or that actually showcase some of their weaknesses. From the outside it looks as if the company has decided that there are a handful of ballets that suit Laracey's presumed "type," and that's what she gets. If it's willing to challenge other dancers with roles that might not suit them at the outset, but that will feed their artistry, why not Laracey? 

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

Ashley Laracey’s thoughts on not being cast for the first four weeks of the winter season. Unless she’s been dealing with an injury,

 

By using words like left out and invisible, I get the impression that her absence was not due to injury.  I agree with others that Laracey is much more interesting to me than some of the other soloists like LeCrone. 

I have to wonder if Ashly Isaacs's absence was due to injury or because Stafford isn't casting her.

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I was just logging in to comment that Ashley Laracey was STUNNING in last night's rehearsal when I saw Laracey's instagram post. She (and Brittany Pollack, actually) sparkled. Obviously, it was a rehearsal, and I know dancers are dealing with injuries, saving themselves for tonight's performance, etc., but the two of them brought great energy to the rehearsal, especially next to Megan LeCrone, who had a misstep part of the way through her variation/marked until she stopped dancing (I was seated pretty high so didn't hear all of the dialogue). She walked off stage, but the orchestra prepared to play her variation again and said something to the ballet masters, and the ballet master walked back stage (I'm assuming checked with her), then emerged saying that she said didn't want to re-run it. It was quite the juxtaposition next to Ashley Laracey. I can't wait to see more of her, and equally disappointed not to see her cast thus far this season after seeing her stunning performance of Barocco last year. 

All in all, the rehearsal was interesting to see—it was a full run with tonight's cast. I've never seen NYCB's Sleeping Beauty, and there were some elements that seemed like hallmarks of Martin's choreography. The prologue fairy variations felt rushed to me! I'm not sure if it was the orchestra's tempo or the sheer number of steps crammed into the music. Tess Reichlen's lines and movement quality were absolutely gorgeous, and though she faltered in the 2nd diagonal traveling back with the pique, arabesque, pirouette into the tendu, she spoke with the ballet masters, started the variation again from that diagonal, and re-attempted the step with much better results, which, a was quite the contrast from LeCrone. I'm seeing the same cast this Saturday PM, and I'll be interested to watch Martin's version in performance and now that I have an idea of what to expect. 

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13 minutes ago, gallerina said:

I've never seen NYCB's Sleeping Beauty, and there were some elements that seemed like hallmarks of Martin's choreography. The prologue fairy variations felt rushed to me! I'm not sure if it was the orchestra's tempo or the sheer number of steps crammed into the music.

Likely both. For whatever reason, NYCB insists on taking the score at an absolutely punishing pace. It's not just hard on the dancers, it's hard on the audience too; it's impossible for the music to breathe at those metronome markings and it's as fatiguing to listen to as it must be to dance. If the company is worried about overtime or getting the audience on the last train to Ronkonkoma, then for heaven's sake cut a few minutes of fairy promenading or something. And yes, it does seem as if Martins indulged in an extra step or two when he really didn't need to — when everyone, dancers and audience together — would have benefited from a phrase that was allowed to breathe. 

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

I have to wonder if Ashly Isaacs's absence was due to injury or because Stafford isn't casting her.

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

3 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

That's really sad that she wasn't cast for a whole month.  Seems like a failure on the part of the interim team.  

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

Edited by fondoffouettes
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10 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

when everyone, dancers and audience together — would have benefited from a phrase that was allowed to breathe. 

I agree Kathleen.  I've been telling friends and family for years that this Sleeping Beauty doesn't breathe.  I call it Sleeping Beauty on "speed" and I don't mean metronome markings.

The first Sleeping Beauty I saw was the Royal Ballet's at the Met many years ago.  It was a prologue and plus three or four acts (I've forgotten).  I'm not advocating that for NYCB but a breath here and there would be welcome.  

 

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I also saw the live stream and I'm afraid I have to agree - the dancers did well considering what they were up against, but those tempi took all the charm and singing beauty out of that amazing score. It became dry and tick-tock. I don't understand what those conductors are trying to prove. That that's how Tchaikovsky wanted it? Seriously doubt that. 

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Just returned to our hotel after the opening night performance of Martins' Sleeping Beauty, and unfortunately it lived up to the sleeping portion of its name. A bit of a snooze! I love these dancers, but it felt like they were not set up for success tonight. The tempo in the fairy variations in particular did not allow the women to fully complete the steps and stretch to the end of their lines. Poor Tess Reichlen as LIlac Fairy looked like she was fighting to catch up the entire time, and it certainly wasn't her fault. Kristen Segin managed the tempo better than others and was a breath of fresh air as Fairy of Eloquence. 

I've been a fan of Sterling Hyltin in other ballets, but she was a big disappointment for us tonight unfortunately. It felt like there was no effort to build her character at all, and it felt like she completely missed the mark on the Rose Adagio. The balances don't have to be perfect, but they should be attempted. That wasn't the case tonight. 

In the third act the shining stars were jewels, especially Megan LeCrone. Little Red Riding Hood was adorable. Another positive note - the sets and costumes were beautiful. Maybe other casts will have better luck as Aurora!

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