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nanran3

Opening Night 1/22/19

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Taylor Stanley was beautiful, sensual, and expressive in his debut tonight in Apollo.  Muses were Tiler Peck, gorgeous as always, and Brittany Pollack and Indiana Woodward. Hurray for this historic moment:  first man of color to be cast as Apollo in a normally programmed NYCB performance.

Orpheus was beautiful, the set design is stunning and costumes good too.  I like Gonzalo Garcia and also I always enjoy Sterling Hyltin.  Peter Walker was very good tonight as well.

Agon, Megan Le Crone looked very good, so glad there is more life in her after so many injuries.  Maria Kowroski was magnificent in the pas de deux.  Lately I had been wondering if she was ready to retire, but tonight's performance showed only mastery.

All in all a really good beginning to the season.  Fourth ring almost empty, oh well.

 

 

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Thank you Nanran. I am gathering my thoughts. I agree about the for me surprisingly stunning Megan LeCrone. More tomorrow. 

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Last night certainly was a great way to start the season.

It began with a curtain speech by Tyler Angle & Maria Kowroski. They told us that it was Balanchine's birthday and wished him a happy one. Then they spoke a bit about their favorite Balanchine/Stravinsky roles. He said that "third rock" in Orpheus was his first role with the company. Maria said that Arthur Mitchell coached her in the Agon PDD shortly before he died and she wished they had been able to spend more time on it - he provided her with numerous insights that she hoped to incorporate into her performance.

Last night's Agon was great, Maria was so sharp and authoritative and executed all of the treacherous moves beautifully. She and Tyler really sizzled. As mentioned above, LeCrone looked very good in this, it is her type of role.

Orpheus is not my cup of tea but it was done well and I love the music & Noguchi scenery.

Apollo is one of my favorite ballets and I loved this cast. I didn't always love Tiler's Terpischore, but it is growing on me and this time I loved it. She doesn't have the most beautiful arabesque, but she is so musical and just right on rhythmically. Woodward was lovely as Calliope and Pollack's Polyhymnia was fine. Of course the real story of this Apollo was Taylor Stanley. He was superb, if not quite 100% there yet. He danced it well with intense focus and presence but there is some room for improvement in his characterization. Still, it was a very impressive debut and a great evening!

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For me the highlight of last night was the smokin' hot pas in Agon.  Maria and Tyler Angle were electrifying.  

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I was very eager to see Taylor Stanley's Apollo, but I was a little underwhelmed. The whole thing seemed kind of low-energy to me, lacking in sharpness and purpose. Stanley didn't exude the magnetism and clarity of shape that I've come to expect from him. I imagine he'll get more sharpness and depth with time. I found Brittany Pollack a little bland, Woodward didn't have as much sparkle as usual, and even Tiler Peck not quite as engaged as usual (of course, for her, she still looks great). Orpheus - a piece relatively unfamiliar to me, and I found it hard to get into overall. Agon - Kowroski and her legs, like lasers reaching to the vast universe and beyond, was incredible. I still found Tyler Angle a little too soft in this piece, and boy does it make me miss Amar Ramasar. 

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I must say that I was disappointed in the Taylor Stanley piece in the New York Times.  I feel that I know less about him as an artist and a human being than before I read it,  which is quite an accomplishment.  Profiles of performers usually include far more background material on their training and rise through the ranks.  People complain about the copious coverage Misty Copeland gets as a rare black principal dancer.  (I don't - more power to her.)   There are a few others out there - a very few - who no doubt also have interesting stories to tell.  Maybe it's just me,  but I found the photos accompanying the piece disturbing,  with his face out of focus and the closeup of his and Tiler Peck's hands.  In my opinion,  there should have been full body photos of TS as Apollo with his Muses.

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5 hours ago, cobweb said:

I was very eager to see Taylor Stanley's Apollo, but I was a little underwhelmed. The whole thing seemed kind of low-energy to me, lacking in sharpness and purpose. Stanley didn't exude the magnetism and clarity of shape that I've come to expect from him. I imagine he'll get more sharpness and depth with time. I found Brittany Pollack a little bland, Woodward didn't have as much sparkle as usual, and even Tiler Peck not quite as engaged as usual (of course, for her, she still looks great). Orpheus - a piece relatively unfamiliar to me, and I found it hard to get into overall. Agon - Kowroski and her legs, like lasers reaching to the vast universe and beyond, was incredible. I still found Tyler Angle a little too soft in this piece, and boy does it make me miss Amar Ramasar. 

Ramasar was fabulous in Agon and is greatly missed, I agree.  Also I agree with your other assessments and imagine that Stanley was nervous and being perhaps more careful than he will be later on when he has more experience in the role.  I am bewildered that the Angle brothers are still performing with the company.  I saw Jared doing Serenade tonight and Tyler doing Mozartiana.  I understand loyalty to long time company members, and I get it that they are good partners, but they are no longer appealing physically.  When Joseph Gordon came onstage tonight to dance Tchai Piano Concerto #2, we finally saw an elegant, fit and handsome young man with clean and athletic technique.  That's what this company needs in its male dancers.  Do they need to go across the pond to Denmark to find another gorgeous Dane like Ib Anderson?  :) 

Edited by nanran3

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Well, if Tyler Angle were not available, who would have partnered Maria Kowroski so beautifully in Mozartiana tonight, the performance I’d been waiting to see?  The last time I saw this ballet was Veronika Part’s farewell performance at ABT, and though both she and her partner, Blaine Hoven, danced it wonderfully, I knew Veronika’s lyrical style could not have been what Balanchine had in mind.  Maria Kowroski’s speed, her attack, her clean movement and precise phrasing (and those long legs whipping around like the wind!) allowed me to see this ballet in a very different and far more modern way. She and Angle moved together in the Theme & Variations with the smoothness and experience of long time partners, without hesitation or errors, and sometimes that's more important than a good looking but terrified novice who can't properly support an arabesque.  I’m so grateful I was able to attend this performance tonight, because I feel that these dancers have given me enormous insight into this ballet.  The rest of the program was not too shabby, either (!), especially the spectacular Piano Concerto No. 2 with Bouder and Gordon, but I enjoyed Mozartiana the most.  Also, spotted in the audience tonight, Skylar Brandt, along with Herman Cornejo’s girlfriend Maria, chatting at the front of the orchestra during intermission with Devon Teuscher.  Both Teuscher and Brandt looked like they’d just come from ABT rehearsal downtown.  Preparing for next week in DC, no doubt!

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I think Tyler still dances well. He was energetic and had a high jump as the Second Movement guy in Symphony in C this past fall. He does get cast a lot though and looks a bit out of shape. Jared seems to primarily do partnering-only roles these days. I'm mostly concerned about Ask la Cour still performing. He doesn't even move around the stage gracefully, let alone jump or turn well. 

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NYCB seems to be having the same problem as ABT right now - a dearth of male principals (or lead role-ready males). ABT most needs shorter males to go with Lane, Copeland, Trenary, and Brandt. NYCB needs tall males, especially because the Angle brothers are nearing retirement and looking out of shape and Veyette has been phoning it in for several years now.

Much more development and training is needed in the pipeline for both companies. 

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24 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

NYCB seems to be having the same problem as ABT right now - a dearth of male principals (or lead role-ready males). ABT most needs shorter males to go with Lane, Copeland, Trenary, and Brandt. NYCB needs tall males.

NYCB has some promising taller men in its ranks, which is a good thing because it happens to have a bevy of promising taller women in addition to its taller principals. I'm sure it's not lost on the current team that they need to bring these young men along with as much dispatch as a sane development plan allows. 

NYCB actually has more principal men than principal women (eleven and nine, respectively). 

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Isabella LaFreniere (spelling?) has returned from injury.  She danced last night.  Does anyone know what happened to Alston Macgill?  Still injured?

Added: Macgill's instagram indicates she is returning for the winter season.  Good for her!

 

Edited by abatt

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20 minutes ago, abatt said:

Isabella LaFreniere (spelling?) has returned from injury.  She danced last night.  Does anyone know what happened to Alston Macgill?  Still injured?

Added: Macgill's instagram indicates she is returning for the winter season.  Good for her!

 

I saw Alston performing this season already.  I went to opening night and last night.  Can't remember which I saw her in, but she was there...

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Can I ask what may come across as a somewhat foolish question? Opening night was the only the second time I'd seen Apollo. The first time I saw it was during the Balanchine programs at City Center, with Xander Parish. I much preferred the cast at NYCB, and I felt I enjoyed and understood the ballet a lot more... with one exception.

What is with the shuffle that Apollo does with Terpsichore, where they are both on their heels with their toes lifted off the ground? I'm less interested in the technical aspects of the movement (what it's called) and more curious as to how other, more experienced people interpret that part of the piece? It kind of took me out of it a bit... I don't mean to come across as blasphemous but it struck me as a little silly.

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4 hours ago, vendangeuse said:

Can I ask what may come across as a somewhat foolish question? Opening night was the only the second time I'd seen Apollo. The first time I saw it was during the Balanchine programs at City Center, with Xander Parish. I much preferred the cast at NYCB, and I felt I enjoyed and understood the ballet a lot more... with one exception.

What is with the shuffle that Apollo does with Terpsichore, where they are both on their heels with their toes lifted off the ground? I'm less interested in the technical aspects of the movement (what it's called) and more curious as to how other, more experienced people interpret that part of the piece? It kind of took me out of it a bit... I don't mean to come across as blasphemous but it struck me as a little silly.

I can't answer but it sounds like you are talking about this part:

 

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There is a famous and perhaps apocryphal story that at Apollo's premiere someone said to Balanchine "Whoever saw Apollo walking on his heels?"  To which Balanchine allegedly relied, "Who has ever seen Apollo?"  So this particular piece of choreography has clearly been a source of questions for many years.  Personally, I've always liked the moment. 

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Thank you @liebs and @howpureisivory! Yes, that is the moment in the video—although if I remember correctly Stanley and Peck were both on their heels like Khoreva.

Maybe that’s why I found it so jarring, since the video would suggest Parish may have performed it differently in November. 

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This video of Nilas Martins from 1993 shows him performing that section on his heels, while Guerin just barely does the steps on her heels:

Here, in 1968, Farrell dances on her heels but Martins doesn't:

And in this 1960 clip, both d'Amboise and Adams don't dance on their heels:

I guess it must be one of those details of Apollo that has morphed over time, either because of Balanchine's tinkering or the way the steps have been passed down. I prefer the look of the passage as danced by Farrell and Martins.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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2 hours ago, liebs said:

There is a famous and perhaps apocryphal story that at Apollo's premiere someone said to Balanchine "Whoever saw Apollo walking on his heels?"  To which Balanchine allegedly relied, "Who has ever seen Apollo?"  So this particular piece of choreography has clearly been a source of questions for many years.  Personally, I've always liked the moment. 

Nancy Reynolds, along with others who have recounted this anecdote, specifies Apollo's knees, not his heels — thus presumably referring to a different part of the ballet:

Quote

Balanchine tells a story that after the first performance in Paris, a famous Russian critic accosted him: "Young man," he demanded, "tell me, where did you see Apollo walking on his knees?" To which Balanchine replied, "Mr. So-and-so, you know what I want to ask you: Where did you ever see Apollo?" And Balanchine continues, "He isn't 'walking on his knees'—he's dancing."  (Repertory in Review, p. 49)

Unfortunately, though, Reynolds does not cite a source.

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The anecdote about the critic asking Balanchine about Apollo's  being on his knees turned up on the PBS two-part documentary on Balanchine from a few decades ago, and, as I recall, the documentary had a voice-over with Balanchine's recounting this exchange. 

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5 hours ago, Josette said:

The anecdote about the critic asking Balanchine about Apollo's  being on his knees turned up on the PBS two-part documentary on Balanchine from a few decades ago, and, as I recall, the documentary had a voice-over with Balanchine's recounting this exchange. 

Yes, with footage of Apollo "driving" his chariot of three muses and chugging behind them in a kneeling position.

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In Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets, there is a long note after the description of Apollo that includes this quote: "When the ballet was first performed, a French critic said that this was not Apollo at all, that the choreographer had cultivated the deliberately odd, that Apollo would never have done this, or this, or this. When the critic was asked how he knew what Apollo would have done, he had no answer. He was thinking of some familiar statue of Apollo, the Apollo Belvedere perhaps, and imagined that a ballet about the god would personify sculptural representations. But Apollon Musagete is not Apollo Belvedere; he is a wild, half-human youth who acquires nobility through art."

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On 1/25/2019 at 5:37 PM, fondoffouettes said:

This video of Nilas Martins from 1993 shows him performing that section on his heels, while Guerin just barely does the steps on her heels:

Here, in 1968, Farrell dances on her heels but Martins doesn't:

And in this 1960 clip, both d'Amboise and Adams don't dance on their heels:

I guess it must be one of those details of Apollo that has morphed over time, either because of Balanchine's tinkering or the way the steps have been passed down. I prefer the look of the passage as danced by Farrell and Martins.

THANK YOU for the clips!

My guess is that the steps have not been passed down incorrectly.  In Merrill Ashley's book she said that when Balanchine was coaching her in Sanguinic there were a lot of things Balanchine asked her to do that other dancers hadn't been comfortable doing. She worked on them, sometimes successfully getting what he wanted, sometimes getting closer, other times finding another sort of compromise. I'm thinking some version of that is what happened here. He always wanted the stepping on the heels, but he wouldn't push for it if the dancer couldn't master it. I wonder if earlier casts mention that particular step in their memoirs.

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On 1/23/2019 at 10:50 PM, nanran3 said:

Ramasar was fabulous in Agon and is greatly missed, I agree.  Also I agree with your other assessments and imagine that Stanley was nervous and being perhaps more careful than he will be later on when he has more experience in the role.  I am bewildered that the Angle brothers are still performing with the company.  I saw Jared doing Serenade tonight and Tyler doing Mozartiana.  I understand loyalty to long time company members, and I get it that they are good partners, but they are no longer appealing physically.  When Joseph Gordon came onstage tonight to dance Tchai Piano Concerto #2, we finally saw an elegant, fit and handsome young man with clean and athletic technique.  That's what this company needs in its male dancers.  Do they need to go across the pond to Denmark to find another gorgeous Dane like Ib Anderson?  :) 

I like Taylor Stanley but haven't seen him dance much.  I thought his Apollo was fine but definitely lacking in the "wild  half-human youth" quality, as well as the godlike nobility.  His facial expressions didn't help the interpretation, not that I think Apollo should ever be smiley.  You mention Ib Andersen whom I saw once as Apollo and he was wonderful!  I wonder if Stanley and others making their debut can hear the "footsteps of giants" behind them.   I always enjoy Tiler Peck although I don't think Terpsichore is her best role . I also like to see a taller dancer-- have to confess a preference for the  "goddess" type.  Woodward and Pollack were both good. Kowroski was magnificent in Agon.  There is no one greater!  I've seen her in Agon several seasons ago and she is still memorable. Although I think the Angle brothers are both declining, I was surprised that Angle in Agon was satisfying and more than just a good partner. Megan LeCrone also surprised; she is clean, precise, light. Only the tense facial carriage is a negative. Huxley in Agon was spectacular, I loved him!  Although I don't think Orpheus is an easy work to love, it has a poetic aspect that I found appealing. I really liked Garcia's performance and he's never been a favorite.  Yes there are some silly aspects to the ballet and parts of Noguchi's design are ugly or awkward. It's always interesting to see an unfamiliar Balanchine.

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