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Spring 2019


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That's sad about Peck: she was fantastic in"Marie: Dancing Still," the current version of "Little Dancer."

Peter Boal said in a Q&A recently that she visited Boyd Bender, PNB's reknowned PT, while she was in Seattle for the production, and that she also taught a PD class at the school. 

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I saw the Western Symphony "Scherzo" performed once, on 2/19/89, with Katrina Killian and Gen Horiuchi.  (Valentina Kozlova and Jock Soto danced 1st Movement, Kelly Cass and Jean-Pierre Frolich 2nd, and Helene Alexopoulos and Phillip Neal 4th.)  But it would make sense if Killian was a subsequent cast, and I wish I had seen Nichols in it.

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10 hours ago, Helene said:

I saw the Western Symphony "Scherzo" performed once, on 2/19/89, with Katrina Killian and Gen Horiuchi.  (Valentina Kozlova and Jock Soto danced 1st Movement, Kelly Cass and Jean-Pierre Frolich 2nd, and Helene Alexopoulos and Phillip Neal 4th.)  But it would make sense if Killian was a subsequent cast, and I wish I had seen Nichols in it.

I never even realized that one of the movements was removed, but perhaps I've never seen it.  Do you know if that performance in 1989 was a one off, or were they including the Scherzo at that time?  The first time I saw Western Symphony could have been about that time, but it may have been the early 90's.   I started attending NYCB in 1988.

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I remember reading a theory that Balanchine's dropped the Scherzo because it was too technically challenging, as many of roles for Wilde were, but not the context, ie. whether it was in response to a temporary situation, like a series of injuries and who was left standing, or if it was a decision about how it was being performed at the time the decision was made.

@rg posted above that the Scherzo was reinstated for the American Music Festival in 1988, and it looks like this was either extended to the Winter 1989 season (unless I made a transcription error) or was part of the Dancers Emergency Fund Benefit if it happened in 1989, although 2/19 seems like a week early for the end of a Winter season, and the benefit was typically the last Sunday evening of the season.

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12 minutes ago, Helene said:

I remember reading a theory that Balanchine's dropped the Scherzo because it was too technically challenging, as many of roles for Wilde were...

I remember reading something about that too, but I thought what I read was that it was the male role that was the problem. (I'm writing this without taking the time to rewatch the video, which I've only watched once quite awhile ago, so this could very well be completely wrong!)

Edited by nanushka
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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

I remember reading a theory that Balanchine's dropped the Scherzo because it was too technically challenging, as many of roles for Wilde were, but not the context, ie. whether it was in response to a temporary situation, like a series of injuries and who was left standing, or if it was a decision about how it was being performed at the time the decision was made.

@rg posted above that the Scherzo was reinstated for the American Music Festival in 1988, and it looks like this was either extended to the Winter 1989 season (unless I made a transcription error) or was part of the Dancers Emergency Fund Benefit if it happened in 1989, although 2/19 seems like a week early for the end of a Winter season, and the benefit was typically the last Sunday evening of the season.

Thank you Helene.  I just watched the Scherzo in the link above (thank you canbelto!) and I can see what you're talking about.  It is definitely technically demanding.    I wonder if today's dancer's are up to the challenge.  I'd love to see it in performance.

 

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1 minute ago, NinaFan said:

Thank you Helene.  I just watched the Scherzo in the link above (thank you canbelto!) and I can see what you're talking about.  It is definitely technically demanding.    I wonder if today's dancer's are up to the challenge.  I'd love to see it in performance.

 

Speaking of technically demanding: I watched the first movement on this video (thank you, @canbelto!) and found myself thinking - not for the first time - that Balanchine's choreography was too tough for the dancers he created on.  We're fortunate so many of his ballets have survived and truly shine on the dancers of this generation.  Just my opinion, and of course I mean no disrespect to the dancers in this video, or at any time between now and then.  I was one myself, and had the joy of dancing the first movement of Western.  I'm simply saying these steps are hard as the dickens and tough to make look polished and clean.

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Third week casting is up on the website.  Tiler Peck is removed from all assignments in week 2, and she does not appear anywhere in week 3. 

Ramasar is not cast at all  in Weeks 1, 2 or 3.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, abatt said:

Third week casting is up on the website.  Tiler Peck is removed from all assignments in week 2, and she does not appear anywhere in week 3. 

Ramasar is not cast at all  in Weeks 1, 2 or 3.

I would not be surprised if Ramasar, coming back on the very eve of the season, ends up not being cast much at all this spring. (And if that's the case, I wouldn't be inclined to view it as a meaningful snub on the part of the administration.)

While I was really looking forward to seeing Peck in Sonatine, Lovette seems like a nice substitution.

Janzen replaces la Cour in Stravinsky Violin Concerto; having seen the latter in it (and a few other things) recently, I'm not at all disappointed with that replacement.

Edited by nanushka
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42 minutes ago, nanushka said:

While I was really looking forward to seeing Peck in Sonatine, Lovette seems like a nice substitution.

This seems like it could be a wonderful fit for Lovette — I hope to get a chance to see her in it!

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

I also listened to what I believe is the music for Peck’s Bright on Dancigers’ website. It was very reminiscent of the blandness of Principia’s score. I’m not particularly excited for this premiere.

I've found most Peck that I've seen agreeable but bland, so I was pretty blown away by last night's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes. My favorite Peck works have been Rodeo and Pulcinella Variations; on the other hand, I've found most of his collaborations with Sufjan Stevens forgettable. His only ballet to electronic music that I like is The Times Are Racing. I'd love it if he stuck to orchestral music...!

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The original male dancer in the Western Symphony Scherzo was Andre Eglevsky:

http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/display_result.jsp?num=303

In all of the film I've seen of him, he had an old-fashioned male technique compared to the other men in the Company at the time -- ankle height passes in pirouettes, for example -- even in 1954, but maybe that contrast is what Balanchine wanted.

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4 hours ago, Leah said:

I’m not really a Bartok fan, but the music seems a lot more interesting than the Dancigers. 

And much more "danceable" than Episodes or Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Fascinating to hear the music in advance. Thanks for posting canbelto!

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Since I have frequently been a Megan LeCrone detractor,  I feel the need to say that she was excellent in Herman Schmerman last night.  This kind of modern work suits her perfectly.  Since a lot of Forsythe's choreography involves slicing limbs and extensions, her long limbs were much more  suitable to this choreography than Tiler Peck's.  Aaron Sanz did a good job, but he seems to lack charisma or presence.  Maybe he will improve with additional performances.

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15 hours ago, Leah said:

Gonzalo García may have injured himself tonight in Pictures, he was replaced by Andrew Veyette in Rodeo. Veyette was noticeably tired at the end and didn’t really keep up with Huxley and Ulbricht. It was his third ballet of the night though and I thought he was good in the first two.

This is probably the first time I’ve loved every single ballet in an all modern program. Rodeo in particular was fantastic, it might be my new favorite Peck thus far.

Rodeo remains one of my favorite Peck pieces as well. He was awarded a Bessie for it (Downtown Dance and Performance award). I think the section for the five men is unlike anything I've seen in ballet, men partnering men, collegiality, the wistful dreaminess of it all. I also particularly love Peck's Everywhere We Go and Year of the Rabbit. Have you seen both of those?

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My favorite Peck works are Rodeo, Times Are Racing, and In Creases. Also like Belles Lettres and Pulcinella Variations.

Any of his collaborations with Sufjan Stevens are IMO pretty bland. I simply don't respond to Sufjan Stevens music.

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Just some quick notes on Wed 4/24/19

The program:
HALLELUJAH JUNCTION: Hyltin, Stanley, Ulbricht [Solo Pianos: Grant, Moverman]
HERMAN SCHMERMAN: Mearns, Pollack, Phelan, LeCrone (replaces T. Peck), Ball, Alberda, Sanz (replaces T. Angle)
THE EXCHANGE: Kowroski, Phelan, Dutton-O’Hara, Wellington, *Pereira (replaces T. Peck), Gerrity, Hutsell, Kretzschmar, *Danchig-Waring, Scordato, Applebaum, Huxley, Gordon, *Alberda, Henson, Hoxha [Solo Violins: Delmoni, Kuo; Solo Viola: Kang; Solo Cello: Zlotkin]
CONCERTO DSCH: Mearns, T. Angle, Bouder, Garcia, Huxley [Solo Piano: Gosling]

I had to skip Hallelujah Junction, and while my life wasn't materially altered for the worse, I'm sorry I didn't get to see Hyltin and Stanley dance since they are two of my NYCB favorites.

As far as I'm concerned, Devin Alberda was the star of the evening, or at least the MVP. He looked terrific in his featured roles in Herman Schmerman and The Exchange and was eye-catching in the corps of Concerto DSCH, too. He's been a beautiful dancer since day one, but he was on absolutely fire on Wednesday evening. His take on Forsythe's choreography was particularly fluent and on point. No matter how knotty, extreme, or off-balance the steps were he made them look logical and even beautiful. Bravo. 

This was my second viewing of The Exchange, and much to my surprise, I liked it a lot more that I did the first time around. I wouldn't rush to the theater just to see it, but I won't mind seeing it again. I wish the company could ditch the costumes for the second phalanx of women (led by a much improved Pereira on Wednesday) though: they look like big red tablecloths draped with no particular skill, and flatter no one. It was really good to see Danchig-Waring back on stage and dancing at what looked to be full strength and also good to see Pereira tear into Peck's role with a purpose. 

Over the past few seasons it's seemed like Mearns has been hell-bent on dialing everything up to eleven whether the choreography called for it or not, and, to my eyes at least, her dancing was starting to look forced, effortful, and drained of nuance. So it was a delight to see her blaze through Herman Schmerman and then promptly turn down the heat and soften her attack in Concerto DSCH. She looked really good in both.

Garcia looked great in Concerto DSCH, too; his role required him to match Bouder and Huxley step-for-step, and he did not suffer by comparison. I was sorry to read above that he might have been injured. 

If the new regime is giving dancers like Alberda, Pereira, and Garcia new leases on their careers, then please let's have more!

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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I was happy to be in attendance this Saturday afternoon for “21st Century Choreographers II” mostly because I’d never seen any of the pieces before and was eager to experience them.  Also very happy that I did NOT read the critique of the program in the New York Times prior to the show; while the journalist and I saw a different performances, I thought it was mostly nasty piece and unnecessarily irrelevant to what was happening on stage.  While “Hallelujah Junction” certainly was the weakest piece, there was no “inherent evil” emanating from the ballet simply because it was choreographed by Peter Martins.  The three leads were Megan LeCrone, Aaron Sanz, and Roman Mejia.  All were fine, and as someone else here has noted, it was nice to see LeCrone looking pleasant and engaged, instead of another one of her robotic turns as Coffee in Balanchine’s Nutcracker.  LeCrone and Sanz also partnered in pas de deux in the second piece, “Herman Schmerman,” and here, her shortcomings in a leading role were more readily apparent.  She did nothing wrong, and her technical skills are excellent, but she lacks the verve, the attack, the precision of movement that make principals like Mearns, Peck and Hyltin a cut above (especially with Mearns dancing in the first half of the ballet).  

Number three was “The Exchange,” and I found it crazy and enjoyable.  The costumes are by Gareth Pugh, a very young and in-your-face British designer who revels in outrage and cultural and political anarchy.  Interestingly, his current collection for spring-summer 2019 seems as if it had been inspired by themes from this ballet, and features face masks, full hair cauls, red and black geometric designs, and deconstructed gowns and trousers.  Both Joseph Gordon and Erica Pereira were wonderful in this piece, but the real standout was Adrian Danchig-Waring, singly and while partnering Maria Kowroski.  In fact, he was the real star of the final piece as well, the fantastic “Concerto DSCH,” where he partnered Sterling Hyltin (the couple in green).  Even with Joseph Gordon and Harrison Ball setting the stage on fire with Brittany Pollack (the blue trio), Danchig-Waring’s charismatic presence almost made you forget them.  Technically brilliant, and combining a lyrical skill coupled with athletic strength, I found myself looking only for him throughout the performance.  Here’s hoping he remains healthy and uninjured for the rest of the year!  He is much needed indeed.

It’s a gorgeous spring double-header for me today; I’ll be returning to Lincoln Center later for this evening’s show!  Hope to report at some point tomorrow.  Cheers to all! 

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Saturday evening.

Sara Mearns posted on her Instagram stories tonight that she is saying goodbye to her role in “Pictures at an Exhibition” for a while, and that she was not happy with her performance.  Frankly, I don’t think that anyone who saw her dance tonight would agree with her.  She gave an intensely physical performance, literally throwing herself into the choreography, which is so difficult and complex, though she did seem to be pushing herself toward the ballet’s end - and this followed her great performance this afternoon in “Herman Schmerman.”  I’m not surprised to hear she is tired and in pain, and I hope she gets some recovery time after today.  You can always tell from her Instagram posts when she’s feeling better.  I love how committed she is to her art.  The entire cast of the ballet performed at a very high level (with Taylor Stanley replacing Gonzalo Garcia). 

This was my first viewing of “Oltremare,” and despite the bad things I’d heard about it I still looked forward to seeing it.  It started off well, but unfortunately it was all downhill from the moment a chime sounded, and Maria Kowroski began to walk, then crawl over Tyler Angle (at one point she was upside down and standing on her head; I heard someone in the row behind me laughing).  The choreography, forced and insistent on displaying suffering and loss, simply was not good.  

Thankfully, the evening closed with the superb choreography of Justin Peck’s wonderful “Rodeo” and tonight’s performance was great.  Brittany Pollack was excellent, especially in the third episode (pas de deux) with Taylor Stanley.  I love the formality and structure of the ballet; the choreography is like the music, clean and beautiful.  It’s one of those ballets I could sit through every year and never tire of seeing. 

Spotted in the audience during the second intermission:  Wendy Whelan, chatting with a young admirer.  They took a photo together, then Whelan sat down and autographed a pair of pointe shoes for her.  It was a kind and gracious moment, quietly done, and wonderful to see.

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