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Spring 2019


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5 hours ago, cobweb said:

Splendid dancing from all four principal couples plus the soloist (Wellington) from the first section. I would just have to single out the incredible Sara Mearns. I mean, she's always been incredible but this season she has propelled herself to another level altogether, with speed, strength, precision, and power that are breathtaking. 

In T&V, Huxley looked great, but I find him and Bouder to be such an odd match that it feels a little incoherent. 

 

Agree with what you and others have said about supernova Mearns in Brahms-Schoenberg. She brought the house down. It would have been a stronger closer than today's T&V, which was pretty tepid. Bouder was somewhat low-impact in her variations (the steps simply weren't articulated well), though she and Huxley did quite well in the PDD. Huxley's solos were solid, but for me, he really lacked flair and an ability to project. He looked stone-faced throughout, as if he just wanted the whole thing to be over. Overall, the whole performance felt somewhat uninspired, and I wonder if it's nearing the time for Bouder to hang up this role. The first three movements were the highlights of the performance, with Reichlen and Danchig-Waring looking simply exquisite. But can we pleeeeeeaaase lose the clown shirts for the men in the first three movements? Oh, and LeCrone looked like the Grim Reaper in T&V. She was wearing black lipstick and her face projected anger throughout the whole thing (and it wasn't just her facial structure doing her no favors). All the other women at least had the hint of a smile or some softness to the expressions on their faces. What a sour spot onstage LeCrone was.  

Edited by fondoffouettes
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10 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

But can we pleeeeeeaaase lose the clown shirts for the men in the first three movements? Oh, and LeCrone looked like the Grim Reaper in T&V. She was wearing black lipstick and her face projected anger throughout the whole thing (and it wasn't just her facial structure doing her no favors). All the other women at least had the hint of a smile or some softness to the expressions on their faces. What a sour spot onstage LeCrone was.

My thoughts exactly!

I thought the shirts looked a little silly during the actual ballet, but in those bright lights during the curtain call... :helpsmilie:

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36 minutes ago, mille-feuille said:

My thoughts exactly!

I thought the shirts looked a little silly during the actual ballet, but in those bright lights during the curtain call... :helpsmilie:

The high sheen of the fabric only makes it worse. I quite like the tan pants, though. In the old video with Sean Lavery, they are flared at the bottom, but they must have updated the cut at some point.

I also think the scrim is somewhat problematic. I appreciate the sense of atmosphere it creates, but I think the pattern painted on it is simply too busy. The pattern is less pronounced on the bottom half, but it is still present enough to be distracting (to me at least). And the more pronounced design at the top is kind of tacky. Why not just use a plain scrim? 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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37 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

The high sheen of the fabric only makes it worse. I quite like the tan pants, though. In the old video with Sean Lavery, they are flared at the bottom, but they must have updated the cut at some point.

I also think the scrim is somewhat problematic. I appreciate the sense of atmosphere it creates, but I think the pattern painted on it is simply too busy. The pattern is less pronounced on the bottom half of the scrim, but it is still present enough to be distracting (to me at least). And the more pronounced design at the top is kind of tacky. Why not just use a plain scrim? 

Interestingly, Nancy Reynolds notes in Repertory in Review, "The scrim was abandoned after the first performance; it is now clear that all four episodes take place in the same ballroom" (p. 272).

A description by Goldner on the preceding page makes it clear that the scrim referenced is the same one used today: "We see the dancers behind a scrim, a scrim suggesting whirlpools of water, no less."

Arlene Croce writes the following in a February 1971 piece (collected in Afterimages, pp.304-307):

Quote

The prologue is set on a darkened stage behind a scrim on which a vast spiral is painted. As the music begins, we seem to move into the cone of the spiral, which vanishes as a faint light comes up on the architectural outlines of a palace setting. When the first movement (the Elégie) is over, the floor of the stage dissolves in blue and reappears for the Valse Mélancolique together with columns and arches more distinctly seen. It is still about midnight. After this, again there is a blue-out, and with the Scherzo we are in a great hall. The moonlight streams in. At the final notes of the Scherzo, the scrim is raised, the lights come up brightly, and behind the back wall of this ballet, which also flies upward, we find another ballet — Theme and Variations, with the dancers all drawn up in ranks, ready to begin — and another set, a ballroom painted honey and gold and cream and plum.

...

The conception is so striking and, what is more unusual for a company whose record in matters of production is generally poor, so strikingly well realized (by Ronald Bates, who did the lighting, and Nicolas Benois — the son of Alexandre — who did the scenery) that the dances of the first three scenes all but evaporate in the memory like the gradually clearing mists they seem to represent. ... Benois's costumes for these scenes are romantic loungewear for the girls and bellbottoms for the boys, and, like the formal classical costumes for the finale, they are not very distinguished.

So at some point the scrim was reinstated. I remember reading another Croce reference (can't find it now) to its being brought back.

Edited by nanushka
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20 minutes ago, nanushka said:

So at some point the scrim was replaced — not too long after, apparently, for Arlene Croce writes the following in a February 1971 review (collected in Afterimages, pp.304-307):

Arlene Croce's description of the scrim makes me wonder if it's best appreciated from a distance, with the lighting softening its effect. 

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On 5/18/2019 at 6:37 PM, cobweb said:

Report on the matinee. Ramasar returned in the 4th movement of Brahms Schoenberg Quartet. It was great to see him back on the stage, and I was heartened by the warm, enthusiastic response he got from the audience. He looked great in that Hungarian outfit, with the white puffy shirt and ribbons flying everywhere, and he and Mearns danced up a storm. Glad he's back. 

 

On 5/18/2019 at 9:01 PM, NYCgirl said:

I agree, and am beyond glad he is back. The reaction of the audience both before and after was wonderful! The way he danced, and partnered Mearns was exactly what the audience has been missing, in my opinion. Sara Mearns was smiling, electric,  and looked like she was enjoying every second of dancing with him. I thought all of the principal dancers in Brahms were quite beautiful as well, especially Lauren Lovette in the second movement. While Lydia Wellington wasn't as impactful as Emily Kikta, I thought she made a great debut as well.

I agree!  I saw Ramasar in the 4th movement on Sunday, and the audience greeted him with the same joyful enthusiasm as they did on Saturday.  Wonderful performance and great to have him back!

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Fifty years after its premiere on May 22, 1969 at the New York State Theater, Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and affecting works in New York City Ballet's repertory. The simplicity and beauty of the staging, costumes, lighting and colors in this ballet make it, naturally, immediately attractive. Three features, however, are especially fascinating about DaaG. First, how brilliantly Robbins utilizes ten dancers only in what is an unusually long non-narrative ballet. (Partly by virtue of this, I believe, DaaG leads to uncommon reflection about the physical space of a stage, and how choreographers may use it effectively to achieve their artistic vision.) Second, the successful synthesis of humor and jollity in the work with moments of surpassing poignancy. And finally, the music. No matter how Robbins came to choose the 18 pieces used in DaaG out of all the famous Polish composer's piano miniatures, their arrangement always produces a powerful cumulative impact at the theater. “The ballet stays and exists in the time of the music and its work,” he maintained. It certainly feels that way: the ultimate glory of both DaaG and The Goldberg Variations, I would argue, is that they enable the sympathetic viewer—through the exquisite art forms of music and ballet—to establish some sort of longed-for connection to the past.

In the two casts of DaaG this season there were no less than eight debuts (including the three in NYC). With two reprising their respective role at both performances, eighteen dancers participated in total—ranging from veteran principals and soloists to those recently promoted, in addition to a young member of the corps. Yet the performance by each cast was deeply moving, which speaks volumes about both the quality of the ballet and the talent in the company’s current roster. Particularly impressive was the wonderful NYC debut on Friday evening of Unity Phelan as the woman “in mauve” since that is a superb part and Sara Mearns is magnificent in it.

Praise, of course, is certainly due to Lauren Lovette (in pink), Megan Fairchild (in apricot), Maria Kowroski (in green), Tyler Angle (in purple), Gonzalo Garcia (in brown), Aaron Sanz (in green) and Roman Mejia (in brick) in the first cast; to Sterling Hyltin (in pink), Indiana Woodward (in apricot), Ashley Bouder (in green), Russell Janzen (in purple), Anthony Huxley (in brown), Joseph Gordon (in green) and Harrison Ball (in brick) in the second; and to Lauren King (in blue) and Peter Walker (in blue) for their contributions at both performances. Also, to Susan Walters, the pianist.

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10 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

Fifty years after its premiere on May 22, 1969 at the New York State Theater, Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and affecting works in New York City Ballet's repertory. ..

Some insightful analysis here -- I'd say it's one of the foundational works in the ballet repertory.  We saw it here in Seattle at Pacific Northwest Ballet last autumn as part of their Robbins centennial programming, and it was such a pleasure.

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I enjoyed Stars and Stripes last night. First off, Teresa Reichlen looks fabulous in that outfit - I almost wanted her to slow down just so I could take it all in. She brought a freshness and lightness to the piece that I appreciated, having fun with clean, springy dancing. Veyette looked in a little over his head with the solo parts. He carries it off with a good attitude, but generally looking heavy and earthbound. Emily Kikta again looked excellent leading the second women's regiment, dancing very large and with great personality and rapport with the audience. More of her please. The whole piece is a hoot. It's silly, but it makes me laugh. 

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Casting for this week is updated.  Maria is replaced in everything this week except Slaughter (no pointe work).

I guess they are waiting to see if Maria will be able to dance Titania, because next week's casting has not yet changed.

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18 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Whoa. I wish Kowroski very, very well, but I am thrilled to get to see supernova (quoting someone up-thread) Mearns again in Brahms Schoenberg. 

Mearns is doing the double header on Thursday - gyspy finale in the Brahms, then the Elegie in Tschai Suite 3. 

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46 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Whoa. I wish Kowroski very, very well, but I am thrilled to get to see supernova (quoting someone up-thread) Mearns again in Brahms Schoenberg. 

The Brahms-Schoenberg finale is one of Mearns' best roles, along with Walpurgisnacht. I don't want to take anything away from Kowroski (and I hope she's OK), but right now Mearns is just blowing the doors off of the Rondo alla Zingarese. It's the kind of Balanchine role that suits her talents and her temperament as if it had been made to order for them.

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9 hours ago, abatt said:

Casting for this week is updated.  Maria is replaced in everything this week except Slaughter (no pointe work).

I guess they are waiting to see if Maria will be able to dance Titania, because next week's casting has not yet changed.

Yeah... Maria didn't dance in Dances at a Gathering tonight. I hope she's ok.

Jonathan Stafford spoke beforehand, in honor of the ballet's 50th anniversary (May 22, 1969) and brought out special guests Patricia McBride and Edward Villella to share a few reminiscences. It was so sweet and they were so charming and funny. The performance was just beautiful. As a minor, minor quibble, I started to wish Lauren Lovette wouldn't smile so much. She's so pretty, and dances so beautifully, but the smiling seems to diminish her effect. It becomes less moving, somehow, like the smile is a way to ward off depth and vulnerability.

Can I post private photos from a public facing event? I took a few when McBride and Villella were speaking since the curtain was down.

For what it's worth, I loved Andy Veyette in Stars and Stripes. I think the clowning, preening aspect of El Capitain suits his performance personality. He was very charming, funny and danced well. He was a solid partner for Tess, too. She has a bunch of crazy, high wire tricks in that ppd.

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Given a talented group of dancers assigned the right parts, any minor flaws in the execution of the choreography during a performance of Dances at a Gathering—as those that occurred last evening—will have the commensurate consequence of dropping a bucket of grimy water in the middle of the ocean. Even though I had viewed it again spellbound just the previous night with the second cast and have now seen this masterpiece quite a few times altogether, the 50th Anniversary Performance by the first cast—made more moving by the appearance of Patricia McBride and Edward Villella before the curtain, and the presence of a couple (?) other original cast members in the audience—felt as if I were watching the ballet for the first time. Certainly not every minute in DaaG’s hour-long length is equally gorgeous; however, that is not unexpected—there are always climactic moments in a great work of art! Although not by any means its sole thrilling segment, the penultimate one set to Chopin’s Scherzo, op. 20, no. 1 (including the sublime, haunting interlude for the woman “in pink” and the man “in purple”) is one of the most electrifying in ballet.

Variations in the precise way and degree of success with which any two individual dancers handle a particular role are inevitable, and opinions may differ. Nevertheless, from my point of view, there were no glaring issues with either cast during this 4-performance run of DaaG. As the woman “in pink” specifically, Lauren Lovette last night danced beautifully, and was as captivating and touching at certain instants as I have ever seen her.

At both performances this week Megan Fairchild was the woman "in green", and Indiana Woodward the woman "in apricot".

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Joseph Gordon was outstanding tonight in his debut  in T&V.  The killer variation did not present any problem for him.  He sailed through without any difficulty. The partnering was excellent.  It was thrilling.  He is NYCB's MVP of the season.  I can't wait to see his Oberon next week.  He and Huxley are conquering the most important roles in the rep at NYCB.

Unity Phelan may have had the absolute worst performance of her career tonight.  The fast pace of the third movement of Tschai Suite 3 caused her to fall once and stumble at least twice.  Happy to report that Roman Mejia was brilliant in his debut in that same section.   

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 Not sure what happened with unity phelan tonight. She and Mejia debuted the scherzo last Sunday with no issues.  It was almost like she forgot to rosin her shoes tonight or something.  She was dancing brilliantly until her first fall (those beginning turns at fast speed, with perfect accents and phrasing).  Megan Fairchild also had some uncharacteristic stumbles in T & V. Gordon did better than I expected, but the double tour variation was nowhere near as good or effortless as Joaquin’s.  Missing both Joaquin and Tiler Peck in t & v this season. On a side note, I am not a fan of the redone principal woman’s costume - what is with that super-hero blingy blue whatsit on the bodice??? Ugh. 

Love Brahms Schoenberg.  Ashley Bouder was brilliant in the first movement tonight. Having seen both casts I much prefer her and Janzen to Gerrity and Gordon. She has incredible phrasing, arms and presence, and Janzen makes those lifts spectacular.  I also prefer Lydia Wellington to kikta (although I like kikta a lot).  Wellington is more musical and more in synch with the men. Megan much better than pereira in the andante (although Huxley worlds better than Garcia in the same), and Lovette and veyette made more of an impact in the second movement than hyltin and Jared angle (I don’t get what’s going on with jared angle’s body shape right now either - he doesn’t look fat, per se, but he has a weird barrel chest thing happening that does not look good).  Sara and Tyler were fantastic in the rondo.  I liked Tyler better than amar- he doesn’t ham it up to excess and his technique is better. On a final note, mira Nadon seems destined for greatness. 

Edited by balanchinette
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36 minutes ago, balanchinette said:

 On a side note, I am not a fan of the redone principal woman’s costume - what is with that super-hero blingy blue whatsit on the bodice??? Ugh. 

I wonder if it's some effort to recreate the original look of the costume. At 1:57 in the video below, there's briefly a picture of (I believe) Darci Kistler wearing a costume with that "super hero" bodice. Theme and Variations deserves better costumes, period. The company should take stock of poor costume/scenic choices from the 70s and 80s and figure out something better.

 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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9 hours ago, balanchinette said:

 On a final note, mira Nadon seems destined for greatness. 

Agreed.  After reading about her incredible performance of Scotch Symphony at the SAB workshop, I had hoped that Stafford might give her a shot at the role this season.  No such luck.  If Peter Martins were still in charge, I'm guessing that third cast would have been Nadon instead of Laracey.

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8 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

The company should take stock of poor costume/scenic choices from the 70s and 80s and figure out something better.

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 needs to be redesigned, top to bottom. As someone observed upthread, the scrim the company insists on for the first three movements is ghastly, as are the costumes for both the men and women. (NYCB's tendancy to put its ballerinas in the stage version of a cocktail dress has driven me around the bend since way back. Don't even talk to me about Walpurgisnacht Ballet; it's like Debs Gone Wild up there on the stage.) Despite the fact that the (ugly!) set is the same for all four movements, the production design does nothing to link T&V conceptually with what has come before. 

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23 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 needs to be redesigned, top to bottom. As someone observed upthread, the scrim the company insists on for the first three movements is ghastly, as are the costumes for both the men and women. (NYCB's tendancy to put its ballerinas in the stage version of a cocktail dress has driven me around the bend since way back. Don't even talk to me about Walpurgisnacht Ballet; it's like Debs Gone Wild up there on the stage.) Despite the fact that the (ugly!) set is the same for all four movements, the production design does nothing to link T&V conceptually with what has come before. 

I'd add Davidsbündlertänze to the list of scenic/costume design that perhaps deserves to be reconsidered. I've always thought it kind of looks like a cheesy music video from the 80s, the type that would employ lots of soft filters. 

I was disappointed Marc Happel's redesign for Piano Concerto No. 2 (they just didn't pop onstage), but I think he's incredibly talented and would love to see him be given a shot at some of these ballets. I agree that I'd put Suite No. 3 at the top of the list, though the company may not feel the same, as they've recently rebuilt all the T&V costumes (per the video above).

Edited by fondoffouettes
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10 hours ago, abatt said:

Joseph Gordon was outstanding tonight in his debut  in T&V.  The killer variation did not present any problem for him.  He sailed through without any difficulty. The partnering was excellent.  It was thrilling.  He is NYCB's MVP of the season.  I can't wait to see his Oberon next week.  He and Huxley are conquering the most important roles in the rep at NYCB.

Unity Phelan may have had the absolute worst performance of her career tonight.  The fast pace of the third movement of Tschai Suite 3 caused her to fall once and stumble at least twice.  Happy to report that Roman Mejia was brilliant in his debut in that same section.   

I was there too. 

Joseph Gordon handled the very difficult T&V beautifully.  IMO, it’s not really the best role for him.  Gordon shines far more in big movement ballets showing off his gorgeous lines, expansive elegance and technique.  The double tour, pirouette, repeat and repeat part of the men’s solo looks far better on men like DeLuz or Huxley – both very compact and move tightly. 

Gordon is definitely my MVP of the season!  I too can't wait to see his and Huxley’s Oberons next week. 

They both are excelling in the most difficult male roles in the rep at NYCB right now.  I think soon, and excellently, T&V would be a great fit for Roman Mejia
though I will still prefer Gordon’s handsome, princely style.

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I agree that Joseph Gordon looked outstanding in T&V last night. I love that he is tackling all these huge new assignments with so much aplomb and command. 

I've seen several performances of this program and while I was hoping to see Ashley Laracey again, the pairing of Taylor Stanley and Lauren King in the valse melancolique really grew on me. They really draw me into the darkness. And yes, Unity Phelan had an evening better forgotten. No idea what happened to her. Roman Mejia looked great. 

I am heading out for the long weekend, and very sorry to miss the new cast of Scotch Symphony, especially Laracey. I hope for many reports!

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Springtime brings thoughts of promotion. Harrison Ball and Roman Mejia are ready to be bumped up to the next level IMHO. Emily Kikta is overdue. 

They are dealing with a lot of injuries. Megan LeCrone subbed for Gretchen Smith again last night as a demisoloist in T&V, and I noticed Emilie Gerrity in the corps. Hope Tiler makes a speedy return and also Sebastian Villarini Velez. Also what about LaFreniere, Maxwell, Boisson, Hod, etc!

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I’ve lurked on this board for a long time, but the Ashley Bouder squeak-gate discussion made me register! It’s been driving me crazy since September. For the record, she did not have squeaky shoes Thursday in the first movement of Brahms Schoenberg with Russell—and it was also a much more successful performance than the one last Wednesday. Russell in particular looked more relaxed— his shoulders can get very high. 

I am also a founding member of the Joe Gordon fan club—he was really wonderful last night. There are many wonderful dancers in this company but he is really something special—so elegant, such lovely port de bras and épaulement, such a sensitive partner—plus he has the goods for the variations. He’s truly musical which puts him in an elevated category I think. 

Cobweb’s discussion of promotions made me notice that all women except for Lauren Lovette were promoted before 2010, so it’s time. I think the only one who will be promoted to principal will be Indiana Woodward. For the men, I Harrison Ball is the dark horse. He’s quite striking but his partnering is hesitant. I agree that Mejía might be promoted.

Lastly, a few words in defense of Jared Angle—I can't be the only one who is reminded of late-career Jock Soto. Those terrible satin shirts in suite #3 even made Taylor Stanley, a man who must have 2% body fat, look puffy—and frankly, the fact that they look like they are wearing Dockers makes it even worse! I find him to be a dedicated and thoughtful partner and I forgive the grand jetés.

Also, Mira Nadon—so beautiful and interesting as a dancer. Of the young tall women, I find her more compelling than Miriam Miller. 

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