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Fall Season


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8 hours ago, cobweb said:

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

She has a sad-looking face. I'd take that over someone like Megan LeCrone, who just looks angry all the time. While I agree MacKinnon doesn't exactly read as joyful I certainly don't agree with the criticisms I've seen of her on this site. I thought she was good in Emeralds this year in particular.

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11 hours ago, cobweb said:

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

That’s been Lauren Kings spot .... why not Sara Adams, Ashley Hod, Laine Habony?  All three are beautiful performers and strong technicians.  

Edited by JanLevNYC
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On 10/1/2019 at 6:35 PM, eduardo said:

Disclaimer: I am also a Balanchine fan, despite the fact that I'm far from having seen all of his ballets.

So far, in this order: The four temperaments (that's what I'd bring to the desert island), closely followed by Serenade. After those I love Monumentum/Movements, Agon and the fifth place probably goes to Stars & Stripes.

4T was my first favorite Balanchine ballet. I still LOVE it but there’s something about the Dance in America film with Merrill Ashley that is unmatchable. Writing that, however, I remember another spectacular film with Patricia Wilde dancing Sanguinic. YouTubers take note.

Liebesleider Waltzer is my newest favorite. I saw it for the first time a few years ago. It’s one of the few ballets (or theatrical experiences of any kind, honestly) where I’m sad that it has to come to an end. (Robbins’ DAAG and Goldberg also hit me that way)

Agon  

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 or Symphony in C or Symphony in Three Mov’ts or... Mozartiana... or Midsummer

AND “whichever Balanchine ballet I’m currently watching.”

 

 

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

I'm hoping for the best with MacKinnon's debut in Tchaikovsky PC #2, but it's not clear to me why she was chosen for such an exposed, big opportunity. She often looks effortful and doesn't seem to enjoy herself onstage. Seeing her as one of the four corps in Valse-Fantaisie a couple of times over the past week, all of the other three seem to be more obvious choices for a big opportunity, based on fleetness and crispness of dancing, as well as projecting a radiant joyfulness: Emma von Enck, Alston Macgill, and Kristen Segin. 

I agree.  I was able to catch last Friday night and it was painful to watch MacKinnons expressions all through Symphony in C.  I don’t find the technique there, as well.  I was also able to see the Sunday matinee and Valse Fantasisie was just lovely.  I plan on catching that with Indiana Woodard and am so excited.  

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12 hours ago, JanLevNYC said:

That’s been Lauren Kings spot .... why not Sara Adams, Ashley Hod, Laine Habony?  All three are beautiful performers and strong technicians.  

Lauren King is  cast as the demi soloist in Tchai PC, in the cast that has Mearns and  Janzen.  It is LeCrone who is not dancing the part this year, presumably because LeCrone is cast in Serenade on the same program.

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On 10/1/2019 at 4:51 PM, JanLevNYC said:

And right now there are dancers that are doing a great job but there are problems with many dancers and their technique, their performance quality (or lack of) and this casting the same people night after night.  The theatre is half full more days than not - why go if it's the same dancers and same show - how boring.  The new Liang piece was pleasing - the partnering was very beautiful and danced exceptionally.  But the new Lovette's piece was so bad it's not worth discussing.  Poor Mr. B, in his house.  Why not being in Tywla if you want a woman choreographer - you cannot do better!  To make matter worse, some NYCB dancers are performing with their faces looking like they are angry or scared or in pain or even talking to themselves (Olivia MacKinnon, and they keep casting her up the ladder?? really?) which is a sign of an immature performer!  Alastair questioned the daily training.  Maybe that is it.  But honestly I believe there is no fear of competition to do better.  You can review the casting posting and feel like the administration is going to cast the same people over and over.  So why try harder?  The company has a several corp members whose technique is outstanding and their faces shine every show who are not being cast - Ghaleb Kayali, Christopher Grant, Laine Habony, Isabella LaFriennere, Alton McGill come to mind immediately.  And why are they passed over for featured roles?  There is no doubt the company as a whole is amazing and most definitely ballet has matured over the course of my lifetime.  But NYCB is better than this and should be.  I wish them a great remainder of the season and let's hope we see a quantum leap for Nutcracker season.

I haven't noticed any issues with technique.  Obviously some dancers have always been better than others, but as a whole the dancers appear to be in top form.    I prefer some dancers over others, but don't we all.  I keep seeing my least favorite female principal this season, but at least she is mixed in with far superior dancers. 

As far as outstanding corps members getting a shot at featured roles...let's hope the new leadership gives them ample opportunities.  Martins did this all the time with promising corps and apprentices, so I certainly hope the practice continues.

My only gripe is that the same rep is being repeated way too much.   Starting with this fall season, I see them performing the same program as much as five times in a four week season.  In the past, a particular program was never danced more than three times per season.  So this may be why you're getting bored, and why the theater is less full this season.  

 

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2 minutes ago, angel4830 said:

Is Tiler Peck injured?  She is supposed to dance in Dallas right after Thanksgiving (Nutcracker), but she has been missing this season.

She's been out since last spring with a herniated disc.

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1 hour ago, NinaFan said:

My only gripe is that the same rep is being repeated way too much.   Starting with this fall season, I see them performing the same program as much as five times in a four week season.  In the past, a particular program was never danced more than three times per season.  So this may be why you're getting bored, and why the theater is less full this season.  

 

Agreed.  Coming from out of town, I was able to make it to a number of performances this fall (will write about them soon!), but Spring 2020 is slim pickings.  There's a few programs I'd like to see but they're not scheduled near enough together for a single trip.  

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Not only do spectacular scenes with a crowded stage in opera and ballet reflect inescapable realities of mass society and civilization, they also—ironically—contribute substantively (through contrast) to our understanding and appreciation of—human intimacy! Depending on their placement and function in a work, the accompanying music, and their handling in a given production, such scenes can be anything but tedious or pointless. One need not be enamored of militarism or nationalism, or hunger for military parades in order to deem the entire first section of Balanchine's Union Jack—along with the ballet’s glorious finale—thrilling. The intervening "Costermonger Pas de Deux" and "Royal Navy" segments, on the other hand, provide lighter fare.

One cast of the ballet this fall consisted of dancers reprising their roles, and included Gonzalo Garcia, Tyler Angle, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen. On Tuesday evening, the performance featured Amar Ramasar, Andrew Veyette, Lauren King, Ask la Cour, Brittany Pollack, Unity Phelan and Ashley Bouder—with all but Veyette and Bouder debuting! Both casts were fantastic, so although I could attend this program only twice and would have had no issue viewing either again, I am glad how everything panned out. As befitted her vast stage experience and prominent artistic ambitions, Mearns in "MacDonald of Sleat" was more assertive than the blossoming and gentler Phelan. All the same, the latter's debut in the role was enchanting. Another key difference was the discrepancy in height between the lead women in "Wrens". Certainly the imposing Reichlen dazzled with her striking figure and legs. Nevertheless, Bouder herself looked marvelous in the costume and displayed her consummate craft in the role.

Considering that it is a weaker section, how enjoyable the "Costermonger Pas de Deux" proved to be at both performances! Like true professionals, Megan Fairchild as the Pearly Queen and Andrew Veyette as the Pearly King set aside any personal differences to deliciously re-enact their roles on Sunday afternoon. Just as was the case with Lauren King in “Green Montgomerie” and Brittany Pollack in “Dress MacDonald”, it surprised me that Daniel Ulbricht’s rendition of the role of the Pearly King was a debut—although, of course, this ballet is not presented often. Best of all, Lauren Lovette was at once hilarious and utterly charming in her buoyant, splendid debut as the Pearly Queen.

My complete absorption in the performances and choreography of the program's preceding ballet, Kammermusik No. 2, similarly surprised me, since it is not a favorite. Most of the dancers—Emilie Gerrity, Peter Walker, Unity Phelan and Jovani Furlan on Sunday; Abi Stafford, Joseph Gordon, Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen on Tuesday—were new to their roles. The way Balanchine in this peculiar piece blended dancing by eight male corps members to the unusual material for the soloists is fascinating. Even though I have seen Kammermusik No. 2 many times, these performances made me feel it is a work whose ingenuity and particular beauty I am in the process of discovering.

That nine-minute ballet of sheer musical and choreographic loveliness titled Valse-Fantaisie begun the program. Having seen it only once before this past spring, Sunday afternoon's performance set the stage for an enthralling one Tuesday with Indiana Woodward and Roman Mejia as the scintillating leads.

 

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1 hour ago, Royal Blue said:

Best of all, Lauren Lovette was at once hilarious and utterly charming in her buoyant, splendid debut as the Pearly Queen.

Totally agree, Royal Blue. Lovette breathed new life into this piece, lively, authentic, and delightfully comedic. Looked great in the hat, and great use of her eyes. 

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Just back from the final of my marathon of all five performances of the Union Jack program... which also included Valse-Fantaisie and Kammermusik, but my real reason for being there was Union Jack. A few notes on the performance. During the tattoo, on the fourth regiment's entrance the horns totally missed the entrance, tootling along awkwardly for a few seconds before finally catching up with where they should be. Y'know, if you're not sure of where you should be, maybe hold off blowing the horn till you're sure of your place. Unity Phelan had a big fall just a few seconds into MacDonald of Sleat, but she recovered nicely... and the conductor (Clotilde Otranto) got an extra roll of two of the drums to hold off the music while Unity got up and back into place. Ashley Bouder drives me nuts by always being a millisecond ahead of everyone else. Her regiment was pretty in unison with each other during RCAF and WRENS, but Ashley was always ahead of them. This starts from the very beginning of RCAF, when the girls walk out on stage, pause, then all move their hands down to their waist. She's noticeably ahead. It was so annoying that I finally gave up watching her and just zoomed in with the binos on her regiment. Miriam Miller, Isabella LaFreniere, and Laine Habony all seemed to be having a grand, grand time with WRENS. Bouder was noticeably ahead even when she's with her fellow principals. For example - the moment at the end of the first section where the entire company is dancing to "Amazing Grace," then stop with their hand over their heart - the drumbeat starts up again - and the company brings their hand sharply down to the side. Bouder's hand is ahead of everyone. Or at the very end of Royal Navy when everyone stops, then salutes - again, her hand is solidly up on her head while everyone else is still moving. Anyway, the audience went nuts for the performance, and even gave a raucous, demanding applause for the Costermonger pas de deux. 

A terrific performance of Valse-Fantaisie from Indiana Woodward and Roman Mejia, backed up by four fleet and lovely corps. Promote this couple now!

Kammermusik... Russell Janzen was beautiful and spiky, with a breathtaking span of arms. Otherwise, I can't believe I'm saying this about a Balanchine piece, but I dozed off. 

Union Jack can be appreciated as a spectacle, and I do appreciate it that way. But for me it also exists on a spiritual plane. They are otherworldly creatures, stopped in their solemn march to do some sweet Scottish dancing. They never acknowledge the audience, they only acknowledge each other - sweetly, gently. Then the relentless drumbeat starts up and they resume their journey, beyond our grasp. They have a perfection that they take with them, leaving us behind in a flawed and mortal world. The formality and nobility of their posture is contrasted with the down-low real-world bickering couple of the Costermonger pdd; and the tension and constraint of their march contrasts beautifully with the good humor and warm generous spirits of Royal Navy. As I've often said: Thanks Mr. B. 

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Even though I do not feel as keenly about Union Jack as you do, cobweb, I admire your enthusiasm.

For those who love the art form and have seen many performances, it is interesting to reflect about which ballets and which moments in a particular ballet mean to us the most.

                                                                                                                       *

All ten members of the cast at each performance of Dances at a Gathering must be chosen with great care, as it seems to me has been done in this run of the ballet. (I like what little I have seen of Jovani Furlan, and I have great faith in Emilie Gerrity.) As the woman "in blue", a more critical part than is perhaps usually thought, both Lauren King and Brittany Pollack are fantastic.

Thursday evening's performance of Everywhere We Go was inconsistent and will be improved upon. And yet, no matter: Maria Kowroski was transcendent in what I regard as the ballet's finest moments! Nor will I ever forget Rebecca Krohn in the role. My calculations about who would be assigned the part in a second cast have proven correct, and I am looking forward to her debut next week.

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5 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

I have great faith in Emilie Gerrity.

I do too. I'm hoping they will name a new female principal soon, and she certainly seems in the running. To me the most likely candidates for promotion to principal are Gerrity, Woodward, and Phelan. I would not want to be the one to choose among these, but it's a good problem for a company to have. (Or promote more than one?) I wonder if there are other candidates though. God knows Laracey deserves it, but I suspect she's not in the running. Georgina Pazcoguin and Sara Adams do not seem to be favored. Megan LeCrone and Erica Pereira do seem to be favored, but I don't see either of them as principal material. (LeCrone doesn't have enough range, with her harsh facial expressions, and I find Pereira bland.) Kretzschmar was just promoted to soloist. Maybe the radiant Lauren King? 

Edited by cobweb
ETA. I forgot Brittany Pollack. At times she has been lovely, but overall she doesn't make much of an impression on me.
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I think/hope it will be Woodward, Phelan, and Gerrity. I really like Ball, but it seems like he’s spent a large amount of his time as a soloist injured, so maybe next year? Also, they haven’t promoted a woman to principal since May 2015, and with multiple Me Too incidents they need good pro-woman PR, and three promotions would do that.

For corps to principal it will definitely be Mejia. I’d also like to see Kikta, Chamblee, and Farley. I also like Emma von Enck and Alston Macgill but I think they’re less realistic. Mira Nadon might have a shot but it could be too early for her.

Edited by Leah
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Is Aaron Sanz currently injured? I’ve missed seeing him this season.

Interesting, there have been some switches between Mearns and Bouder in Ballet Imperial, with Bouder and Pereira switching some Serenade performances as a result too. I'm too tired at the moment to figure out if there's a clear logic to the swaps.

Edited by nanushka
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