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Fall Season


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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.

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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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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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23 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Bouder was out of tonight's Serenade kn a last minute switch out with Pereira.

That fits with the other switches next week. I’m guessing Pereira ended up rehearsing with that cast.

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24 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Mearns, Janzen, and King were all magnificent in tonight’s Ballet Imperial. A grand and memorable performance of a truly beautiful piece. 

I’m not sure it’s among Balanchine’s greatest works, but it’s long been one of my very favorites. I’m excited to be seeing Mearns and Janzen now that the casting has switched.

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Mearns was the definition of imperial in tonight's Piano Concerto No. 2 -- when Russell Janzen led her around and everyone curtsied to her it was 100% real. Worlds better than Ashley was last fall. The corps was more together, too, which was great. Lauren King is terrific in it as well -- all around, a magnificent performance. Sara Mearns was sent home to rest yesterday (per her instagram stories) so I was afraid she was going to be replaced when they were announcing replacements -- I was relieved. That could explain the casting changes, though -- remember she did all those Diamonds she wasn't scheduled to do.

Serenade is always lovely and I've always enjoyed Erica Pereira's Russian Girl so I was glad to see that tonight. Summerspace intrigued me, and for moments, really captured me -- and then would push me away. I wish I were seeing it again. 

i attended last night, too. Valse Fantaisie featured Indiana Woodward and Roman Mejia. I saw Indiana dance this with Harrison Ball last year, and I preferred that pairing. Roman has the goods, he just needs to develop a little subtlety (something often found in 19 year old boys, I know). Maybe it's a port de bras issue. I really liked Kammermusik No. 2 this time around. I think it's a compelling ballet for Teresa Reichlen. 

Union Jack -- my favorite part was seeing Russell Janzen marching around behind Ash LaCour in the corps! I guess someone couldn't go on last minute. 

In terms of promotions -- I think the closest is Indiana. She seems to have the command and I wish they would cast her in some of Ashley Bouder's rep instead of treating her like she's Tiler Peck's understudy. I know there's overlap in rep there. Unity Phelan is very lovely but at times I think overwhelmed when things get speedy. I've seen her fall a lot so I just might be getting nervous watching her. Last spring she fell three times during her debut in Suite #3 and then last night in Union Jack. I'm not sure she's ready. I don't think Harrison is going to be promoted yet. I think Emily Kikta deserves to be promoted to soloist, and I would guess Roman Mejia too, even though he is very young. 

One last thing -- as I was sitting in my cab going up Amsterdam Avenue last night, I looked out my window at a stoplight and who should be looking back at me but the costermonger's donkey! He was in his trailer heading home to greener pastures, I guess. 

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35 minutes ago, bellawood said:

 

One last thing -- as I was sitting in my cab going up Amsterdam Avenue last night, I looked out my window at a stoplight and who should be looking back at me but the costermonger's donkey! He was in his trailer heading home to greener pastures, I guess. 

I thought that the original donkey retired (and then died) a few years ago and was replaced by a pony. 

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1 minute ago, FPF said:

I thought that the original donkey retired (and then died) a few years ago and was replaced by a pony

In recent years I think they were using a pony, but this time it was definitely a donkey. 

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Alastair Macaulay had some harsh words on Knight’s pompadour in his Instagram post tonight. From the photos I’ve seen, I agree. Unfortunate. Perhaps he’ll learn from experience that this isn’t the way to stand out. 

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I remember reading, not too long ago, on Instagram I believe (a post by a dancer — I'm being very vague, I know, but I can't recall whose) that word among NYCB men was that, in order to get noticed and promoted, one had to have striking hair. Perhaps this was something Martins really liked (since he himself had it as a dancer); perhaps it was just an assumption about what he liked. In any case, I've often felt that many NYCB men have hairstyles that are too sculpted, styled, etc. I'd like to see more of the male dancers have a more "natural" look. This very likely may just be personal preference on my part. But I feel like there's a definite NYCB male hair "look" — and that Alec Knight has basically taken that and (through color and height) dialed it up to 11.

I often think Joe Gordon might look nice with shorter hair. His isn't overly sculpted or styled like some, though.

On the topic of hair, I would also be interested to see how Tyler Angle would look onstage if he didn't supplement his balding/thinning hair with such an obviously artificial (is it spray-on?) supplement. I get the impulse, but haven't we perhaps reached a point when we can accept a male dancer with a more natural look? I think it'd be worth at least giving it a shot and seeing how it plays.

As for the Ballet Imperial costumes: I'll need to take another look next week, but my initial impression when they debuted was that the women's were totally off balance: light fluid skirts below valkyrie-weight bejeweled breastplates. The tops would have looked better with tutus, I think — and I'd love to see the piece in those again. And yeah, the men's vests looked silly.

Edited by nanushka
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46 minutes ago, nanushka said:

As for the Ballet Imperial costumes: I'll need to take another look next week, but my initial impression when they debuted was that the women's were totally off balance: light fluid skirts below valkyrie-weight bejeweled breastplates. The tops would have looked better with tutus, I think — and I'd love to see the piece in those again. And yeah, the men's vests looked silly.

Yeah the new costumes don’t work for me. It’s a beautiful color palette, but the wrong color palette for this ballet and almost nothing to distinguish the principals from the corps. 

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10 hours ago, Leah said:

Alec Knight’s hair

 

1 hour ago, nanushka said:

I often think Joe Gordon might look nice with shorter hair.

I also noticed Knight's hair. Not only was it puffed up, there seemed to be a two-toned dye job, platinum blond on top and darker on the bottom. He is a showboat, which makes him compelling to watch, but sometimes it goes overboard to the point of detracting  from his dynamic dancing. And I have often wished Joseph Gordon would get a haircut, his hair flops around a lot. 

I was intrigued by Summerspace, which is entirely new to me. I can't exactly say I like it, and the music was difficult to appreciate. Still, I loved the Rauschenberg backdrop and unitards, and overall I would like to see this again.  I had the feeling that it represents a coherent, thought-out concept, making me admire it more than I did, say, the new Lovette and Liang pieces from last week, which didn't seem as intelligent. 

On the topic of promotions, I agree that Phelan may not be ready. She would benefit from more time to grow into her talents, although doubtless she is on her way to the top. I would like to see Gerrity and Woodward promoted to principal. And Kikta and Mejia to soloist. Any official word on what is up with Harrison Coll? He has been out, I think a year now. 

Btw, did anyone see the Symphony in C the other night with Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar in the second movement? I was wondering if Hyltin had added any depth or mystery to her interpretation from last time she did it. 

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I saw Summerspace at the Joyce in April when Ballet West did it. There's also an excellent video of the Lyon Ballet company doing it. It's one of Merce's most accessible works. I personally love the costumes, decor and music. 

I also thought Sara Mearns was magnificent in PC #2 last night.

Edited by canbelto
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1 hour ago, BLalo said:

Yeah the new costumes don’t work for me. It’s a beautiful color palette, but the wrong color palette for this ballet and almost nothing to distinguish the principals from the corps. 

Right, and the costumes just don't pop enough against the blue cyclorama; this is especially problematic with the men's dark blue tights. 

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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

 

I also noticed Knight's hair. Not only was it puffed up, there seemed to be a two-toned dye job, platinum blond on top and darker on the bottom. He is a showboat, which makes him compelling to watch, but sometimes it goes overboard to the point of detracting  from his dynamic dancing. And I have often wished Joseph Gordon would get a haircut, his hair flops around a lot. 

I was intrigued by Summerspace, which is entirely new to me. I can't exactly say I like it, and the music was difficult to appreciate. Still, I loved the Rauschenberg backdrop and unitards, and overall I would like to see this again.  I had the feeling that it represents a coherent, thought-out concept, making me admire it more than I did, say, the new Lovette and Liang pieces from last week, which didn't seem as intelligent. 

On the topic of promotions, I agree that Phelan may not be ready. She would benefit from more time to grow into her talents, although doubtless she is on her way to the top. I would like to see Gerrity and Woodward promoted to principal. And Kikta and Mejia to soloist. Any official word on what is up with Harrison Coll? He has been out, I think a year now. 

Btw, did anyone see the Symphony in C the other night with Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar in the second movement? I was wondering if Hyltin had added any depth or mystery to her interpretation from last time she did it. 

Harrison Coll has been filming West Side Story which just wrapped. 

Joe Gordon's hair reminds me of Damian Woetzel's so I don’t mind it — but industrial strength hairspray wouldn’t be a bad idea. It was really all over the place during Raymonda!

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10 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Here is an instagram post by Adrian Danchig-Waring which sheds some light on the hair craze at NYCBallet: "Big hair gets you roles."

Yes, that's the post I was thinking of. Thanks. I thought it might have been Adrian, but when I scrolled back through I couldn't find it. I guess it's no surprise that Joe doesn't get a haircut. Still, Peter Martins is gone now, so maybe the NYCB guys will feel they can go their own ways. I don't think big hair is necessary for a dancer to seem larger than life onstage.

Edited by nanushka
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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

but haven't we perhaps reached a point when we can accept a male dancer with a more natural look? I think it'd be worth at least giving it a shot and seeing how it plays.

Sadly, no.  In modern and contemporary dance companies, at least in the last decade, and in contemporary productions of opera, for villains, baldness (or shaved head) is acceptable.  But in ballet and for romantic leads in opera, shallowness rules.  

But I guess everyone owes it to their children to have those photos around, to counter all of the kid photos parents use to embarrass those children.

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24 minutes ago, Helene said:

Sadly, no.  In modern and contemporary dance companies, at least in the last decade, and in contemporary productions of opera, for villains, baldness (or shaved head) is acceptable.  But in ballet and for romantic leads in opera, shallowness rules.  

But I guess everyone owes it to their children to have those photos around, to counter all of the kid photos parents use to embarrass those children.

Also depends on the modern dance company. Paul Taylor dancers (especially the male ones) tended to look like underwear models.

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