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Leah

Winter 2020

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I thought Unity Phelan and Jovani Furlan were gorgeous In G Major. Unity has it all for this role including those long gorgeous legs.

I found Rotunda to be a disappointment. Another one of those Peck ballets where people seem to meander onstage. I liked the duet between Sara Mearns and Gilbert Bolden and also the solo by Gonzalo Garcia but the score by Nico Muhly was blah and much of the corps work seemed like stuff Peck has already done including those clusters of dancers onstage forming and dispersing.

DGV was great fun. Tess Reichlen and Taylor Stanley were oddly so well matched. Their high arabesques at exactly the same angle were a sight to behold. Also really enjoyed Lauren Lovette and Andrew Veyette in the pas de deux. 

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I find the discussion about the Peck ballet interesting, because from what I've seen and read, the knock on him was that while he was great at moving people and stage patterns, usually the last thing young choreographers grasp, he never quite mastered the are of the pas de deux.  In the newest work, it sounds like he's gained traction making a compelling pas de deux, but the group movement was less compelling.

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6 minutes ago, Rock said:

There's two issues here. Three. First, most dancers don't do it for the money. Second, being in the corps is very useful in teaching dancers about stagecraft, getting stronger, etc. And third, the kind of organization that might be a little slow with promotions is often the same kind of place that holds onto careers, giving those dancers a graceful and dignified period to exit. There's no rush is there? What could be wrong about Roman Mejia having another year in the corps? If he's promoted he has to come out of the corps so he'll have a lot less opportunities to get out there - which is what it's all about. 

Many dancers say that being promoted to soloist is a difficult transition. While they appreciate the recognition, they miss the cameraderie and support of the corps. All of a sudden they're performing much less, away from the people who gave them emotional support or lifted their spirits when they first joined the company. They have new challenges (usually) and might be singled out for criticism or competition more often both in the press and in rehearsal. They're left to their own devices to prepare certain roles. Dancers need a certain maturity to make the adjustment smoothly.

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I found Rotunda to be very reminiscent of Principia, especially with the clusters. But there was a lot more depth to the solo dancing, especially in the pas de deux between Bolden and Mearns. And Miriam Miller was a standout as well. I don’t think this is top-shelf Peck but it was pleasant to watch. However, one major detractor for me was the costumes, which were practice clothes to show that the dancers were being their Real Selves or whatever. I just find this idea very trite and I hate the look of tights over leotards, though I know that’s how dancers usually dress for rehearsal. The designers did this in Principia too. I wouldn’t have minded everyone in Phelan’s crop top/leggings ensemble though. 

In G Major was great, Furlan especially was impressive. And DGV impressed me more than when I saw it the first time. Someone else commented on Lovette’s legs and I have to agree that she looked really great - nice to see her give an objectively excellent performance in something after the mixed Swan Lake last week. 

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3 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

Many dancers say that being promoted to soloist is a difficult transition. While they appreciate the recognition, they miss the cameraderie and support of the corps. All of a sudden they're performing much less, away from the people who gave them emotional support or lifted their spirits when they first joined the company. They have new challenges (usually) and might be singled out for criticism or competition more often both in the press and in rehearsal. They're left to their own devices to prepare certain roles. Dancers need a certain maturity to make the adjustment smoothly.

That’s a good point, and obviously we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes with these dancers and how they are able to adjust. However, there are dancers who have been in the corps for far longer than Mejia, like Kikta, Farley, etc. who I think are past due promotions. Perhaps a dancer like Nadon, who is very promising but not all the way polished can wait a little while longer. But I don’t even remember seeing Mejia dance a corps role this season, it seems like he’s already a de facto soloist. I’m hoping that the comments about being paid extra for roles are true, because it just seems unfair that he’s just a corps member, even though he is quite young.

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13 minutes ago, Leah said:

That’s a good point, and obviously we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes with these dancers and how they are able to adjust. However, there are dancers who have been in the corps for far longer than Mejia, like Kikta, Farley, etc. who I think are past due promotions. Perhaps a dancer like Nadon, who is very promising but not all the way polished can wait a little while longer. But I don’t even remember seeing Mejia dance a corps role this season, it seems like he’s already a de facto soloist. I’m hoping that the comments about being paid extra for roles are true, because it just seems unfair that he’s just a corps member, even though he is quite young.

Mejia often dances corps roles. He was a youth in Firebird in January.  I didn't see Swan Lake, so I can't speak to that. There are also benefits for the dancer to being in the corps of a particular ballet before dancing a lead role in the same ballet. You learn to count that music without the pressure of solo work and things like that.

I'm not saying any particular person should or shouldn't be promoted, I can just see a lot of reasons why management might go slowly on this. Gelsey Kirkland and Darci Kistler were promoted quickly (for different reasons, all Balanchine's) and many think they had injuries as a result. Chase Finlay was once the youngest male principal dancer -another negative result.

They don't ever de-promote people.

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3 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

Mejia often dances corps roles. He was a youth in Firebird in January.  I didn't see Swan Lake, so I can't speak to that. There are also benefits for the dancer to being in the corps of a particular ballet before dancing a lead role in the same ballet. You learn to count that music without the pressure of solo work and things like that.

I'm not saying any particular person should or shouldn't be promoted, I can just see a lot of reasons why management might go slowly on this. Gelsey Kirkland and Darci Kistler were promoted quickly (for different reasons, all Balanchine's) and many think they had injuries as a result. Chase Finlay was once the youngest male principal dancer -another negative result.

They don't ever de-promote people.

But they do under-utilize people who were promoted. For instance Abi Stafford was someone promoted to principal who rarely danced a principal's workload. Georgina Pazcoguin is a soloist whose rep always was limited.

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

I'm not saying any particular person should or shouldn't be promoted, I can just see a lot of reasons why management might go slowly on this. Gelsey Kirkland and Darci Kistler were promoted quickly (for different reasons, all Balanchine's) and many think they had injuries as a result. Chase Finlay was once the youngest male principal dancer -another negative result.

Megan Fairchild has said that her early promotion was mentally tough even though she didn't have injuries, but then Tiler Peck seems to have been perfectly ready at age 19 to handle a principal spot.  Well, she did have a pretty terrible injury not too much later so scratch that.   But that's still no reason to hold back Woodward or Kikta, who IMO have both been overdue for months if not years.

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Woodward, Phelan, and Gerrity - IMO the three most promising female soloists - are all at least 25. That is not too early to be promoted by any means I think.

Edited by Leah

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4 hours ago, canbelto said:

I thought Unity Phelan and Jovani Furlan were gorgeous In G Major. Unity has it all for this role including those long gorgeous legs.

I found Rotunda to be a disappointment. Another one of those Peck ballets where people seem to meander onstage. I liked the duet between Sara Mearns and Gilbert Bolden and also the solo by Gonzalo Garcia but the score by Nico Muhly was blah and much of the corps work seemed like stuff Peck has already done including those clusters of dancers onstage forming and dispersing.

DGV was great fun. Tess Reichlen and Taylor Stanley were oddly so well matched. Their high arabesques at exactly the same angle were a sight to behold. Also really enjoyed Lauren Lovette and Andrew Veyette in the pas de deux. 

I agree about In G Major—that pas was a standout. Unity and Jovani had excellent chemistry. For me it was the highlight of the evening. 


 

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Posted (edited)

I saw the Classic NYCB I program this afternoon — what a great program! I had never seen any of the four pieces before.

Unity Phelan and Harrison Ball were looking fantastic, especially in Haieff Divertimento, but also in the Concerto of Episodes. (I wondered, when seeing both Danses Concertantes and La Source if Ball would actually be ready for a promotion sometime reasonably soon, as I'd previously thought; today took my doubts back away.)

I really loved Haieff Divertimento and am so glad it's in the repertoire. What's the story of how it was finally brought back? Reynolds writes in Repertory in Review that Balanchine was quite resistant to reviving it.

Alexa Maxwell was a standout among the soloist couples in that piece. Her balances on two pointes during the 3rd mvmt. scherzo were rock solid, while the other three women were less secure there.

I also really enjoyed Concertino and found it interesting to see a Robbins piece in that style. Alec Knight and Peter Walker were equally excellent, in rather different ways; Knight has more finesse and a more appealing physique, while Walker seems more inherently secure. I was happy to see Knight looking like a fully grown-up artist, with no more two-toned pompadour. It was good to see him in such a featured role. Emilie Gerrity was fantastic. I need to see more of her to really get a grasp on what makes her so good. I always find an MMF pas de trois configuration to be inherently appealing (in Agon and Triad, for instance).

Though I've never seen Episodes live, I've seen parts of it on video and was very excited to be catching it, especially with the return of the Taylor solo. Jovani Furlan was spectacular: amazing commitment, poetry and stamina. It was great to see Aaron Sanz back in the 1st mvmt., and Megan LeCrone is at her best in these sorts of roles, though the two seemed rather aesthetically mismatched. (Also, it seems odd that a role originated by Violette Verdy and danced by Sara Leland is now cast so differently.)

Emily Kikta and Silas Farley were great in the Five Pieces. (I feel like this is starting to sound like the most uncritical review — but it was really an afternoon of very strong dancing throughout!) She's so strong and intense, I wasn't sure how they'd pair, but it was a good match.

The Ricercata is such a let-down after those first four movements. A rare misstep for Balanchine, I really think. (I can imagine what he found appealing about the various sorts of contrast, but the tradeoff just doesn't end up seeming worthwhile.) Sara Mearns was good but underutilized. It was odd seeing her with so little to do, in a role that she really couldn't push into. (Doing so would have spoiled it, I'm sure, and it’s to her credit that she didn’t.)

Rodeo was a good closer, though I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. I've been really wanting to see it ever since reading about it when it premiered five years ago, but it never worked out for me. Roman Mejia was certainly impressive in the 1st mvmt., and the 2nd mvmt. quintet (led by Jonathan Fahoury, who was lovely both here and in Haieff) was really nice. I found the PDD to be unaffecting; nice in some parts, but nothing that really hit home for me. Also, I can't help but think that Tiler Peck is still looking a bit cautious and tentative, and that probably wasn't great for a piece in which she's with 15 men; she didn't seem to stand out much. (That may be inherent to the structure of the piece, though; I'm curious how it was with Mearns.) The finale was satisfying but not particularly memorable (except the stellar decelerating turns by Mejia, of course). I definitely wouldn't mind seeing the piece again, though, as I wouldn't be surprised if it were to grow on me.

Overall the afternoon left me thinking what a strong company this is right now, in terms of its roster. They may not all be in the positions they deserve, but as a collection of dancers they are really excellent.

Edited by nanushka

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24 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I saw the Classic NYCB I program this afternoon — what a great program! I

I was there too and agree with much stated by nanushka in her review. I hope that Haieff remains in the rep. This was my second viewing and I'd like to see it again. Unity Phelan looks great, managing to combine glamour and clarity. She's been given a lot of opportunities and has made the most of all of them. I see principal in her future.

Unlike Nanushka, I love the last movement of Episodes. For me the patterns and use of port de bras reflect the music perfectly. Mearns expansive movement is very right for it. 

Rodeo is alway fun to watch. Meija did the Ulbricht role and was fine but is not the complete artist (yet) that Ulbricht is. Tiler Peck is not in top form, but still has technique to burn. She was able to make small moments in that pas de deux come to life. She is a dancer of such tremendous imagination, that I'm thankful she is back on the stage.

It was a great pleasure to see cobweb at the performance, and to have our own intermission ballet talk. Thank you cobweb.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, vipa said:

 Unity Phelan looks great, managing to combine glamour and clarity.

Yes, perfectly put! She always reminds me of Gene Tierney in Laura.

Edited by nanushka

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53 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I saw the Classic NYCB I program this afternoon — what a great program! I had never seen any of the four pieces before.

[...]

Rodeo was a good closer, though I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. I've been really wanting to see it ever since reading about it when it premiered five years ago, but it never worked out for me. Roman Mejia was certainly impressive in the 1st mvmt., and the 2nd mvmt. quintet (led by Jonathan Fahoury, who was lovely both here and in Haieff) was really nice. I found the PDD to be unaffecting; nice in some parts, but nothing that really hit home for me. Also, I can't help but think that Tiler Peck is still looking a bit cautious and tentative, and that probably wasn't great for a piece in which she's with 15 men; she didn't seem to stand out much. (That may be inherent to the structure of the piece, though; I'm curious how it was with Mearns.) The finale was satisfying but not particularly memorable (except the stellar decelerating turns by Mejia, of course). I definitely wouldn't mind seeing the piece again, though, as I wouldn't be surprised if it were to grow on me.

For me, the standout movement in Rodeo is the quintet for the men. Seeing those men dancing with such tenderness, and with such beautiful lines is the heart of that ballet. The opening section and the finale, with their energy (dancers running across the stage full tilt) and the solo figure turning and jumping, or the men being thrown up in the air, are a close second. I've seen Rodeo 4 or 5 times and I can barely remember the pdd. It's nice enough while it's happening, and I remember Tiler and Sara dancing equally well, but it pales in comparison to the new territory Justin Peck explores with the men.

just my 2 cents.

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47 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

For me, the standout movement in Rodeo is the quintet for the men. Seeing those men dancing with such tenderness, and with such beautiful lines is the heart of that ballet. The opening section and the finale, with their energy (dancers running across the stage full tilt) and the solo figure turning and jumping, or the men being thrown up in the air, are a close second. I've seen Rodeo 4 or 5 times and I can barely remember the pdd. It's nice enough while it's happening, and I remember Tiler and Sara dancing equally well, but it pales in comparison to the new territory Justin Peck explores with the men.

just my 2 cents.

Yes, that sums up my experience of it as well. Perhaps Peck was so engaged in that exploration that he couldn’t give as much to the more traditional PDD. Too bad, but understandable for such a young choreographer.

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13 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Yes, that sums up my experience of it as well. Perhaps Peck was so engaged in that exploration that he couldn’t give as much to the more traditional PDD. Too bad, but understandable for such a young choreographer.

I would never say "too bad"about Rodeo. Nearly every ballet has a male-female pdd. When have you ever seen an adagio male quintet? Rodeo is a gift.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

I would never say "too bad"about Rodeo. Nearly every ballet has a male-female pdd. When have you ever seen an adagio male quintet? Rodeo is a gift.

Never, and I praised that part above and very much appreciated seeing it. It's a remarkable work for such a young choreographer to have created — but not exempt from criticism, I don't think. One can always wish that a very good work could have been made even better.

Maybe one way of making Rodeo better would have been to dispense with the male-female PDD altogether, since as you rightly note it's in every ballet. But since Peck chose to include it (and I think I understand why and don't necessarily think that was the wrong decision), I wish it were as remarkable or memorable as many other parts of the piece. Thinking that doesn't lessen my appreciation; it makes it more specific.

Edited by nanushka

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, vipa said:

It was a great pleasure to see cobweb at the performance, and to have our own intermission ballet talk. Thank you cobweb.

Thank YOU, vipa! I look forward to next time. 

I too love the final movement of Episodes. I find it gripping  as it grows from quiet to intense, and the simplicity of using primarily arms and legs, like a constellation, or like the bare branches of trees in winter. (It inspires me to poetry, but sadly, I don't have the skills of a poet.) Mearns may not have a ton of dancing to do, but instead, her compelling presence is needed to anchor the whole thing (to mix in another metaphor). I could gladly see this again and again. 

It's been awhile since I've seen Rodeo, and I'm not crazy about it. All that running around! It just felt breathless and over-wrought to me. Why not slow down with all the entrances and exits, and let things develop on stage a little bit more?

Edited by cobweb
poetic license

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After seeing the beautiful Unity Phelan and Harrison Ball in Haieff Divertimento yesterday, it's still very much on my mind. I was searching for the music on my streaming service, Idagio, but they don't seem to have that particular Haieff work. I see that on the NYCB website, under "Repertory," they have three videos with snippets of the current cast of Haieff. Very welcome to see. Unity looked even better in performance yesterday than she does in the videos. I also seem to recall that several weeks back, NYCB emailed me a sort of season preview which I didn't look at, but I thought it contained some kind of info or video on Haieff. Does anyone recall this, or know where to find any such video? Also wondering, as vipa asked me yesterday, how to pronounce "Haieff." Does anyone know?

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Adrian D-W gives some clarification on his injury. Doesn't sound like it is long-term:

 

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, cobweb said:

After seeing the beautiful Unity Phelan and Harrison Ball in Haieff Divertimento yesterday, it's still very much on my mind. I was searching for the music on my streaming service, Idagio, but they don't seem to have that particular Haieff work.

FWIW the music is available on Spotify. You may be able to listen for free if you put up with some ads; I forget, as I've been paying for the premium service for quite awhile.

Edited by nanushka

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I attended both programs Saturday on a mini-ballet-blitz from Richmond.  I was really moved by Megan Fairchild and Jovani Furlan in In G Major Saturday.  It was her premier, but looked like a seasoned performance from her.  There might have been a  couple of minor slips in partnering, but I think she had rehearsed with Danchig-Waring.  First exposures to Haieff  and Concertino - can't wait to see them again.  The boys pas in Rodeo was again magical.  I adore Alberda and wish he'd get more soloist parts.  DGV was even more annoying to me than the last time I saw it.  The music is relentless and loud.  The people doing semaphore in the background highlight that what is going on up front is inconsequential.  And all that carrying around women like sacks of potatoes...  But 6/7 that I enjoyed ain't bad.  Overall a great day at  the ballet.

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It took me three viewings to fully appreciate the new Peck, Rotunda, but I like it a lot. I especially enjoy the crafting of the corps movements and, at times, the two clusters -- Sara and five guys; Gonzalo and five gals. Their quick shifts-and-stops perfectly mirrored the twinkly Muhly music.

Something cool: Upon multiple viewings, I realized that the first and last movements are almost identical, except that they "mirror" each other - performed in opposite sides and directions. Gonzalo's position lying down on the floor precedes both the opening and closing movements. Very neat concept. Kudos to Peck and all of the dancers for pulling this off.

My favorite movement? Hard to choose but I particularly loved the long, flowing lines of Miriam Miller and Anthony Scordato -- both in "powder blue" clothing -- in the 3rd movement pdd.

The hodgepodge of outfits made sense after multiple viewings...the reds/clarets & oranges, the powder blues, the greys/blacks. My lone complaint: that most unflattering outfit on big Mr. Bolden III! Like a clean-and-jerk weight lifter at the Olympics...or Humpty Dumpty, which he most definitely is NOT.

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