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Petra

Stars of American Ballet, 3/5/20

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Stars of American Ballet is a pick-up group of NYCB dancers organized by Daniel Ulbricht. They're currently touring Israel and I saw them last night at the Herzeliya Performing Arts Center.

Bottom line: it was a fantastic evening. 

Slightly more in detail :) :

First up was "In the Night". I have complicated feelings about this ballet. I find Robbins' choreography is an acquired taste, and it took me a while to get used to the style. I love the spareness of the movement and Robbins' ability to create a definite sense of time and place but there are also all sorts of quirks that make the ballet look dated. 

The first couple were a little tentative compared to the other two, but maybe that's part of the choreography. Unity Phelan as the 3rd woman, the tempestuous one, was amazing.

Next ballet was 'Les Lutins', a trio choreographed by Johann Kobborg to gypsy-style music. It's a virtuosic crowd-pleaser originally made for Alina Cojocaru, Sergei Polunin and Steven McCrae and I was prepared to dismiss it as a cheesy gala dance. But the dancers especially Ulbricht, but also Sebastian Villarini and Brittany Pollack, danced with such grace and flair, making all the jumps and turns look so effortless and they were so charismatic in their faux-competition of virtuosity that I was totally sucked into the ballet and it was so enjoyable.

The second half of the program was made up of three dances.

After the Rain  is a beautiful duet. Miriam Miller was outstanding but I wasn't as impressed by Jared Angle. The performance was surprisingly  different from the version available online. Maybe because the online version is in memory and honor of 9/11, but also because Miller is much younger than Maria Kowroski who dances in the online version, last night's performance was more vital, and instead of having an elegiac quality, I thought of Adam and Eve starting a new life after the fall. 

Diamonds pas de deux was the weakest section of the evening. The transition from live chamber music to recorded orchestral music was jarring, and IMHO an adagio pas de deux taken out of context is a bit of a drag. That said, Teresa Reichlen and Ask La Cour were incredibly glamorous and regal.

The finale was Who Cares? This was my first time seeing it so I'm not sure if this was the full ballet or if it was redacted, but it was so good! The whole cast was spectacular but since this was the only ballet Megan Fairchild danced in last night, I'll just say that she moved so fast her hair tumbled out of her bun. 

12 dancers, 1 pianist, 1 violinist - and so much joy!

 

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How exciting! I've been watching bits of this tour through the dancers' Instagram posts. It looks fascinating. I love Robbins' choreography, but In the Night is like an afterthought to his two Chopin masterpieces, Dances at a Gathering and The Concert. Do you remember the entire cast? 

I love your account of Miriam Miller in After the Rain. I haven't seen her in leading roles as often, or as recently, here in NYC and I'm glad she's getting opportunities.

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On 3/9/2020 at 8:25 PM, BalanchineFan said:

How exciting! I've been watching bits of this tour through the dancers' Instagram posts. It looks fascinating. I love Robbins' choreography, but In the Night is like an afterthought to his two Chopin masterpieces, Dances at a Gathering and The Concert.

If you're not familiar with it, Joseph Mazo's "Dance is a Contact Sport" is a backstage look at NYCB during the season when Robbins made "In the Night" -- well worth the read.

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Wonderful, Petra!  I'm looking forward to seeing 8 principals + soloists in Sara Mearns' hometown dancing with the college ballet company.  Also, it's a "gig", it's still glorious to see!  Balanchine Rep is what they "bring" to the USC gala.

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