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New York City Ballet 2021 Season


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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

An important thing to remember is that Balanchine and Robbins had their share of flops too. We culled their works for the masterpieces and that's what we see. But I bet if someone saw PAMTGG or Watermill we wouldn't necessarily think they were works of genius.

Actually, IMHO Watermill IS a work of genius.  Particularly if one was luck enough to see Villella in it.  But a fantastic theater/dance pieces no matter who dances the lead.  It was booed at the premiere mostly because I think the NYCB audience was looking for another Dances at a Gathering.  If IIRC New York Magazines review had an illustration of an audience with pig heads sitting on their hands.

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14 minutes ago, jerryb said:

Actually, IMHO Watermill IS a work of genius.  Particularly if one was luck enough to see Villella in it.  But a fantastic theater/dance pieces no matter who dances the lead.  It was booed at the premiere mostly because I think the NYCB audience was looking for another Dances at a Gathering.  If IIRC New York Magazines review had an illustration of an audience with pig heads sitting on their hands.

I agree, Watermill is very unusual.  I saw it with Villella back in the day.

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For some reason the system wont take my reply when I quote Canbelto's post:

"An important thing to remember is that Balanchine and Robbins had their share of flops too. We culled their works for the masterpieces and that's what we see. But I bet if someone saw PAMTGG or Watermill we wouldn't necessarily think they were works of genius."

I started going to NYCB when they moved to the NYS theater, around 1967. I distinctly remember my young self sitting in my chair watching yet another boring, derivative Balanchine ballet with my eyes rolling back in my head, bored out of my mind and thinking to myself "Why do I even bother coming here?". Then after the intermission there would be Serenade or Concerto Barocco or the (then) new Stravinsky ballets in the 70's and I was reminded exactly why I came. Balanchine was a genius and he produced many, many masterpieces but he probably made just as many duds. Its both fortunate and amazing that after culling out the flops so many works of great beauty remain.

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I'm not sure how many outright flops he had, but view on some ballets were divisive -- ex: considered same-old --  and his choreography in general was considered dated by people who thought that Robbins was keeping it real in a way that Balanchine wasn't.  He was written off as past it numerous times, because "What have you done for me lately?" isn't new.

Some ballets, like Gounod Symphony, were revived when the company tried to get everything that could be revived on the stage, but it never got really got traction.  I think maybe Danses Concertantes was the only one that did, aside from Symphonie Concertante and Bouree Fantasque, which I saw at ABT and which may still get occasional revivals outside NYCB.

Then there are version wars, like Apollo with or without the birth scene and staircase ending, and changes that were made to Symphony in C.  According to Francia Russell, when whoever inherited it gave it the rights to John Taras, he insisted on a version that only he liked, and Peter Martins threatened to remove it from NYCB's rep in that version.  Taras died soon after, so that issue was resolved.

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52 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I'm curious - what were the Balanchine flops besides PAMTGG?

It wasn't exactly a flop but Don Quixote is a ballet that Balanchine kept revising and never to his or the audience's satisfaction. I have a friend who remembers the days Don Quixote meant a 3/4 empty house.

Bourgeois Gentilhomme is another ballet that didn't keep.

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Here are my thoughts on the Icons and Innovator program.

 

New choreography, along with dancers, is the bones of a dance company and very challenging t to find. I agree with Vipa, that new works should showcase NYCB dancers and be distinct from work a choreographer would make for another company. In the Playbill interview about his new piece for Kowroski and Ramasar, Amaria, Bigonzetti emphasized the relationship he has built with these two dancers over the years. The piece was created over Zoom and he never would, or could, have done it without that relationship and their shared past experiences to drawn on. I see the two other new works for NYCB in their Fall 2021 season in this vein.  

I would add that another benefit of new work is to develop and reveal a new aspect of dancers we already know, to expand their artistry and for the choreographer to begin to develop this relationship.  

This theme is repeated in the documentary, In Balanchine’s Classroom; how well he knew his dancers. He saw them in class or rehearsal nearly every day for years on end, many since they were young students at SAB. He wanted to bring out their gifts and challenge them to improve their weaknesses. I believe it was a factor driving his choreography. Another factor was his formation and training, both at the Imperial School in Russia and with Diaghilev. In both places, music (often commissioned specifically for ballet), and contributions from the leading artists of the day (scenery and costumes) also played a part. All of these elements contribute to a rich and creative artistic environment.   

sky to hold by Andrea Miller and Suspended Animation by Sidra Bell are ballets building on a relationship between those two choreographers, the dancers, NYCB and its audience.   

sky to hold begins with dancers running in fog, their legs barely visible. There are formations that create undulations, groups swirl into clumps lifting one dancer overhead, then dissolving like waves. The narrative, Sara Mearns as a storm and Taylor Stanley as a seed that come together, didn’t particularly hold my attention, but the stage pictures were beautiful and the dancing, particularly by Stanley and, the duet between India Bradley and (I believe) Sebastien Villarini-Velez was mesmerizing and revealing. India Bradley is developing into a tantalizing, long-legged creature.  Mearns, her long hair glued down and trailing behind her, dancing with the hard ferocity of her stormy character, was partnered by Chun Wei Chan (he cuts quite a figure with his shirt off) and then by several men, including Preston Chamblee, with breathtaking lifts where she spun in the air before being caught. In another section she bourrées surrounded by the women in the cast, who float away and towards her, also bourree-ing on pointe, as if she is the center of a beating heart. The periodic appearance of a mylar backdrop probably had something to do with the narrative but was unclear and undeveloped. There is a tender duet for Stanly and Mearns before they are swept away from each other.    

The composer, Lido Pimienta, wearing a lovely yellow gown in keeping with the other costumes, was also guest vocalist. 

Suspended Animation was quieter in mood and movement. The costumes were neon colors and fanciful shapes. Again, there were set elements that seemed extraneous and underdeveloped; sheer black nets upstage right and left that isolated certain dancers from the others for a time. There was a lot of isolation in this piece. Harrison Ball and Teresa Reichlen onstage dancing separately, ignoring each other until she exits.  The section I loved most was for Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. It comes late in the ballet, and she has doffed her lampshade headpiece and poofy, green coat, appearing only in a sparkly leotard, bare legs and pointe shoes. She is almost unrecognizable (to this viewer, anyway) from the woman who ably leads the Tschaikovsky tutu ballets; a new sinuous, modern, searing and searching Megan Fairchild. Has she ever done The Cage? This is a new side of her to be explored further.  

I wish the Costume Gala would lead to more repeat designers. Can't they learn how to create costumes that work for dance, that reveal the body, or the movement? The costume element is too spectacular and too much a one-off novelty.  In the ballets, though they are not always fully realized and developed, something is percolating, creativity and growth abound. I’m interested to see where the choreography leads. The costumes, beautiful as they are, not so much. Where is Diaghilev when you need him? 

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7 hours ago, Helene said:

 

Some ballets, like Gounod Symphony, were revived when the company tried to get everything that could be revived on the stage, but it never got really got traction.  I think maybe Danses Concertantes was the only one that did, aside from Symphonie Concertante and Bouree Fantasque, which I saw at ABT and which may still get occasional revivals outside NYCB.

 

I can't argue with history--the ballet didn't get traction--but when I saw Gounod Symphony a few years ago with Farrell's company I thought it was pretty terrific and distinctive. The choreography for the corps de ballet doesn't look like anything else I've seen in Balanchine, even when it works through recognizable motifs ("London Bridge").  The choreography for the ballerina did in spots remind me of the choreography for the ballerina in Allegro Brillante, and both ballets were created for Tallchief so no great surprise there--but that's hardly a knock on Gounod Symphony. 

I think it should be regularly revived--by all means, with Farrell guiding productions as long as she is willing and able--if not by NYCB, which has no special relationship to it, then by other companies. 

Gaspard de La Nuit is another Balanchine Ballet that more or less disappeared--and more completely than Gounod Symphony.  It premiered as part of the Ravel festival. If my memory is at all accurate it was not just distinctive but  completely unlike other late Balanchine works in having  choreography completely interwoven with costumes and scenic effects. It also belonged to the sub-genre of his work having a rather gothic sort of tone.  I would be very curious to see it again, but surprised if it turned out to be a lost masterpiece. 

(I was always also curious about Seven Deadly Sins. It had staging requirements that perhaps meant that even as a hit it would not have been revived frequently. My impression is that it was well-received critically.)

Anyway, Balanchine is important enough that there is a lot of leeway for interest in the minor and offbeat. Or should be...even if it can hardly be a repertory focus.

 

Edited by Drew
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Just got back from Tuesday night performance. So great to be back at NYCB. I want to share my thoughts. Monumentum and Movements was my first look at Mira Nadon and she is wonderful. Poise, presence and projection in spades and musically sensitive even in this sometimes thorny music. I can't wait to see her in other things. 

My first time seeing Rotunda. I won't go out of my way to see it again, but I won't avoid a program because it is there. I enjoyed seeing so many of these dancers again. Indian Woodward still lights up the stage, Unity Phelan still had a warm yet glam presence. Daniel Ulbricht is still a great performer - and so many others were wonderful to see again. Gonzalo Garcia looked great in his solo. His movement quality was strong and fluid. However, part way through the solo I realized that any music or no music could be playing, and that would be fine.  The piece on the whole isn't terribly musical. Justin Peck's strength is moving groups around, but partnering is sometimes so tight and busy, with the couple working so close together that there is not enough space or breath to see pictures, lines or register anything. Bottom line is I won't avoid it!

Chaconne is a great work (shocking statement I know). I was pleasantly surprised by Teresa Reichlen's performance. For some reason I couldn't imagine her in this role, but she had speed, wit and elegance. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel terrible saying this. Tyler Angle is a great partner, and I"m sure that's why he is cast in some ballets but IMO he doesn't look good in this.  I won't go on about it, because I have a deep respect for him and his contributions to the company but there are role he should retire if he can. Anyway, the corps looked great in Chaconne.Claire Von Enck was going along splendidly as the lead in the Pas de Cinq, until she had a nasty flop. She recovered nicely, and it's good to see her in a solo part. Lauren King had some difficulties with her turns in her Pas de Deux, and finished looking a bit less radiant that her usual self.

On another note: To enter with proof of vaccine, there was one line for Clear Pass & Empire Pass and a separate line for folks with vaccine cards. Folks with vaccine cards and Empire Pass also had to show ID. I had Clear which has a picture as part of the vaccine pass. The performance began on time. I'll be back on Friday. Can't wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Quiggin said:

It's a rather effective episode of Anatomy of a Dance –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKt2mSPI-8

I love Mira Nadon in the clip. I saw her dance it live before the pandemic. In her proportions she reminds me of Suzanne Farrell a bit. The look nothing like each other in the face, and are quite different as stage personalities, but Nadon has a daring onstage that I remember from Farrell as well. I suppose a lot of NYCB dancers have that same daring, dynamic contrast, a go-for-broke physicality alternating with delicate movements. It's a great clip. I'm not sure I really appreciated Movements before. Now I look forward to seeing it again. Nadon is also great in the tall girl role in Rubies.

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I too was there last night. Monumentum and Movements were terrific, particularly Movements. I was really absorbed. Of course you guys know I love to watch Mira Nadon's progress. 

Rotunda I had seen right before the shut down, and I remember being distinctly lukewarm about it then. This time around, I quite enjoyed it! It has the spirit of an acting class, almost, where each group "got up" in turn to read their scenes or monologues -- this is reinforced by their "practice" costumes. The solo he did for Sara is terrific, and I really enjoyed the pas de cinq that featured some great fast jumping from Gonzalo and Daniel Ulbricht.  I also quite liked the pas de deux pairing of Miriam Miller and A D-W. 

One interesting thing about Rotunda is the A++ casting, so many soloists and principals, kinda for no reason. I mean, why two minutes of ensemble work for the lovely (and criminally underused) Sara Adams? It seems to be a ballet where rising corps stars would shine.

Chaconne is such a terrific ballet I wish I could see it again this season -- particularly with a different cast -- I am eyeing a ticket to the LaFreniere/AD-W premieres next Friday. Teresa Reichlen has never been a favorite of mine but I don't think you can argue with her technical skills and clean movement. To me, she's never been the most musical dancer. Tyler was running out of steam by the end of that (frankly) long and very leap-y variation. The jumps felt heavy. I think he needs to decide how he's going to approach this part of his career; right now if feels like he's relying on his reputation more than his dancing. Overall it was a little raggedly danced last night, but you can't argue with the beauty. This is one ballet I wish I had seen Farrell dance in person. 

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I am relatively unfamiliar with Chaconne, so it was a real treat to see it. I especially loved the classical and corps sections (even if the corps were ragged at times), which I found bracing. I thought Teresa Reichlen looked wonderful, freer, relaxed, and grand. Harrison Ball also looked terrific and I can't wait to see more of him. Also as usual Emily Kikta (in the pas de trois with Andrew Scordato and Ashley Hod) was an eye-catcher. I long to see her in some bigger, meatier roles. In any case, I really look forward to seeing Isabella LaFreniere and Adrian Danchig-Waring take on Chaconne next week. 

Rotunda was a bore. A lot of running around, and not a lot of of substance. 

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Regarding Tyler Angle, it's interesting to see that casting was updated, and he is being replaced in the 10/8 Agon by Amar Ramasar. I wonder why. But I certainly look forward to seeing Kowroski and Ramasar!

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21 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Regarding Tyler Angle, it's interesting to see that casting was updated, and he is being replaced in the 10/8 Agon by Amar Ramasar. I wonder why. But I certainly look forward to seeing Kowroski and Ramasar!

Same! I was really hoping to see Kowroski with Ramasar. Had Ramasar always been cast in the 10/14 Agon, as well? For some reason, I though that one had been Angle, too, but the casting sheet doesn't indicate a replacement.

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On 10/3/2021 at 10:18 AM, miliosr said:

He brings to mind Arlene Croce's words from early in her career:

"There is always a small but highly vocal portion of the public . . . that greets with enthusiasm the most wanton distortions of a great classical dancer's technique and style, especially if they're accompanied by an electronic score and presented in the name of a progressive choreography."

Thank you for this quote. It must have been quite awhile ago when Croce wrote this, but it still holds. Many a time I've seen a new piece that's as she described, and then watched as the audience rises up in a raucous standing ovation. And I'm sitting there thinking, "Really?"

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I was somewhat disappointed with Tyler Angle's performance last night. He never was the best virtuoso, but now he appears to be marking some of his dancing. I also noticed that he lands very gingerly from jumps, so maybe he's fighting an injury. But whatever the case is, a lot of his dancing lacks vigor and energy. 

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8 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Same! I was really hoping to see Kowroski with Ramasar. Had Ramasar always been cast in the 10/14 Agon, as well? For some reason, I though that one had been Angle, too, but the casting sheet doesn't indicate a replacement.

Thank you for noting the casting change  @cobweb

I've been hoping to see them together for ages! First he left for Carousel on Broadway, then he broke his arm when he returned. Then he left for Broadway again to do WSS. Amar was fabulous the last time I saw him in Agon, god knows how many years ago that was. Maybe they're being given a few perfomances to prepare for Maria's farewell. [guess not, that program is up now]. I particularly love a moment where the four men walk upstage in a zig zag. Amar seems to come to life each time they change directions. I find it astounding the way many dancers can do the same exact choreography and your eyes are drawn to one dancer more than another. In unison movement certain dancers can make more of a simple change of direction without disturbing the unison.

On 10/8 it says Ramasar is replacing Angle in Agon.

Edited by BalanchineFan
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What an excellent performance of Western Symphony tonight.  All of the debuts were excellent.  Bouder nailed all of her Italian fouettes.  Roman Mejia and Phelan were marvelous. 

The less said about the rest of the program the better.  These new ballets come across as much more boring on second viewing.

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Joel Prouty, a physical trainer who's been working with numerous ballet dancers including Sara Mearns and Unity Phelan, posted on his public Instagram in a Story that Unity Phelan had been promoted to principal!

Screen-Shot-2021-10-07-at-9-25-37-AM.png

Did it happen after last night's performance? I am surprised nobody mentioned it. It must have happened behind the scenes. I am so thrilled for her, and it was a long time coming.

I started following him when he was mostly working with Mearns, and so many more dancers have started to go to in now. I love watching what kind of exercises he makes them do, and also for my own inspiration. 

 

Edited by sohalia
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