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PNB Rep 4: Plot Points -- Live March 18-27; Streaming March 31- April 4

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Last night was opening night.  I'm not able to attend this weekend but I looked at casting.  Elle Macy danced Caught last night.  This afternoon it will be apprentice Melisa Guilliams, and this evening it will be Kuu Sakuragi.  I can't remember the last time PNB presented Caught, but it's been a long time.  Before I recall all men cast, except Noelani Pantastico.  I'm curious who else might get a shot next week.

I'm not familiar with The Times Are Racing, but between that piece and Plot Point, quite a few dancers are being used, that's great to see.

BTW, I noticed Caught will not be part of the digital viewing.

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I went to opening night -- I have thoughts about the performance, but had to write about the post-show Q/A for some colleagues, and so will post that here first:

I went to the post-show chat on Friday -- the "guest" was Kyle Davis.  I thought we'd get a chunk of Peter Boal by himself since Davis was in the Peck at the end of the show, but he arrived almost the same time as Boal, so most of the discussion was focused on Davis.

On a fashion note, I noticed that Boal was wearing a blue and yellow ribbon on his lapel, which I imagine was to support Ukraine.)

Just in the order it came:

Someone asked if Plot Point had been "condensed' since the last performances -- Boal said that Pite had tweaked some things when she originally set it on PNB the last time, but there hadn't been any real changes since then.

Davis showed up, and Boal asked how he was feeling after performance.  Davis said that after something like that you go home and feel good about what you'd done.  It's "a good team building piece -- everyone dancing and working hard."

Boal mentioned that the apprentices have been working hard in this rep, especially in the Peck.

Someone asked where Peck was -- Boal said he was on his way to the airport to catch a redeye back to NYC.  He got here and went directly to the studio - stagers had brought most of the work together, so Peck could get to individual coaching, and some tailoring the choreography to the dancers.  They think this work has a lot of individuality.

Someone asked about tap dancing -- Boal sent around an email asking who had a tap background before casting started.  Davis apparently sent Boal a video of him tapping as a young kid.

I asked Davis to speak about his work as a choreographer, especially during the pandemic.  He said that he had a lot of opportunities for the streaming works, but he really wanted to come back to dancing right now, before that part of his career was over.  But he does have a list of things he wants to explore.  I asked if he was still working on Sylvia and he said yes.  "Always."

Someone in audience said that the Peck reminded her of New York, and that Davis resembled Boal when Boal was performing with NYCB.  Davis said the year he joined the company someone substituted Boal's headshot for Davis' on a bulletin board, to see if anyone would notice.  Boal turned this into a compliment for Davis (by saying that he was flattered with the comparison -- very tactful)

Someone asked how difficult it is to dance wearing a mask (in the Pite) - Davis said it was like dancing in a dense fog, and then when the light reflects on the mask you're basically blind. 

Someone asked what it was like to work with Pite - Davis said that "she has a magical way of running a room."  She knows how to work with individuals, and how to create a sense of the group.  She wasn't able to get here to coach this time around, so all her contributions were through Zoom.  Everyone was impressed at how effective she was able to be despite the remote nature of Zoom.

Someone asked what choreographers Davis finds inspiring -- Pite, Ratmansky, Forsythe, and Lang were top of the list.

Someone asked what Davis' "favorite move" is -- he said "walking like a robot," but was prompted to pick something less specific to a single work, so it was pirouettes "and walking like a robot."

Someone asked about changes during the last 2 years -- Davis said you always expect a short career, but you don't anticipate it being interrupted by something like Covid.  They all spent time thinking hard about what they actually do, and why they do it, did they want to return, and what did they want to come back to.

I asked about the works that didn't make the cut for the anniversary season -- what was on the next tier.  Boal did not want to answer that, but did say that there were dances that would likely have been performed "on the rotation" like Countenance of Kings and Matthew Neenan's Bacchus (might have seen them last year in normal times) -- did not say if they will be coming back after next year.  Davis said he was looking forward to Ratmansky (neither Boal nor Davis was confident that Ratmansky would be able to make a new work for the season opening), and to the Lang and the return of the Liang, especially since they'd had to make it in such a locked down fashion that it didn't really feel like they were dancing together.

Someone asked about transitioning from this rep to something more classical -- Davis said it was very tricky - gave props to "my partner Leta Biasucci"

And that was it.


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On 3/20/2022 at 4:52 PM, sandik said:

I went to opening night -- I have thoughts about the performance, but had to write about the post-show Q/A for some colleagues, and so will post that here first:

Thanks for the write up Sandi!  I was bummed to miss opening weekend.  I enjoyed reading about the Q/A and especially the very end!  I was hoping Leta would be a new Odette/Odile and also wondering who her partner would be.  I also would love for Kyle to be a Siegfried.  I can't wait to see them together!

I will post my thoughts after I see the shows second weekend...

Edited by seattle_dancer
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Saw Saturday evening and Sunday matinee of the last weekend. "Before I Was" left me unmoved and uninterested. Sometimes a ballet just doesn't "speak" to me, and this is one of them. I am a huge fan of "Plot Point" and was very excited to see it again. It blew me away as always. If Crystal Pite isn't a genius, then I don't know the meaning of the word. "Caught" is always fun to see. I was very impressed by Melisa Guilliams on Saturday night, but less impressed by Elle Macy on Sunday (BTW, Elle Macy is my favorite PNB dancer....so go figure).

But the one thing I wanted to say is: Who is Noah Martzall? WOW! He totally grabbed my attention in "The Times Are Racing". I hadn't noticed him before (maybe because I never had a chance to see him during COVID....although I did do the digital season last year). He has "the feel"; he has the energy; he danced with near abandon.....he's a dancer! This is a guy I will be watching (it's been a while since a new young male dancer has grabbed me....I'm excited). I wonder can he do classical at this level too? I'll be anxious to see.

And finally. Amanda Morgan was the "Meet the Dancer" on Saturday evening. She is not only a terrific up and coming dancer, but she is one impressive person. This girl is going places!!! On Sunday afternoon, the dancer to meet was Ashton Edwards who had just finished an amazing tour-de-force in "The Times Are Racing" (her speed was unreal). Another impressive young dancer. She spoke from the heart and was clearly thrilled to be in the PNB company as its first transgender dancer. She trained as a male, and didn't start point shoes until the age of 14 when she self-identified as female. Imagine a professional ballerina in a top company who started on point at 14! She must have worked her butt off; OTOH, as her winning and energetic personality made it clear, she has what it takes to do just that.

Edited by SandyMcKean
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Wonderful reviews and notes everyone! Thanks for posting. 
Agree about Noah. And of course Ashton’s trajectory is well deserved and exiting to watch. 

I saw several performances the second weekend. Melissa’s caught was outstanding. As was Kuu’s.

I found Mineko-Williams piece to be beautifully danced by Leah Terada and Chris DAriano. Other casts were flat. The voice performers were an interesting addition.

Pite’s piece was outstanding as usual. 

Times are Racing was full of energy and was such a treat to see again. (Id seen the NYCB premiere in 2017). You could tell the entire company was thrilled to be dancing it!

one side note:

i know of another PNB dancer who only started training at the age of 14. She was put on pointe relatively quickly but it’s really interesting to see how much some dancers can achieve despite odds being against them! I can’t wait to see more!


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On 3/29/2022 at 10:37 AM, fun en face said:

Wonderful reviews and notes everyone! Thanks for posting. 
Agree about Noah. And of course Ashton’s trajectory is well deserved and exiting to watch. 

I saw several performances the second weekend. Melissa’s caught was outstanding. As was Kuu’s.


To have this much talent among the newer members of the corps… what a gift!

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Went to the first weekend Saturday evening performance. I enjoyed "Before I Was" more during the digital performance. Perhaps it's more suited to a smaller venue?

Kuu Sakaragi performed "Caught" which I think is best viewed from the orchestra. Felt like I missed some of the nuances sitting higher in the theater.

Favorites were "Plot Point" and "The Times are Racing" -- very energetic. If you haven't seen it, YouTube has a NYCB clip of the soft shoe duet by Robbie Fairchild and Justin Peck performed in the NYC subway. 😀

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Take Two - I wrote this post earlier thinking I was signed in and then it disappeared because I wasn't!

Like SandyMcKean I attended the second Saturday and Sunday matinee.  I wasn't feeling particularly well and Saturday tried an experimental seat so unfortunately my enjoyment of the program was diminished.

I very much liked the concept of "Before I Was" and the use of the children.  Clara Ruf Maldonado can do no wrong in my eyes and it was easier to see her as a child's grown up self with her smaller stature.  In both shows I also thought the "Pebble" solo was by far the most interesting part of this piece.

In "Caught" I thought Melisa was good but Elle really showed her confidence and brought her A-game right out of the gate before she even started jumping.  Her straddle jumps were also beyond 180, in a slight V, I've never seen a woman do that before!

Plot Point was fascinating as always, I wish I was feeling better and my view was not obscured.  I was impressed by Liz Murphy as Mrs. Jones, especially in the birthday cake scene.  I don't remember seeing her last time.  She was very dramatic, I am realizing how much range she has in her acting now.  It was also great to see James Yoichi Moore as Fernando.  I was sad he did not get to dance the solo in Ghost Variations last November due to injury, and he also danced in the Peck piece Sunday.  Lucien Postelwaite

I had trouble with "The Times are Racing".  I found the music and costumes inaccessible and too loud.  Noah did do a great job on Sunday.  There are a number of really talented apprentices and new corp dancers, I'm not sure if it's the traning or if it's becuase many of them have varied backgrounds (multiple dance genres, competitions, etc).  It was good to see Ashton dance a featured role, although I thought the pairing with Luther was a bit unbalanced size wise. 

I enjoyed hearing Ashton speak at the post performance Q&A.  It was a little awkward how there was media there when usually there is not.  At the end someone had commented how Elle Macy had been Snow White in the school production back in the day and wondered if the trend might continue.  Peter Boal responded by saying apprentices next year are the two dancers who played Belle and the two who were Gaston (plus one other I couldn't make out) in Beauty and the Beast.

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