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Last night's repertory was (1) Raymonda Variatons, (2) Morgen, and (3) In G Major. Raymonda Variations in particular received a brilliant, luminous performance from Jennifer Ringer and Philip Neal and from the entire cast. I would not want to have to choose between La Stafford and La Bouder either in their individual performances or when on stage together. Abi Stafford seems to have emerged from her critical crucible of the winter with increased confidence and a point of reference that is centered in herself.

But the real pesonal critical oddesy me the last two nights involves appreciating Jennifer Ringer. What performances. I suspect that my taste for dancers may be fickle at times, because I seem always to love them when they are about to be promoted but then, after they are made principal dancer I often go off them for a bit, notice the blemishes as it were. So it was with Kowroski and with Somogyi and with Ringer. But whatever it is, the Jennifer Ringer I've seen the last few performances seems like someone transfigured. There is suddenly to my eyes a surpassing techical assurance, a speed, balance and finish to all of her steps, and a more flowing and curved line in her positions (a longly held balance in attitude front, for example, coming at the end of lightning fast enchainement) that simply amazed me. Completely gone is all grinning at the audience and instead there is consummate artistry. And she holds the stage by simply standing there. I don't know if I simply didn't appreciate her enough before, or where I've been, or whether she's suddenly blossomed or found some sort of personal Stanley Williams as a coach -- but the performances in Serenade on Tuesday and especially in Raymonda Variations and in Morgen last night were some of the very best dancing I've seen in that house in two or three years.

The other thing I must mention relates to Dale's notice of Ellen Bar in her post on Opening Night. Right you are Dale -- Ellen was also quite astonishingly good last night in the corps de ballet in In G Major, which has a corps of 12 (six men and six women) and where Robbins' choreography for the corps is both challenging and beautiful. Ellen Bar too seems like someone whose suddenly matured and who has jumped to a different level, having gotten those big rangey movements under control and centered, which was all she needed as she has always been a very musical dancer.

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Re: Ellen Bar -- I think she was out for a season and a half with an injury. It's interesting, she and Janie Taylor came out of SAB at the same time and both got solo-type of assignments. But either Bar missed a few weeks of time with an injury, or Taylor just captured the imagination of P. Martins, but Taylor was the one that vaulted ahead of the two. Bar, I guess, does not have as solid technique as Taylor, but I think she has a lot of personality and glamour, plus a beautiful line. She's done a few solo things (Courage in Sleeping Beauty, Diana Adams' role in Stars and Stripes, and Spanish in Swan Lake) and appears now to be grouped in that strong group of corps ladies, which includes Saskia Beskow and Mary Helen Bowers (another two I like).

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