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Spac (NyCB in Saratoga)

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Good morning! they're here! they're here!

Opening night was an all-Balanchine bill, highlighting three distinct periods in his choreography. Strange weather conditions caused a few problems, but on the whole, a marvelous evening.

Beginning with Serenade and a rare bobble by Darci--it was a cool but very humid evening and I think the stage was damp and slippery. No one actually fell but there was more slipping and sliding around than I have ever seen in one evening. In the Agon pas de deux, Jock and Wendy's breath could be seen rising in misty clouds around them. Today is a picture-prefect day and when the curtain rises tonight on Raymonda things will look very different.

As it was, even though it made dancing much more difficult, the atmospheric conditions made for a misty and mystical Serenade. It is my own opinion that the SPAC season should always begin with this masterpiece, perfect as it is when danced outside at dusk. Imagine it. It has a totally different look when done inside.

My preferred cast of women (Maria, Jeny, Jennie) goes up tomorrow night. However, each opportunity to see Darci now is one to treasure. She is calm--that is my word for her now--serene and secure in every movement. She is a master of the gesture, so vital in this piece--everything she does is imbued with meaning. Kathleen is an austere and grave Dark Angel and Yvonne started off quite well, and pretty much fell apart mid first movement, sadly. I like Yvonne and I want her to do well. I always catch my breath when she makes her first entrance because it usually starts OK and I think it will be fine--but then so often she just crashes, loses focus, whatever you want to say.

I can't remember the last time I saw Jock dance so well as he did last night in Agon. He has trimmed down and he was fantastic. Agon was sharp and clear and as always when done well looked like a brand new piece rather than 45 years old. There is always something new to see in Agon--what a masterpiece.

The evening ended with a rousing Who Cares. The ensemble was right on the money. The young corps and apprentice girls were together, snappy, smiling and just tickled to be there. What a treat to see them at the beginning of the careers, and know what is ahead. My fav Jeny Ringer was spectacular in Patty McBride's part (my former fav). Jeny just gets better and better. I don't feel the same about Janie Taylor sadly--yes she is lightning fast and so daring and her technique is dazzling, but I am not seeing the growth, not right now at least. I enjoyed the other Jennie. Her fouttes are on the dime--strong and secure, no traveling around the stage. Oh Nicolaj was delightful, as usual.

There were a few more unfortunate slides as the stage got wetter and more slippery. I couldn't tell if anyone was seriously injured--there might have been one. It was a rousing and wonderful welcome back for our company. Now let's hope for drier weather and big crowds.


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rkoretzky, thanks so much for your beautifully written review - and what a wonderful treat to have our own "Alertnik" residing in Saratoga! :) Plus, I can live vicariously through your eyes since I don't hear much from my daughter these days.:)

Your description of Serenade - makes me so wish I'd been there.

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Does one need to get tickets ahead of time for these performances? Do they sell out or are there always available tickets on the grass? Just wondering -- we are planning a trip during the next 3 weeks.

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The good news is that there are always tickets available for evening performances and frequently for matinees too. The bad news is that there are always tickets available.... I haven't seen a sell-out in years.

SPAC is an enormous theater--over 5,000 seats. At twice the size of the NYS Theater, which sadly isn't selling out either, a sell-out would be amazing.

Lawn seats are always an option too, although I would really recommend coming inside. Come! Come! And let me know when you are coming.

From another thread: thanks for the heads-up on Glenn Keenan. I'll be watching her tonight in Raymonda. And Faye Arthurs does Variation I on Saturday. She was a demi-soloist last night in Gershwin, and I liked her very much. So I'll be looking for her too.

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