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NYCB's first week at SPAC

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Some impressions from the first week of residency:

SERENADE: On the whole, I do prefer the "second" cast of women, but in the 4th movement there is no one who can wring your heart the way that Darci can. Maria has the most beautiful arabesque but Kathleen's is breathtaking too. I'd also like to mention Kip who was heart-breaking with Darci last night. There is no way to get around the fact that technique slips away after such long careers, but mature emotion transcends. A special mention to the corps, the essence of Serenade. After a slighty shaky opening night, they got better with each performance.

RAYMONDA: Wonderful performances from young corps girls. Those demi-solo variations are killers. I watched Glenn Keenan carefully, but actually preferred Faye Arthurs, who is being given lots of opportunities and is making the most of them. Glenn was very lovely, but she wasn't completely on her pointe. Faye has very exact and clean technique. She reminds me of Margaret Tracey at the beginning of her career and I can see her evolving into that repertoire. Next week I think we are seeing a debut from Lindy M. I've seen her make a few big mistakes and I'm watching with interest. I remember her as an SAB kid doing roles here at SPAC. Yvonne did quite nicely in her turn, although there were passages where she was completely off the music. She doesn't have the fire that Jeny Ringer has.

FANCY FREE: I already pretty much blasted this ballet as a dated piece of nonsense. Guess I was in a bad mood that morning. I've watched it twice more. Still don't really like it and would so much rather see just about anything else of Robbins, but I've tried to disregard the story and focus on the music--which is great, what's not to like about Bernstein?--and the wonderful opportunities for a few guys to really show off. Last night I was knocked out by Daniel U. in the Tom Gold part. His leap off the bar was the closest to flying that I have ever seen on that stage. Ben, covering Damian's role, needs to develop more of a swagger--Damian does so wonderfully. However, immediately following FF, Ben did "Jeu de Cartes" with all his usual flash. Pretty amazing.

however...JEU DE CARTES: I don't get it. I don't know where the choreography is going. I can't see the structure of the piece, it looks repetitive to me and like a lot of running around. I do like the new corps costumes quite a lot, but think that the principal costumes, with the exception of Damian's, are over the top. It was danced well--I just didn't like it. Music is great though and I could see that it created choregraphic interest. Balanchine was not satisfied with his own choreographic efforts--a hint maybe?

FIREBIRD: Two very different interpretations, both wonderful to watch. Maria was a regal firebird--she took her time with every movement. Alexandra was a sprite--very fast and darting through the same movements. I think of Ivan as a silly part. There isn't much for him to do and the costume is foppish (that hat!) but I have seen Charles do the part so many times that I just expect to see him. Much as I admire James (and I do), I think Charles should stick with it. Rachel is a gorgeous princess. She also had her part in G MAJOR, but more! more Rachel! Kathleen will give her last performance with NYCB on Tuesday night in the princess role. I hate to see her go. She has grown so very much and is retiring at the top of her game.

INTERPLAY: If you ever find yourself planning to attend a SPAC matinee, try to see Interplay. IN G Major would be a pretty good choice too. These Robbins ballets with outdoor settings that feature a bunch of kids romping around are perfect on a summer afternoon. Dances at a Gathering also works for a matinee, so if anyone is listening, bring it on next year! So many ballets are lost in daylight. Prism was done at a SPAC matinee and it was pretty flat because it is so dependent on lighting. Haiku would be the same way. It is spectacular and wonderfully creative--I certainly hope and expect that it will be a keeper. Friends of mine who play in the orchestra and usually play cards backstage during their off times, were watching Haiku, mesmerised. But it needs the lighting, so I hope not to see it at a matinee. Now I realize I have said more about lighting than about Inteplay so...

INTERPLAY is just a lot of fun. I wouldn't sit too close though. It is so athletic--well I know that dancers sweat, but I'd rather not see the sweat flying. Just maintaining my own facade. It's not a masterpiece, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. I also enjoy I G MAJOR and get much the same feeling from it, although jazzy sensual Ravel and playful Gould don't share much communality the two ballets have a similar structure and the same feeling of a bunch of very young people having a very good time. Both have been done very well at SPAC, with a terrific debut by Daniel in Interplay, a lovely pas de deux with Carla Korbes and Stephen Hanna, and Wendy and Damian, both playing somewhat against usual type in a really languid pas in G MAJOR. Also great ensemble work in both.

I had a chance to meet BW and her family last night. That was a treat, and I'll be seeing some of you this week.

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Thank you for such wonderful reviews!! I'd considered going to Saratoga for a few days this past week, but was too busy and not energized enough for such a long drive.

Sounds like some great ballets and debuts-glad to hear that Daniel Ulbricht did so well in his first shot at "Interplay". Ulbricht's very talented, and I just hope that he is able to avoid having any more knee problems.

I look foward to reading any reviews of his debut in "Tarantella", though I feel that Antonio Carmena should have gotten the first shot. He's a great dancer, and I'm always nervous that he will jump ship to ABT if he doesn't get opportunities at NYCB. (Apparently he actually wanted to go to ABT Studio Company with his Prix de Lausanne scholarship, but there were language difficulties and the committe thought he meant SAB.)

So, thank you again for your reviews! I look foward to reading about another week of ballet in Saratoga!


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As our Saratoga correspondent, rkoretzky writes - we finally met, at the #14 aisle, on Saturday night's performance. It was a pleasure to meet both our faithful "reporter" and her daughter as well!:D

Sneds, and anyone else who has considered driving up but hasn't - Go! You'll not regret it. The atmosphere at SPAC is wonderful and I have to say that I've never seen the dancers look so happy! Was it just my perception or, for the dancers, does being out of doors in such a beautifully serene location infuse them all with more enthusiasm and energy than ever?

I thought everyone looked marvelous and danced beautifully. :) If I knew them all by name, I'd list them individually and thank them for giving us a wonderful introduction to NYCB's summer season.

I had never seen Serenade before and my husband and I fell in love with it - so much so that on our way out of town we stopped in the bookstore and bought a great recording to listen to on our way home driving down the Taconic parkway - great road in the good weather and the music just helped us replay the performance in our minds. Serenade has tremendous power and beauty and, by the way, Yvonne Borree was wonderful - so light - so fast - I loved seeing her perform.:)

Luckily, I never take Fancy Free's "sexism" to heart and, instead, just choose to think of it as an old James Cagney, or possibly Gene Kelly, era movie and enjoy the sailors' "maleness" and the laughable way they characterize themselves... Which by the way, is all mime - isn't it? I kept thinking about all the comments on Ballet Talk about not getting the mime in La Bayadere...and thinking how Fancy Free is one giant mime - with a lot of dancing for sure... Maybe since it's so "American" in its nature, it's just so instilled in us that we don't realize it and don't have to think? Who knows - but in my opinion Benjamin Millepied was a knockout! :D

Enjoyed Peter Martins' Jeu De Cartes - thought the costumes were great - especially the corps' - didn't mind the Millepied's or Hubbe's but do have to say that, if I had to choose one to wear (God forbid!), I'd choose Damian Woetzel's as the more sophisticated one! As for the choreography, I do not have enough of a background to decode it in any particular way, however, we thought everyone's dancing was excellent and marveled at the speed in which the four principals often shot across the stage! Janie Taylor looked great as the sought after Queen of Hearts, and her suitors ;) were definitely showing their stuff on Saturday night, too! One of the things I really noticed was that all of the dancers looked as though they were having fun - and that made me enjoy the performance even more.

A good time was had by all. Wish we were still up there! :)

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Thanks for your reviews! It's great to be able to read about performances the French press would surely never mention...

rkoretzky, could you please use the dancers last names and not only their first names? Sometimes it is a bit difficult for people like me who are not so familiar with the company to remember who is who... :D

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Estelle, thank you for reminding me that this is an international forum and that many posters here don't feel an intimate relationship with a company. It is only because NYCB has spent summers in my town for the last 36 years that I have been fortunate to gain this knowledge.

If I must admit to the truth, I am a little lazy and took short cuts. But no more--you are correct and I apologize.

Au revoir....

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