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Sunday, October 18, 2015

NYCB Fall Season

Huxley and von Enck Photo by Paul Kolnik
For many reasons I was only able to attend two performances of NYCB's Fall Season. An earlier mixed bill found Megan Fairchild back in that short but challenging powerhouse Tarantella. Welcome back Megan. Her brother Robbie Fairchild was taking a night off from An American in Paris to dance the Hoofer in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. He was charming, if a little too slick by half. Teresa Reichlen as the Stripper had the Legs and the Hair but not the Sass. Come back soon, Robbie. NYCB misses you.

Yesterday afternoon's double bill of Harlequinade/N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz was a more interesting afternoon because it showed the company in transition. Harlequinade was Balanchine's affectionate tribute to a Petipa ballet. The score by Drigo is sweet if forgettable, and the whole thing is a cotton candy confection with the sad undertone of most commedia dell'arte stories. But to play the lead lovers Colombine and Harlequin you need the right mix of sweetness and spice that yesterday's leads didn't really have.  Ashley Bouder (Colombine) was dancing her last performance before going on maternity leave. For years Bouder has been like the Old Faithful of the NYCB. Always able to dance the most challenging ballets, night after night, rarely injured. I'm sure she'll tackle motherhood with the same iron determination that she seems to apply to everything else in her life. She came across as a bit too mature for Colombine. She also understandably seemed to curtail some of the steps. Andrew Veyette was capable if a little blank as Harlequin.

But just as Bouder takes a break, two younger stars seem ready to seize the spotlight. Claire von Enck and Anthony Huxley absolutely stole the show as the bickering married couple. Huxley's facial contours naturally seem to lend itself to the sad clown expression, and von Enck's tiny, terrifying ferocity was a joy to watch. Bouder and Veyette lightly touched the world of commedia dell'arte, but Huxley and von Enck inhabited their roles. Apprentice Miriam Miller appears ready to replace Maria Kowroski (also on maternity leave) as the tall, sexy blonde on the roster. The role of the Good Fairy doesn't call for much except to look pretty, but Miller sure does look beautiful. This, along with her debut as Titania this past spring makes me think Peter Martins has huge plans for her.

SAB students, photo by Paul Kolnik

Harlequinade is another ballet which displays Balanchine's genius with choreographing for children. Children are never just "there" in Balanchine's world, never trotted onstage just to look cute. They (and their bright costumes) are treated as an integral part of the ballet's structure. Their suite of dances in the second act added an energy and joy to the otherwise sad world of commedia dell'arte. The SAB children were amazing.

N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz, photo by Paul Kolnik

N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz represents the best of Jerome Robbins earlier career, when he seamlessly combined elements of classical ballet with popular dance. No pointe shoes, no Chopin, just a bunch of "kids" in casual wear and sneakers. The ballet was made in 1958 but the sharp, unsentimental rhythms and moves are still recognizably "New York" almost sixty years later. There is something very timeless about this piece, the casual, jazzy posture calls for the kind of minute concentration that Robbins was infamous for demanding (or threatening) from his dancers. In the series of backwards somersaults one of the girls actually took a tumble. It was almost impossible to take your eyes of Gina Pazcoguin as the "lead" girl: she commanded attention. In the pas de deux Taylor Stanley and Ashley Laracey were cold, remote, mysterious. Taylor Stanley continues to be one of the most intriguing male dancers in the NYCB lineup: he's not conventionally handsome and he has an unusual build for a ballet dancer, but he has beautiful line and musicality.

2 comments:

  1. Sure bash Ashley have you ever met her. Do you know about her bad knees. Do you know about the pain she has to endure. I follow your blog and I must say you known nothing about ballet. Did you ever dance? I think not.

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    1. I must have missed the part where I "bashed" Ashley. Erica Pereira stalker, please leave me alone. You are psycho. All further comments from you will be deleted. Goodbye.

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