|Now iconic final pose of Concerto DSCH|
May 20 - Second cast of the NYCB program of Belles Lettres/Mothership/American Rhapsody/Concerto DSCH in which there were no less than four debuts in Ratmansky's modern classic. Not much to say about Mothership or American Rhapsody. They had no cast changes and time has not improved them. Wheeldon's work is even slicker and emptier on second viewing. Robert Fairchild has now resorted to more desperate jazz hands mugging, and Tiler Peck still looks like she's doing her taxes.
Belles Lettres had two intriguing debuts: Indiana Woodward and Kristen Segin took over for Ashley Laracey and Lovette. Both Woodward and Segin aren't the stereotypical NYCB corps girls: they're both petite and exude a soft romanticism rather than wholesome energy and athleticism. They were both exquisite. The ballet overstays its welcome and the clichés (four waltzing couples, women loosening their hair, a lone jester-like figure) are annoying, but the music is beautiful and Peck's steps are always watchable. And with these new casts, there's always someone intriguing from the corps to watch.
|Harrison Ball and Indiana Woodward a few years ago, Photo @ Paul Kolnik|
Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig-Waring made their debuts as the "lyrical' green couple. They were beautiful, but we knew they would be. The partnering was stellar. Hyltin has that light, sparrow-like body that makes all those twirling lifts fly, and Adrian pulling Sterling in those circular glides around the stage were as smooth as ice skating -- no bumpiness whatsoever. Their second movement was a master class in adagio dancing. But then again, we knew these roles would fit them like a glove.
The more interesting debuts were the blue boys. Those two roles have so many pitfalls that a double debut must have been nerve-wracking. Joseph Gordon and Harrison Ball (still both in the corps) knocked it out of the ballpark. They're very different dancers -- Apollo vs. Dionysus. Even though Ball is technically shorter than Gordon, Ball is the Apollonian dancer with his long stretched lines and double tours that emphasized the elegant straight line and closed fifth position landing rather than the power and height of the jump/rotation. Gordon is an explosion of energy with incredible ballon and speed. The most beautiful part of the ballet was when they partnered each other -- it was like Apollo and Dionysus finally joining up and meeting in the middle. Brittany Pollack as the blue girl was charming, but she couldn't match the energy of the two boys. Congrats to NYCB for putting together such a wonderful run of Ratmansky's masterpiece.
|Hyltin and Fairchild in happier times, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
Fairchild/Hyltin were always a magical couple in this 20 minute gem. They were puppyish, energetic, and just flat out adorable. Fairchild in those days exuded such a wide-eyed romanticism that made this piece special. I remember seeing them in this (and other Stravinsky ballets like Apollo or Violin Concerto) and back then I would have said Fairchild would go on to have the greater career. Hyltin was always fresh and beautiful but in her early years as principal she was slightly generic. Whatever the case was, if these two were cast, I knew that once that piano and violin were playing I'd be taken to a happy place.
Tonight Hyltin was still sweet and charming, but the former dream Duo has become a nightmare. Fairchild did become a star -- on Broadway. His return to NYCB full time has not been an easy transition. Fairchild's classical technique has eroded to the point where his whole body looks misshapen -- he hunches his shoulders or fusses with his hands, but his line is horrendous, like a Bob Fosse parody. He's not overweight, just incredibly out of shape. Muscles bulge out irregularly. Maybe a lot of off-season conditioning can fix that. Harder to replace will be his spirit. This boyishly romantic dancer is now grim and joyless. He looks miserable out there and it's miserable to watch him.
Anyway, he's departing soon for the London production of An American in Paris. The ending of Duo Concertant seemed like a fitting farewell to Robbie Fairchild, the classical ballet dancer. The spotlight dims on the two dancers. They try to find each other in the dark. They do, but then lose each other again. Curtains.