|Amazing Groundhog Day Four Seasons cast|
The evening actually started out rather unpromisingly: an unexpectedly sloppy performance of Square Dance with Ashley Bouder being off the music (the coda was particularly bad, as she seemed to be on a different beat than the rest of the corps), with leaden jumps. The gargouillades and coupé jetés usually bring about applause but not tonight. She also displayed her worst instincts of constant mugging to the audience. If this was another ballerina we'd probably say "good job" but Bouder has set the bar so high on this, one of her trademark roles, that when she's below par it's immediately noticeable. Taylor Stanley was very fine in his adagio solo. Very flexible back. I went back to a later performance on February 6 and the Ashley got both her jumps and her speed and musicality back. This time her feet did go "wickety wack" so much that it got spontaneous applause.
|Bouder and Stanley in Square Dance, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
|Oltremare suitcase pose|
|The ageless Joaquin de Luz and Tiler Peck in "Fall", photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Dieck, LaFrenier, Farley, Frances, Chamblee, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
|Reichlen and Danchig-Waring, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Second cast of Divertimento|
February 3 - the last of the Divertimento #15/Four Temperaments/Chaconne all-Balanchine bill. The second Divertimento #15 cast had stronger men (Chase Finlay/Joseph Gordon/Cameron Dieck) but women who while on their own are fine dancers were just unsuited to the lyricism of this ballet. Indiana Woodward, Erica Pereira, Unity Phelan, Ashly Isaacs and Ashley Bouder all have strong, straightforward technique but except for Woodward they aren't very lyrical. This was especially apparent in the andante, when none of the women could really transport you to another world. This included perhaps the most famous moment of the ballet, when the men and women both make a circular "petal" pattern -- you could see that the women were not really stretching their fingertips to maximize that effect. Perhaps the most disappointing was Unity Phelan as the third variation -- compared to Ashley Laracey Phelan projected nothing but a rather geometrical strength. Mozart needs to be about more than that.
Four Temperaments also was less taut and exciting than last week -- there were some last minute substitutions and the ballet had an under-rehearsed look. Mearns was out of Sanguinic and Savannah Lowery replaced her. She's good, but doesn't have the sharp attack of, say, Tiler Peck or Sara Mearns. In turn Megan LeCrone replaced Lowery in Choleric. Lecrone is one of those soloists who works hard but is rarely compelling to watch. Olivia Boisson (who danced the first theme) had a scary wipeout in Choleric -- she just toppled over and the audience gasped. Later she seemed to have trouble holding herself up in a supported arabesque. Hope she's not injured. Sean Suozzi is an old hand at Melancholic. Russell Janzen shone in Phlegmatic -- he really emphasized the arm twisting positions of the variation more than any recent Phlegmatic that I can remember. There have been better performances of 4T's.
|Adrian and Maria|
|dance odyssey, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Peck and Catazaro, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
The ballet's one moment that definitely had character was an idyllic pas de deux between the two male soloists Devin Alberda and Sebastian Villarini-Velez (subbing for Anthony Huxley). The two men dance playfully, mirroring each other's steps. The mood is light and flirtatious, much like a Fred-and-Ginger "getting to know you" number. The Michael Jackson moonwalk is cleverly referenced. This pas has all the intimacy and sweetness the ballet's heterosexual pairings lacked. It will be interesting to see where Peter Walker goes from here. Right now he definitely has talent, but not enough maturity to package it all into one great ballet. But that's okay. I recently revisited Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit and found it rather amateurish.
Ratmansky's Russian Seasons closed the program. This work remains pretty much indestructible. I've seen numerous casts from numerous companies tackle this ballet and the effects work every time. The predictability makes it a bit limited but one can admire the craftsmanship. Ratmansky draws out qualities from dancers that aren't immediately apparent in other ballets. Unity Phelan made an arresting debut as the bride -- there could have been more fear in her eyes at the close of the ballet but that's a small gripe. Otherwise the ballet is dominated by the playful antics of a flurry of characters. Ratmansky as early as 2006 was not afraid to be different -- the ballet has many unorthodox steps like males lying on the ground kicking their legs in the air, or people running in place, or chasing each other offstage. Megan Fairchild reprised one of her best roles as the Green Girl -- in the pas de quatre she was with three guys (Cameron Dieck, Ask La Cour, and Sean Suozzi) who could surround and isolate her but could not dominate her. In a show of strength she performed the ballet's most iconic moment in which she "stepped" up the staircase of male hands. The role brings out her best qualities: her humor and spunk. Other standouts: Joseph Gordon and Kristen Segin as the Purple Boy and Girl, Emilie Gerrity being more dramatic than I've ever seen her as the Red Girl. The ballet's closing moments are haunting: the crowd watches this joyless, ritualistic marriage and then fall to the floor. Have they died? Is it a spiritual death? Ratmansky is smart enough to keep the audiences thinking and guessing.
Some noticings about the interim team that's currently running the company: they respect seniority -- Maria Kowroski is being given more assignments than she's perhaps able to take on at this point in her career. At the same time they clearly are grooming a few corps de ballet members for bigger things. Harrison Coll and Devin Alberda are dancing more than they ever had under Peter Martins's reign. They seem more open to having older dancers coach the current crop: this photo shows Patricia McBride coaching Megan Fairchild. There's still some untidiness that one imagines Peter would have fixed quickly. But overall the feeling is that the company is being run by people who are scrupulous and conscientious, and that's a good thing.
What a pleasure and honor to work with this bright spirit on a ballet that is near and dear to our hearts!!!! Patricia McBride is perfection. What a lovely soul, beautiful dancer and good friend. Thanks Pattie for all your nuggets of wisdom! So wonderful to hear what she originally did in the role, and what Mr. B. asked her to do. We will cherish these last two days forever!!!! @joaquindeluz #patriciamcbride #balanchine #baiserdelafee