|de Luz and Fairchild in Baiser, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Coll and Hyltin as the lovers, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
I also disagreed with the decision to eliminate Lord Capulet's slap of Juliet as she disobeyed his orders. Shakespeare (and Prokofiev) created a violent world and Juliet's rebellious headstrong nature is very much in both the play and ballet's DNA. Lord Capulet striking Juliet was one of Martins' rare moments of correct dramatic instinct -- the audience has to know that Juliet is a maverick. Without the slap the scenes with Juliet's parents fell flat. Ask La Cour and Maria Kowroski didn't inject much personality into their roles either. The best acting performance actually came from Russell Janzen who played Paris as exactly the kind of nice young man parents love.
There's more feeling in the last five minutes of Divertimento From Baiser de la Fée than there is during the entirety of Romeo + Juliet. To the strains of "None But the Lonely Heart" the lovers are inextricably separated. The once-jolly corps (dressed in neat village frocks that remind one of Act One of Giselle) turn into implacable Wilis who pull the lovers apart until they are no longer aware of each others' presence. One by one they step between the embracing lovers who eventually give up trying to fight the force. They end the ballet barely aware of each others' presence. Patricia McBride, the originator of the role, was brought in to coach this ballet. I saw two casts. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz brought more depth to their roles. Megan has a sweetness and tenderness that suits this ballet well. Tiler Peck and Anthony Huxley were technically smoother but dramatically opaque. Otherwise the ballet is not one of Balanchine's finest. The first 20 minutes seem like filler until the drama-filled final moments of the ballet. Unlike, say, Serenade the ominous, mystical feeling is not accumulated throughout the ballet.
|Peck, Stanley, Finlay, Bouder, Kowroski, Danchig-Waring|
The second cast of Agon was not nearly as inspired. Chase Finlay is an odd choice for the pas de deux -- partnering has never been his strength, and Tess Reichlen who I've seen totally rock this pas de deux tried but she couldn't hide the labored partnering. As a result the iconic moves seemed to chug along awkwardly. The famous drag across stage barely happened. And in the pas de trois Peter Walker didn't seem comfortable with the role. Ashly Isaacs also had a few moments of hesitancy but Harrison Coll and Joseph Gorden were great in the second pas de trois. I went back the next day for a second performance and there must have been some major cleanup/rehearsals because while Finlay is still not ideal the partnering between him and Tess was much smoother.
|Hyltin, Danchig-Waring, Fairchild, Janzen, Huxley, Peck|
Symphony in Three Movements also had two very different casts. Tiler Peck/Taylor Stanley/Daniel Ulbricht/Erica Pereira/Megan LeCrone/Joseph Gordon had the better supporting cast, but this role doesn't really seem to fit Tiler Peck. She can do that ménage of pique turns where the ballerina has to weave in between the jogging girls with breathtaking speed but there's something too square about her presentation for the pas de deux to make its full impact. She doesn't get the undulating arm movements of the pas de deux, nor do the famous lifts where woman covers her eyes as she's being hauled in the air look as bizarre as they should. To see what I mean here's some footage NYCB put up. It's way too much arm and hand flapping without the shoulder/back movement that gives those arm movements momentum. How do those Russian ballerinas get such great swan arms? Because they know that the movement comes from working the back and shoulders, and not just the arms.
|Hyltin and Danchig-Waring, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
So that's a wrap for the Winter Season. A few MVP's:
- Adrian Danchig-Waring, who had a potentially career-ending injury, dancing almost every night in so many different ballets (Apollo, Chaconne, Agon, dance odyssey, Four Seasons, Symphony in Three Movements) and knocking each performance out of the park.
- Russell Janzen, whose partnering is smooth as silk and whose range is expanding -- he was once mostly a prince/cavalier type but his awesome Phlegmatic in Four Temperaments and tender Duo shows an artist growing in leaps and bounds.
- Joaquin de Luz, who at age 41 is showing the youngsters how it's done. His barnstorming performance of Four Seasons was extraordinary.
- Harrison Coll who is a corps member but dancing like a soloist, and Joseph Gordon who is a soloist dancing as a principal. I am supremely bummed that I missed the Gordon/Pereira Baiser performance as it was apparently great.
- And finally, that stable of female principals (Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Tess Reichlen, Sterling Hyltin, Ashley Bouder and Megan Fairchild) who go out there night after night and do their thing, and do it with humor.
Dream role tackled!!!! Thought of you @jeniferringer the whole time!!! I had the MOST fun out there!!!! PSA: Smoking is awful!!! Never do it... unless Ratmansky choreographs it into a ballet and they give you a chocolate flavored fake vape. #healthylungs #dontsmoke Also, sound on for Sara’s @saramearns wicked laugh at the end lol. #namouna #friends #ratmansky #bathingbeauties 🏊♂️ 🏊♂️ 🏊♂️