I purchased a ticket to NYCB's All Balanchine program for the Art Series (this year celebrating artist Dustin Yellen). Every seat in the house cost just 29 dollars and, obviously, it sells out fast.
All the Corps were fantastic in Serenade. They were extremely comfortable in the choreography and the speed of it which makes it all look deceptively easy and almost ridiculously simple. Ashley Bouder was not in the cast tonight as one of the main dancers. Her place was taken by Erica Pereira who did well but did not have the explosive, dynamic energy that Bouder does. Her dancing style seemed more delicate, a skittering like quality that I'm not sure is the best for the part. The dark angel trio section with Sterling Hyltin, Ask La Cour and Teresa Reichlen was haunting and more than a bit frightening. It seemed so strange in the middle of all the happy Corps constantly floating around the stage. Balanchine added black humor bits with La Cour partnering the leads along with the whole Corps as they danced past him. I'm still not sure what to make of the last transfiguration scene because it is so obviously a late edition to the piece and it does not fit into the ballet as a whole.
The next piece danced was Agon which seemed a little oddball considering it was sandwiched in between two of the most romantic ballets in NYCB's repertory. But it had an explosive energy all focusing through Megan LeCrone. She was a big, precise, very no nonsense dancer. The other big stand outs were Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar. They performed the famous Pas de Deux created on Diana Adams and Arthur Mitchell. In some performances the Pas comes across as very cold, calculating and careful. But both Kowroski and Ramasar have a very natural quality to their dancing and this couple's performance was extremely passionate. The dance transformed from something cold to very raw. As they performed intricate moves, their hands shook with tension almost like live wires of contact. At one point a piece of hair fell out of Kowroski's severe bun and it flew around wildly during the dance adding a quality of abandon. Their performance elicited cheers of appreciation from the audience both after the dance and at curtain call.
After a very enlivening Agon, Symphony in C was a bit of a let down. Ashley Bouder took the first movement of this piece. But I didn't find anything memorable about the performance. Maybe this role just isn't the best for her. The Second movement is virtually haunted by the shade of Allegra Kent which makes it hard for subsequent dancers to make an impact. Kent had a quality of surrender to her dancing that male partners responded to in a very primal manner. Sara Mearns held up very well under the pressure. She isn't the clinging vine that Kent was but she is such an unembarrassed romantic in her dancing. At times she skirts extremely close to corny sappiness, but stops before the jump. I also loved that she didn't finish her movements in this Pas. Each pose did not stop in time but kept moving as she stretched further. Mearns always has extremely lovely upper body epaulement. I think she developed this because she is not the typical shape for a ballerina. But she is so fun to watch. The corps was a little ragged in Symphony in C. There were some spacing issues between the dancers with some bunched into corners and others too far apart. It makes me wonder if it hasn't been rehearsed as much as the other pieces.
I have to admit I'm a biased spectator, but I enjoyed NYCB much more than I did the Mariinsky performance a few weeks back. I think our dancers more than match them and I don't understand why everyone thinks Russian dancers are so superior. I read from another dance fan that that the AD of Mariinsky thinks our dancers are barrel shaped. Well, I say, bring on the barrel over the preying mantis. Its so nice to see dancers who look strong, not weak and don't give me the impression that they would whip out forks and knives to cannibalize their fellow dancers because they are so hungry.
NYCB is in prime condition now with loads of talent at all levels. I look forward to seeing them again.
Labels: art, ballet, culture, reviews