explosive lawsuit came out in which Finlay's ex-girlfriend Alexandra Waterbury accused Finlay, Catazaro and Ramasar (as well as a NYCB donor/patron) of exchanging nude images of her and other company dancers without their consent. The texts apparently contained such charming phrases as "I bet we could tie them up and abuse them like farm animals." On September 15 NYCB terminated Ramasar and Catazaro permanently. In addition to this scandal former NYCB principal and SAB teacher Peter Frame commit suicide. And in the larger dance world, legends Paul Taylor and Arthur Mitchell passed away.
You could almost hear the audience breathe a sigh of relief when NYCB started its fall season with its eternally beautiful and popular Jewels. This plotless three-acter has been a hit for 50 years and judging by the full audiences and enthusiastic applause it will continue to be a hit for centuries to come. Jewels' appeal lies not just in the usual complexity of Balanchine's kaleidescope-like corps patterns or the melding of dance to music. There are several male-female relationships in Jewels that remain mysterious and unknowable -- every time I watch it I think a dancer will unlock one mystery but never all of them. Jewels is an eternal drug that never loses its high. It's a testament to the depth of the company that even though NYCB overnight lost three of its most prominent principals I saw three separate casts and they all had their pleasures.
|La Cour and Laracey in the "clock" arabesque, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Second Jewels cast|
|Lovette offstage, curtain calls of Diamonds|
The Rubies was also the best overall cast. Lauren Lovette and Gonzalo Garcia (who was also making his return after a long layoff) were the best mix of technique and charm. Garcia doesn't have de Luz's showboating skills but he does have the warmth, playfulness, and the light landings that Veyette lacked. Lauren Lovette seemed entirely at ease with Garcia. They were adorable. Claire Kretzschmar is still miscast as Tall Girl but she was more technically secure. After the show I ran into Lovette and she was so cute and still dressed in what she called her "offstage Rubies outfit."
But Diamonds. Oh my. I can say without any hesitation that Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen are the most beautiful Diamonds couple I have ever seen, and I'll venture to say they might be the most beautiful I'll ever see. Reichlen combines Maria's gorgeous aesthetics with Mearns' strength, and then adds her own brand of aloof magic into the mix. Janzen is her always sensitive, gallant partner. He's not the world's strongest virtuoso dancer but in the scherzo he does remember to point his feet in those turns a la seconde, something Tyler Angle did not do. The pas de deux between Reichlen and Janzen was so beautiful, so serene, that I don't think I breathed once. Reichlen doesn't include many of the "traditional" mannerisms of Diamonds -- in the scherzo she doesn't pull her neck and head backwards in the exaggerated Suzanne Farrell tradition, nor does she do the dramatic back-bends and swooning lunges of Sara Mearns, but she doesn't need to. She is one of the rare dancers that can do "just the steps" and have that be enough. And maybe because of muscle memory after several performances, or being inspired by Reichlen/Janzen, but the corps in Diamonds was the best I saw it all week. Spritely in the waltz and scherzo, and regal and uniform in the polonaise finale.
Sandwiched in between all these Jewels was an all-Balanchine program (Concerto Barocco/Tchai pas/Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Symphony in C). Some highlights included Tess Reichlen's cool authority in Barocco (miss her SO much as Tall Girl), Joseph Gordon and Ashley Bouder's geometric classicism in the first movement and Indiana Woodward and Sebastian Villarini-Velez exploding out of the third movement of the Bizet, and Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz bringing the house down in Tchai Pas. Tiler put on all the fireworks and then some -- multiple fouettes with fancy arm changing positions, huge fishdives that had the audience gasping. They got called out for five curtain calls and took some very ABT-like grand bows. But hey, when you dance like that, you've earned your right to milk those curtain calls.
And so despite the unending negative publicity this summer, NYCB has gotten off to a great start in its fall season and everything is once again beautiful at the ballet.
#SpeakingInDance | “You’re supposed to shoot out and fly,” said @indiana_woodward of her entrance in #GeorgeBalanchine’s spectacular “Symphony in C,” set to Bizet. A soloist at @nycballet, Indiana makes her New York City debut in the ballet’s third movement opposite Sebastian Villarini-Velez on Sept. 21. “It’s like being shot out of a canon,” Sebastian added. The third movement is for jumpers, and because, as Indiana pointed out, “it is really hard, thinking of just flying is a nice thing.” Many of the steps are identical for the man and the woman, which is rare and helps cement their bond onstage. “The most important part is the connection that you establish with your partner,” Sebastian said. “We get through it together.” When he learned he would be dancing the part, he had just returned to the company after a long layoff. “I went home to Puerto Rico and lounged for 5 weeks,” he said, “and came back to this monster.” And those jumps? They’re equal parts distance and height. “It’s like Balanchine always said, ‘Dance big,’” Indiana told the @nytimes writer @giadk. “And it always works.” @laurenmnolan made this video for #SpeakingInDance, our weekly series exploring the world of #dance.