Back to the NYCB

Returning to the NYCB after the circusy Don Quixote of ABT was like a palette cleanser. Were the performances perfect? No, but I felt at all times that I was watching a remarkable company perform the best choreography in the world. The program (Allegro Brillante, The Cage, Andantino, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto) had a little for everyone. I've really run out of plaudits for the NYCB and their ability to put on one high-quality performance after another.

The afternoon started off with an Allegro Brillante that seemed like it was, well, a bit cursed. Were the floors overwaxed? Megan LeCrone took a nasty spill on her entrance, and this was followed by the usually reliable Megan Fairchild taking a big slip on her entrance. The show must go on, and Balanchine's perky little sparkler continued, albeit with more caution than usual from Fairchild and Andrew Veyette. But late in the ballet Fairchild had another huge stumble. Oh well, mistakes happen to the best of them.

The Cage is not my favorite ballet -- it makes its creepy effect the first time you see it, but, like a lot of Robbins choreography, gets stale upon repeated viewings. Janie Taylor was a properly spidery Novice, Teresa Reichlen commanding and chilling as The Queen, and the two doomed men (Jared Angle and Giovanni Villalobos) died their unfortunate deaths. As I said when I first saw this ballet I thought it was delightfully creepy, but each time the effect is the same. You don't discover new joys of the choreography.

Andantino, on the other hand, is one of those small ballets that becomes more charming upon repeated viewing. Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia simply floated across the stage. I love how musical Tiler Peck is -- when there is that wonderful moment in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto where the piano plays those upwards chords, Tiler Peck seemed to float up, up, up with the piano. Again, it's really hard to write about Tiler Peck without seeming like her press agent -- she just seems incapable of giving a bad performance.

The big masterpiece was Stravinsky Violin Concerto. This is one of Balanchine's densest ballets choreographically -- you can watch it 100 times, I suspect, and discover new accents and details each time. The two pas de deux are marvels -- the first one, between Maria Kowroski and Adrian Danchig-Waring, is Balanchine at his most contortionist. It ends with the female doing a slow back flip. Yet despite the limbs wrapping around each other, the duet is strangely impersonal and lacks intimacy -- the coupling resembles an anonymous encounter. Kowroski's extreme flexibility was a huge advantage in this role, and Danchig-Waring partnered her beautifully. The second pas de deux, between Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild, had the same body-contortionist poses, but was lighter and more tender. Hyltin was absolutely lovely. She has all the strength and musculature required for the Balanchine "leotard" ballets without losing her enchanting femininity. Fairchild continues to be the "total package":  the handsome, musical, boy-next-door. The finale had the usual Balanchine flood of corps de ballet, who seemed to be dancing in a joyful communal folk dance. I loved the way the wrists of the females rotate, all together, all on the beat of the music -- this is a real ballet company, where the corps de ballet truly dance as one. It's a happy, endearing finale that only Mr. B could create.

Again, I repeat: what a great company.


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