Jewels at the NYCB

Kowroski and Angle in Diamonds, photo @ Paul Kolnik
It's one of NYCB's quirks of programming that Peter Martins now likes to do excerpts of Jewels (Rubies here, Diamonds there) but hasn't actually put on a full-length Jewels in several years. The last time I saw a full-length Jewels, Wendy Whelan was in Diamonds. God, that seems so long ago.

Tonight's Jewels was a welcome return of the full-length ballet and also a reminder of why this ballet is perhaps not as frequently done as it should be. It remains frustratingly tricky to cast. Emeralds in particular is such a delicate fragile piece. One dancer looks out of place and the whole entire stage picture is marred and off-balance. Ashley Bouder was excellent in the leading role of Emeralds, but Amar Ramasar as her cavalier was terribly miscast. Too bulky and athletic in build, and doesn't really have the cavalier's sense of line, posture, and partnering. Ramasar is better in the all-American or leotard ballets. In the green bejeweled outfit he looked awkward and clumsy. The "walking" couple were Abi and Jonathan Stafford. Both are solid technically but exude no mystery. Abi's arms really need some work. The trio had some good work by the alway charming Lauren King, but Sean Suozzi and Megan Lecrone were just miscast -- him too boyish, her too aggressive. Emeralds is such a beautiful ballet but I've seen Peter Martins go through various combos of casting and rarely has he ever hit the jackpot.

Thankfully Rubies was much improved. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz are old hands at this role, they get not just the steps but the playfulness and sass. Megan's really grown a lot in the past few seasons -- for many years she seemed like a technically proficient but tightly wound dancing doll. She still has that kewpie cuteness, but is now a lot freer in her movement. And Teresa Reichlen is perhaps the best Tall Girl that I'll ever see. Everything about her is so perfect in the role -- even her aloofness and introversion work in this role. She's an object of desire, but she doesn't desire her worshippers. Her long long legs are used almost as weapons to fling in the air, and an object of male fetish. In fact, there's that wonderful moment when the men actually start manipulating and moving her legs in the air. It's so cooly sexy. But she doesn't need men -- the last image of her solo is of a completely unsupported arabesque penchee that Reichlen held long enough for the audience to start applauding.

Diamonds was also excellent. Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle are such a beautiful pair. Their pas de deux had such beautiful lunges with Maria using her long legs and feet to create the most exquisite shapes in the air. I also love that repeated movement where Maria leans her whole body back against Tyler's as he gently lifts her in the air. As long as Tyler was behind her, nothing bad could happen to Maria. Kowroski often has issues with solo work however -- it seems to be a confidence issue, or a sudden loss of concentration. Tonight in the scherzo she was breezing through her solo when she all of a took a terrible spill. Like a figure-skating butt on the floor, legs in the air kind of spill. She was clearly rattled and worked through the rest of her solo gingerly with the audience applauding her to encourage her. Angle's own solo had some rather effortful double turns in the air but an impressive series of pirouettes a la seconde. They weren't like Angel Corella's but they did get the usually somnolent NYCB audience to start applauding. By the finale Kowroski seemed to have gained her confidence back, as she made it through the double pirouettes without any stumbles. The corps de ballet for Diamonds was absolutely stellar -- someone has clearly coached them about their arms, because they were exquisitely held in a beautiful Petipa position.

Even though the solo casting wasn't perfect Jewels still shows why NYCB is the real ballet company of the town. You can see the results of their day-to-day work with each other since school-age by the way the corps de ballet seem to effortlessly support each other -- slowing down when it seems like one corps member is lagging, linking hands (a favorite Balanchine move) as if they've been holding hands since childhood.


Popular posts from this blog

Camelot: Knight Errors

Fedora: A Good Bad Opera

Some Like it Corny