Winter Season Conclusion
Today was the first day of March but New York got hit with yet another snowstorm. It's okay though -- the New York City Ballet's final Winter Season performance was enough to put a smile on any balletomane's face.
The performance started off with a performance Square Dance that might be the finest performance I've seen at the NYCB all winter, period. Ashley Bouder was of course magnificent in the leading lady role -- crisp, secure, fast, with endless reserves of horsepower, but with enough delicacy that's appropriate for this extremely courtly ballet. She's still hands down probably the strongest allegro dancer of the company. Anthony Huxley matched Bouder beat for beat, jump for jump. His adagio solo was buttery smooth. But the corps behind them were with them every step -- it was just one of those performances where you got the sense of a happy dancing community, which is the key for Square Dance.
First things first: how great it was to see Harlequinade for the first time! I never thought "Balanchine" and "Drigo" would ever be in the same sentence but Balanchine's homage to both the Petipa ballet and the traditions of commedia dell'arte is a delightful cotton candy confection filled with a cutesy love story, even cuter kids, and of course (this being Balanchine) lots of terrific dancing. No, this isn't a Balanchine masterpiece (it's great, just not on his most exalted level) but it's fun, colorful, and digestible. Balanchine's version of fast food.
I don't think the NYCB audience knew quite how to respond to such an old-fashioned ballet -- the mime jokes between Colombine's father Cassandre (Daniel Prottas) and Léandre, the stuffy suitor (Robert La Fosse) sometimes came and went without a giggle.
The cast is probably the best City Ballet could assemble today. Tiler Peck (Colombine) was crisp and secure in her dancing and gave her Colombine the same hard edge she gives her Swanilda. When she leans down to kiss Harlequin she always turns up her backside in an exaggerated way, to show Colombine's aloofness. If her first act was cute, in the second act Tiler's multiple fouettes and extended balances were just a delight to watch. If I have a complaint of Tiler it's that in her pas de deux she seems to be striving for a remote, dreamy aura that's very appropriate for some roles (The Man I Love) but less so for others (like Colombine). It's veering dangerously close to an affectation.
Joaquin de Luz (Harlequinade) has the richer role. de Luz is still able to execute all those fast jumps and beats, but what's more, there was a touch of melancholy to his clown. I loved his mandolin solo, which has echoes of both Apollo and the sentimental Neapolitan love songs.
Erica Pereira and Daniel Ulbricht seemed slightly wasted in the roles of Pierrette and Pierrot. They were fine, they just didn't have much to do at all in terms of dancing, and Pereira didn't really capture the shrewish domineering nature of Peirette. Emilie Gerrity (Good Fairy) certainly has the beauty and glamour necessary for this rather bizarre part (The Good Fairy revolves onstage and quickly begins some rather va-va-voom dancing) but she lacks the benevolent fairy touch. A little too Miss America. Lauren King as the chief Alouette was pretty but wan.
The real stars of Harlequinade are the kids of the SAB, who parade around the stage in Act Two with impeccable timing and musicianship (as well as very cute, colorful costumes). Now, Harlequinade is very thin and I think he does use the SAB kids to pad this ballet, but it was still a joy to see their perfect turnout, their cute beaming faces, and their flawless exits and entrances. The future of ballet is in good hands with these kids.
Did you attend the Carmen with Garanca and Alagna?ReplyDelete
Yes I did they were fantastic!Delete
I bought a ticket with Kaufmann, which he cancelled. Should have gone to see AlagnaDelete