Monday, May 28, 2018

Balanchine's Coppelia and Makarova's Bayadere: "After" Petipa

Generations of Swanilda: Danilova, McBride, Hyltin
After a very successful three week tribute to Jerome Robbins NYCB this week returned to one of Balanchine's most charming creations: his version of Coppelia, which he and Alexandra Danilova reconstructed from their memories of the Imperial Ballet. This is Balanchine at his most "after Petipa" -- there is none of the abstract minimalism that was his calling card. His Coppelia is a full-blown three act story ballet with carefully articulated mime,  several folk/character dance numbers including a mazurka and czardas, and an unabashedly old-fashioned quality. The sets and costumes by Rouben Ter-Artunian are a shock of pastels that match Leo Delibes' lilting, gentle score. It is literally a world viewed through rose-colored glasses. Balanchine might have re-choreographed some of the steps (mostly in the third act -- the first two are very standard Coppélia choreography) but he clearly loved this ballet and that love is as important if not more so than following, say, Stepanov notations. Balanchine's Coppélia still delights audiences that sometimes sniff at anything that isn't a leotard ballet.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Robbins Festival Ends, SuperGiselle at ABT, and a Hiatus

Osipova and Hallberg in very enthusiastic curtain calls, photo @ Andrea Mohin
On May 18, 2018 every single seat at the Met was sold out for ABT's eagerly anticipated SuperGiselle. The leads: Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg, whose partnership had caused such a sensation in roles like, well, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. But time and injuries had split the partnership. In this interview both dancers articulated why reuniting onstage was so important for them. In the audience was one of the greatest all-time Giselles, Diana Vishneva, who looked remarkably trim for someone who just had a baby 5 days ago.

So did SuperGiselle live up to the hype? Well yes and no. Considering how thin ABT's roster currently is it was probably the best Giselle of the entire run and the audiences loved it. About 15 minutes of curtain calls with the audience singing "happy birthday" to both of them (they share a May 18 birthday). But compared to their previous performances it was below par.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Something to Dance About: Robbins Centennial Kicks off at NYCB

Jerome Robbins in Circus Polka
Spring season is underway at NYCB. After a week of Balanchine and modern repertory (a few highlights: Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition return to the repertoire, the flirty, playful duet between Anthony Huxley and Devin Alberda in the otherwise turgid dance odyssey, Sara Mearns making a radiant debut in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Sterling Hyltin and Tiler Peck leading very different but equally valid approaches as the lead girl in Symphony in Three Movements, Zachary Catazaro making a decent if not spectacular return to Apollo three years after his debut where he dropped the lute the Jerome Robbins' Centennial Celebration kicked off this week. The first program I attended mixed real Robbins' (The Four Seasons, Suite of Dances, and Circus Polka) with two Robbins' tributes: Warren Carlyle's Something to Dance About and Justin Peck's EASY.

Balanchine's Nutcracker pops up ... everywhere

It's December 2020 and the world is going through a furious, deadly second wave of the covid pandemic. Most performances have been cance...