|Stanley as Apollo, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
Everyone already knows about Apollo and how it's the oldest Balanchine ballet to survive in the repertoire. And almost every balletomane has strong feelings about how Apollo and the muses should be interpreted. In my relatively brief shelf-life as a hardcore balletomane I'd say two Apollos were masterful: Adrian Danchig-Waring and Robert Fairchild. Alas, Danchig-Waring is injured and Fairchild no longer with the company. The other two Apollos (Chase Finlay and Zachary Catazaro) were fired after the infamous photo sharing scandal.
So it fell upon Taylor Stanley's shoulders to debut as the Greek god. From the moment the curtain rose, it was clear Stanley had prepared himself meticulously for the role. His feet were already pointed as he began the lute solo, and he was determined to match each musical phrase with an artful pose. In the soccer solo he eschewed the faster, athleitc kicks for completely stretched, turned out feet so the "kicks" came across as ballet barre grande battements. In his interactions with the muses he was aloof, and avoided any puppyish playfulness in the Terpischore-Apollo duet. It was certainly a well-danced, elegant debut.
What was missing was the feeling of wildness, of a young god growing and maturing as the ballet progressed. Stanley's Apollo as of now comes across as studied to the point where he lost the essence of the ballet. For instance in the opening lute solo he didn't accelerate the arm swings enough to suggest a god growing in joy at his musical instrument. But this is just the beginning. Hopefully Stanley will grow in this role, as he has in other roles.
|Stanley and his three muses, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
Here is a clip of opening night which shows how much Stanley has already mastered the STEPS of Apollo including those difficult bent-leg pirouettes:
|Garcia as Apollo, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
|Garcia and Hyltin, photo @ Erin Baiano|
However two separate casts made this ballet sing again. Gonzalo Garcia and Sterling Hyltin (both making their debuts) were both emotionally intense and frenzied as Orpheus and Eurydice. Despite a mishap at Eurydice's death when Hyltin was not pulled "back" into Hades in time and Garcia actually had to push her behind the curtain the two dancers drew the audience into the story. Garcia has a tenderness to his persona that made his resolve to not look at Eurydice seem doomed from the start. Hyltin always brings a level of emotional truth to anything she dances, and she was sexy and kittenish in the pas de deux where she implores Orpheus to look at her. Peter Walker as the Dark Angel was cold and terrifying. And Unity Phelan was wonderfully wild as the Queen of the Bacchantes.
Here is a snippet of the central Orpheus/Eurydice pas de deux:
|La Cour as Orpheus, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
|Kowroski and Angle, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
The second cast of Agon also had some debuts. Russell Janzen debuted in the principal male part, Emilie Gerrity debuted in the female pas de trois. Janzen's partner in the central pas de deux was Miriam Miller. They attacked the pas de deux aggressively, to the point where they lost control several times -- in that famous sequence when the woman is on pointe and the man is lying on the ground and she's supposed to drag him with her hands, Miller fell off pointe before she could pull Janzen. Miller is gorgeous with mile-long legs but I have noticed an inconsistency to her performances when she dances. I don't think I've ever seen her give a starring performance that was without a major bobble.
|New costumes for Piano Concerto #2|
|Hyltin and Huxley in Mozartiana, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Mearns as the doomed Waltz Girl, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
|Gordon and Bouder|
This clip gives you an idea of how the new costumes looked onstage:
|Reichlen/Angle in the old Karinska costumes, photo @ Paul Kolnik|
So the first week of Winter Season has ended, made more interesting by a rash of debuts. And if we want to speculate on the next Artistic Director, I'll just say I saw Wendy Whelan greeting many NYCB dancers opening night. She was dressed in a power suit and looked very much like the new Boss Lady. Take that for what you will.
|Weisz and Colman|