A review of NYCB at Bachtrack; Winter Season Wrapup
|New Leaders of NYCB|
As for the final performances of the season, I reviewed a performance of Prodigal Son/Liebeslieder Walzer for Bachtrack. Review can be found here.
Liebeslieder Walzer has an air of "persistent melancholy and tragic remorse," as Arlene Croce wrote about the ballet. The dancers are back in their ballgowns, and the wild, feverish dancing of the past thirty minutes is over. The four couples sit in the upholstered chairs and politely applaud the quartet of singers. It is a vivid reminder of how fleeting human connection is.
And now, in no particular order, some of the highlights and lowlights of the Winter Season:
|Ballet Imperial costumes, photo by Martha Swope|
|Serenade costumes, photo @ DevinAlberda|
Corps dancer who had an amazing soloist-worthy season: Avid backstage photographer and senior corps member Devin Alberda (check out his Instagram page and also the photo on the left) had a standout season. Whatever he danced, you noticed his energy and commitment, whether it was the Prodigal Son's drinking buddy, one of the demi-soloists in Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto #2, the Puss n Boots in Sleeping Beauty, or the first movement of Interplay. Other corps standouts: Mira Nadon, so eye-catchingly beautiful, and Roman Mejia, who brought down the house whenever he danced with his gravity-defying jumps.
|Woodward as Aurora, photo @ Erin Baiano|
|Anthony Huxley as Prince Desire, photo @ Erin Baiano|
Here is Huxley in the Agon pas de trois solo:
New Ballet That Does Not Need a Revival Ever Again: Justin Peck's Principia. Physics was my worst subject in high school but I'd much rather read Newton's Principia Mathematica cover to cover than sit through 40 minutes of Peck's mind-numbingly dull ballet set to a mind-numbingly dull muzak score by Sufjan Stevens. You know how in Mean Girls there's this line "Stop trying to make fetch happen!"? I feel like Justin Peck needs to be told "Stop trying to make Peck/Stevens happen!"
|Mearns and Ulbricht as the Door and the Sigh, photo @ Andrea Mohin|
Here's a clip. If it's your thing, more power to you.
Ballet That Needs a Hiatus: The overdone After the Rain Pas de Deux. It seems like the go-to filler ballet these days -- need a 10 minute ballet to fill the program? After the Rain! This ballet was special when Wendy Whelan did it, but since then several ballerinas have donned their pink leotards and the result has always been an instantly forgettable 10 minutes. If Sara Mearns can't make the ballet interesting, there's a problem.
It's a Hit, It's a Hit!: Many old-fashioned balletomanes sniffed at the use of hip-hop music for Kyle Abraham's The Runaway and club electronica for Justin Peck's The Times Are Racing but revivals of these no-longer-brand-new ballets repeatedly drew in large, young, enthusiastic crowds and showcased the remarkable talents of NYCB dancers in unusual ways. Taylor Stanley's solos in The Runaway are a master class of precision, control, and just flat out spectacular dancing. The Times Are Racing captures the trademark energy, speed and attack of the NYCB style.
Most Unjustly Maligned Performance: The NYTimes article about the Sleeping Beauty cast changes heavily implied that Ashley Bouder was pulled from opening night of "her" ballet and replaced with Sterling Hyltin only because Hyltin in the past had defended Peter Martins (who still owns the rights to the NYCB's Sleeping Beauty). People who don't follow the company that closely might have concluded that Hyltin was somehow an unworthy Aurora. Nothing could be farther from the truth -- Hyltin has been dancing the role for twelve years and is one of the most radiant, natural Auroras I've ever seen, anywhere, any company. Was Martins being spiteful by pulling Bouder from opening night? Maybe. But Martins might also have decided that Hyltin deserved opening night purely on the merit of her dancing. Here is a brief clip. Her dancing speaks for itself.