Things I Learned This Weekend Watching NYCB
1. I could watch Maria Kowroski dance anything.
2. I could watch Darci Kistler dance anything.
3. I could watch Sofiane Sylve dance almost anything. She has impeccable technique, and an imperial bearing (check out that bow!), with a let-them-eat-cake stage presence, but sometimes this was just too much. Her Emeralds on Thursday was a little off-putting because she seemed to barely address the audience and had a cold presence. Along with Rachel Rutherford's mechanical, tense, brittle part in the first couple in Emeralds, it was like wandering into a snooty watch repair shop instead of a snooty perfume store. However, her performance in the grand PDD of Stars and Stripes, as well as the 2nd movement of Symphony in C, fit her to a T. Bringing out the classical underpinnings of Stars and Symphony in C, her regal bearing showed us the clear relation of these pieces (and Balanchine) to the Russian ballet tradition.
4. Balanchine was really a great choreographer. Yes, this is obvious to most people, but the density of quality and variety in his works is pretty mind-boggling when you compare them to what's being made today. At one point, I couldn't believe we were getting any more good stuff in the program, because the previous two pieces were already so good and satisfying.
5. Serenade can really pull your heart strings. Jenifer Ringer's turn as the waltz girl was intense, and I found myself choking up at the end as they carried her off.
6. NYCB has lots of really good dancers coming up. Someone mentioned the wonderful, energetic, generous trio in Emeralds already. Ashley Bouder was perky, energetic, and totally fit the 1st campaign in Stars. Joaquin De Luz in the 3rd movement of Symphony in C was really impressive, especially for his effortless, floating jumps. Teresa Reichlen did really well in as the tall girl in Rubies.
7. It's worth going to the pre-performance talks for these performances, because they had current and past dancers talking about their personal experiences with the pieces we were about to see. Dancers I saw include Miranda Weese, Nikolaj Hubbe, Maria Kowroski, Sean Lavery, and Richard Tanner, as well as Richard Moredock, NYCB conductor and pianist.
(edit)8. Balanchine was right in simplifying sets and costumes. Except for the Rubies set, the Jewels sets were pretty bad as they constricted the stage space, and were distracting. It was almost like an answer to a question no one asked: what are the secret lives of jewels? Well, they dance around underground before we dig them up. The Rubies set worked for me because its black background made the stage seem larger, and its transition from Planet Meatball on top to laser-like vertical red lines drew our visual focus to the dancers, as well as providing a logical transition, as if saying "Here's how earthy rocks become abstracted into a dance." The other sets made me think of more philosophical things, but I don't think sets are supposed to do that. After Jewels, it was a relief to see the plain stages of Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and even the Art Deco lounge of Thou Swell.
More thoughts later, I hope.
<small>[ 04 October 2004, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Andre Yew ]</small>