CriticalDance Forum

New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
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Author:  balletomaniac [ Thu May 30, 2013 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

May 29, 2013
Red Angels; Sonatas and Interludes; In Creases (Peck NYC Premier); A Fool For You

-- by Jerry Hochman

There was a Gala performance at the David H. Koch Theater last night. No, it wasn’t another 2013 Spring Gala. It wasn’t a celebratory two weeks-before-end-of-season Gala. It wasn’t even an enough-rain-already-we-need-some-good-old-fashioned-hot-and-humid-NYC-summer-weather-already Gala. But if it looks like a duck,…it’s a Gala. A Gala for people who don’t usually see ballet, or who can’t afford to pay high prices for tickets (all tickets were $29 – and the house was sold out). A Gala where Peter Martins, NYCB’s Ballet Master in Chief, welcomed the great unwashed, and where Justin Peck and Gretchen Smith introduced/explained to them the dances to follow. A Gala where the usual Gala champagne yielded to beer. Free beer. Brooklyn beer. It was a Gala for the rest of us.

Except for Mr. Peck’s ‘new piece’ (it premiered last summer at NYCB’s annual summer residence at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center – but last night was its New York City premier), which is wonderful, the dances weren’t that great. But that wasn’t the point. Mr. Martins and the powers that be decided to dedicate an evening to showing that ballet could be a living, contemporary art, not one encased in classical music and tutus. In conjunction with its multi-season ‘alliance’ with the contemporary artists known as Faile (more on that below), the performance was filled with a combination of bonhomie and welcome invitations to ‘come back, we’re not so bad’. Whether it works will be seen – I would have done it slightly differently, but it was what it was intended to be – fun.

First Mr. Peck’s piece. In Creases is the first ballet that Mr. Peck, a NYCB soloist, created for the company, preceding his Year of the Rabbit, which In Creases resembles in terms of ingenuity, irreverence, and choreographic skill. It’s also as as difficult to describe as ‘Rabbit’. [After thirty seconds, I gave up trying to take notes and just sat back and enjoyed it.] Four women and four men (Sara Adams, Emilie Gerrity, Brittany Pollack, Ms. Smith, Daniel Appebaum, Robert Fairchild, Taylor Stanley, and Chirstian Tworzyanski) combine in various permutations and in novel ways, constantly moving and constantly changing focus, to amplify the score (the 1st and 3rd Movements of Philip Glass’s “Four Movements for Two Pianos”). Everyone in the piece shined (including the on-stage pianists, Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman). It is an effervescent piece, one that leaves you both smiling and wondering how Mr. Peck came up with these ideas.

The program began with the late Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels. Although I don’t like the piece much (abstract; angles), it does move fluidly from one pose to another, and the stagecraft (the positioning of the bodies; the ‘red’-washed stage and costumes) maintains interest. It was a fine introduction to an evening dedicated to showing that ballet isn’t what you think it is. But except for the staging, and the superlative execution by Maria Kowroski, Jennie Somogyi, Jared Angle, and Adrian Danchig-Waring (as well as the lighting by Mark Stanley and the sleek red costumes by Holly Hynes), it was nothing I haven’t seen in other similar ‘contemporary ballet’ pieces (including pieces by Mr. Martins). It all tends to blend together.

Worse was Sonatas and Interludes, which followed Red Angels on the program. A pas de deux for Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar, it was choreographed by Richard Tanner, a former NYCB dancer, for the Eglevsky Ballet in 1982 (it had its NYCB premiere in 1988), to a selection from a compilation of ‘prepared’ piano compositions of the same name by John Cage. The piano is ‘prepared’ by the insertion of bolts, screws, rubber, wood, and other items at various specified locations within the piano strings. It sounds much better than it reads – to my ear, and although it has a metallic tinge, this is one of Mr. Cage’s more accessible works. But the ballet is a different matter. Despite the talents of the dancers, the choreography looks tentative and wilted, as if the dancers were confined to specified lines in space and had to make the best of it. The overall aura (whitish costumes with grayish lighting) served only to make the dance look dull. Although it fits within the ‘ballet isn’t what you think it is’ theme, I would have replaced it with something more exhilarating. Considering that the bulk of NYCB’s repertory is Balanchine/Robbins, and that if this ‘new’ audience returns it will likely see Balanchine/Robbins ballets (which is not a bad thing), I would have whetted their appetite through this program with the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (or, alternatively, with Robbins’s Interplay).

The program concluded with Mr. Martins’s A Fool For You. The ballet, a tribute to Ray Charles, premiered in 1988. It’s not particularly inventive, and it’s repetitious, but who cares? It’s great fun, and, more importantly, was brilliantly executed by Tiler Peck, Taylor Stanley (who had a fabulous night), Joaquin De Lu, Daniel Ulbricht, Brittany Pollack, Jonathan Stafford Rebeca Krohn, Mr. Ramasar, Lauren Lovett, Erica Pereira, Anthony Huxley, and Allen Peiffer. It served several purposes – to, again, show the audience that ballet isn’t what they think it is, to leave them smiling, and to introduce them to the young, unstarched, NYCB dancers.

The piece is choreographed to ten familiar songs sung by Mr. Charles , including “Hit the Road Jack,” “Mess Around,” “I Got A Woman,” and “What’d I Say”. Mr. De Luz and Mr. Ulbricht were appropriately explosive in their respective pseudo-solos (framed by Ms. Lovette, Ms. Pereira, Mr. Huxley, and Mr. Peiffer). [I’ve commented previously on how Ms. Lovette and Ms. Pereira, knowingly or not, complement each other when they’re on stage together. Seeing them as street-girl bookends was alone worth the price of admission (or what the price would have been had regular pricing been in effect).] If Ms. Peck’s vivacity could be bottled and sold, it would be worth its weight in gold, and Mr. Stanley controlled his usually intensity and was fun to watch (and he partnered Ms. Peck perfectly). But the surprise of the piece, for this viewer, was Brittany Pollack, who was promoted to soloist at the end of last season. She showed a flair and a frivolity I had not previously seen (in keeping with her role in the piece), and is yet another example of the company’s plethora of talented and engaging ballerinas at the soloist level.

When A Fool For You ended, the audience joined the company for refreshments on the Grand Promenade (which, with the Faile artwork, looked like an oversized ‘please touch’ art gallery). I was not enamored of the Faile work that had adorned the theater in the Winter -- an ‘obelisk’/tower dominated the area; artwork mounted along walkways flanking the orchestra entrances celebrated Faile more than ballet). But this Spring’s replacements clearly have some connection with ballet (even if the connection is somewhat bizarre), look more interesting, prompt audience interest, and aren’t quite as obviously self-promotional as the Winter installation. Between the audience touching and feeling the artwork (rotating cylindrical objects mounted on pedestals scattered around the central area of the space), meeting and greeting some NYCB dancers, listening to music (mixed live by NYCB principal Sebastien Marcovici), fondling the free art (each attendee was given an ‘original’ Faile cube), and downing the free beer – while other audience members watched from the surrounding tiers, like gawkers from hotel rooms at Mardi Gras – it all had the ambiance of an artsy street party. Whether the efforts bears fruit remains to be seen, but it was a valiant, attention-grabbing, and commendable effort.

Author:  balletomaniac [ Thu May 30, 2013 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Thanks, Buddy. I hadn't heard.

Interesting - especially casting possibilities.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri May 31, 2013 4:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Yes, Christopher Wheeldon 'reviving' the legacy of Gene Kelly should be very interesting indeed.

I think that you just moved into the lead with your latest review, Jerry, although Gia Kourlas (NY Times and TimeOut NY) is hanging in there with a very nice and insightful interview with two young members of the School of American Ballet and one with NYCB's Jennie Somogyi. ... geNumber=4 ... cid=leader

Before I wade into your latest back to "Carousel" for a moment.

("This year, The Astaire Awards will also honor dance legend Marge Champion with its Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award and special presentation by Harry Belafonte. Ted Chapin will be presented with a brand new award, Outstanding Achievement in the Preservation of Musical Theatre.")

"Choreographer Warren Carlyle will present the pas de Deux from The New York Philharmonic’s performance of CAROUSEL with New York City Ballet’s Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck as part of this tribute." ... d-nominees

Also, not to be forgotten here, Fred Astaire was George Balanchine's favorite male dancer.

(thanks to all the different forums that found these articles)

Author:  Buddy [ Fri May 31, 2013 6:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Jerry, thanks for your latest. I'm always interested in efforts to expand ballet or fine arts dance. Two areas interest me very much. One that seems to have ended with one of it's creators (Ruth St. Denis) at the beginning of the last century, took the lyrical and ethereal beauty of ballet and put it in a totally natural (for the body) movement vocabulary. I'm a great supporter of this idea.

The other is the bringing together of high art dance and the pop music scene. Perhaps something like Peter Martins' work to the music of Ray Charles, which you just described, comes close. Kanye West used ballet dancers in much of a full length video (20 minutes, plus or minus?) for one of his hits. Prince seems to be a ballet fan. Choreographers like Twyla Tharp (In The Upper Room) and William Forsythe (In The Middle Somewhat Elevated) certainly touch the modern energy of the pop scene. A work that totally and successfully embraces both worlds would be great. Why? Because pop music speaks to the times, often to all times, as confirmed by it's huge following. High art dance, ballet being the most lyrically, ethereally developed form, that I've experienced, can speak to the ideal and the 'transcendent.' To see examples of the two successfully and convincingly combined would really be exciting.

[a word added for emphasis]

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Getting back to Jerry's review of NYCB's decision "to dedicate an evening to showing that ballet could be a living, contemporary art" and my generalized comments that it prompted, could I please add this ?

As much as I think that it would be very rewarding at times for 'artistic' dance to merge with 'pop' culture, as I just suggested, I would probably want to see it done rather selectively. I, like many I'm sure, see 'high art' as an alternative and a hopeful elevation. I watch the white swan duet from Swan Lake and similar lyrically beautiful pieces, such as the duet from Giselle or George Balanchine's divertissement duet from A Midsummer Night's Dream, probably as much as I watch all other dance combined. These pieces are timeless, perhaps even 'transcendent', in the beauty of their intent and aura. In ballet it's an idealized beauty. And as in all beautiful dance, the essence is derived from and representative of basic human beauty as well as being a poetically beautiful effort to reach beyond.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Robert Greskovic presents an overview of the 2013 Spring season with commentary on the Martins legacy at NYCB for the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the Sunday, June 2, 2013 matinee performance of Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante" and "Violin Concerto" and Jerome Robbins' "The Cage" and "Andantino."

NY Times

Author:  David [ Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Stravinsky Violin Concerto, The Cage, Andantino, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (and others)
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater, New York; May 28, 30 & June 1, 2, 2013

David Mead

The penultimate week of New York City Ballet’s spring season featured no fewer than sixteen ballets across seven performances. Saturday evening’s programme rather summed up the company and Balanchine: Stravinsky, American, Tchaikovsky. OK, so the ‘American’ in this case was a Peter Martins choreography, but you get the point.

“Stravinsky Violin Concerto” is a really satisfying ballet. As always, the dance and music come together as one, but right from the opening, when the five dancers remain stationary for a few counts as if catching their breath before beginning, everything is so clean. There is also something about the structure of the ballet that makes truly appealing: the two very different and somewhat fraught pas de deux that probe relationships of Arias I and II framed by the sparkier group sections of the Toccata and Capriccio.

The first of the Arias is full of struggle and tension. Maria Korowski used every inch of her beautifully long body as she contorted, twisted and arched back acrobatically. Her limbs interlocked with those of partner Adrian Danchig-Waring in ways that seemed impossible. There is a lot of pulling away from each other, although it is remarkable how little the dancers’ hands actually touch.

The second Aria is closer to the academic classical ballet vocabulary. Stravinsky once explained that the music was written as an apology to his wife for an affair with another woman, and Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild certainly captured the emotional rollercoaster all that entails. The mood switches from discord to harmony and back again in an instant. You can imagine the conversation in your head. It is quite a gentle discord, though. Although the woman turns away from time to time, she always seems to be happy to be led by the man and to comply with whatever he commands. That idea is emphasised in the closing moments when he stands behind her and tilts her head backwards as he covers her eyes. It is a very willing submission.

The supporting dancers were equally impressive, with the precision of the men quite outstanding both individually and as a group.

Danced to John Adam’s busy score of the same title, “Fearful Symmetries” is surely one of Peter Martins’ best works. The choreography captures fully the energy and vivacity in John Adams’ pulsing music. Both come together to give an impression of continuous movement over a frantic, constantly shifting, ultra-modern urban landscape.

As the music chugs along insistently, dancers invade the stage at top speed from all directions. It is as if one was standing at a busy intersection, cars forever whooshing past. For a long time it is almost non-stop. Martins’ choreography alongside the combination of saxophones, brass, woodwinds, and keyboard sampler playing percussion is hypnotic, visually and viscerally thrilling. It leaves you completely breathless. A special mention here for conductor Clotilde Otranto who bounced around as much as the music as she kept things at full-throttle.

The lighting is pretty stunning too. Mark Stanley bathes the stage in deep reds and blues. Steven Rubin’s loose tops and tights for the men; simple leotards, short skirts and tights for the women are functional, but any more would be too much.

The choreography is actually quite intricate, not unlike the score, which is far more complex than it first sounds. Amongst the non-stop action sit three short duets for three different couples. The lead pairings here were Sara Mearns and Taylor Stanley, and Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford, the latter being especially forceful. It was the third pairing of Lauren King and Daniel Ulbricht who really caught the eye though in a bravura display of virtuosity. They were quite simply terrific.

Following the music, things do finally slow down about three-quarters the way through. It’s like a bottle of fizzy drink has been shaken and shaken, then suddenly the cap is unscrewed. Almost out of nowhere things are allowed to settle down, a long lyrical finale bringing matters to a close. I’m sure there are those who dislike Adams’ music in particular, but this is a ballet I will never tire of.

I do not think I could ever grow weary of “Theme and Variations” either, the final movement of “Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3” and often danced as a ballet in its own right. It is the ultimate in classical ballet tradition, and a showcase for elegance. It is particularly run through with references to “The Sleeping Beauty,” although its steps are far more challenging especially when taken at the brisk pace they were here; a pace, incidentally, that enhances the ballet enormously.

“Theme and Variations” dates to 1947, but in 1970 Balanchine choreographed the preceding three movements of the Suite. While pleasant enough, they are not among his greatest creations. There is a sort of progression between the sections, both in terms of the relationship presented and costume, but even so, they do feel like they belong to a different ballet. The sensuality sits uncomfortably with that final outpouring of formality and classical grandeur.

The opening movements have a melancholic feel. This has been attributed to the fact that Suzanne Farrell left the company immediately prior to the piece being created, although that story doesn’t quite tie in with the impression given of the relationship between the lead couple in the second and third movements. Whatever the reason, there is a sense of looking back, emphasised by the dancers being separated from the audience by a gauze, and Nicolas Benois’ long lavender-coloured Romantic dresses.

It cannot be denied that the opening Élégie does hint at love lost, or at least of love not yet found. A man occasionally finds, dances with, but eventually loses a beautiful woman, barefoot and whose flowing locks are reflected perfectly in her billowing dress. Ask la Cour was most noble as he searched for the lady of his dreams, the ever elusive Rebecca Krohn. He often reaches out towards her, but always she slips away into the crowd of dancers. The almost downbeat mood continues during the slightly maudlin Valse Mélancolique (Abi Stafford and Jared Angle), in which the bare feet give way to pointe shoes, and even the somewhat more upbeat Scherzo, in which Ana Sophia Schiller was polished and bright, and well-partnered by Antonio Carmena.

Then, suddenly, the lights go up, chandeliers and tutus sparkle, and all is well with the world. The ride is as exhilarating in its own way as that in “Fearful Symmetries.” Leading the way, Megan Fairchild was full of the necessary speed and precision. The role needs attack and she certainly gave it, even if she didn’t radiate warmth as much as she might. Andrew Veyette was on fire with his bravura leaps and turns. He made the multiple double tours look easy. The final polonaise was as rousing as ever. Is there a better way to round off a performance?

Elsewhere, the week saw several performances of Jerome Robbins’ “The Cage,” always paired with “Andantino.” “The Cage” presents a world of female insects who command the stage with their sharp, angular movement. It is somewhat creepy, although it’s a ballet that never quite does it for me. Maybe it is the ease with which the two lead women entice and manipulate the two doomed men, although I thought Janie Taylor as the Novice and Teresa Reichlan as the Queen rather more effective than Hyltin and Krohn.

In complete contrast, “Andantino” is a polite duet straight out of the “Dances at a Gathering” mould. It is light and pleasant, both on the eye and the ear, although it does not sit particularly well with the preceding drama. Of the two casts on show, I believed rather more in Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette. They seemed much more at one with each other and the music than did Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia.

Robbins’ “N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz,” on the other hand, never fails to delight. I love the looseness and easy going nature of the choreography. It is full of youthful exuberance and sense of community, both incidentally reproduced brilliantly in the recent excellent film version of the ballet set at various sites around New York. Gretchen Smith was nicely sassy among all the ogling men in Statics, while Ashley Laracey and Taylor Stanley managed to achieve the difficult combination of togetherness and a sense of distance in the haunting Passage for Two.

The week had opened with an equal amount of youthful zest in another Robbins’ ballet, “Interplay.” It is a real fun work. It is difficult to believe it was made way back in 1945, it is so alive and modern. The whole cast looked perfectly at home as they played their games and competed with one another, most notably in the battle of the double tours, played out by Harrison Ball, Joseph Gordon, Spartak Hoxha and Peter Walker. For all the fun, the third movement, Byplay, has the most going for it, and in which Brittany Pollack and Walker were perfectly sultry and sensuous.

The week also saw an appearance by Robbins’ “Glass Pieces,” a modern classic if ever there was one, and a ballet featuring more urban energy. Wendy Whelan was mesmerising in the pas the deux, along with partner Danchig-Waring, the couple endowing it with a slightly unworldly theme, a point emphasised by the silhouetted corps moving slowly and rhythmically across the back.

From Balanchine there was also “Allegro Brillante” and “Western Symphony.” “The former is a sunny ballet that matched the warm weather outside, but which was marred by at least four slips, two by Fairchild. All was forgiven, however, as she recovered brilliantly, her partnership with Veyette ultimately shining once again. In “Western Symphony” the whole cast blazed their way across the stage. Amar Ramasar looked completely at home as the Rhinestone Cowboy of the Adagio. I had always found it difficult to watch this movement without seeing Albert Evans in my head, but he changed that. Sara Mearns and Robert Fairchild fizzed in the Rondo like nothing before. Brilliant fun!

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Robert Gottlieb reviews the Spring Season for the New York Observer.

NY Observer

Alastair Macaulay reviews the Spring Season for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  balletomaniac [ Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

June 7, 2013
Barber Violin Concerto, Red Angels, Allegro Brillante, Who Cares?

-- by Jerry Hochman

Things are going so well for New York City Ballet this 2012-2013 season that even programs that you think will be lackluster turn into sparklers. So it was with last Friday’s performance. I’d seen three of the four pieces on the program previously, all except Barber Violin Concerto, and although I thought they were varying degrees of good, on repeated viewing each looked better than it had previously, and Barber Violin Concerto turned out to be one of Mr. Martins’s more intriguing pieces.

Created in 1988, Barber Violin Concerto is a dance for two couples. The novelty is that one couple dances in ‘ballet’ style, the other in ‘modern’ style. [The original cast featured a pair of NYCB dancers (Merrill Ashley and Adam Luders), and a dancer from the Paul Taylor Dance Company (Kate Johnson), and dancer/choreographer David Parsons.] Then they change partners. Sounds like a gimmick – like the piece Mr. Martins created for the late John Curry that mimicked ice skating style. Gimmick or not, this one works.

At Friday’s performance, Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford were the ballet couple, and Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle the modern couple. I was unable to pin down the specific modern style (if there was any), but modern – and barefoot – it was, although befitting the music the movement was more lyrical than angular. The distinction between the two styles, and the relative strengths of each, were clear in the choreography, and clearly expressed by each of the dancers. Structurally, the ballet couple enters first, then the modern pair, and then the pairs dance side by side, applying their styles to the same music. But the really interesting part is when they switch partners, and attempt to direct the new partners in different directions. Dueling styles, rather than dueling banjos. To this viewer, the clear ‘winner’, to the extent one style can be seen as ultimately trumping the other, was ballet, with the serenely accomplished Ms. Reichlen calming Mr. Angle’s aggressiveness, and a befuddled Mr. Stafford ultimately prevailing over a spunky Ms. Fairchild. Ms. Fairchild and Mr. Angle were particularly expressive, and Ms. Fairchild’s facility with Mr. Martins’s form of modern dance was extraordinary.

Allegro Brillante is another example of a ballet choreographed by Balanchine to Tchaikovsky (“Piano Concerto No. 3”) that demonstrates the particular inspirational partnership between the composer and the choreographer. Although it comes across as a concentrated study in classical vocabulary and development, it never becomes merely academic. And Tiler Peck again demonstrated why she is one of the finest ballerinas – anywhere. Although Ms. Peck made one rare mistake (toward the end of the piece, she completed a turn with one foot slightly out of place, and had to move it forward to maintain her balance), one minor error every three or four years is a sufficient reminder that she’s human. Andrew Veyette was her equally accomplished partner, and the supporting dancers (Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, Megal LeCrone, Brittany Pollack, Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, and Christian Tworzyanski) were top notch.

The program was completed by repeat performances of Red Angels and Who Cares? Red Angels, with Maria Kowroski, Jennie Somogyi, and Adrian Danchig-Waring reprising their roles, and Chase Finlay taking over the role previously danced by Mr. Angle, still looks coldly mechanical. But the stagecraft by Mr. Dove, which I’ve previously described, is mesmerizing, abetted by Mark Stanley’s lighting and costumes by Holly Hynes. The accompanying music (“Maxwell’s Demon”, by Richard Einhorn) for electric violin was thrillingly played by guest artist Mary Rowell.

Who Cares?, Balanchine’s tribute to George Gershwin, was again brilliantly performed by the entire cast (Sterling Hyltin, Ana Sophia Scheller, Abi Stafford, and Robert Fairchild were the leads), with Ms. Scheller providing one of her finest performances. [In the finale (“I Got Rhythm”), Ms. Hyltin appeared to slightly turn her ankle. She seemed shaken, but recovered immediately, and I’m not aware of any injury.]

The 2012-2013 season has been a remarkable one for NYCB. Except for two new pieces by Justin Peck (Year of the Rabbit, In Creases), new choreography has been of limited value. But NYCB has an abundance of existing classics, and dances by Mr. Martins that grow in stature upon repeat viewings, so the absence of significant new choreography, although essential for the company’s growth, is not presently critical. [It may be heresy, but a new full length, though not generally considered NYCB’s bread and butter, would be most welcome.]

What is critical is the company’s nurturing and development of its dancers, and in that respect NYCB shines. Their young principals have blossomed into stars, joining those who already have had stellar principal careers. I’ve written on several occasions that Ms. Peck and Robert Fairchild are at the top of their game. But more than that, they’re on (or should be on) anyone’s short list of world class dancers. But Ms. Peck and Mr. Fairchild are not alone. I once overheard some critics complaining, at the beginning of the year, that Ms. Hyltin was being given roles for which she was not suited. I no longer hear that – Ms. Hyltin has proven that she can handle, and put her unique stamp, on any role. Her Mozartiana, for example, was a revelation because she thought it through differently, took her own path, and to this viewer, made it work. Teresa Reichlen has come out of her shell and grown more comfortable as a principal, and is a dancer of singular beauty and multi-faceted character. On the men’s side, Chase Finlay, newly promoted to principal, is growing into the danseur noble for which he is so well physically suited, and he has joined the ranks of NYCB’s superlative partners. And Amar Ramasar, one of NYCB’s most underrated dancers, can seemingly do anything and partner anyone.

But progress has been even more pronounced on the soloist level. On the men’s side, Taylor Stanley is a singular talent who can dominate the stage. He already adds a unique presence to NYCB’s dancer roster, and if he can harness his sometimes overly aggressive demeanor he’ll be able to handle any role. But the story of the year, and of NYCB’s near future, is its ballerina soloists. Erica Pereira has significantly grown in apparent confidence, and marks each role not only with technical competence, but a combination of effervescence and insouciance that sounds contradictory, but fits her stage persona perfectly. Newly promoted soloists Ashley Laracey and Brittany Pollack are developing stage presence to match their abilities, with Ms. Laracey in particular demonstrating a striking facility to handle a relatively romantic and classical image (Ivesiana), as well as a dynamic contemporary one (The Infernal Machine). Most importantly, Lauren Lovette continues to excel in every role she assays, whether in a supporting role (Princess Florine, Fool for Love), or a lead (Rubies, the Sugarplum Fairy, Carousel (A Dance)). Not only does she have a clear stage persona, which she’s shown since the first time she appeared in any featured role, but she’s already shown the ability to transform herself from performance to performance and occupy her character, and to make the character her own.

Looking forward to the 2013-2014 season, on paper things don’t look particularly exciting. There will be new ballets by Mr. Martins, Mr. Peck, Angelin Preljocaj, and Liam Scarlett (whose Viscera was a remarkable coup for Miami City Ballet two years ago), and perhaps one or more will be successful. To this viewer, the directional shift away from reliance on the Balanchine/Robbins canon is obvious and understandable, but regrettable, and, except for Mr. Peck’s Year of the Rabbit, some of the choices for contemporary works appear unfortunate. For example, Mr. Wheeldon’s Soiree Musicale is not one of his better pieces (Estancia or The Nightingale and the Rose, if available, might have been preferable alternatives), nor is Namouna, A Grand Divertissement one of Mr. Ratmansky’s superior pieces (although with Mr. Ratmansky, repeat viewings frequently prompt reevaluations). Similarly, repeating Mr. Martins’s Bal de Couture seems unwise [had I the choice, I would have preferred that Mr. Martins jettison the opening and closing scenes, and instead devote his energies to creating a new full length ballet around the central section, based on Tchaikovsky’s "Eugene Onegin"]. And while I look forward to the return to the repertory after a long absence of Balanchine’s Davidsbundlertanze, revivals of Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina and Robbins’s The Goldberg Variations must await yet another year.

But then, I expected little from the Spring, 2013 season, and was pleasantly surprised. Given NYCB’s batting average, it’s more likely than not that what appears on stage will be far superior to what appears on paper. And I await with great anticipation a continuation of Mr. Martins’s liberality in providing casting opportunities for NYCB’s soloists and corps dancers – particularly with respect to the return of Balanchine’s Coppelia and Prodigal Son, and Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering and Afternoon of a Faun. [And if you don't think I've already casted Faun, you haven't been reading my reviews.]

edited 6/18 to clarify one parenthetical phrase and change another duplicative one.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

A preview of NYCB's week at Saratoga, beginning July 9, 2013, by Phil Drew for the Saratogian.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Amy Biancolli interviews Peter Martins about the future of the Saratoga season for the Albany Times Union.

Albany Times Union

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

In the Albany Times Union, Susan Mehalick reviews the Tuesday, July 9 opening at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The program included Balanchine's "The Garland Dance" from "The Sleeping Beauty," "Tchaikovsky Pas de deux" and "Theme and Variations," plus Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit" and Peter Martins' "Barber Violin Concerto."

Albany Times Union

Jay Rogoff reviews the same program for the Saratogian.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Saratoga Wire discusses the prospects for future SPAC seasons.

Saratoga Wire

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season

In the Saratogian, Jay Rogoff reviews the Wednesday, July 10, 2013 performance of Balanchine's "Serenade," "Garland Dance" and "Theme and Variations;" Christopher Wheelkdon's "After the Rain Pas de deux" and Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit."


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