CriticalDance Forum

It is currently Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:52 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:02 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Marina Harss profiles principal pianist Cameron Grant on the life of a ballet pianist.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 443
Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

January 19, 2016
Candide Overture (orchestra), Barber Violin Concerto, Fancy Free, Who Cares?

-- by Jerry Hochman

The opening night program of New York City Ballet’s Winter 2016 season appeared less interesting than usual seasonal opening nights. There was no blockbuster classic (e.g., Apollo), no sentimental and symbolic perennial favorite (e.g., Serenade), no Ratmansky, no Wheeldon, no Peck, and no premiere. Instead, following an introductory rendition of the Overture from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (more on that below), NYCB offered a tribute of sorts to its historical leadership with three familiar (if not easy) pieces: one by Peter Martins (Barber Violin Concerto), one classic by Jerome Robbins (Fancy Free), and one salute to the music of George Gershwin by George Balanchine (Who Cares?). There wasn’t even an individual dancer’s debut in a featured role to provide a dollop of excitement. On paper, it was to be a relatively low-key and unglamorous opening night.

But little that NYCB has presented in recent years can be characterized as low-key or unglamorous, and Tuesday’s performance was no exception. It may have lacked an opportunity to see impeccable performances in masterpiece ballets, but the program proved the self-created adage that nothing improves a good ballet more than seeing it a second, third, or tenth time.

I’ve written previously that succeeding Balanchine and Robbins was guaranteed to result in Martins bearing the brunt of unfavorable comparisons. Rightly or wrongly, he was severely criticized by many for the direction in which he appeared to be taking the company and an asserted lower level of distinction among the post-Balanchine company dancers, and it was almost inevitable that his choreography, by comparison, could never measure up to those masterpieces created by his predecessors. But the company’s fortunes have turned around so dramatically over the past six-eight years that it’s impossible not to give Martins credit where it’s due. Under his stewardship, the company is now performing better than it has in decades, it has a stable of young, stellar principal dancers, and a seemingly endless flow of talent on which to build a continuing future.

And Martins’s choreography, seen with eyes less prone to predisposition, is not as lackluster as many initially opined. Barber Violin Concerto is one example. Though not a masterpiece, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable piece of work.

Created in 1988, Barber Violin Concerto is a dance for two couples. The novelty is that one couple dances in what may be considered ‘ballet’ style, the other in ‘modern’ style. Sounds like a gimmick – but gimmick or not, this one works.

The dancers initially appear in duets with their style-compatible partners – first Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen (replacing Ask La Cour) as the ‘ballet’ couple, followed by Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle as the ‘modern’ pair. They then gather briefly as a group, and subsequently change partners for another set of separate duets. The choreography is fun to watch – the classy but relatively stolid ballet style vs. the free flowing, vibrant modern style. Though not a thorough description of either style (and not intended to be), the distinction between the two styles, and the relative strengths of each, are clear in the choreography, and clearly expressed by each of the dancers. But that’s not what makes this piece work - there’s a visual game afoot to see the impact one ‘style’ has on the other when they go head to head – or foot to foot.

When I last saw Barber Violin Concerto, the ‘ballet’ cast was Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford, the ‘modern’ dancers were Angle and Fairchild, and I thought that the clear ‘winner’ in this little contest, to the extent one style can be seen as ultimately trumping the other, was ballet, with the serenely accomplished Reichlen calming Angle’s aggressiveness, and a commanding Stafford ultimately prevailing over a spunky Fairchild.

A different cast, even in part, yields different results. At Tuesday’s performance, I felt that Fairchild and Angle had the upper hands, or feet. All four dancers performed exceptionally, but Mearns brought to her role too much of the dour, tragic, Odette-like persona that I’ve seen many times before in her performances. This didn’t impact the choreographic execution, but the emotional balance shifted, and Angle’s power dominated Mearns’s pathos and bewildered emotional awakening. Where Reichlen’s ‘class’ had previously dominated, here Angle’s quiet ferocity did. Janzen came across as somewhat more malleable than his classical partner, and in the duet with Fairchild, who danced her ‘modern’ style with exceptional flourish and abandon, he was not so much above such silliness as annoyed that she was as ebullient and uncontrollable as she was. He appeared dumbstruck when she manipulated him to carry off a ‘modern’ combination without trying.

Robbins created Fancy Free for American Ballet Theatre in 1944, it premiered with NYCB in 1980, and the dance has never been absent from either company’s repertoire for very long. The story of three sailors on shore leave looking for love is not just familiar, but iconic. At this performance, Joaquin De Luz, Tyler Angle, and Amar Ramasar were the sailors, Georgina Pazcoguin and Sterling Hyltin the women they try to impress, and all have been seen and reviewed previously. Each delivered not only superb technical execution, but the character distinctions that permeate the piece and make it as memorable as it is. Hyltin’s irresistible girl-next-door and Ramasar’s somewhat sweet take on his ‘Latin lover’ role provided the dance’s highlights. The audience responded rhapsodically, as if it had been a premiere.

Who Cares? is almost as familiar to ballet audiences as Fancy Free. A compendium of dances choreographed to sixteen Gershwin songs from the 1920s and 1930s, the sheer variety of movement that Balanchine choreographed to every song takes this ballet beyond being merely an evocative period piece. Who Cares? is one of those vibrant and accessible Balanchine pieces that sends both audiences and critics home happy.

The structure of the ballet is a progression from songs danced by the corps to dances fluidly moving from groups of female and male soloists to pairs, and then pairs and solos by the lead male dancer, Robert Fairchild, and each of the principal ballerinas: Tiler Peck, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Savannah Lowery, all ultimately gathering at the dance’s conclusion.

As wonderful as all of the dancers who performed in it were, Peck and Fairchild were particularly extraordinary. I’ve reviewed performances of both in this piece previously (they danced The Man I Love together, to roaring applause, and Peck brought the house down, as she always does, with Fascinatin’ Rhythm), and they seem to improve with age. It's not just the effortless and seamless perfection that one expects, and usually receives, from NYCB dancers, nor is it just chemistry - abundant as it was. It was a quality of casual confidence that showed not that Peck and Fairchild were dancing steps imposed on them, but that they were moving to some inner voices and executing steps that were as natural to them as breathing.

Their performances, particularly those together, are increasingly rare gifts. If you enjoy great ballet performances, you miss a performance of theirs at your peril.

As I mentioned earlier, the program began with the NYCB orchestra playing the Overture from Candide. An orchestral introduction to a season has become something of a new tradition of late, but Tuesday’s opening was perhaps more special than usual, as it was the first introduction-to-a-season, and the first repertory program, that the company’s new Music Director, Andrew Litton, conducted. Under Litton’s flourishing baton, the orchestra, one of the finest ballet ensembles anywhere, performed the Candide Overture magnificently – as it did the accompaniment for the ballets that followed.

So even with what appeared to be a not particularly interesting opening night repertory, between exceptional ballets, distinctive performances, and the redoubtable NYCB orchestra, the evening provided – without Voltaire’s cynicism - the best of all possible worlds.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:46 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, January 19, 2016 opening program of Winter Season 2016: Peter Martins' Barber Violin Concerto, Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and Balanchine's Who Cares? for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:43 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Brian Seibert reviews the Wednesday-Thursday, January 20-21, 2016 performances.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:10 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Observer, Robert Gottlieb reviews Liebeslieder Walzer and Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces, among others.

NY Observer


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:15 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Apollinaire Scherr reviews Liebeslieder Walzer, Ballo della Regina and Kammermusik No. 2 for the Financial Times.

Financial Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:19 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Christina Pandolfi reviews the Thursday, January 21, 2016 performance of Balanchine's Ballo della Regina, Kammermusik No. 2 and Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 for Broadway World.

Broadway World


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:49 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Brian Seibert reviews the Tuesday, January 26, 2016 performance of an all Balanchine program: Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sonatine, Mozartiana and Symphony in C.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 11:57 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Brian Seibert previews Justin Peck's The Most Incredible Thing which debuts on February 2, 2016.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Marina Harss previews the February 2, 2016 debut of Justin Peck's The Most Incredible Thing for The Guardian.

The Guardian


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:54 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Anna Heyward reports on the premiere of Justin Peck's The Most Incredible Thing for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:10 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 443
Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

February 2, 2016
Polaris, The Blue of Distance, Common Ground, Estancia, The Most Incredible Thing (world premiere)

-- by Jerry Hochman

It had to happen eventually. Justin Peck has served as New York City Ballet’s choreographic crown prince since the success of his Year of the Rabbit in 2012, justifiably winning accolades for his originality and choreographic craftsmanship. However, Peck’s latest ballet, which had its world premiere last night, is, at best, disappointing. Despite occasional highpoints, The Most Incredible Thing misfires on multiple levels.

With respect to the other pieces on the program, one dance and one performance are particularly notable: the return of Christopher Wheeldon’s Estancia, and the performance of Indiana Woodward, an exceptional member of the NYCB’s exceptional corps, in The Blue of Distance.

My initial impression of The Most Incredible Thing is that the choreography, while at times very good with respect to large groups of dancers, is generally mediocre. That having been said, mediocrity is relative, arising here from perhaps greater expectations than were warranted. And placing it in critical context, I didn’t particularly like George Balanchine’s The Firebird either upon initial viewings – I found it somewhat ponderous. But I continued to see it to visually inhale the dazzling Chagall sets and costumes, and eventually grew to ignore the details and focus instead on the ballet’s ambiance and individual performances. I suspect that Peck’s new ballet may ultimately have similar appeal. Children, as well as adults, will be dazzled by the costumes created by Marcel Dzama, who also is the artist featured in NYCB’s annual art installation this year, and ‘dazzle’ – especially combined with the presence of cute-as-a-button student dancers – sells tickets. Dzama’s costumes are (with a few exceptions) magical, inventive, whimsical, and gorgeous. And unlike the costumes created for Peter Martins’s Bal de Couture and his version of Swan Lake, they don’t get in the way, or look inappropriate or ludicrous. On the contrary, they’re a feast for the eyes.

Not unlike other fairy tales, with or without fairies, Andersen’s 1870 short story has a dark side, but ultimately an uplifting result.

The king has decreed a contest to find someone who can do “the most incredible thing,” with the winner to be awarded a chunk of the kingdom as well as the hand of his daughter. As the story begins, folk of all ages gather from far and wide to demonstrate to the king and a panel of judges that they can do the most incredible thing. Some of these ‘incredible things’ are fairly gruesome; some simply inane. One of them is a magnificent hall clock from which lifelike moving figures appear and herald each particular hour. All agree that this work of art is ‘the most incredible thing’, and that the clock’s creator, a worthy boy of high repute, should be awarded his prize. But just as the young artist’s victory was to be proclaimed, an angry man suddenly appears, tall, bony and arrogant, and with his axe shatters the clock and the figures within. The judges, the king, and his subjects, who seems quick to change their respective minds, change their minds and declare this man the winner because his act of destroying a great work of art is ‘the most incredible thing.’ But at that point the clock figures magically return to life, the clock’s artistic spirit is restored, the judges reverse themselves again, and the worthy boy is proclaimed the winner. It’s the right decision, no one is envious or disappointed, and that – the absence of envy or violence, Andersen’s narrative concludes, is really the most incredible thing.

Some say that Andersen’s story was a response to the cultural disintegration and violence he saw that led to, and was a consequence of, the Franco-Prussian War, which was formally declared the same year that The Most Incredible Thing was first published.

The ‘libretto’ for Peck’s ballet alters some characters and dispenses with part of the story. The Andersen tale infuses the figural representation of the hours with religious overtones (for example, one o’clock is a figure of Moses ‘writing’ the First Commandment; at twelve o’clock Jesus appears as savior). Peck and his team, perhaps wisely, have made all the figures secular (although the final ‘hour’ is titled Deity). No harm there. But the sense of a larger context (the ‘contest’ with other participants; the community-wide celebration) is jettisoned. The ballet’s overall impression might have improved had it not been. In other respects the ballet’s libretto plays the Andersen story relatively straight, with dances by the hourly figures, like a series of divertissements, comprising the bulk of the piece.

The problem, however, is with the music and the choreography, and that The Most Incredible Thing never overcomes its needlessly gloomy beginning.

Bryce Dessner, who composed the commissioned score, is a well-respected contemporary composer, and parts of his score are vibrant and passionate (though too much of it, particularly when it works very well, is remindful of Philip Glass). But the ballet’s overture is a miasma of sounds that lacks any recognizable form. Notes are played (intentionally) off-key, with a sense of atonality, and blended as if attempting to create an aural haze – the musical equivalent, perhaps, of passing through dark clouds into a fantasy world. It’s painful to listen to, and a poor introduction to what’s supposed to be a fairy tale.

And for a while, it doesn’t get much better. When the overture mercifully ends, Dzama’s phantasmagorical curtain becomes a translucent scrim, eventually fading into a vast, relatively empty space, looking as much dungeon as castle. There, the King (portrayed as a rigid, armor-clad two-bodied Siamese twin-like being), having already announced the contest, hears the Creator (Taylor Stanley) explain his marvelous clock. Intrigued, the King introduces his daughter, and the Creator and the Princess share a romantic, but passionless, pas de deux. That this is their introduction to each other, the Creator hasn’t formally won yet, and her daddy is watching may explain the lack of ardor. But it comes across as simply unexciting. Not even Sterling Hyltin’s Princess, clad bewitchingly in an aristocratic silver-grey tutu and bodice, can breathe life into it.

But the King wants to see the clock work, so the hourly characters emerge and dance sequentially. Tiler Peck begins (at one-o’clock) as a Cuckoo Bird, costumed like a strange-looking Firebird on steroids and moving like a hyperactive…cuckoo bird. At least the musical and choreographic pace quickens. But the pace slows again as Adam and Eve (Rebecca Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring) make first contact (nice to look at and nicely executed), and becomes tedious as the Three Kings dance robotically to lifeless choreography.

After relatively exciting divertissements for Four Seasons and the Five Senses, the piece returns again to mediocrity with the appearance of the Gambler at six o’clock. Daniel Ulbricht does a fine job jumping and rolling around incessantly like a jester without portfolio, but the choreography, like that for many of the divertissements, is internally repetitious, and he’s costumed as a die (the ‘six’ connection is that the die always comes up ‘six’), with the black-dotted, bag-like white fabric surrounding his torso effectively reducing his legs to stubs.

Peck’s ability to move groups of dancers interestingly and at times entertainingly is evident in the divertissements for the larger groups that follow, including that for the eleven prepossessing young dancers from the School of American Ballet. And the appearance by the Destroyer (Amar Ramasar) briefly brings the ballet to life. A sleekly-costumed Carabosse who waves his magic wand of an arm (extended to become a bludgeoning weapon), the Destroyer dispatches the dancing figures and figuratively smashes the clock, and his devilish pas de deux with the Princess (who has changed into something more comfortable), with his big bad arm as a prop, is the neatest pairs dance of the piece. But by then it’s too late.

Considering that this was a world premiere, the audience response when The Most Incredible Thing concluded was relatively, but not surprisingly, restrained, even by NYCB standards. To the contrary, at the world premiere of Estancia, which Wheeldon created for NYCB in 2010, the audience rose to its feet at the dance’s conclusion as if electrified. The piece holds up as well today as it did then, and the central pas de deux has lost none of its complexity or warmth. Some say it’s too much like Rodeo, but that’s a superficial response. They have little in common except for both taking place in a romanticized West (in the case of Estancia, the Argentine pampas), the Alberto Ginastera score is soaring and crisp as fresh air, vaguely remindful of Aaron Copland, and the lead female character is somewhat of a tomboy. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle remain as delightful in their lead roles as they were six years ago.

Also on the program were repeat performances of three new ballets from the Fall, 2015 season: Polaris, by Myles Thatcher; The Blue of Distance by Robert Binet, and Troy Schumacher’s Common Ground. There were a few cast changes – of them, the most noteworthy was Woodward's debut in The Blue of Distance. Her stage persona includes an innate lyricism and girl-next-door quality that can make her performances particularly captivating. As I wrote a year ago, in the way she moves Woodward brings to mind former NYCB principal Nichole Hlinka. And to me that’s high praise.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Apollinaire Scherr reviews Justin Peck's The Most Incredible Thing for the Financial Times.

Financial Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:57 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Sondra Forsyth reviews the January 29, 2016 performance of Balanchine's Liebeslieder Walzer and Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces for Broadway World.

Broadway World


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet Winter Season 2016
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:07 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews Justin Peck's The Most Incredible Thing for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group