CriticalDance Forum

It is currently Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:33 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 77 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 12:36 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the Wall Street Journal, Pia Catton profiles Joaquin De Luz' preparations for the May 7, 2015 opening of La Sylphide.

Wall Street Journal


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 9:16 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

May 7, 2015
Bournonville Divertissements; La Sylphide (NY premiere)

-- Jerry Hochman

Q: When is a hit new production not a hit?

A: When the production and performances are generally wonderful, but the audience is underwhelmed.

So it was at last night’s Spring Gala, when New York City Ballet unveiled its new production of Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins’s La Sylphide. Despite a fine staging and several stellar performances, the audience response, at least from the tux and gown crowd in the orchestra, was less enthusiastic than it should have been for a premiere, much less for a ballet classic.

Why? A key may be found the audience’s response to the initial piece on the program, the revival of Bournonville Divertissements, which was received – with good cause – enthusiastically. Obviously then, it’s not some adverse reaction to the Bournonville style. Indeed, as has been discussed previously, there is considerable kinship between Bournonville and Balanchine, and NYCB audiences are not unfamiliar with the rapid-fire pace of the choreography. And it’s not that it’s a ‘story’ ballet, since those that NYCB performs sell quite well, and are well received. It could be that NYCB audiences don’t appreciate Romantic ballets, but I don’t think that's a problem – NYCB audiences, even those who only attend performances to accumulate air kisses at galas, are more sophisticated than that. I think it’s that La Sylphide is, ultimately, a depressing morality tale that contemporary audiences viewing a Romantic ballet don’t anticipate, even if they read program notes.

Generally considered to be the oldest surviving Romantic ballet, La Sylphide was initially choreographed by Filippo Taglioni as a showcase for his daughter, Marie. That production, which premiered in 1932 at the Paris Opera, has been irretrievably lost. In 1836, August Bournonville choreographed his own version for the Royal Danish Ballet, with Lucille Grahn in the title role. It is this version that has survived and has been performed by the RDB continuously since. Martins, who danced in La Sylphide as a student and as a member of RDB, bases his version on Bournonville’s, and although there are some performance differences (which may be a product of the company’s lack of familiarity with the Romantic style), in the overall scheme of things they’re minor.

But La Sylphide is a product of its time. It’s not an uplifting, cathartic story like Giselle, even though the lead there dies of a broken heart, but a morality tale in keeping with the bulk of gothic fairy tales then circulating – particularly those of the Brothers Grimm, who published their first collection in 1812. The stories were well received, and later editions, increasing the number of stories, were added subsequently. The libretto for La Sylphide is based on the story Trilby, ou le Lutin d’Argail by Charles Nodier, which was published in 1822 – coincidentally, the same year that an updated edition of Grimms Fairy Tales was published.

In the story, James, who is engaged to Effie, imagines, or actually sees, a beautiful sylph. He also spurns the entreaties of Madge, a friendly local homeless witch. But kindhearted Effie and Gurn – James’s friend who not so secretly is in love with Effie – come to the old woman’s aid. Eventually, James loses himself to the sylph of his dreams, but, with Madge’s connivance, ultimately kills her – while in the meantime Effie, who has given up on James, weds Gurn. Consequently, in his quest for the sylph, James loses everything.

So La Sylphide is a morality tale on a number of levels. Some consider it a story of justice triumphant – James is punished for his poor treatment of Madge, and Gurn rewarded for being kind to her. But I think it’s more that James is destroyed because of his pursuit of some imaginary perfection, and for not being satisfied with what he has. Regardless, after watching the enthralling sylph brighten the stage throughout most of the ballet, and visualizing a libretto that’s mostly lighthearted and comic, the sylph’s sudden death, Madge’s triumph, and James’s downfall are unexpected blows to the gut that leave an audience numb. The sylph is dead, James got his comeuppance, and there’s nothing for an audience to be happy about.

Except there is – in the nature of the relatively unadulterated production and the quality of the performances. Two performances in particular stand out. Sterling Hyltin’s glorious Sylph is Romantic perfection: she danced light as a feather; her feet seemed never to touch the ground, much less make a sound. Having seen Hyltin fly through Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements just a few days earlier, one has to marvel at her versatility as well as her capability. And as Hyltin’s Sylph is the essence of ethereality, Georgina Pazcoguin’s Madge is her opposite. Ponderous, wicked, and tough as nails. Pazcoguin’s interpretation is so vital and dominating that, if not for Hyltin’s gossamer portrayal, she would have stolen the ballet.

Joaquin de Luz’s James, however, was more problematic to me. His command of the Bournonville style is virtually impeccable – it’s not that. Rather, it’s something about his characterization that comes across, perhaps intentionally, as insincere and superficial. Making James into a somewhat unlikeable character is not unusual, and it helps to soften the blow to think that James gets what he deserves – so perhaps this is what Martins was looking for. But for me, part of the tragedy of La Sylphide is not that James is unlikeable, but that he can’t resist the temptation: the Sylph’s novelty and attraction is too great. I didn’t get that irresistible magnetic attraction from this performance - his response to her was less a product of attraction than it was a factual given. Coupled with the audience's knowledge that the Sylph loves him (at least on an ‘imaginary’, if not ‘real’ level), an egocentric James is somewhat less believable. My preference is for a James whose predicament, and whose plight, is more clearly portrayed; one with which some viewers who tend to reach for unreachable stars might more readily sympathize, and possibly identify.

Of the other performances, Daniel Ulbricht’s Gurn is very much the opposite of De Luz’s James. At times, Gurn is portrayed simply as a conniving opportunist, but Ulbricht’s characterization was spot on: an opportunist he was, but not a conniving one. This Gurn has a heart. And as Effie, aside from overdoing the mime (a problem that, except for Hyltin and Pazcoguin, plagued others in the cast as well), Brittany Pollack‘s somewhat befuddled Effie was delivered appropriately.

A few further random observations. In Act I, the wedding guests dance the Scottish reel. In some productions, this is perfunctory. Not here. The dance is flat out marvelous, and the integration of the children at the wedding party – young dancers fom the School of American Ballet, with Maya Rosefsky as the ‘lead’ chid – is both seamless and enchanting to watch. The Act II corps scenes, however, are a bit too remindful of Giselle (a stylistic inevitability), but even more strongly of Swan Lake: James searches for the sylph as if he were searching for a swan queen. Perhaps this is common to all versions, but I’d not noticed it previously. The sets (including delightfully unrealistically real painted fantasy backdrop) and costumes, both designed by Susan Tammany, enhanced the production immensely. And for the occasion, NYCB imported another Dane to conduct its orchestra: Henrik Vagn Christensen, who was associated with the RDB for many years. The orchestra seemed somewhat tentative at first, but provided a superlative rendition of Herman Severin Lovenskjold's score as the ballet progressed.

Created by for RDB principal and SAB teacher Stanley Williams for NYCB in 1977, and restaged for this revival by Nilas Martins, Bournonvile Divertissements is a collection of dance excerpts that encapsulate the Bournonville Style. With one exception, every dancer shined. Erica Pereira and Allen Peiffer led the ‘Ballabile’ excerpt from Napoli Act 1 with pizazz, and in the closing Pas de Six from Napoli, Act 3 and Abdallah, the seven dancers (Lauren King, Rebecca Krohn, Megan LeCrone, Lauren Lovette, Adrian Danchig Waring, Amar Ramasar, all dancing individually or in pairs, and Anthony Huxley dancing solo) looked like they were born to it. The exception was Sara Mearns in the pas de deux from Flower Festival from Genzano, the second excerpt in the piece. Her pasted-on smile and more mature demeanor didn’t fit the role, and looked particularly artificial having recently seen Ida Praetorius in the same pas de deux with the RDB Soloists. However, her partner, Tyler Angle, nailed the style and attitude. It’s unfortunate that he’s not scheduled to portray James this season.

The concluding excerpt, the Tarantella from Napoli, Act 3, danced by the entire cast, was a most delightful presentation, with the celebration universal (including from Ms. Mearns, who danced her part fabulously) and effervescent enough to penetrate the fourth wall. One could sense the audience restraining itself from applauding in sync with the percussive tambourines. Perhaps, when La Syphide is scheduled in future seasons, the powers that be might want to make Bounonville Divertissements the closing piece on the program, to send the audience home in a more festive mood.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 12:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews the May 7, 2015 gala performance of Bournonville Variations and La Sylphide for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 1:30 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews the Friday, May 8, 2015 performances of Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sonatine, La Valse and Symphony in C for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 11:38 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Roslyn Sulcas interviews principal dancer Amar Ramasar for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 10:43 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Robert Greskovic reviews La Sylphide and Bournonville Variations for the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 11:16 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Rose Marija reviews the Wednesday, May 13, 2015 performance of Jerome Robbins' Goldberg Variations and West Side Story Suite for Broadway World.

Broadway World


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 12:14 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Robert Gottlieb reviews La Sylphide, Bournonville Variations, Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sonatine, La Valse and Symphony in C for the New York Observer.

NY Observer


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 4:40 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

May 9, 2014
Apollo , Agon, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements

May 23M, 2015
Bournonville Divertissements, La Sylphide

-- by Jerry Hochman

One of the many joys of New York City Ballet in the past several years has been the opportunities provided to soloists, corps dancers and even apprentices to test themselves in featured roles, and the opportunities provided to NYCB’s audiences to watch them grow. The company takes casting chances, which ultimately yields immeasurable future dividends. I attended two performances of programs I’d seen earlier this season in which the benefits of providing such opportunities were evident.

Leading role opportunities were provided to four different sets of dancers in Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martin’s new production of La Sylphide. I was able to see two of them. Sterling Hyltin, Joaquin De Luz, and Georgina Pazcoguin led the Spring Gala opening night cast in the roles of the Sylph, James, and Madge. Saturday afternoon’s performance featured the debuts of Lauren Lovette, Anthony Huxley, both soloists, and Gretchen Smith, a member of the corps, in the same roles. With one exception, the result was no less sensational.

Lovette’s Sylph was very different from Hyltin’s, but equally enchanting. To a large extent, this has been Hyltin’s year, and she was as comfortable being a Sylph as she appears to be in all of her roles. Hers was not just a fantasy Sylph, but a reasonably sophisticated one – with a degree of regality, as well as sylph-like charm. Lovette took about three minutes to shake off nerves that made her, at the outset, look a bit stiff and apprehensive. But after she nailed a particularly difficult turn sequence while James was still asleep in his chair dreaming, she opened up and delivered an extraordinarily fine performance in every respect. Hers was the Sylph next door -- playful, youthful, and captivating. With Lovette, you don’t just see the technique, which is there and abundant, but you feel the magic. Her Sylph was similar, in a way, to her portrayal of the kangaroo in Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals last year – natural and sweet, and totally delightful.

Simply put, Huxley’s James was one of the finest portrayals of the role that I’ve seen. Ever. His technique was flawless – but more than that, Huxley displayed that quality of explosiveness that needed no wind-up. Like the best Bournonville male dancers, he just soared with the greatest of ease as if driven from within, and descended as if he was controlling gravity rather than the other way around.

It is well recognized that Bournonville’s choreography, as well as the Bournonville style, provides more opportunities for bravura dancing to male dancers than to ballerinas. This is the case with La Syphide – the women dance what may be wickedly difficult footwork, but the focus is on looking joyful, effervescent, and ethereal (though not as much as in later Romantic ballets). However, James must not only execute the choreography as it was intended, but do so as if he's a suddenly ignited stick of dynamite. No obvious preparation; no ‘look at what I’m going to do now’, just one minute he’s calm; the next he’s the personification of power coupled with grace.

But that wasn’t the only part of his portrayal that is memorable. I’ve frequently been critical of Huxley for being a superb technician on his own, but not sufficiently connecting with his partner. In that respect, he resembles De Luz, who danced James opposite Hyltin. But – and given that Bournonville in general and La Sylphide in particular doesn’t require the same degree of stage chemistry between the two principals as other ballets – here, finally, Huxley delivered that aspect of the character as well. He wasn’t just a crazyman who was into himself as much as he was enamored with the sylph of his dreams – he connected. It was a glorious, memorable performance.

Less noteworthy was Smith’s Madge, particularly in comparison to Pazcoguin’s electric portrayal on opening night. This Madge was low-key, and almost faded into the woodwork. For this role to be as significant as it has to be in the ballet, it’s necessary to do more than just transmit the mime, it’s the attitude – and the spirit, the animation, the evil, just wasn’t at a high enough decibel level.

In another debut, Troy Schumacher’s Gurn was excellently done – comparable to Daniel Ulbricht’s fine portrayal in the opening night cast. Lauren King’s Effie required her to tame her usual ear to ear smile, and she succeeded without sacrificing the sweetness that, together with confusion and helplessness, is part of Effie’s character. And the Scottish Reel in the first Act was executed by both the corps and the young dancers from the School of American Ballet (led, at this performance, by Natalie Glassie) every bit as well I observed on opening night.

Bournonville Divertissements, which opened Saturday afternoon’s program, also included a plethora of new faces, most of whom had debuted in their roles the previous week. Erica Pereira and Alan Peiffer repeated their joyously danced excerpt from Napoli, Act 1, but the different cast in the pas de six (plus one) excerpts from Napoli, Act 3 and Abdullah was every bit as delicious to watch as that on the program’s opening night: Sara Adams, Ashly Isaacs (debuting that afternoon), Meagan Mann, Brittany Pollack, Russell Janzen, Andrew Scordato, and, on his own, Harrison Ball, all delivered – and Mann, Isaacs, and Scordato danced with particular flair. But the greatest improvement over the opening night cast was the combination of Teresa Reichlen and Zachary Catazaro in the pas de deux from Flower Festival in Genzano. Reichlen was pitch-perfect, with the attitude, consistent throughout, of muted but contented happiness, neither reserved nor overly ebullient. Catazaro wasn’t quite the equal of Tyler Angle on opening night, but he handled his assignment very well. And everyone in the cast delivered an infectiously jubilant Tarantella to conclude the dance.

A couple of weeks earlier, new casts also assayed roles in the Balanchine ‘Black & White II’ program. Catazaro debuted in Apollo on May 5. I did not see that performance, but I understand from reputable sources that a prop flew out of his hands early in the piece, and that he never fully recovered his composure. Assuming that that’s correct information, his performance on the afternoon of May 9 was a complete turnaround. Catazaro delivered a fine Apollo, not quite at the level of Adrian Danchig-Waring’s portrayal the previous week, but very good indeed – and in many ways his growth from child god to a mature one was more subtle (but crystal clear) than others, which is exactly as it’s supposed to be. His muses, Ana Sophia Scheller’s Calliope, Sara Mearns’s Hippolyta, and particularly Hyltin’s Terpsichore, gave superlative performances.

Hyltin shined again later in the program in Duo Concertant, partnering Janzen, who debuted in the role earlier in the week. Janzen is relatively tall; Hyltin relatively short, so the two of them together looked somewhat like Mutt and Jeff – more so than the original cast of Martins and Kay Mazzo, or any of the other casts I’ve seen since. But Janzen has such a sweet stage personality, and Hyltin is so accomplished, and the dance is so wonderful, that the pairing worked.

The program was completed with sparking performances of Agon, this time with Reichlen and Danchig-Waring dancing the pas de deux, and Symphony in Three Movements, with a quicksilver Tiler Peck in the central role.

NYCB will conclude its Spring, 2015 season with Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream next week. And in the continuing realm of providing opportunities and taking chances, in the final performance of Dream, Martins has cast an apprentice as Titania.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 11:14 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay with an omnibus review of spring season performances for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, June 2, 2015 performance of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:54 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Brian Schaefer reviews La Sylphide and Bournonville Variations for the Brooklyn Rail.

Brooklyn Rail


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay writes extensively about Justin Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 443
Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet announced a new round of promotions today. Lauren Lovette and Anthony Huxley have been promoted to principal, and Ashly Isaacs to soloist.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet -- 2014-2015 Schedule
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14418
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Michael Cooper reports on the promotions of Lauren Lovette, Anthony Huxley and Ashly Isaacs for the New York Times.

NY Times


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 77 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 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