Some notes from me on "Jewels" opening night -
This may be because the company just came in from Tokyo a few days ago, but much of the dancing appeared tentative. None of it was bad, by any means, but save for a few standout performances things felt subdued Wednesday night. I would normally forgive the company on opening night, but I also felt the same way while I was in New York this past may (at the time, I chalked it up to constantly performing a 7 show schedule for weeks on end). The steps, in NY, all seemed to be there, but warmth only seemed to come in bursts from a few soloists, or from a few select pieces.
Jennifer Ringer was mesmerizing in Emeralds – she was the second soloist for the solo variations, and the second pas de deux with James Fayette (I can’t seem to get the “role” distinctions correct in my head at the moment). Very musical, seemed to melt into the music and let it take her for a ride. Looking back on the entire evening, I would say Ringer’s two solos were the most memorable portions of the evening; they were moments where I was completely taken into the performance and got a swell of happiness as the solo ended. Rachel Rutherford was the other main girl, and she was fine, though noticeably jerky in some parts. Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild and Arch Higgins danced the pas de trois; Bouder tore into the role in her usual fearless style, but that kind of attack didn’t quite work in Emeralds. It was too harsh and speedy, so this quality that I so liked of hers when I saw her in New York seemed to work against her here. Perhaps she’ll need to calm down into the role as she grows. Emeralds as a whole has really grown on me; when the Kirov was here last year, it was the part of Jewels that I just wanted to get through, to see the rest of the ballet. But Wednesday, it was my favorite part of the entire evening.
Wednesday night, my eye was drawn straight to Teresa Reichlin for Rubies, she dancing the tall-girl role and being great fun to watch. As the curtain rose, she established herself as THE person to watch for this ballet – this despite the fact that she technically isn’t the lead in Rubies. Amazingly flexible, also played it coy and sexy. The lead couple was Alexandra Ansanelli and Damien Woetzel, who performed admirably. However, some of the fun, jazzy elements appeared “put on” for the two of them – it was like they’d concentrate real hard to get some of the steps right, then suddenly go “Oh yes! This part can be fun and I can swivel my hips a bit and wink!” But then they’d fall back into trying to get through the steps – it was inconsistent. Perhaps, though, anyone I see in the central couple of Rubies will forever more be compared to Diana Vishneva’s absolutely searing performance with the Kirov Ballet last year – Vishneva just had IT with that role: there was fire, there was sexiness, there was flirtation. It was stunning to say the least, and so that likely made it hard for Ansanelli to stack up in my mind. Also, on opening night, the performance lacked a bit of spark because of the orchestra's subdued and somewhat clumsy playing of the score. It seemed they were conciously trying to keep it slow for the dancers, while the dancers looked like they were holding back to stay with the orchestra.
Performed crisply and cleanly by the company as a whole, but there wasn’t much excitement to the whole affair. There was nothing to complain about, but nothing to write home about either – just a clean performance. Wendy Whelan and Nilas Martins were the lead couple. Again, with the pair, nice and clean execution of the pas de deux, with Whelan showing remarkable control and Martins partnering steadily and surely.
Now, about those new sets:
I loved the Rubies set, with those geometric, bright red lines coming down the sides and back of the stage, and a burst of lines up at the top. It was just perfect for this ballet, especially when the curtain rises on all those girls lined up on point – the juxtaposition of the bright, straight white lines of everyone’s tights against the red lines was one hell of a stunner. The only thing I found strange was the glowing-red asteroid type object painted into the upper part of the backdrop; I know it’s supposed to be a kind of imppresionist ruby, but it looks like a glowing space object – those of you from Southern California will get this reference, but as I looked at it, it looked like the giant planet from the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. Otherwise, though, I liked the Rubies set very much.
The Emeralds set worked fine; it was inobtrusive and atmospheric enough to give that ballet the hazy, seductive feeling it needed. The Diamonds set, on the other hand, I did not like at all. It looked cartoonish, in a Christmas-card, winter wonderland kind of way. I suppose you could say it is designed to be reminiscent of a Russian winter palace – but still, the way the set was painted and set up, it looks like a giant cartoon, not elegant or grand at all.
Looking forward now to tomorrow night, with Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Stars and Stripes.
<small>[ 30 September 2004, 01:32 AM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>