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New York City Ballet

"Swan Lake"
Music: Swan Lake, Op. 20 (1875-6) by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky
Choreography by George Balanchine (after Ivanov) © The George Balanchine Trust

"Red Angels"
Music: Maxwell's Demon by Richard Einhorn
Choreography by Ulysses Dove

"Hallelujah Junction"
Music Hallelujah Junction (1996) by John Adams
Choreography by Peter Martins

"I'm Old Fashioned"
Music: Morton Gould, based on a theme by Jerome Kern, "I'm Old-Fashioned"
Score commissioned by New York City Ballet
Choreography by Jerome Robbins

New York State Theater, New York, NY

May 23, 2002
By Kate Snedeker


While the NYCB ballet choice and scheduling this season at NYCB has not thrilled many NYCB regulars, last night appeared to be a hit judging from the audience reaction. For me, it was a rare occasion to watch a whole night of ballets that I'd not seen before – always a treat.

Swan Lake

I call this the "de-feathered" Swan Lake: the mime and story have been mostly stripped away, leaving just the dancing for the audience to appreciate. In this way, this version is very much a reflection of Balanchine's taste in ballet – more dance, less or no story. The sets and costumes (the swans are all in black) have been redesigned during Martins' tenure, but I think they help to individualize the ballet and set it apart from the full-length versions that are in the rep of many other companies. I thought the set was well done, especially in the way that it gave great depth and an air of mystery to the stage. I also found the swan's black tutus very fitting. The strength of the NYCB female corps has never been in the great synchronized lines and patterns of ballets like Swan Lake and La Bayadère (which they don't do), and by putting the swans in non-traditional black, the corps is in a way freed somewhat from the traditional Swan Lake.

Whelan and Woetzel danced the leads last night, and while neither fit the true prince/princess mold, they are suited to this less than traditional version of Swan Lake. Woetzel seem very engaged in his role, perhaps because this is a ballet that he hasn't performed that many times and it has enough acting to keep him interested. His solos did not disappoint and I was again admiring the ease of his double tour le en'airs. While many men seem to strain to finish the jump in proper 5th position, Woetzel appears to have "room to spare" and no trouble getting more than enough rotation. My impression is that he was great turnout and is naturally loose hipped. I found Whelan a natural swan, and she is long limbed and bit angular, like real swans. She also has the swan-like arm motions down well, and enough acting skills to be believable in the role. Whelan and Woetzel appear to have a nice partnership – they have similar bodytypes and he supports her well. There were some jerky moments in the pas de deuxs, but that could be as much due to lack of rehearsal time to smooth out the little details as anything else. Woetzel has probably been devoting much of his time to his cheoreographic duties at SAB, Carolina Ballet and Vail (this coming summer). The corps was off at the begining, but recovered fairly quickly to the more normal slightly-out-oof-synch NYCB Swan Lake norm. Despite not being totally in synch, I think that most of the women have mastered the nice flowing swans arms. Dana Hanson was excellent as the lead swan in the Pas de Neuf – she's quite tall, which I'd never realized.

Hallelujah Junction

I've never been very fond of Martins' cheoreography, and thought this was interesting, but not something I'd come to see again (given the choice). It seems to a piece done to show off the talents of Millipied, Taylor and Marcovici, but it served to remind me of how much these men need to learn about partnering. They are talented solo dancers, but with his aging principal men, Martins needs to up the partnering skills of his soloists. Frankly, many of the corps men are much better partners than most of the soloists. Martins has talented teachers in Hübbe, Soto and Boal – why not do a mini-partnering camp for his soloists after the Diamond Ballet rush is over.

Red Angels

Very different and I like it! Albert Evans is seen far to little on the State Theater stage, so it's always a treat to see him perform. Evans is not a true classical dancer, but I think Martins has done a great misservice to the NYCB audience by not casting him in a wider range of ballets. For instance, why has Evans never (in my memory) danced a Nutcracker Cavalier – he's no prince, but I certainly think he could manage the role. (Perhaps he doesn't want to).

Anyway, Evans and Boal are spectacular in this ballet – the balances and sinuos movements are done to perfection. The costume does not flatter Whelan, but she dances well. I believe this was Kowroski's debut in the ballet, and she looked great. The unitard costume accented her long body-line and she was the dramatic flexibilty needed to attack Dove's cheoreography. Again, I am amazed by the depth of Peter Boal's talent – he looks great in everything from modern ballets like Red Angels to very traditional Prince roles.

I'm Old Fashioned

OK, the costumes are a tad hideous in color, but the dancing is great!

The revelation of this ballet for me was Sebastian Marcovici. While he has a heavier look, accented by his long torso, he still gets great hight and speed in jumps and turns. Looks can deceive. For once, the costume (black pants & cummerbund and white shirt/black bowtie) flattered his body type, elongating the line of his legs. But what really was exciting was his dancing. He looked very comfortable in the role and in partnering Jennifer Ringer. He has a loose flow and subtle elegance needed to pull off the Astaire/ballroom style of dancing. His facially expressions were a bit bland, but I think with more experience he will relax and pay more attention to the details. Yet, at the same time he had a tilt to his head that gave depth to his interpretation. He and Jennifer Ringer (every lovely with that stunnning smile) looked wonderful together – the speed and energy of youth, bit tamed with some life experience. I'd like to see Marcovici get more roles in more traditional roles (less of Martins new ballets) to see if his partnering skills and elegance can be cultivated. I think he's more in the Robbins mold, and will do well in that rep. Does anyone know how tall Marcovici is – he looked fairly tall next to Philip Neal.

Speaking of Neal, I was impressed by his dancing and playfulness – he's got the facial expressions and body language down very well. Kowrowksi is a good match for Neal with her long body and ability to be the elegant showgirl.

And lastly, a BIG WELCOME BACK for Arch Higgins. I'm not sure if this was his first time back on stage since his injury, but his return was certainly sometime this week. While his role was not very taxing, it was wonderful to see him back on stage. It will be interesting to see what roles he will get as he re-establishes himself in the rep.

Again, kudos to the wonderful male corps at NYCB. Carmena looks like he is filling out muscle-wise, a great thing to see in such a talented young dancer. In the past he seemed very slight, but he seems to be maturing in the mold of Angel Corella – though not that all, his partnering skills are greatly increasing. I think it's much better to have an experienced male corps and less experienced women rather than the other way around, and I think the difference in corps work between ABT and NYCB makes this obvious. With the Froman twins, Fowler, Capps, Hanna, Carmena, Hall, Stafford, etc. etc., there's a foundation of knowledge and ability that make the NYCB corps strong.

Lastly, I think it's time for Jason Fowler to get promoted. He's "made" me notice his in the past year because he's such a solid partner and has bloomed into an excellent solo dancer.

 

Please join a discussion of this performance in our forum.

Edited by Marie.


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