New York City Ballet

"Circle of Fifths," "A Suite of Dances," "Antique Epigraphs," & "Who Cares?"

New York State Theater, New York, NY

June 22, 2002
By Kate Snedeker

This performance marked the final appearance of Monique Meunier with the NYCB, at least on the stage of the New York State Theater. The first ballet of the night was Circle of Fifths, music by Philip Glass and choreographed by Christopher D'Amboise. It was performed earlier this week with the same cast.

Damian Woetzel performed in A Suite of Dances, (music by Bach, choreography by Jerome Robbins) with Ann Kim playing the cello. The ballet is a wonderful opportunity to see Woetzel perform: with no set, other dancers, orchestra or fancy costumes. The ballet allows the audience to focus on Woetzel and see his dancing without distraction. It's intriguing to see the relatively tall, slender Woetzel in this ballet, because it was originally choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov, a short, muscular dancer.

Last night's performance was an illustration of how wonderfully complete a dancer Woetzel has become. The choreography ranges through much of the emotional spectrum, and thus allows Woetzel to show off the vast range of his talent. We not only saw his spectacular technical ability as demonstrated by his fast, beautifully centered multiple pirouettes, tours and airy jumps, but also his innate musicality, acting skills and gorgeous basic ballet technique.

Woetzel's dancing was in perfect harmony with the music, and he has a natural sense of timing that accents the little details like the pelvic thrust, the childlike playful somersaults, cartwheels, and the glances back at the cellist. He's also a natural actor, impishly convincing in his mock disgust with the cellist when her playing does not suit his idea of the dancing. I also noticed, in particular, how beautifully he uses his hands. Woetzel is a long limbed, sinewy dancer and his gorgeous stretched lines are accented by the gracefulness of his hands. This is the kind of detail that tends to get lost in most other ballets. At 35 years of age, Woetzel is one of the senior dancers in the company, and one hopes that we will have many more years to see him give performances like this one.

Antique Epigraphs, (music by Debussy, choreographed by Jerome Robbins) was the final ballet for Monique Meunier. It's a pleasant, though short ballet and well danced by Carla Kórbes, Jenifer Ringer, Meunier and Maria Kowroski in the leads. However, it never really caught my eye, and didn't seem like a proper way to say goodbye to such a wonderful dancer.

Who Cares? (music by Gershwin, choreography by Balanchine) was the last ballet of the evening, with Janie Taylor as the "Girl in Red," and Nikolaj Hübbe in the lead male role. Taylor was wonderful in her solo, dancing with speed, pizzazz and a refreshing crispness. She looks very alive and happy in this role. (As an aside, it appears that Abi Stafford may have hurt herself moments into her solo the night before, which would account for her off performance.)

Hübbe and Ringer were spectacular in 'The Man I Love' pas de deux. Hübbe does not have the long lines of other dancers, but he gives the role a stunning intensity and passion. His eyes were focused on Ringer for the entire pas de deux, and his passion brings out the best in her dancing. Hübbe was also wonderful in his ‘Liza’ solo. It's been a long time since I've seen him in a role with this much dancing, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much height he still gets and the punch his dancing projects. He's not a natural spinner, but didn't try to push it beyond his limits, so though the pirouettes were not fast, they were beautiful and balanced. Hübbe also has gorgeous carriage and nice fast beats. It was certainly a treat to see two wonderful dancers combine for a pas de deux that rose above their individual talents.

There were a few bobbles in the corps but that's been the general trend as the week progressed. It's been a long Season, and the dancers are well deserving of a break.


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Edited by Basheva.

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