I loved the Bonnefoux ballet. So did my partner. We weren't expecting to, after reading other opinions.
The evening started with fresh casting in the leads of DONIZETTI VARIATIONS: Megan Fairchild & Joaquin de Luz won a rip-roaring ovation for their scintillating performance. Meeting all the technical demands with ease, they displayed natural charm and nicely matched port de bras when dancing in sync. Fairchild is light and vivacious and Joaquin dazzled the crowd with his blazing turns and beats. As if that were not enough, Carrie Lee Riggins gave a captivating performance leading the excellent corps. Riggins simply lights up the stage; her breezy style and sweeping extension are a joy and her gorgeous eyes & smile hold the viewer enthralled. Saskia Beskow, that matchless beauty, was also on fine form and Elizabeth Walker was sweet as the girl who tries to steal the spotlight. Severini, Paradiso & a newly authoritative Christian Tworzyanski were fine. Faye Arthurs, Melissa Barak & Glenn Keenan added to the glow of the piece, which was enthusiastically applauded.
TWO BIRDS WITH THE WINGS OF ONE is superbly lit & costumed; the unusual and atmospheric score was expertly played by NYCB's fine musicians - whom we so often take for granted. Lauren Flanigan, that bizarre soprano who was once the darling of the City Opera but has lately sort of faded from the scene, gave an amazing and risky performance of the 2 songs which form an integral part of the difficult & intriguing score. Mr. Sheng conducted; the ballet is ritualistic and romantic at the same time. The male corps have a tribal spirit; their dance is the choreographic highlight of the piece. As the lovers, Sofiane Sylve and Andrew Veyette were impressive. Sylve has two beautiful costumes, one black and the other red. She and Andrew made their solo passages - somewhat stylized - vibrant aspects of their spirits. Andrew is borne aloft by the men, a motif that repeats at the ballet's conclusion. I did think the very ending might benefit from a more sustained image and a change of lighting. My partner liked very much the juxtaposition of Asian music and European choreographic influences. We were both drawn in and I am hoping to get to another performance of this unusual work.
SYMPHONY IN C was somewhat spoilt by too-rapid tempi chosen by Faycal Karoui. The adagio was more like a jig, hardly giving Maria K the chance to sustain the flow of the steps. 3rd movement was also driven and the fourth was so fast that even that accomplished whiz-kid Tiler Peck was hard pressed to fit everything in. But there were many wonderful performances, starting with the Staffords who bring a joyous feeling to the first movement. Abi dances with great clarity and her musicality was especially persuasive in her opening solo passages. I enjoyed a rare appearance by Dana Hanson, replacing Krohn as a demi; Reichlen is deluxe here, too. Maria and Charles Askegard were able to overcome the overly speedy tempo; Maria's extension and poised lyricism are perfectly showcased by Charles, who gets the Palme D'Or for being the partnering paragon this season. They won a very affectionate ovation and were called out for a bow. Laracey & Arthurs are impeccable demi solistes here. Sterling Hyltin showed a major improvement over her first outing in the Allegro Vivace; despite the frantic tempo she was able to phrase and to bring increased elasticity to her dancing. Carmena was excellent and dances with unabashed pride in his accomplishments. Tiler Peck was a bit on the wild side, perhaps trying to deal with the tempo. Sean Suozzi was grand: really vivid, authoritative dancing - I truly enjoyed his performance. The finale, despite an unfortunate fall from Sterling, was full of life and stirred the audience to a whirlwind of applause.