Saturday January 31, 2009 matinee - On a strikingly clear but bitterly cold afternoon, Abi Stafford brought a breath of Spring to the FLOWER FESTIVAL pas de deux, dancing with light-hearted charm and precise footwork. She found a nice touch of flirtatiousness, and who wouldn't want to flirt with the Spanish heart-throb Gonzalo Garcia, ever the dashing cavalier? They compliment each other so well. (Abi's headshot by Paul Kolnik).
Yes, there really is a Genzano and this is what it looks like during the annual flower festival.
In LA STRAVAGANZA it was good to see Rachel Rutherford (above) onstage again as the curious waif who gets abducted. Robert Fairchild has assumed Benjamin Millepied's role, and both here and in LIFECASTING today Rob displayed both the technical and physical prowess and the ever-deepening artistry which I feel certain makes him destined to enter the ranks of the principals in the near future. In their complex synchronized duet, Rob and Craig Hall moved fluidly but with an edge; Rob's duet with Rachel seemed almost tender and questioning until - wham! - he starts man-handling her and then spirits her into the shadows. Sean Suozzi made a very effective debut as the third 'Vermeer' boy, and everyone in the cast captured the feeling of this dark and very unusual work perfectly. An extra curtain call for Rachel, Rob and Craig was well-deserved indeed.
The AFTER THE RAIN pas de deux as danced by Wendy Whelan and Sebastien Marcovici (above) again held the audience in an enthralled state; the two dancers and the musicians - Jean Ingraham (violin) and Alan Moverman (piano) - created an intimate, dreamlike atmosphere. In the Spring we will be seeing the complete ballet from which this duet is drawn.
LIFECASTING is not an 'easy' ballet either to watch or - I would imagine - to dance. It calls for the viewer to be attentively engaged at every moment, and today I realized that the more closely you observe it the more you will see. The dancers really have nothing else like this in the repertoire as a frame of reference, but they dance with great control and power. Rob Fairchild's solo work is incredible as are three partnerships: Ashley Bouder with Craig Hall, Maria Kowroski with Amar Ramasar, and Kaitlyn Gilliland with Adrian Danchig-Waring. Sterlin Hyltin, Georgina Pazcoguin, Christian Tworzyanski and Antonio Carmena all look great in this ballet, making me wish the choreographer had given them more to do. The audience today seemed quite receptive to this complex work. (Above photo: Robert Fairchild by Paul Kolnik).
I'd been debating whether to see the final performance of this programme on Tuesday (February 3) and today's THEME AND VARIATIONS sealed the deal: I could not imagine being anywhere else. The whole Company - the grand demi-couples and the superb corps all in their luscious costumes - provided a bejeweled setting for a stellar role debut from Tiler Peck and her equally brilliant cavalier, Joaquin de Luz. Although both Tiler and Joaquin are among the smaller dancers in the Company they are also among the biggest talents and between their technical bravura and their radiant personalities, THEME looked really smashing today. Between the two of them, Tiler and Joaquin must have reeled off a gazillion pirouettes - to say nothing of Tiler's big balance - but it was in the adagio surprisingly where they made their most memorable impression. Dancing in perfect harmony, they seemed to 'sing' the music - like a love duet from some lost Tchaikovsky opera. (Photo: Tiler Peck by Kyle Froman/Vail Festival).
Many of the faithful were on hand this afternoon - including Rhona from Saratoga - and THEME was a real treat. And so was running into Kristin Sloan, who has more exciting films in the works.