Saturday May 29, 2010 evening - Continuing their Architecture of Dance festival, New York City Ballet tonight presented the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's ESTANCIA. Above, Tyler Angle and Tiler Peck rehearsing the Wheeldon in an Andrea Mohin photo...
...and the same two dancers in performance, photo by Paul Kolnik.
Set to a score by the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera (above), Christopher's story ballet about a city boy who comes to a country ranch and wins a senorita's heart after he tames a wild horse was a genuine hit with the audience tonight : there were roars of approval for the dancers, singer, musicians, costume designer and the choreographer when the bows were taken.
Baritone Philip Cutlip (above) speaks and later sings (handsomely) about life on the ranch as a large corps of dancers in simple cowboy/country dress create the community of farm workers with their daily chores and villagers from nearby. The young city slicker (Tyler Angle) comes to the ranch looking for fresh air and a new beginning; he is smitten with the vivacious Tiler Peck (understandably) but she's not having any of it. When a herd of wild horses pass by, Tiler grabs her lariat and tames one of them. The boy tries to ride the frisky horse and is thrown, losing ground with Tiler and the locals. He takes it as his task to tame a horse of his own and he succeeds, winning the girl's heart and acceptance into the family of rancheros.
Turning this simple narrative into dance was the challenge that Christopher set for himself and, buoyed by the colorful orchestration and rhythmic variety of the Ginastera score, he creates a ballet quite unique in the Company's repertoire. Central to the piece is a magnificent duet for Tiler and Tyler in which their love is expressed in partnering that is both risky and romantic, reflecting their youthful impetuosity and their increasingly tender feelings for each other. It ends as they lay down to sleep. Tiler and Tyler shared a much-deserved joint triumph as they were recalled to the stage several times by the wildly enthusiastic audience.
The two scenes of horse-taming are brilliantly depicted as five dancers in wonderfully inventive costumes leap and cavort wildly, led by Andrew Veyette who is given some extraordinary combinations which he carries off with bravado. Adding another exciting portrayal to her gallery, Georgina Pazcoguin deserves a special Playbill listing and a solo bow: as the mare that Tyler tames, she's fantastic.
Santiago Calatrava's design for the front drop: a herd of cattle fancifully depicted.
The Calatrava backdrop evokes the wide open spaces.
Rehearsal photo of Christopher working with the corps by Paul Kolnik. I'm hoping for some production photos soon. Among the girls at the ranch, Maya Collins continually caught my eye with her sparkling performance - she was in all three ballets tonight and was delightful in each.
A revival of Balanchine's DANSES CONCERTANTES opened the evening.The Eugene Berman setting with its fantasy drop curtain and the colorful costumes give the piece a music-hall feel and the Stravinsky score is a delight, all the more so as it's so rarely heard. I'm reminded visually of FANFARE and also JEU DE CARTES,
Four colour-coordinated trios are introduced in succession and then the principal couple of Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia appear. This is a great role for Sterling where her natural charm and stage savvy are in full play, her tricky pointe work and a series of slowing pirouettes particularly impressive. Gonzalo is handsome, technically polished and subtly droll. In their perky yellow costumes, Sterling and Gonzalo brought this Balanchine rarity vividly to life.
Corps-watcher's delight: twelve of our top corps dancers get to shine in DANSES CONCERTANTES in a series of pas de trois in which each boy has two ballerinas to manage. Graced with deftly etched-in touches of humour, this series of dances were tonight performed by Alina Dronova, Stephanie Zungre and Giovanni Villalobos (in green); Maya Collins, Lauren King and Troy Schumacher (in blue); Kaitlyn Gilliland, Gwyneth Muller and Christian Tworzyanski (in purple) and Faye Arthurs, Ashley Laracey and Daniel Applebaum in red. Since these are some of my favorite dancers on the planet, you can imagine my pleasure in watching them.
DANSES CONCERTANTES ends with everyone onstage and it's one of the shortest finales on record, seemingly over before it begins. I look forward to seeing this ballet again soon.
In BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG QUARTET Jennie Somogyi (above) recalled her recent beautiful performances in LIEBESLIEDER with the romantic appeal and technical security of her dancing; Sebastien Marcovici mastered the motif of swirling Jennie around in mid-air and Savannah Lowery's authoritative pirouettes were given with a classic polish. In the Intermezzo, Jenifer Ringer's complete perfection in a signature role was most welcome as she swooned gorgeously into the arms of the ardent Jared Angle.The trio of tall women - Dara Johnson, Kaitlyn Gilliland and Gwyneth Muller - looked aristocratic and swirled silkily around the principal couple to lovely effect. Kaitlyn, by the way, almost stole the show in DANSES CONCERTANTES.
The waves of nostalgia that will sweep thru the theatre in the coming weeks seemed to begin flowing today as Yvonne Borree (photographed above on the Mariinsky stage) appeared in the Andante with her lovely air of modesty and gentleness ideally supported by Benjamin Millepied. Ashley Laracey in a demi-soliste role was totally gorgeous.
In the concluding Rondo, Maria Kowroski was a fabulously fiery gypsy lass as she and Charles Askegard threw caution to the wind and danced up a storm. As they swirled and flashed madly around the stage the audience's temperature rose resulting in a gale of applause and three calls before the curtain.
Headshot and production photos by Paul Kolnik.