Saturday September 18, 2010 matinee - I've done this before: gone to New York City Ballet just to see the opening work on the programme. This performance of Balanchine's SERENADE featured the same quintet of principals who danced the ballet on opening night and it was well worth seeing - and hearing - a second time in a single week. Above: Paul Kolnik's photo of Sara Mearns, Janie Taylor, Megan Fairchild and Ask LaCour.
Today's performance in fact produced all the physical reactions a great SERENADE should produce: lump in the throat, tears in the eyes and those wonderful little shivers up and down the spine.
What gave this matinee performance a bit of an edge over the opening night's SERENADE was the choice of tempo Andrews Sill made for the first movement. At the opening, Faycal Karoui took things just a little too briskly - I love Faycal and think that 99% of the time he is perfect, but once in a while he errs on the speedy side. Mr. Sill's more spacious approach allowed Sara Mearns to linger just that extra demi-second on her balances in arabesque and gave Megan Fairchild just the extra bit of time to stretch out her jumps and to bask in the lyricism of her combinations.
Both Sara and Megan were spectacular today: Sara's luxuriant rendering of the Angel's supported arabesque in the final movement was compellingly gorgeous. A little earlier, Megan came down the center line in a superbly timed piruouette/arabesque combination that just glowed.
Above: Henry Leutwyler's photo of Charles Askegard, who danced the first of the two principal male roles this afternoon. His wonderfully alert partnering of Janie Taylor was one of the many truly pleasing aspects of the performance. He danced really well, too.
Above: Janie Taylor in the foreground, a Paul Kolnik photo. Janie's New York debut in SERENADE at the opening night was completely marvelous but this afternoon she took everything to an even higher level both in terms of technique and dramatic fascination. One moment I especially loved was her entrance, near the end of the first movement, when she finds her place among the other girls and quietly raises her hand (photo above). Here and in a thousand other moments throughout the ballet, Janie's beautiful facial expressions and nuances of gesture built the role in a highly individual and achingly moving style.
We won't talk about her hair or I'll never finish this article.
Above: Sara Mearns, Ask LaCour & Janie Taylor. Performance photographs by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of NYC Ballet. (Sara's hair is pretty spectacular, too). Ask is superb in this ballet, carrying on in the grand tradition of Kipling Houston, James Fayette and Stephen Hanna.
The corps were so extraordinarily luminous today; I could write a paragraph about each and every single one of them, for indeed I took the time to focus on each one individually. Georgina Pazcoguin had me under her spell, and I loved the big wafting lift that Ask gave her in the fourth movement. She looked so weightless, I thought she might float away. I could go on and on - it was a SERENADE aglow with such moments - but now I must get ready to go back for the evening performance.
I know that I should have stayed on this afternoon to see Amar Ramasar in WHO CARES? again (he is sensational in that ballet!), but I just could not bring myself to sit thru INTERPLAY, despite a cast of excellent dancers. So I came home after SERENADE to re-group for tonight's Balanchine-Stravinsky programme.
Before SERENADE began, Daniel Ulbricht welcomed us and gave a brief master-class in the opening port de bras of the Balanchine masterpiece. The entire audience stood up and participated. While I am not sure I like these little pre-curtain speeches, Daniel is very good at it.
Principal dancers portraits...
...at either end of the Promenade. Hi Wendy!
Musical combo playing pre-curtain.
I love NYCB. I was so happy to be there today, and so glad to be going back tonight.