Above: Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet, photo by Henry Leutwyler.
Thursday October 4, 2012 - On this special evening at New York City Ballet, all seats were $29. It was nice to see a full house, especially up in the gallery which stands dark and abandoned for most NYCB performances these days. The programme consisted of what might be called chamber ballets, since the orchestra had the night off and so did most of the corps de ballet. While this might not have been an ideal programme to captivate new ballet-goers - Robbins' MOVES can be a test for even the most seasoned ballet fans - the crowd seemed attentive for the most part and took to the evening's final work, HALLELUJAH JUNCTION, with evident pleasure.
Vivid dancing from Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild got the evening off to a wonderful start; this was one of the liveliest DUO CONCERTANTs I have ever witnessed, both dancers displaying unrestrained energy and joy in the ballet's allegro passages. When the piece turns more tender and romantic, Sterling and Rob drew on their memorable interpretations of Juliet and Romeo to develop a private and personal atmosphere: the audience became eavesdroppers. Arturo Delmoni and Susan Walters played the Stravinsky score to fine effect.
Mr. Delmoni soon re-appeared in the pit with pianist Nancy McDill for Arvo Part's celestial Spiegel im Spiegel, the setting for Christopher Wheeldon's breath-taking duet from AFTER THE RAIN. This was danced with sublime expressiveness by Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall. The seamless flow of their partnering kept the audience in a state of awe, with the resulting waves of applause and cheers at the end eminently deserved. The piece is a bit of heaven...
...and so is the partnership.
An excellent ensemble, impressively led by Rebecca Krohn and Jared Angle, gave us Robbins' MOVES. It's an intriguing piece to be sure, best appreciated when it is the centerpiece of a programme of large-scale, full-orchestra ballets. Tonight, following the dreamy Wheeldon, it seemed a bit long and lulling, despite being perfectly rendered by the ensemble. Brittany Pollack and Adrian Danchig-Waring made a striking impression, as did Savannah Lowery, Gretchen Smith, Lydia Wellington, Justin Peck, Taylor Stanley, Christian Tworzyanski and the always-superlative Sean Suozzi.
It was good to see HALLELUJAH JUNCTION again, a Peter Martins ballet I have enjoyed many times since seeing its New York premiere in 2002. Pianists Susan Walters and Cameron Grant play the unusual echoing John Adams score from the rear of the stage. Janie Taylor, a radiant vision in white, wears this ballet like a silken evening glove - it fits her body and mystique to perfection. Sebastien Marcovici, also in white, is both a tower-of-strength partner for Janie and a competitive fellow athlete for the black-clad Daniel Ulbricht. At one point the two men fly and swirl about the stage in a fast-paced game of tag. Daniel gave a spectacular performance of this role that was so memorably danced by Benjamin Millepied at the New York premiere. Daniel has made it his own, and the audience went wild for him: his dancing is impeccably clean and clear.
One of the most absorbing passages of HALLELUJAH JUNCTION is a fast-paced series of duets for the 'corps'...we call them a corps, but this kind of virtuosity would stagger many an intrepid principal dancer. Each of the four couples cross the stage in turn, executing tricky partnering motifs and dazzling combinations in the wink of an eye. There is no room for error here. The scintillating Erica Pereira found her match in Troy Schumacher: they went at their duet full-tilt and were really brilliant. What a Bluebird couple they would make...or COPPELIA for that matter. Brittany Pollack with David Prottas, Lauren King with Daniel Applebaum, and Lauren Lovette with Allen Peiffer each seized on these duets with complete assurance, reminding us of the depth of talent in the Company. It was great to see these eight dancers called out before the curtain twice at the end of the evening.
DUO CONCERTANT: Hyltin, R. Fairchild
AFTER THE RAIN (pas de deux): Whelan, Hall
MOVES: Krohn, J. Angle
HALLELUJAH JUNCTION: Taylor, Ulbricht, Marcovici