Thursday January 17th, 2013 - Tonight's all Balanchine/Tchaikovsky programme served up a near-perfect evening of music and dance at New York City Ballet. Conductor Gerry Cornelius and the NYCB players gave the three scorces the full romantic treatment; concertmaster Kurt Nikkanen rose in the pit to weave the haunting violin solos of the White Swan, and pianist Diane Chelton propelled ALLEGRO BRILLANTE with a sure hand. The maestro and the musicians well-deserved the audience's acclaim in their spot-lit 'curtain call'.
The Balanchine single-act incarnation of SWAN LAKE opened the evening. In the best Balanchine tradition, Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle showed us the music. With her iconic extension, fluid port de bras, subtle nuances of the shoulders and neck, and the sustained signature attitude poses, Maria's Odette has all the technical elements luminously in place. Tyler (his debut in this ballet) was her pale, noble cavalier - he seemed instinctively to become the embodiment of the poetic prince, lost in wonderment at the vision of love that has materialized before his very eyes. Together the two dancers moved from wariness to trust to tenderness in the course of their fleeting romance. All went beautifully until the moment of their parting loomed: then Maria's poignant expression of sadness and Tyler's vain attempt to hold onto this dream carried the performance to a higher level altogether. They made me cry, and what more can one ask?
Savannah Lowery and Ashley Laracey showed off their own silken extensions in the opening ensemble of swans; later they each made a distinct impression in their solo passages. I must say though that I'm ready to see this production return to all-white rather than all-black tutus for the corps. And what's up with those pouffy little panties that the huntsmen wear? Really a miscalculation.
Tiler Peck's remarkable performance in ALLEGRO BRILLANTE was a perfect joy to behold. The ballerina, so wonderfully secure in her technique (astonishing priouettes!), has gone way beyond sheer virtuosity: her artistry seems to grow and grow every time I see her. Tonight her performance was a revelation, and we had the handsome presence and expansive dancing of Amar Ramasar to further enhance this showpiece ballet. Together this dynamic duo swept the audience into an apprecative frenzy, enjoying a third bow before the curtain at the end. The lovely quartet of supporting ballerinas - Mlles. Laracey, King, LeCrone and Smith - were handsomely squired by Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, Christian Tworzyanski and Cameron Dieck, Cameron stepping in unannounced and seemingly dancing his heart out.
It's been too long since we saw TCHAIKOVSKY SUITE #3. Tonight In the haunted ballroom of the Elegie Teresa Reichlen's enticing combination of elegance and allure made her an inevitable fascination for Ask LaCour's lost-soul cavalier. For anyone who has ever found their ideal only to lose it, this encounter wounds like a glass blade in the heart. I felt a palpable shudder of recognition as Tess vanishes into the shadows and Ask is left to his lonely despair. You can't know if you haven't experienced it.
Mystery, romance, and intoxicating perfume: that's Janie Taylor in the Valse Melancolique. What other ballerina can be at once so innocent and seductive, so cool and so smouldering, so miraculously enigmatic? Watching her every move and expression is a constant pleasure for me at the ballet and I hope I never solve the mystery of Janie Taylor's appeal. She and Sebastien Marcovici seemed to be dancing in their own private world and we are permitted to eavesdrop. I was swept away by ther poetry.
Erica Pereira's dancing in the Scherzo was yet another source of joy tonight; hair and chiffon swirling, the ballerina seemed to revel in the speed and flourish of the choreography as she and her partner, Daniel Ulbricht, leapt and spun around the space like a pair of exotic birds. There was a perilous moment when Daniel collided with one of the corps girls but no one fell and the music swept on to the final moment when Erica and Daniel fly offstage in opposite diections.
At last the ballroom takes on the full classic formality of THEME AND VARIATIONS. In their brilliant costumes, the corps take the stage as Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette set forth the theme. In the variations that follow, Megan and Andrew treat us to a feast of balletic delights in which their virtuosity and youthful regality pay high dividends. Megan unfurls her whirlwind pirouettes with complete charm, while Andrew, in a series of flashing air turns, dazzled the crowd.
Four of the Company's glamour girls - Amanda Hankes, Gwyneth Muller, Brittany Pollack and Mary Elizabeth Sell - danced their demi-roles like princeses, each with a smile to captivate. Their cavaliers - Cameron Dieck, David Prottas, Christian Twozyanski and Allen Peiffer - looked elegant and spiffy. I found myself watching Kristen Segin in the corps quite a bit tonight and liking what I saw. And young Aaron Sanz already looks like a potential prince. There are new faces I haven't put names to as yet, but that will come in the days ahead.
SWAN LAKE: Kowroski, *T. Angle, *Laracey, Lowery, *J. Peck
ALLEGRO BRILLANTE: T. Peck, Ramasar
TSCHAIKOVSKY SUITE NO. 3: ELEGIE: Reichlen, la Cour; WALTZ: Taylor, Marcovici; SCHERZO: Pereira, Ulbricht; THEME & VARIATIONS: M. Fairchild, Veyette