Saturday evening February 23, 2013 - This was a triumphant evening all round and a grand finale for my NYCB Winter season. As the evening unfolded I found myself regretting all the more the fact that I hadn't been able to see all the BEAUTY casts this Winter. Practicality had prevailed, and now I wish it hadn't.
Clothilde Otranto and the NYCB orchestra gave a very full-bodied and generally rather speedy rendition of this tremendous score; in the Vision Scene - a highlight in an evening of very high lights - the players spun out the romance-drenched melodies will special lushness. Were there a couple of bad notes along the way? Yes. Did it matter? No. What did Beethoven have to say about this? "To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable."
From beginning to end, the tireless dancers of the NYCB corps gave and gave of themselves; with the roster seemingly at an all-time low count and with lots of SAB dancers pressed into service to fill out the ballet's big ensemble passages, our dancers were doubling or tripling roles in this production and if they were fatigued or harried, you'd never know it. A special word of praise for the radiant octets of Lilac Fairy attendants and Maids-of-Honor. In the Vision Scene, the beauteous bevy of ballerinas wove their patterns gracefully while the Prince fell in love with Aurora.
I fell in love with her, too: Ashley Bouder was on spectacular form tonight, dancing with generous perfection. Her perfomance was laced with wondrous balances and a zillion impeccable pirouettes, but then she's always been a technical marvel. What induced raptures tonight was her portrayal of Aurora, for she has softened and deepened her interpretation since she first tackled the role. Tonight her acting and expressions were every bit as fascinating as her brilliant dancing. She had a slightly different 'greeting' for each suitor in the Rose Adagio, and in her birthday variation she ideally caught the spirit of a young woman on the brink of romance. Her Vision Scene was a masterpiece of hope and tenderness - her dancing here so velvety - and then at the end of the ballet she transformed flawlessly from princess to queen. With her trademark style, Ashley lingered on her balances and sustained her port de bras one moment, then moved impetuously forward the next. Her Rose Adagio was a special triumph, and if she'd danced it at ABT rather than NYCB, she'd still be taking curtain calls. And her solo in the Vision Scene was simply spectacular. This was a revelatory Bouder evening, a signal meshing of technique and artistry.
Andrew Veyette's Prince was not just a perfect partner for his ballerina but a star performance in its own right. A handsome dancer with no affectations in his acting, Andrew seemed cool and rigid as he dismissed the Countess's advances but once he was alone, his true nature began to manifest itself. When the Lilac Fairy offers him a cure for his lonely heart, Andrew turns from unhappy hunter to smitten romantic in the twinkling of an eye. His partnering is astute and his dancing space-filling, his high-velocity air turns and cat-like landings emblematic of his technical assurance. Andrew and Ashley whipped up the audience's enthusiasm with their grand partnership in the Wedding pas de deux.
Radiating beauty and goodness, Janie Taylor was a dream of a Lilac Fairy. Her calm handling of the 'Carabosse crisis' and her gentle guidance of the newly-met Aurora and Prince in the Vision Scene were high points of her interpretation. Her dancing was serene, her persona a spell-binding mixture of mystery, allure and grace. She's one of a kind, and I adore her.
Ballerina beauty abounded tonight, with a glamorous line-up of fairies in the prologue, including three of our newly-promoted soloists: Megan LeCrone, Lauren King, and Brittany Pollack. Gwyneth Muller's 'finger-fairy' was danced on the grand scale, and Lydia Wellington as Generosity was simply breath-taking. Christian Tworzyanski as the Lilac Fairy's cavalier gave a text-book lesson in partnering and stagecraft.
Jenifer Ringer repeated her gleefully evil Carabosse and Marika Anderson's Queen was a gem of a characterization, opposite the King of Justin Peck.
At the wedding, Jared Angle squired Savannah Lowery, Alina Dronova and Erica Pereira through an appealing performance of the Jewel pas de quatre. Kristen Segin and Devin Alberda hissed and scratched with flair in the Cat duet, and Daniel Applebaum was the tall, crafty Wolf. Antonio Carmena, Giovanni Villalobos and Austin Laurent engaged the audience with their bravura dancing and their building of a human tower. Daniel Ulbricht's Bluebird was a masterpiece of high-flying leaps and feathery beats, and his Princess Florine was the delectable Lauren Lovette, just promoted to soloist.
The evening flew by, and Wei and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I really think this production should be given annually: it shows off the Company in its full splendor, and brings in full houses.