Wednesday January 25th, 2017 - I haven't been to a New York City Ballet performance since Jennie Somogyi's farewell in 2015, but I keep running into the dancers and am constantly reminded of how much I miss watching them dance. A few weeks ago, on a whim, I ordered a ticket for tonight's all-Balanchine program, before casting was announced. A domestic surprise - a nice one - called me home early: I missed FOUR TEMPERAMENTS tonight. But I greatly enjoyed seeing ALLEGRO BRILLANTE and the Balanchine SWAN LAKE again.
On entering the theater lobby, I was very happy to see that The Lyre has been restored to a place of honor. Once seated, I watched the musicians warming up while the theater filled slowly. I was not feeling the old sense of anticipation, and I was not sure if my idea of re-connecting with NYCB was making sense: perhaps it's a chapter best left closed?
But then the house lights went down; pianist Susan Walters and conductor Andrew Litton entered the pit for ALLEGRO BRILLANTE and suddenly it felt right to be there. This was my first experience of having Andrew Litton on the podium; the orchestra - apart from a random note or two going astray in SWAN LAKE - played the big Tchaikovsky themes sumptuously. Ms. Walters did a beautiful job with ALLEGRO BRILLANTE; and later in the evening, concertmaster Arturo Delmoni played a ravishing White Swan solo.
Tiler Peck was originally listed for ALLEGRO BRILLANTE, but a pre-curtain announcement informed us that Megan Fairchild would be dancing instead. I was pleased with this announcement, as I'd become quite an admirer of Ms. Fairchild over time; I was curious to see how the Fairchild/Veyette partnership would work under the circumstances, but they are both professionals and carried it off in fine style. Megan's dancing had a lovely lyrical feeling, and I began to realize how very much I have missed her dancing over the past several months.
When the swans made their entry in the Balanchine SWAN LAKE, it really sank in just how long I'd been away: hardly a familiar ballerina in sight. There was a time when I knew every single person in the Company and could scan a large group of corps dancers with my opera glasses and see one friendly face after another. Tonight the girls seemed beautifully anonymous; I wonder who among them might captivate me as Rebecca Krohn and Ashley Laracey had once done, right from their first performances with the Company?
The soloists, Megan LeCrone and Lauren King, both danced very well. Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen created a true sense of poetry and ill-fated romance in their partnership. Russell looks the epitome of a romantic hero: his sense of wonder at finding this fragile creature by the lake, and his desire to protect and cherish her were beautifully expressed. Tess was an elegant Swan Queen, terrified at first and only slowly surrendering to the calming effects of Russell's care. The two long-limbed dancers make a striking couple, and their ardent tenderness mirrored the music ideally. They were rapturously applauded, and called out for an extra bow.
In ALLEGRO BRILLANTE, I was particularly impressed by the dancing of the supporting ensemble of eight dancers; Balanchine gives them plenty to do, and they all looked superb. These are dancers I followed closely back in my days as an NYCB regular, and it was really good to see them all again, looking so attractive and dancing with such assurance and grace: Megan Johnson, Meagan Mann, Gretchen Smith, Lydia Wellington, Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Cameron Dieck, and Aaron Sanz. Watching them, I was keenly aware of what I've been missing.