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Bob Arrigon

I was at the same performance tonight (well, at this point, I guess it was last night) and I say amen to all your observations. I thought it was a marvelous program - truly an ideal balance of "tradition and innovation." But as perfect as Wendy is and as much as I love Mozartiana, still the highlight of the evening for me was the Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. I love the score and the choreography and I thought that Sylve, Askegard and Reichlen were all in top form tonight. And as you so astutely observed, what a brilliant job Tiler Peck did with her brief but extraordinarily difficult solo. In Vento really intrigues me. It's the second or third time I've seen it and I find it more fascinating and mesmerizing with each viewing. Bigonzetti's choreography is indeed somewhat derivative of Balanchine and Robbins but at the same quite original too. And could it possibly be danced any better than it was by Maria, Ben and Edwaard. The middle ballet on NYCB repertory programs rarely gets the three or four curtain calls that In Vento received tonight.

On another note, I saw Sterling Hyltin and Jon Stafford in Sleeping Beauty on Sunday and I again concur 100 percent with your comments on them. Contrary to the opinions expressed in the Times review (Claudia LaRocco?)last Saturday, Sterling was a beautiful Aurora. Her dancing displayed not only virtuosity but exquisite musicality. She was both physically and emotionally strong and was truly believable in the role (and yes, I agree - she does remind me at times of Darci). Jon Stafford was a superb partner and acquitted himself very nicely in his solos. Everyone else in Sunday's cast was also fine, with special kudos to the divine Tess Reichlen as The Lilac Fairy and Lauren King and Amar Ramasar as Puss and Boots.

I do have to admit that I was surprised at your review of Ashley Bouder's Aurora, mainly because in my eyes, Ashley is the reigning goddess of the ballerina world. But since I did not see her performance this time around, I am obviously in no position to take issue with you. I could, of course, take note of the fact that the Times reviewer absolutely loved her performance in every respect but since I have already trashed Ms. Larocco for her blindness to the merits of Sterling Hyltin, it would be extremely illogical of me to now turn around and cite her comments in support of my position. So we'll have to wait until the next Sleeping Beauty run to discuss the pros and cons of the Bouder interpretation of Aurora.

Thanks again for your really insightful reviews. YOU should be writing for the Times.


PS Since you recently expressed your appreciation for the dancing of Rebecca Krohn, did you notice that she is cast this coming weekend for leads in both 2 & 3 Part Inventions and I'm Old Fashioned. Talk about being on the fast track.


Thank you for the notes about Sterling's second Aurora!

Do you think that Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #2 would look better in short tutus??

Bouder's dancing was phenomenal at every moment; it was 'poetry' that I didn't get from her...something I got big-time from Sterling, Megan et al.

Krohn is dancing almost every night in the first two weeks of repertory, and danced in almost every BEAUTY. I hope she's taking her vitamins and getting plenty of sleep! A beautiful dancer in every respect...and we've watched her grow up.

Last night's programme and dancing were NYCB at its finest and I look forward to the repeat tonight.

Bob Arrigon

That's a good question you raise about the Tchaikovsky costumes. I actually like the women in the skirts but maybe you're right - maybe they would look even better in the tutus. When he made the change, Balanchine wanted to get away from the "BAllet Imperial" concept so it was natural for the tutus to go but it would be interesting to see Peter experiment with the old look. But would you have to bring all the sets back? Well, not really, you don't actually have much in the way of sets in "Diamonds" and the tutus work very nicely there.

I do understand the point you are making about Ashley - I'm just sorry I didn't get a chance to see her Aurora and judge for myself.

When watching Sleeping Beauty, my one sad thought was reflecting on how much I would have loved to have seen Alexandra Ansanelli in the role, which reminded me in turn of just how much I still miss her. Judging from the recent piece in the Sunday Times, she apparently was a big hit in the role of Aurora at the Royal Ballet during their past season. Alexandra was one of my absolute favorites at NYCB. Do you think that after she has had her fill of story ballets at the Royal Ballet, she will eventually return to City Ballet? I mean, Suzanne Farrell was gone for 5 years and eventually returned. So maybe there's still hope for the return of Alexandra as well.



I was fortunate to see Alexandra's Aurora the last time NYCB gave BEAUTY and it was technically almost perfect...and of course, she is pretty as a picture. My feeling is she will not come back to NYCB, but I sure would love it if she did. When she was at NYCB I met her a few times at Tower and she was adorable; I also liked that she took time to dress up and wear makeup when she was out and about; Alexandra always looked so classy.

I always liked PIANO CONCERTO #2 but after I saw Nina Ananashvili, Macello Gomez and Monique Meunier dance the IMPERIAL version at ABT a few years ago I realized how much more spectacular the choreography looked in short tutus. The ballerina truly becomes a BALLERINA, and the second woman's combinations look really brilliant in a tutu. Last night Sylve did a big supported arabesque front-and-center and her skirt shimmied down her leg exposing her derriere. Not that I have any objections whatsoever to a nice derriere, but you end up looking at that rather than the arabesque. Beyond that, the short tutu 'look' really makes the ballet look extraordinarily 'classic'.

Anyone else want to chime in with an opinion on tutu vs. skirts in IMPERIAL/TPC2?


Hi Philip! For starters, let me just say that though I rarely post here I do read your blog on a regular basis and have the greatest respect for your opinions. Plus you're a fun read!

I'm with you on the tutu vs skirt issue, but I also prefer TPC2 with the full scenery. I saw that Nina-Marcelo-Monique performance you mentioned and it was one of the most extraordinary performances I've ever seen - a very tough act to follow even several years later. I've always had mixed feelings about Sylve but I'm going to see her tonight so we'll see.

I have to disagree with you about the Hyltin & Bouder Auroras. I saw Hyltin's first outing and both of Bouders. I thought Hyltin was very good, but not quite there yet. Her leg's were a bit unruly, her stamina flagged a little, she didn't differentiate Aurora's development enough for me, either in her dancing or her acting. A great debut, but not quite a great Aurora. With Bouder I was prepared for a stunning technical exhibition but was amazed at how fully formed her performance was. Well thought out, theatrical, more "classical" (as opposed to neoclassical) than any of the other NYCB ballerinas I've seen. Since I tend to prefer classical dancing in the classics that's very high praise. I thought the way she expressed the developments in Aurora's character through the nuances of her dancing was exemplary. I'm talking about changes in epaulment, phrasing, attack etc. I think if she had the opportunity to dance this role on a regular basis ( meaning 2-3 times a season, not every few years) she could be one of the great Auroras of her generation.


Susan, thank you for the comments. I have been trying to figure out why I wasn't thoroughly 'sold' on Bouder's Aurora this time out. Because I do like her and admire her a lot. Partly it is a couple of physical things about her that always put me off just a bit and did so more in this very long, exposed role. But I don't want to get into that because that is the way she looks and is built, so it's up to me to adjust, or not.

Sometimes there is a slight feeling of 'look what I just did!' after she finishes something difficult. I can't really hold that against her because she nails almost everything she attempts, and she should feel proud of her accomplishments. I guess I just want a slightly more modest or demure quality in that role.

As I said in writing about her performance, the dancing was extraordinary.
My hope is she will eventually 'speak to me' beyond technique and style, as she did in her Odette/Odile.

Hyltin was pretty impressive for a first-timer, I thought. I liked her somewhat winsome quality and I love her legs!!

Both girls will clearly expand their interpretations with time, provided the piece gets revived periodically. As I imagine it will, considering the sizable crowds it attracted.

Meanwhile, do you think there is anything we could do to get NYCB to give us the BALLET IMPERIAL 'look' again?

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