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I wasn't there, of course, but perhaps maestro Gergiev's performance wasn't more impressive than maestro Karoui's because maestro Gergiev was not conducting an orchestra known for its virtuosity? A conductor can only do so much with the the forces he's leading. With his own Kirov Orchestra in the pit I suspect results would have sounded quite different.


True, but I did feel that - working with the forces at his disposal - Karoui's FIREBIRD had more mystery and allure than Gergiev's at NYCB. On the other hand, Karoui tends to sing along, which is a big distraction.

I should add that Gergiev's tempi, especially in FIREBIRD, seemed just about ideal.

Bob Arrigon

I was not there Friday night but saw the same program on Sunday. I too find Circus Polka a little strange. Sure, the kids are cute but that ringmaster/whip thing is a little weird and what's the point of the ballet anyway? I suppose Balanchine would have argued that it's an excuse to give some of the SAB kids some performing experience on stage and maybe that's enough.

I share your love of Walpurgisnacht - it's one of those ballets I could watch every week and this was a first-rate performance. Sara Mearns was luscious and danced impeccably and Chuck Askegard was a superb partner. But for me the highlight of the ballet was the performance of Abi Stafford. She looked gorgeous on stage and danced divinely. I think this has been a real break-out season for her. She may not have received as much attention as some of the other ballerinas in the company but she has been outstanding in just about every role she has done this season. With the way she and Sara and Tess (not to mention Rebecca and Tiler and Ana Sophia and Sterling) have been dancing this season, Peter is going to have some very tough decisions regarding which soloists are the next to move into the principal ranks. I thought Ana Sophia and Alina Dronova were also especially strong in their demi-soloist roles in Walpurgisnact.

I agree with you on Jeu de Cartes. Despite very good dancing from Sterling, Ben, Jared and Andrew and despite some commendable choreographic efforts from Peter, the ballet as a whole just does not work. I think the main problem is with the Stravinsky score. It's too repetitious and monotonous and so about halfway through the ballet, you really start to get tired of it. I think Balanchine recognized at some point that his 1930s attempt to choregraph to that score was not successful and Peter should have learned from the master's experience.

Firebird is always a great experience and it was so today as well but there was still some disappointment for me because Ashley did not dance the lead role today. Just before the curtain came up on the first ballet on the program, it was announced over the public address system that the role of the Firebird would be danced today by Tess Reichlen. There was not even an insert in the program so I have to believe that Ashley must have either taken ill this morning or maybe injured herself during warmups. I was surprised that Reichlen was the last minute replacement because I don't recall her ever dancing the role before. I would have expected that Maria Kowroski, who just danced the role very recently, would step in and take over. In any event, Tess Reichlen is a marvelous dancer and she did a very good job in the role but it still wasn't the same as seeing Ashley, whom as you have acknowledged, is a magnificent Firebird. I'm not old enough to have ever seen Maria Tallchief's legendary interpretation of the role but I have seen many, many other Firebirds at City Ballet over the past 30 years and I have to say that I have never seen another ballerina who has danced the role better - no, let me correct myself - I have never seen another ballerina dance the role as well as Ashley Bouder. So yes, I enjoyed Tess Reichlen's Firebird but I couldn't help thinking throughout the performance of what Ashley would be doing with the part.

Is the season really over? How sad. (And I can't get down to Washington, D.C. for Midsummer Night's Dream, either)



I wish I had seen Reichlen's Firebird! For me it is always a treat to see varied interpretations of a given role. Bouder is really exciting in the role and it's one of her best, but Maria K and Sylve each bring a different dimension to it; I could never choose one as being the best. Of the current up-and-comers I think Rebecca Krohn would be an intriguing Firebird - she sure has 'the look'.

A few seasons ago I saw Wendy dance the part; she was fascinating but I don't recall her ever being cast in it again.

Thank you for the report on the final day of the Winter season, Bob.

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