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Apologies for the delay in this post--no internet until just a few minutes ago.
It's been an incredible 10 days of ballet for me already. Friday June 22 in NYC for Kyra's farewell, Sunday June 24 at the Pillow for Nina, and Monday night, a friend and I decided we couldn't wait for NYCB to open here in Saratoga so we make a quick trip to Lake Placid for the Nilas Martins program. And the real fun began last night and lasts until July 21 with another Pillow trip for the Danes sandwiched in on an off day. Truly an abundance of riches.
I did not find Kyra's farewell sad at all--instead I felt grateful to her for giving us 33 years of magnificence. The entire arc of her career was evident that evening and it was uplifting and joyous.
But on Sunday, seeing Nina's dancers in Mozartiana, I found myself aready missing Kyra.
Not to say that Sunday's Pillow program was not wonderful in its own right, indeed it was.
Monday night in Lake Placid was a lovely appetizer. It is always fun to see familiar dancers in other settings and this is why I believe that everyone who loves NYCB should see them at SPAC as well as at State Theater. Everything looks different in our sylvan setting. So come!
Seeing NYCB dancers who are accustomed to the immense state theater and SPAC stages, try to adapt to a small stage is interesting, and quite a challenge for them. It doesn't always quite come off. I am thrilled that the dancers and Nilas give so freely of their precious free time and was delighted to see them in a chamber setting, but Amar was particularly hampered by the small stage in Valse Fantasie. There was so much more that he could have given if he had the space. Ashley Bouder was as crystalline and lovely as always. What is there that this amazing dancer cannot do? One of the new works, entitled "Edge" to Elliot Carter timpani music was intended as a pas de deux but was performed as a pas de trois, with Megan LeCrone and Miki Orihara from Martha Graham (instead of the cast Sara Mearns), and Ask La Cour, as planned. The title is apt--it is an edgy work, sharp and angular, and I have some difficulty visualizing the lush Sara Mearns in the role. Megan LeCrone has just the right physique and attack for this role, and it was a pleasure to see Miki again--I've seen her with Graham many times.

And then a double treat--to see Megan, a favorite of mine who is really getting some great opportunities now--in the Agon pas de deux. Electrifying!

The small stage again presented some problems with the Tchai pdd, the fish dives in particular. But I must say that Ana Sophia Scheller does beautiful fouttes without moving an inch from her spot and Seth Orza is a wonderfully attentive partner.

Joaquin de Luz didn't fully convince as a Scot in La Sylphide--and he must tone down the grin. The impeccable technique was there, but the grin didn't fit the mood. Katie Morgan is lovely and her softness was just right. More!

The new piece, co-choreographed by Nilas Martins and John Selya is just a hoot. Gina Pazcoguin vamps through it and makes me want to see her as : 1. Strip Tease Girl in Slaughter and 2. Rubies, soloist. Four men (LaCour, Orza, Ramasar and T. Angle) playing DJs (the title is "Carrie Okay") are obviously having a great time. All in all, a great evening.

Opening night of NYCB at SPAC: perfect weather (unlike the rain that is currently falling and will likely keep audience down tonight) and a program of Balanchine masterworks. Highlight was Agon, the 50 year old ballet that looks brand new. Megan LeCrone again, this time in the first pas de trois. She is the perfect choice for the Balanchine leotard ballets- looking forward to seeing her 3rd theme in 4 Ts later in the season. Sean Suozzi (also first pdt) just keeps getting better. No one can completely replace Peter Boal in my heart, but Sean is rapidly growing into that rep and it is a delight to see it happening.

Ashley Bouder replaced Sylve in PC2 and again revealed her versatility and virtuousity. Clear and multi-faceted as crystal.

Another all Balanchine evening in a few hours! I can hardly wait.


Hi MM!

Did Wendy dance in AGON? She was dealing with an injury near the end of the NYC season.


The Albany Times Union (on-line) reports that Nilas Martins has been charged with cocaine possession in Saratoga Springs earlier today. He entered a plea of Not Guilty.

Normally this sort of news would not appear on my blog but it's kind of difficult to ignore something like this once it appears in the mainstream press.

Drug use in the dance world is nothing new; remember Gelsey Kirkland in her book talking about the black pill Mr. B gave her before going onstage?

It's a complex issue; I always find it ironic that in this country booze is considered an essential component of life for millions of people to varying degrees. Drinking isn't just socially acceptable, it is practically de rigeur. If you say "I don't drink" people look at you like you're a misfit. Booze is big business but one joint or one snort and you're in trouble.


Does he need an attorney?


I hope he's got one!

From what I have heard, Charles Askegard replaced Nilas as Apollo this evening.


Good morning. Last night's rain didn't halt the post-performance fireworks, but the atmosphere in the theater was subdued. Yesterday was not the very best day ever for those of us in Saratoga who love NYCB and want to keep our special relationship alive and thriving. But the performance went on, and we all shall as well.

The story is all over our local media today. I plead for privacy for Nilas Martins and an opportunity for the legal system to deal appopriately and for him to have a chance to receive whatever help he needs.

If people want to be supportive of NYCB right now, the best way to do so is to come to SPAC to see them perform. SPAC is making sincere efforts to build audience--family nights, singles nights, member incentives, newcomer nights. We survived an effort to destroy our summer mainstay several years ago. But that doesn't mean that we can relax. If you've been hesitating to come to SPAC, hesitate no more. See you there.

Charles Askegard did indeed dance Apollo last evening. He comported himself with dignity in a role that is, at the very least, not a familiar one for him. Has anyone seen him in this role before? I had not, but hope that he will be given opportunities to develop, just as Apollo himself grows and develops. It was Maria K who truly saved the day with a Terp that was elegant and serene. She took time with every step and every position. A beautifully articulated, clear, radiant performance.

Curtain raiser Raymonda brought five wonderful soloists in the variations section. I must single out Sara Mearns. I confess I didn't initially see the potential. How fortunate we are to watch this dancer grow exponetially with each performance.

Ashley Bouder in Stars-- ahhhhhhh. She clearly loves this role--the grin is genuine..."see what I can do! watch me do MORE". It was great to see Stephen Hanna back on our stage and Gwyneth Muller was wonderful in the rifle regiment. Daniel Ulbricht gives everything he has in every single performance, and then gives more. Katie Morgan is SO beautiful and has such gorgeous lyrical qualities--she needs to sharpen her attack in some roles, such as 1st regiment. A promising debut.

Saratoga is all about giving opportunities and trying dancers out--and we like it that way. I feel honored to be part of the process.


So far the Nilas incident story appears to be a 'local' story.

It's good to hear that Sara Mearns was dancing in RAYMONDA; according to Miki Orihara's story at The Winger, Sara had pulled out of EDGE at Lake Placid due to injury.

Good to hear about Stephen Hanna; he, Ask, Jared, Ben and Philip have all had injury issues in the past 2-3 seasons.

Any sign of Janie and Sebastien up there? How about Sylve; I know she missed the first night...any word on her status?


I just got back from Saratoga Springs where I was fortunate enough to see both the July 4th program and the dress rehearsal of R & J the following night. July 4 was the day the news broke in the local papers about Nilas Martins and I imagine it must have been a really difficult day for the dancers. That, plus the fact that it was raining (at times heavily) for most of the day, which certainly held down the size of the crowd that evening. But what happened that evening was quite remarkable - the company rose to the challenge and put on an absolutely inspired program. Raymonda got the evening off to a happy start with sparkling performances by the delectable Megan Fairchild and the dashing Joaquin deLuz - both of them in top form. The soloists were also superb, with special kudos to Abi Stafford, Ana Sophia Scheller, and maybe most of all to Sara Mearns. Then the tension built - the audience already knew about Nilas and the fact that he would not be dancing Apollo that night. The big question was who would replace him - apparently, Nikolai Hubbe was not up at Saratoga. The announcement came at the beginning of the program that it would, in fact, be Charles Askegard. I was surprised because I didn't think he had ever danced the role before (but then who among the curent men in the company had?) The audience held its collective breath. But lo and behold, it turned out to be one of the best performances of Apollo in recent years. When the curtain rose, Askegard did not immediately strike one as an Apollo, but he grew into the role before our very eyes and just kept getting better and better as the ballet progressed. By the end of the ballet, he WAS Apollo and the audience let him know it with a huge ovation, several bravos and three curtain calls. The three muses also rose to the occasion, supporting him brilliantly with strong performances by Jennie Somogyi and RAchel Rutherford and a truly magnificent performance by the heavenly Maria Kowroski. Jennie and RAchel danced so well that it was hard for anyone in the audience who had not seen this ballet before to understand how Apollo could possibly "reject" them - until, of course, Maria's Terpsichore took the stage.
The evening came to a rousing finale with, appropriately enough, Stars & Stripes. Another boffo performance! Kathryn Morgan made a marvelous debut as the leader of the first regiment - her clarity, musicality, energy, personality and beauty won the hearts of the audience - they loved her! Gwyneth Muller had the unenviable position, as leader of the second regiment, to be dancing between Katie Morgan and the hearthrob of the many teenage and pre-
teenage girls in the audience - Danny Ulbricht, who was sensational as always as leader of the men's regiment and who brought the house down. But Gwyneth acquitted herself quite nicely. How to follow Ulbricht? Well how about bringing out Ashley Bouder as Liberty Bell? What can one say about Ashley Bouder? I mean, even Macauley and Gottlieb (yes, that Gottlieb!) worship her and rightfully so. Liberty Bell is one of her juiciest roles (although one can say that about almost all of her roles these days) and she was simply phenomenal in it. (The crowd went wild with applause) Quite frankly, I am running out of adjectives to describe her dancing. Actually, the big surprise of the ballet for me was the excellent performance given by Stephen Hanna as El CApitan. He was out of action for such a long time that I had forgotten what he is capable of. He really gave a stirring performance opposite Ashley (does she inspire this in her male partners?). The evening ended with a dazzling display of fireworks at SPAC, which reflected perfectly what people had just seen on

Last night (July 5) I saw the dress rehearsal (open to the public at a reduced, fixed price of $25) of R & J and it drew a fairly large crowd. Although Peter Martins explained to the audience before the curtain went up that it was not a regular performance and that there might be interruptions of the action on stage from time to time, in fact the performance moved from beginning to end without any stoppages (there were a few glitches along the way but nothing serious enough to bring things to a halt). Having already seen the ballet three times in New York, i was mainly curious to see how it would hold up and the fact of the matter is that even though I still feel there is not enough dancing in the ballet (the fault mainly of the story and the musical score) I still found it dramatically compelling. There are only two casts at Saratoga - the first cast, with Hyltin, Fairchild, Ulbricht, DeLuz, Carmena and Pazcoguin and the second cast, with Morgan, Orza, Ramasar, Laurent and Abergel. I saw the first cast and what made the greatest impression on me was how much Hyltin and Fairchild had grown in their roles - in both their dancing and their acting - since I saw them in New York. This is the problem with reviewing dancers (especially young dancers) in their very first performances in a role - if the NY critics were reviewing Hyltin and Fairchild now, the notices would be much more glowing than they were at the beginning of the spring season.

I was sorry I had to return home. I would have loved to have seen Ashley Bouder again in Stars & Stripes tomorrow night (July 7) and maybe in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 as well (she already replaced Sofiane Sylve in that ballet earlier in the week).

No sign of Janie in Saratoga - I don't think she is there. When will we ever see her dance again (in the way we remember her)?



How nice that you came up to Saratoga! Next summer I hope you'll return and we'll have a chance to meet.

You write beautifully!

As usual for July I am running late for everything I need to do. But I have tomorrow completely off, so I'll post about R + J then.

thank you for supporting SPAC.


I go up to Saratoga almost every summer for a few nights during NYCB's residency there but my dream is to spend the entire month of July there and go to SPAC every night to see City Ballet perform. I do see the company perform a lot at Lincoln Center but as you said, the "sylvan setting" does contribute to a somewhat different and quite enchanting experience.


Bob, thank you for the detailed review and especially for the remarks on Charles Askegard stepping in as Apollo.


Thanks to all three of you for the summer Saratogo news. Next to you, I am a NYCB slacker fan. Your updates and beautiful writing are greately appreciated!


Have we found out if Charles ever danced Apollo before? Bravo to him that it went so well under such unexpected circumstances.


Romeo + Juliet.

Having read what the NY critics and many friends who had seen the production had to say about it, my expectations were--shall I say-- not high. I'm happy to say that my expectations were exceeded. Now that surely sounds like damning with faint praise, and I suppose to some extent it is--but in truth I have enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

A large part of that is of course the dancers themselves--the raison d'etre for all of this. Both groups who were cast for Saratoga feature many personal favorites and I was delighted to see them have a chance at a big role. I must agree with Joan Acocella though. These dancers deserve better choreography and better production values.

The production: I actually think that the big gray box works. I found it an ingenious method for set changes. My objections to the set lie with the multicolored panels surrounding the box. It is distracting and not in keeping with the period of the piece. Likewise, the splotches of color on the costumes and the lack of cohesion in terms of period trouble me. The bright colors serve as a scorecard, helping those who don't know the company well keep the players straight (Tybalt=canary, Mercutio=purple, etc), but I don't see any other purpose to blur the stage with every color in the crayon box. And the costume for dignifed Prince Albert Evans of Verona was just insulting.

The first act choreography is even more repetitive than other productions, and that is going some. I should add parenthetically that I have yet to find a dance version of R+J that I truly love. My favorites are (hah)West Side Story, and, even though many disgree with me--I find Sean Lavery's too brief pdd very satisfying. Perhaps that is enough for me.

The second act of PM's version does pick up the pace nicely. And in each performance at SPAC, even the first act did become tighter and less tedious.

Ahhhh...but the dancers. So wonderful that I scarcely know where to begin or who to single out for praise.

Sterling and Katie provide such different interpretations of the role and each is glorious. Feisty Sterling, a bit of a brat, provides the clearer development from child to adult. Katie is more compliant initially..but shows a core of steel.

Daniel Ulbricht's Mercutio is also a bratty kid--a mischevious prankster. Andrew Veyette is sneering and arrogant. These contrasts and others make repeat viewings of this ballet worthwhile.

It is great fun to see these dancers have an opportunity to draw characters. But is this type of ballet in keeping with the spirit of Balanchine's New York City Ballet? I suggest it is not. With so many versions of R+J already out there, I don't see this one as a keeper.


Perky: After some digging I did find a reference to Askegard dancing Apollo at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati in 2002. His interesting trio of muses were Amanda McKerrow, Jennie Somogyi & Kathleen Tracey.

I believe ABT's version of APOLLO debuted in 1996 by which time I think Chuck had joined NYCB. What a blessing for City Ballet to have such a dancer on hand: a great partner who is willing and able to step into a major Balanchine role on short notice.

MM, I'm convinced NYCB decided to stage ROMEO as a box office attraction. It worked: it caused quite a stir (not always a positive stir!) here in NYC and sold very well for the two week run. How long it will continue to attract crowds remains to be seen. Peter's SWAN LAKE, equally controversial at its NY premiere, sold extremely well at the most recent revival. It's clear to me that titles like SWAN LAKE and ROMEO & JULIET really mean something to a general audience who have no clue what something like AGON or DANCES AT A GATHERING might be like.

Like you, I find Sean Lavery's distillation really beautiful and enjoyable and I hope it does not leave the repertoire altogether now that they have the full-length. Lavery's R & J is just about all the R & J I will ever need.


PS: I hope we will have the opportunity to see Askegard's Apollo at the NY State Theatre this coming winter. He is one of the best dancing-actors around; his performances in DAVIDSBUNDLERTANZE and as the Death figure in IN MEMORY OF... are really superb.


Agree re: Askegard in DAVIDSBUNDLERTANZE, Philip. I think he's become as moving as Adam Luders was. That final exit as he turns away from Clara and life to walk into the sea... Did you notice that at Kyra's Farewell, he varied that exit? I think he kept his eyes fixed on her all the way. Another special tribute to her, like the many you noticed in that last LIEBESLIEDER.
As for APOLLO, isn't it about time for an under-40 god? Maybe Craig Hall?


Chuck's one of those dancers I think we take for granted. He is so versatile...he can be a prince one minute and the grim reaper the next: his performance in IN MEMORY OF...was so bleak and heartless as he battered Wendy or Miranda into submission. As a cavalier he makes it all look so perfect; I especially recall him partnering Abi in NUTCRACKER a couple of years ago: complete harmony. He's also such a sunny, breezy guy if you've ever had a chance to chat with him.

I think there are several potential Apollos at NYCB, starting with Albert, Sebastien, Philip Neal, Ben, Jon Stafford, Jared, Stephen Hanna, Ask or Craig. Further down the line I could easily imagine Adrian D-W or Tyler Angle in the role.


An interesting list of potential Apollos! What do you think of adding Seth Orza and Andrew Veyette to that list? But I think Al may be on target - right now, my first choice would be Craig Hall.


Andrew Veyette for sure; if Seth Orza does Apollo I guess it will have to be at PNB since he is reportedly making the leap to the West coast this Summer.


Seth Orza? Really? After Peter Martins made him one of his four Romeos and promoted him to soloist? (In addition to R & J - tomorrow night - he is also dancing in Carousel, Four Temperaments and Agon at Saratoga.) He is from the West Coast originally, but still... First Carla, then Miranda...now Seth? At this rate, PNB will soon have to change its name to NYCB West.


I believe that Seth is not only moving to the West coast but also getting married to former NYC Ballet ballerina Sarah Ricard.


Ah, the plot thickens. Well, we all wish him the very best. Is Sarah still dancing?


I'm not sure if Sarah is still dancing; I ran into her after Kyra's farewell and wished her well in her move to the other coast. She is an extremely pretty girl and onstage she has a sort of Dresden-figurine delicacy. I was totally surprised when she left NYC Ballet.


According to Google, Seth and Sarah danced together in Idaho on June 29th.


One final postscript to our discussion of the next Apollo at NYCB. In response to repeated requests from my wife to please throw out some of my old magazines which are really beginning to pile up in my study, I start going through some of them today and came across the Dec. 2006 issue of Dance Magazine, which featured an article on "NYCB's Next Generation: A Fountain of New Talent." The article profiled seven young "upcoming" dancers in the company: Craig Hall, Ana Sophia Scheller, Daniel Ulbricht, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford, Teresa Reichlen and Tiler Peck. In the piece on Craig Hall, the final sentence read: "He hopes one day to dance Apollo, a role never done by a black dancer in City Ballet." So Al really called that one - maybe he should become Craig's agent.

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