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MidsummerMagic

Good Monday morning to all of you. I lost all track of time last week and never managed to post after my brief opening night comments. I am so glad that others picked up the ball and ran with it and hope that more of you will chime in this week.

Visitors, welcome! Isn't this the best place on earth during these three weeks?

I did want to hit a few moments that were the highlights of last week for me:

Daniel Ulbricht's Prodigal. I saw his debut in NYC and was so very proud of him for undertaking this momentous role. And he has grown so much since then--bravo, bravo Daniel. There is no place to hide in this role, your soul is exposed for all the world to see, and you cannot rely on amazing technique and a huge jump to get you through it--although those attributes are needed as well. I can't find the words to express the pain of watching the final scene so I won't try.

Wendy WHELAN (Saratogian, I am shocked) in the Preghiera (and I probably spelled that incorrectly and am too lazy to look it up) of Mozartiana. After so many years of giving us blinding technique, dancing every night and in multiple ballets, thank you for a few moments that were as close to heaven as one can be while still on earth. Thank you for exposing your soul.

Ana Sophia Scheller, first movement Bizet--setting the stage for a brilliant performance by all. She took command from the first instant.

And folks--I just realized that all three of these standout performances were at the same show--Saturday matinee! What a day that was.

That evening brought Jenifer Ringer's very very welcome back, looking GREAT, as the Coquette, and an opportunity to see two of my own corps favorites--Stephanie Zungre and Likolani Brown, featured in the divertissment. TOTALLY satisfying.

Come on up to Saratoga. Everything looks and sounds a bit different here!

Deborah

Thank you so much for this review, Midsummer Magic. I am counting the days until I get there on Friday (for Friday night's and both performances on Sat.). My (adult) step-daughter lives in Saratoga too so it'll be
great to see her. Please know that
I am a terrible snob (really) about misspellings of people's names (it's one of the things I learned as a young publicist -- always make sure to spell people's names correctly!) so I might have gone overboard with my criticism.
Again, thanks for your post!

Deborah

As for Jenifer Ringer: she was at Damian's farewell too. It was nice to see her; she's a very pleasant dancer for many reasons. My fear though is that Rachel Rutherford (who has done a lot of Jenifer's roles -- and better -- in my opinion) is going to lose some of her dance time now.

MidsummerMagic

Deborah, I hope we will have a chance to meet this week. I believe Philip gave you my email address?

I love watching Rachel Rutherford too. However she did not appear here last week although she was scheduled. Injured? I hope not!

I also neglected to mention that Faye Arthurs appeared twice here as the Coquette. I thought she was wonderful--I'm sure Wei wants to know!

Jenifer Ringer has been a favorite of mine for years--and remains so. Watching her makes me happy--I can't explain it any other way!

Sara P.

Hi Midsummer!

I was also at Saturday afternoon's performance! What a treat!

I have to completely echo your sentiments on Daniel Ulbricht's Prodigal Son and Wendy's performance in Mozartiana...I was so moved by both...simply stunning!

I hope Jennifer Ringer performs again in Saratoga....I would love to see her again!

And Deborah..I agree with you about misspelling people's names...I am a SARA not a SARAH! Which over time, I have corrected too many times to count!

Take care and enjoy! I think my next performance will either Tuesday night!

Deborah

Midsummer,
Philip did give me your email address.
I will also give him (to give to you) my cell number, and full name. I do hope we can meet. I'm staying at the Saratoga Arms.
Please don't get me wrong -- I like Jenifer too, but I have other favorites (everything begins and ends with Wendy for me. I'm mentally preparing for the fact that she can't dance forever -- since she's 41, although still incredible).

And Sara (no H!). There was a book reviewer (whom I won't mention) at the Washington Post Book World when I
started out in publicity/PR (29 years ago. Right out of college). Her first name had a tricky spelling. However, if you didn't spell her name right (on packages/letters. This was before email, of course), she would send it back. It taught a bunch of us a good lesson!

Sara P.

Deborah,

My thoughts exactly about Wendy...she is one of the last ballerinas who inspired me as a dance student (Just Darci, Yvonne Borree and Jennifer Ringer are left as Principals). She continues to captivate me everytime I see her...Its like I am that 12 year old all over again!

I'm waiting to see the casting for the 3rd week of the season...I hope I get to see her again before NYCB is gone for the season!

Deborah

Sara -- you must come to NYC to see NYCB. It's not that much of a schlep (three hours), plus Philip has everyone meet at intermission which is such fun! I named my third dog after Wendy (really). l sound like a crazed fan, but I actually work with celebs all the time (in my real work). But there's something about the NYCB, and also Mariano Rivera (I'm a huge Yanks fan -- and Mo is my guy. Luckily I work with a sports agent so I've met Mo). Wendy will also dance for Chris's (Morphoses) company at City Center (in October) in case you can come to NYC then. I'm still not over Jock retiring. Wendy and Jock were "it" for me.

Sara P.

Deborah...I love you! :)

I am a huge Yankee fan too (I am a Posada fan..I know...I know!) Hmmm..I wonder if Wendy follows baseball...

Damian's last Saturday evening performance before his retirement was my first trip to the NYS theater. It was a very easy trip (the worst part was trying to get a cab in the rain after the show)! I vowed to make the trip more often...and I am certainly making it a priority to see Morphoses in October...in all of the pictures of Wendy performing with his company she looks amazing!

The casting for the third week is up now! Wendy is doing double duty on Tuesday evening in Goldberg and Brahms/Handel. I will certainly be there!

Deborah

Sara,
You'll now hate me because I'm a season weekend ticket holder (longtime) and go to a ton of games (most of them). Love Jorgie too, but he's surely going to need surgery at the end of the year. I'm going to the All-Star game tomorrow night. Can't wait! My husband is not big on baseball, or any sport, but my oldest son (24) is a huge Yankee fan. The only downside to NYC -- it's so expensive! (the hotels).
So glad you'll get to see Wendy again!

MidsummerMagic

Sara: please ask Philip how to get in touch with me. I'd like to meet up with you at SPAC. And I'd especially like to tell you about some local group trips to NYC for ballet, opera and theater.

Sara P.

Midsummer..Will do! Looking forward to meeting up!

Sara P.

Oh! And Deborah...have fun at the All Star Game Tonight! *Jealous*Jealous*Jealous*

Philip

Sara sent me a brief comment on the Wednesday evening performance:

"It was a great performance last night...I am now a fan of Ashley Bouder...what a great performer! The men were on last night as well...DeLuz and Ulbricht stand out in my mind from "Fall" (FOUR SEASONS)...as well as the men in MOVES (which I was completely enthralled by)...and THE CONCERT was absolutely laugh-out-loud funny!"

MidsummerMagic

More days have zoomed by, and we are now on the downward slope of our three week residency. If only the winter weeks would fly by this rapidly!

It's been a week of Saratoga premieres, beginning on Tuesday night with Moves. We were curious to see how a "ballet in silence" would play at an outdoor venue where there is a waterfall, a bevy of buzzing insects, always an airplane, a helicopter, a siren, clusters of families on the lawn--in other words it is never silent there. And perhaps that is part of the point--a la John Cage? Where is it ever truly silent?

The audience was most respectful. I expected to hear rustling programs, restlessness, coughing-- and there was remarkably little. I won't say there was universal acclaim, but there was concentration and thoughtful commentary afterwards.

I thought it was beautifully danced by an extraordinary ensemble including Gretchen Smith as a fill-in for Rachel Rutherford. More roles for her please!

The difficulty of dancing this piece cannot be overstated. Not only does the audience not have the music as an anchor, neither do the performers. The dancing is seamless.

The Ratmansky has enjoyed almost universal acclaim here. Confessing here that it wasn't until the second watching (last night) that I "got" this ballet. On first look, I called it a disorganized free-for-all on either end, framing a beautiful second movement. By second time through I could see the structure in the first section. Hopefully I'll see the "light" in the 3rd mvt on Wednesday when it is repeated.

Many of us had seen Grazioso before, including during a SPAC members' rehearsal--this is tour-de-force dancing by all four performers, yesterday afternoon in blistering heat. Bravo.

Rococco Variations, while the dancing was impeccable and there were a few truly lovely moments, doesn't succeed. The choreography is pedestrian and while the score is lovely, there isn't a lot there that is interesting choreographically. The high humidity did no favors to the cello soloist either. All in all, this piece breaks no new ground and is a rather conventional farewell ballet by a choreographer who tore down boundaries. The dancers and the audience deserve better from someone as gifted as Wheeldon.

No matter how many times I see The Concert, I laugh until I cry. The new cast, each and every one of them, is brilliant.

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet provided an outstanding debut: Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild in the sweeping, glorious Intermezzo.

Welcome to DebB. See you this weekend!

Philip

Midsummer, it also took me a repeat viewing to begin to appreciate the Ratmansky CONCERTO DSCH. I'm looking foward to seeing it again. I kind of had the same slow development of interest in RUSSIAN SEASONS - it seemed more and more interesting each time I saw it.

Deborah

Thanks MidsummerMagic. I arrived a few hours ago. I'm at the Saratoga Arms (very pricey but lovely, plus they have wireless Internet). My step-daughter and her longtime boyfriend live here; we had a visit already. Will see them again tomorrow am before the 2pm performance (I will look for you!). I'm going tonight, and despite the incredible heat and humidity (it's this way in NYC too), it should be fun! It's only been a few weeks but I already miss the NYCB! I saw a few dancers walking around town today too,

Philip

Sara earlier today sent me an article announcing that next week's WESTERN SYMPHONY performances will mark the farewell of soloist Jennifer Tinsley-Williams. I'll be including a link to the article in next week's topic.

I'd been hearing that she planned to leave and I wish we had been able to give her a NYC send-off like we did for Tom Gold. By the way, I saw Tom strolling down Broadway yesterday. I was just about to yell: "Hey Tom, why aren't you at Saratoga?" when I remembered.

Philip

Deborah reports on the Friday evening performance:

"It was really fun to see our company in their summer digs at SPAC.
Despite the terrible heat and humidity, our dancers did a fine job.

Standouts: Faye Arthurs and Alina Dronova as the demis in
LE BAISER DE LA FEE (Megan and Joaquin were very good as well);
the entire cast of MOVES -- especially Adrian Danching-Waring
(this man needs to be a soloist!), Jared Angle and Rebecca Krohn ,
Gretchen Smith (in for Rachel Rutherford) and the always excellent
Amar Ramasar. THE FOUR SEASONS didn't quite have the luster it did at the NYST,
however, it's a big ballet and the stage space seems quite a bit
smaller at SPAC which could account for some of it.
The crowd went insane for Danny Ulbricht -- rock star insane
(honestly, it was a little too much) -- but it was Sara Mearns and Philip Neal (Spring),
Ashley Bouder (stunning, as always) and (hooray he's back 100%!)
Benjamin Millepied who were especially excellent. Rebecca Krohn gave
a good performance (replacing Rachel -- who is a personal favorite
so I was sorry she was out) with Amar in Summer.
Sterling Hyltin (lovely), Antonio Carmena and Adam Hendrickson
were fun in "Winter." That said,the audience (strangely) didn't seem
to "get the joke": no real laughs about the girls trying to keep
warm, or when Sterling isn't allowed to join the huddle to keep
warm.

The bugs were flying around both the stage (the dancers, of course,
ignored them) and the audience but you are, afte rall, literally in the woods at SPAC.
I look forward to today's performances."

Susan

Thank you all so much for the reports - it's wonderful to hear about the Saratoga season. And if anyone is lucky enough to see Sara Mearns in Mozartiana, or Taylor & Fairchild in Opus 19, please tell us your thoughts. I'm sooo jealous!

Laura

See! I am not the only one who thinks Adrian Danchig-Waring has been in the Corps too long!

Philip

Deborah sent a brief 'weather report' from the Saturday matinee:

"THE CONCERT" was the last ballet on the program this afternoon. Most of you know it well so you'll recall the part when the dancers come on stage with umbrellas. They put their hands out to feel for rain. Well, right then the skies opened up in Saratoga Springs. The theatre at SPAC is only partially enclosed: the sides are totally open, and the rain was coming down in sheets! (we didn't get rained on). It was perfect timing, and pretty magical moment. Even the dancers had smiles on their faces (although this is the more serious movement in this ballet). How could you not? The rain came on cue!"

Philip

Deborah reports on the Saturday matinee as well as the evening gala:

"Despite the fact that the Saratoga Gala opened with BRAHMS/HANDEL - one of the few Robbins ballets that I truly dislike - the audience was very appreciative of our dancers. It started when Peter introduced Rita Moreno -- the guest chairperson of the gala. Ms. Moreno is in her late 70's, and I swear that she looks at least 20 years younger. This is not hyperbole either: it's the truth. She talked about her audition for 'West Side Story,' and was funny, charming, sassy, smart and even did a few dance steps. What a treat! OPUS 19/THE DREAMER - which I've seen several times this season, and is a favorite - was worth the trip up there just to see Wendy in it (as you know Janie and Robbie will debut in this at Saratoga this week). She was gorgeous in every way. I was also very taken with Gonzalo Garcia who has grown on me all year: this "Opus" performance was excellent. The evening ended with WEST SIDE STORY SUITE (thus the Ms. Moreno connection). I actually love WEST SIDE STORY have seen it way too many times over the years so I'm a little jaded. I don't think it's been performed in Saratoga in a long time because I overheard a lot of people saying they hadn't seen it (ever, or in a long time). It got a huge ovation. Also please note that despite the fact that I'm not a fan of BRAHMS/HANDEL, the dancers did the best job they could have (considering the partial Tharp choreography). Philip Neal was a particularly bright star in this ballet (as he is in so many ballets), along with the always wonderful Ashley. Jared and Sara were hardworking (it was a very hot and humid night) and still looked great. But my eye was constantly drawn to the outstanding demis of Tiler Peck, Adrian Danchig-Waring (who, along with Tyler Angle, Amar Ramasar, and Andrew Veyette were truly outstanding in WEST SUDE STORY SUITE), Ana Sophia Scheller (can we please see her more!?), Tess Reichlen, Jason Fowler (very good with Tess!), and Giovanni Villalobos (I really like him in ROCOCO VARIATIONS in the afternoon performance as well).

Yesterday's matinee performance of BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG deserves a mention because of the dancing. It was bright sunshine, 95 degrees and humid (remember SPAC is only partially enclosed) and yet the company acted like they were at the cool and comfortable NYST. Of special note: Abi and Jonathan, Savannah, Tiler and Robbie (great in the Intermezzo), Yvonne (she still has that old time "ballerina" glamour, and that always makes her lovely to watch) and Ben (terrific!). Finally we had the Tess and Chuck show in the Rondo. Yes, they were that good! Tess would have won a "sexiest woman alive" for that performance (and her dancing was very good as well) and Chuck matched her with good, solid dancing, energy and charisma that could kill. Bravo!"

Thank you, Deborah!

Bob

Concerto DSCH (they have to come up with a better name for it) generated a spontaneous, thundering, lengthy standing ovation on Thursday evening and that response was well-deserved. What an incredible ballet and so brilliantly danced! It's the second time I've seen it and I can't wait to see it again at the State Theater. Grazioso and The Concert also received standing ovations at the Saturday matinee and the rain falling "on cue" was one for the memory books. Grazioso was a revelation to me - it's a terrific ballet and a reminder that Peter Martins doesn't always get the credit he deserves as a choreographer. Juxtaposed on the program with Wheeldon's Rococco Variations, Grazioso emerged as the clear-cut winner!

Philip

I agree: CONCERTO DSCH is not a very memorable title for a fine ballet!

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