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Comments

perky

Thanks for posting that interview Phillip. I've always enjoyed watching Jennifer dance. She brought joy and yes "light" to the stage whenever she graced it with her presence. Good luck on her future endeavors. I think she would make a fantastic teacher!

Philip

Hi Perky, it's nice to hear from you - I hope your summer is going well. It is so sad that Jennifer's career came up against a serious injury; it really is an occupation fraught with danger.

Laura

I also find it interesting that Jennifer mentions how the company had changed completely in the 2 short years she was out. So much of the world of ballet is LUCK. Being in the right place at the right time and getting to prove yourself. I feel there are many dancers who didn't get the promotion simply because luck wasn't on their side. It's harsh. You are out of it for 2 years and before you know it, everybody has moved up ahead of you...

Philip

You are right, Laura...luck is such a crucial element...and mainly in being lucky enough not to get an injury which keeps you out for any length of time.

kathy

That Froman photo is so amazing! What an excitement and energy captured.
And yes, injury has the power to detour a career. I remember watching "Scotch Symphony" (has to be 30 years or so ago) and seeing Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux carried off the stage. That was his final performance.
Sometimes, you never see it coming.

Philip

Injuries during a performance are really upsetting; I remember watching both Nikolaj Hubbe and Robert Tewsley hobbling offstage mid-ballet. Fortunately, they both eventually recovered.

Laura

Yikes - I have never seen anybody carried off stage before! Well, Jennifer Tinsley-Williams seems like a smart and lovely woman and I wish her all the best. It was wonderful watching her these past years!

MidsummerMagic

We are always very honored when a dancer chooses to mark their retirement from NYCB here at SPAC. It doesn't happen all that often, but some memorable final performances are:

Alexandra Ansanelli weeping at the conclusion of Harlequinade, in an unannounced departure from NYCB. Even though no information had been released, it was obvious to all that this was a farewell.

James Fayette, so reliable and so self-effacing, never one to grab the spotlight--in the Intermezzo of Brahms/Schoenberg with his gorgeous wife, during a thunder and lightning storm and power blackout on a Thursday matinee in 2005. The gods were telling us they did not want James to go!

Kathleen Tracey's family members as attendants in the final tableau of Firebird, where she danced her final performance as the Princess.

Local favorite Patricia McBride making her last SPAC appearance at a Gala in the 80s. Even though she had a farewell at NYST later that year, we felt that her SPAC performance WAS her own choice for celebration of her fabulous career, and it surely was ours!

Jennifer Tinsley-Williams is a lovely person and a gifted dancer. We have not seen her often enough and now she is moving on. She will be missed--and I am grateful to her that she has chosen our place to mark her accomplishments.

MidsummerMagic

Thursday morning. 3 more days, 5 more performances.

Last night was one of those magical nights for the true devotees. It poured rain all day, the lawn was a soggy mess, and it rained on and off all evening too. It was a small audience who more than made up for their size with enthusiasm. Daniel Ulbricht was not dancing, nor is he scheduled all week (!), so the hooting and hollering mentioned by Deborah was absent and was replaced by sincere prolonged applause and bravos.

In her brief curtain speech Marcia White, excecutive director of SPAC dedicated the evening to "You, the true ballet lovers, who would come out on a night like this" and the audience roared its approval. I was so proud to be there, and to witness an incredible debut and a beautifully danced, varied program.

I've now seen the Ratmansky ballet three times, and each time I see and appreciate more. This is the genius of great art: a Mozart opera, a Monet painting, a Shakespeare play--with each viewing you gain more insight. The mark of mediocrity is that you see and appreciate LESS with each experience.

Not that I am putting Ratmansky in that league-- YET--but as with the great Balanchine works, each time I saw DSCH I saw more structure, more order, more sheer beauty.. each time I focused on one of the three movements, and was amply rewarded. This ballet appears to be a keeper, and the dancers seem to love working with him--so more, more, more!

Last night was the perfect setting for Opus 19. Even though I would much rather see throngs on the lawn and a full theater, the small audience and horrible weather conditions created an intimacy that is rare in that cavernous place (5000+ seats). Perfect for this quiet, introspective, haunting ballet.

Robbie--bravo bravo bravo. He reached into his soul and gave us such a gift. He is so young and is being given so many opportunities at this time, and it was obvious that he really worked on this one. And Janie, what a pleasure to see her in an extended role (we've only had her in Faun this season, and not at all for so many).

The night ended with a rousing Western Symphony. Must single out Tess in the Rondo where her incredible extension is perfect and her fouette sequence turned on a dime. Jennifer Tinsley-Williams will reprise her role in 1st movement on Saturday afternoon, and will then bid farewell. So missed for so long, we never did see enough of this gracious and generous dancer. Albert and Sterling have perfected the adagio. Note to NYCB: I want to see that 3rd movement restored!

Thank you NYCB dancers and musicians for your commitment to your art and to us--thank you for a magnificent performance under adverse conditions-- don't leave us so soon! You just got here!!

Grove readers: SPAC is unlike any other place in the world. You really need to have this experience.

Philip

It sounds like a really special evening, and especially to read about Janie & Rob in OPUS 19.

It's too bad that Alexei Ratmansky could not accept NYCB's offer to become their resident choreographer but at least he had a valid excuse: he's too busy!

Sara P.

Hi Midsummer! Thanks for the great review...I am looking forward to Opus tonight...and to finally see Phillip's Faye!

If anyone is interested in attending Friday night...let me know!

Deborah

Thank you so much for this wonderful
review, Midsummer! I checked first thing hoping that you'd write something about last night. As for Ratmansky, I heard Peter and Misha (yeah, we're all old buddies. Kidding!) -- but Peter does sit right behind me and is very nice, as I've mentioned before -- talking before a performance late this spring. Misha did say that he thinks
Ratmansky will reconsider the resident choreographer appointment as soon as his schedule clear. I hope so!

Kabby

Delurking, just to add that I second everything Midsummer says. I came close to not going after my street flooded yesterday evening, but am so grateful we sloshed it out to be part of such a special night. That stage can be alternately slick and sticky under those conditions, and I can't give enough credit to the dancers for their wonderful performances.

It was my second time seeing DSCH, and it's true that what at first may seem a bit chaotic, sorts itself out upon repeated viewings. I especially love Wendy and Ben in this, and the corps is just phenomenal. The dancing seems so crisp and fresh -- it's truly uplifting. And Robbie Fairchild was just beautiful in Opus. He commanded the stage and emoted so perfectly. Really impressive -- I look forward to it again tonight. Western Symphony, as always, was just plain fun! (And then, out to the parking lot amid the thunder, lightening and puddles!)

I hope these last performances here at SPAC will see few empty seats and full lawns, but will remember our intimate evening of ballet in the storm as a special highlight of summer '08.

Philip

Hi Kabby, and thank you for de -lurking! It's interesting how many people both in NYC and at SPAC found themselves enjoying the Ratmansky more and more each time they've seen it. I had the same experience with his RUSSIAN SEASONS: thought it was pleasant at first but then came to regard it as a veritable masterpiece.

MidsummerMagic

A large matinee audience for another SPACtacular program. Mother Nature cooperated--for the most part--the rains ended in time for the crowd to get seated and held off until halfway through Western Symphony. A brief shower ended in time for everyone to stay dry as they exited.

Brahms/Handel looks fine in the afternoon. We're always concerned about the lighting in an outdoor venue, but the colors are so vibrant and beautiful that no amount of daylight can wash them out. After B/H (curtain raiser), a woman mentioned to me that she had never looked in the program to check the costume designer before.. Oscar de la Renta, of course! The design is stunning.

Watching today, I was struck by the perpetual motion in this ballet--no one is ever static. I saw the colors of the ocean in the costumes, I saw the waves in the cartwheels, handsprings and lifts, and I saw the dancers treading water. Perhaps it was all the rain that we have endured in the past few days, but B/H looked like nothing so much as an udulating, under (and above) water scene. I don't always love it--but today I did.

Baiser was the middle ballet. Megan Fairchild absolutely owns this role. I don't remember seeing Baiser at SPAC since the days of Patricia McBride and Helgi Tommasson, and what so welcome back. This ballet, like the divertissment in Midsummer (my all time favorite ballet for SPAC on a Midsummer evening)is pure dance.

And what a season for Faye! Crystalline as a demi in Baiser, a vivacious, if somewhat psychotic Coquette, an innocent and lovely Maria, and prominent roles in the corps of just about everything. Good call, Wei!

Last night brought an enormous crowd, over 4,000! So welcome! Come again! It was so busy I barely had a chance to chat with Sara (from this board), so please look for me again tonight, and I will do the same.

Repeats of Baiser and Opus were wonderful--again I want to praise Robbie for taking quiet command of the stage, and Janie whose feet barely touch the ground.

The huge audience adored WSS--and why not? I'm so proud of these dancers who expose themselves with voice as well as movement, and who draw such vibrant characters that you see the entire play in just over half an hour. Special mention to Jenifer Ringer (welcome back!), who is the perfect Anita. May she do this role forever!

Sara P.

Midsummer...It was great to meet you yesterday! What a crowd! I'm sure the dancers appreciated it!

I really enjoyed Baiser... but I have to say that Opus truly stood out for me. Robert Fairchild has such a sweetness about him...yet such strength when he dances...and Janie Taylor was simply breathtaking!

And what a night for Faye! I couldn't take my eyes off of her...in addition to all of her soloist roles last night...she was in the corps of Opus...and really stood out for her artistry there as well!

We had great seats last night..and really got to see the personalities of the dancers while they were up there...especially in WSS! I love Justin Peck and Gwyneth Muller...what actors those two are! And Jenifer Ringer did a fabulous Anita...it was good to see her again on stage! Cool was also a highlight for me...the men were fantastic!

Midsummer...I will be there tonight- I'll take a look for you!


Philip

It's nice to read about the big, enthusiastic audience..and the effect that OPUS 19 is having. It's my favorite Robbins ballet. Wei will be happy to read about Faye's successes!

Deborah

How great about the big audiences yesterday (4000. Wow!). Thanks for the great reports MidSummer and Sara.
Justin Peck sat in the audience last weekend
(after he performed) to watch West Side Story Suite. I didn't realize it, until a few days ago, that he was going to be doing Bernado this week too (since Jock retired only Amar has done it). How fun!

MidsummerMagic

I can't believe I forgot to mention Justin. He was wonderful (as was Amar).

MidsummerMagic

And so it ends. Jennifer Tinsley's final performance on Saturday afternoon was bittersweet. This beautiful dancer didn't have the opportunities that she deserved--for whatever reason. Coming in front of the SPAC curtain for a solo bow was obviously an emotional moment for her and the audience rewarded her with a large ovation.

Previously the company and brilliant pianist Cameron Grant were give a standing ovation for Goldberg. This was an odd programming choice for a matinee--neither the very old nor the very young (target matinee audience) had the patience for it. Goldberg requires repeat viewings and above all, patience-- and SPAC's outdoor setting provides too many distractions. I applaud the courage in programming Goldberg for SPAC, but am not sure it really worked.

And then the evening. It was terrible--oh not the company--they were wonderful. Mother Nature did not cooperate. Hours of lightning (including a rumored strike within the park, but no injuries), torrential rains, threats of power outages, and a large crowd (hooray for that!) combined for a very hectic and difficult night. And talk about bittersweet!

I'll post a season wrap-up within the next couple of days!

Philip

Thank you, Midsummer...looking forward to your wrap-up! I noticed that Rachel Rutherford was replaced in her scheduled SPAC performances. Did you hear anything about her being injured?

Deborah

Midsummer -- Thanks for this recap! Looking forward to the post season
wrap-up. I love that you took note of Cameron Grant -- I think he's a treasure.
I do wish Jennifer was able to say goodbye at the NYST too.With the exception of Tom Gold (who should have been a principal, and surely would have been if he had joined the company more recently. There are lots of shorter male principals now) very few
soloists get a chance to retire in a "big" way. I truly hope that we see some promotions in the next couple of years of our favorite soloists (besides Tyler and Robbie who will be promoted. I adore them both). I also hope that we see more leading roles for Sean Suozzi who, along with Craig Hall (whom we hardly saw this year!) and Amar, are personal favorites of mine. Notice I'm not mentioning Adrian this time because
this man must be promoted to a soloist asap (oops, I mentioned him!).
As for our women soloists -- I truly hope that Rachel gets a shot (Tess is also a sure bet get promoted). I also must say that I truly enjoyed Savannah this year, especially in her performances at SPAC. I also think Rebecca Krohn is lovely. Okay, I admit it -- I just love them all!

Philip

Sara sent this 'final' report:

On Thursday night I saw (from the front row - it was a bit too close
for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it!) BAISER DE LA FEE, OPUS 19/THE
DREAMER and WEST SIDE STORY...simply fantastic: OPUS 19 making the
largest impression on me!

Friday night brought the BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG, ROCOCO VARIATIONS and
BRAHMS/HANDEL all completely new to me! Right before this program,
3 members of the orchestra held a chamber music (Beethoven) concert
in the park near the amphitheater...wonderful (I will try to get their names - 2 clarinets and an Oboe).

BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG I thought was lovely...a beautiful big ballet (with moments that brought me back to Waltz of the Flowers for some reason!) ROCOCO VARIATIONS was next - my first Wheeldon - and I really really really wanted to like it; I loved moments (the second Pas stuck out for me) and the dancers were wonderful (Hyltin, Villalobos, Mearns and Danchig-Waring) but it just seemed a bit flat for me? I would love to give it another chance, maybe it was the excitement of waiting for the next piece, BRAHMS/HANDELl (and
Wendy dancing - who I got to see warm up in the studios with Philip
Neal during the intermission, I think I have to get a membership to
SPAC so I can check out rehearsals...I love watching the preparation) that caused it to drag for me? I loved BRAHMS/HANDEL: a complete highlight for the season for me! The principals (Whelan,
Veyette, Bouder and Neal) and the entire corps were
fantastic! I love the off-beat energy of this piece and the clearly-Tharp moments mixed in with the Robbins. There were some cute tongue-in-cheek moments in the ballet that reminded me of that
Broadway song, "Anything you can do I can do
better:...I remember one specifically with Wendy and
Andrew, think it was their first appearance together in the ballet. Just a very interesting and exciting piece!

On Saturday afternoon I saw GOLDBERG VARIATIONS and WESTERN SYMPHONY
(great seats in third row center...except for this guy in the front
row who had the biggest head and hair I have ever seen blocking my
view of center stage! Yikes!!) I'll start with
WESTERN: Jennifer Tinsley-Williams was beautiful...she looked like
she was really enjoying herself and relishing in the moment. Which must have been hard because Nilas was her partner. Now, I had the biggest crush on Nilas growing up...loved loved loved him! But what
happened to him?! He had some great character but his dancing...left something to be desired for me. This was not the Apollo I remembered! Sigh. OK...the cast also included the always fabulous Sterling partnered by another one of my favorites Albert Evans, and the amazing Teresa Reichlen partnered by Charles Askegard. And the corps simply fabulous! I think the daughter of the
woman who posted on your board was dancing and she was terrific...wonderful stage presence!

Now for GOLDBERG: I do have to say that this was probably not the
best choice for a matinee usually geared for children and seniors (I
attended with a 5 year old who fell asleep after 30 minutes of twitching!) But that aside I loved it! I want to see it over
again (I think with an espresso in my hand this time!). It felt a little like ballet class for me in the beginning - maybe it was because of the simple piano or the clean movements? Standouts for
me were Wendy (of course!), Abi Stafford and the duo of Andrew Veyette and Adam Hendrickson! Those two were wonderful! I found
some of the choreography to be awkward and uncomfortable but I think I will reserve judgment until I see it again, which I will!

Other than a brief spotting of Justin Peck at breakfast on Sunday (Beverly's - you have to try it if you are in Saratoga!) no more dancer spottings.

I just wanted to thank you Philip for getting me back into ballet and getting in touch with people in the area who appreciate and love it as much as I do! I'm even hoping to keep up a ballet class schedule and get back into shape and enjoy it much more this time around!

I look forward to reading your blog...and hope to meet you when I am
in NY. I know Rhona said there will be a trip from Saratoga to the
Wheeldon performances in October!

Philip

Sara, I am so happy to read that you are feeling inspired by the ballet this summer. I had been thinking of taking adult-beginner classes again but at the moment it is not in my budget!

I hope you can come for the Wheeldon/MORPHOSES season and DEFINITELY for something at NYCB this Winter. We will arrange a get-together...and you will meet my fellow dance-bloggers, too.

Deborah, it is funny how short dancers have seemed to be taking over the Company lately!

Deborah

Great post, Sara!. I wish you could see Wendy in "After The Rain" (Wheeldon).
Morphoses isn't doing it this fall (they did it last fall) but NYCB is doing it in Paris in Sept. Maybe they'll do it in the Winter Season too. I was at opening night when Wendy did it with with Jock. I literally couldn't get out of my seat after it was over. It was that stunning. Wendy now does it with either Sebastien or Craig-- both wonderful (but not "my" Jock). Do try to come to Morphoses if you can in the fall. Half the dancers (literally) are NYCB's, and the program looks great.
You are so right about the short dancers, Philip. One of the great things about Tom Gold was that even though he was a soloist, he was loved as much a as the principals. Remember Gen
Haruchi (I'm butchering his last name). He was the first short principal I ever saw at NYCB. What a wonderful dancer.

Bob

Deborah, Gen Horiuchi was indeed an amazing dancer. I remember the first time I saw him - at his SAB Workshop Performance - and he brought the house down. He continued to be quite spectacular at NYCB, but like so many other short male dancers at NYCB (and other companies as well), he was very limited in his roles. That's probably why he left NYCB while he was still in his prime.

Sara P.

I've read so much about the Wendy/Jock partnership in that piece...I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been to see it live!

Philip- I will definately make every effort to see Morphoses this fall...and to swing by this winter too! Looking forward to meeting you then!!

Philip

I hope the Jock Soto documentary, WATER FLOWING TOGETHER, will be released on DVD one of these days.

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