Whenever Haglund is in a space where he can truthfully say that the oldest thing in the room is also the best thing, he feels validated, like there’s a reason to go on living. And when that oldest thing doesn’t look the least bit dated, is warmly embraced by youngsters who treat it with care and respect, and is uniformly appreciated by everyone else in the space, well, it’s all a good feeling. Haglund just wishes he had called it a night and exited the theater right after Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 so that he could carry all of the warm, fuzzy feelings home with him.
The opening ballet of the evening included gorgeous debuts by Lauren Kingand Rebecca Krohn. Dancing together in the opening moments of Divertimento No. 15, they painted the most interesting contrasts in temperament while blending stylistically: Lauren – warm, engaging, reaching out to the audience with her eyes; Rebecca – cool, slightly remote but alluring at the same time. Their variations were executed with poise, energy, and clarity.
Lauren has danced an increasing number of soloist roles, many which challenge her to upgrade skills that are not necessarily her strong points. Now and then, the back of the knee in arabesque needs more stretch or the torso could bend a little more; but it has been such a pleasure to see Lauren seize all of these opportunities with such confidence. She brings an imaginative aspect to her dancing which is going to make her a marvelous storyteller which she’s finally given the opportunity.
Rebecca’s last couple of seasons have floored just about everyone. She fields the choreography with an uncommon graciousness and elegance, and one sees the music flowing through her body. It all looks effortless from her. She has become a big reason for Haglund to buy tickets.
Other outstanding performances in Divertimento No. 15 included Tiler Peck and Megan Fairchild both of whom had the more technically challenging variations of ballet. Erica Pereira spun gold out of her allegro. The three gentlemen – Allen Peiffer (subbing for Zachary Catazaro), Sebastien Marcovici, and Andrew Scordato – had a lot of partnering to do and managed it well. The corps was tidy and it was a pleasure to see the pairs of ladies each given the opportunity to step out and shine for a few steps.
Following the intermission, After the Rain with its coma-inducing Arvo Part score and its “I’ve truly forgotten the ballet vocabulary but I know how to exploit women’s bodies” choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, received a superb-as-allowable performance from Wendy Whelan, Sara Mearns, Savannah Lowery, Craig Hall, Ask La Cour, and Christian Tworzyanski. Savannah and Christian were marking their debuts in this ballet, and they were fantastic: she, looking stunning in the sheer costume while wielding around those long legs, and he, demonstrating awesome partnering skills of this very statuesque lady.
Finally we got to Glass Pieces which ended the evening. It would look a lot less dated if they updated the costumes. Someone had the courage to stop making the soloist women wear those stupid headbands left over from Hair, but they need to eliminate the thick Lycra unitards with the obnoxious shine. They could update the women’s skirts to streamline them a bit more. They would still look pedestrian as they are supposed to, but updated pedestrian.
Can’t complain about the dancing, though. The corps brought the energy to the piece making the final Akhnaten section the highlight – Justin Peck, in particular, was eye-catching. Maria Kowroski and Sebastien Marcovici performed the lovely PdD in the Facades section.
Divertimento No. 15 was created in 1956. Twenty-seven years later, Glass Pieces was choreographed, and 22 years after that After the Rain drizzled into town. This is not progression. However, we can be thankful that Divertimento No. 15 continues to bloom with life thanks to the love, care, and respect with which the company’s dancers handle this masterpiece.
Haglund bestows this beautiful golden Alexander McQueen Pump Bump Award on the entire cast of Divertimento No. 15 for another golden performance:
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