That was the chant from the NYCB Fourth Ring last night after Sara Mearns lured Sean Suozzi to his destruction in their formidable debuts as the Prodigal Son and Siren. Hey, Haglund just reports what he hears; he almost never makes this stuff up. The acuity of Mearns’ interpretation and the acuity of her musical accents made this one of the most enjoyable performances of this masterpiece that Haglund can remember seeing. Sometimes in the past, performances inProdigal Son have had more emphasis on the iconic poses and images while the actual movement has suffered. Last night Mearns dispatched the dance with authority that brought clarity to the Siren’s ferocious sensuality, and her iconic poses punctuated her movement with intensity. When the fingers of her hand spread behind her head as she finished wrapping her limbs around the Prodigal Son, the Siren looked like part cobra, part goddess.
Sean Suozzi also made a very effective showing in his debut. His dancing was strong, although careful and tidy in places where more emotional intensity was expected. The generous mop of curls that covered Suozzi forehead sometimes made it difficult to see the expression in his face. He is a bit taller than the current crop of Prodigal Sons, and his size may have made projecting vulnerability more of a challenge. But last night was a very good start for Suozzi, and Haglund looks forward to watching his performance develop.
Last night’s program opened with Balanchine’s La Source to beautiful music by Delibes. Ashley Bouder and Ana Sophia Scheller personified elegance in this lovely piece. Haglund disagrees with the turned up noses who sniff at La Source as being insignificant. It has fewer Balanchine cliches than we usually see, and Ms. Bouder and Ms. Scheller gave the choreography an elegant reading with refinement that wasn’t exactly characteristic of NYCB back in the mid-sixties when La Source was made. By contrast, the corps of eight ladies couldn’t have looked more haphazard and student-ish . Some looked like they were trying to be caricatures of everything that is wrong with the SAB product.
Andrew Veyette was the sole male dancer in La Source and did not have a bad performance at all. However, he struggles with elegance and refinement while over-emphasizing the energy and effort that he puts into his technique. Case in point: glissade, assemble. His glissade is just as large and emphatic as the assemble. How is the audience supposed to know which step to applaud if both are equally emphasized? Gosh, what if the audience made an embarrassing mistake and started applauding and hooting for the glissade instead of waiting for that all-important assemble? It could happen. The biggest improvement that Veyette could make in his performance would be to stop throwing his head up into the air while focusing his eyes on the floor or down at the audience. He really is able to do most everything required of him; it’s just that his priorities aren’t what’s best for his own dancing.
Tiler Peck, Joaquin De Luz, and Adam Hendrickson brought their energy back into The Magic Flute. This piece is really some of the most appealing choreography that Peter Martins’ has offered us. It’s perfectly suited to Peck’s temperament and lyrical qualities and gives her a chance to show off her impressive technique. The PdDs are truly pretty and one has to wonder what other magic we might have encountered over the years if Martins had not strayed off into another direction with his choreography.
Haglund bestows this snappy cobra Pump Bump Award on Sara Mearns for her awesome debut performance as the Siren: