The Dancers chose, the Dancers organized, the Dancers gave out gifts and prizes, the Dancers danced, and we all had a good time at the third annual Dancers' Choice evening at NYCB which was presented as a benefit performance for the NYCB Dancers' Emergency Fund.
Dancers Adrian Danchig-Waring and Amanda Hankes were our hosts for the evening. Adrian explained that the theme of this year's Dancers' Choice evening was "the muse" because it permeated the company's history via the relationships between choreographers and the dancers working with them. We also saw a short film created by DancePulp and Drew Jacoby wherein Wendy Whelan taught corps dancer Sara Adams and principal Jared Angle Wheeldon's Liturgy, which would be performed by them that evening.
As mentioned, the Dancers chose the program, but they also chose the casting with an eye toward allowing promising dancers to perform in roles which they might not otherwise see come their ways. So, we got to see a lot of debuts this evening.
The evening's dancing opened with Apollo which included debuts in all four principal roles: Craig Hall as Apollo, Tiler Peck as Terpsichore, Ashly Isaacs as Polyhymnia, and Lauren Lovette as Calliope. Hall seemed to have great potential as an Apollo, but lacked the intensity and confidence that we've come to expect in the role. The role also looked newly learned. The ladies fared a little better and looked more rehearsed, particularly Tiler Peck whose Terpsichore we'll surely see again the next time Apollo is part of the season.
Following the intermission, Sara Adams and Jared Angle debuted in Liturgy. Wendy Whelan must be commended on her coaching, because the dancers moved exquisitely - almost like the piece had been made on them. Sara Adams has some very pretty feet and legs which she wielded articulately. Jared Angle executed the difficult partnering like the master he is.
There was a brief pause before the beginning of an excerpt from Agon. As the applause for Liturgy ended and the dim lights came up in the house, New York Times critic Alastair Maucaulay, who was sitting in his usual seat in the orchestra was overheard by an audience member uttering to his friend next to him "Crap" in reference to Wheeldon's Liturgy. It's more than a little out of place for a critic to be expressing his negative views orally for audience members to hear during the performance evening, particularly utilizing pejoratives or quasi-expletives. Haglund suggests that next season, NYCB post an administrative person in the seat directly in front of Macaulay to monitor his remarks and also take away the complimentary pass for the second seat so that he has no one with whom to share his snide comments.
The excerpt from Agon was performed by Megan LeCrone and Amar Ramasar who was making his debut. Both handled the PdD well, but the excerpt didn't really work standing alone.
A very brief excerpt form Angelin Preljocaj's La Stravaganza was danced by Gretchen Smith (debut) and Robert Fairchild. It didn't really work standing alone, particularly for anyone who may never have seen the whole dance, but it reminded Haglund how much he likes the modern, eclectic choreography and the electronic score. Maybe La Stravaganza will return again soon.
Following the second intermission, there was a raffle to give away signed posters and a chance to hang out during an upcoming NYCB photo shoot followed by dinner at Bar Boulud across the street. This was a fun evening. Haglund could get used to raffles at intermissions, but the tickets would have to be a lot less than $20. A $2 price for a raffle ticket would be just about right and would encourage a higher incidence of participation.
Rubies from Jewels closed the evening. Janie Taylor, Sean Suozzi (debut), and Teresa Reichlen (a late substitute for Sara Mearns) and a corps of four men and eight women danced this very energetically. Haglund is not a Jewels fan, but he could see tonight that Janie Taylor was devouring the choreography like there was no tomorrow. Suozzi kind of didn't have the old Villella agenda in mind. He needed more "chase" in his dancing – that's chase, not Chase. Teresa Reichlen was the authoritative, scowling, long-legged, so-called "tall girl" tonight. It definitely wasn't her first ride at the rodeo. Tess was quite spectacular.
Haglund was happy to attend the Dancers' Choice program and to help support the Emergency Fund. The little packets of picture postcards bearing photos taken by Wendy Whelan and Janie Taylor which were given to each and every audience member, were much appreciated by all.
This stunning Pump Bump Award by Coach with its beautiful Fantasia Heel (only $188/pr) goes to Wendy Whelan for what we hope is the beautiful beginning of a lot of (recorded) passing down of her unique interpretations of roles identified with her for the past 25 years.