Haglund is busting curfew during game week to bring you this exclusive briefing on one fine evening at NYCB. What a terrific program of strong choreography, danced with energy and spirit by so many of the company's handsome dancers.
NYCB doesn't dance Balanchine's Allegro Brillante enough. It is a joyous work to glorious Tschaikovsky melodies that race up and down your spine and make you shiver with delight. Tonight's cast was led by Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette. There were a couple of hiccups in the partnering, but the overall strength of the dancing was outstanding. Fairchild reached through to the depths of those beautiful melodies and then shot to their very apexes. There wasn't a calculated second in her dancing. It all looked as organic and spontaneous as could be. The corps was in tiptop shape, and Lauren King and Lydia Wellington were standouts for sharpness and assertiveness, and of course their gorgeous smiles.
The evening continued its ascent with Ratmansky's Russian Seasons - a kind of folksy classical contemporary early-modern mix of incidents among a group of Russian common folk. Here again, Megan Fairchild had many compelling stage moments as did Sara Mearns who tore through her solos like Martha Graham on acid. Wendy Whelan, Abi Stafford, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Alina Dronova completed the women's cast. Jared Angle whipped through a solo at a speed we don't often see from him. He looks very good moving fast. Adam Hendrickson and Antonio Carmena got to step out for a turn - reminding us that we don't see either of them enough. Amar Ramasar, Jonathan Stafford, and Sean Suozzi completed the men's cast.
Zakouski by Peter Martins received a phenomenal reading by Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. Where has the Peter Martins who made this ballet gone? Have the tough years of running NYCB beaten this level of creativity out of him? Zakouski - when given to mature dancers with theatrical skills – is a charming ballet of surprising invention, romance, and sparkle. It instantly grabs you with the opening PdD to Rachmaninoff's Vocalise and progresses through short pieces of music by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Tschaikovsky.
We don't get enough ballet choreography around here to Rachmaninoff's music. New York has so many great ballerinas in its two great companies who could kiss Rachmaninoff the way he deserves to be kissed. Why doesn't some romantically-inclined choreographer make it happen in a big way?
The evening closed with a crisp performance of Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Haglund was holding his breath waiting for another one of his favorite ballerinas, Rebecca Krohn, to appear on stage. Rebecca has missed some scheduled appearances recently; so, it was a relief to see that she danced so splendidly tonight along side lovely Janie Taylor. Ask la Cour, who was matched up with Janie, is having quite a good winter season. There's extra dramatic weight to his dancing. Sebastien Marcovici, who was matched up with Rebecca, got the job done tonight but he is not in performance condition yet. Gwyneth Muller and Lauren King in the ladies' corps were eye catchers because of their extreme comfort in handling the racing technical challenges and their joy in doing so. The other ladies seemed to be concentrating too hard on technical matters and a few even looked like they would rather have been elsewhere. The gentlemen of the corps were tack sharp and performed like it meant something to them to be out on stage.
The evening's Pump Bump Award, the Eternal Diamond Stiletto from the House of Borgezie (yes, $150,000), is bestowed upon Megan Fairchild for her vivid dancing in Allegro Brilliante.