. . . regularly.
Tonight in Balanchine's Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet we saw three soloists and a corps member thrown into the deep end of the principal pool, without life jackets, for a swimming test. Nearly everyone swallowed a little pool water before they rose to the surface, found a steady stroke, and made it safely back to the end of the pool, relieved and victorious. They swim again next Tuesday, May 22. Haglund suspects they will be springing off the high board for maximum effect. If you're not elsewhere at Lincoln Center that night, NYCB is a very good place to park.
The lovely corps member Emily Kitka opened the Allegro movement eagerly, nervously excited, and with her energy just a wee bit out in front of her feet. Ten seconds into her solo, her leg buckled and she nearly went down. She caught herself, breathed a sigh of relief, smiled and then proceeded to dance a humongous solo. The choreography is a gift to anyone who dances it because it is loaded with big, sweeping moves that cover the stage in a conventional way and it is always a crowd pleaser. Emily is a big dancer – tall, long substantial limbs, a very large face with a huge smile. When she began sweeping her arms in her solo in front of the corps, it was if a huge eagle had just landed in front of a flock of sparrows. She was gorgeous, and she was superb in the choreography. This dancer is a distraction in corps work because of her size. If NYCB can find men who are big enough to partner her and also bring her feet up to speed, we may have ourselves another R136a1 right in our midst. What's R136a1, you ask?
Also in the first section were Rebecca Krohn and Chase Finlay who debuted in the PdD. Finlay has been out of action for close to a year, it seems. He looked like he was under a lot of pressure tonight and a little unsettled. Not only was he back on the big stage, he was in a big part that required big partnering skills which he didn't necessarily have before his absence, and he was partnering a ballerina who, while not tall, was a height challenge for the also not tall Finlay. There were some frantic moments, some awkward moments, but there were also some very beautiful moments. Their solos looked finished, but the PdD was shaky. Finlay's quality of movement recalls that of Peter Martins, though in a much smaller way, and Rebecca in her cooler moments can conjure up memories of Suzanne Farrell. But putting these dancers together tonight didn't quite bring back the Peter and Suzanne magic. More rehearsal would be a good place to start. Haglund wishes he could be at their performance next Tuesday, but he has a previous commitment at an Indian temple across the plaza.
The third debut in this ballet was Ana Sophia Scheller dancing the Andante (third section) opposite Gonzalo Garcia. She was spectacular in every possible way. Unbelievable. What is it in the Argentine water that produces such startling strong dancers who seem born committed to clean classical technique? Scheller, Herrera, Bocca, Cornejo x2, Núñez. Ana Sophia has developed into a classical ballerina in the grandest sense. Haglund must disclose that Ana Sophia's recent efforts in the faux contemporary DGV were less than fully cooked, but in good choreography she is on the verge of being unbeatable. Isn't there a young Acosta floating around somewhere in the world who is looking for a partner with whom he can catapult to stardom? Well, she's right here.
The evening opened with Liebeslieder Walzer, a lovely piece by Balanchine to Johannes Brahms Opus 52 and Opus 65. Four singers and two pianists shared the stage with the four principal couples. The ballet is set in mid 19th century Vienna with the dancers in period costumes, pumps instead of pointe shoes. After the first 18 waltzes, the curtain came down for a long pause, and when it rose again, the dancers returned with the women wearing balletic romantic costumes and pointe shoes. Where the dancing in the first act was more traditional and intimate, the dancing in the second act was bigger, splashier, and more intense. According to the program notes, Balanchine viewed the first act as real people who are dancing whereas the second act was their souls. If Haglund hadn't read that, he would have thought that the second act represented the dancers' memories or dreams of how they had danced on a previous night or perhaps even the embellished descriptions of the evening as relayed to friends.
The cast consisted of eight principals: Ashley Bouder with Tyler Angle, Wendy Whelan with Jared Angle, Maria Korowski with Jonathan Stafford, and Janie Taylor with Sebastien Marcovici. The choreography was mostly sweeping PdDs although there were phrases where the eight principals came together. It was a mostly low stress affair with the dancers seeming to truly enjoy dancing with one another in a dance about dancing.
The evening's Pump Bump Award, a Louboutin suede and diamond beauty, is bestowed upon Ana Sophia Scheller who seems destined to become one of our most important ballerinas.