On Friday night, NYCB reinforced itself as one of the best reasons to live in New York when it presented a Super Power Program (SPP) of beloved classics by Balanchine and Robbins. The SPP opened with Concerto Barocco led by Teresa Reichlen, Abi Stafford, and Ask la Cour. The music under guest conductor Harrison Hollingsworth lacked some energy and brightness, but the dancers didn't let those problems get in the way, except for a couple of corps dancers who found themselves with too much time on their hands (and arms) and didn't quite know how to fill it out. But give a little extra time in the music to Abi Stafford and she'll work it through every muscle and nerve ending to create beautiful phrasing. Abi has danced both violins in Concerto Barocco this season with great success, but Haglund finds Abi's solos as the second violin always to be a special treat for their vivid musicality.
Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz found just the right chemistry and coordination for Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and surprised a lot of the audience with their spectacular fish dives wherein Megan brought both arms forward with the palms of her hands flexed.
The SPP continued with Fancy Free and a crew of Andrew Veyette, Daniel Ulbricht, Robert Fairchild along with Amanda Hankes, Tiler Peck, and Stephanie Chrosniak. David Prottas was the bartender. They gave a pretty good rendering of the well known story of three sailors on leave in New York on a hot summer night in 1944. The PdD by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild was seamless and full of the old type of romance that most current choreographers just don't have the patience to create. Daniel Ulbricht was the finest dancing sailor among the crew and never broke character while concentrating on the technical demands.
Symphony in C closed the SPP and was danced by a cast that was more or less newly put together. Chase Finlay debuted in the First Movement and impressively partnered the glorious Ana Sophia Scheller. Chase is definitely working his way back onto the stage at a strong pace after having been out for many months. He looked more relaxed Friday night than earlier in the season and seemed to be working close to the edge of his control, but he had a few indecisive moments when it came to the pirouettes. Ana was mind boggling beautiful throughout her variations - although there was one little unintended introduction to the Marley that surprised everyone. Not to worry, Joe Girardi is coming in next week as a special consultant to Peter Martins to teach the ballerinas how to execute the give-up slide so as to minimize the potential for injury.
Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle gave the Second Movement a gentle but regal quality. Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia were fresh and energetic in the Third Movement but didn't seem quite prepared enough – Sterling's jumps lacked size and Gonzalo's pirouettes were frantic, although mostly completed. The Third Movement isn't supposed to look like Rubies, but some of Sterling's choices tended to make it look that way. The Fourth Movement, led by Erica Pereira and Sean Suozzi, looked a little schoolish or academy-like. Both dancers got the majority of the steps and managed to smile, but there is way more that needs to come out of this movement.
All of the demi-soloists were impressive. Standouts included Ashley Laracy and Austin Laurent in the Second Movement, and both sets in the Fourth Movement - Alina Dronova and Giovanni Villalobos, and Lauren King and Troy Schumacher.
The NYCB horn players had some uncharacteristically challenging moments during the evening.
The Pump Bump Award, by Paco Mena, is bestowed upon Ana Sophia Scheller who has been pure joy to watch all season. Hope to see her Odette and Aurora next season.