It was a high calorie burning evening at NYCB – an extraordinary evening of Stravinsky/Balanchine works with top flight performers at the tops of their games. This was Power Ballet at its most fierce. Yes. Fierce. Power. Ballet.
Stravinsky Violin Concerto opened the program with Janie Taylor, Rebecca Krohn, Robert Fairchild, and Sebastian Marcovici and an energized corps de ballet, all of whom danced like there would be no tomorrow. The score was written in 1931 and the choreography was one of Balanchine's creations for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival as were Duo Concertant and Symphony in Three Movements which were also on last night's program.
Maybe it was the result of revisiting Stravinsky's masterpiece, Le Sacre du Printemps, last week at the NYPhil, but the repetitive strains in Violin Concerto and the stamping of the dancers' feet and other more primitive/less academic ballet moves were enjoyed with a heightened sensitivity. Stravinsky and Balanchine didn't collaborate on this creation, but it is just as masterful as those for which they did.
All four of the principals were fantastic, but Rebecca's musical punctuation was uniquely superb. A quick turn of the head, a sudden drop of the torso into plie, a bold look out at the audience -- all of these things were delivered with an acuity that enriched the experience of listening to the music.
When did Monumentum Pro Gesualdo and Movements for Piano and Orchestra suddenly get so interesting?! Maria Kowroski gave these two brief filler ballets new life along with a bit of mystery and attitude. Last night along with Ask La Cour in the first piece and Sebastien Marcovici in the second, Maria maneuvered her gorgeous legs to hypnotic effect and suggested that there was more story behind the steps than previously realized. But she wasn't about to tell us everything. Nope. We have to keep coming back to try to interpret those glances and read the meanings into her very deliberate delivery of every slowly maximized penche arabesque and beautifully shaped attitude.
Megan Fairchild and Chase Finlay were refreshing and fascinating in Duo Concertant, which was first performed by Kay Mazzo and Peter Martins in 1972. Haglund must confess that, initially, he did not think that matching Fairchild and Finlay in this ballet was such a great idea, but he came away absolutely loving every minute of it. The pair had an excellent and very relaxed chemistry. Their partnering was coordinated with a smoothness and efficiency that often takes years to achieve. The allegro variations in last night's performance were thrilling for their changes in direction and explosive speed. From Megan we have come to expect – but do not take for granted – the sense of flight in her allegro; but Chase Finlay matched her speed and slice and was magnificent in this role.
Last night's Symphony in Three Movements introduced the latest little ass-kicker in the light pink leotard role. In her debut, Sterling Hyltin killed it, just killed it. She danced like a cat gone crazy. With cat sass, too. Amar Ramasar was her quick thinking partner who met the challenge of keeping up with her. Tiler Peck and Daniel Ulbricht along with Savannah Lowery and Adrian Danchig-Waring made this one of the most vivid and electric performances of Symphony in Three Movements in recent memory.
This so-named "Stravinsky/Balanchine, The Collaboration" is a strong, strong program. It repeats Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and again on Sunday. You don't want to miss it.
The H.H. Pump Bump Award, a sassy slingback by Valentino, is bestowed upon Sterling Hyltin for her thrilling debut in Symphony in Three Movements.