There has been so much thrilling dancing during the first few days of NYCB's Winter Season that it takes your breath away. During Thursday night's performance of Allegro Brilliante alone, Haglund must have had 101 OMG moments courtesy of Tiler Peck, the company's rubato wizard.
Audience members covered their ears with their hands while waiting for the sonic boom when Tiler accelerated her chaine turns past the speed of sound. Time and time again she flipped through several chaines and then suddenly lowered her elbows to a neat resting position, which was actually the equivalent of putting the pedal to the metal, and blew out those turns like she was going down the Bonneville Salt Flats. Then she stopped on a dime – with no parachute. Not lyin' here – go see for yourself this weekend. And while eyes can sometimes deceive, Haglund swears that he saw serious acceleration in the revolutions of an en dehors pirouette upstage. Tiler's creative shading, individual musicality, and crystal clear shaping of the movement made this one of the most masterful Allegro Brilliantes in memory. Amar Ramasar did a fairly fine job of partnering Tiler, and his own variations were respectable although they didn't approach what Tiler delivered.
Also on Thursday night's program was Balanchine's one act Swan Lake (2.4) -- some of Act 2 plus some of Act 4 equals a bunch of nothing, but of course, steps. Surgically precise forms of corps women in black tutus rushing around starting and stopping do not a swan corps make. There's just no heart and no drama to this Swan Lake. It's almost a crime to put the beautiful Maria Kowroski out on the stage in this because it becomes immediately evident that she could be a world-class Odette -- ahh, but only if she had a real production in which to develop.
A few years ago, Maria did get one shot at dancing Swan Lake at the Mariinsky opposite Danila Korsuntsev and received the benefit of Uliana Lopatkina's coaching. Happily, much of this experience still informs her performance in the Balanchine version. A lot of the traditional Ivanov Act II PdD is present in this version, but right when Odette gets ready to finish off the last ninety seconds, Balanchine stops the action and inserts his own nonsense which completely destroys the traditional theatrical moment. Tyler Angle was Odette's appropriately perplexed and loving Siegfried.
Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 was fabulous Wednesday night. Teresa Reichlen & Ask la Cour, Janie Taylor & Sebastien Marcovici, Erica Pereira & Daniel Ulbricht, and Megan Fairchild & Andrew Veyette – all turned out solid performances. Haglund loves Erica and Daniel in the Scherzo movement; it's a good match for their energies and Erica looks great flying around with her hair down. The Theme and Variations was danced well by Megan and Andrew without it being particularly special in any sense.
Wednesday evening's Serenade marked the return of Sara Mearns in her debut as the waltz girl. Everyone was glad to see her and especially glad to see her dancing so well following such a long layoff from injury. However, this may not be Haglund's favorite role for Sara. Her dancing had great power and intensity but somehow those cancelled out some of the beauty of the choreography.
Megan LeCrone had a brilliant debut as the dark angel. Freakin' brilliant. She is a perfectly wonderful dancer and only needs help on how to address the audience and make her smile work for her. Megan is one of the last and most capable products of Melissa Hayden's training, and Martins owes it to Hayden's memory and to the City Ballet institution to ensure that this young dancer realizes her full potential.
Ashley Bouder's Russian girl was as beautiful and exhilarating as she always is in this role. Jared Angle and Adrian Danchig-Waring completed the principal cast and partnered the women superbly.
Sterling Hyltin, Chase Finlay, and Anthony Huxley made a sincere and mostly successful effort in Mozartiana. For Sterling and Chase, it was their debut. Haglund found it all perfectly charming and expects that in another performance or two, Chase will have addressed little issues like all those quick swishing battement cloche with the body changing directions and will get on top of the petit allegro.
The Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 was beautifully danced by Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle, but it was the debut of Ana Sophia Scheller in the third principal role that knocked Haglund's socks off. The elegance of the classical shapes she made coupled with the attention to transitions between steps and her intelligent musicality made this a stunning debut.
The mid-week H.H. Pump Bump Award, a winged platform of precious metal, is bestowed upon Tiler Peck for her extraordinary performance in Allegro Brilliante which Haglund intends to enjoy again this weekend.