Finally, New York City Ballet corpsman Joseph Gordon is old enough to walk into a bar for a beer. Though he still retains a youthful hint of Opie Taylor in the eyes and cheeks, his U.S. Navy dress whites now pump up his confidence with the ladies. Last night, when he tried to set himself up with the oh-so “experienced" Tiler Peck in Fancy Free, it initially looked like she was a cat who had found a new mouse to toy with rather than a mature sailor who would show her a nice night on the town. But Gordon, a corpsman since 2012, quickly swayed her thinking – and ours – with his slick, effortless partnering and big, big solo dancing in an awesome debut.
Andrew Veyette and Daniel Ulbricht, who made up the other two-thirds of the sailor trio, clearly had more experience with the ladies – which we will not, under any circumstances, go into on this blog. Veyette’s very American Rumba, accentuated by a slight rip in the back seam of his pants, was pretty darn close to what one finds in establishments along 9th Avenue in New York where sailors in uniform always get special drink and room rates during Fleet Week. Daniel Ulbricht’s high-flying, split-landing antics were brilliant and hilariously augmented by his appeals to the bartender to “keep ‘em coming.” In addition to Tiler Peck, the other ladies dressed for a good time were Gretchen Smith and Laine Habony.
Of late, NYCB has had better male casts of Fancy Free than ABT for whom Jerome Robbins originally made the ballet – probably ever since Jose Manuel Carreno retired his Rumba. The addition of Joseph Gordon sees that trend continuing in the near future. We wonder how much longer it will be before Harrison Coll will be old enough to walk into a bar.
Georgina Pazcoguin stole the stage in her debut in Peter Martins' Barber Violin Concerto. Stole. It. Her unrelenting effort to convince her balletically-inclined partner, Russell Janzen, to throw form to the wind, was as intense as it was clearly modern dance in this choreography that sets a pair of ballet dancers in motion with a pair of barefooted modern dancers. Janzen succumbed – sort of – his natural elegance and danseur noble bearing are hard to shake off. Jared Angle and Teresa Reichlen completed the quartet. It is, for Angle, an excellent role that both highlighted his strengths and made his weaknesses unimportant. Teresa Reichlen managed all of the technical matters efficiently, but is not expressive from the waist up, despite extreme exercising of the eyebrows.
There were some fabulous performances in Balanchine’s Who Cares? last night — heck, most everybody was fabulous including the men’s demi-soloist ensemble of Harrison Coll, Cameron Dieck, Ralph Ippolito, Lars Nelson, and Peter Walker. Savannah Lowrey reprised her sultry performance from last Sunday. Ashly Isaacs smoldered like hot ash ready to start a fire anew in her blue costume. An outstanding technician, she now toys with the steps hinting of another Ashley Bouder and Tiler Peck to come. We are very excited to watch this dancer develop.
Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar as the lead couple may not have had the sensuality of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fairchild in these roles, but they brought crackling electricity to their PdD and solos mostly through strong dynamics, fabulous musical punctuation, and an appetite for risk-taking. There's a little bit of Fosse percolating in Ms. Hyltin. Theirs is a performance not to miss going forward.
By the way, we are so totally over missing the original Karinska costumes in this ballet. Santo Loquasto's designs are sharp, sassy, and jazzy. We like them – except for the men in blue who look like they're in sanitation department uniforms.
With much thanks to NYCB for an energizing evening of beautiful dancing, we bestow the H.H. Pump Bump Award, someone’s glittery tribute to the U.S. Navy that includes a gold anchor on the toe which is not seen in this image, to Joseph Gordon for his outstanding debut in Fancy Free.