If the New York City Ballet dancers were to line up while sitting in second position splits – pointed toe touching pointed toe – their combined legs would almost be as long as the Chrysler Building is tall, or at least they would measure up to the beautiful sunburst tiara that crowns it. Think about that. It’s a lot of leg. The Chrysler Building, nearly 90 years old and considered to be the most beautiful Art Deco skyscraper, was completed shortly before Balanchine arrived in America. While other buildings of the time used stock materials in construction, the Chrysler Building was all custom made and hand-crafted in sheet metal shops located in-house on the 65th and 66th floors. In other words, the beauty and art were created in-house.
Back to the legs.
Friday and Saturday evenings, NYCB repeated its black & white Balanchine program of Episodes, Agon and The Four Temperaments with new casts that included several debuts as well as seasoned veterans who showed renewed vibrancy.
Episodes looked much better with longer, leaner legs that were able to bring the geometry to life. Megan LeCrone and Andrew Scordato led the Symphony section with calm authority and a sense of sufficient rehearsal.
On Saturday evening, Teresa Reichlen succeeded in form more than Savannah Lowery did on Friday, both with Jared Angle. When Jared walked forward while holding Teresa upside down behind him with her legs rising above his shoulders and bent 90 degrees at the knees, it was as if there were two right angles with an Angle in the middle, kind of like this: |_O_| . Lovely as Teresa was, we were still missing that young Claire Kretzschmar who was positively electric in this section last fall and who seems to be out this winter.
Unity Phelan debuted in the Concerto opposite the handsome, never-on-stage-enough Craig Hall. This young dancer with the most charming Irish name just competed her second year as a corps member but already has tremendous composure to go with her steady technique and lovely presence. The duo was complimented by an outstanding quartet comprised of Sara Adams, Alina Dronova, Kristen Segin, and Mary Elizabeth Sell.
Russell Janzen debuted in the Ricercata opposite the ever-symmetrically gorgeous Rebecca Krohn. Where in a previous performance Sara Mearns tended to push at the audience with her movement, Rebecca allowed a more organic flowing of the dance with no hard sell. Russell with his steady hands the size of bear paws did not let anything go awry. There was a nice, understated chemistry between the two.
Of most interest in the two performances of Agon was the debuting Miriam Miller who is in her first corps year but danced the principal role of Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream as an apprentice last year. This very tall dancer is still learning how to wield her legs at NYCB-prescribed speed. The iconic phrase early in the PdD where she did a couple of quick en dehors turns and sliced the air with a rond de jambe to a back attitude that wrapped around her partner needed more slice. On both nights, the attitude leg arrived quite a bit after the count. She was rock steady during her debut performance while a little less so on the second night. There's no denying the potential and beauty of this dancer. One sensed that her partner, Amar Ramasar, felt her pressure and came prepared to anticipate everything that might go wrong while allowing nothing to go awry. He was simply phenomenal.
Ashly Isaacs loaded the Bransle Double and Bransle Gay with allure and outstanding footwork. Her partners Joseph Gordon and Harrison Coll were excellent. Gordon’s confidence reflects the many opportunities that he has received this season. A fabulous Fancy Free debut, an okay Who Cares debut, and solid corps work all point to some big steps on the horizon. Coll is right behind him, and we can’t wait to see him rise to more challenges.
Ashley Hod, Gretchen Smith and Andrew Veyette completed the cast. Everything is in place for Ashley to bolt forward. She looks and leaps like a young doe, and sparkles on stage while hitting every mark, every line, every pose with confidence and accuracy.
The Four Temperaments closed each program with brilliance from Teresa Reichlen as Choleric. Now here is someone with double leg length who knows how to wield her limbs at NYCB speed. After a slow start to the season, Teresa burned the marley with a blistering intensity that truly surprised us. Adrian Danchig-Waring’s Phlegmatic made the oddness of the arm choreography and hunched torso look beautiful. Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle danced the Sanguinic section without any problems. Gonzalo Garcia on both nights registered very dramatically in the Melancholic variation. The three-part Theme was danced splendidly by Lydia Wellington & Peter Walker, Lauren King & Daniel Applebaum, and Ashley Laracey & Cameron Dieck.
The HH Pump Bump Award, an Art Deco-ish stiletto with spring loaded strap, is bestowed upon Teresa Reichlen who has certainly come alive at the end of the season to deliver several spectacular performances.