It's no secret that more than a few of the balletomanes who love these Stravinsky/Balanchine Black & White programs bear the burden of geometriphagia* – the uncontrollable feeding on geometric shapes. By now, readers know that Haglund has had the affliction for a long time.
Whenever these programs appear on the stage, the audience's chatter about pirouettes and big jumps is pushed down the disposal in favor of symmetry, asymmetry, congruence, adjacency, angles, diameters, lines, and beloved circles which are conversationally whipped to a froth like some delectable chocolate mousse topped with miniature Oreos. [Short pause to munch on a rhombus.]
Wednesday night’s and Saturday matinee’s program had the sweet double-stuff filling that one’s front teeth ache for.
Stravinsky Violin Concerto was led by Sterling Hyltin, Rebecca Krohn, Robert Fairchild and Amar Ramasar whose lean lines, flexibility, sharp pointes, and daring speed etched out the master’s musicality like an architect’s dancing compass:
What a thrill it was to see Robert Fairchild, back in his top dancing form, push his center into the floor with a little jazz accent and then rip it high. This ballet and Symphony in Three Movements are among Sterling’s best roles. The lightness, ease, and clarity with which she achieves the geometry in the choreography is thrilling. Rebecca’s limbs create the most gorgeous, tapered, uninterrupted curves that suggest the concept of infinity. Amar, too, sources the jazz elements from the steps and delivers bold dynamics from fierceness to fun throughout. The corps was excellent in both performances.
Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, and Duo Concertant comprised the center of the program. Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour skillfully and thoughtfully led the first two brief ballets with the second revealing a more potent picture with dance. It didn’t hurt that the corps de ballet included Claire Kretzschmar and Ashley Hod whose mile-long limbs and tight torsos can clarify shapes like few others. Haglund hopes that he lives long enough to see that little Kretzschmar pick and sass her way down the middle of the stage the way Sterling does in the first movement of Symphony in Three Movements. [Short pause to slip a sublingual lemniscate under the tongue.]
Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley captivated in Duo Concertant and made their story believable. The ballet is a gift to those who find their freedom in blistering allegro that accelerates like a wind gust – as these two brilliant dancers certainly do. Arturo Delmoni and Nancy McDill as the onstage violinist and pianist seemed to revel in Stravinsky’s challenging score.
Symphony in Three Movements received a forceful reading by Tiler Peck & Taylor Stanley, Ana Sophia Scheller & Daniel Ulbricht, and Savannah Lowery & Andrew Scordato. Tiler’s fierceness of energy is a nice contrast to the ebullience that we normally associate with her. It’s not one of my favorite ballets for her, though, only because she does not achieve with her limbs the absoluteness in the geometric shapes that Sterling, Janie, and Wendy have in the past. The PdD with Taylor was much better at the matinee than on Wednesday. When Stanley stood behind Tiler while interlocking and entwining arms with her, there was a theatrical weight to it that invited extra attention.
Daniel Ulbricht and Ana Sophia Scheller romped through the first section with enormous vivacity and play. Savannah Lowery and Andrew Scordato were carefree and lively in their section, as well. The corps de ballet ladies in white leotards and swinging ponytails stole the show like they often do. As the curtain rose on the diagonal line of stationary beauties, you could sense their springs were tightly coiled. Then those long limbs launched into an array of lines and angles where the precision was breathtaking.
In these Balanchine Black & White programs, the corps de ballet plays an especially important role in defining the overall concept of what is on stage. They don’t often get the recognition that they deserve. One such dancer has been toiling in the back of the corps of Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Monumentum, and Symphony in Three Movements for a few years while gaining authority, expansiveness, and sharpness with every season. On Saturday evening, October 8th, Aaron Sanz will take the big step to the front of the stage to dance a lead in Symphony in Three Movements with Sterling Hyltin. He is geometry personified – from his square Clark Kent jawline to his eagle-like wingspan to the triangle formed by his broad shoulders and slim waist. You think you’re watching Superman on the ballet stage. He’s mild mannered but intense and probably able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. We’re very happy that this young man gets the chance to step forward and can’t wait to see what his future holds.
The H.H. Pump Bump Award, a black & white peep toe number from Valentino that will set you back $1395, is bestowed upon Sterling Hyltin who rips through Stravinksy/Balanchine roles like she owns them.
* Yes, we made this up.