We're catching up on a few observations before reluctantly leaving this beloved sanctuary city for DC tomorrow to see the brand new Real McCOO in the early matinee - that’s the Real McCoy Odette/Odile, Devon Teuscher. Everyone should be careful out there in your travels for a while. As the saying goes, “Just remember – once you leave New York, you’re in America.”
We neglected to mention in our earlier New York City Ballet reviews how happy we were to catch sight of corpsman Joseph Gordon in the walk-on role of youth in pageboy wig taking small steps forward on the stage in performances of the Firebird. Being officially back on stage after a long absence is always a good sign, and slowly putting one foot in front of the other is the best way to start back. Let’s hope we get a glimpse of Adrian Danchig-Waring before long, too.
This afternoon Teresa Reichlen repeated her exquisite Firebird interpretation. There’s no denying that Tess specializes in the big bird roles. Her debut performances as Odette in Balanchine’s Swan Lake this season have been gorgeous even if The New York Times has refused to acknowledge them. It should come as no surprise that when other artists out-dance his favorite ballerina in Swan Lake, Allegro Brilliante, and La Sonnambula, Alastair Macaulay simply refuses to review the performances at all – or at least until he can come up with some alternative facts to float. It is just this type of refusal to face the facts that caused NYT to blow its election coverage. Now it is begging readers for anonymous news tips and pledging that it will somehow become “journalism that matters.” Yeah, right. Wake me when that happens.
Also repeated at today’s matinee was the riveting performance of the La Sonnambula ensemble of Rebecca Krohn, Chase Finlay and Sterling Hyltin. We can’t repeat enough how special Finlay’s stage talents are and how dramatically they have grown from season to season. There is intensity and imagination in his portrayal of The Poet that is unlike anyone else’s interpretation. Nothing he does seems calculated or staged. His impulse comes from within and he is completely convincing in his every gesture, expression, and movement. Haglund thought that Finlay was typically attractive and talented as a NYCB new principal, but now we’re seeing this artist start to set himself apart from the crowd. How exciting it is going to be to watch his career unfold in the coming years.
Rebecca has perfected the role of the glamorous Coquette who played nice-nice to everyone’s face at the party but then had a spittin’ hissyfit when their backs were turned — a jealous rage over a poet who she barely knew. It was a one-dance affair between them and then she waltzed off with the Baron leaving the Poet empty-handed. He unexpectedly encountered the beautiful Sleepwalker, became smitten with her wonderful weirdness, and followed her home. So that’s a capital offense? Apparently.
Tomorrow’s debut cast of Claire Kretzschmar as the Sleepwalker, Zachary Catazaro as the Poet, Ashley Laracey as the Coquette, and Aaron Sanz as the Baron will probably knock everyone’s socks off. It’s too bad that they’ll only get one performance of La Sonnambula, but you can bet that this crew will be h’bent on making it memorable.
Also at today’s matinee, Gonzalo Garcia had a company debut in Prodigal Son. There were many nice moments – all of the iconic poses in the air and on the ground were clear and forceful – but there wasn’t much heat between this Son and the Siren danced by Sara Mearns. Gonzalo showed dramatic strength in his knee-walk of shame and repentance back to his Father. His struggle and sincerity were both felt by the viewer.
Sara’s technical performance was fine, but she wasn’t the deadly seductress with allure that we needed to see. Nor did her arm shapes make strong statements. Today’s performance certainly did not compare favorably with her earth shattering debut in 2011 when her musical accents pierced the music. Tomorrow will bring Miriam Miller's debut as the Siren. She certainly has the look for the role, but as we saw this past week in Scherzo Fantastique, Miriam does not yet have control over her incredibly long limbs. Her jumps were weak and her turns were haphazard. We're going to have to be patient with this one as we were with the young Kowroski who also had limb control issues.
Friday night we enjoyed Sterling Hyltin as the Novice and Emily Kikta as The Queen in Jerome Robbins' The Cage. The Intruders, Justin Peck and Sean Suozzi, didn’t have a prayer against this tiny mantis who ambushed them, gripped their heads between her delicate knees, and wrung their necks.
Friday's alternate cast for Stravinsky Violin Concerto included Lauren Lovette with Ask la Cour and Rebecca Krohn with Amar Ramasar. Haglund thought that the music was too slow in many places, mostly during Lauren’s dancing but also to some extent during Rebecca’s variations. It really negatively impacted the performances. When Lauren would developpe or battement her leg, the force was way too casual, and she had to let gravity leisurely bring the leg down in order to fill the music rather than purposely lowering the leg. We also noticed in her penche arabesques that she would begin to lower the extended leg prior to lifting the torso. It looked academically and choreographically wrong but might not have been noticed if the tempo had been tighter. Where is Conductor Clotilde Otranto these days? She would never allow the tempi to lag in a Balanchine ballet. We really miss her spirited conducting.
The HH Pump Bump Award, an example of metallic poetry from Giuseppe Zanotti, is bestowed upon Chase Finlay.