During the second week of its winter season, NYCB soldiered on but with a few bruises that require bandages. Most of the leading dancers of the company have held their chins high and are striving hard to demonstrate their confidence in the current interim artistic management team. In some ways, the situation is like a large family whose beloved parent has been senselessly murdered and the members are praying that they will stay in the care of an older revered sibling rather than forced into the foster care of an untrusted outsider or handed off to some distant relative. On the other hand, there are a few dancers who are making things more difficult for everyone, either by not apparently caring about what they put on stage or are acting out their frustrations by intentionally pushing to the point of self-destruction without any regard for the effect it may have on the rest. Management has dealt with the first type, and now it must address the second.
Despite the ongoing controversies, a steady pair of hands guides the company. The season is progressing. Dancers are living their personal constitutions. They seem to know what matters most.
Over the past week we saw that Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 could not be in better shape. Everyone rose to the occasion in this ballet. It certainly seemed to help everyone’s moods to be wearing Karinska’s most dazzling tutus of pale yellow for the principals and white & blue for the corps.
Likewise, Robbins’ The Four Seasons, set to music from Verdi’s operas, was as stunning as it has ever been. Again, the costumes designed by Santo Loquasto seemed particularly vivid at the first performance on Groundhog Day. Winter was just as beautiful as spring – so who cares what the groundhog said?
Indiana Woodward, Harrison Coll and Joseph Gordon made a case for loving cold weather. Sterling Hyltin (subbing for an injured Sara Mearns) and Jared Angle breathed fresh air into spring. Teresa Reichlen and Adrian Danchig-Waring radiated the warmth of summer. And Tiler Peck, Joaquin De Luz and Daniel Ulbricht torched the leaves of fall. Torched them to ash. Here was De Luz, another 41-year-old, knocking off a la seconde turns and jumps like he was entering a second spring season of his career. Part of it could have been that he wasn’t about to let the blazing Tiler Peck and crackling fast Daniel Ulbricht show him up. Whatever it was, the result was a burning delight.
But there was a Square Dance on Groundhog Day, too. Ashley Bouder and Taylor Stanley along with a vivacious corps of twelve found the lightness and play in Balanchine’s masterpiece to Vivaldi and Corelli.
Also on the program was Mauro Bigonzetti’s Oltremare, a ballet about immigrants in which we view their angst, anticipation, regret, and hopefulness about seeking a better life in a new homeland. Overly long and repetitive, Oltremare would be much better if it were edited down to 15-20 minutes. The angst & yank of the gymnodrama grates on the nerves quickly.
Saturday evening's repeat of Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, and Chaconne revealed the company’s strengths and weaknesses. The Four Temperaments was underpowered and disappointing. The two soloists assigned to Sanguinic (Savannah Lowery) and Choleric (Megan LeCrone), a juggling of cast due to Mearns' injury, seemed unready for their challenges — at least on this night. NYCB needs to strengthen its bench in 4Ts and search for a Sanguinic in the vein of Kyra Nichols and Jennie Somogyi. We think that Isabella LaFreniere is exactly what the role of Sanguinic could use right now -- and maybe Agon, too.
The happy discovery of the night was the growth in presentation experienced by Sara Adams in the Theme and the final section. She’s learning how to make us notice her by increasing the sharpness of changes in her head and focus. Everything she did looked more alive and interesting. It was as though she had an extra spotlight on her last night.
The HH Pump Bump Award is bestowed upon Joaquin De Luz for his blistering hot Fall in The Four Seasons: