The final performance of NYCB's Spring Season got started six minutes late on Sunday for whatever reasons. Not to worry, though. Conductor Clotilde Otranto shaved six minutes off of Stars and Stripes – without skipping a note – and we all went home at the usual time – or so it seemed. Whoosh!
When Otranto threw down the gauntlet in the First Campaign, Erica Pereira and the Cadets were ready for it. Like Palace Malice who caught a whiff of the carnations awaiting him at the finish line during Saturday's Belmont Stakes, these cadets stretched their legs and devoured space while expending every last ounce of energy that they had left from the spring season. Erica surprised herself with a lovely, rhythmical triple pirouette but then uncharacteristically messed up the diagonal of releves with foot in hand. Did someone place a hex on that trick this season?
The long legs of the Rifle Regiment got a bit of a break from the brisk tempi. Savannah Lowery led the campaign with her strong and reliable form, but early on, a big piece from her bugle flew off onto the floor. The audience watched nervously as the troops maneuvered around the piece and then generously applauded the corps woman who swooped down to pluck it up without missing a beat. Within the Rifle Regiment corps, Emily Kikta was an eyecatcher whose wings span nearly the width of the stage. And what a gorgeous smile.
Daniel Ulbricht and the Third Regiment faced the test of the torrid tempi and faced it down, indeed. Ulbricht tossed off double tour after double tour with the fastest, cleanest technique that we've seen in New York in many years, maybe ever. When he took off up into the air, you could sense the energy being sucked up the middle of his frame like the vortical flow in a cyclone. The twelve corpsmen in the regiment held their form together during the blistering pace to deliver some of the most exciting dancing of the afternoon.
Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette must have been listening to the tempi during the first three sections and thinking wtf, but it served them well as Liberty Bell and El Capitan. One of the most delightful aspects of this duo in these roles is their true parade quality characterization. It's not over-the-top, but close to it. The exaggerated precision of Veyette marching right into a spinning Bouder at the exact perfect moment only to seamlessly continue her revolution in a promenade is always a tickler. He later sets her off spinning in chaines with a grand flourish. A terrific performance from both yesterday.
The afternoon's program opened with some ultra-dramatic dancing in Serenade. However, this ballet looks best when no one stands out by over-loading the steps with layers of individual characterization. The choreography already brilliantly conveys the emotion suggested by Tschaikovsky's music. Excessive facial emoting tends to break up the picturesque harmony on the stage; the waltz girl is neither Juliet nor Manon. That said, Sunday's performance was beautifully danced by Megan Fairchild, Sara Mearns, Teresa Reichlen, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jared Angle, and the dream team of demi-soloists: Alina Dronova, Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, and Georgina Pazcoguin. As always, the haunting beauty of the corps de ballet in Serenade reflected the soul of this company like no other ballet.
Stravinsky Violin Concerto also moved at a quick clip thanks to Ms. Otranto. Maria Kowroski has never looked better than she did on Sunday afternoon when she sported peak energy, musical authority, and a fascinating rapport with Amar Ramasar who also has been in fine form all season. Janie Taylor and Ask la Cour were superb in their PdD. The soulful arias from Arturo Delmoni's violin were a highlight as well.
What a great spring season from NYCB. The company displayed such energy, startling technique, and gave off such positive vibes that you couldn't help exhausting yourself trying to get to as many performances as possible. Hagland can't wait for the summer to be over so we can get to the fall season when 4Ts, Symphony in Three Movements, and Prodigal Son return.
The final Pump Bump Award is bestowed upon Daniel Ulbricht, a riveting performer with unusual leadership qualities, for his brilliant performance today in Stars and Stripes. Ulbricht's Prodigal Son is sure to be a highlight of the fall season. Tickets go on sale in August.