Oh, the master ballet justice scales can seem cruel at times to those who try to slip underweight packages onto our pans. Woe to those who do not measure up and do not understand the weight of ballet gravity in this city.
NYCB got down to serious business on Wednesday and Thursday with power programing of the type that only this company is capable.
The Tschaikovsky/Balanchine Wednesday evening of Serenade, Mozartiana, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 and the Stravinsky/Balanchine Thursday evening of Apollo, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Duo concertant, and Agon included mostly outstanding performances from everyone, although some of the corps de ballet seemed to be experiencing nerves as dancers switched from their customary positions to new ones. The sheer terror on the face of one dancer who suddenly found herself downstage in front in a new position last night in Movements was curious considering she did a very fine job. We have been squinting to see her in the back of the corps for the past four years; hopefully, she'll learn to like being a bit closer to us.
The beauty of Serenade can't be overstated. The elements of music, movement, lighting, and costumes strike a chord of perfect harmony that has a near-spiritual effect on the viewer. Wednesday night's cast led by Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns, Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle and Adrian Danchig-Waring impressed with grandeur and energy. Hyltin's Russian Girl's jetes streaked across the skyblue stage as though being propelled by wind shears.
Mozartiana received a superb performance from all, but especially from Maria Kowroski who continued to build on her interpretation by finding new wit within the choreography and exploiting it with her impossibly beautiful limbs. She and Rebecca Krohn led a masterful performance of Agon Thursday night along with Amar Ramasar and Andrew Veyette. Oh my goodness, the big PdD by Kowroski and Ramasar was as good as it gets. His partnering from flat on his back took as much strength and coordination as any fancy aerial lifting in classical PdDs. It was a test for Amar, and he worked hard for it, but he completed it peerlessly.
Rebecca not only shown beautifully in Agon, but her Elegie in Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 was filled with sweeping romance opposite Ask la Cour's brooding poet-like figure. Erica Pereira's Scherzo in Tschai No. 3 brought to mind fireflies darting about in the night. This is one of Erica's best roles, and she along with Antonio Carmena stoked the energy in the audience as preparation for Tiler Peck's and Joaquin De Luz's sparkling Theme and Variations. One of joys of the performance, as it always is in Tiler's performances, was watching her pull and push at the musical phrases to enhance their color and lightness.
Thursday evening's Apollo was a fine performance by Robert Fairchild with Tiler Peck as Terpsichore, Ashley Bouder as Polyhymnia, and Lauren Lovette as Caliope. Each of these three muses had a distinct personality and expression with Lauren being happy, Tiler being a little sultry, and Ashley being mischievous. Whenever Haglund watches Ashley in this role, he's struck by her sense that she has been entrusted with a masterpiece and wants to present it in its purest form. That's not to suggest that she doesn't show great respect for the other Balanchine roles that she dances so wonderfully, but this one seems a bit Holier for her. Maybe it's just our imagnination.
Fairchild's Apollo didn't have that sense of youthful vulnerability that the best Apollos have had, but he did convey naivité in a sophisticated way and presented a technically clean performance. Maybe he would have looked better with the "tall" group of muses who will be instructing Chase Finlay in the title role next week.
Thursday evening's Duo Concertant by Chase, Sterling Hyltin, violinist Arturo Delmoni, and Pianist Nancy McDill was the highlight of the first two nights of the regular rep season. Excellent chemistry percolated between the two dancers who were so well matched physically. Their exchanges were always musically sensitive with a touch of spontaneity. Even when one was tearing around the floor in allegro, you felt like you were looking in on very private moments between two people. They seemed so unaware that we were watching them.
The evening's Pump Bump Award, a soft blue stiletto under the night moon, is bestowed upon Sterling Hyltin and Chase Finlay for their magical Duo Concertant.