Let’s start with a few final Nutcrackers.
Haglund caught yesterday’s NYCB matinee which was the second performance for a crew of newbies. Emilie Gerrity as Sugarplum, Taylor Stanley as Her Cavalier, and Ashley Hod as Dewdrop were proof of the remarkable depth of talent in this company and the variety of stage personalities.
Emilie displayed a beautiful, creamy texture in her dancing. Her movement was unhurried but always on the music and glistened with energy. She was immediately likeable without being pushy, as they say in sales. We knew that Taylor Stanley was going to out-cavalier nearly everyone. So handsome with princely authority and graciousness, he showed great confidence in Emilie while always being spot-on with his hands when she needed him. He acquitted his variation well, but could have used a brisker tempo for the turns in a la seconde. Ashley Hod was gorgeous as Dewdrop. Her limbs are extraordinarily long – really, really long – and she seemed to have them well under control. When those legs extended in a saute de chat, they were quite the beautiful sight. None of the difficult tricks were a problem for her, and she tossed them off with a warm, genuine smile.
Unity Phelan and Silas Farley poured spiced brandy into their Hot Chocolate. Alexa Maxwell could have used some in her Coffee although she managed the choreography very well. Claire Von Enck as the main Marzipan Shepherdess got the steps, but didn’t present with the polish and authority that Alina Dronova and Erica Pereira did earlier in the season. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Harrison Coll’s Candy Cane. Haglund is loving this dancer more and more. He seems ready to explode with energy every time he is on stage and has an engaging stage personality. Not everyone who debuted in this role this year cleared the hoop, but Coll made it look easy.
Haglund also caught the second performance of Lauren King and Jared Angle. Teresa Reichlin substituted for Tiler Peck as Dewdrop. Lauren showed great progress in this role, and seemed to relish the freedom that came with having such a fine partner. She held the stage and the attention of the audience magnificently. Her technique was secure, and she danced with more spaciousness than in the past. Jared was quite wonderful as a partner, but oy, those turns in (far from) a la second with a flexed foot were horrendous. As the saying goes, "You grew that leg; now lift it.” It’s really time for Jared to walk away from this particular role.
Erica Pereira and Anthony Huxley shone brilliantly as Sugarplum and Cavalier earlier in the season. Triumphant might be a more appropriate description. First, the pairing of the two dancers was exquisite, if not perfect. She made him all the more handsome; he made her all the more elegant and grownup. Erica built the energy and excitement into her role gradually so that when she hit and held her glorious arabesque balance following the tough promenade in the PdD, the audience went bonkers and roared as the two dancers finished off with a magnificent fishdive that was a bold exclamation point to their very significant artistic statement. Both dazzled in their solos, but together they were magnificent. Haglund hopes to see this pairing a lot more in 2015.
So, 2014 is behind us, and we’re as thankful for that as not.
The highs included:
Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews in Giselle with Houston Ballet, and Yuriko’s moving Prayer variation in one of her final appearances in Coppelia with ABT.
Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Who Cares.
Our Trumpeter Swan, Veronika Part, as Odette/Odile.
Denis Rodkin as Spartacus.
Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle in the rebirth of Chaconne.
Stella Abrera’s triumphant and exquisitely danced performances with Alex Hammoudi in Ratmansky’s Nutcracker.
Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, and Abi Stafford in Balanchine’s Nutcracker.
Anthony Huxley in everything he danced.
Most interesting nights at the theater included:
Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for NYCB.
Edward Watson at the Joyce Theater in The Metamorphosis.
Angelin Preljocaj’s Spectral Evidence at NYCB.
The year’s cinema highlights included:
The Bolshoi’s presentations of Ratmansky’s Lost Illusions, Pierre Lacotte’s phenomenal Marco Spada, and their incredible, unmatched Nutcracker by Grigorovich with Denis Rodkin and Anna Nikulina.
The Royal Ballet’s presentation of Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae.
Thankful to the internet for:
World Ballet Day in London, Sydney, Moscow, Toronto, and San Francisco.
Veronika Part and Jared Matthews in Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas at the Mariinsky Festival.
A glimpse of Veronika’s Giselle at the Mariinsky Theatre.
A glimpse of Stella Abrera’s Giselle at Ballet Philippines.
The clearest example of best and worst:
Best: all casts of Duo Concertant at NYCB
Worst: all casts of Duo Concertant at ABT
Greatest sadness in ballet in 2014:
Losing Ivan Nagy.
The senseless departures of Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews, Sascha Radetsky, Eric Tamm, and Luis Ribagorda from ABT that followed on the heels of the senseless departures of Roddy Doble, Simone Messmer, Joseph Phillips, and Irina Dvorovenko.
The long injury lay-offs of Ana Sophia Scheller, David Hallberg, and especially Jennie Somogyi.
ABT's continued over-reliance on inferior guest dancers and the marginalization of Sarah Lane and Stella Abrera, who McKenzie undoubtedly hopes he can finally get rid of this year.
Without a doubt, the worst of the worst in 2014 was the relentless propaganda from Misty Copeland with her false claims of victimization from racism, false claims of accomplishments, and substitution of media saturation for the hard work required to build a career honestly. Her twisting of Kevin McKenzie’s testicles to get principal castings that she neither deserved nor could perform better than her more deserving colleagues drove away support from all of ABT – now a disgusting cesspool of corrupt influence and declining artistic standards.