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February 28, 2023


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Thank you, as always, for these reviews. For those of us who do not live in New York or cannot get to the ballet, it is much appreciated.

So wonderful to hear Isabella got past those nerves and gave an excellent performance. Congratulations to her! I was reminded in social media posts by both Megan Fairchild and Tiler Peck just how long it can take for a ballerina to feel comfortable in the incredibly difficult role of Aurora. Both inferred how happy they are that they have finally made it other side of this role (after how many years of performing it?)--where they can find more freedom, artistry, and enjoyment, rather than focusing on the technical difficulty. Good for me to keep this in mind when watching/reading about debuts.

Did you happen to catch Emma at the Family Saturday program?

Thanks, Ellie.

Cynthia Gregory was 33 years old when she danced that historic, brilliantly nuanced performance on PBS's Live from Lincoln Center. Who knows what Isabella will achieve with Aurora over the next decade? Looking forward to it.

Yes, indeed, I caught Emma at the Family Saturdays program. She was spectacular and was so living the character of Aurora. We were treated to abbreviated sections of all acts including the last couple of minutes of the Rose Adagio. Emma's balances were nerve-filled, but there were no ghastly moments. One of the thrills was watching the very proud faces of the suitors Christopher Grant, Taylor Stanley, Gilbert Bolden, and especially Russell Janzen whose warmth of expression was so very pronounced. Emma's excerpt from the Vision Scene was just extraordinary, beautiful beyond words.

Prince Désiré was Roman Mejia who was fine during the excerpt from the Vision Scene, but the white tights of the Wedding scene did not help the unfavorable lines of his legs and the occasional sickled foot.

Megan Le Crone was a hit. After doing her Carabosse nastiness to Aurora, she came out and spoke eloquently to the audience about her character and showed what a lovely, warm person she is. The children seemed fascinated by her.

I've long wondered if the relative scarcity of men in the ballet world in general gives them more leverage in campaigning for promotions, perhaps being able to threaten to depart for another company if they are denied the advancement. I do not mean to suggest that I find any of the male principals at NYCB unworthy of their title, that any current or former NYCB male dancer ever pulled such a move, or that any given male dancer would choose to leave NYCB for a title at a less prestigious company, but I imagine the demand for male principal dancers is higher than that for female principals, so this might occur, as it might in any other industry where there was a demand/supply imbalance for particular talent.

It's crazy to me that there were only 4 performing female principals on the roster for almost the entirety of this very strenuous winter season. Of course the soloists stepped up, and some were very justly rewarded!

Thanks, as ever, Haglund for the great reviews. Onto Spring Season! All of the Balanchine and Robbins we can get!

Rachel, I tend to think you're right about male employment leverage in ballet. However, the depth of talent at NYCB and the pipeline via SAB ensure that every individual is expendable. There are no individuals who are so important that they can't be replaced, and often replaced with someone who has a higher skill level. But that might not be the story at other companies, especially at the regional level.

And, to counter my own supposition, you have Chun Wai Chan who left Houston to come to NYCB super recently with what I'm lead to believe were no promises of promotion :)

Agreed - NYCB is like the Goldman Sachs/ of its industry and, as such, it's likely it occurs less here than with other companies. Still - the imbalance, even post promotions, makes one wonder what's going on that the ratio is still so off.

Regarding the male/female principal imbalance, I'm willing to attribute that partly to chance. In the past year or so a couple women left earlier than they might have been expected to. Plus, a couple men are at or near retirement age but haven't retired yet. Not to mention a couple senior women have been out for long periods due to illness, injury. I doubt if predicting timing of these things is a perfect science.

Naw, the retirements of Kowroski and Hyltin were planned with plenty of notice. Naw, it's not acceptable for the company to decide that they're not going to promote more women because they're waiting around for a couple of more men to decide to retire.

In my view, Mejia was far less accomplished and less prepared for promotion to principal than Kikta or Laracey or even Emma Von Enck. Was there more of a need for another principal man than for another principal woman? Naw. Management could easily just require him to continually carry a principal load without recognizing him as a principal -- just the way they have done with Laracey and Kikta. But as Rachel pointed out, men in ballet may have more leverage in these matters than women. Frankly, I wouldn't have promoted Mejia until he permanently cleaned up his leg lines and feet.

Haglund, thank you for your always insightful reviews. Based on the comments on the NYT's recent Sleeping Beauty review, it seems some of their annoyed subscribers should look here for more insights.

Agreed about the need for more women promotions. Mens' dance is important, but by and large the rep showcases the ballerina. Soloist women have been invaluable in supporting the company this winter season.

Thanks, Zachary.

It's surprising that NYT allowed comments to Gia's "review". Lots of unhappy readers, it seems. Well, at least the article had a lovely picture.

The comments were quite fun to peruse. I don't think it's unusual to have comments in a "wrap-up" piece (this was not a typical review), and the editor probably figured that bringing up the Peter Martins business would elicit lots of reaction. Whatever you think of the accusations against him and the way they were dealt with by the board, the circumstances of his departure and subsequent delay in finding a replacement did have an impact on the company's dancers, so it was not out of line to bring that up in a retrospective piece. But as much as people are entitled to dislike him for what they believe he did, he still has the right, contractually, to exercise degrees of control over his ballets, the few that they still do. Ironically, his legacy in the repertory will essentially be inferior productions of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. (I hope never to see his "R+J" again.)

Lol. A "retrospective piece" for the last two weeks of the current Winter Season need not go back 5+ years and re-hash what the critic has been obsessively re-hashing for 5+ years.

Kourlas was trying to write a critical review of two weeks of the same ballet with different casts. It's only a retrospective piece inasmuch as it isn't a prospective piece. It was her "review" and it was a bad piece of writing. It's as though Kourlas doesn't even have an editor at NYT, let alone an editor within herself.

Hi Haglund,
I'd like to add my thanks to all your terrific reviews and thoughtful comments. I was only able to get to NY for two performances in winter season so your words are much appreciated. I too was surprised to see that comments were allowed in the Kourlas piece. Her writing makes me wish Macaulay would return.

Thanks, Marta. Hopefully you'll be able to get to NYC for more performances in the spring/summer.

Haglund, apologies for including it on this thread but I wanted the community to know that both Mayerling and Manon are available to stream from the Royal Ballet. Both are WONDERFUL. The Macmillan R&J is also available but we have access to that one more regularly with ABT.

Rachel, thank you! I will enjoy watching these ballets from the Royal Ballet stream!

Haglund, I subscribed to the New Times over 20 years ago in part to enjoy reading about New York's ballet companies. This recent article by Gia Kourlas has no substance. The NYTs could use a retired dancer who can write well and has real knowledge and love of ballet. Without that, potential attendees may never be enticed to see a ballet, and we balletomanes are frustrated.

I appreciate your reviews, Haglund and those that comments that appear below them.

Hi Haglund - thank you for the wonderful review, as always! I’m just here to point out that Dominika Afanasenko is one of the main subjects of “On Pointe” — the truly wonderful SAB docuseries that Ron Howard’s company, Imagine Entertainment, produced for Disney+. It’s beautifully directed by Larissa Bills.

In other content-related news, Sylvia with Darcey Bussell is now being streamed by the ROH.

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