Review: New York City Ballet

Review of the Balanchine Black and White program at NYCB, on 4/28/15.

I wasn’t watching too critically, since the whole point of the excursion was to take some of my new Opera friends to the ballet for the first time, and convert them to the dark side. But I’ll say a couple things.

First of all, the program was LONG. Too long. Plus, with that many black and whites on the program together…there’s a fine line separating a program that showcases themes that Balanchine liked to return to and a program that feel repetitive. With five works on the bill, this program was edging pretty close to #2.

Overall, though, it was a nice season opener. Maria Kowroski looked great in Monumentum Pro Gesualdo/Movements for Piano and Orchestra. I don’t love those pieces – they’re visually interesting but the music is Stravinsky at its most dry – but I could watch Maria’s legs all day, so it’s fine.

Concerto Barocco made for a refreshing change. I always like that piece, and I was happy to discover that the random piece of music I had stuck in my head for weeks and couldn’t identify is, in fact, the ending of the 2nd movement of Barocco. Phew.

Richlen and Mearns make a good pair in this ballet – I saw them in January – but this time round Sara looked a little…off? It looked like maybe she was semi-injured. Teresa looked great, especially in the adagio. I’ll admit that in the past she hasn’t done much for me, but I think this year she’s grown a lot as an artist.

Episodes was weird (it’s Episodes). It’s just a weird ballet. Some interesting partnering in the middle, but mostly just weird. I did like the mint-green tint to the cyc; I thought it was very pretty with the black and white costumes. I know City Ballet likes their blue…I preferred the green, actually, though it may have just been novelty.

The highlight of Episodes for me, though, was definitely seeing Jennie Somogyi. She’s been injured for a loooong time, poor thing (tore her achilles tendon, I think). Anyway, it was wonderful to see her back on stage, and she looked radiant. Not the most technically perfect she’s ever been (duh), but with a really arresting quality.

The program finished with Four Temperaments. Lydia Wellington, last minute replacement for Faye Arthurs, did the first theme – I like her a lot. I still remember one performance of Jewels where she was in the corps of Diamonds. I was barely watching the soloists, because she kept catching my eye.

Gonzalo Garcia did a perfectly fine Melancholic, but I always get the impression he could put a little bit more into his dancing? It’s fine, I just think he could push a little more. And especially having been watching the video with Bart Cook recently…jesus, that guy could backbend. It’s stunning. Garcia sort of suffers by comparison. (That video, btw? It’s on YouTube. Shh, don’t tell the Trust)

Ashley Bouder danced Choleric. Here’s the thing… I actually like Bouder’s dancing, but I’m starting to think she’s gotten complacent. It used to be that she’d have you at the edge of your seat…now I feel like she does exactly the same things – the same accents, the same kinds of playing with musicality, etc. – that she always does. You know exactly what you’re going to get, and it’s just not that exciting. Which is a shame, because Bouder is one of the best technicians over there right now. She’s incredibly strong. Just…one-note.

So overall it was a good show, and I’m looking forward to Friday when I go back for the “tutus and sparkles” program, as I’ve taken to calling it.

(Ed. to add: I did, in fact, enjoy the tutus and sparkles program, which featured a lovely Walpurgisnacht with debuts by corps dancers in principal roles, a charming Tiler Peck in Sonatine, an eerie La Valse, and the Swarovski-encrusted crowd-pleaser Symphony in C).

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