New York City Ballet Opening Night

(photo of “A Fool For You” by Jack Vartoogian, from NYTimes)

Eee, I’m totally not packed and have very little time to write!

Last night was opening night of NYCB. They had a pretty extensive program — nine dances altogether; a couple by Balanchine, one by Jerome Robbins, one by Susan Stroman (who choreographs a lot of Broadway shows), and the rest by NYCB artistic director Peter Martins.

My favorite overall was “The Unanswered Question” by Balanchine, danced by the bewitching Janie Taylor (pretty much my favorite female dancer in the company, with Kathryn Morgan running an extremely close second) and Daniel Ulbricht, who I liked better than I’ve ever liked before last night. In kind of typical Balanchinian lady-worship fashion, Janie was carried around by a group of men, hoisting her high above their collective heads, and far over Daniel’s. She was this ghostlike, very ethereal creature, representing his dream, his ideal, that toward which he strove and all that. The men dipped and dove and manipulated her body into different shapes, all the while Daniel reaching, reaching upward toward her, never able to make real contact. His internal struggle was apparent in every movement, and the strain on his face was heartbreaking. It was beautifully done.

(photo of Janie Taylor by Paul Kolnick, from Explore Dance)
My other favorites were Martins’ “A Fool For You” danced to a jazzy Ray Charles score performed by the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. As ALWAYS Amar Ramasar stole the show for me (probably my favorite male dancer in the company) with his dramatics, his acting, his sweeping, hip swaying, jazzy moves. He has a very broad range of movement and can combine dance forms probably better than anyone in the company — at least anyone I’ve seen. And Andrew Veyette had a thrilling solo full of bravura ballet theatrics (around the stage barrel turns, grand leaps, multiple turns) and tumbling gymnastics. When I first saw him dance a couple of years ago, I didn’t think of him really as a virtuosic dancer, but he’s turning out to share that role well with Ulbricht and Joaquin de Luz.

(photo of Ramasar by Paul Kolnick)
And then Stroman’s “Blossom Got Kissed” was sweet, Charleston-y, adorable fun. Set to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and also performed by the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, it’s a bit Tharpian in its contrast of ballet with American social / jazz era dance. Story is: quiet ballet girl tries to fit in with glitzy club girls dressed in sassy red minis but can’t dance her way out of a paper bag — not in their style anyway. Eventually, a cute but nerdy boy (dance-acted perfectly by Robert Fairchild) recognizes her potential, and sweeps her off into a lovely classical ballet pas de deux. Savannah Lowery was the ballet girl but stealing the piece to me was Kathryn Morgan. She had only a corps part but I don’t care, whatever she does, whenever she’s onstage I just can’t move my eyes from her. I don’t even know what it is about her. She dances perfectly, but so do many. There’s just something a bit more compelling with her that I can’t think of how to describe right now because I’m too tired…

(photo of K. Morgan by Paul Kolnick, from Ballet.co)
Anyway, sorry for this very general, hastily-written review. If I have time I’ll probably write something more for Explore Dance. But in the meantime, I must pack!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Oh one other highlight: Sen. Chuck Schumer (he’s a great speaker, but I guess, duh…) was there introducing the State Theater’s new name: the David Koch Theater (named after the man who’s funding all the renovations).

One other thing: I tweeted a little about this too. I tweet more frequently than I blog these days. So feel free to follow me there. (I recently started and don’t have a lot of followers, or followees :) — but there aren’t many dance people using Twitter either…)

2 Comments

  1. A Happy Thanksgiving to you, Tonya, and thank you, as always, for your perceptive observations. I thought it was one of NYCB’s best gala programs ever and yes, you are absolutely on target with respect to Kathyrn Morgan. Every decade or so, a truly special dancer comes along, and she is now THE ONE. I agree with you too that on the male side, Amar Ramasar and Andy Veyette were far and away the standouts. However, kudos to all the dancers for last night’s performances. The company is obviously in super shape and we can look forward to great things to come in the Winter Season. Good luck with your packing!

  2. I haven’t seen either of them dance obviously (though I should check Youtube) but I prefer Kathyrn’s look more than Janie’s… That picture of Janie to me is not flattering… she looks dead and like the actress who played a banshee on Charmed.

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