Splendid Night at NYCB: 20th Century Music Masters Program

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(all photos by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of New York City Ballet)

Wednesday night was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had at New York City Ballet. I’m totally in love with Balanchine’s La Valse. I wrote about it here when Miami City Ballet performed it and it grew on me immensely when I saw it on NYCB. My friend, Judy, fell head over heels for it too — I think she was the first person in the whole theater to begin clapping (when the curtain began going down admist the swirling Viennese waltzing couples, the group of men carrying Janie Taylor’s limp body high above their heads, pall-bearer-like).

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It’s such an intoxicating ballet, with the gorgeously bedazzling, mid-calf-length tulle (which fashion industry person Judy tells me is called “tea length” or is it “t-length” or “tee-length”?) — deep maroon for the waltzing women, bride-white for main character Janie. Janie and Sebastien (who played the leads, pictured in top photo) and Tyler Angle all gave the whole thing such a tragic pathos. When Janie was waltzing with the “devil-character” — a frightening Philip Neal (just about the most intensely captivating I’ve ever seen him) and getting swirled and whirled and tossed madly about, she did these gorgeously elaborate back kicks on the fast third step, when he lifted her high into the air, almost tossing her like a rag doll. It added greatly to the crazed momentum.

(photo of Tyler Angle by Paul Kolnik, from NYCB website)

It was really Tyler Angle who blew me away though. (See Times article on him by Claudia La Rocco here). He danced one of the waltzing men, prone to romanticism, who gets swept away by the seductive atmosphere, kind of a foreshadowing of what will happen to Janie’s character. At one point, he falls to the floor, and just sits in the middle of the stage, unable to lift himself of out this dream, but doing this fabulously expansive port de bras, waving his arms all about dreamily all the time kneeling, while the women twirl around him, their skirts flying, and couples whiz by him, through him actually, almost ghost-like as they separate their waltzing bodies from one another just enough pass their connected arms right over his head. Somehow his swan-like arms narrowly manage to miss them. It’s really brilliant.

I was sitting really close to the stage this time (third row!) and picked up on so many things like this that I’d missed before, when I was just taking in the whole spectacle. Such a beautiful ballet.

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Also on was Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, which is always a load of fun and I’m always floored by Andrew Veyette’s booming but melodious voice as the leader of the Jets, and Georgina Pazcoguin as the sexy salsera Anita. I love how Robbins uses dance style to separate the gangs from one another and identify each’s prevailing ethos: the Jets wear white and are Swingers performing crazy aerials, the Sharks wear red and are fast-dancing, hip-swaying Saleros.

Also performed was Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, a story-less leotard ballet. I love how sitting so close up you can see the dancers’ facial expressions, as well Balanchine’s delectably intricate choreography. At one point, while a main couple is dancing, several women line the back of the stage and stand in place, but they don’t stand still; they flex their wrists and splay their fingers and turn their hands back and forth to the beat. It creates a kind of twinkling star-like effect on the main couple. At another point, the men stand to the sides of the main dancers and simply do port de bras. It creates kind of a fluid, beatific effect, like they’re blessing the couple. I feel like a lesser choreographer wouldn’t have done anything with them, would just have had them standing around while the soloists dance. But Balanchine adds these little details that really make the dance.

Wendy Whelan was, again, very intense and striking (and we saw her and her husband, photographer and filmmaker David Michalek, after the performance, at P.J. Clarke’s, which was fun!) And Robert Fairchild: just, all I can say is show-stealer, naughty little show-stealer!!

(photo, Paul Kolnik, NYCB site)

“That’s Romeo,” I said to Judy.

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5 Responses to Splendid Night at NYCB: 20th Century Music Masters Program

  1. Katrina says:

    Tonya, if you get a chance when it comes it to NYC, I suggest going and seeing West Side Story (the new Revival). Here are some shots from the pre-views:
    http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Photo_Flas

    And they're doing a sequel to Phantom *eye roll* I think for once Andrew Lloyd Webber has gone nuts

  2. Misssy619 says:

    I too attended the performance on Wednesday evening and thought for the most part that it was exceptional… La Valse and Stravinsky Violin Concerto are two of my all time favorites and rarely fail blow me away… Balanchine's choreography has always been described as “making you see the music” and Stravinsky Violin Concerto totally defines that for me.
    La Valse is simply delicious!!!… The dancing, music and lighting are incredible, but as a costume designer those are my absolute favorite Karinska costumes… Her use of layers of color is absolutely genius!!!… You saw maroon but believe me there were many more colors swirling around on that stage than you described… Also, just an FYI/costume term, those are called romantic tutus… The shorter pancake type are referred to as classical tutus… Lots of different variations in between but those are the two main styles.
    Though West Side Story Suite has never been one of my favorites I actually enjoyed it more than I had in the past mostly due to Andrew Veyette and Georgina Pazcoguin… Though ballet is my first love in the Arts, I am a bit biased about ballet dancers performing numbers that are such Broadway classics… Go see West Side Story when it opens later this month and you will see what I mean… They just have more punch and precision with this type of choreography and know how to control it…. Though I am convinced that Amar Ramasar has another career waiting for him on Broadway if he ever tires of ballet… Ha Ha
    Anyway glad you enjoyed the evening as much as I did… NYCB has really been mixing it up a lot this time and I don't remember enjoying an entire season as much… And the upcoming Spring season sounds even more fun!

  3. SwanLakeSambaGirl says:

    Thanks you guys — I definitely will see West Side Story when it opens here! Thanks for the link, Katrina. And thanks for the costuming vocab, Missy! I agree about Andrew and Georgina making West Side Story Suite. If it wasn't for them I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much. And I totally agree about Amar — I've always thought he could have a real career on Broadway if he wanted one.

  4. Pingback: New York City Ballet: Tradition and Innovation at Swan Lake Samba Girl

  5. wish come true if I can watch it,or I must say that my wish can't come true,please who wants to date with me with must have tickets for free