(Above photo of Sebastien Marcovici in The Four Temperaments and photos below of NYCB cast in La Stravaganza, by Paul Kolnik)
I have hardly any time to write — I don’t know how I always do this to myself, but I leave in just a few hours for a long train ride down south to visit Mom for Mother’s Day, and I haven’t really begun packing yet… — so I have to make this very short. But quickly, highlights of my NYCB week:
Sebastien Marcovici in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. This ballet, set to Paul Hindemith music, consists of a theme with four variations, each variation representing one of four physical /psychological types: Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic, and Choleric. Sebastien danced that first variation with so much emotion and drama and all-out expression that Melancholy almost became a human character itself. I could have sat there and watched him do that variation over and over again. Also, I have to take back something I said last season, that he’d developed such muscle that his lines are a bit off. His lines were perfect this week, huge leg muscles or not! Funny, my friend even recognized how much larger he was than every other guy out there. But we both agreed his size makes him move a certain way, quite unlike anyone else. He’s a large, dark, exotic-looking guy and when he takes a role emotionally and expressively as far as he can, he is really spellbinding.
Jared Angle and Abi Stafford were lively as Sanguinic, but Phlegmatic (danced by Albert Evans) and Choleric (danced by Teresa Reichlen) were too emotionally similar to Melancholic for me. I am probably going to have my life threatened for this because I know he is a favorite to a great many NYCB fans, but, honestly, I didn’t like Albert Evans in this. His movements weren’t sharp enough at all. At one point, he’s supposed to be bending over bit by bit from the waist with short, razor sharp staccato movements, as if he’s keeling over in pain, but he just kind of rounded his shoulders and arched his back a few times and I didn’t see pain at all. When I saw San Francisco Ballet perform this work, I can’t remember off the top of my head who I saw dance this part, but it was done much differently.
I saw Angelin Preljocaj’s La Stravaganza twice this week. This is a modern piece set to a combination of Vivaldi and electronic music that tells the story of two worlds colliding, quite literally: that of a group of 17th Century Europeans and a group, I think, of their contemporary counterparts, perhaps Americans. The more I think about it, the more I think Preljocaj is commenting on the cyclical nature of history. You’d think the 17th Century music would accompany the 17th Century denizens, but no, it’s the opposite: the historical group makes hyper modern, sharp, angular at times awkward movements that at times almost look robotic, to the electronic music; the contemporary group makes more classical balletic movement to the Vivaldi. When the groups interact — sometimes sexually, sometimes violently — they end up influencing each other, each taking from the other. And, the piece ends exactly where it begins: with the contemporary group in a huddle, one woman having strayed from it, cautiously returning to it.
And highlight number three: tonight, this one returned to the stage, finally, in Balanchine’s sprightly, magical Divertimento No. 15.
(photo Paul Kolnik)
He didn’t have the main male part — that belonged, rightly, to another of my favorite male dancers, Andrew Veyette, but I was still charmed to see Robert. And his sister completely blew me away with insanely fast footwork that seemed far beyond humanly possible.
By the way, a heads up: on May 21st PBS will live broadcast the company’s Romeo + Juliet. Casting hasn’t yet been announced, but I’m thinking it will probably include the aforesaid as Romeo, with Sterling Hyltin as Juliet, who were the original cast. But I’m not sure. Updates as I know them. And many more reminders before then because I’m dying for my non-New Yorker readers to watch and let me know what they think!
Okay, happy weekend, happy Mother’ s Day, everyone!