"BRAVO, MR. B.": DANCERS' CHOICE PROGRAM, NEW YORK CITY BALLET

6a00d8341c4e3853ef01156fc4db61970c-800wi

(Design by Janie Taylor, NYCBallet)

I love these Dancers’ Choice programs at NYCBallet! Established to raise money for the Dancers’ Emergency Fund, it’s the one night of the year where the dancers plan everything — the ballets to be performed, which excerpts, and who dances them. One dancer plays artistic director for the night (tonight’s was  principal ballerina Jenifer Ringer), another designs the program graphic (tonight, Janie Taylor, above), and another choreographs a ballet to be premiered (tonight, Ashley Bouder, with costumes by Janie Taylor) Dancers who are visual artists donate their artwork for a silent auction during intermission. And that’s my one and only complaint with the evening — the intermissions are always too flipping short. There’s no way people have time to browse through the special items for sale and make their purchases in 15 minutes. Why don’t they double or even triple the intermission? People can buy sparkling wine and browse and buy, not to mention people-watch (practically everyone shows up for these things — all the dancers past and present at NYCB and even ABTers from across the plaza). And it wouldn’t be more expensive to do that, right — if you’re selling alcohol and art, what’s the added expense? What do people need to get home for by 10:00 anyway :)

Okay, that’s my little rant.

The program was excellent. They chose the best parts of some great ballets, and some ballets I’ve never seen before — and ended up loving — and of course Bouder’s new ballet!

I’m not going to go in order, but just write what comes to mind first, which is the new Bouder,

titled Give Me Fever (after the song Fever), which I loved. Awesome Ariel had invited me to a rehearsal on Friday and they did this program, so I got a little sneak preview. It’s part straight ballet and part jazzy / swingy ballet, set to three pieces of music: classical piano by Eric Satie, and the songs Love Me Or Leave Me and Fever. There are two couples — Amar Ramasar and Kaitlyn Gilliland, and Brittany Pollack and Sean Suozzi; only the first — Amar and Kaitlyn dance the first, straight ballet part. They seem to be boyfriend and girlfriend, having a little fight. There are lots of slides where he pushes her along the floor, and some lifts; the most memorable of this first part was when Amar places Kaitlyn into the splits in front of him, then steps over her, and she bends his leg and pushes his knee, and peeks out from between his legs. They wear Janie’s black and blue horizontally-striped leotards with black tights.

Soon, Kaitlyn disappears into the wings and Amar’s standing there confused, and on walks Brittany, wearing a playful purple shorts jumper and red tennis shoes. The music changes to Love Me Or Leave Me and she begins her jazzy thing. Sean, wearing black jeans and sneakers, joins her and they do some fun swing-y moves, low jitterbug lifts and a rag doll — they’re a happier, more frolicking couple. Soon, Kaitlyn joins them, now similarly outfitted, and joins in the fun, followed by Amar, who, of the four, had probably the best jazz-body. The way I saw it, he and Kaitlyn kind of overcame their troubles through the introduction of Brittany and Sean’s swingy dance.

After a cute double-dip, on which Kaitlyn’s free leg went breathlessly sky high, the music and mood changed to the sexy Fever. Here, the couples kind of seduce each other with a combo of slinky, snaky moves and ballet theatrics — barrel turns, jetes and the like. I remember a fun fish dive where Kaitlyn waves her arms and chest jazzily about. “What a concept: a young choreographer actually having fun!” laughed the woman sitting beside me.

At the end, Janie and Ashley took bows with the cast. I couldn’t take my eyes off Janie’s charming yellow poof-skirted dress.

But my favorite part of the night was Tyler Angle and Kathryn Morgan’s Sleeping Beauty pas de deux. There’s no more perfect princess than Kathryn. She is like a Margot Fonteyn or a Suzanne Farrell. And Tyler is the perfect prince. Those promenades were beyond stunning. She was just exquisite splendid perfection. And she has such gorgeous fluid movement in her upper body, she almost melted me at one point. There’s a point where they do a series of three fish dives and her third one was breathtaking — her legs pointed straight up to the ceiling.

Tyler did a good job during the pas de deux of showing her off, and letting it be all about her. He’s a dancer who, I think without meaning to, tends to take over during partnering, just because of the sheer power of his magnetism, like Nureyev pre-Fonteyn. But of course during his solos, he had all his moments. I could watch him all day, for days, weeks on end. He actually had a little stumble on one of his jump turn combination thingys. He was able to laugh at himself and it was so sincerely endearingly cute! I love him :) And then after his final variation, which I thought was perfect, he did it again — had a little laugh to himself at the side of the stage, except it wasn’t really to himself. He probably thought no one was looking, since she started dancing. 😀 “Sooo romantic,” waxed the woman next to me.

In G Major, a Robbins piece I’d never seen before, was another highlight. Danced by Adrian Danchig-Waring and Rebecca Krohn, it was another one we saw Friday that stole my heart, along with Danchig-Waring (who I haven’t seen much of before). It’s a quiet, soft adagio, seemingly about two lovers after a serious fight, trying to figure out where to go from here. She bourrees away from him, toward him, then away again, all over the stage, while he looks at her with sadness, worry, confusion, longing. He always had an expression on his face when he looked at her as she danced, and it’s kind of a back and forth — she dances, then he, then she. There’s some complicated partnering though, including a lift where she’s in a split balancing on his shoulder. It’s really beautiful; the whole thing is.

Okay, the rest of the program consisted of: 1) The Waltz Project (a series of duets by Peter Martins that I’d never seen before) which was sweetly engaging, standouts to me were Andrew Scordato and Faye Arthurs in the third and second duets respectively; 2) Richard Tanner’s Episodes & Sarcasms (which I’d also never seen), which was intense and mesmerizing, with hints of sexual violence; 3) probably the most lively, fast and flirtatious excerpt from Dances at a Gathering in which David Prottas, dancing with Stephanie Zungre, blew me away; 4) Valse-Fantasie by Balanchine (which I’d also never seen), danced by the always immensely captivating Tiler Peck, with Christian Tworzyanski; 5) an excerpt from the first part of beautiful Serenade with Maria Kowroski as the fallen girl; 6) and they ended with the Royal Navy excerpts from Balanchine’s fun Union Jack — so everyone got to do the fast fancy sailor shuffles and Jared Angle the bouncy high jumps and Robert Fairchild the hilarious Popeye muscle-flexes. The corps featured heavily in Union Jack, and just before it was performed, Jenifer Ringer announced it was for them, to showcase them. Afterward, they all took the first curtain call bow. Many in the audience gave them a standing ovation, including Mr. Marcelo 😀 — seated two rows behind me, near Allegra Kent.

They also showed a short film co-produced by Jenifer Ringer and Kristin Sloan, in which Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette talked about partnering and rehearsed the Sleeping Beauty pdd we’d just seen Tyler and Kathryn do. I think Kristin listened to Doug Fox back when he was going on and on about those Anaheim Ballet videos where the camera was situated so that it showed the dancers’ perspectives during turns, lifts, etc. ‘cuz that’s how this was. Cool, but I admit I got a little dizzy at one point :) Cute personalities: Megan tells the interviewer she tends to do everything on her own just as Andrew says the girl should use the guy and not do everything herself. “I’m not doing anything; you might as well use me,” he says humorously, matter-of-factly. They’re a sweet partnership.

It was a fun night. Not a dull millisecond in the whole thing. “Bravo, Mr. B.” said the woman next to me.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful review. Boy, I wish I could have been there! I agree, 15 minutes is far too short for perusing and purchasing, not to mention dancer-watching on a night like this!
    So happy to “see” the show through your eyes.

  2. What a great idea! I bet the dancer's loved being in control for once!

  3. Marcelo Gomes AND Allegra Kent in the audience! You lucky thing!
    These dancer designed programs are fun because you get to see beloved dancers doing roles they don't normally get cast in, such as the Divine Maria as the waltz girl in Serenade instead of the dark angel role she always dances.
    I don't get a chance to see NYCB very much anymore as I live in the Midwest so I really appreciate blogs such as yours and Oberon's Grove for letting me live these performances vicariously. That sounds kind of pathetic. Can somebody cue the sad violins?

  4. Can't believe I missed this. I had to take care of all of the book review stuff, which seems like a valid excuse, but still: Shoot. Me. Now. Thanks for the full recap of the Bouder piece. I was so curious! It sounds like “Brava, Ms. B,” as well :)

    And I had no idea about Janie's other talents. That's amazing.

  5. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    Wonderful, wonderful post!! I have been a fan of your blog for a long time, and have loved reading all of your accounts and some very witty writing! Really, you have a gift and it's been a pleasure to read your words these past few years.
    Thank you, most especially, for your vivid, personal and detailed accounts of NYCB and ABT performances/dancers. They are great fun to read, and you inject so much personal enthusiasm and insight/analysis – I don't know how you do it, but your writing is marvelous and strikes a chord. [- quite often there's one quirky observation that just strikes me as so, “yeah! … yessss! that is so true, she's nailed it there” – and oftentimes I laugh to myself because I can almost see the moment coming! ;)…] Love your writing – it seems spontaneous and organic and candid without being bereft of insight or knowledge or respect – it is fresh, detailed, and comes from the heart and the senses.

    Lovely posts about NYCB and ABT – esp. the Osipova Giselle. [I've been desperate to read first-hand accounts of that evening! ;)]
    Thank you so much – we fans of ballet, and of your blog! ;), are lucky to come here and to get to read your lovely writing.

  6. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thank you so much, you guys! Thank you, Ann! Those are the nicest words I think anyone's ever said about my blog! It makes me so happy that people enjoy my writing and that it's clear enough that you guys can experience the performances vicariously if you're not in NY or you are and couldn't make one. Thank you so much!

  7. I hadn't seen In G Major in a long time and realized how much i love it… One of the best ballet moments ever for me was seeing it danced years ago by Peter Martins and Heather Watts during their on again, off again (with a little Gelsey thrown in for good measure) relationship… It was a last minute replacement on the program which was actually announced and the whole audience actually gasped… You could hear a pin drop during the performance… It was priceless!

    I also saw Marcelo because he was sitting right in front of me… Thank goodness those seats are staggered or I wouldn't have been able to see over him… ha ha

  8. A lot of folks that come into the city to see the ballet are commuting from the 'burbs on the commuter lines and at night, they run infrequently. Not getting to your train that late could make the diffeence between getting to bed (on a work night) at one in the morning or at three! Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a quick subway ride home and every minute is crucial, I think it's important that the company has taken that into consideration so that those of us who have a trek and half to get home can still enjoy a night of dance!

    For the record, I live in Forest Hills so it's not that much of a trek for me but I worked with a woman who loved ballet but rarely got to go because she lived in Connecticut and the commute at that time was so long.

  9. A lot of folks that come into the city to see the ballet are commuting from the 'burbs on the commuter lines and at night, they run infrequently. Not getting to your train that late could make the diffeence between getting to bed (on a work night) at one in the morning or at three! Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a quick subway ride home and every minute is crucial, I think it's important that the company has taken that into consideration so that those of us who have a trek and half to get home can still enjoy a night of dance!

    For the record, I live in Forest Hills so it's not that much of a trek for me but I worked with a woman who loved ballet but rarely got to go because she lived in Connecticut and the commute at that time was so long.

Comments are closed