MORE BEAUTIES

So, toward the end of last week I saw two more casts of Sleeping Beauty in New York City Ballet’s production. Above are the beautiful Kathryn Morgan as Aurora and Tyler Angle as her Prince Desire (Paul Kolnik is the photographer). Below are some photos of the other couple I saw, Tiler Peck (both she and Kathryn were making their Aurora debuts), with Gonzalo Garcia, albeit not from this ballet.

(in Four Bagatelles, photo by Paul Kolnik)

(and in the Christopher Wheeldon / Martha Wainwright collaboration over the summer, photo from NYTimes by Andrea Mohin; I like this photo because I think it shows each of their personalities well).

And then last week, I saw Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette.

I’ve been thinking about who I thought was best in what role but it’s actually really hard to do that. I honestly ended up liking everyone, though there were definite differences.

I do have a lot to say about Gonzalo Garcia though. I LOVED him as Prince Desire — he really melted me, he really completely stole the show that night and I feel like I’m not ever going to like anyone quite as well in that role now. I mean, you just have to see him in a classical ballet, as the romantic lead, and you realize why San Francisco audiences were so upset when he left SFB for NYCB a couple years ago. Some of those SFBallet fans were really devastated when he left. And I think it’s been such a puzzle to those fans that New Yorkers haven’t really fallen for him the same way. And I think it’s because he hasn’t had the chance to shine because NYCB is so Balanchine-heavy. He needs roles where he can act and become a character. He’s such the quintessential romantic prince.

You can really tell how differently he’s trained than the other NYCB dancers, who’ve nearly all come from SAB and been trained on Balanchine’s non-actable abstract ballets. I felt like with Gonzalo I was seeing someone from ABT — mainly Angel Corella (in terms of the body type, dramatic style and boyishly handsome face). The way he’d hold onto the music, draw it out while it crescendos, by for example in the vision scene holding out a finger to the princess and then leaning back, then looking out to the audience — not AT the audience but in the audience’s direction — to show how enthralled he is, how much he wants to catch her, all before then turning and running toward her. The other two — Tyler and Andrew — they didn’t do all that. They just kind of looked toward her standing more and more toward the tips of the toes, ready to run toward her when the music told them to. Gonzalo’s way was so much more Petipa and Tchaikovsky and Bolshoi and Romantic Russian and all that, and it might all seem overly melodramatic to audiences who aren’t used to that. But that’s what I’m used to with ABT — and that kind of stuff makes me swoon!– so that’s why I think I loved him so much. But I’m wondering what others who saw this cast thought?

And Gonzalo just knows what’s expected of him, as the prince. Later, when he went to do that crazy series of jetes, he was rested up and ready and he nailed them like I’ve never seen him nail anything. I’ve never seen his legs straighter, in perfect splits, and the whole way around the perimeter of the stage, without tiring. And it’s like he knew that was a very important part, and he had to do them perfectly because that’s just what the romantic hero does — that’s the way he shows his love for the princess, and that he’s worthy of her. The other two obviously took them seriously (because they’re crazy hard, you have to take them seriously), but it just was more of a difficult feat, instead of having the same meaning. You know what I mean? Like he looked out all across the stage wistfully, and then he just took off flying around it. It gave it a different meaning than just flying around.

It makes me wonder though if contemporary audiences understand that, or appreciate it. Or whether they prefer for the emotion to look more “natural”? I’m not saying Gonzalo was better than the other two, just different.

I wonder what Joaquin De Luz was like, since he’s not SAB trained either. Did anyone see him?

As far as partnerships, Kathryn and Tyler were my favorites. Tyler had a few flubs on some of his solo variations (but I still love him!), but he was always the perfect partner, he was always solid when supporting her. And the series of fish dives in the wedding pas de deux were some of the most breathtaking I’ve ever seen. Her legs were pointing completely up toward the ceiling! Magnificent! And the final hands-free fish dive was picture perfect.

I liked all of the Aurora interpretations, but they were different too. Kathryn was the most princess-like, the most regal, though that may just be the way she looks. She just kind of looks like royalty! Ashley and Tiler seemed more “real girlish”  – all smiles and sweetness and awe at the world and their cute suitors.

The rose adagios were all near perfect. (ABT’s Sarah Lane is still the queen of the balances to me — it seems like she could hold them for hours.) Kathryn had the most absolutely gorgeous extensions. Do I have to giggle every time Robert Fairchild comes out leading the cavalcade of suitors? I loved Craig Hall as the “African prince,” – I don’t know what exactly stood out about him but something did. And even though it wasn’t a dancing role, I loved Henry Seth as the King; he acted it really well. Chase Finlay was lovely as Gold in the wedding scene – -he’s a really beautiful dancer with exquisite lines. Everyone’s talking about him being the next romantic lead. I loved tiny Erica Pereira as the fairy of eloquence and Ana Sophia Scheller as the fairy of courage, thought Faye Arthurs and Adrian Danchig-Waring were brilliant as The White Cat and Puss in Boots, and Daniel Ulbricht is the quintessential gymnastic court jester.

And there’s NEVER been a better Carabosse than Georgina Pazcoguin! Nor has there ever been (or, perhaps, could there be) a better Lilac Fairy than Sara Mearns. I love how she arches her back so luxuriously and opens up her chest. And the rich, full-out port de bras. Such beautiful expansiveness, that, with her beatific face, makes her perfect for this angelic role. She reminds me of Veronika Part.

Okay, that’s all I can think of, for now!

This week begins the Swan Lakes. I’ve never seen Peter Martins’ version, so I’m really excited. In particular, I’ve heard wonderful things about Maria Kowroski as Odette and I’m psyched for Stephen Hanna’s debut as Prince Siegfried!

6 Comments

  1. Beautiful pictures and a very, very interesting post! Best wishes from the Netherlands, xMM

  2. Very interesting analysis…I wasn't fortunate enough to see all the casts, but I absolutely agree with your insights on deeper, fuller acting. It makes such a world of difference for the audience. I was still thinking about the Peck-Garcia performance days later, thanks to those special touches they added.
    Thanks to you for articulating their artistry so beautifully! Your reviews are always so much fun to read! All best, Vanessa

  3. I think it's difficult – and actually rather pointless – to say someone was 'best' in a given role. Much better just to savor all the variety of interpretations we were offered duriung the two weeks. As Sarah said to me on Sunday: “We are so spoiled.” Yes, we are spoiled rotten by this wealth of talent.

    Joaquin was beautiful of course and Megan Fairchild was perfection as Aurora. I sometimes think they should do BEAUTY annually in the week between Christmas and New Year, rather than an additional week of NUTZ.

  4. I saw only two performances – the Bouder/Veyette partnership and the Morgan/Angle partnership. Ashley and Katie were distinctly different in their interpretations of Aurora but both were, in my opinion, simply magnificent. As for the partnerships themselves, I would have to agree with you in casting my vote for Katie and Tyler. Their chemistry and rapport on stage was extraordinary and their wedding pas de deux was pure perfection. I also agree with Philip in expressing the wish that the company would do a week of Sleeping Beauty every year in lieu of an extra week of Nutcracker.

  5. Hi, I saw the same casts you did and your comments really chimed with me – particularly re Gonzalo Garcia's Prince and the Morgan/Angle fishdives! All the Auroras were wonderful in their different ways. Will look out for your Swan Lake review, the Martins version will be a first for me too. Nice site!

  6. Ah, you are so lucky to have seen all of those casts! I saw Katie's Morgan's debut as Aurora, which was fantastic, of course.

    I hear what you're saying about the acting, but I really thought Tyler Angle was a perfect fit as Prince Desire: He always has such a courtly quality anyway, and as you said, he was a perfect partner, solid and supportive. And that's really my interpretation of the role. I mean, this isn't Romeo and Juliet, with co-billing for co-leads: It's Aurora's world. Which is not to say that the prince should be a bloodless automaton, but my take is that he's the perfect, supportive, princely partner. And that was Angle to a t.

    Anyway, you're right: Katie was amazing. Compared to Peck and Bouder, she has a softer more vulnerable quality. (Can you imagine the sort of magic it would take to keep Bouder motionless for all those years?!) Again, it seems to fit the role and was especially effective in the Vision scene. I also thought Megan Fairchild was flawless as Princess Florine and Ulbricht was astounding as a jester but DEAR LORD IN HEAVEN get that man some longer roles—it's like being allowed to watch only one burst of a fireworks display!

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