NYCB Opens its Spring 2011 Season with “Balanchine: Black & White”

Photo from 2004 of Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto in Balanchine’s Agon, by Paul Kolnik.

Last night New York City Ballet opened its Spring season with three Balanchine “leotard” or “black and white” ballets (so-called because of the costumes). I have very little time to write because I’m off for a short trip to Phoenix later today. But I’ll just say, all the dancers looked very refreshed, in tiptop shape, and everyone danced very well and with lots of expression.

First on – and the highlight of the evening to me – was Square Dance, which I haven’t seen a huge number of times but which is really growing on me. The leads were Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley, who is really growing on me as well. He reminds me a bit of Alex Wong, except he’s more lyrical and it’s a little less about the stunning feats with him, though he is a very good dancer and I’m sure can do the stunning feats! His difficult-looking often flexed-footed solo was mesmerizing. He was even mesmerizing when he just stood off-center and watched Fairchild do her solo, the way he’d look at her, at times longingly, at times in awe. Megan danced with a lot of joy as well – all dancers were very emotionally compelling in this. And I’m not the only one who thought so – the audience really went crazy with applause after this dance.

Next on was Agon. The main couples were Wendy Whelan and Sebastien Marcovici, Teresa Reichlen and Andrew Veyette, Ashley Laracey and Amar Ramasar, and Amanda Hankes and Craig Hall. Andrew Veyette (above, photo by Paul Kolnik) really stood out to me in this. I think he is well-suited to all the angular lines so pronounced in these leotard ballets. Wendy Whelan and Sebastien Marcovici had a couple very minor flubs. During intermission, the little group of balletomanes I hang out with were reminiscing about how stunning she was when she used to dance this part with Jock Soto (which is why I posted the top picture). I really wish I could have seen that. It looks stunning from the picture.

The evening ended with Stravinsky Violin Concerto; leads were Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar, and Sterling Hyltin and Ask LaCour.  I always like this ballet and I always look for my favorite part – where, in the third section, Aria II, the man stands over the woman and turns her around and around, like a barrel. I think I’ve seen Robert Fairchild do it only once, but it was the first time I ever saw the ballet and now, to me, he owns that role and no one can do it like him. I thought of that when my intermission friends were reminiscing about their favorite dancers from the past and how differently they looked doing these black and white ballets – how much more precision there used to be – and it’s funny because Robert Fairchild is obviously not the first dancer to dance my favorite part but he’ll always define it to me. The first dancer, or the first set of dancers, that you see in a role or a dance will definitely leave an indelible impression. But someday I still very much would like to see the original Balanchine dancers in these ballets.

Anyway, this was opening night, but there was no red carpet since NYCB has their gala next week, on Wednesday – when the Patti LuPone collaboration will premiere!

Okay, I’m off to the land of lizards and gila monsters and sun and 99-degree temperatures! Assuming I’m able to finish packing…

One Comment

  1. Hey Tonya! Great blog. I just started my own ( a few months ago, and it looks like we enjoy some of the same things. I was at City Ballet opening night as well and had a blast. It’s been such a fun week, seeing all this Balanchine. Check out my blog sometime and let me know what you think. I’ve bookmarked yours!

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