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Kina Poon on Thursday, May 09, 2013
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Imagine: A dancer who has done a role countless times, for years, suddenly transforms, elevating their performance to previously unimaginable heights. That breakthrough moment is one of the most exciting things to witness, period. And it happened, last night, at New York City Ballet's spring gala—to Andrew Veyette in Stars and Stripes.
From his solo's very first jump, suspended just a beat longer than the music squarely allows, Veyette was on fire. He approached the role—which he's performed since his SAB days, and for our camera at our September 2011 cover shoot—with brio and good-natured swagger. He waited until the very last second to switch direction, and went for that extra turn—which, in the solo's final moments, resulted in a rather spectacular fall and stumble into the wings. While he's given some great performances in the last few months, this dancing on the very edge of his abilities (like his partner, the unstoppable Ashley Bouder, almost always does)—we hope to see more of it!
The whole company has been dancing spectacularly. Maybe the mass promotions that came at the end of last season—Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, Megan LeCrone, Lauren Lovette, Georgina Pazcoguin, Justin Peck, Brittany Pollack, and Taylor Stanley were elevated to soloist; and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Chase Finlay and Ask la Cour to principal—gave reassurance to some, hope to others, and lit fire in the bellies of the rest. The new soloists, especially, have been owning their hard-fought rank. (The fragile beauty of Ashley Laracey ("On the Rise," Dec.) in Balanchine's eerie Ivesiana last Tuesday and Georgina Pazcoguin's flirty insistence in Robbins' Fancy Free on Saturday were just two standout portrayals.) Last night, Lauren Lovette ("On the Rise," Oct. 2011), in the company premiere of Wheeldon's Soirée Musicale, showed why she's destined to be the company's next big star. Although she's small, her innate sense of placement, her long limbs, and the pliancy of her back filled the stage. (See a clip on NYCB's Facebook page here.) In the same ballet, Wheeldon gave Pollack (who graced our January 2011 cover as a "25 to Watch") one of her best roles yet. In the Tango section, she commanded the stage while her suitors, as the music swelled, continually multiplied. In a recurring phrase, they formed a modified staircase that Pollack, held aloft, gamely slid down. Also, Indiana Woodward, who has been catching our eye with the sheer fullness of her dancing since she joined the corps last fall, got her first shot at a featured role and rose to the occasion.
Wheeldon's other premiere, A Place for Us (excerpt here), received mixed reactions. Tiler Peck is perhaps the most multi-faceted and musical dancer onstage right now—and with her as his muse, Wheeldon crafted some beautiful moments. While there was less wrangling partnering, one of the loudest criticisms of the choreographer's work, we missed the traveling sweep of say, Mercurial Maneouvers—or his Carousel, A Dance. For some, the brief references to West Side Story made the ballet magical. For others, the overall mood didn't match the ballet's title, with all of its WSS implications.
Also on the program were "Cool" from WSS (Veyette again), "The Man I Love" from Who Cares? (danced beautifully by Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar, with a fabulous assist from guest singer Queen Latifah), and the last movement of Robbins' Glass Pieces, led by Justin Peck. The opening unison section for the men looks like the most exhilarating (and probably exhausting) choreography to dance. We wish we could've seen the whole ballet, but alas—another night.
NYCB in Glass Pieces. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.