Welcoming the First Fall Season of NYCB
For anyone interested in choreography, Serenade is a feast. I think every measure choreographed by Balanchine has something wonderful in it. The ballet is rewarding on every viewing, and it’s a great way to kick off the new fall season. Last night, sitting in the First Ring added to my pleasure because you could see the constantly shifting patterns so clearly.
And I thought about some of the things that NYCB dancers said on my panel on Serenade at SAB last year. Wendy Whelan said how sacred it felt part of the group. Lourdes Lopez said she thought the three lead women are three facets of Balanchine’s perfect woman. (For more of those comments click here.)
Janie Taylor is so perfect for the moonlight mood. She’s wispy and windblown with a whiff of sadness. When she goes to the woman just before the last procession, she really collapses into her arm. Then she turns her heartbreak into a beautiful thing when, carried on high, she opens herself to the heavens.
Peter Martins’ Grazioso is a great vehicle for Ashley Bouder and three guys—well, mostly one guy: Daniel Ulbricht. Bouder is just so on in this ballet: strong, charming, totally in control and elegantly flirtatious. Ulbricht’s luscious precision shows even just on petit jetés. And then when he d
oes the big stuff, it’s positively giddy-making. In our cover story on him, Harris Green wrote about Ulbricht’s low center of gravity, something Baryshnikov and Herman Cornejo have too. They’re all so assured that you are practically participating in their confidence in soaring and landing. With Ulbricht, every classical step seems so second nature, there’s no strain at all; his pleasure just radiates out to us. I just wish he were cast more often. It doesn’t matter that he’s short. He’s one of the best male ballet dancers in New York and he enlivens ever ballet he dances.
I had never seen Robbins’ Four Seasons before. It gave us a chance to see the supremely creamy Jenifer Ringer, the long-armed Rebecca Krohn, and watch Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz nail every turn with a strong finish on the exact right note. This ballet is far from the best Robbins, in fact it’s one of his most inconsequential ones. The only moment when I thought Ah, so Robbins did make this dance, was when four guys in a row were jumping and each did a frog jump (legs in first position plié in the air) at different times, making it funny for about three seconds. But it’s a colorful ballet, with lovely shifts of mood and temperature.
So ended the first night of the first fall season in more than 25 years. It was festive occasion, with the glamorous new portraits of City Ballet principals on the walls of the Koch Theater and free champagne at intermission. Peter Martins had welcomed us with a charming, jaunty speech before introducing all the principals so that we could applaud them equally (“so it won’t be a popularity contest”). What a cool-looking, talented, relaxed bunch! We look forward to the rest of the season.
Janie Taylor, center, in
Serenade. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB