in DC - Last Day & Look Back
New York City Ballet
House, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
March 7 (matinee and evening), 2004
copyright © 2004 by George Jackson
published 8 March 2004
audience favorite among New York City Ballet's three programs for Washington
was Jewels. Applause was louder, longer and more frequent. Even
Emeralds, which of the work's three treasures can be the most
elusive to grasp, engaged the public. There was new casting on this visit's
last day, both at the afternoon performance conducted by Andrea Quinn
as on Friday, and in the evening when Maurice Kaplow held sway in the
The two ballerina roles in Emeralds make many similar demands—finesse,
attention to detail that mustn't become fussy, subtle musicality, romance
that's understood but understated. In this first ballet of the Jewels
triptych, it helps the audience if these women look distinct. Rachel Rutherford
and Pascale van Kipnis didn't. One had to remind oneself which was which
if sitting at a distance, as much of the house does. Apart from that,
one couldn't complain about either. Rutherford understood that she was
the more forward of the pair, that unlike her sister she sometimes took
her male partner by the hand and led him. Throughout, it was fun to watch
her interact with him. He, Stephen Hanna, is bright and seems to be learning
the rigors of partnering quickly. Already at the evening performance he
was a notch wiser than at the matinee and enjoying himself more. In the
gestures variation, Rutherford's arms and shoulders enunciated each syllable
clearly while giving the entire statement a melodic flow. I suspect that
despite being fine boned and not tall, she projects well into far reaches
of the house.
Van Kipnis accepted her partner's support as if by right, which gave their
perambulation a calm and contemplative power. He, James Fayette, is an
accomplished partner though he no longer fits well into tights. Skillfully
throughout Emeralds, van Kipnis modulated her attack depending
with whom and with how many of the 16 other dancers she was interacting.
Antonio Carmena came to the fore as the male soloist in the trio. Like
his companions, Amanda Edge and Carrie Lee Riggins, he entered brightly
but distinctly junior to the two leading couples. Edge and Riggins retained
their ranking, even in the intriguing septet patterns George Balanchine
has devised towards the end of the ballet. Carmena, however, grew in importance.
This is partly built into the role and the result of the ballet master's
decision to position him at the center, between Hanna and Fayette, when
all three men are dancing. But it was also due to him. Carmena proved
with his bounding quality, clarity, and energy-to-spare that his claim
to be first citizen was just. It is unusual for a plotless Balanchine
ballet to end with a male focus, but the final image in Emeralds
is down yet up—the three men begin to kneel but then their arms
scoop and open to light from above. All in all, from soloists to the 10
women of the corps, these two performances of Emeralds had true
Fun can be had with Rubies when it is danced lightly and sharply!
Miranda Weese sparkled in the quirky ballerina role, afternoon and evening.
She has a way of being her own person and yet as inseparable from her
partner as Pierette from Pierrot. And, what delicious wickedness Nikolaj
Hübbe brings to Pierrot. He wasn't quite up to some of the bravura.
In the afternoon more than at night, the four other men—Kyle Froman,
Adam Hendrickson, Aaron Severini and Daniel Ulbricht—could have
outdistanced him in the follow-the-leader game. Still, Hübbe showed
the steps and what they mean. You may sigh, but you don't feel cheated.
There was alternate casting for the single female role. As usual, someone
tall and leggy was put into the part, and the matinee's Savannah Lowery
was the type as much as Teresa Reichlen in the evening (Reichlen had also
danced the opening performance, see the Friday review). Lowery makes the
single likeable, almost cute, as well as kooky. She didn't suggest the
character's inherent aristocracy that Reichlen somehow evoked.
Diamonds had a glow Sunday afternoon with Friday's cast led by
Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal. Sunday evening the large corps de ballet
didn't differ, but the central couple was danced by Darci Kistler and
Charles Askegard. The corps sections have always been, going back to the
premiere, decorative at best and redundant at worst, seeming just filler
to give the principals a rest. That the corps serves to catalyze, reflect
and refract what the principals do, I hadn't seen until the Kirov company
acquired Diamonds. Sunday's corps was decorative. Kistler started
the adagio—at 9 minutes probably ballet's longest— moving
cleanly but carefully. She kept steps mostly small, expansiveness indicated
in the arms when necessary. Looking mature but not unglamorous, she seemed
to be dancing for the audience and herself. There was no sense that this
adagio was a conversation with Askegard, though he was certainly at work.
Before the halfway point, Kistler began to loose form. Some steps lacked
control, others just looked deflated. She finished the performance, undoubtedly
with much help from Askegard, but there were cuts. Neither she nor he
danced a variation.
Too bad that this particular Diamonds came as the coda to a largely
successful Washington season, the first in 17 years. Here, the company
tried dancing every work on the program at full throttle, which often
it doesn't do at home. Jewels has yet to receive worthy sets.
Peter Harvey's new ones aren't the worst, with the one for Rubies
rather OK. In the women's costumes for Serenade, those pale blue
variants on the romantic tutu, missing is the darker panel of blue Karinska
inserted at the front of the skirt. It had the effect of a shadow. That's
a small thing, like giving Rouault's Prodigal Son sets their
full due, but NYCB should be our standard.
NYCB in DC reviews:
Opening night triple bill,
March 3, 2004, by Alexandra Tomalonis
Second program, March 4,
2004, by George Jackson
March 5, 2004, by Alexandra Tomalonis
The Great American Dancer,
March 6 (matinee) by Alexandra Tomalonis
read our coverage of the New York Season, click here;
you'll be taken to the last review in the series, with links at the bottom
of the page to the other reviews.
read a series of articles by Leigh Witchel on the George Balanchine
Foundation's Interpreters Archive Project sessions, in which
the creators of many of Balanchine's leading roles coach young dancers
in those roles, click here.
by Paul Kolnik:
First: Miranda Weese and Stephen Hanna in Emeralds
Second: Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette in Emeralds
Third: Alxandra Ansanelli and Damian Woetzel in Rubies.
Fourth: Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal in Diamonds.
Volume 2, Number 9
March 4, 2004
© 2004 Alexandra
Jean Battey Lewis
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Alexandra Tomalonis (Editor)
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