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The DanceView Times, New York edition

Matters of Temperament

La Source/Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze"/The Four Temperaments
New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York, NY
May 20, 2004

by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2004 by Mary Cargill
published 24 May 2004

The heart of the program was Balanchine’s Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze with the profoundly moving Kyra Nichols in the Clara Schumann role. Its original cast made Davidsbündlertänze a continuous conversation; an illustration of various aspects of love. It has now become, in part, a somewhat chopped up series of dances. Jenifer Ringer, though, with Peter Boal, and Nichols with a restrained and haunting Charles Askegard, were eloquent reminders of its original depth. Darci Kistler, in the Farrell role, seemed miscast. She is too sunny and playful to capture the illusive and mysterious longing the role needs. Alexandra Ansanelli seemed too modern, dancing primarily for the audience, and going through the gestures of despair too melodramatically.

Nichols’ gestures, so close to traditional mime, avoided all sense of melodrama. There was no sense of “Look at me love, and hope, and comfort, and despair”; it was as if she embodied those emotions in a three-dimensional form. The final scene, when her body seemed to try to pull Askegard back before collapsing in helpless grief, could be a statue of Niobe come to life.

La Source is one of Balanchine’s piecemeal ballets, starting in what seems to be the middle of a half-remembered 19th century story. It is plotless, but the dancers should give the impression of being part of something larger than the existing music, of dancing with and for each other for a specific, if unexplained, reason. Miranda Weese was all creamy perfection, but her dancing seemed to start and stop with the music. There was little emotional rapport with her partner, and since she was dancing with Nikolaj Hübbe at his most impeccably ardent—is there anyone on earth that looks at his partner the way he does?—it should have been easy for Weese to convince the audience that she was the grandest and most beautiful woman in the world, spinning off stage to eternal happiness. She danced beautifully and clearly, but cream is not champagne.

Ashley Bouder, substituting for Abi Stafford as the soloist, is not champagne either, she is a torrential, sparkling waterfall. She first bounded into the audience’s consciousness dancing this role two years ago, and yet again, you could feel the audience snap to attention when she flew in, carving the air with her magnificently musical heel-to-the-head leaps. Bouder’s jump is extraordinary, very different from the typical airy, arm-flinging leaps of so many dancers. She can pull her legs up so quickly and so powerfully that she seems to be sitting on the air, while maintaining a classically shaped upper body. Her dancing in La Source was pure joy to watch.

The Four Temperaments has a statuesque quality about the choreography, where shape forms content. Sébastien Marcovici was Melancholic, and though his dancing had a fluid grace, I missed the struggle, the push and pull of emotion that Peter Boal brings. Sofiane Sylve and Robert Tewsley danced Sanguinic, and, while each individually was very good, I don’t think their styles quite meshed. Sylve is a powerful dancer, strong but not sharp, and danced with an almost fierce, controlled power. Tewsely made a more rounded picture, though he had a fine attack, and seemed to flow through the shapes. His approach helped set off the other men’s choreography, and it is good to see him dancing so authoritatively.

Albert Evans’ Phlegmatic is infinitely interesting, a miniature examination of an emotional journey. Teresa Reichlin, as Choleric, has a luxurious body and a fine jump, but she seems a bit weak, slightly bobbling many of her landings. At times she looks all extensions and no center, something, certainly, that cannot be said of Bouder, Nichols, and Sylve, who can dance from their center up and out to the audience.

First:  Jenifer Ringer and Peter Boal in Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze. Photo Paul Kolnik.
Second: Ashley Bouder in La Source. Photo: Paul Kolnik.
Volume 2, Number 19
May 24, 2004

Copyright ©2004 by Mary Cargill



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The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

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last updated on May 24, 2004