Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NYCB—Hyltin nails The Cage

Maria K and Tyler A in Symphony in C. Photo: Paul Kolnik
A fall season-ending visit to NYCB featured a varied program that seemed solid in theory, but perhaps wouldn't hold many epiphanies. The keystone, for me, was Balanchine's Symphony in C, my favorite ballet by him, with its crisp structure, unrelenting technical and spatial challenges, and changing dynamics. 

Younger dancers led three of the four sections. Ana Sophia Scheller, a new principal, showed her signature confidence and solid technique in the first movement, paired with the capable Jared Angle, though I look forward to when she relaxes a little. Erica Pereira sparkled in the lyrical third section, paired with an enthusiastic Antonio Carmena; her compact size reduces the scope of the movement, but it is crystalline. Lauren King, a corps member, and soloist Adrian Danchig-Waring took on the fourth, slightly abbreviated section; she danced with brio, and he jumped higher than anyone. The second movement, the quiet soul of the ballet, was grounded by the ever-deepening partnership between Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle. They are becoming the new go-to equation for serious duets, and deservedly so.
Brava, Sterling. Hyltin in The Cage. Photo: Paul Kolnik

The thrill of the program, however, was Sterling Hyltin's performance as the Novice in The Cage, a new role for her. This Jerome Robbins oddity has remained a repertory staple in part because its leads offer two women the potential for great dramatic breadth. Hyltin's trademark wavy blond mane was sheathed under a black bob with an apparent effect of liberating her. She is a brave dancer, but I sometimes feel that because of her petite size and her hair, she's cast in soubrette or girly roles. But as the latest initiate in a community of spider-like creatures, she threw herself into attacking the poor guys who crossed her path, including Justin Peck. Peck, one of the more muscular company members, is now known as the next hot choreographer in the wake of the smashing success of his NYCB debut, Year of the Rabbit (review here). Still, in his day job, he was a formidable foe to Hyltin until she unleashed the extent of her powers. The Queen was danced by Rebecca Krohn, a perfect fit. This Myrtha-like role calls for absolute command, both presence-wise and psychologically, which Krohn manages. 

The bill led off with Danses Concertantes (1972), the year of the mythical Stravinsky Festival. Not Mr. B's finest choreography-wise, but it satisifies visually, with gem-tone carnivalesque costumes and hand-painted playful scrims. But it feels as if the movement were created as an afterthought to perhaps satisfy the investment made in the production elements and score commission. The doodlings of four pas de deux carry the work forward flittingly. You only need see Symphony in C to realize the difference in quality, like comparing a merinque to cassoulet... although sometimes you just might want a Pavlova.

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