Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stormy Weather—NYCB's Balanchine Slate

Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Photo: Paul Kolnik
The storm Jonas dumped nearly a yard of snow in its wake, shutting down all of New York City, including cultural performances. But another tempest, Sara Mearns, channelled some of its vibrant fury in Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet (1980) at New York City Ballet on make-up night, January 26. Through her musicality and kinetic impulses, Mearns conveyed an astounding amount of inner life while remaining faithful to the choreography, which she has absorbed a priori. Adrian Danchig-Waring was a noble, strong partner to counter her contained passion.

The all-Balanchine program included Sonatine (1975), a duo with Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz to a Ravel score played live onstage by Cameron Grant. They shared a tender camaraderie, but she repeatedly left him and returned, as if testing the permanence of closure. Peck never stopped moving, giving life and evolution to seemingly static poses. De Luz crackled onstage; his roguish charm paired particularly well with Peck's joy and wonderment.
Tiler Peck & Joaquin de Luz in Sonatine. Photo: Paul Kolnik

The last time I saw Mozartiana (1981), Anthony Huxley danced the second male role; here, he was in the lead male part wearing white and violet, and the cocoa-clad Daniel Ulbricht danced the secondary Gigue. While Huxley continues to develop his partnering work, and on the softening of his placid facial expression, he was crisp technically and timing-wise, and bestowed his movement with more weight and plushness. Sterling Hyltin gave an elegiac, tender performance, her hand softly unfurling as if presenting a priceless gift; Ulbricht was light and appealing if somewhat flat—it's almost as if he reins in his personality and simply lets his flying leaps speak.

The sturdy Symphony in C (1947) featured Megan Fairchild in the first movement with a lackluster Gonzalo Garcia, who seemed rusty and uninspired. The cool pair of Teresa and Tyler Angle wafted elegantly through the second part, making its difficult chained lifts look seamless. A vivacious Antonio Carmena partnered Erica Pereira in the jaunty third, she emanated energy but her small stature tends to minimize the impact. And I wanted to see more of Brittany Pollack and Taylor Stanley, electric in the brief fourth movement.

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