New York City Ballet
Balanchine and Robbins programmes
March 15-16, 2008
by Marc Haegeman
copyright 2008 by Marc Haegeman
Besides its treasure-trove of ballets, the most fascinating thing about New York City Ballet for European dance lovers is that the company looks so completely different from anything we are used to seeing here. The full troupe last visited London a quarter of a century ago, but even if it had been only five years it wouldn’t have made much difference. It still takes time to adjust to the different aesthetics and accents, but in the end the experience proves, if not always revelatory, at least absolutely refreshing. However, even when taken on its own terms, there’s no denying that in the mere three performances I caught at the London Coliseum, City Ballet left an uneven impression, depending very much of the leading casts. Or, to continue the delightful British analogy overheard in the theatre, this “exotic bird” not only has “striking colours”, it can also sing pretty much out of tune. Part of the problem was that there were very few ballerinas present who could act as linchpins. Maria Kowroski, Jenifer Ringer and Jennie Somogyi didn’t make it to London. We did have Wendy Whelan and Darci Kistler, although frankly, casting the latter in “Serenade” didn’t seem such a good idea at this point. Yet most of the other female principals look like kids, perky little teenagers, but not ballerinas. The only exception is Ashley Bouder, who is, with her star magnetism, her stunning technique and musicality, her communicative pleasure of performing, a tremendously gifted artist you would want to see over and over again. The men generally made a slick impression, but they too are young and you wouldn’t want to trust them very far with anything outside of their own repertory.