“Scotch Symphony,” “Monumentum pro Gesualdo,” “Movements for Piano and Orchestra,” “Tarantella,” “Concerto DSCH”
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
May 9, 2009 matinee
by Leigh Witchel
copyright © 2009 by Leigh Witchel
At the New York City Ballet matinee on Saturday, the biggest treat was a surprise. There were several debut performances; Tiler Peck’s in “Tarantella” was unannounced in a last-minute substitution for Megan Fairchild. As with Peck’s debut as Swanilda; this part seemed so well-suited that the only thing surprising about her success was that you could have sworn she had already done the part.
Peck has a bright, extroverted presence, but she underplayed slightly and didn’t give everything away. She’s a turner and the technical demands of the role didn’t wind her. She was also not going to be suckered into competing with Daniel Ulbricht. She’s a powerhouse and he was loaded for bear, but didn’t cross the line and gave a pleasant, loose performance. Evidently they’ve found him a Kevlar tambourine – he did not “accidentally” break it as he has the last four times. Discarding that shtick, he’s kept the dance fresh by playing with the timing as much as he dares – and “Tarantella” can accommodate this improvisatory style.
“Scotch Symphony” opened the program with a few debuts, including a backcloth designed by Karin von Aroldingen of rounded ochre hills that didn’t evoke Scotland in the mind. Erica Pereira took the lead in the opening movement for the first time; she beamed as she galloped across the stage. In some ways her gangly, colt-like qualities recall Alexandra Ansanelli in the role a decade previously; she has a similar courageous attack. Her leg lines also got blurry as the movement wore on. Beside her were Andrew Scordato and Devin Alberda as demi-soloists, two young men worth watching.
Jenifer Ringer was always a more mature dancer than her years. Now that she is mature, she slides easily into the role of one of the company’s senior ballerinas and resident class act. Her conception of the lead role in “Scotch” isn’t as a Sylph, but a woman of flesh and blood – unattainable but not a creature. In his debut, Benjamin Millepied was expecting a Sylph but got a woman. With no time to recalibrate, he reacted to a Sylph. Ringer’s approach makes the second movement less rarefied but integrates the third movement, which always looked abrupt as a Sylph came and joined in the human dancing. Millepied did well in his tricky dancing in the finale; Ringer had her usual mellow grace throughout while being slightly off her leg. Dena Abergel shone leading the corps.
Maria Kowroski is no stranger to the dual role of “Monumentum pro Gesualdo/Movements for Piano and Orchestra.” She has a gentle, transparent quality in both works. It’s an interesting Rorschach test to note your preference between the works. Is it for the renaissance court dances in “Monumentum” stripped bare against a starless evening sky, or for the blinding white fragmentation of “Movements” with dancers plunking about like molecules in suspension? The propulsive modernism of “Movements” makes Sébastien Marcovici look as interesting partnering Kowroski as I’ve seen him.
It’s hard not to like Alexei Ratmansky for making utterly personal, contemporary work that’s ballet, not disguised modern dance. “Concerto DSCH” tests its dancers’ technical ability, but also develops them emotionally. Ana Sophia Scheller once again spun through Ashley Bouder’s part. Like Peck, she’s an unnaturally good turner, but with Ringer’s mellow glamour rather than Bouder’s punch.
The ballet also got a few new cast members. How funny that Andrew Veyette seems most suited to being a “short boy.” He buzzed around with Joaquin De Luz and almost kept up with him. Janie Taylor’s pale remoteness worked in the adagio role originally created by Wendy Whelan. Tyler Angle, like his brother, is an excellent, strong partner. It looked perilous as he whirled Taylor in the air but she was in secure hands. Taylor’s technique is becoming less perilous as well; her abandon now has security underneath.
copyright © 2009 by Leigh Witchel
Photos by Paul Kolnik
Top: Jenifer Ringer and Benjamin Millepied in “Scotch Symphony”
Middle: Jenifer Ringer in “Scotch Symphony”
Bottom: Janie Taylor and Tyler Angle in “Concerto DSCH”