"Apollo," "The Four Temperaments," "Union Jack"
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
September 23, 2011
By Carol Pardo
Copyright ©2011 by Carol Pardo
Balanchine’s "Union Jack" is a goulash of anglophilia full of contrasts and contradictions, in its premise, form and emotional take-away. It veers from the funny and witty to the astonishing and moving. It can make you want to laugh and cry.
But not this time. Balanchine’s craftsmanship was certainly present, the formal feats as confounding as ever (how did he manage those seventy people on stage?) but with four debuts and four senior dancers earning the epithet, "Union Jack" delivered a smile or two, no grins and certainly no lump in the throat. Of the debutants, Joaquin DeLuz, leading the Lennox crew, came off best, his eagerness and high spirits unencumbered by gaiters and full regalia. But he’s out there alone, neither seeking nor finding the other half of what should be a duo. Nor have Janie Taylor and Jared Angle, chiefs of the Menzies and Dress MacDonald clans, figured out who they are. In the loopy nautical finale, Taylor is the gob with waist-length braids, surely a first for the Royal Navy. But how will she channel her wild streak in the opening tatoo, a part that is so reined in? We don’t yet know. Jared Angle was all courtesy and reticence; he needs more force and confidence. Otherwise he and the Menzies melt into the mob, busbies and all. Amar Ramasar, as the Pearly King in the ‘Costermonger Pas de Deux’ is proud of his button-studded duds and eager to show them off to all and sundry. His timing is spot on and he doesn’t overplay the part which is all too easy to do. But he and his Queen, Jenifer Ringer, seemed to be on different stages and the partnering looked uncomfortable. One of the pleasures of this duet is its melding of the couple’s public and private lives. But these two don’t have a private life, just two individual performances. Only Abi Stafford, leading Green Montgomerie, usually the most anonymous regiment, came across as a leader of men—or in this case women—dancing with force, clarity and gusto.
A reprise of "Apollo" and "The Four Temperaments" provided another opportunity to see Robert Fairchild lead the muses. He is a change from the stream of blond classicists, from Peter Martins to Nikolaj Hübbe who have held down the part until recently at New York City Ballet. Their classicism announced their divinity: they had only to acknowledge it. But this Apollo is a wild child who has to discover both who and what he is. Fairchild is a very gifted dance actor, so it’s a wonderful voyage.
Lydia Wellington and Christian Tworzyanski got "The Four Temperaments" off to a rousing start in the best first theme I’ve seen in ages. They seemed to have internalized the entire ballet, music and steps alike. Fairchild, Wellington and Tworzyanski were all once debutants. Maybe, given time and performances, the newest recruits in "Union Jack" will shine as brightly.