“Allegro Brillante,” “Russian Seasons,” “Zakouski,” “Stravinsky Violin Concerto”
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
February 3, 2012
By Carol Pardo
Copyright ©2012 by Carol Pardo
The big news at this program, presented under the moniker "A la russe," was the feast of debuts: Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz dancing "Zakouski" for the first time in New York and Wendy Whelan surrounded by a trio of new comers in "Russian Seasons".
Although the inhabitants of "Russian Seasons" share a rooted toughness, in dance terms their community is more fragile. With a cast of only twelve, six men and six women, any cast change—never mind three in one night—risks weakening the sense of place and character of the piece.
Jared Angle was an elegant and attentive partner to Wendy Whelan in the role originated by Albert Evans. And Angle fielded Sara Means coming at him full tilt fearlessly, without turning a hair. This is not surprising; he seems to have become the partner of choice at the New York City Ballet. The surprise was in the solo work. It was a pleasure to see Angle step out from behind his ballerina and soar--clean, clear and relaxed. Megan Fairchild, stepping in for the injured Jennie Somogyi, cought the gravity of her part but not the mystery. She’s the woman who walks forward on the hands of four men toward heaven, death, the unknown, the unknowable? Mearns’ solo (originally made for Sofiane Sylve) was harrowing in its force and intensity. The accompanying lyrics tell of a woman rebelling against marriage to an old man. Mearns’ arabesque came from so high up in her back that the space between her working leg and the floor opened up like a great maw or the girl’s fate, just waiting to swallow her whole.
At its premiere almost twenty years ago, Peter Martins’ "Zakouski" (hors d’oeuvres in
Russian) was sold as a one-time-only gala event. Nonetheless, the duet has returned regularly to the repertory. Evidently the making of the ballet was a pleasure, and it is fun to dance. Tiler Peck almost convinced me that it is fun to watch. Martins makes much of flexed feet at various angles and Peck’s feet are so strong and clear that they’re witty too. Joaquin De Luz was an attentive partner but came across as too short for the job. He’s also still finding his way through the variety of accents in his solo, all bent knees and changes of direction. It just meanders along. But the momentum of it should build, like a private joke to its punch line.
Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette led "Allegro Brillante," the evening’s opener. Fairchild brought windswept speed to the part and appealing delicacy her part, so much so that it seems churlish to wish for grandeur, for a queen rather than a princess. Veyette, a watchful partner with an easy jump, came to grief on the ground whenever the choreography required a flexible back. In the corps, Ashley Laracey’s dancing melded precise legs and feet and a fluid upper body, as tasty as a latte with an extra dash of cinnamon on top.