“La Sonnambula,” “Prodigal Son,” “Firebird”
New York City Ballet
The David H. Koch Theater
New York, New York
January 29, 2017
by Michael Popkin
© 2017 by Michael Popkin
What do we look for when dancers take on new roles? For every “star is born” performance there’s probably a flop. Reshuffling the deck in three Balanchine story ballets on Sunday afternoon, New York City Ballet posed the question by casting no fewer than nine dancers in debuts. The answers were at neither extreme; instead the message was promise. The ballets looked fresh and spontaneous but the price of the new was, well, novelty in dramatic interpretation. And in the end it was the non-debut in the program (Ashley Bouder as the Firebird, replacing an injured Isabelle LaFreniere, and thus forestalling what was to have been yet another debutante going into a leading role) that reminded us how much experience in a role lends to a performance.
Ashley Bouder in "Firebird." Photo © Paul Kolnik.