Archive for the 'pas de chat' Category

One jewel in a bejeweled rough

‍‍כ״ט סיון ה׳ תשס״ז - Friday, June 15th, 2007

So, finally saw Jewels, a signature ballet of the NYCB. Now that I’ve added it to my “repertoire” of NYCB performances, I think I can go a while without seeing it again. Why? Jewels is a full length ballet, split into three parts, in order, Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. The sets make it something of a crowd pleaser – in fact, the melodramatic ooh-ing and aah-ing was a bit annoying – however, in truth, it is a weak ballet.

Let’s be specific here – Emeralds is boring, and Diamonds is, well, pedestrian: there is nothing specifically wrong with it, but it does not offer anything remarkable either.

Rubies is another story; we’ll get to that in a minute.

Lets start with the bad.

Emeralds – first off, the company was not particularly sharp for the performance. Hell, I wouldn’t be excited either. If one image can properly capture the experience of watching Emeralds, it would be nymphs frolicking in the forest – after smoking a bag of pot. Bad pot. One notable exception was Megan LeCrone. Her performance was elegant and sharp. Though but a corps dancer, she took full advantage of having an extended role here – and still turned in an excellent performance in the closing Diamonds. Her performance makes a good argument for a promotion to soloist. Her performance and the music to the third part of the ballet – Fauré’s Sicilienne – were the only positive notes here.

Diamonds, the last of the Jewels, was better. Not good, mind you, but better. I would not characterize it as classic Balanchine, but rather stereotypical Balanchine. One thing made clear by this performance, however, is that Charles Askegaard has got to go. Look, I get it. he’s tall and blond – not bad features if you are trying to get a job with Peter Martins. However, when all four of the male corps dancers are more impressive than the principal on stage, something is very wrong. The NYCB has a couple of principals like this, and they should dump them. This is not a complaint against the type mind you – Nikolaj Hübbe is a fine dancer – but there are limited principal spots and the quality of the male dancers – with some notable exceptions – is wanting.

One of those exceptions is Damian Woetzel. Though I kept joking that he looks like he should be playing The Doctor, he really looks like Ford Prefect. Perhaps I have seen too much British sci-fi, but the point remains. Now, irrespective of the possibility that he keeps a Sub-Etha Sensomatic Thumb next to his towel backstage, the man can dance. He does it with energy. He does it with precision. He does it at age 39. Tonight, he did it in the best of the three ballets.

The three roles in Rubies were perfectly cast, and the (somewhat undeserving) audience was rewarded. Rubies is a perfect mix of choreography and [it was at this point that this notebook was stolen] music. Damian Woetzel, as mentioned, was energetic and sharp; Yvonne Borree was charmingly impetuous. Then there was Teresa Reichlen. Tall, blond, and at 5’8″ towering over the rest of the dancers on stage, she embodies the word irresistible – I am proud to admit a crush on her. Promoted to soloist in 2005, I’ve never seen her and not been impressed. For the final performance of the Fall 2006 season, she played the Firebird, which along with Rubies, should become a signature performance. The “cabaret dancer” as I’ve come to nickname her, even at 23(!), should be considered – nay, a certainty – for legendary Kyra Nichols‘ spot as a principal when she retires this year. She fills the same need in the company, representing the same physical presence – tall and able – a crucial role in a Balanchine company. Hopefully the NYCB doesn’t burn her out as it has so many young dancers.