NYCB Balanchine and Stravinsky, 9-21

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NYCB Balanchine and Stravinsky: Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. Click for more photos.

After the NYCB gala the previous evening celebrating fashion in ballet, the company did an abrupt turn Wednesday with minimalist “Black and White” Balanchine works set to Stravinsky. Dancers were clad in plain black or white leotards, with the biggest fashion statement of the evening in Symphony in Three Movements in which three lead women deviated from the norm with simple red/pink leotards.

Nice to see NYCB back at full strength after several Principal Dancers took leaves to pursue various projects over the past several years: Tiler Peck (Little Dancer musical); Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris musical); Megan Fairchild (On the Town musical); and Ashley Bouder, with the most important project of all-maternity leave after giving birth to a baby girl in May. She returned Friday, appearing in Vienna Waltzes.

Wednesday evening showcased Balanchine works set to Stravinsky, giving a great tutorial in basic Balanchine themes: plotless short ballets, “Ballet is Woman”, great speed of steps, a beautiful combination of movement and musicality, and simple steps without circus bravura (for more discussion on key Balanchine characteristics, see my post Balanchine Basics). Opening the evening was Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972). Devoid of any frills with a bare blue background and dancers clad in black and white leotards, the piece allows for the focus on simple movements to a beautiful whimsical score. The work featured two couples, Sterling Hyltin/Robert Fairchild and Rebecca Krohn/Amar Ramasar with a cast of eight women and men. The 23-minute work featured various combinations of the two lead couples and eight women and men, constantly changing in patterns: four men and a lead woman; four women and a lead man; four women and a lead woman; and four men and a lead man. The steps were generally simple and contemporary, allowing for a focus on the relationship of the music and choreography together with a celebration of symmetry and geometric patterns.

Duets followed with Rebecca and Amar filled with dramatic gestures and Sterling and Robert hitting various acrobatic poses. After the duets, all of the dancers performed a geometry lesson with recurring patterns, mostly in groups of four. No dramatic finish here, just the group in an informal pose as the curtain fell.

Monumentum pro Gesualdo (1960) and Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963) are both short-about 10 minutes-with Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour in both works. Monumentum has 12 couples in addition to the leads. The Stravinsky music was soothing as the couples moved in and out of the action in interesting patterns featuring stage wide diagonals consisting of the female corps. Movements had six women in addition to the leads to more a modern, discordant Stravinsky score. Like many Balanchine ballets, the lead male doesn’t do much, except partner, with a few elementary steps to break up the duets.

Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley were on the mark in Duo Concertant (1972), with a happy upbeat pas de deux in which the dancers interacted with violist Arturo Delmoni and pianist Nancy McDill on stage. The work is all about relationships-between the two dancers and between the dancers and musicians-showcasing a wide range of emotions from joy, humor, to sadness as a result of loss. The piece had a sense of humor; in one section when he offered his hand to her, she shaked her head “No” and laughed at him. The footwork was very fast and they kept up with the rapid tempo. Anthony’s rapid single tour section in which he threw singles in rapid succession was fine although not the best I’ve seen; Megan was energetic in her piqué turn section. Megan displayed a joyful, exuberant demeanor throughout. The piece ended in near darkness as she walked away, then returned. Their hands embraced, lit dramatically by a single spotlight.

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NYCB Balanchine and Stravinsky: Ana Sophia Scheller and Daniel Ulbricht, Symphony in Three Movements. Click for more photos.

The final piece was Symphony in Three Movements (1972). Daniel Ulbricht and Ana Sophia Scheller were exciting in the opening movement. Scheller was very limber, almost kicking herself in the head on an arabesque. Daniel is one of my favorites and I love watching his controlled and high jumps.Tiler Peck, deviating from the theme of the evening in a pink leotard, was particularly noteworthy with rapid piqué turns and energetic leaps; she tired me out watching her. She was partnered well by Taylor Stanley. Savannah Lowery, coupled with Andrew Scordato, was fine but sometimes abrupt with forced movements in her solo.

ABT Sleeping Beauty in Paris Reviews

Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes

Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes, May 29, 2015 at the Met Opera House

naomikage of BalletAlert posted reviews of ABT’s early September Sleeping Beauty in Paris. If your French isn’t good, use Google Translate for the French websites:

Philippe Noisette in Les Echos
Rosita Boisseau in Le Monde
Danser Canal Historique
Julie Briand in Humanity
Laura Capelle in Financial Times
Jann Parry in DanceTabs

Update: one more from Patricia Boccadoro at Kiosque

Best Lincoln Center Restaurants

The New York City Ballet fall season starts this week. Sometimes a ticket for a ballet is not enough entertainment for an evening so here is a list of my favorite Lincoln Center area (or Lincoln Square) restaurants in all price ranges, within easy walking distance of the theater:

Expensive

Nougatine at Jean-Georges
1 Central Park West,15 minute walk to Lincoln Center
Nougatine and the three-star Michelin-rated Jean-Georges, run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, are separated by a wall with a common open kitchen serving both restaurants. Nougatine is more casual than its more celebrated sister restaurant, but with a much cheaper price tag, one of the best restaurant bargains in New York City. Service is attentive but not overly formal, with a great seasonal menu. For dessert, try the decadent Jean-Georges soft chocolate cake. Appetizers-$15-$25; Main Courses-$25-$35

Boulud Sud
20 W 64th Street, across the street from Lincoln Center
Daniel Boulud’s Mediterranean-inspired restaurant features great pasta dishes and vegetables in a sleek modern interior with a large bar and lounge. Boulud Sud is next to Bar Boulud, a casual bistro serving seasonal French fare. It is not unusual to see the man himself working away at his Lincoln Center restaurants. Appetizers-$12-$20; Main Courses-$25-$33

Lincoln Ristorante
at Lincoln Center
Jonathan Benno, formerly Thomas Keller’s second in command at Per Se, presents an interesting modern Italian inspired menu. My favorites are his mushroom dishes, sumptuous pasta dishes with tomatoes, and innovative salads. Views from the $20 million structure are spectacular with floor to ceiling glass in the triangle-shaped building, providing ample people-watching opportunities across the Lincoln Center campus. An open kitchen also provides entertainment. Architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the innovative structure. The firm oversaw the successful Lincoln Center renovation started in 2006.

Ignore the New York Times review in which the reviewer thought the food was great, but couldn’t get over the idea of an expensive restaurant at the campus of a nonprofit arts organization where standing room only seats for the opera cost $22. True, but Grand Tier Met Opera seats go for over $400. You get what you pay for. Appetizers-$18-$25; Main Courses-$27-$40

Moderate

Rosa Mexicano
61 Columbus Avenue, across the street from Lincoln Center
Rosa Mexicano features great Mexican inspired dishes. My favorites are the guacamole appetizer made at your table, vegetarian tacos, and interesting mixed drinks. Make sure you have a reservation as it is jammed for pre-theater seatings, sometimes with dancers after completing a matinée performance. Appetizers-$10-$15; Main Courses-$18-25

Cafe Fiorello
1900 Broadway, across the street from Lincoln Center
Cafe Fiorello is loud and cramped for pre-theater, not a place for quiet conversation. The festive Italian restaurant has an energetic staff and a great antipasto bar, with can’t miss large pizzas, and pricy home-made pasta dishes. The restaurant has attracted many of Lincoln Center’s great artists since 1974 and brass plaques commemorate the favorite seats of famous patrons. For a quieter setting, try a post-performance meal. Appetizers-$10-$15; Main Courses-$25-$35 (veal and steak $42-$44)

Sapphire
1845 Broadway, 2 blocks south of Lincoln Center, 10 minute walk
Sapphire has been serving traditional Indian cuisine in a quiet, almost elegant setting for over 20 years. The Mogul-period wooden doors and windows come from Rajasthan, and embroidered Jodhpur silk panels hang from the ceiling, according to New York Magazine. The menu consists of standard Indian dishes nicely prepared: assorted pakora, samosa, vegetable jalfrezi, aloo gobi matar, chana masala. Appetizers-$5-$10; Main Courses-$15-$20

Inexpensive

indie food and wine
at Lincoln Center
indie food and wine, run by chef and restaurateur Jason Denton, offers quick, inexpensive, and nutritious cuisine. The restaurant specializes in sandwiches; my favorites are the avocado and bahn-mi, with seitan and cauliflower. The half salad/sandwich combo is a great bargain at $12. Appetizers-$6-$12; Main Courses-$12-$13

Lime Leaf
128 West 72nd Street, 15 minute walk to Lincoln Center
Lime Leaf has been around since 2006 serving great Thai and Continental cuisine. The decor is dull, but the menu is packed with delicious dishes at a reasonable price. My favorite appetizers: spring rolls, pan seared tofu-vegetable dumplings, wild mushroom ravioli, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes ravioli. Appetizers-$5-$10; Main Courses-$10-$18

Empire Szechuan
193 Columbus Ave (69th Street), 5 minute walk to Lincoln Center
Empire Szechuan offers standard Chinese and Japanese food at a reasonable price. A good option if you don’t want to break the bank. The menu hasn’t changed in years and offers all of the dishes you would expect with numerous noodle and rice options. Appetizers-$2.5-$11; Main Courses-$10-$15

Honorable Mention

The Milling Room
446 Columbus Avenue (81st Street), 25 minute walk to Lincoln Center
The Milling Room is a great new restaurant featuring American cuisine prepared by Scott Bryan. The cavernous space is where the popular Calle Ocho formerly resided. The decor is modern country farmhouse, a quirky look that works. The main room is quiet and roomy, perfect for good conversation. Service is attentive but informal, with dress code wait staff attire consisting of blue jeans, white shirt, and Converse All-Star shoes. The menu is not cheap, but it is well worth it with many creative options. I particularly like the risotto dishes with black truffles. Appetizers-$12-$16; Main Courses-$20-$33

Emily Kikta and Dad to Perform New NYCB Work

Emily Kikta, Movements for Piano and Orch.

Emily Kikta, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, October 3, 2014

Peter Walker of NYCB debuts his new work, Ten in Seven, Tuesday with music by Thomas Kikta, father of NYCB dancer Emily Kikta, according to TribLive.com. Peter’s work is set to a guitar-centric score with piano, trumpet, and drums. Thomas will lead an ensemble on platforms above the stage and Emily will be one of the dancers, according to the article. Thomas is a classical guitarist and associate professor of music technology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

“We are really close, my dad and I. I choreographed his music before. Now it’s really cool to merge our worlds at my workplace in a very official way,” she says.

“It’s like a hyper bring-your-dad-to-work day,” he adds.

I interviewed Emily in 2014 and Joshua Thew on their musical interests. Emily, Joshua, Peter, and Harrison Coll get together to produce some great music videos that are presented on Emily’s YouTube page.

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New York City Ballet dancers Harrison Coll, Emily Kikta, Peter Walker, Joshua Thew. Photo from Emily’s Google Plus page.

Diana Vishneva Final ABT Performance 6-23-17

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Diana Vishneva, Giselle, May 28, 2015. Click for more photos of Diana.

Diana Vishneva will give her final ABT performance on Friday, June 23, 2017, ABT announced yesterday. In her final performance, she will dance the role of Tatiana in Onegin opposite Marcelo Gomes. She has performed with ABT since 2003 and joined as a Principal Dancer in 2005.

Diana will be missed. She combines great technique with dramatic timing, particularly effective in dramatic ballets such as Romeo and Juliet and Giselle. She also dances with the Mariinsky Ballet and has performed as a guest artist with companies around the world.

ABT Sleeping Beauty in Paris

ABT performs Sleeping Beauty at Opéra Bastille in Paris through tomorrow. Laura Cappelle of Financial Times enjoyed Cassandra Trenary’s Aurora:

On opening night, the production appeared slightly flatter than it did in New York, and the corps de ballet less crisp. Cassandra Trenary, a young soloist, was secure and vivacious as Aurora. She will clearly be a luminous addition to ABT’s roster of stars but isn’t a finished product yet as a ballerina; she and her Prince, James Whiteside, occasionally overplayed their roles, betraying their modern selves.

At BalletAlert, Drew and mussel point out some nice Paris coverage with clips of Cassandra, Stella Abrera, Marcelo Gomes, Alexandre Hammoudi.

ABT Clip #1
ABT Clip #2

Maine Photos-Boothbay and Acadia National Park

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Boothbay Harbor, Maine sunset. Click for more photos.

Labor Day is a here, always sad that it is the unofficial end of summer. My Maine summer vacation is a distant memory but lives on through photos I posted on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com.

Maine is beautiful, with abundant photo opportunities. We spent most of our time in Boothbay Harbor, (population 2,300) located on the central coast of Maine, a popular tourist destination. Boothbay is filled with quaint places; my favorites include Down East Ice Cream Factory, Brown’s Warf Restaurant, Fudge Factory, and Thursday evening band concerts on the library lawn. In short, a perfect New England destination for a summer vacation.

We took a vacation within a vacation to Acadia National Park in northern coastal Maine near Bar Harbor. With nearly 50,000 acres, the photography opportunities are endless with numerous breathtaking views.

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Pemedic Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine. Click for more photos.