Delightful Stravinsky & Balanchine Program Closes NYCB Season

New York City Ballet closed its Winter season with a wonderful program of Stravinsky & Balanchine classics. Giving the classics new life Saturday evening were debut performances from Anthony Huxley, Likolani Brown, and Mimi Staker in Le Baiser de la Fée; Chase Finlay and Peter Walker in Agon; and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Troy Schumacher, and Lauren King in Symphony in Three Movements.

The Diverminento from Le Baiser de la Fée, is difficult to follow. It opens with festive dancing from dancers dressed in 1800s villagers attire, followed by a pas de deux. The conclusion is sad as the corps dancers separate the two lovers as each go off on separate paths, although I’m not sure of the motivation. The pas de deux has some interesting and tricky promenades, which Tiler and Anthony handled well. The male solo is dull, with steps that are not interesting; Anthony did his best, dancing with great energy. The female solo is also not memorable. Overall a good effort from the two in a Balanchine work that is not my favorite.

Tiler Peck and Anthony Huxley,, Balanchine and Stravinsky

Tiler Peck and Anthony Huxley, Le Baiser de la Fée, March 3, 2018

Chase Finlay’s debut in Agon was fine, although not particularly memorable. Some of the partnering segments with Teresa Reichlen were a bit rough, but there were no major problems. Peter Walker also debuted in the role. His steps were there but not done with great confidence. The highlight of the work was the Second Pas de Trois with Ashly Isaacs, Harrison Coll, and Joseph Gordon, danced with great feeling and timing. I also enjoyed Ashley Hod and Unity Phelan in the First Pas de Trois.

Duo Concertant was a joy Saturday with Megan Fairchild and Russell Janzen. Both possess stellar technique; however, what distinguishes them is their great confidence, energy, and musicality. Megan sailed though the rapid-fire quick segments with ease; Russell was precise in his movements including the tricky multiple single tours.

Symphony in Three Movements was well danced with fine debuts from Adrian Danchig-Waring, Lauren King, and Troy Schumacher. Always dependable Sterling Hyltin and Adrian were on the mark in the quirky pas de deux.

NYCB Winter Season Wrap-up

This was the company’s first season without Peter Martins as Ballet Master in Chief, who resigned in January. It was not surprising that veterans such as Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild, Sarah Mearns, Tiler Peck danced at a high level. More uncertain at the start of the season was the Corps without the leadership of Martins. However, the Corps was outstanding, particularly in Divertimento No. 15 and Chaconne. The Corps was impressive, dancing in unison. The tight and crisp work of the Corps was a welcome feature this season.

NYCB needs new blood in the men’s ranks as some of the mainstays are getting up there in age. Joaquin de Luz will retire in the Fall season. Male Principal Dancers in their mid-to-late 30s include: Jared Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Ask la Cour, Amar Ramasar, Daniel Ulbricht, Andrew Veyette. Including Joaquin, there are seven Principal Dancers, half of the current total of 14 male Principal Dancers, that will likely retire in the next five years. Given that NYCB does not hire many free agents with significant experience at other companies (Joaquin and Gonzalo are exceptions), the company has much work to do to build up the men at senior levels. Whatever faults Martins had, he was successful at identifying and nurturing young talent. That important responsibility will be passed on to the next leader of NYCB.