[Photo via New York City Ballet]
Last night I had the pleasure of enjoying a three piece performance by one of the leading dance companies in the world. Gratis due to my dear friend Abi Stafford, a principal dancer with the company (thanks Abi)! One question people always ask me (having been trained at Joffrey Ballet School, (and have had the pleasure of performing with Abi and in Billy Joel's broadway musical "Movin' Out"), is "do you prefer American Ballet Theatre or New York City Ballet?" Having dear friends at both, I will never disclose my opinion. Although with enough cocktails in a dancer-free environment....
Anyways, the first piece titled "Then and There" choreographed by Peter Martins was probably my least favorite. Martin's TRIES to mimic Balanchine's style, but for some reason his choreography completely loses the charm. Although the music ranges from "Blue Moon," to "Getting to Know You" to "That Lady is a Tramp" (and others), the choreography ended up being monotonous and lacked anything to really grab the audience. In fact, although I knew the Balanchine inspired footwork was difficult, even my companions turns to me asking "didn't that look too easy?" (Don't get me wrong, dance is SUPPOSED to look effortless, but not EASY).
The second piece "Prodigal Son" is just a classic, choreographed by George Balanchine himself. The performances by Joaquin De Luz (The Prodigal Son) and Kaitlyn Gillialand (The Siren) were spectacular. De Luz's youthful enthusiasm and athleticism were perfect for the role. Gilliland danced the role of The Siren with a serpent-like creepiness that added the biblical element needed in this story of times. The ensemble also danced very well with extreme precision, and the final moment where The Prodigal Son crawls up his statuesque father and into his arms was simply breathtaking.
The final piece was the one that most resembled a classic Petipa Ballet although was also choreographed by the master George Balanchine. "Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet" was performed in four parts: Allegro, Intermezzo, Andante, and Rondo alla Zingarese and had a traditional "Corp du Ballet." Naturally Abi Stafford in Allegro was brilliant, the perfect mix of delicacy and athleticism. Pure charisma. The last part also inspired me with the costumes designed after traditional German garb. The ballet was playful and whimsical and just aesthetically pleasing.
So what about the evening would I change? THE LENGTH! The program was a long one, with two intermissions. I didn't get hope home until past midnight! (and the curtain call was 8 o'clock). By the end I was ready to scream "Uncle!" instead of "Brava!" I would like to suggest to the New York City Ballet that they could cut the program by a half hour by eliminating the over excessive bowing. I mean, c'mon... 6-9 bows per piece (and in some cases per part) is over-doing it.