AGON, FANCY FREE, TCHAIKOVSKY SUITE No. 3
February 22, 2012
Next to me, a mother was explaining George Balanchine's 1957 Agon to her two daughters. "It was revolutionary for its time because the movements looked harsh and sharp and the dancers wore practice clothes not tutus. It's about the abstraction of dance." One of the young daughters piped up "no princess?" Mom sighed, "no , no princess, no happily ever after."
So true, princess is out, but alas-- happily ever after -- audiences can watch NYC ballet toss off a skillful performance vibrating against the tension of brute athleticism tempered by courtly grace.
The loudest ovation was showered on Wendy Whelan's intricately angular duet with Andrew Veyette. About three - quarters of the duet retains constant physical contact between the man and woman. Wendy succeeds in shaping and caressing the positions into memorable, musical images. However, when she launches into the first few passages, Whelan 's physical effort congregates in her neck.
In typical fashion, Teresa Reichlin forges crisp and exciting lines as does Craig Hall and the consistently surprising Adrian Danchig-Waring of the supple upper torso.
A colorful contrast to the mind cleaning "Agon," Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free" (1944) captures the giddy freedom of three sailors on leave in New York, New York! The eager fellows, Robert Fairchild, Daniel Ulbricht and Andrew Veyette (debut) just can't get enough of the gals. Flirtatious antics in a bar erupt in a vertical solo by Daniel Ulbricht punctuated by double turns into a splits. Not to be outdone, Robert Fairchild, a natural actor who is fast becoming one of the most commanding partners, indulges in a dreamy lyrical dance only to be nudged to the side by Veyette's Latin dance hip rolls--albeit not quite NY Giant's Victor Cruz style end zone dance. All the young ladies -- Georgina Pazcoguin, Sterling Hyltin (debut) were convincing and lovely- not to mention the final walk-on by a deeply sultry and funny Stephanie Chrosniak.
The finale arrives in grand fashion with Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3." Two sections merge into one ballet. Chapter one indulges in the alluring idea of the free-spirited ballerina and chapter two commends the courtly ballroom tutu ballet.
A strong cast opens on Sara Means releasing motion inside the music like a free spirit breezing through gusts of music.
Janie Taylor was light and appealing in "Valse Melancolique" and Ana Sophia Scheller moved effectively through her "Scherzo" with partner Antonio Carmena. In a technical sprint, Megan Fairchild negotiated the mine field of technical demands in the Tema Con Variazioni (Theme and Variation) section. Wrapped in splinter - fast foot work, she confidently pop-ups in mid - air as her feet-circle rapidly in opposite directions. Possibly because it's such a bear to execute, personal flair is buried by a deep concentration on the steps. Fairchild's partner, Joaquin De Luz, is splendid demonstrating stylistic flourishes, a supple technique and gracious manners.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis