We attended our first New York City Ballet
subscription program the other night. I should warn you, I am a HUGE fan of the ballet and of contemporary ballet in particular. Give me a mixed bill of Balanchine and new work and I'm in heaven. Needless to say, New York City ballet is the epicenter of this type of work and I'm thrilled to be a subscriber, even if I do need an oxygen mask when I get to my fourth tier seat. At any rate, we saw four ballets on Tuesday.
The first was Danses Concertantes. I loved it. I loved the choreography, the costumes and the Stravinsky. Through the whole ballet I kept thinking what a shame it is that NYCB is putting such emphasis on marketing their Principal dancers. One of the unique features of the company is the strength of the corps. Every single dancer has brilliant technique, speed and energy. They deserve some credit for it; hence my loud "bravos" for each of the trios. I'm not sure the woman next to me appreciated my enthusiasm, but I had to show the love.
The second ballet was Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. This is another Balanchine ballet and it is "flash and trash" at it's finest. We musicians often refer to technical showpieces in this manner, lot's of notes, not too much emotional content but oodles of fun. This ballet was all about fiendish turns, explosive jumping and two phenomenal and terrifying swan dives at the end. It is amazing to watch and the audience ate it up with a spoon.
Next on the program was the Barber Violin Concerto with choreography by Peter Martins. This was a very interesting ballet, but as I feared the choreography wasn't able to match the emotional intensity of the music. I'm not sure any choreographer could really pull this off. That being said, I did enjoy Martins' mixture of ballet and modern dancers. It was a really nice reflection of the modern versus classical elements in the score. Props to Sara Mearns for bringing every once of emotional intensity she had to the second movement. She was mesmerizing to watch.
The final ballet of the evening was a Estancia with music by Ginastera and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. The ink is still dripping on this one, it was premiered last May as part of the Calatrava project. I loved this ballet. I love the score, the choreography, the costumes and the horses. Several dancers serve as horses which are tamed over the course of the work. This threw me at first, it seemed out of course against the realism of the rest of the evening, but once I let myself accept the fanciful nature of it, I decided it was quite brilliant and really creative. Besides, I think the dancers were having a blast doing it, they even stayed in horse character through the bows. One section that was particularly gorgeous was the pas de duex. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle were utterly convincing as two people falling in love with all the joy, fear and ecstasy that accompanies that process.
Of course, as a musician, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the orchestra. I know exactly how challenging their evening was. No symphony would program that level of difficulty into one night, but at this company I think it's par for the course. The musicians handled it brilliantly. I thought the orchestra had a great unified sound, the balance was excellent and the energy level was high. Concertmaster Arturo Delmoni was fantastic as the soloist in the Barber.
All in all it was a great night and I can't wait for our next program.