NYCB WINTER SEASON OPENER
January 18, 2023
On a mild winter evening, NYC Ballet launched its 2023 Winter Season. Classics rub against new works from Jan.17 to February 26 with opening night devoted to the company's founder and inspiration, George Balanchine.
After the audience settled, Jonathan Stafford quietly stepped in front of the curtain to present the Janice Levin Dancer Award to KJ Takahashi. Bestowed annually on a promising member of NYC Ballet's corps, Takahashi shyly took the microphone to thank those who helped him achieve his goals including his father and Paul Meija.
Most poignantly, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to embrace this great art form in contrast to his brother who experiences restricted mobility due to a physical disability. Always worth keeping our lives in perspective.
The evening's program sprinkled charming romantic works throughout more modern offerings.
Donizetti Variations (1960) exudes the buoyant aesthetics linked to the athletic Bournonville and 19th century Italian ballet technique.
Cheerful dancing sprints into bounding jumps and nonstop turns that bend processions of trios into circular spheres. In the central duet, Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley eased into their rhythm before soaring through the demanding leg beats and flying, picture-perfect leaps.
The next two, more intimate works, showed-off rising company talents. More reserved, Haieff Divertimento (1947) moves into the cleaner, more modern ballet mode and centers Indiana Woodward and Harrsion Ball --dancers attracting intense attention for their ease of motion and daring.
Valse Fantaisie (1967) slips into a post modern mode allowing Erica Periera and Daniel Ulbricht to share a relaxed, assured partnership. Ulbricht retains his technical sprightliness, but most importantly, he offers a lesson in self-assured, nearly invisible partnering.
Finally, the brain cleansing Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972) a ballet that inverts traditional ballet, closed the evening. Angular and strict, the sharp twists and leg plunges to the ground are tweaked with barely visible hip rotations. Arms stretch between couples but rather than embrace the arms stay rigid reaching beyond the body's perimeter.
Mira Nadon and Adrian Danching-Waring are particularly effective in the clarity and coolness of their duet. Additionally, Ashley Laracey and Joseph Gordon attack edgy steps with crispness.
And Stravinsky's score is another marvel, at once brusk and mournful, it sings under the baton of Andrew Sils featuring violinist Kurt Nikkanen.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis