Winter season at City Ballet: "The time has come for a new generation"

I had a recurring thought during New York City Ballet’s winter season: Thank goodness for Jovani Furlan. He cheers up when he dances. ...


I had a recurring thought during New York City Ballet’s winter season: Thank goodness for Jovani Furlan. He cheers up when he dances. He’s sexy without being cheesy, an attentive partner who is happily in tune with the moment. George Balanchine used to ask his dancers, “What are you waiting for? Why do you keep it? If Furlan saves something, I can’t say.

On Saturday, Furlan was named principal dancer – along with Harrison Ball and Peter Walker – which was gratifying but not a complete surprise. The main dancers are dropping like flies. In the fall, when City Ballet resumed performances after closing, Maria Kowroski, Lauren Lovette, Ask la Cour and Abi Stafford retired from the company. This season, Teresa Reichlen and Gonzalo Garcia have joined them. Amar Ramasar will step down in the spring.

But Garcia, whose last performance was on Sunday, isn’t going far. This month, he will join the artistic team as director of repertoire where, judging by his jovial and generous spirit, he will be in great demand. On Sunday, after an excerpt from “Rotunda,” Justin Peck, the ballet’s choreographer, himself carried Garcia offstage, sideways, like a rolled-up rug. Garcia, cradled in his arms and waving his wrist with panache, howled with laughter. Farewell performances can be sad, and while there were a handful of sobbing dancers in the later arcs, Garcia’s event mostly felt happy — like a thank you from both sides of the stage.

In her final performance, which also included “Opus 19/The Dreamer” – Sterling Hyltin and Tiler Peck shared the female lead so Garcia could dance with them both – and “Prodigal Son” (with a dazzling Sara Mearns as a mermaid), he was serious: elegant and sober, dancing with a noble simplicity.

In a short (and sappy) film about her career by her husband, Ezra Hurwitz, Garcia, 42, said: “There is a time for everything. Now is the time for a new generation to grow and profit, and I want to be part of that growth.

He’s right about one thing: this season, more than any other in recent memory, it’s become clear that a new generation is taking over City Ballet. Just before the start of the winter engagement, seven dancers were promoted to soloist; now they are joined by the three new main men. And you can see the grooming for the next round of promotions right before your eyes: Chun Wai Chan, a former Houston Ballet director who joined City Ballet in August, must be near the top of the list, along with Roman Mejia, whose ” Rubies’ debut was athletic, tough, sleek – a sign of dynamic things to come.

But there were so many good dances this season, and it started at the top, with a pair of veteran leads, Mearns and Megan Fairchild, getting brighter with each passing season because they’re so much themselves on stage. . Experience and maturity are gifts to dance. I don’t want them to feel old; they don’t dance like that. From Fairchild, whose photo is featured on posters outside Lincoln Center and on the cover of Playbill, there is impeccable verve and apparent fun. She is a treasure.

And Mearns operates on another plane entirely, from everyone else. This season, she’s dropped another layer — not artifice, she’s never had one — but the kind of performative plating that every dance artist has. In one work after another – “Walpurgisnacht Ballet”, “La Valse”, “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and a particularly lovely “Mozartiana” – she was effortless, even somehow laid back in the drama of danced ballet. .

Two young dancers, recently promoted to soloists, point to the future: Emily Kikta and Mira Nadon. Their angry debut in “The Four Temperaments” and their returns to the big girl in “Rubies” showed their different ways of holding the stage, of registering in the music. Kikta’s enthusiasm and sweep are still absolute – and rather shocking, even if you have an idea of ​​what to expect.

And Nadon’s greatness offers a rare brilliance. With a secret smile, as if keeping something to herself, she is in a continuous state of incandescent elongation—stretching taller, leaning forward boldly, and always seeking, it seems, more space. The way she weaves steps and dramatic power together has rush and buoyancy. Would she dance like this if no one was watching her? Probably.

What we grasp at the City Ballet, an astonishing troupe of individuals, is the sense of lineage. In the change of generation, there is the invariable passage of roles from one dancer to another, and what is clear is that these ballets were made on specific people. When new dancers take over, they appropriate the role; That’s the point. Who wouldn’t want to see Indiana Woodward come to terms with anything? Her bright and open mind is exposed every time she takes the stage.

In Balanchine’s “Sonatina,” Woodward, a recently appointed director, and Antony Huxley, were delicate and lyrical; together their bodies sang. As a dancer, Woodward is as sunny as Furlan, but her debut in Balanchine’s “La Valse”, also in Ravel, showed another side: the way her innocence faded when she was seduced by the figure of death was oddly gradual, and all the more surprising because of it.

Unity Phelan and Furlan, in Balanchine’s “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux”, showed exciting and dazzling bravery, while, in “The Four Temperaments”, Gilbert Bolden III, sparkling in Sanguinique against the striking Isabella LaFrenière, was impressively bold. Emilie Gerrity brought her natural elegance to roles in a pair of brilliant dances: Jerome Robbins’ “Moves,” a ballet performed in silence; and Merce Cunningham’s “Summerspace”, which also featured the mesmerizing Ashley Laracey, who seems to have discovered a new dimension in her dancing.

Here and in “The Unanswered Question”, Laracey, as an unattainable woman, was spellbinding – as mysterious and ghostly as another dancer, Miriam Miller, was glamorous and intoxicating in the flesh. In Miller’s reprisal of the siren in “Prodigal Son” as well as a new role, the stripper in “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” she was more confident than usual, bringing strength to her radiance.

Dancing with Walker – a mischievous, feisty hoofer – Miller leaned back into his arms, kicking his legs with verve. What flirtation! It was a tour de force, fun and beautiful every step of the way.

Overall, the season, which got off to a late start due to disruptions caused by the Omicron variant, was uneven in terms of scheduling. Some shows sounded perfect on paper – what’s wrong with the mix of ‘Mozartiana’, ‘Rubies’ and ‘La Valse’? – but in the end, felt laborious. One good thing about the fall pandemic lineup was that there was no intermission and less chance of shows going on forever. This season, intermissions were back with something even more unwelcome: Peter Martins’ awkward, out-of-context “Black Swan Pas de Deux” from “Swan Lake.” Pairing it with “Swan Lake” in one act by Balanchine was puzzling.

The best program of the season was so varied that it had what the others did not have: the balance of disparate worlds. From the savagery of ‘Walpurgisnacht Ballet’ to the weirdness of ‘The Unanswered Question’, the quiet strength of ‘Moves’ and, finally, the boisterous comedy of ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’, she swept. Programming is as much an art as dancing.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Winter season at City Ballet: "The time has come for a new generation"
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