The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Sunday, November 29, 2020


At New York City Ballet, swans use grit to find glory
Sara Mearns of the New York City Ballet performs in "Swan Lake" in New York, Feb. 11, 2011. "There’s something interesting at play: The surprise of watching a dancer overcome her fears and insecurities about what “Swan Lake” means in the classical repertory to hold a stage and to embody a character all the while dancing — in that City Ballet way — as herself. It is determination in real time. It’s so wrong that it’s going to be right," said Gia Kourlas. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Gia Kourlas



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- You don’t look at New York City Ballet and think to yourself: “Ah, swans.” Even though there are full-length ballets in its repertory, City Ballet is not known as a storytelling company. Non-narrative dances, most of them by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, are its oxygen; happily we breathe them in.

But then there are times — like last week — when the company hauls out its two-act “Swan Lake,” which wrapped up performances Sunday at the David H. Koch Theater. As productions go, this version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet is not the prettiest feather in the flock. A holdover from the days of the company’s former ballet master in chief, Peter Martins, who choreographed it in 1996 and introduced it to City Ballet in 1999, it’s rushed yet ponderous. At times, the sets and costumes by Per Kirkeby make you want to crawl under your seat. The jester in orange and green decorated with a third-grader’s squiggles; the man’s shiny purple skirt and open black vest for the Russian variation; and the mismatched greens of the Villager women? It’s a lot of ugly for one stage.

When Odette, the princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, appears at the lakeside, you feel her pain.

This season, the Act 2 pas de quatre, a speedy and demanding divertissement for three women and one man, was cut to help streamline the ballet. A wise move — only the most virtuosic dancers could make it through that prickly footwork alive — though the production felt as long as it ever did.

But I’ve started to wonder: While it certainly sells tickets, drawing hordes of girls dressed to the nines, does having a full-length “Swan Lake” at City Ballet serve another purpose? Not for the audience necessarily, but for the dancers — specifically those cast in that most renowned of ballerina roles, Odette/Odile?

Generally, dancers join City Ballet to dance the works of Balanchine. “Swan Lake” isn’t so much in their wheelhouse. (He did choreograph a one-act version.) But over the years, I’ve witnessed varied and striking performances — including this season — by dancers of differing body types, looks and technical depth.

There’s something interesting at play: The surprise of watching a dancer overcome her fears and insecurities about what “Swan Lake” means in the classical repertory to hold a stage and to embody a character all the while dancing — in that City Ballet way — as herself. It is determination in real time. It’s so wrong that it’s going to be right. You go out there — as many City Ballet dancers refer to the stage — and get it done. If 32 fouettés, or whipping turns, are out of reach, substitute a circle of piqué turns. You’re on the short side? Be a dazzling little swan. It’s all about going for it as yourself.

The role has layers to explore, and the results aren’t always pretty, but it’s continually gratifying to see a dancer rise to the occasion. The experience of watching “Swan Lake” at City Ballet is different than at American Ballet Theater, where it’s part of the tradition. That production, by Kevin McKenzie, has its problems, too. In the end, after a double suicide Prince Siegfried and Odette rise above the stage in a glowing sun that looks, in Ballet Theater fashion, like something out of a Disney cartoon.

In Martins’ emotionally penetrating ending — on a stage, lit to perfection as a glimmering lake — Odette parts ways with an inconsolable Siegfried in floor-skimming backward steps, disappearing through paths of swans that close in on her. Siegfried, who pledged his love to Odette’s wicked doppelgänger, Odile, has to live with his mistake.

It still feels modern, maybe even more so now given today’s sexual politics, which makes sense: At City Ballet, “Swan Lake” is also the story of modern women — the dancers who play Odette/Odile — escaping into a dream world. I can still see former swans like Monique Meunier, Jenifer Ringer and the incandescent Miranda Weese, who at just an hour’s notice for a PBS “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcast in 1999, stepped in for an injured Darci Kistler. It was her first time dancing the ballet with Damian Woetzel. This was bravery and beauty in a Swan Queen for the ages.

Sara Mearns should be televised in the role and broadcast all over the world. Last week brought the return of this reigning City Ballet principal, whose interpretation of Odette/Odile is now indelible. This season she elevated it to a place somehow both deeper and more natural as she cut through the excess — even her own lavishness — to show more power and delicacy. She lives the role so deeply, it’s chilling.

Mearns has grown up with the ballet. In 2006, when she was just 19, she was plucked from the corps de ballet to dance Odette/Odile. This season performing opposite Guillaume Côté, a guest dancer from the National Ballet of Canada — from his mime to his partnering, he was a class act — Mearns embodied Odette especially to her barest essence.

Mearns is the rarest of artists: What other dancer has conquered Odette/Odile and, with wildness and precision, the work of modern choreographer Merce Cunningham?

Of the other men dancing Siegfried, Jovani Furlan and Joseph Gordon had the most to offer. Furlan — noble, fluid and musically sensitive — is a find. (He previously danced with Miami City Ballet; at City Ballet, he proves his worth with each new role.) His partner, Ashley Bouder, was more conventionally dazzling as Odile — her technique is still a thing to wonder at — while her Odette was serene and steely: more bird than princess. Yet there was something bewitching about her resolve.

Gordon, so alive throughout the entire ballet, possessed a vulnerability that connected beautifully with the crystalline performance of his partner, Tiler Peck. As she returns to the stage from a debilitating neck injury, Peck moves with more care, but undiminished elegance. There’s a new and subtle fluidity in her dancing that brings her into clear focus. She’s no longer prone to dewiness; she’s fully present onstage.

As for Peter Walker and Harrison Ball? Neither were particularly affecting in their debuts as the Prince. Walker, with Teresa Reichlen — she was at her most vulnerable in the final lakeside scene — was distant. Like Ball, Walker dashed around the stage with his head tilted up. What were they looking for? Real birds? Neither were secure enough in the virtuosic passages; Ball was particularly melodramatic in his acting.

More convincing was Ball’s partner, Lauren Lovette, also making her debut this season. It felt like the beginning of a journey: Lovette instills every part with a poignant inner drama. In a way, she reversed the roles as we think of them — subtly — which lent her Odette an earthy sensuality and her Odile a way of camouflaging her wickedness with innocence.

On Sunday when, as Odile, Lovette whipped off as many fouetté turns as she could manage before falling out, she made a dazzling change in real time: She switched to piqué turns. In that moment, you could see not only the ballerina in her — determination winning out over disappointment — but also the choreographer, which she is. It was musical.

I would not have minded two more debuts this season: Indiana Woodward — who hasn’t danced enough of late — and Mira Nadon, the arresting corps de ballet member. Yes, one is short and the other is tall, but they can dance.

What does a swan look like? At City Ballet, there are no rules. It’s about how you move. It’s a way to see a mind and a body at work.

© 2020 The New York Times Company










Today's News

February 27, 2020

Victoria & Albert Museum opens Europe's first major exhibition on kimono

Anne Marion, Texas rancher, heiress and arts patron, dies at 81

Major LACMA donor suspends longtime acquisition program

Leonardo show smashes Louvre's all-time record

On the trail of America's first women voters

Snite Museum of Art acquires a major work by sculptor Louise nevelson

Mexico returns ancient sculpture to Nigeria

'Harold Feinstein: Boardwalks, Beaches and Boulevards" opens at David Hill Gallery

Michael Hertz - you've surely seen his subway map - dies at 87

Sotheby's to offer 1794 land charter for first African free school in America

Galerie Templon Brussels opens an exhibition of works by Jim Dine

Adam Pendleton unveils new site-specific work, Elements of Me, at the Gardner Museum

Getty Medal to Alice Walton, Martin Puryear, Kwame Anthony Appiah

Long Beach Expo auctions bring $13 million at Heritage Auctions

Spain axes Placido Domingo from Madrid performances

Russian & European fine and decorative arts offered at Turner Auctions + Appraisals

José Parlá's first solo museum exhibition in New York City evokes the cultural and global fabric of the Bronx

Newly-discovered Philip Roth manuscript offered at Bonhams New York book sale

Sharon Corwin appointed President & CEO of Terra Foundation for American Art

Gagosian Beverly Hills opens an exhibition of works by Richard Prince

P·P·O·W opens an exhibition of works by Allison Schulnik

Jane Lombard Gallery's first solo exhibition with Jane Bustin opens in New York

At New York City Ballet, swans use grit to find glory

Seattle Art Museum Curator Chiyo Ishikawa to retire after 30 years

5 RELIABLE AND NATURAL WAYS TO TREAT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Amazing Facts about Wire Wallet

Family Shirts





Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful