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Review 2, 3-3: More New Jewels
At City Ballet, a Debut 'Beauty'
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2004 Susan Yung
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NEW YORK -- Peter Martins's
New York City Ballet production of "The Sleeping Beauty," after
Marius Petipa to Tchaikovsky's score, offers many gifts. David Mitchell's
scenery, for one, is lavish and dimensional, nearly cinematographic.
The costumes, by Patricia Zipprodt, match the sets' sumptuousness.
This production is of the open house variety, where seemingly every
warm body in the company and at the School of American Ballet performs,
so the little sprouts trot with their stick-legged gait alongside
the stars. On February 24 at the New York State Theater, the freshly
appointed soloist Ashley Bouder stepped into the role of Aurora,
on the marquee with Maria Kowroski (Lilac Fairy) and Damian Woetzel
(Prince Desire); Kyra Nichols's savory Carabosse entered on a Giacometti-inspired
Plenty of dance mixed
in with the pageantry and charades, but phrases often consisted
of steps repeated several times in one phrase, or of spectacles
of endurance. Standing in an attitude on point, as Bouder did in
the rose adagio when she is slowly balanced by four men, may be
one of the traditional tests a great ballerina can undergo, but
that doesn't make it any less painful to perform (nor to watch).
Bouder dealt well with
this test, in any case, and on the whole danced with confidence
and poise. Under the tutu and rhinestones, she has an every-woman
quality which is already serving her well. Of medium build, neither
thin nor thick-limbed, she is a solid dancer with good balance and
pronounced facial features which aid her expressiveness. Her projection
is excellent, and she is relaxed enough to loosely move her mouth
while she's dancing. Having Damian Woetzel as a prince was also
a boon, as his partners only benefit from his skill. A convincingly
chivalrous prince, Woetzel focused his considerable aura so that
Bouder could bask in it and reflect it.
Kowroski is well-suited
for the role of Lilac Fairy, who possesses unearthly gifts and mostly
dances alone. Kowroski has outgrown all men in the company, if not
in physical proportion then artistically, so at the moment I best
appreciate her dancing unpartnered. Rachel Rutherford replaced Faye
Arthur in what was to be Arthur's debut as the Fairy of Generosity.
Rutherford handled the role well, but distinguished herself more
in the role of Emerald, a quick petit allegro section with trick
rhythms. (Martins likes to toy with the musicality, offsetting canonical
lines or juxtaposing three counts against four.)
Other "jewel" roles
included Charles Askegard (Gold), who gave a mellow, uninspiring
performance; Pascale van Kipnis (Diamond), whose charm still eludes
me in part due to her sodden leaps; and Megan Fairchild (Ruby),
who exudes a snappy lightning bug spark in her performances. The
White Cat and Puss in Boots were danced by Jessica Flynn and Seth
Orza and included convincing paw-licking and cat boxing. Also charming
were Henry Seth as the Wolf and tiny Isabella Devivo as Little Red
Riding Hood, whose knobby knees knocked together in mock fear. Amanda
Edge and Tom Gold (Princess Florine and the Bluebird) performed
endless entre chats quatres and cabrioles. Gold is a small partner
to begin with, but his skinny legs were so prominent in this costume
that I found them distracting. The students looked fine in the Garland
Dance, the one section by Balanchine, who never choreographed a
full-length "Sleeping Beauty," but created the Garland Dance for
the 1981 Tchaikovsky Festival.
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