I took in at matinee at NYCB today, my first in quite a while. The first piece was Concerto Barocco, perfect pared-down Balanchine danced to Bach. I actually got a little weepy when the curtain went up, the bare stage, eight beautiful girls in rehersal clothes, it was just so pure and clean and made me think of the many other times I've sat in that theatre over the years. They did a terrific job. The corps was very together and the soloists (Wendy Whelan, Jennie Somogyi and Charles Askegard) were all very good. Whelan looked a lot more comfortable in this than as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker!
Next was Sonatas and Interludes, choreographed by Richard Tanner, with Maria Kowroski and Jock Soto. It's to a John Cage score for prepared piano. Kowroski was very good, strong but feminine, with mind-bending extensions. Soto, though, didn't dance well at all. I don't know if it's age catching up to him or something else, but he looked heavy and earthbound, with none of the feline grace I've seen in his performances before. It was sort of sad.
Next, Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Later, fluffier Balanchine, but very much what the Saturday matinee crowd expects at the ballet -- the audience loved it. The lead ballerina, Monique Meunier, was terrific. Very tall and strong, with fast turns and a great presence. I felt sorry for her partner, Nilas Martins, who basically got nothing to do -- he's tossed the bone of a short, unexciting solo toward the end, but this was an all-girl affair. At the end, when the music gets really wild and celebratory, all the girls let their hair down and the stage is this whirl of purple skirts and long hair. It was fun, if not especially stirring. One standout: a demi-soloist who was so good that I went to the information booth at the intermission to find out who she was. And when I got there, another couple was asking about the same dancer. She was stupendous, tall and beautiful and riveting. I can't even say what was so great about her dancing, but I couldn't take my eyes off of her. So watch out for Kristin Sloan. She has It, in spades.
Last on the program was Prodigal Son, with Peter Boal adn Helene Alexopoulos as the Siren. I love this ballet, for its history, its amazing sets and costumes, its emotion, and its gorgeous, sad, happy ending. It was a find performance, especially by the leads. The soloist I'd noticed in Nutcracker, Arch Higgens, was one of the Prodigal Son's servants, and impressed me again with his quickness and lightness. I loved it. The last few moments, when he crawls across the stage and pulls himself up into his father's arms, they're just stunning. Sentimenal, perhaps, but that's not always a bad thing.
So I'm left feeling that the company is dancing very very well, which is wonderful. But I'm pretty unimpressed with what they're choosing to do. With a repetoire as deep as theirs, they could put better programs together very easily. But I think I'll go back. Even with the weak spots, it was all pretty glorious.