I don’t know how she does it.  Last night Laura and I went to New York City Ballet.  Early this morning, Laura entrained to another city to cover an exhibit for a certain prestigious publication.

En route she sent me this!

“Because I was living out of town for much of last year, I didn’t see a lot of ballet. It’s always interesting to return to a company after a year’s absence. So much change. There are new faces, new phases of development, and often new clarity on the big picture.

“Last night’s program–all Balanchine, black and white–began with The Four Temperaments, a modernist structure through which ancient winds blow. The thing about 4Ts is that it’s got to be sexy. Because it’s about sex. The seduction of big ideas, fertile artistry, creative genius and its priapic doi du seigneur (come up and see my etchings, my African masks). 4Ts is tribal, but the tribe is high-art NYC, Picasso Demoiselles and Harlem jazz, the temple of MoMA with a little El Morocco thrown in.

“Ashley Laracey, in the third theme, got this exactly. She danced with an ingenue gleam–so nice to see in this day of icky twerking–and an ardent stretch that arced from under her bust to the tips of her toes. The tilt of her face to catch the light was a kind of catnip.

“But sex evaporated in the first two variations. Today’s high-power techniques too often get the better of dancers. Ana Sophie Scheller whipped through Sanguinic like an automaton. I hate whippy dancing; it leaves every other quality behind. Ask la Cour in Phlegmatic, however, saved the day. He’s tall yet plush, with real stretch and plié, and he understood the acrobatic self-regard of this role: he’s the sensitive artist protected by groupies, baring his self-conscious soul to the world and making obtuse statements (Don Daniels has written provocatively about that puzzling heel-in-hand balance). La Cour showed every step with strong, silken authority.

“Teresa Reichlen took it from there and danced like a “dom,” giving us a fire and ice Choleric (the firebird inside of Myrtha). Does anyone, in pas de chat, snap up their thighs as high? She crackled through the role.

“The 4Ts coda was rousing, as always, but only the second half of the performance was animated in the right way.

“Rebecca Krohn, in Episodes, had a 60s vibe going and looked like a beauty out of Vreeland’s Vogue–the daughter, maybe, of some Italian count. There are so many cut muscles on female dancers these days that one is grateful to see a more feminine musculature, like Krohn’s, of smooth, leisure-class surfaces.

“Sterling Hyltin, in Duo Concertante, was another big surprise. What delicious shivery shoulders she has–expressive too. She danced with a ribbony flutter–bright as satin–and brought a brimming excitement to the role, like Kitty’s before the ball–before Anna K. snatches away Vronsky and dashes all her hopes. These black-and-white ballets, strung with post-atomic stresses, paved with black holes, are also full of ingenue coloration, which means embraceable radiance, rebirth, and hope.”

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