New York City Ballet- French Cuisine

Teresa Reichlen in Antique Epigraphs

Admittedly, ‘French Cuisine’ was not one of the programs I was looking forward to most this season at New York City Ballet. I’m partial to Balanchine over Robbins, Tchaikovsky over Debussy, and plotless ballets over princes and princesses. But Thursday’s night’s program certainly exceeded my expectations and I particularly relished Antique Epigraphs, a transcendently beautiful ballet that felt very different from any other Robbins piece I’d seen previously.

Antique Epigraphs

There are very few, if any other, all-female ballets in the New York City Ballet repertoire. There are several ballets in which the men have little choreography and the focus is purely on the women (Serenade, for example), but few in which men are excluded completely. Having no men in a ballet means there are no lifts, no quadruple turns, and no movements that rely on another body for support. So Antique Epigraphs functions on an entirely different plane, of right to left only without any up and down, and the ballet is focused more on the juxtaposition between still statuesque poses and the fluidity of motion, emphasized by the dancers’ tunic-like dresses that fluttered behind them. Teresa Reichlen, whose long legs and beautiful technique always draws my eye, far surpassed the three other leads. She danced the role will brilliant coyness and confidence. Although the women in the dance are meant to resemble statues, they touch backs, wrists, and shoulders throughout the dance, and the whole piece had a beautiful sense of feminine camaraderie and tenderness.

Wendy Whelan and Philip Neal were a dynamic duo in In G Major, but Damian Woetzel and Janie Taylor disappointed in Afternoon of Faun. Woetzel and Taylor executed their roles exactly as they should have, but their characters were perhaps so self-involved that there was no chemistry between them. Apart, the choreography brags their beautiful extension and elasticity, but together, the pas de deuxs felt forced and the whole piece felt a little stale.

The evening was made particularly special in that I took along my boss, who is also a dear friend- her first dance performance in New York and first time at New York State Theater. Before each piece I poured over the program with her and jabbered on and on about ballet and the dancers. I was thrilled to see how much she enjoyed every ballet- “It is so good!” she’d say after each one. She was particularly taken by In G Major. We walked out of the theater discussing how we much we admired Wendy Whelan’s liquid-smooth movements and she said that Wendy’s thin, waif-like body made her ‘nervous.’ Holding up the goods we’d bought earlier in the night at the new upper west side Magnolia Bakery she asked, “Maybe she’d like my cupcake?”

All photos by Paul Kolnik

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This entry was posted in Dance, New York City Ballet, Reviews, Teresa Reichlen, wendy whelan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New York City Ballet- French Cuisine

  1. tonya says:

    I felt much the same way about the evening. I liked it but preferred the Russian Roots program. I felt exactly the same way about Janie and Damian. I loved her and Sebastian together (do you know where he’s been, by the way?) I like Damian too but there didn’t seem to be chemistry between them; they didn’t work so well as a pair.

    It’s always fun to take someone new to the ballet! Oh to have Wendy’s body…

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