Friday, March 11, 2011

REVIEW: New York City Ballet (Programme 1)

Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Saturday (Matinee) March 6

New York City Ballet is the biggest disappointment in my 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival calendar so far.

I was so surprised at how unsatisfied I feel after the performance and I attribute this feeling to the program, the uneven dancing and the unbelievably horrible singing.

The performance started off with George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements. This piece is classicism in steroid and it quickly establishes the New York City Ballet’s significant association with Balanchine (co-founder and balletmaster). This, however, also unreasonably set the expectation of the company to be the ultimate interpreter and torchbearer of Balanchine’s works. Unfortunately, the moment the curtain was raised; one immediately feels that there was too much individualisms in the corps de ballet. The principals fared better though, especially in the engrossing pas de deux of Abi Stafford and Sebatien Marcovici in part II. As for the three pairs of principals in part I, there was one guy who I can’t take my eyes off… for the wrong reason. Based on the program, I can only assume that he was Andrew Scordato, his movements and body were a cacophony of inelegance and unrefined lines.

The second piece was Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. The best part of this piece was Susan Walters’ playing of Chopin. The dancers in totality were the best in the whole performance, BUT the choreography was a dozer. Okay, I am being mean… the choreography is like Bach’s Goldberg Variations, for it to take flight, one needs Glenn Gould; but if it is played by an "ordinary” piano player, it would sound like a piano exercise meant to entertain an insomniac.

The performance ended with Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. I was hoping that great familiarity with the material will make it positively more relevant to me. What a let down. The dancing was good but not better than what one can find in a Broadway production of this musical. However, what was really dreadful was the singing; not the singing of the dancers, but the singing of the singers who doesn’t have to do anything else but just sing. Rob Lorey’s Something’s Coming was more like going and Lara Marie Himer’s Somewhere was more like nowhere. Now this is totally buffling! Is Broadway so busy right now that they can’t even spare a singer or two? There is one performer though that totally stood out and that was Georgina Pazcoguin as Anita. Here, you have an artist who can out-dance, out-sing and out-act anybody onstage all at the same time. Pazcoguin has to be the best Anita I have ever seen on stage. The ending of this piece calls for all the dancers onstage and the singers offstage to sing the last phrase of the song Somewhere… for a moment, I thought I just saw a high school production.

Programme 1
6 March 2011, 1:30pm

Symphony in Three Movements (Stravinsky/Balanchine)
Dances at a Gathering (Chopin/Robbins)
West Side Story Suite (Bernstein/Robbins)

Live Accompaniment: Hong Kong Sinfonietta

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