The New York City Ballet to me is uniquely our home-grown ballet company. I grew up with George Balanchine’s troupe, enjoying the dancing of Jacques d’Amboise and Suzanne Farrell from the cheap seats at City Center.
I always imagined d’Amboise, a son of Dedham, MA, to be a cosmopolitan Parisian until I saw him showcase his young students from the National Dance Institute he founded in a ceremony in Central Park a few years back. Wherever he came from, d’Amboise was a polished and elegant presence on stage. Balanchine created many works especially for him to dance.
Years later, the graceful and athletic Damien Woetzel came to represent for me the best male dancing of the NYCB. He had the power and fluidity of Baryshnikov (who also danced with the company) or Nureyev, but he was from around here. (Like Jacques d”Amboise, Woetzel hails from Massachusetts.)
I have witnessed too many grand performers and performances at NYCB, now at home at Lincoln Center, to even try to enumerate them. I missed a lot of them, too; for instance I never saw the Jerome Robbins-Mihail Baryshnikov “partnership” when Robbins created Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) for him.
Today’s crop of NYCB dancers is marvellous, with Sara Mearns a personal favorite on the women’s side; I love the extension and the energy in her moves. Although the perky and talented Megan Fairchild is also wonderful to watch. Over time, more stars will emerge.
Balanchine’s dream company, started with Lincoln Kirstein, and aided by the choreographer Jerome Robbins, will evolve. Peter Martins is only the third Ballet Master In Chief at NYCB since its initial founding. New dancemakers, like young Justin Peck to name just one, will create more lovely steps for the company to dance.
The dance goes on, moving forward, and eliciting ever more enthusiastic “Bravos” from its enthralled audience.
“You were never lovelier”
Over coffee with my friend Carlos, I mentioned that Rita Hayworth was paired with Fred Astaire in a film (the name of which escaped me at the time) to which the New York City Ballet pays tribute. The dance, by Jerome Robbins, is “I’m Old-Fashioned” to a Morton Gould adaptation of Jerome Kern’s song.
The movie goes by the non-mnemonic You Were Never Lovelier.
If you’ve never seen Hayworth dance, you might wonder if she has the chops. Consult the men in Gilda, where the siren call of her curvy figure comes with lithe and dangerous moves. In You Were Never Lovelier, she is both funny and well-matched with Astaire.
Despite its sometimes forgettable title, it is a very effective and in, its own right, like most Fred Astaire vehicles, well-choreographed piece, highlights of which are incorporated into Robbins’ breathtaking ballet.
“I’m Old-Fashioned” is in the NYCB repertoire, just not this season. Keep an eye out for it, Carlos; it’s worth seeing whenever it comes up on the bill of fare.
Bookmark the NYCB and check it for a chance to see them in action, http://www.nycballet.com/