By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
However, amid the pinup-girl stances, cocked heads, and helpless little hands displayed by the ballerina and her ladies-in-waiting in this painted-teacup world, theres a slyly explicit pas de deux to which Maria Kowroski brings a whole new dimension, partly because of her size. When this long lean woman spreads her legs for a far too stolid Albert Evans (a samurai cast in stone), you know something more cosmic than a pro forma coupling is going on.
Nikolaj Hübbe in Balanchines Apollo
photo: Paul Kolnik
The woman who appears bearing a candle and pattering numbly around on pointe, with the breeze blowing her filmy white nightgown is a docile version of the madwoman in the attic (see Jane Eyre). She (in this case Darci Kistler) isnt quite as bizarre as the Poets reaction to her. He wafts her in one direction and then rushes to catch her. He pushes her into positions like a child experimenting with a new toy. He tries to catch her feet as they purl along. But whos the stronger here? She can step over his outspread limbs without looking, and when the host (a dignified Amar Ramsar) stabs him out of jealousy, this fragile female bears him off to her lair as if he were a featherweight.
In this program, as in others spread over the season, theres a wealth of splendid performing. Fairchild may be new to the mysteries of Balanchines Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée, but she develops her poses with the velvety roundness of an opening blossom, and Benjamin Millepied brings a poetic unrest to his pursuit of her. Rachel Rutherford, performing Calliope in Balanchines Apollo and substituting for Rebecca Krohn in Alexei Ratmanskys Russian Seasons, dances both roles with a lovely clarity and fullness. Stephen Hanna depicts the smart-jumping, self-satisfied El Capitan in Stars and Stripes excellently and holds his own against the brazenly virtuosic Liberty Bell of Ashley Bouder. Albert Evans has the lowdown on the lonesome cowpoke in Western Symphony (I could wish his partner, the lovely Hyltin, wouldnt turn a coyly imperious beckoning gesturefollow me, handsome into just another port de bras). Damian Woetzelsoon, alas, to leave the companywears all his roles as if they were suits hed been slipping into for years. Hes able to bring out all the nuances lurking in the steps and downplay the physical effort so that every formidable feat seems to come from nowhere, as if it were simply part of his everyday language.
And speaking of departures, on February 10, Nikolaj Hübbe danced for the last time as a principal with NYCB. He leaves to take over the directorship of the Royal Danish Ballet. The cheering fans and the throwers of bouquets and his colleagues assembling on stage didnt want to see him leavethat afternoon or ever. And with reason. Few male dancers combine his handsome presence, his charisma, his superb dancing, and his sense of drama. He makes every woman he partners look desired and desirable.
He opened his farewell program with Apollo, bringing out the gods youthful curiosity and letting us see that develop through moments of doubt into full confidence. All this, he provided subtly, without distorting the choreography in any way. For him, the lute was more than a prop; it was something to be examined and investigated. And he showed that he understood the nymphs as both vital to him and dependant upon him. When Wendy Whelan gently folded her arms around him before she, Rutherford, and Bouder formed the sunburst of arabesques that affirm Apollos godhood, she looked as if she wanted never to let him go.
The program, showing Hübbe in some of his prominent guises, highlighted his versatility. Peter Martinss quartet, Zakouksi, allowed him to delve into flashing, twisting steps and sultry gypsy bravado. In Cool, from Jerome Robbinss West Side Story Suite, he not only danced with street-smart, tough-guy manners, he sang the Bernstein-Sondheim song with which Riff dominates the angry, restless Jets. And finally, when the Rondo of Western Symphony came along, he romped outrageously, delighted with Kowroski, and matching her strutting and needle-point footwork with jumps and spins that had a spur-of-the-moment ease. As if he was riding the wave of our love and, tired as he must have been, relishing this last endeavor.