October 10, 2020
The first of two family friendly Saturday matinees in New York City Ballet’s Digital Fall Season may have been short at around just thirty minutes, but the two ballets and one excerpt could not fail to leave a smile on the face; even in these times.
The high-spirited all-Balanchine triple bill got off to a sparkling start with Megan Fairchild (who introduced the show) and Joaquín De Luz trying to outdo each other in the Neapolitan-inspired Tarantella. Both excelled at the ever more playful footwork, turns and jumps but it was De Luz who just about shaded the contest. His leaps were high and landings light, but it was his attitude to the work that ‘sold’ it to the viewer as much as anything else.
From Italy to Russia and more folk-inspired dance with Scherzo à la Russe. Made for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival, the four-minute ballet for two women and a female corps of sixteen feels like an outtake from Petrushka. The pattern-filled choreography is pleasant, as is Stravinsky’s bouncy, jaunty score, but neither sets the pulses racing. Still, it’s a perfect piece for the young cast of School of American Ballet students, led by Olivia Boisson and Claire Von Enck, at the time both apprentices, having only joined the company the month previous to this September 2012 recording after graduating from SAB.
Western Symphony never ceases to delight, even if only treated to the first movement as here. As the lead couple, Abi Stafford and Taylor Stanley breezed through the dance looking like they were enjoying themselves as much as I was. It’s just a shame it wasn’t the whole ballet.
New York City Ballet’s All-Balanchine family friendly matinee is available on YouTube until October 17, 2020
Next in the Digital Fall Season, available on YouTube from Wednesday October 14 (UK; 8pm Tuesday, New York) is a programme of Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (First Movement), Duo Concertant, and Symphony in C (Fourth Movement and Finale); and Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering (Scherzo and Finale).