The Philadelphia Ballet at the Academy of Music presented their triple bill of Balanchine classics from March 17-20. It was all too short a stay. The triple bill included Symphony in C, Divertimento No. 15, and Stars and Stripes.
Symphony in C has four dance movements, echoing the four movements of the work by Bizet. All eight soloists were excellent. Some expressed an even higher degree of eclat.
Oksana Maslova and Arian Molina Soca led the second movement:Adagio. Both were simply breathtaking. Mr. Molina Soca has never looked finer than he has this season. He dances with impossible effortlessness, fluid seductiveness, all the while displaying a brazen restraint. Ms. Maslova seems to bloom extravagantly under Mr. Molina Soca’s partnership. Here, she melted, both of them becoming a thousand gallons of melted chocolate. Ms. Maslova heroically carries on while her Ukrainian homeland is being systematically destroyed by Russia.
In the third movement, Allegro Vivace, Mayara Pineiro and Ashton Roxander sparkled. Often dazzlingly airborne, they had the softest, most quiet, landings.
The fourth movement brought another allegro vivace danced by Yuka Iseda and Jermel Johnson. Mr. Johnson by all appearances had no problem whatsover with Balanchine’s choreography. Many have wondered what planet he comes from. A video on the company’s website has an interview with Mr. Johnson, where he expresses his obvious love for the swift Balanchine movement landscape, but talks alarmingly of retirement. Oh, No! No. Mr. Johnson, don’t do this to us.
After an intermission, Divertimento No. 15 was danced with eight leading artists and company members. The three men were Aleksey Babayev, Jermel Johnson, and Arian Molina Soca. All three displayed extraordinary technique and style to burn. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Molina Soca have already been mentioned for their myriad excellence, but let us discuss Mr. Babayev. Immediately, you are struck by his thrilling, Renaissance thighs. Bursting with energy, his loins crushed every pituitary and pineal gland in the audience with artistic brilliance.
Stars and Stripes was the third and final work on the March 18th program, and it was fantastic! Conductor Beatrice Jona Affron called 911 to have emergency medical technicians in to give vitamin B-12 shots to everyone in the pit, since they had drooped considerably during the previous work. They played these Sousa march adaptations with patriotic fire. Fiery, too, can be called ballet legend Colleen Neary’s excellent and loving staging of this 1958 work.
The male dancers in the second section, labeled Second Campaign, led by an incredibly fiery Ashton Roxander hopped about and shot off like a firework. The orchestra members and first few rows of the audience were undoubtedly covered with Mr. Roxander’s DNA. A testosterone-fueled dominator (Mr. Roxander? Peter Weil?) who was all cheek and naughty charm continued into the Third Campaign, and an amazingly fine Sydney Dolan thrilled.
Finally, Dayesi Torriente and Sterling Baca brought the rousing piece to thrilling conclusion, much to the audience’s wild acclaim.
May 12 through 15 will bring Philadelphia Ballet’s
triple bill by the legendary Hans Van Manen to the Academy of Music. Yes, yes!