the other day i asked my friend if i should splurge on the YAGP gala and he says “no, galas suck”. and i say “you’re right, galas do suck”, but then i got thinking …. they don’t really suck but they are just like eating dessert for dinner and sometimes you want a big piece of cheesecake drizzled in chocolate instead of a healthy meal and maybe i want to go see a stupid gala because herman cornejo and lauren lovette are dancing “rubies” and omg iana salenko is in new york! so while i knew the gala wouldn’t be as ultimately satisfying and soul nourishing as seeing giselle, for example, when it came down to it i couldn’t resist. what can i say, i love cheesecake.
well, i have to admit the YAGP was loads of fun, and while there were several pieces i didn’t really care for there was enough good stuff to make it worth the splurge. my easy favorite of act 1 was the gorgeous “wiegenlied pas de duex” choreographed by evan mckie for himself and the bolshoi’s olga smirnova. in the preceding video (the program featured video introductions done by the dancers before each piece) evan mentioned that he never really choreographs and after his ballet i’m thinking “EVAN! you definitely need to choreograph more!” his piece was a beauty- musical, seamless, very moving and wonderfully classical. what a nice break from that sort-of-modern/contemporary/sort-of-neoclassical/twisty-snakey/twitchy choreography that seems to be the thing these days. and olga is a stunner- so elegant and beautiful, i totally get what all the fuss is about.
as much as i wanted to like “kubler ross” (duet created by andrea schermoly for maria kochetkova and joaquin de luz) i’m afraid it honestly didn’t do much for me. while the dancers executed the choreography brilliantly i felt it was too busy and ran on and on without pause. also masha’s costume was a bit… meh. (on the other hand, joaquin is so cute you don’t even care if the choreography is not to your taste). the crowd went completely bonkers for this ballet tho, so … you can be your own judge ; )
closing act 1 were alicia graf mack and daniil simkin in ailey’s “pas de duke”, which was loads of fun. alicia really killed it and daniil (damn, that guy can turn) was lovably cocky.
during intermission i had the great pleasure of being introduced to evan mckie’s lovely parents. evan had dedicated his ballet to his mother (unbeknownst to her previously) and she was clearly overwhelmed by the gesture. they were so sweet and i was happy to be able to express how much i enjoyed their son’s choreography.
act 2 had even more great stuff to offer, starting with justin peck’s fantastic “distractions”, a ballet for four amazing men (robert fairchild, taylor stanley, daniel ulbricht and james whiteside). vigorous and continuously entertaining, “distractions” held my attention from start to finish and all 4 guys danced incredibly (with dan ulbricht being maybe just a little bit extra incredible). loved it.
if you know me you know half of the reason i came to this gala was to see lauren lovette and herman cornejo dance the rubies pas de deux from balanchine’s “jewels” and they did not disappoint. they performed brilliantly with fire and sparkle and i just like how they look together. lauren and herman both possess this thing that is an equal balance of cuteness, beauty and sexiness which i find very appealing. i hope they will find other opportunities to dance together in the future.
following rubies was more from “jewels”, the diamond pas de deux danced elegantly by olga smirnova and semyon chudin. once again i was captivated by smirnova, she is simply lovely.
closing the program was (surprise!!) the pas de trios from le corsaire (i mean, c’mon- what’s a gala without corsaire?) featuring joesph gatti, brooklyn mack and ……. iana salenko!! i’ve been obsessing over iana on youtube for ages so i was super excited to see her dance live and she was every bit as lovely, elegant, musical and gorgeous as expected. while i thought this trio was a bit of an odd combination, joe & brooklyn being a bit wild and rough around the edges (but lovably so) and iana so classical and refined, i enjoyed them all nonetheless. both men really kicked ass and gatti’s final pirouette was some piece of craziness that caused my jaw to hit the floor in the manner of sebastian the crab witnessing ariel the mermaid fall in love with a human. (sorry, i have 4 kids and have seen too many disney movies).
(all photos by naomi mori)
~everything else, in short~
juliard school, flight of the bumblebee- looked fantastic but i missed half of it because i am stupid and thought the performance started at 7:30 instead of 7:00. ugh.
lucia lacarra & marlon dino, three preludes- gorgeous. really, they are a stunning couple.
ashley bouder & semyon chudin, la sylphide pas de deux- enjoyable. they are both great dancers and i love la sylph, but not a lot of chemistry here.
beckane sisk and fabrice calmels, light rain- disappointing as fabrice is this gorgeous giant of a man and i wanted to see him move and not just maneuver a ballerina. and i don’t really like those flexibility ballets anyway.
rebecca rasmussen & steven ezra, TUU- at the start i did not expect i would like this piece but it turned out to be pretty damn impressive! loved it : )
evan mckie, onVelvet- hated. love evan but… marco goecke, whyyyy???? although if you enjoy watching people have seizures and being unable to help them you might like this piece.
brooklyn mack, gopeck- faaabulous!
lucia lacarra & marlon dino, two times two- they are wonderful but the piece is a bit of a sleeper.
so over all the good outweighed the bad, i had a great time and it totally didn’t suck 😉