There was almost something perverse about the curtain rising on NYCB's Winter Season and the sight of the blond Peter Martins-lookalike Chase Finlay dancing Martins' trademark role of Apollo. One could almost imagine Martins' observing his performance in his usual seat in the rear orchestra except of course Martins wasn't there, the NYCB programs had been scrubbed of any mention of He Who Shall Not Be Named. The show must go on.
I caught four performances in their first week. NYCB's two all-Balanchine programs (Apollo/Mozartiana/Cortegé Hongrois and Divertimento #15/Four Temperaments/Chaconne) are the type of programs that would test the company's classical chops under any circumstances. But NYCB is now a ship without a captain, and in many ways the performances reflected both the company's depth of talent and how even the world's best dancers need a strong leader.
The good news: some staples are in fine shape. Four Temperaments for example: Anthony Huxley's and Sean Suozzi's Melancholic, Tiler Peck's steely Sanguinic, Ask La Cour's strange Phlegmatic, and Tess Reichlen's implacable Choleric (great gargouillades!) as well as some tight and coordinated work from the corps and demi-soloists made sure Four Temperaments lost none of its impact. Huxley was the Melancholic in the first performance and Suozzi in the…show more content… For one thing, Mearns can actually handle the steps. Mearns was relatively restrained although sometimes she still is in danger of overpowering the choreography completely. For instance in that one moment near the end of the Theme and Variations when the ballerina does a supported flat-footed pirouette in arabesque penchée (23:19 in this video) Mearns turned so fast she nearly knocked Finlay over. Still, I'd rather have an abundance of strength over NO strength. Finlay's lines and solo work were much more classical than Angle's, and Schumacher was also an improvement over