Divertimento No. 15 grew in size without quite growing into a heartbreaker. The key, as always in this piece, was attention to detail. This past Sunday's line-up of women was probably the production's best: Sylvia Deaton, Kathleen Breen Combes, Rie Ichikawa, Whitney Jensen, and Misa Kuranaga. When in the first movement Deaton and Ichikawa ran on and slotted into the ladies' line-up, the five women looked knowingly at each other in a way that made you wonder whether the guys hadn't been set up. Coming out first in the adagio with Paul Craig, Breen Combes appeared to be playing with him — so much for the idea that each guy has made the girl he's dancing with at the time think she's the only one. And the guys don't always stay with the girls they started with: Craig turned up later in the adagio with Jensen, who'd been Bradley Schlagheck's girl in the first movement.
The finale begins with a pair of buggy-ride dates: no sooner had Schlagheck dropped off Jensen than he was back with Breen Combes. Kuranaga, at least, had to be waiting for John Lam, her steady partner throughout — but no, that was Craig coming to pick her up. Lam entered a few minutes later with Deaton on one arm and Ichikawa on the other, and you couldn't tell whether they were rivals for his affection or just waiting to peck his eyes out. It all resolves in that eternal ballet metaphor, the daisy chain, where you can't quite tell who's dancing with who. Even the eight corps women are mix-and-match: they break into four couples in the minuet and then four different couples in the finale.
Just as Divertimento No. 15 could have had more emotional weight, so Symphony in Three Movements could have been more ferocious. The ending in particular seemed oddly static; the crouched men should seem to have turned on the audience, looking for conscripts, perhaps, poster boys for "George Balanchine Wants YOU." But the principals — the alternate cast offered Jensen with Jeffrey Cirio, Breen Combes with Whiteside, and Tiffany Hedman with Varga — all got into the lindy as their contribution to the war effort. Jensen didn't just kick hard, she brought her leg into sharp-focused passé in her piqué turns. Ichikawa brought clarity to the facets of her open and closed positions. And Breen Combes led the charge of women offering the Germans forbidden (and doubtless poisoned) fruit. The good news is that Symphony in Three Movements is back on one of next year's bills. I could watch it every night.
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