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A Star Couple Says Goodbye

By Joseph Carman
29 Jan 2014

Janie Taylor in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun.
photo by Paul Kolnik

Through their lyricism and imagination, Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici have joined a long legacy of distinctive artists at New York City Ballet. On the evening of March 1, the two principal dancers, who married in 2012, will retire from the company with a program celebrating French composers.

Included will be two ballets set to the Gallic impressionism of Claude Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun and Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, choreographed by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine respectively. They honor Taylor and Marcovici’s gifts: her contrasting vulnerability and daring, and his poetry and nobility.

“La Valse is probably my favorite ballet,” says Taylor. “I just love watching it and dancing it. Ravel’s music has such beauty, while at the same time being ominous and dark. I love the mix of those two things.” Afternoon of a Faun holds special meaning for Taylor and Marcovici, because it reflects the origins of their romance—as two young dancers in front of a mirror in a dance studio.

Their decision to leave the company was prompted by an offer to the Parisian-born Marcovici from former NYCB principal dancer Benjamin Millepied (and incoming Director of Dance at the Paris Opéra Ballet) to become a ballet master for L.A. Dance Project, which Millepied co-founded. Marcovici’s job will entail coaching and rehearsing ballets and teaching company class.

For Taylor, the timing also seemed appropriate. “At this point in my career, it seems like the right decision to make. We didn’t have any interest in not being in the same place for a while.” Born in Texas and trained at the School of American Ballet, Taylor has branched out into the design field and is creating the costumes for Justin Peck’s new ballet for NYCB’s spring season.

Audiences will long remember the couple’s notable performances in a range of ballets—for their tragic rapture in La Sonnambula and their refined expressiveness in Liebeslieder Walzer. Some of Taylor’s other career highs include the fleetness of her Dewdrop in George Balanchine’s The NutcrackerTM and her despairing Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Marcovici made an impression with his Melancholic variation in The Four Temperaments and his striking shapes in Stravinsky Violin Concerto.

Taylor knows what she will miss about the company: “I’m definitely sad that I won’t be able to see how the careers of some of the younger dancers will grow.” And of course there is NYCB’s unparalleled repertory. “Balanchine’s ballets are the reason I wanted to be a professional dancer,” she says. “It has been so amazing to dance them with the company where they were created.”

Marcovici, who trained at the School of the Paris Opéra before joining NYCB, concurs. “At New York City Ballet, we know Balanchine ballets,” he says. “Other companies dance Balanchine, but we understand them in a different way. Leaving the company is leaving a special place.”

*

Joseph Carman is a senior advising editor at Dance Magazine.




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