Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Conductor, Hugo Fiorato
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
February 4, 2003
Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by John Sebastian Bach, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, 1st Violin: Jean Ingraham, 2nd Violin: Nicolas Danielson, Performed by Jennie Somogyi, Wendy Whelan, Charles Askegard, and members of the Corps, including both Deanna McBrearty and Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokespersons). It was a joy to see my friend Nick Danielson perform an amazing violin solo, along with the very talented Jean Ingraham. I sat in the third row center orchestra with Dr. Henri Delbeau, a concert pianist (See Separate Orchestral Review), and the solo violinists were standing to be seen by the audience. It was hard to choose whether to watch the dancers or the musicians, as this was such a balanced and beautiful presentation. In fact, Deanna McBrearty performed onstage, as well, in poised and elegant fashion. With encircling group choreography, intertwining elements of Corps dancers and Principals, the white costumes of the mostly female production (Mr. Askegard was the lone male Principal, partly in black, who wove his way through all these women), I thoroughly enjoyed this work and do wish to see it at least once again.
Valse-Fantaisie (1967): Music by Mikhail Glinka, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli, Jared Angle, and members of the Corps. Glinka is all romance, and Mr. Angle's virtuosity and Ms. Ansanelli's porcelain-like features provided the audience with a fluid and flowing vision, replete with pastel costumes and technical and daring choreography. Mr. Angle shows tremendous promise and will be even more capable, when he connects on a stronger level with his partner. (Mr. Soto is a prime example, among the male NYCB Principals, of quintessential connection.) However, this was a powerful performance, and kudos are extended to this superb duo.
Ballet: Valse Fantaisie
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Dancer: Alexandra Ansanelli
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Variations Pour Une Porte et Un Soupir (1974): Sonority by Pierre Henry, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski and Tom Gold. I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire Season of the New York City Ballet. This particular ballet was not enjoyable. In fact, for the first time, I was extremely anxious and impatient, due to the grating and grinding electro-acoustical score by Mr. Henry. It sounded like hammers, squeaking doors, creaking floors, and subway noises. This piece could possibly be re-mounted with a new score, as the sets are brilliant and the dancing was even more brilliant, but not enjoyable, as the "sonority" wore on my nerves. I can imagine this ballet with a wild score from Piazzolla, or Otero, or Binelli/Ferman.
The set, an enormous gray material, hung from the ceiling and encircling and encompassing Ms. Kowroski, was fascinating. Her costume, in chiaroscuro, sexy and dazzling, was fantastic. Her movements, had they been isolated from the unbearable sounds, were technically perfect. She has rare star quality. Mr. Gold, I'm sure, is a great dancer. But, on this introduction, I was turned off by the jerky body movements, to the creaking and squeaking. The one best moment was actually before the ballet began. Every single light in the house was turned off, as there was no orchestra or soloist. It was a very dramatic moment, as the characters began to emerge onstage, with extremely focused spotlights. Kudos to Mr. Bates, Mr. Stanley, and Mr. Ter-Arutunian. I will continue to admire Mr. Balanchine, regardless of the nature of this one work.
Ballet: Variations Pour Une Porte et Un Soupir
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Dancer: Maria Kowroski and Tom Gold
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Symphony in C (1947): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Nilas Martins, Darci Kistler, Jock Soto, Janie Taylor, Robert Tewsley, Pascale van Kipnis, Arch Higgins, and the Company, including Deanna McBrearty and Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokespersons). Whatever was missing, musically, in the previous work, was present, and then some, in this work. With building momentum and volume and tempo, I just adored this piece. There were pairs of soloists in each of the four movements of this most melodic Symphony, surrounded and interspersed with Corps members, in white and black costumes, against a lovely blue backdrop. Mr. Soto, paired with Ms. Kistler, created a moment in dance history. I just love watching those two, whenever they dance. To see them together is a gift. They know how to relate to each other onstage and lack self-consciousness, as they most capably spin and leap across the stage, possessed with the knowledge that they are stars and always dance like stars. Mr. Tewsley and Ms. Taylor were hummingbirds in flight, in fast spinning, clear, concise, motion. Mr. Martins and Ms. Stafford were adorable and charismatic. Mr. Higgins and Ms. van Kipnis performed extremely well and show great promise.
As for the music, I loved the sound of bagpipes that resounded within this piece, and I also enjoyed watching a bit of Virginia Reel. I was especially moved with the speed and momentum of the music and dancers as they appear, disappear, and later all reappear, in various formations. Some of the more poignant musical moments reminded me of Adams' score for the ballet Giselle, with reference to the scene that includes hunting horns and the elegance of the Village Hunt. I definitely wish to see this piece again.