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New York City Ballet - George Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements
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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

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on
January 8, 2003

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor, Andrea Quinn, Performed by the Company. This magnificent, original choreography by George Balanchine and the brilliantly appropriate leotards and tights create the vision of assemblages of dancers in stark white, in white/black, and in all black, with soloists in shades of pink. The opening bars of Stravinsky's percussive, dissonant score are heard against the image of a diagonal formation of female soloists in white. Kudos to Mark Stanley for the fluorescent-like feeling that he generates for this scene.

Ballet: Symphony in Three Movements
Choreography: George Balanchine
Dancers: Abi Stafford and Kipling Houston in his farewell NYCB performance
Photo by Paul Kolnik

The male solo, in Section I, managed to leap sideways, legs in perfect formation, bent upwards, as if they had no connection to the hips. All dancers performed with superb timing and agility, ecstatic elevation, lightning leaps, and seasoned technicality. Section II, with solos by Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, was brilliantly fashioned, and Mr. Soto's muscularity and dexterity were a balletomane's fantasy gone wild, as he optimized his charisma and partnered Ms. Whelen with ease. Ms. Whelan took the stage by force, as Stravinsky's dynamic tones drove the momentum. Section III combined all the colors, all the dancers, and all the brilliant force of Balanchine's work. This is one ballet that I hope to see at least once more, during this Repertory Season, as there are so many visual and auditory layers upon which to focus. Ms. Quinn was exceptional in her conducting of this most difficult score.

Vespro (2002): Music by Bruno Moretti (commissioned for New York City Ballet), Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, Costumes by Julius Lumsden (Artist in Residence), Costumes supervised by Holly Hines, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Bruno Moretti, Countertenor: Steven Rickards, Soprano Saxophone: Albert Regni, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Jason Fowler, Alexandra Ansanelli, Sébastien Marcovici, Benjamin Millepied, and Corps members. Dressed in Mondrian-like leotards of black, white, and deep pink, dancers surround Mr. Moretti on piano, play lower, dissonant chords with their feet, stamp feet on the floor to add to the force of the percussion, sit on the piano, surround the countertenor, dressed in a monk-like, long, red costume, and flow to the soulful tones of Mr. Regni's saxophone.

Ballet: Vespro
Choreography: Mauro Bigonzetti
Dancers: Maria Kowroski, Jason Fowler, Alexandra Ansanelli and Sébastien Marcovici
Photo by Paul Kolnik

The soloists clean choreographic technique, in moving to the prominent strains of the very current piano composition, which are followed by Cloisters-type singing, blended with the wrenching saxophone, is tremendously magnetizing for the audience. I would be interested in observing and hearing this piece, with the exclusion of the tenor. This is not an evaluation, but a desire to see this production in a slightly different format, with the saxophone more prominent, to give the piece a less complex and cluttered sound. Mr. Moretti is to be congratulated for this most original concept. Mr. Martins is also to be commended for his courage in mounting unusual and contemporary pieces.

Fancy Free (1944): Music by Leonard Bernstein, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Kermit Love, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor, Richard Moredock, Performed by Andrew Robertson (Bartender), Tom Gold, Kipling Houston, Damian Woetzel (Sailors), Deanna McBrearty, Pascale van Kipnis, Rebecca Krohn (Passers-by). This is my second review of this piece, this past year, with the same sets and same costumes, different Ballet Company. In this NYC Ballet production, as compared to the American Ballet Theatre production, the three sailors' bravura, solo performances seemed to be more stylized, less passionate, less wild, yet more precise and interesting. Mr. Houston appeared on this night to have a large personal following in the audience, and there were many encore bows at the end of the performance. Ms. McBrearty, as the first ingénue passer-by, had an infectiously engaging personality, with bent toe and swinging, red pocketbook. Her technique was flawless, and she complimented Ms. van Kipnis' flirtatiousness, magnificently. Mr. Gold, Mr. Houston, and Mr. Woetzel were on time, in sync, in style, and a superb trio of theatrically trained performers, all of whom danced with creativity and bravado. This piece, with Bernstein's score and Robbins' choreography, is a classic.

Ballet: Fancy Free
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Dancers: Tom Gold, Kipling Houston in his farewell NYCB performance, and Damian Woetzel
Photo by Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at