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New York City Ballet - Hallelujah Junction, Symphony in Three Movements, Guide to Strange Places
-Onstage with the Dancers

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(www.nycballet.org)

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
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns

Conductors, Andrea Quinn and John Adams

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
May 15, 2003

Hallelujah Junction (2001): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Kirsten Lund Nielsen, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Duo Pianists: Cameron Grant and Richard Moredock, Performed by Janie Taylor, Sebastien Marcovici, Benjamin Millepied, Abi Stafford, Craig Hall, Alina Dronova, Antonio Carmena, Glenn Keenan, Amar Ramasar, Sarah Ricard, and Jonathan Strafford. On the Met Opera stage, this ballet took on new dimensions for me, as the two pianists, performing on high in the dimmest of lights, created a quintessentially Peter Martins, abstract and hard-edged, but mesmerizing dance. Ms. Taylor and Mr. Marcovici, her frequent partner, were joined in their angular and fast-spinning choreography, as they spun and leaped across all corners of the stage, by the very talented Mr. Millepied, who likes to spin and leap mid-air, through the higher levels of the stage. This commanding and chiaroscuro work has strong visual and auditory imagery that demands the best of the entire cast. Ms. Stafford and Mr. Carmena were outstanding.


Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conducted by Andrea Quinn, Performed by Abi Stafford, Tom Gold, Pascale van Kipnis, Arch Higgins, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, Saskia Beskow, Pauline Golbin, Deanna McBrearty, Eva Natanya, Jamie Wolf, Darius Crenshaw, Kyle Froman, Henry Seth, Sean Suozzi, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company, Conducted by Andrea Quinn. This is a piece that opens new imagination and images every time I see it. Especially noteworthy were Tom Gold, who moves from internal springs, Wendy Whelan, who exudes sensuality and style, and Abi Stafford, whose contemporary skills are so ingrained with muscularity and purpose. Mr. Evans appeared to be less ready for this role than Mr. Soto, one of Ms. Whelan's steadiest of partners. After all, Ms. Whelan is among the cream of the NYC Ballet Principals, with technical perfection and grace, and she requires a superb partner in very performance. Mr. Evans has ably performed in the past and is highly capable.

Guide to Strange Places (World Premiere): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Set by Julius Lumsden, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Set Supervised by Mark Stanley, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: John Adams, Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli, Darci Kistler, Jennie Somogyi, Janie Taylor, Miranda Weese, Sebastien Marcovici, Nilas Martins, Benjamin Millepied, Philip Neal, and Jock Soto. There is nothing more magnificent than a world premiere of a new ballet, especially when the conductor is the composer. Mr. Adams was warmly greeted at the Met, and he seemed to be totally enjoying the moment. Mr. Adams was born in Worcester, MA, and has composed contemporary orchestral music and operas that have been performed around the world. Guide to Strange Places premiered in Amsterdam in 2001. Adams describes this piece as a "descent into an imagined, unexpected underworld". The music is ever-changing, with brass, double basses, celesta, bass drums, and piccolo enhancing the dark or dance-like qualities that provide the captivating musical underpinning of this new work. (NYCB Notes).

Mr. Martins' choreography merges with Mr. Lumsden's sets, as the blackest of lights, similar to Hallelujah Junction, the first piece tonight, also created for an Adams score, becomes the womb for the dancers, as they emerge and then dance backwards into and out of this mysterious space. The partnering effect of the five couples was reminiscent of the very classical In The Night. Ms. Kistler was wispy and evocative, as she appeared to play center stage, with Mr. Soto in his confident and magnetic form, and Mr. Millepied in a good, contemporary motif, suited to his staccato style and skills of speed and strength. Mr. Martins was extremely engaging and energetic, as he seemed to throw himself into this dynamic and eclectic score with exuberance and sensuality. Ms. Taylor and Mr. Marcovici, as usual, were a visual delight. This is a great partnership, most suited for this contemporary motif. Ms. Barinas' costumes, chiffony and wildly colored, were most appropriate to the emergence and re-emergence into the black abyss.

I was thrilled to see Peter Martins onstage with Mr. Adams and the Company for the many and well-deserved curtain bows. Kudos to Mr. Martins and Mr. Adams for presenting such a wonderful new addition to the NYC Ballet Repertoire.


Ballet: Guide to Strange Places
Dancers: Soto, Somogyi, Weese
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik



Ballet: Guide to Strange Places
Dancers: Alexandra Ansanelli and Benjamin Millepied
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net