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New York City Ballet - La Valse, Episodes, Vienna Waltzes
-Onstage with the Dancers

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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
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 7, 2004

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

La Valse (1951): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jean Rosenthal, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: George Cleve, Performed by Janie Taylor, Robert Tewsley, Amanda Edge, Antonio Carmena, Jennifer Tinsley, Arch Higgins, Rebecca Krohn, Stephen Hanna, James Fayette, Christopher Boehmer, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow, Danskin Spokesperson.

According to NYCB Notes, the Waltz was "...a dance craze (that) swept across Europe. Although first denounced as immoral, it soon became the most common social dance on the continent and has remained in the repertory of ballroom dancers to this day." Diaghilev Originally asked Ravel to write "La Valse" for the Ballet Russes, but then he rejected the work. Balanchine used this work here, but added additional Valses from Ravel. (NYCB Notes).

In this work, Janie Taylor, as the ingénue, succumbs to the power of death, personified by James Fayette, with all his theatrical wrath, unlike the woman in Martha Graham's Errand Into the Maze, who fights off the Minotaur, as death, with all her power. In Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, Ms. Taylor in pale blue/white and Mr. Tewsley dance the eighth of eight exquisite waltzes to the soaring, ethereal Ravel score. These are elegant dances, with Karinska's long red and black, tulle tutus, and innocence abounds in this first movement. In the second, there is an eery, dark sensation, as the music swells to frightening crescendos, and Mr. Fayette draws Ms. Taylor out of Mr. Tewsley's arms with magnetic, mesmerizing force. Mr. Tewsley is romantic and rapturous, and Mr. Fayette is awesome and all-powerful. Ms. Taylor was well cast, as she can exude passion and vulnerability, as the theme develops. Her dance skills were perfection, and she possesses charisma and charm, as well as exceptional talent.

George Cleve led the orchestra magnificently in this most intoxicating of Ravel's works, and Mr. Stanley created visually exciting lighting effects, as Mr. Fayette appeared and disappeared through the dimly lit curtains. This is a ballet to see often, for its dramatic development and luscious layering, including Jean Rosenthal's period scenery. Kudos to George Cleve and Maurice Ravel.

Episodes (1959): Music from the orchestral works of Anton von Webern, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Jennifer Tinsley, Edwaard Liang, Teresa Reichlen, James Fayette, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, and the Company. Balanchine was enthusiastic about Webern's music, which he felt left "the mind free to 'see' the dancing". Martha Graham Originally choreographed for Balanchine "Episodes I", danced by her Company and four NYCB dancers, but this section has not been presented since 1960. (NYCB Notes).

This stark dissonant work is a study in minimalism and modernism, succinct and structured. Danced with bare black leotards and pink tights, with male dancers in black tights and white tops, against a deepening blue backdrop, Episodes is fascinating and textured. Mr. Evans, a muscular and powerful performer, was well partnered with Ms. Whelan. He exuded magnetism and brought out the finest in Ms. Whelan's bravura skills. Ms. Kowroski extended her signature limbs in geometric lifts with angular sensuality across and over the tall, Mr. Askegard.

Ms. Tinsley and Mr. Liang developed interest in this work, as well, in the first movement. Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Fayette, in the second movement, were incredible figures in darkness, as ms. Reichlen tipped upside down to grasp Mr. Fayette's legs in a Rorschach -like figure. The Company was superb. Kudos to Maurice Kaplow for leading the orchestra in this challenging orchestral work.

Vienna Waltzes (1977): Music by Johann Strauss/Franz Lehár/Richard Strauss, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Rachel Rutherford, James Fayette, Miranda Weese, Damian Woetzel, Amanda Edge, Tom Gold, Jenifer Ringer, Nilas Martins, Kyra Nichols, Charles Askegard, and the Company.

It was good to see the full-length version of this complex and varied work once again. The scenic development of grand, woodland visions, led by Ms. Rutherford and Mr. Fayette, with waltzes among the rarified trees, followed by wilder, more daring leaps and spins across the forest, led by the energetic Ms. Weese and the amazing Mr. Woetzel, followed by the Polka scene, led by the sprightly dynamos, Ms. Edge and Mr. Gold, followed by the Gold and Silver Waltz, with red, black, and gold curtains and dim chandeliers, led by the charismatic duo of Ms. Ringer and Mr. Martins, followed by the black and white dazzling waltzes against backdrop of the full-length mirrors, with the effect of multiple dance couples whirling and twirling, was mesmerizing.

Kudos to Karinska for her elegant and multitudinous costume changes, and kudos to Ruben Ter-Arutunian for the intriguing, woodland and ballroom sets. And, kudos to George Balanchine, on the Centennial occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday.

 

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