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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

Conductors, Andrea Quinn and Maurice Kaplow

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on
April 29, 2003

Donizetti Variations (1960): Music by Gaetano Donizetti (from Don Sebastian), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conducted by Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jenifer Ringer, Damian Woetzel, and the Company. Donizetti composed over 65 operas, plus chamber music, for some of the greatest singers of his time. In sets of three, the Company re-appeared, after a recess of two long months, and frolicked in peasant costumes, with ruffled white blouses and hands on hips. Ms. Ringer and Mr. Woetzel, in pink and white courtly outfits, performed non-stop, extended leaps and scissors kicks, mid-air.

Mr. Woetzel looked absolutely thrilled to return to the stage, after his extended absence in the Fall Season, due to an injury. He partnered Ms. Ringer flawlessly, exuding that longed-for chemistry that makes partnering passionate. Mr. Woetzel was charismatic, as he spun on one leg, knee crossed, and, with full confidence, jumped and triple twirled. The Orchestra was ably led by Ms. Quinn, and I heard rhapsodic harps, horns, strings, and very melodic phrasing.

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Conducted by Andrea Quinn, Performed by Abi Stafford, Tom Gold, Pascale van Kipnis, Arch Higgins, Wendy Whelan, Jock Soto, and the Company, including Deanna McBrearty and Saskia Beskow. In this fourth viewing of this unbelievable ballet, created by the esteemed Mr. Balanchine, I focused on the musical intensity, Stravinsky's percussion, and the way in which Mr. Balanchine wove the dissonant music to the dissonant motion. Ms. van Kipnis and Mr. Gold performed electric leaps, which contrasted to the elegance and slow diagonals of the musical variations. Mr. Soto and Ms. Whelan appeared rested and ready for their visually delicious duets. These are two focused professionals, who at once exude romance and virtuosity.

In addition to my focus on the musical and visual dissonance, I focused on the creation of space, much like that of a Giacometti sculpture. The dancers used their arms and legs on many levels, like totem figures, to create personal and collective space, that is, space that has a life of its own. Kudos to Mr. Gold, who is in rare and buoyant form, and kudos again to Mr. Balanchine.

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

Chaconne (1976): Performed by Darci Kistler, Nilas Martins, Amanda Edge, Antonio Carmena, Dena Abergel, Saskia Beskow, Pauline Golbin, Eva Natanya, Carrie Lee Riggins, Jason Fowler, Ask la Cour, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company. Ms. Kistler gracefully filled in for Kyra Nichols and danced the lead with Nilas Martins. Although Mr. Martins is now maturing, with excellent technical and virtuosic techniques, there was no chemistry between the two, for a variety of reasons. In fact, Ms. Kistler and Mr. Martins barely made eye contact. Although they were individually perfect in their dance roles, I would have liked to see Ms. Kistler partnered with Mr. Soto, Mr. Woetzel, or Mr. Tewsley, or Mr. Martins partnered with Ms. Ringer, Ms. Borree, or Ms. Somogyi. This was an awkwardly inspired duo, like parallel partners. On an individual basis, Ms. Kistler danced with an effortless fluidity, lyricism, and courtliness. Mr. Martins has achieved smoothness and confidence to his dancing, which is a joy to observe.

In blues and white, with chiffony ice blue dresses, the Company was in rare form. Mr. Carmena and Ms. Edge were a playful, rapidly paced duo, with excellent timing and ultra fast spins. These fiery Corps members are perfectly partnered.

As this was Opening Night, Spring Season, I was hoping to see Peter Martins onstage at curtain call. I will always recall the splendor of seeing Martha Graham onstage at curtain call, and I believe I recently mentioned the joy of seeing Paul Taylor onstage with his Company.


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