New York City Ballet - Serenade, In the Night, Jeu de Cartes
-Onstage with the Dancers
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, Andrea Quinn
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
January 25, 2003
Serenade (1948): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Kyra Nichols, Jennie Somogyi, Charles Askegard, James Fayette, Aesha Ash, Amanda Edge, Deanna McBrearty (Danskin Spokesperson), Elizabeth Walker, and the Company. With Principals falling faint to the stage floor, and then waking up to the presence of a male partner, or, on occasion, to a group of Corps dancers, this elegant and eloquent ballet, to the evocative score of Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings), is ethereal and hypnotic. There are sections that appear to symbolize female bonding, as the dancers hold hands and dance in small, supportive groups. Costumes and lighting in shades of blues and lavender were scintillating.
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Photo by Paul Kolnik
I very much would like to see this ballet again, as it has many layers and nurtures the soul with a quiet, but resonant quality. In fact, Corps dancer Deanna McBrearty told me, during our interview, that this is her favorite ballet role. The featured NYC Ballet dancers, some Principals, some Soloists, and some Corps dancers, impressed me with the extremely high level of their endurance, technical skills, focus, and versatility. It is imperative, in a ballet, such as Serenade, to be ever-so-airy and ever-so-dreamlike. These dancers need to switch tempo, mood, and physical and dramatic tension, with every piece in the vast NYC Ballet Repertory. There were extremely lovely and sensual string solos, and the orchestra was in rare form.
In the Night (1970): Piano: Nancy McDill, Performed tonight by Rachel Rutherford, Arch Higgins, Jennie Somogyi, Peter Boal, Wendy Whelan (again), and Jock Soto. This performance of the passionate and sometimes erotic ballet of dance partners in various moods and romantic states included Wendy Whelan again, partnered, this time, with Jock Soto. Last week I was in awe of her performance with James Fayette. This week I would like to be reborn as Wendy Whelan, to be swept away by Jock Soto, as they reunite in bliss, after their brief, but bellicose, separation. The extreme and exquisite dramatic tension, on display, between these two talented and seasoned Principals, mesmerized the audience. Not a breath could be heard, until their successful, uplifted embrace. The other dancing couples were extremely effective, both in the innocent rapture of Ms. Rutherford and Mr. Higgins, and also in the more severe, but dynamic, elegance of Ms. Somogyi and Mr. Boal. I noticed, on this viewing, how the tiny stars in the black sky turn to chandeliers and tiny lights. Dancers are silhouetted against this midnight backdrop. Kudos to Jennifer Tipton for the Lighting of this rare ballet.
Ballet: In the Night
Choreographer: Jerome Robbins
Dancers: Rachel Rutherford and Arch Higgins
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Jeu de Cartes (1992): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Ian Falconer, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Janie Taylor, Robert Tewsley, Benjamin Millepied, Nicolaj Hübbe, and the Company.
There is an old adage that "The Show Must Go On". Mid way into this highly technical and exciting ballet, set to a strong and fairly melodic score, by Stravinsky, Mr. Hübbe hurt his foot and had to take an early exit. The remainder of the cast kept dancing and filled in to create the illusion that Mr. Hübbe did not have further dancing scheduled. Kudos to this entire cast.
The backdrop, of a deep green, felt card table with poker chips, and the costumes, with hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds, provided tremendous color, novelty, and an upbeat, buoyant ambiance. Ms. Taylor is coy and technically superb, as she slowly and deliberately moves her leg to new heights, with knee bent and face smiling. Her bright, red Queen of Hearts costume is perfect, against the reds and blues and yellow of Mr. Tewsley's brilliant attire. Mr. Millepied has the makings of a star, in his ability to soar and glide and spin and leap. He never looks tired or distracted, during his daredevil motion. Peter Martins is quoted (NYCB Notes) in 1992 as saying, "...when I heard the score recently, I was struck by its jazzy vitality...". Mr. Martins has created a very jazzy dance.