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New York City Ballet - Who Cares?, Hallelujah Junction, I'm Old Fashioned
-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

Conductors, Andrea Quinn and Richard Moredock

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
March 2, 2003

Who Cares? (1970): In this performance, Alexandra Ansanelli danced a lead again, although Jennie Somogyi was Originally listed. Nilas Martins danced the lead that Philip Neal assumed on February 26, and Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokesperson) once again danced as a soloist. Also, Amar Ramasar, one of the most engaging new Corps members, was again not mentioned in the Program. For the final sold-out, standing room only, performance of the Winter Repertory Season of New York City Ballet, an arrangement of three outstanding works was splendidly performed by a most splendid Company

It was wonderful to see Nilas Martins once again, and he had the charisma and chemistry that Mr. Neal lacks in his partnering. As a soloist, Mr. Martins performed remarkably well, perhaps not as technically perfect, as did Mr. Neal, but certainly with a knack for engaging the audience, as well as his three principal partners, especially Ms. Weese, who, once again, seductively drew in the audience, as well as Mr. Martins, in The Man I Love, with her provocative and expressive twists of her legs and arms. Ms. Stafford is an excellent performer, especially in more abstract and dissonant works. In the romantic pieces, she seems to lack attention to and for her partner. Ms. Chelton's solo, in Fascinatin' Rhythm, was superb, as the piano was as sexy as was Ms. Weese. In My One and Only, Ms. Ansanelli was brought back for extended applause, as she exhibited a most amazing series of spins and technically exciting extensions. Again, Mr. Martins seemed to delight as much as did the audience in his Bravura performance.

Hallelujah Junction (2002): 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, Sébastien Marcovici, Benjamin Millepied, Abi Stafford, Alina Dronova, Glenn Keenan, Sarah Ricard, Craig Hall, Antonio Carmena, Amar Ramasar, and Jonathan Stafford. John Adams, a New Englander, studied at Harvard. He was influenced by John Cage and Steve Reich, and he uses both electronic and instrumental motifs that combine romanticism and minimalism. (NYCB Notes).

This work is a must-see-again masterpiece. I was so thrilled that it was included in this final performance of the Season. On a dimly lit, raised stage, the duo pianists, both of whom have provided remarkable solo enhancements to the vast NYCB Repertory, faced each other and created an electric and mesmerizing ambiance to Mr. Martins' brilliant choreography. In fact, I feel that this work is one of his most masterful and potent choreographic ventures. It is both taut and tight, with a white on black effect in costumes and lighting, and outstanding focus and seriousness of purpose in the dancers' attitudes and personas.

In this work, I was able to see the depth of talent in some of the Principals, such as Mr. Millepied and Mr. Marcovici. These two Principals should be most often seen in dissonant, abstract works, such as this one, rather than the romantic fluff of Coppélia, which should be saved for more theatrical and romantically bent performers, such as the talented, but different, Adam Hendrickson and Nilas Martins. Mr. Marcovici and Mr. Millepied were both perfectly cast in this piece, and I certainly hope to see more of them in similar dynamic and serious roles. Ms. Taylor, as well, is best cast in these tour de force performances, which require lightning spins and movement that is exactly on beat. She is one of the most stylized ballet dancers I've seen, for this type of abstract motif.

The Adams score was reminiscent of the music of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Kudos to the duo pianists, Mr. Grant and to Mr. Moredock, who then moved from onstage piano to offstage pit, to conduct the orchestra in the final, next work.


Ballet: Hallelujah Junction
Choreographer: Peter Martins
Dancers: Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici
Photo by Paul Kolnik

I'm Old Fashioned (1983): In this performance, Pascale van Kipnis danced a lead, instead of Maria Kowroski. I would love to see this work with a new male lead. Mr. Neal is superbly talented, but better as the Broadway Jazzy soloist in previous works, and not as a romantic partner onstage, with Fred Astaire on film as backdrop. Mr. Higgins has a more romantic persona, as partner, and Mr. Marcovici showed his versatility, performing with charismatic depth, after his extremely demanding role, shortly before, in Hallelujah Junction. Ms. Kipnis was wonderful as partner to Mr. Marcovici, but Ms. Ringer appeared short-changed, with Mr. Neal's absence of confidence and charisma. Mr. Astaire was all confidence and charisma, and any male Principal onstage, appearing against the brilliance of Mr. Astaire's tapping and swirling, filmed backdrop with Rita Hayworth, must have some of the inherent star quality that was encapsulated by Fred Astaire.

All in all, the audience would not leave these performers, until a standing applause was awarded with several curtain calls. Kudos to Jerome Robbins, Jerome Kern, and Morton Gould, and kudos to Peter Martins for again mounting this complex and technically amazing work.

I must say, this Sunday, matinee performance created separation anxiety for balletomanes, such as I, as Spring Season is a long two months away. Fortunately, I will be conducting, in the near future, interviews with Ballet Principals and Soloists, as a seamless transition from Winter to Spring Ballet Seasons, and the temporary absence of ballet performances by the major Companies will seem less painful. I must also say that I had hoped to see Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief, onstage with the Company for the final applause of the final performance of this Season. Perhaps he was out of town. I remember how wonderful it always was to see Martha Graham onstage with her Company, almost each night of their performances. Perhaps in the Spring, we will find Mr. Martins onstage to accept his deserved Kudos from his loyal audience.

 

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