New York City Ballet - Who Cares?, Davidsbündlertänze, Glass Pieces
-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
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
June 15, 2003
Who Cares? (1970): Music by George Gershwin, Adapted and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jo Mielziner, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Jennie Somogyi, Janie Taylor, Abi Stafford, Charles Askegard, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow, Danskin Spokesperson.
Andrea Quinn kept the NYC Ballet Orchestra at just the right tempo for this breezy, bouncy, and very New York work. Janie Taylor was perfection and grace in Fascinatin' Rhythm, as well as in The Man I Love, one of my favorite songs, which showcased Mr. Askegard in this most difficult role, as he juggles three lead females through Gershwin's tuneful, yet dynamic trysts. Usually, Ms. Taylor is cast in more contemporary and dissonant, percussive roles. Here, she was soft and sensual, a new look, which worked quite well. Ms. McDill's piano was remarkably physical in its momentum and monumental influence on the choreography and charisma.
Abi Stafford seemed to be more demure and sensual than I have recently seen her, less athletic and more aesthetic. Jennie Somogyi and Company soloists added the correct compliment of verve and virtuosity, to this feel good, Manhattan menu of romantic reminiscences. Kudos to Andrea Quinn and Nancy McDill.
Robert Schumann's "Davidsbündlertänze" (1980): Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Richard Moredock, Performed by Darci Kistler, Jenifer Ringer, Kyra Nichols, Jennie Somogyi, Charles Askegard, Nilas Martins, Peter Boal, Nilas Martins, and Jock Soto.
I had hoped to see this piece once more this Season, and my hope was realized. The chiffony draperies and chandeliers, the castle and lake, the effective and effusive lighting, the onstage passion and intense partnering of lifts and spins, and the exquisite piano music, so expertly performed by Richard Moredock, are the signature elements that have created such an evocative piece.
On this viewing, the black silhouettes of the figures in top hats and extended quill pens seemed foreboding and formed in historical fantasy. Jock Soto, the quintessential partner, never removed his gaze from Darci Kistler. Peter Boal and Jenifer Ringer were a dynamic duo, with thickened stage chemistry and technical expertise. Kyra Nichols and Charles Askegard were brilliantly paired, as Mr. Askegard danced in two works in a row today, and Nilas Martins and Jennie Somogyi were the youthful and buoyant couple, with eyes blazing, as they swirled and leaped with radiance and magnetism through Schumann's sensual melodies.
Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Richard Moredock, Performed by Jennifer Tinsley, Rachel Rutherford, Abi Stafford, Arch Higgins, Jason Fowler, Stephen Hanna, Maria Kowroski, Sébastien Marcovici, and the Company.
This first viewing of a most fascinating work, with a classic Glass score, expertly conducted by Mr. Moredock, soon after he left the stage as solo pianist for the previous piece, was an intense and memorable experience. With a backdrop of a beige rubric, or solid and cold, beige lighting, Jerome Robbins created a highly structured created a highly structured and silhouetted motif, which was memorable and most appropriate to the repetitive and contemporary score. I happen to be a fan of Glass music and have rarely heard it performed by live orchestra. The excerpted music from Akhnaten transported the visual imagery to new, aesthetic heights.
Mr. Robbins and NYC Ballet have generated a most amazing piece that works on so many levels, visual, auditory, emotional, and intellectual. The groupings of male dancers that walk and exit, as other groupings appear and disappear, is quite interesting, and the contractions/releases seemed to be Graham-influenced. The orchestra, with powerful horns and percussion, was intrinsic to the somatic interpretation of Glass' three scores, as the ballet had three sections. I look forward to seeing Glass Pieces again next Season.
Kudos to Peter Martins and New York City Ballet for a most satisfying Spring Season.
Lincoln Center Fountain
Photo by Roberta Zlokower