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New York City Ballet: After the Rain, In the Night, Western Symphony
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Associate Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Press Coordinator, Joe Guttridge

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 18, 2006

After the Rain (2005): Music by Arvo Pärt (Tabula Rasa (1977), for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano, and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Violins: Arturo Delmoni, Kurt Nikkanen, Jean Ingraham, Pianos: Alan Moverman and Cameron Grant, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Sébastien Marcovici, Sofiane Sylve, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, and Jason Fowler. Christopher Wheeldon is a former NYC Ballet soloist and is NYC Ballet's first Resident Choreographer. "After the Rain" is Mr. Wheeldon's eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

I thought that Jock Soto's Farewell Event in June would be the final performance of After the Rain, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon with reverence and devotion to the dance partnership of Mr. Soto and Wendy Whelan. It seemed impossible then to imagine another male principal in the rare, romantic role. Yet, today Sébastien Marcovici changed that thought, as he rose to the occasion, perhaps not as stylized in arm and hand movements of falling rain, perhaps not as solidly muscular or as boldly connected to Ms. Whelan, perhaps more casual in contrast to the primal Mr. Soto, but every bit as attentive and skilled in the split-timing of the hand touching, the torso winding, the curled body lifts, the silence and serenity and sensuality of it all.

The ensemble of Sofiane Sylve and Teresa Reichlen, along with Amar Ramasar and Jason Fowler, was intense and together in the Part 1 choreography, with synchronized legs straight or bent, and with stark walks and leaps. Kurt Nikkanen and Arturo Delmoni were featured on existential violins, while Alan Moverman added drama with his prepared piano. Of course Andrea Quinn kept the Arvo Pärt score as mesmerizing as conceived by Mr. Wheeldon. Jean Ingraham and Cameron Grant were, as usual, the Part II soloists, and the lightly falling rain in the piano contrasts to the deeply emotional violin theme, one that hints of "goodbye" but relates to the ambivalence of love. It was daring of Mr. Marcovici to assume this challenge, and he deserves kudos for success.

In the Night (1970): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Anthony Dowell, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Piano: Nancy McDill, Performed by Kyra Nichols and Philip Neal, Jenifer Ringer and Sébastien Marcovici, and Rachel Rutherford and Tyler Angle. Chopin wrote 20 nocturnes, among the most popular of his works. Robbins choreographed several ballets to Chopin, including "Dances at a Gathering (1969)". (NYCB Notes).

Fresh from his debut role in the previous work, Mr. Marcovici passionately sprinted from the woods to once again partner the energized Jenifer Ringer in the emotional fireworks of this Chopin driven drama of Jerome Robbins' ballet. With Nancy McDill at the piano, Kyra Nichols made a rare appearance, here partnered by an attentive Philip Neal. Ms. Nichols was radiant and scintillating and so good to see, as she wore the gold and brown Anthony Dowell costume that adorned Sofiane Sylve the week before. Rachel Rutherford and Tyler Angle were again the third couple, all grace and glamour. How wonderful if real life could emulate such an evening of lush moonlit passion and swooping en air lifts in frothy, formal dresses and elegant men's attire.

Western Symphony (1954): Music by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by John Boyt, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor, Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jennie Somogyi, Nilas Martins, Megan Fairchild, Adam Hendrickson, Sara Mearns, Charles Askegard, and the Company. Some of the American folk songs in this ballet are "Red River Valley", "Good Night Ladies", and "Rye Whiskey". (NYCB Notes).

A campy Nilas Martins was in his glory, in boots, a black cowboy outfit, and brimmed western hat, partnering the effervescent Jennie Somogyi in the lead of the Allegro Movement. There was much to savor and much to see in this rousing, upbeat, all American Balanchine ballet. It's nice to feel old-fashioned patriotism, these days, and the Russian Balanchine, in the midst of the Cold War, was ahead of his time in generously evoking the wild spirit of the Old West. Adam Hendrickson and Megan Fairchild led the Adagio Movement with lightning quick, soaring spins, wide smiles, and fiery eyes.

Sara Mearns (a rising star) and Charles Askegard were quite entertaining in the Rondo Movement, and Mr. Askegard has been in splendid form this season. He astutely partnered the fascinating Ms. Mearns, as she flawlessly threw flourishes into her solos with abandon. Ms. Mearns can spin on one leg like the seasoned principals, and she can engage the audience like the pros.

Kudos to the corps, who performed with aplomb, especially those in the Adagio Movement: Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Rachel Piskin, and Stephanie Zungre. Kudos to Andrea Quinn, who conducted the orchestral works tonight with her signature attention to detail.

Teresa Reichlen and Jason Fowler in After the Rain
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Wendy Whelan and Sébastien Marcovici in After the Rain
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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