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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, Romeo and Juliet, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Symphony in C
-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
January 21, 2006

Originally Published on

Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by Johann Sebastien Bach (Double Violin Concerto in D Minor), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: David Briskin, Violinists: Arturo Delmoni and Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Rachel Rutherford, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, and the Company.

In another all-white against deep blue image, so comforting as George Balanchine's signature motif presents itself as the curtain smoothly rises, I concentrated on Wendy Whelan, who seems to be surviving the season, minus her longtime partner, Jock Soto, who sadly retired last June (well before he needed to, in my opinion). Ms. Whelan seemed to hold her arms a bit low and move a bit haltingly, until Albert Evans was on the scene. Mr. Evans, a muscular and charismatic presence, differently built than Mr. Soto, but quite magnetizing, brought out Ms. Whelan's elegant line and rapturous attitude, as she actually transformed from severe to sensual. Rachel Rutherford, stylized and graceful, as always, seemed confident and coy, as Mr. Evans' other partner.

Amanda Edge stood out in the corps with her magnetic expressiveness, while Guest Conductor, David Briskin, kept the orchestra and two soloists in rhythm with this ensemble. Arturo Delmoni and Kurt Nikkanen were nothing short of virtuosic in their exquisite double violin accompaniment. From my front orchestra seat, I could see the passion and excitement exuding from these two pros. This ballet is one that always pleases, always enchants.

Romeo and Juliet (1991): Music by Serge Prokofiev, Choreography by Sean Lavery, Scenery by Drew Miller, Costumes by Thomas Augustine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: David Briskin, Performed by Yvonne Borree and Sébastien Marcovici.

If this pas de deux, one of my favorites in all ballet repertoire, could be added as an encore to each and every performance, it would not be de trop. And, if these two principals were cast each time, all the better. Ms. Borree has never been more in her element, except, perhaps, in Coppélia. And, Sébastien Marcovici has never partnered more attentively or more powerfully. The staging was simplicity, the requisite staircase and balcony to stage right and a multitude of glimmering stars in the night sky wherever the eye could see (thanks to Drew Miller). Part of the staging seemed to be part of Romeo's costume, the magnificent, billowing cape (thanks to Thomas Augustine).

There were breathless lifts, magical dashes up and down the stairs (with the orchestra silent, in order to hear Ms. Borree's toe shoes, a dramatic effect), and a real kiss. All the major ballet companies have presented their full-length versions of this Prokofiev-scored favorite, but Sean Lavery's distilled pas de deux told it all. In the ingénue joy, one could sense foreboding sadness and the essential maximization of the moment. One could have heard a pin drop, from curtain to curtain, as Ms. Borree and Mr. Marcovici re-interpreted this star-crossed story under their star-studded sky.

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux (1960): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Miranda Weese and Damian Woetzel. This music, not published with the original ballet score, was Originally intended for the Act III Black Swan Pas de Deux, but was first found by the Tschaikovsky Foundation of New York and subsequently scored for this pas de deux by Balanchine in 1960. (NYCB Notes).

This pas de deux was an excellent bookend to the previous one, with Miranda Weese more than capably partnered by the ever bravura Damian Woetzel. Ms. Weese was virtually electrified in his presence, and, in fact, seems to be dancing with extra emotional intensity this season. There was even another kiss to be seen, within this performance, as Mr. Woetzel enhanced Ms. Weese with psychic abandon. In the solos, Ms. Weese was commanding in en pointe spins and leaps into Mr. Woetzel's uplifted arms, and Mr. Woetzel was a flying machine in en air leaps that had no limits. They fed off each other's energy, and the audience was vocally engaged. Andrea Quinn kept the orchestra in pace with the momentary pauses for accolades.

Symphony in C (1948): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jenifer Ringer, Nilas Martins, Sofiane Sylve, Charles Askegard, Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Abi Stafford, Jason Fowler, and the Company. In white on white tutus and flowers in the female dancers' hair, the stage opens to First Movement: Allegro Vivo, with soloists and corps a romantic visage to Bizet's resilient symphony. Soon Jenifer Ringer and Nilas Martins enter, to tiny rhythmic repetitions that re-occur each movement. Mr. Martins always exudes delight and daring, and Ms. Ringer, who holds her own with or without partnering, was well matched in physicality and presence.

A high point of this ballet is Second Movement: Adagio, which requires a strong male partner to carry the female lead in swimming motions across the stage. Charles Askegard was just that strong partner. Although he often lacks inherent passion, he does not lack inherent skill and style. Ms. Sylve is another principal who strengthens each year, and her strength this time seemed to be in mesmerizing the audience with her magical momentum. In the Third Movement: Allegro Vivace, we were treated to the effervescent partners, Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz, perfectly matched for physique and pizzazz. This is another duo that feeds off each other's energy, and their taut but titanic turns and en air twists captured the fleeting moments of the evening's event.

For Fourth Movement: Allegro Vivace, Abi Stafford and Jason Fowler held their own quite nicely, before they were joined by the other three duos and corps for some of Balanchine's finest choreographic figures and fanciful, full ballet imagery, as the score bounces away with those repetitious rhythms. On all levels, this was a great night at City Ballet. Kudos to Peter Martins.

New York City Ballet's Yvonne Borree and Sébastien Marcovici in Romeo and Juliet
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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