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New York City Ballet: Friandises, The Cage, After the Rain, 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
February 25, 2006, Matinee

Originally Published on

Friandises (2006): Commissioned Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Leotards by Yumiko, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Tyler Peck, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company. "Friandises" in French means morsels or bits. The French dance suite includes an "Intrada", a "siciliane", a "sarabande", and a "gallop". (NYCB Notes)

Once again, this significant work by Peter Martins cut across the stage, with Daniel Ulbricht and Tyler Peck even more aerodynamic and acrobatic, if possible. I could never tire of seeing Friandises, with Rouse's fascinating score that never overwhelms the dance, but rather enhances the momentum. I heard flutes and oboes, and the percussion pervades the space. Tyler Peck fixes her fiery gaze on the audience, just as she prepares for another scintillating whirl. Daniel Ulbricht has generated news, as he literally dances from within like an electrified thunderbolt.

Martins has fashioned both classic and contemporary, choreographed feats to keep the action diverse and daring. The corps was outstanding, and many rising stars are poised on the Company's horizon.

The Cage (1951): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ruth Sobotka, Décor by Jean Rosenthal, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jennie Somogyi as The Novice, Rebecca Krohn as The Queen, Craig Hall and Adam Hendrickson as The Intruders, and the Company as The Group. A ballet about the female species as predators and the male species as prey. Score is "Concerto in D for String Orchestra, "Basler" (1946). (NYCB Notes).

Seeing this ballet a second day in a row, I was even more engaged in its complexity of choreography and charisma. Jennie Somogyi interpreted her role as The Novice with outsized intensity and intertwined movement. Craig Hall, who created a stir the previous night in After the Rain once again surpassed expectations as the chief Intruder. Mr. Hall used attitude and angst as Ms. Somogyi's prey. His shimmering muscles were put to use in extended lifts of two female "spiders" at once, as they leapt into his arms. Quite a challenge. The corps Group of "spiders" took on vibrant, violent personas, with mouths agape and arms in angular formations. Andrea Quinn kept the orchestra edgy.

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: Kurt Nikkanen, Michael Roth, 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).

On this third winter viewing of a favorite ballet, Sébastien Marcovici returned to partner Ms. Whelan with rapture and a rush of emotional energy. Today I seemed to focus on the framed friezes, as two bodies would stand still, Ms. Whelan in front of Mr. Marcovici, facing the audience, arms enveloping each other. The musicians and four additional dancers were flawless.

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, Jonathan Stafford, Sofiane Sylve, Charles Askegard, Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Abi Stafford, Albert Evans, and the Company. Balanchine designed this ballet in the four movements of Bizet's symphony, with a unique ballerina and danseur and corps for each movement. All 48 dancers collaborate for the finale. (NYCB Notes).

In today's performance, particularly noteworthy performances included those of Jenifer Ringer, Sofiane Sylve, and partners Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz. Ms. Fairchild and Mr. De Luz are tiny tornadoes in each other's presence, and the audience is easily drawn in. Bizet's lively score and Karinska's traditional, white costumes and fashionable headpieces were maximized by Balanchine's creative choreography. It was fitting that a favorite Balanchine work would end this season for me, with a full complement of 48 dancers. Jonathan Stafford attentively partnered Ms. Ringer, and Charles Askegard astutely carried Ms. Sylve about the stage in her signature Adagio float. Abi Stafford and Albert Evans were sprightly and scintillating in the fourth and final movement.

Ms. Ringer seems to move on self-propelled motion, a most powerful dancer, and Ms. Sylve makes herself weightless in the cloudlike lift. The third movement Allegro Vivace is always a highlight, and Ms. Fairchild and Mr. De Luz are clearly forging a persuasive partnership, one to watch again and again.

Kudos to Andrea Quinn. Kudos to George Balanchine.

Daniel Ulbricht and Tyler Peck in Peter Martins' Friandises
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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