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New York City Ballet: Klavier, Russian Seasons, The Four Temperaments
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
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New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
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Conductor: Maurice Kaplow

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
February 13, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com


Klavier (2006): Music by Ludwig van Beethoven (Adagio Sostenuto from the Hammerklavier Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 106), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Design by Jean-Marc Puissant, Costumes Supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Penny Jacobus, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Sébastien Marcovici, Miranda Weese, Albert Evans, Abi Stafford, Tyler Angle, Craig Hall, Ashley Laracey, Sean Suozzi, and Andrew Veyette. Christopher Wheeldon has choreographed for NYC Ballet, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Boston Ballet. Mr. Wheeldon danced in the corps and then as soloist for NYC Ballet from 1993 to 2000, when he retired to work full-time on choreography. He has choreographed numerous ballets for NYC Ballet, most recently, "After the Rain" and "An American in Paris". (NYCB Notes).

Performed with the illusion of joy and loss, silence and solitude, intertwining lovers and passing strangers, Wheeldon's recent work is riveting. The sets and costumes (with the fallen chandelier and spider-like fabrics) evoke a midnight mood, dark and abstract. Susan Walters, on solo piano, played with perfectly timed precision, as dancers walk, backs or faces to the audience, abandoning all affect and energy. Some of the motion becomes windy and ethereal, with spins, lifts, and lunges. Wendy Whelan, partnered with Sébastien Marcovici, is at her best in these angular, contemporary works, as her taut physique enhances the stark score. Mr. Marcovici was impassioned with a strong sense of presence.

Miranda Weese, in one of her last NYC Ballet performances, prior to her retirement from this Company, was in exquisite form and attitude. Albert Evans has become a consistent and attentive principal partner, and his muscularity matched Ms. Weese's powerful choreography. There is much psychological impact in this work, and Jean-Marc Puissant's existential set works wonderfully. Of the remaining dancers, Craig Hall and Abi Stafford gave notable performances. Penny Jacobus' lighting was finely nuanced to the genre.


Russian Seasons (2006): Music by Leonid Desyatnikov, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Galina Solovyeva, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Soloist: Arturo Delmoni, Mezzo-Soprano: Susana Poretsky, Performed by Jenifer Ringer, Rebecca Krohn, Wendy Whelan, Alina Dronova, Georgina Pazcoguin, Abi Stafford, Albert Evans, Antonio Carmena, Adam Hendrickson, Amar Ramasar, Jonathan Stafford, and Sean Suozzi. Leonid Desyatnikov takes recordings and text from "Traditional Music from the Russian Lake District" and creates four concertos, each having three movements. He uses string orchestra, solo violin, and female voice, while exploring life experiences in this composition. (NYCB Notes).

This new Ratmansky work was well received during last season's Diamond Project. It appeared more nuanced this time around, with a campy attitude in Jennifer Ringer's posturing, lightening the mood for the moment, perhaps because she personified a mischievous character in the Russian ballet story. The dancing was ecstatic, with partners in the same-colored costumes and caps, such as burgundy, gold, green, and purple. Mezzo-Soprano, Susan Poretsky, sang Leonid Desyatnikov's dissonant chamber piece (influenced by Shostakovich and Vivaldi), while Arturo Delmoni provided detailed violin solos that enunciated Desyatnikov's dissonant design.

The twelve segments of this ballet are differentiated with twelve lyrical motifs, including romance, war, and, perhaps, the afterlife (white costumes). Wendy Whelan, fresh from the previous work, was radiant and ebullient, while Rebecca Krohn was more studied and elegant. Albert Evans, also back onstage from the earlier work, did not miss a beat, and was his usual virtuosic self, a magnetic and magical dancer. Amar Ramasar showed unusual drive and poignancy, and, as always, threw his persona into each lyrical role. Sean Suozzi, in the seventh segment, was also in excellent form. In the twelfth segment, with Albert Evans and Wendy Whelan in white (peasant dress and flowered tiara), the ensemble came together with force.


The Four Temperaments (1946): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Tom Gold, Savannah Lowery, Charles Askegard, Ask la Cour, Teresa Reichlen, Ellen Ostrom, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amanda Hankes, Allen Peiffer, Megan LeCrone, Seth Orza, and the Company. The score (solo piano and strings) was commissioned by George Balanchine from Paul Hindemith in 1940. This ballet appeared at the opening program of Ballet Society, now City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

This rarely seen Balanchine work is abstract and atonal, but refreshing, with simple black-white leotards and a grey-blue backdrop. Men carry the women off in scissor-legs motion, while staccato kicks and off-center balancing enunciate the choreography. Tom Gold led the Melancholic variation with inherent speed and rambunctious resonance. Savannah Lowery and Charles Askegard led the Sanguinic Variation with focus and persuasion. My two favorite variations were the third and fourth, with the under-utilized Ask la Cour leading in Phlegmatic, with his signature regal and princely posture, long torso, and charging charisma. Teresa Reichlen led the final Choleric variation, with her extra-long limbs and direct gaze into the audience. Hindemith's score was superbly rendered by Elaine Chelton and orchestral strings.

Kudos to Maurice Kaplow, City Ballet Orchestra, Susan Walters, Arturo Delmoni, Susana Poretsky, and Elaine Chelton for tonight's fine, absorbing music.

Wendy Whelan and Sébastien Marcovici in NYCB's Klavier

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Megan LeCrone and Seth Orza in NYCB's The Four Temperaments

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

 

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