New York City Ballet: Early Music Masters
(NYC Ballet Website)
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, Fayçal Karoui
Honorary Chairmen: Julia and David Koch
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 30, 2009
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui
Divertimento No. 15 (1956): Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Rachel Rutherford, Ana Sophia Scheller, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Philip Neal, Amar Ramasar, and the Company. Balanchine created this work in 1956 for the Stratford CT Mozart Festival. A Divertimento does not have a fixed structure, and this particular one is choreographed for eight dancers and adds a cadenza for violin and viola. (NYCB Notes).
With Karinska’s confectionary costumes, an ensemble of mostly female leads zipped through the first Allegro movement. Among this ensemble, Rachel Rutherford seemed the most rapturous and womanly dancer, with fluid motion and curved arms. This is truly a challenging work, with rapid choreography and precise en air jumps and tiny intricate steps. The Theme and Variations movement includes a theme and six variations. Adrian Danchig-Waring and Amar Ramasar were mesmerizing and musical in the introductory Theme. Philip Neal danced the Fifth Variation with attitude and aplomb. Among the female soloists, Rachel Rutherford caught my eye in the Third Variation for her elegant and elastic interpretation. Tiler Peck, always sparkling, but often too gymnastic, handled her Fourth Variation with poise and energy. Sterling Hyltin brought a rambunctiousness to the Second Variation, and Megan Fairchild was too impishly perky in the Sixth Variation. Ana Sophia Scheller, in contrast, brought enthusiasm with sophistication to her First Variation. The Minuet, Andante, and Finale added female partnered configurations and engaging liveliness.
Stabat Mater (1998): Music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Soprano: Erin Morley, Mezzo-soprano: Jennifer Johnson, Performed by Yvonne Borree, Benjamin Millepied, Darci Kistler, Jared Angle, Kathryn Morgan, and Tyler Angle. The Latin hymn, “Stabat Mater” (the mother was standing) was created in the 13th Century to tell the story of the Virgin Mary at the cross. This hymn inspired composers to create choral works. This ballet is not about religion, but about images of a journey from sorrow to comfort. Pergolesi wrote “Stabat Mater” just before his death at age 26. (Program Notes).
On re-visiting this Peter Martins work from 1998, I enjoyed it so much more tonight than previously. It exuded luxurious sensuality, grace, and charisma. Alain Vases’ scenery (classical Greek-styled staging and flowing, chiffony costumes) added to the poignancy and elegance of this all-too-rarely-seen work from the Company’s repertoire. Erin Morley and Jennifer Johnson were the vocal soloists in the midst of City Ballet Orchestra’s nuanced performance of the Pergolesi score.
Peter Martins chose his cast well to protect his choreography, and Darci Kistler was joyous and glowing, lifted by Jared Angle, her frequent partner, for tiny en air kicks and enthralling angular poses, while carried to and fro. Kathryn Morgan, an under-utilized corps dancer, is an artist to watch, with captivating technique and mature affect. She was partnered by Tyler Angle, and it was fascinating to see the two Angle brothers onstage dancing together in such a small ensemble. They have similar style and posture. Yvonne Borree and Benjamin Millepied, the third couple, added to the ambiance of melancholy and memory.
Brahms/Handel (1984): Music by Johannes Brahms (Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel), Orchestrated by Edmund Rubbra, Choreography by Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, Costumes by Oscar de la Renta, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Abi Stafford, Gonzalo Garcia, Wendy Whelan, Andrew Veyette, Jason Fowler, Rebecca Krohn, Craig Hall, Savannah Lowery, Kathryn Morgan, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Brittany Pollack, David Prottas, Ana Sophia Scheller, Giovanni Villalobos, and the Company.
On second viewing, just as in the work above, I was so much more riveted to this Robbins-Tharp work than on my first experience with its dual-choreographic fusion. The score is a Brahms homage to Handel, orchestrated by Edmund Rubbra. Dancers wear blue or green Oscar de la Renta costumes, with a tie-dyed jersey look, and frolic about with Robbins’ more classical, lyrical style, or with Tharp’s more spritely, serendipitous style. Abi Stafford and Gonzalo Garcia took on the Robbins role with smiling leaps and lifts. Wendy Whelan and Andrew Veyette took on the Tharp role with characteristic camp and racy runs. Among the soloists and corps, Craig Hall, Kathryn Morgan, and Adrian Danchig-Waring caught my eye, for their compelling charisma in form and persona.
Kudos to Maestro Fayçal Karoui and to City Ballet Orchestra for mastering the scores of these Early Music Masters with such devotion to detail.