New York City Ballet Opening Night Gala 2007
(NYC Ballet Website)
Dancing for Lincoln: A Centennial Celebration
(Lincoln Kirstein Bio)
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 20, 2007
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Film Tribute to Lincoln Kirstein: Produced by Ellen Sorin, Edited by Girish Bhargava, Music courtesy of Chandos Records Limited, and Courtesy of The George Balanchine Trust. Lincoln Kirstein was the cultural icon who brought George Balanchine from Russia to the US in 1933, and the two friends created the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet. Kirstein was General Director of New York City Ballet from 1948 to 1989. The film tribute included moving images from BBC, CBS, The New York Public Library, and Thirteen/WNET, as well as photographs from New York City Ballet Archives, Ballet Society Collection, and collections from renowned ballet photographers. These creations of film tributes should be seen more often, as they lend depth and interest, as well as historical understanding, to the artistic works that unfold onstage. It’s great to see these icons come to life.
Garland Dance (from The Sleeping Beauty, 1981): (See February 6, 2004 Review) Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes designed by Patricia Zipprodt, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by the City Ballet Corps and Students of the School of American Ballet. Balanchine’s Garland Dance for Sleeping Beauty brought out the entire City Ballet corps, as well as a large ensemble of children, dancers from School of American Ballet, a school so dear to Mr. Kirstein.
The timing was impeccable, the colors resplendent, the music vivacious, and the mood scintillating. This was a shining example of the leadership of Peter Martins (who was not seen onstage throughout the evening), Ballet Master in Chief and Artistic Director and Chairman of Faculty of the School of American Ballet. Patricia Zipprodt’s costumes and David Mitchell’s scenery lent an air of dreamlike fantasy to the proceedings.
Rose Adagio (from The Sleeping Beauty, Act I, 1991): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Marius Petipa, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes designed by Patricia Zipprodt, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan Fairchild as Princess Aurora, Four Suitors: Jared Angle as Europe, Stephen Hanna as America, Jonathan Stafford as Asia, Amar Ramasar as Africa, Ask la Cour as King Florestan, Dena Abergel as The Queen, and Kyle Froman as Catalabutte.
It is in such challenging choreography that Megan Fairchild shines, and tonight she met the challenge with aplomb. The Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty requires Princess Aurora to be passed from Suitor to Suitor at her sixteenth birthday party. She must balance endlessly en pointe, turning, letting go of one hand, taking another, turning again, and so on. There is no room for imbalance. Ms. Fairchild is lithe, sprightly, and technically taut, a dancer always in focus and control. Her performance was impressive and inspiring. Of the four Suitors, Amar Ramasar caught my eye, as he brimmed with enthusiasm and attentive partnering.
N. Y. Export: Opus Jazz (Film, 2007 and Ballet, 1958): (See January 19, 2006 Review) Music by Robert Prince, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Performed by Rachel Rutherford and Craig Hall, Film Production by Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi.
Rachel Rutherford and Craig Hall have danced this Jerome Robbins work before, but this time it took place on film, in street clothes, in the outskirts of the City, by what seemed to be marshland. Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi, dancers in City Ballet corps, are experimental filmmakers, who are working on a project soon to be released. It was generous of Mr. Martins to include an excerpt from this offbeat project in such a grand gala. Mr. Hall and Ms. Rutherford connected and disconnected in this surreal, sensual, sultry work.
Liturgy (2003): (See February 27, 2005 Review) Music by Arvo Pärt, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Soloist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans. Liturgy is one of City Ballet’s most mesmerizing repertory works, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Albert Evans partnered Wendy Whelan here with presence and power, as they seized the entire stage and made use of its corners and angles, in daring, dark costumes by Holly Hynes, and dim, dramatic lighting by Mark Stanley. Kurt Nikkanen performed on solo violin, with Arvo Pärt’s stark score resonating with dissonance.
Western Symphony (4th Movement and Finale, 1954): (See June 24, 2006 Review) Music by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by John Boyt, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Damian Woetzel, Megan LeCrone, Robert Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Adam Hendrickson, Glenn Keenan, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company.
Prior to the two Martins-Glinka highlights, Maria Kowroski and Damian Woetzel led the Company in the 4th movement and finale of Balanchine’s Western Symphony. This is a rich, robust, and raunchy ballet, with ruffles and ranchers. Mr. Woetzel remained true to form, a tireless and persuasive performer, aerobically en air, spinning fervently and feverishly. Ms. Kowroski, always engaging and entertaining, used her lanky limbs to good advantage. Sterling Hyltin, Adam Hendrickson, and Adrian Danchig-Waring caught my eye for their percussive performances.
Overture to “Ruslan and Ludmilla” : Music by Mikhail Glinka, NYC Ballet Orchestra.
Grazioso (World Premiere): Music by Mikhail Glinka (Selections from “Ruslan and Ludmilla” and “A Life for the Tsar”), Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Gonzalo Garcia, Daniel Ulbricht, and Andrew Veyette.
Mr. Martins choreographed this new work to Glinka’s majestic music for four Principals, three male and one female. This was also a premiere of sorts for Gonzalo Garcia, new to the Company and quite well received recently in Wheeldon’s Morphoses Company debuts. Mr. Garcia, Daniel Ulbricht, and Andrew Veyette all danced rambunctious solos, duos, and trios, with and without Ashley Bouder, in this sure-to-be-seen-again ballet, one of Mr. Martins’ least cluttered and most charming. Ms. Bouder becomes more and more powerful each season, one of the stage’s most sparkling ballerinas.
A Life for the Tsar (1993): Music by Mikhail Glinka, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by the City Ballet Company, School of American Ballet, and Members of the New York City Opera Chorus (Prepared by Charles F. Prestinari).
True to Lincoln Kirstein’s heritage, Mr. Martins revived this rare work, last performed in 1993 (and never since), as an 86th birthday gift for Kirstein, with members of the New York City Opera Chorus and the entire rosters of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet. “Happy Birthday” and silver confetti ended this Gala Tribute on the centennial of Lincoln Kirstein’s birth. This event was full of life and full of love.