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New York City Ballet: Janie Taylor and Sebastien Marcovici Farewell: "Acheron", "Afternoon of a Faun", "Walpurgisnacht Ballet", "La Valse"
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New York City Ballet: Janie Taylor and Sebastien Marcovici Farewell: "Acheron", "Afternoon of a Faun", "Walpurgisnacht Ballet", "La Valse"

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici Farewell
Afternoon of a Faun
Walpurgisnacht Ballet
La Valse

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 Master, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 1. 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Ballet Farewells are often wrenching, thinking of the ballet Principal you won’t see onstage again, at least in a dancing role. But, this duo Farewell, for Principal, Janie Taylor and also for her husband, Principal, Sébastien Marcovici, was filled with good wishes for their new dance lives, as teachers, as costume designer (Ms. Taylor), and as ballet master (Mr. Marcovici). They both exude grace and classicism.

Acheron (2014): Music by Francis Poulenc, Choreography by Liam Scarlett, Costumes by Liam Scarlett, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Organ Soloist: Michael Hey, Performed by Tiler Peck, Robert Fairchild, Sara Adams, Andrew Veyette, Ashley Bouder, Amar Ramasar, Antonio Carmena, and the Company.

Neither Ms. Taylor nor Mr. Marcovici appeared in Acheron. This new ballet, recently reviewed in its premiere, seemed more interesting this time around, more robust. And, Poulenc’s Concerto in G, for Organ, Strings, and Timpani grows on the listener. The score propels the multiple lifts of women over men’s shoulders, taken off to the wings in Jerome Robbins’ rapturous, upside-down style. The organ and string passages sweep the motion and expand the drama. Maestro Otranto is the Company’s most dynamic conductor, and she excelled as always. Tiler Peck was partnered by her onstage/offstage partner and fiancé, Robert Fairchild (so many dancers coupling up these days). Sara Adams (a new face) was partnered by Andrew Veyette, and Ashley Bouder was partnered by Amar Ramasar. Antonio Carmena danced the central solo role. Ms. Adams, from the Corps, was poised and expressive, a rising star. I look forward to absorbing more of this ballet on the next viewing.

Afternoon of a Faun (1953): Music by Claude Debussy, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Guest Conductor: Henrik Vagn Christensen, Performed by Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici.. Debussy is known for "musical impressionism" and wrote a large repertoire of works for piano and for orchestra, including "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune", 1892-94. (NYCB Notes).

Now, it was time to focus on the stars of the evening, Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici. Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun is a tour de force ballet, one perfectly created for the chemistry that surrounds this duo. The choreography, an abstract take on the original Nijinsky ballet, builds emotional distance and little direct eye contact. Yet, the physical closeness breeds mystery and mysticism in that bare, square dance studio, as the tired male dancer is suddenly interrupted by the vision of a gorgeous female dancer, walking en pointe, with hair falling down to her waist. Ms. Taylor actually has extra-long locks, that, when let loose, give her an otherworldly aura. Guest Conductor, Henrik Vagn Christensen, conducted this and the following two ballets with aplomb, for this special occasion. The Debussy Prélude is surreal, an adaptation of the Mallarmé poem. It should also be noted that all four of tonight’s scores were by French composers, Poulenc, Debussy, Gounod, and Ravel. Mr. Marcovici is from France.

Walpurgisnacht Ballet, from Gounod’s “Faust” (1980): Music by Charles François Gounod, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Henrik Vagn Christensen, Performed by Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Lauren Lovette, Ashly Isaacs, Sarah Villwock, and the Company. This is a Balanchine choreographed scene from the last act of the opera "Faust" on the eve of May Day, a dance of wandering souls, joyful revelry. (NYCB Notes).

Once again, the Farewell retirees sat this dance out, preparing for the finale. In Balanchine’s luminous opera ballet, Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Lauren Lovette were ravishing and stunning. It’s about wandering souls, with Mr. Danchig-Waring regal, proud, and compelling. Ms. Lovette glowed from within. I noticed ribbons added to Karinska’s confectionary lavender costumes, that evoked essential abandon. This is one of my favorite ballets in the repertoire, with a smooth ensemble of fluttering nymphs, in the midst of an exotic Gounod score.

Balanchine created a highly structured flow of choreographed shapes and creative shadows, as the figures and spotlights played with the lavender finery. As the fantasy storm arrives, the music is windswept, the women’s hair comes down, and they spiritedly speed across the stage. But, all eyes were on Ms. Mearns, with her charismatic talent, so yearning, propulsive, theatrical, mesmerizing. With some extra boldness of personality, Mr. Danchig-Waring should become an extraordinary partner. He already has chiseled muscularity and stage presence.

La Valse (1951): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jean Rosenthal, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Henrik Vagn Christensen, Performed by Janie Taylor, Sébastien Marcovici, Kristen Segin, Troy Schumacher, Brittany Pollack, Daniel Applebaum, Faye Arthurs, Andrew Scordato, and the Company.

According to NYCB Notes, the Waltz was "...a dance craze (that) swept across Europe. Although first denounced as immoral, it soon became the most common social dance on the continent and has remained in the repertory of ballroom dancers to this day." Diaghilev originally asked Ravel to write "La Valse" for the Ballet Russes, but then he rejected the work. Balanchine used this work here, but added additional Valses from Ravel. (NYCB Notes).

Although I was hoping for La Sonnambula as the Farewell finale, Balanchine’s La Valse was second best. Ms. Taylor, as the ingénue, succumbs to the power of death, personified by Jared Angle, with his dramatic wrath. In Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, Ms. Taylor, in pale blue/white, and Mr. Marcovici dance the eighth of eight exquisite waltzes to the soaring, spellbinding Ravel score. These are elegant dances, with Karinska’s long red and black, tulle tutus, and innocence abounds in this first movement. In the second, there is an eerie, dark sensation, as the music swells to frightening crescendos, and Mr. Angle draws Ms. Taylor out of Mr. Marcovici’s arms with searing, frightful force. Mr. Marcovici is romantic and rapturous, and Mr. Angle is awesome and all-powerful. Ms. Taylor danced tonight with powerful yearning and a sense of extreme vulnerability, as the music swelled. She was perfection, in her special moment, showcasing her exceptional talent.

Mark Stanley created visually exciting lighting effects, as Mr. Angle appeared and disappeared through the dimly lit curtains. I’d like to see this ballet more often, for its dramatic development and luscious layering, including Jean Rosenthal’s period scenery. But, who would dance the central role? Without Ms. Taylor, La Valse will never seem the same. Nor will City Ballet, as Ms. Taylor, as well as Mr. Marcovici, have unique stage personalities, so refined, so sophisticated, so classy. At the curtain, mountains of flowers, confetti, and streamers filled the stage. They took duo and solo bows to endless accolades.

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici
in Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici
in Balanchine's "La Valse"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici
taking their farewell bows at New York City Ballet
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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