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New York City Ballet: Spring Gala: 50 Years at Lincoln Center

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Spring Gala: 50 Years at Lincoln Center
Fanfare for a New Theater
The National Anthem
If I Loved You
Allegro Brillante
Everywhere We Go

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
May 8, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Fanfare for a New Theater (for Lincoln and George) (1964): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Trumpeters: Raymond Mase and Neil Balm. For City Ballet’s Spring Gala, a 50th Anniversary of its years at New York State Theater, now the David H. Koch Theater, Stravinsky’s original Fanfare for a New Theater opened the evening. Raymond Mase and Neil Balm appeared onstage with dual trumpets for this striking horn flourish.

The National Anthem (arranged in 1964 by Igor Stravinsky): Conductor: Andrews Sill. The National Anthem brought the audience to its feet, before a dozen or so former Principals from City Ballet, whose dancing dated back to 1964, walked out for accolades. Among them were Edward Villella, Jacques d’Amboise, Arthur Mitchell, and Patricia McBride.

If I Loved You (from the musical “Carousel”) (1966): Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Orchestrations by Edward B. Powell, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar. On the Opening Night of New York State Theater, the Rodgers and Hammerstein ballad, “If I Loved You”, from Carousel, had been sung, and it was reprised tonight. We learned that there was once a Music Theater of Lincoln Center, directed by Mr. Rodgers, in this very space. Daniel Capps conducted the orchestra for this song, which was romantically sung by Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar, both Broadway actor/vocalists.

Allegro Brillante (1956): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, and the Company. The Tschaikovsky “Third Piano Concerto" was first written as a symphony and then altered to include piano and orchestra. Balanchine said that this ballet "contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes". (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s sumptuous Allegro Brillante, danced to Tschaikovsky’s “Third Piano Concerto”, was the first ballet danced at New York State Theater in 1964. Sara Mearns, who made this music come alive, visually absorbing each rhythm and phrase, was partnered by Jared Angle, who’s visibly grown, the past couple of years, into a mature, poignant partner, with more fluid lines. There are gestures of the woman’s lifted arms, through which the man dances, all in the exceptionally synchronized, Balanchine genre. Andrews Sill conducted, with Cameron Grant performing the luscious piano solo. The ensemble of eight men and women was true to form brilliant, a propos.

Everywhere We Go (World Premiere): Music by Sufjan Stevens, Commissioned by New York City Ballet, Orchestrated by Michael P. Atkinson, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Janie Taylor, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Scenery by Karl Jensen, Scenery Supervised by Penny Jacobus, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Guest Conductor: Michael P. Atkinson, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Andrew Veyette, Robert Fairchild, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company.

City Ballet audiences are now primed for Premieres, breathlessly awaiting the curtain, with the orchestra usually opening the scene, looking for a new surprise. Sufjan Stevens’ commissioned score has nine musical movements, each numbered and labeled, like “The Shadows We Fall Behind” and “I Am In The House And I Have The Key”. Mr. Peck also choreographed to. a Stevens scores for his well-received Year of the Rabbit It seemed that the entire Principal list was onstage, with seven Principals, three Soloists, and numerous Corps in the ensemble. Janie Taylor, who just recently retired, designed the costumes, and Karl Jensen designed the black-white, geometric, shifting shapes, that form the set. With Brandon Sterling Baker’s lighting design, that set and the very stage took on foreboding and frenetic shadows. Michael P. Atkinson, who orchestrated the music, also conducted tonight.

The Choreography of this brand new ballet is fragmented and cohesive, at once, with ensemble jack-in-the-box, two-foot hops, a bit of turning “bunny hop” steps, and several solos and pas de deux. Robert Fairchild and Maria Kowroski dance a magnetic pas de deux, and Andrew Veyette, Sterling Hyltin, and Teresa Reichlen perform solos with aplomb. A floor-sliding motif occurs and reoccurs, to change the level of motion from mid-air to against the stage. Every surface and space is devoured. The style and mood are eclectic, with evocations of Bernstein and brassy blues. Sudden, spatial shifts in tempo and style match the bristling, bubbly, buoyant score. Busby Berkeley’s kaleidoscopic films come to mind, with fragments of dance imagery merging for a camera shot of momentary stillness. I look forward to revisiting this work. Kudos to Justin Peck, and kudos to City Ballet’s 50 years on this very stage.

Andrew Veyette, Sterling Hyltin, and Company
in Justin Peck's "Everywhere We Go"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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