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New York City Ballet: The Goldberg Variations, West Side Story Suite
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New York City Ballet: The Goldberg Variations, West Side Story Suite

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

The Goldberg Variations
West Side Story Suite

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, Music Director Designate, Andrew Litton
Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate, Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 26, 2015


(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

The Goldberg Variations (1971): Music by J. S. Bach, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Joe Eula, Lighting by Thomas Skelton, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Faye Arthurs, Zachary Catazaro, Emilie Gerrity, Ashley Laracey, Daniel Applebaum, Anthony Huxley, Joseph Gordon, Taylor Stanley, Ashley Bouder, Rebecca Krohn, Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, and the Company.

The Goldberg Variations ballet opens with a Theme, followed by Variations, Parts I and II. It seems to be a full genre examination in style, costume, interpretation, balance, and solo virtuosic appearances. A simple grey backdrop opens Jerome Robbins’ ornate oeuvre, and Joe Eula must have been exceptionally busy in 1971, as he created a wide array of costume changes of material, texture, and style. This is a lengthy, well over one hour, ballet, with multiple moods, dance motifs, and partnering devices. ”The Goldberg Variations” was originally commissioned by Count Keyserling, who had insomnia, and Goldberg, Bach’s student, played the variations for the Count during his sleepless nights in 1742. (NYCB Notes) In order to captivate ballet audiences for such a long sitting, Jerome Robbins kept changing from classical to contemporary in costume and dance genres, as the Variations played out. Susan Walters, on the grand piano, constantly watched the dancers from her offstage vantage point.

Faye Arthurs and Zachary Catazaro led the initial Theme, gorgeously played by Ms. Walters. In the Part I “Variations”, Joseph Gordon, Anthony Huxley, and Taylor Stanley caught my attention, with magnetic persona and poise, while Ashley Laracey and Emilie Gerrity danced with stunning spirit. Daniel Applebaum exuded enthusiasm and luminosity in this youthful, energized cast. An accompanying ensemble of twelve backed up the six, featured leads.

In the Part II “Variations”, the entire principal ensemble (Tiler Peck, Gonzalo Garcia, Rebecca Krohn, Jared Angle, Maria Kowroski, and Tyler Angle) was splendid, and an accompanying ensemble of twenty-three backed this very impressive cast. Especially noteworthy were Ms. Kowroski and Tyler Angle, both effusively expressive and smooth-lined in their pas de deux. Also offering buoyant fluency were Ms. Krohn and Jared Angle, while Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia bought spunk and glitz to the proceedings. However, I must return to Joe Eula, Costume Designer, who brought simple leotards and unitards to the stage, as well as military outfits and pastel tutus. It was this Variation of the visual, musical, and stylistic devices that kept tonight’s City Ballet audience captivated for the duration. It’s a shame that neither Count Keyserling nor Johann Goldberg got to see this stunning ballet.


West Side Story Suite (1995): Music by Leonard Bernstein, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Original Book by Arthur Laurents, Co-Choreographer: Peter Gennaro, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Guest Singers: Orville Mendoza, Courtney Bassett, Julie Price, Joanne Shea, Whitney Webster, Performed by Adrian Danchig-Waring as Tony, Andrew Veyette as Riff, Justin Peck as Bernardo, Brittany Pollack as Anita, Mimi Staker as Maria, Gretchen Smith as Rosalia, and the Company as The Jets, Their Girls, and The Sharks, Their Girls. Jerome Robbins updated Romeo and Juliet to a New York time and venue, and brought in Bernstein, Laurents, and Sondheim as collaborators. (NYCB Notes).

The company was resplendent tonight in Robbins’ West Side Story Suite (half of the all-Robbins program), with Adrian Danchig-Waring cast in the role as Tony, a Jet, who falls in love with Maria, from the Latin half of the cast. This Robbins take on Romeo and Juliet, synthesized from his Broadway choreography for West Side Story, incorporates the Bernstein score with high-spirited results. Robbins’ oeuvre has been reviewed during many a City Ballet season, and yet I never tire of seeing it anew. The role of Maria, here, is minor, but Mimi Staker made the most of her new spotlight, glowing in partnered incandescence with Tony. Andrew Veyette was Riff tonight, a singing role as well. His vocals for “Cool” had persuasive spunk.

The role of Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, is also a singing role, and tonight Brittany Pollack let loose with abandon. Gretchen Smith once again sang and danced as Rosalia, with Ms. Pollack, in the Anita-Rosalia-Latina number, “America”, making it sexy. Mr. Danchig-Waring can be mesmerizing with his chiseled profile, and tonight was no exception. As Tony, his pursuit of Maria was filled with edge and daring. The knife fights were astounding, with Justin Peck appearing as Bernardo, Leader of the Sharks. His macho stance and turn of the head summoned the gang instantaneously, and his fights with Riff and the Jets were lifelike and intense. My only concern tonight was with the guest singers, some of whom were off-key and lacked tonal purity. Thankfully, as always, the Company sang “Somewhere” with lovely musicality and tone, just before the curtain. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.



Daniel Applebaum, Justin Peck, Allen Peiffer
in Robbins' "West Side Story Suite"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


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