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New York City Ballet: Jewels 2016
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New York City Ballet: Jewels 2016

- Onstage with the Dancers


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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Jewels

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: Andrew Litton
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 27, 2016


(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Jewels (1967): Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Peter Harvey, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley. Balanchine was inspired by the jewelry of Claude Arpels and decided upon pieces of music that expressed the essence of each of these jewels. The NYC Ballet costume designer, Karinska, used artificial stones that exemplified each of these three jewels. Like the difference in jewels, the mood and music differ, as well. “Emeralds” signifies the romanticism of France. “Rubies” has jazzy elements that evolved from Balanchine's collaboration with Stravinsky.” Diamonds” is illustrative of Imperial Russia and its grandeur. Some of the 1967 Premiere featured performers were Suki Schorer, Patricia McBride, Edward Villella, Suzanne Farrell, and Jacques D'Amboise. (NYCB Notes).

Emeralds: Music by Gabriel Fauré, from ”Pélléas et Mélisande” and “Shylock”, performed by Abi Stafford and Jared Angle, Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Sara Adams, Taylor Stanley, Meagan Mann, and the Company.

What could be more sublime than being bathed in an evening of jewels. Balanchine’s 1967, three-part ballet, each signifying and magnifying one precious gem, opens with Emeralds. With a stage setting of faux, enormous emerald necklaces and large diamonds hung from the rafters, tiaras and jewels bedecking the female dancers, and jewels decorating the classic male costumes, Emeralds, performed to the French Baroque romance of Fauré, is a masterpiece. Abi Stafford, featured in a technically astute solo, partnered by an attentive Jared Angle, was a bright, precise jewel. The high point was a series of staged rings, yes, the jewel metaphor, as Ms. Stafford encircled Mr. Angle, then the Corps created circles, with prongs! Yes, like a jewelry setting.

Then, like magic, Sara Mearns arrived with her partner, the sensual, intense Adrian Danchig-Waring, and everything was infused with visual perfume. On my Playbill, I sketched Ms. Mearns’ arms, held in open, embracing warmth. Mr. Danchig-Waring’s lifts were enveloping and warm, as well. Taylor Stanley, with Sara Adams and Meagan Mann, filled out the lead cast. Toward the finale of Emeralds, Mr. Stanley, Mr. Danchig-Waring, and Mr. Angle danced with Ms. Stafford, Ms. Mearns, Ms. Adams, and Ms. Mann, on an empty stage, before, mysteriously, the three men are alone. They kneel on their knees, arms uplifted, like a proposal, as the music ends. The Fauré score is intoxicating, and this is another orchestral work I’d love to listen to, ”Pélléas et Mélisande”, on its own. In the Corps ensemble, Miriam Miller caught my eye.


Rubies: Music by Igor Stravinsky (Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra), Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, Megan LeCrone, and the Company.

Rubies opens with the stage flowing in red, silver, black, bejeweled décor, drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience. However, the choreography for Rubies requires a straight-spine body posture that can instantaneously wind and unwind in staccato fashion, with angular feet, limbs, back, and a good deal of sassy attitude. I said “however”, because only one of the three leads seemed totally prepared. Sterling Hyltin, who has grown to be one of the company’s most splendid, masterful interpreters of Balanchine’s lead roles, was extraordinary, stunning, magnetizing. Her arm rolls, runs, wide smile, balance, speed, spins, dizzy footwork, were unsurpassed. Yet, her partner, Andrew Veyette, although in better form than a few nights ago in the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, had a stiff athleticism, rather than the lightning quick vivacity and poise, requisite to his featured role. In running motifs, he allowed his posture to bend, head forward, rather than neck lining up, straight-spine. He was sports-like, not balletic, with rapid spins that ended with tension. And, he was not as attentive as a partner as have been other Rubies cavaliers..

Megan LeCrone, as the solo female, who must grab the audience in a gaze, while executing leg thrusts and lifts, seemed emotionally remote, with little affect or personality. Ms. LeCrone is a highly skilled technician, but she often holds herself back. The bravura male quartet of Spartak Hoxha, Ralph Ippolito, Troy Schumacher, and Giovanni Villalobos, was a sight to behold, truly energetic. The female ensemble of eight, also in hot red and black, served the motif and momentum well. Most notable is Stravinsky’s timeless Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, so full of flourish.


Diamonds: Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, from Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Russell Janzen, and the Company.

The third Diamonds ballet, scored to music from Tschaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D Major, is often seen in Galas and special dance events, and rightly so. The stage is a vision in pale blue and white, with sparkling chandeliers, amidst watercolor effects and giant faux diamonds. If Rubies is blazing, Diamonds is soothing. Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen, in the “Andante elegiaco” movement’s pas de deux, were charismatic and glamorous, balanced and theatrical. There was some chemistry between the two, not required so much for this final third Jewels ballet, but mainly mutual respect and shared rapture for the dance and the music. Mr. Janzen, with his sensuous, subtle partnering, allowed room for Ms. Reichlen’s fascinating extensions and the folding and unfolding of her long legs, as she was held low near the stage floor. Their partnering also allowed for Mr. Janzen’s growing sense of command, more mature this season. .

The Company supported this duo well, with those who caught my eye as Unity Phelan, Harrison Ball, Silas Farley, and Devin Alberda. Kudos to Clotilde Otranto for conducting such a challenging program of versatile and mesmerizing music.



Sara Mearns in "Emeralds" from Balanchine's "Jewels"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik



Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette in "Rubies" from Balanchine's "Jewels"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


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