Roberta on the Arts
New York City Ballet: Mercurial Manoeuvres, Polyphonia, Liturgy, American Rhapsody
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

New York City Ballet: Mercurial Manoeuvres, Polyphonia, Liturgy, American Rhapsody

- Onstage with the Dancers

On Stage Dancewear
197 Madison Ave (bet 34 & 35 St)
New York, NY. 10016
1 (212) 725 1174
1 (866) 725 1174

The Finest in Modern Dancewear,
Character Shoes, Ballet Slippers, and Gym Outfits
Ask for Ronnie!

Click HERE for a
15% Discount Coupon
Off Already Discounted
On Stage Dancewear!

New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Mercurial Manoeuvres
American Rhapsody

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 29, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrew Litton

Mercurial Manoeuvres (2000): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Alan Moverman, Trumpet: Ray Mase, Performed by Tiler Peck, Tyler Angle, Harrison Ball, Sara Adams, Kristen Segin, and the Company.

With instant spins, vibrant trumpet, and passionate piano, the music of one of my favorite composers, Shostakovich, generated, with transparent red and blue screens, as backdrop, a brilliant ballet, one that was long overdue in revival. Harrison Ball, a Soloist with presence and verve, can leap with amazing dexterity and elevation. Tiler Angle is an extremely talented principal, with poise and charm. The shifting pattern and vertical levels of dancers is reminiscent of Symphony in Three Movements. At times, the music is funereal and somber, and at times grandiose and uplifting. Tiler Peck added exuberance and energy to this very dynamic, yet classical ballet, with the trumpet solo announcing the motif. Mr. Wheeldon has choreographed a kaleidoscope of color and motion, with the ever-changing, transparent screens as a visually exciting highlight.

Polyphonia (2001): Music by György Ligeti, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Stephen Gosling and Alan Moverman, Performed by Unity Phelan, Zachary Catazaro, Sterling Hyltin, Gonzalo Garcia, Brittany Pollack, Taylor Stanley, Sara Mearns, and Chase Finlay. Set to ten varied piano pieces by Ligeti, Wheeldon has created unusual lifts, rolls, and pushes to contrast with classical ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Ligeti’s score reminded me of a dissonant form of Satie, with each dancer accentuating the theme. This piece seemed just as fascinating for the score as for the dancing, with prepared piano and standard piano aptly presented by Stephen Gosling and Alan. Moverman. Purple leotards on grey backdrop underscore Wheeldon’s thrilling thematics, with the talented Corps so playful and poignant. Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia are exquisitely matched in stark motifs. Mark Stanley's lighting had its signature glow, and Sara Mearns and Brittany Pollack added drama and daring dimension to the ten searing piano pieces. When Ms. Mearns poignantly gazes at the audience, a breathless dimension is added. Brittany Pollack and Zachary Catazaro are two rising Soloists, with each commanding attention through fascinating figures. Taylor Stanley is always a riveting, resonant presence, and here was no exception.

Liturgy (2003): Music by Arvo Pärt (Fratres, for Violin, Strings, and Percussion), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Soloist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle. Part’s composition is “inspired by the vision of a solemn procession of medieval monks…by candlelight…”. (NYCB Notes).

What a lovely experience to watch Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle together in this mesmerizing, magical, monumental work. In near darkness, as limbs glowed in golden hues (thanks to Mark Stanley's incredible lighting design), Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Angle brought the audience to lean forward, with the visible passion and concentration of Christopher Wheeldon's connected choreography, including staged distance and staged oneness. Arvo Pärt's score, skillfully conducted by Andrew Litton, was haunting and harrowing, and the near-religious symbolism pierced the collective soul. When Ms. Kowroski leaped into Mr. Angle’s arms, as he wound and twisted her long-limbed torso in varying dimensions, one could only respect this partnership. There were long moments of silence and long moments of violin solos (also skillfully presented by Kurt Nikkanen), and the total dramatic effect generated a desire for this work to never end.

American Rhapsody (2016): Music by George Gershwin, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenic Design by Leslie Sardinias, Scenery supervised by Marc Stanley, Costumes by Janie Taylor, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Lauren Lovette, Russell Janzen, Unity Phelan, Amar Ramasar, and the Company.

There is no music quite like George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and the symphonic version, used in Wheeldon’s recently staged ballet, American Rhapsody, is incomparably magnetic. Elaine Chelton, at the piano, melodically nurtured that space in everyone’s heart that longs to revisit this musical masterpiece. Not only does City Ballet Orchestra expand this Gershwin masterpiece, but we are also dazzled by Leslie Sardinias’ spellbinding set in light and deep shades of blue, peach, and navy, with images of a full orange moon against the nighttime sky. Janie Taylor’s costumes are also in burnt orange, blue, and teal.

Lauren Lovette dances with her offstage partner, Russell Janzen. Tonight, this duo exuded musicality and energy in their Pas de Deux. In fact, this segment of Wheeldon’s new ballet is worthy of Galas and special events. The other lead couple, Amar Ramasar and Unity Phelan, is in the exact same costumes as Ms. Lovette and Mr. Janzen, featured in teal, only the Ramasar-Phelan duo is featured in blood orange. The choreography, as well, overlaps that of the other lead duo. A sizeable Corps ensemble, eight men and eight women, is infused with the rhythms and jazz of this remarkable brassy, New York musicality. Each instrumental phrase is expanded in lifts, spins, and geometric shapes. I look forward to revisiting American Rhapsody again soon.

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