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New York City Ballet: Jeu de Cartes, After the Rain, For Clara, ten in seven, Odessa

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Jeu de Cartes
After the Rain
For Clara
ten in seven

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
May 6, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Jeu de Cartes (1992): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Ian Falconer, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Erica Pereira, Alec Knight, Harrison Coll, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, and the Company. Stravinsky composed this score for the first Stravinsky Festival at the Met Opera, organized by Balanchine. Dancers represented the four card suits, and the joker led the dance. (NYCB Notes).

This 1992 Martins work, scored to Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes (Card Game: A Ballet in Three Deals), has many elements of Balanchine’s Rubies, like pelvic bends, witty postures, knee bends to the side, and casual motion. Mr. Martins had been asked long ago by Balanchine to create an abstract version of his own more representational ballet with dancers dressed in the four suits of the cards, thus the later 1992 creation. The dancers were in full spirit and pizzazz, as this is a high-powered, rhythmic, entertaining, and dervish ballet. There are tightly wound spins and elements of the 60’s twist. Erica Pereira, the sole female, was onstage almost throughout, with perky sparkle and youthful fervor. Sebastian Villarini-Velez, a young but mature presence, created stunning, spinning fouettés, and his partnering was attentive and strong. Harrison Coll danced with a huge smile, becoming more relaxed in the finale. Alec Knight, as well, was a fairly new featured performer, making his mark. Ian Falconer’s costumes and visual artistry were uniquely suited to enhance the experience.

After the Rain (Excerpt, 2005): Music by Arvo Pärt (Spiegel im Spiegel (1978, for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Piano: Nancy McDill, Performed by Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour. Christopher Wheeldon was a NYC Ballet soloist and was Resident Choreographer. “After the Rain” was Mr. Wheeldon’s eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Most New York balletomanes know this excerpted ballet minute by minute. It was originally choreographed for Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and at Mr. Soto’s Farewell, it was tear-inducing. Maria Kowroski danced the Whelan role, and Ask la Cour the Soto role, tonight, evocative of long-limbed Modigliani figures. Their partnering generated my notes of “sensuous, ethereal, exquisite, breathless, weightless, flowing, seamless”. Ms. Kowroski stood on Mr. la Cour’s torso, crawled between his legs, and so on, as they wound about or circled each other on all levels of the stage, to Arvo Part’s Spiegel Im Spiegel. The applause was endless and enthused.

For Clara (2016): Music by Robert Schumann, Choreography by Lauren Lovette, Costumes by Narcisco Rodriguez, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Solo Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Emilie Gerrity, Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward, Chase Finlay, Andrew Veyette, and the Company.

The Clara in Lauren Lovette’s (a City Ballet Principal’s 2016 choreographic work) For Clara is Clara Schumann, composer Roberta Schumann’s wife. The piano solo was performed masterfully by Susan Walters, and Daniel Capps, in the pit, imbued the score with dramatic nuance. Onstage, with the male ensemble bare-chested in black tights, and the women in silky, contemporary tutus, designed by Narcisco Rodriguez, the lighting design was critical, and Mark Stanley rose to the occasion. The choreography was imbued with a sense of rapture and retro romance. Visions of women being carried offstage upside down and the non-symmetrical groupings were all magnetic, gripping one’s attention to the stage. The cast of seventeen mostly moved with musicality, as the Principal, Andrew Veyette was somewhat stiff, trotting offstage with raised knees. Chase Finlay, tonight, was filled with verve and emotionality. The three up and coming Company stars, Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward, and Emilie Gerrity, in pink and pastel tutus, swirled dramatically with ardor.

ten in seven (September 20, 2016): Music by Thomas Kikta (Commissioned by New York City Ballet), Choreography by Peter Walker, Costumes by Jason Wu, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Guitars: Thomas Kikta, Guest Keyboard: Arkadiy Figlin, Trumpet: Raymond Mase, Percussion: James Saporito, Performed by Rachel Hutsell, Ashly Isaacs, Emily Kikta, Sarah Villwock, Indiana Woodward, Daniel Applebaum, Spartak Hoxha, Russell Janzen, Taylor Stanley, and Sean Suozzi.

In ten in seven, Peter Walker, a City Ballet Corps dancer, created seven movements for ten dancers. Thomas Kikta, Guest Guitarist, composed the score. The Guest Keyboardist was Arkadiy Figlin, and two members of the orchestra joined the music ensemble, Raymond Mase on trumpet and James Saporito on percussion. Mr. Kikta’s daughter, Emily, also in the Corps with Mr. Walker, was joined by the mixed ensemble, of Principals, Corps, and Soloists, here and there, in the seven movements. Sean Suozzi leaped into the other men’s arms, with his arms and feet forward, a stunning daredevil feat. This high energy ballet, in green, blue, black, and rust costumes by designer Jason Wu, differentiated each movement’s imagery, bonding it to the mood and motif of the moment. Each of these movements was named in a French phrase, such as “Divertissement Harmonique”, a trio for one man and two women, and “Rapide Furieux” (composed by Mr. Figlin), a solo for Spartak Hoxha, an artist to watch. On this viewing, Taylor Stanley and Russell Janzen, both Principals, added some seasoned power, but my notes were focused on Mr. Suozzi.

Odessa (May 4, 2017): Music by Leonid Desyatnikov (Sketches to Sunset), Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Keso Dekker, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Violin Soloist, Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild, Unity Phelan, Tyler Angle, Taylor Stanley, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company.

This newest and most exciting, extraordinary ballet by Alexei Ratmansky brought the house down, two days after its premiere at the New York City Ballet Spring Gala. On first viewing, I could not bear to take notes, as I was riveted to the choreography and passion. Additionally, as a former tanguera, the dramatic dance motifs seemed right out of a tango milonga, Russian-styled. Mr. Desyatnikov’s score has eerie, electric, effervescent tones and repetitions. This is perhaps one of Mr. Ratmansky’s pièces de résistance. Men wear Keso Dekker’s vibrant, striped shirts, and women wear his stylized, short dresses, filled with flair and flash. Just as in the tango community, the three stage couples, Ashley Bouder and Tyler Angle, Megan Fairchild and Taylor Stanley, and Unity Phelan and Daniel Ulbricht, exude psychological conflict of emotion, overt, distracted thought, and vulnerable, physical chemistry. I eagerly look forward to seeing this ballet again soon.

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