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New York City Ballet: Carousel [A Dance], The Blue of Distance, The Infernal Machine, Pictures at an Exhibition, Year of the Rabbit
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New York City Ballet: Carousel [A Dance], The Blue of Distance, The Infernal Machine, Pictures at an Exhibition, Year of the Rabbit

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Carousel [A Dance]
The Blue of Distance
The Infernal Machine
Pictures at an Exhibition
Year of the Rabbit

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 10, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Daniel Capps

Carousel (A Dance) (2002): Music by Richard Rodgers, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Arranged and Orchestrated by William David Brohn, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Lauren Lovette, Chase Finlay, Emilie Gerrity, Devin Alberda, Kristen Segin, Andrew Scordato, and the Company. With youthful fervor and ingenue impetuosity, Lauren Lovette and Chase Finlay imbued Wheeldon’s Carousel pas de deux with refreshingly new, lush rapture. Christopher Wheeldon created this work fifteen years ago to a new arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Carousel Waltz". Richard Rodgers was honored by City Ballet in 2002, when Mr. Wheeldon crafted this tribute. The Company positions themselves in the formation of an actual carousel, a daring design, and the captivating pas de deux is incandescent. It seems to sparkle of young love and summer and fancy, and the ensemble, with a noteworthy performance by Emilie Gerrity, carried off this too rarely seen ballet. The lifts are as featherweight as those in Wheeldon’s best known ballets, like After the Rain.

The Blue of Distance (2015): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by Robert Binet, Costumes by Hanako Maeda of ADEAM, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Solo Pianist: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sara Adams, Lauren King, Unity Phelan, Harrison Ball, Ask la Cour, Antonio Carmena, and Preston Chamblee.,

For this fairly recent Robert Binet ballet, The Blue of Distance, Hanako Maeda of ADEAM expands on the theme of blue, with tutus for the women with nude necklines, deep blue bodices and white, layered, tulle skirts. From a distance, as the title says, the bodices looked like plunging blue necklines. And, the men were in deeper blue, sleeveless leotards and matching tights. Elaine Chelton, solo pianist, performed “Oiseaux tristes” and “Une Barque sur l’Océan” from Ravel’s Miroirs. Ms. Chelton created glistening tonalities, like frozen droplets of rain melting into a pond. The three women, Sara Adams, Lauren King, and Unity Phelan, were all stunning, while leaning in, en pointe, toward their partners. Antonio Carmena, Ask la Cour, and Preston Chamblee held onto their partners’ arms or fell into a mutual embrace. At other moments, partners walk toward stage rear, in parallel rhythm. Harrison Ball takes a more punctuated and energized role as a central character. Mr. Binet, Choreographic Associate of the National Ballet of Canada, has a bright future.

The Infernal Machine (2002): Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Laracey and Craig Hall.

This brief, but mesmerizing, piece was magnetically danced by the retired Principal, Craig Hall, who possessed the stage with his iconic poise and maturity. He partnered Soloist, Ashley Laracey, a rising star in the Company. With dark, but stylistic lighting and designs, and with elegantly effective, earthy costumes, Mr. Hall and Ms. Laracey were technically and dramatically flawless in their hyperkinetic performance. Because of the layers of theatricality, this is a piece that I would like to see again soon. Kudos to Mr. Rouse for his sensational score.

Pictures at an Exhibition (2014): Music by Modest Mussorgsky, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Adeline Andre, Projection Design by Wendall K. Harrington, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Stephen Gosling, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Claire Kretzschmar, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Abi Stafford, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Joseph Gordon, Aaron Sanz, and Andrew Veyette.

I have often mused, in a museum, of the desire for a ballet, made to bring a painting or an exhibit to life, with inspired music and dance. Alexei Ratmansky created such a ballet in Pictures at an Exhibition, music, of course, by Mussorgsky, masterfully played tonight by Stephen Gosling on solo piano. Projections of Kandinsky’s “Color Study Squares with Concentric Circles”, shown close-up or distant, appear as abstract prime color, fragmentary images. Adeline Andre designed costumes like painter smocks, yet silky thin, worn over leotards, for women, with circular or square colorful shapes. The men wear tights and tank tops, also designed with bits of Kandinsky’s designs. Mr. Ratmansky draws on his Russian heritage generously here, tonally and visually, with the choreography emerging as international, an art audience that takes on the life form of the contemporary art it observes.

Mussorgsky had been inspired to compose this piano composition upon the sudden death of his friend, artist and architect, Viktor Hartmann. After exploring a tribute art exhibition of Hartmann’s works, Mussorgsky composed this 10-movement work, plus interludes (“Promenade”), as one might walk about the gallery, absorbing the ongoing thoughts and experience. Ratmansky’s ballet actually has 16 segments, named slightly differently than the names I researched, with the ballet including five Promenades. Those Promenades feature the entire ensemble of seven Principals, Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Abi Stafford, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, and Andrew Veyette, plus Soloist, Joseph Gordon, and Corps dancers, Claire Kretzschmar and Aaron Sanz. The ensemble romps about with youthful vivacity amidst casual, staged relationships.

Highlights include the “Tuileries” solo for Ms. Peck, evoking the infamous, regally manicured, Parisian gardens, “The Old Castle” pas de deux for Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Angle, with Ms. Hyltin standing, one leg on Mr. Angle’s torso, reaching as high as a turret, “The Market at Limoges”, for Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia, “Samuel Goldenberg & Schmuӱle”, for Ms. Kretzschmar and Mr. Sanz, and those evolving interludes, called “Promenade”, especially one that showcases Gonzalo Garcia in solo performance. The ballet is essentially thin dramatically, but thick with textured imagery and personalities.

Year of the Rabbit (Selections from the Chinese Zodiac, 2012) Music by Sufjan Stevens, Choreography by Justin Peck, Orchestration by Michael P. Atkinson, Costumes by Justin Peck, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Teresa Reichlen, Indiana Woodward, Jared Angle, Joaquin De Luz, Taylor Stanley, and the Company.

Resident Choreographer, Justin Peck, a Soloist in the Company, created the stunning Year of the Rabbit in 2012. It’s divided into seven signs of the Chinese zodiac, beginning with Ashley Bouder leading “Year of the Ox”, with soft, yet often explosive phrases. One of the most striking friezes is a gathering of the Corps and Principal, center stage, a motif used by Alvin Ailey and Bronislava Nijinska, with all their heads in the spotlight, like a kaleidoscope of faces. Mr. Ailey had focused on the hands in Revelations, Ms. Nijinska on the heads in Les Noces In “Year of the Rabbit”, Joaquin De Luz led with strong attitude and triple en air turns, well cast for the role. He whipped his head side to side like a dashing rabbit.

In “Year of the Tiger”, Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle danced with ingénue intrigue. “Year of the Dragon” is led by Ms. Bouder, Indiana Woodward, and Taylor Stanley, while “Year of the Rooster” brings back Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Angle. “Year of Our Lord” features Ms. Woodward and Mr. Stanley, with magnetic, adagio languor. “Year of the Boar”, led by Ms. Bouder, Ms. Reichlen, Mr. De Luz, and Mr. Angle, was the final segment. The interesting geometrics of two Corps dancers enticing Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Angle is mesmerizing. Ms. Reichlen has a sense of serenity and seriousness. Her limbs take on a life of their own.

This ballet is filled with fascinating atonal tempos, and a few women are carried offstage like goddesses. These are quotes from Robbins and Balanchine, who often added drama to partnered exits. The lighting is dramatic, as well, and at one point a brilliant red backdrop allowed for silhouetted soloists, echoing Robbins’ Glass Pieces. Yet, in Justin Peck’s sequence, there’s stillness, no music or sound. Another sequence has women leaping, in full trust, into a small ensemble of men, landing on one man’s arms, dashing into the wings.

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