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New York City Ballet: Ash, Funerailles, Common Ground, Oltremare, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes
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New York City Ballet: Ash, Funerailles, Common Ground, Oltremare, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Common Ground
Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

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 11, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Ash (1991): Music by Michael Torke, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Steven Rubin, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Isaacs, Taylor Stanley, Sara Adams, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Ashley Hod, Devin Alberda, Kristen Segin, Ghaleb Kayali, Mimi Staker, and Peter Walker.

I’m always happy to see a Peter Martins revival piece, as they’re usually brimming with ebullience and youthful energy. This was the case with his 1991 Ash, seen in contrasting shades of blue, purple, and black, and set to a Michael Torke score. Ashly Isaacs and Taylor Stanley partnered for a lyrical, lively duet, in which Mr. Stanley ends up on his knee in rhythmic momentum. Devin Alberda, part of an eight-dancer ensemble, was dashing in his mid-air leaps, spins, and slide landings. Sebastian Villarini-Velez, also in the ensemble, exuded confidence and balance. In fact, the male Corps dashed off vivacious variations on a theme. I look forward to seeing Ash again in future seasons.

Funérailles (2014): Music by Franz Liszt, Choreography by Liam Scarlett, Costumes by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Tiler Peck and Jared Angle.

This 2014 Liam Scarlett choreography was pure bliss. Mr. Scarlett’s Funérailles was once again totally stunning and gripping, with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen’s brocaded gold on black costumes. Tiler Peck and Jared Angle were intense and theatrical in the roles, although Mr. Angle’s facial gestures were suppressed. Elaine Chelton plays Liszt’s “Funérailles”, from “Harmonies poétiques et religieuses”. Ms. Chelton always plays with mastery and reverence, and on this viewing her piano was well placed for volume and clarity. Mr. Scarlett’s choreography is akin to a pas de deux in Onegin or La Dame aux Camellias, with conflicted intimacy and emotionality. The bare-chested Mr. Angle was dynamic and dramatic, while Ms. Peck was wild and windswept. Her ruffled costume was transporting and exquisite, in the tossing and tortured choreographic motion. Liam Scarlett has become one of my favorite choreographers.

Common Ground (2015): Music by Ellis Ludwig Leone (Commissioned by NYCB), Choreography by Troy Schumacher, Costumes by Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of Marques’Almeida, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Laracey, Alexa Maxwell, Teresa Reichlen, Harrison Ball, Harrison Coll, Russell Janzen, and Troy Schumacher.

Troy Schumacher’s Common Ground, danced to the commissioned Leone score, seemed even more radiant than on last viewing, with the colorful, chiffony scarf-costumes and the stylish, fervent dance by Ashley Laracey, Alexa Maxwell, and Teresa Reichlen, the three leads, along with the male quartet ensemble. I noted the rapid spinning, the floor collapses, the eerie, eloquent adagio, and the fascinating choreographic feature of a dancer or dancers landing on one leg, then another in succession. This ballet has pulse and personality. Harrison Ball and Teresa Reichlen joined for a mesmerizing duo, amidst the vibrant music and ethereal ambiance. Andrews Sill received accolades for the pulsating orchestra.

Oltremare (2008): Music by Bruno Moretti (Commissioned by NYC Ballet), Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, Costumes by Mauro Bigonzetti and Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, Tiler Peck, Peter Walker, Rachel Hutsell, Lydia Wellington, Jacqueline Bologna, Ashley Isaacs, Megan LeCrone, Sean Suozzi, Andrew Veyette, Alec Knight, Lars Nelson, and Sebastian Villarini-Velez. Oltremare is the third ballet choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti for NYC Ballet and also the third that is set to a score by Bruno Moretti. This score is for 21 musicians and features the accordion. “Oltremare” means “beyond the sea” and relates to the sadness of leaving one’s homeland for new journeys, as well as the joy of discovering happiness in the new country. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight’s cast in this Bigonzetti marvel, with its hypnotic, commissioned score by Bruno Moretti, included, among others, the crème de la crème of charismatic Principals, Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, Tiler Peck, and Andrew Veyette, Soloists, Sean Suozzi, Megan LeCrone, and Ashly Isaacs, and a Corps ensemble of seven. The haunting score with searing accordion passages was again rich and refined. Speaking of refinement, tonight’s cast seemed even more driven, theatrical, and athletic than on previous viewings. Mr. Veyette threw himself into an intense and fraught series of acrobatic leaps and spins, and women leaped onto men’s torsos amidst rhythmic wood percussion. Throughout the ballet of immigrants with daring and hope, the Moretti score combustively implodes.

Ms. Peck astounded with her renowned, muscular energy, and Ms. Reichlen was fully absorbed in the immigrant motif. Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Angle were riveting in one of the final duo dances, rather dance-theatre performances. The early introduction of the cast with suitcases that move and stop was indicative of the impermanence of the immigrants’ plight. The Bigonzetti-Marc Happel costumes, along with Mark Stanley’s dim lighting, were two additional elements that shaped this work.

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes (2015): Music by Aaron Copland, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Reid Bartelme, Harriet Jung, Justin Peck, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Performed by Brittany Pollack, Justin Peck, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrew Veyette, Daniel Ulbricht, Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Preston Chamblee, Andrew Scordato, Taylor Stanley, and a male corps ensemble of six.

Justin Peck’s 2015 ballet, scored to “Four Dance Episodes” from Aaron Copland’s iconic Rodeo, has little similarity to Agnes de Mille’s ballet, Rodeo, occasionally revived across the Plaza, with its tomboyish, cowgirl-cowboy plot. In tonight’s performance, Mr. Peck, himself, was the cowboy, and Brittany Pollack was the cowgirl. Fifteen men appear in the ballet, and but one woman, evoking the de Mille work, but this piece is abstract and plotless. One might think Texas or Wyoming, a summer evening, beer and hay and a dance hall. Ms. Pollack is a brisk, spritely, effusive dancer, and she seemed thrilled in the showcased spotlight, exuding spunk, sass, strength, and speed.

Daniel Ulbricht, one of the leads, performed fouettés, spinning rapidly then slowly, to the delight of the crowd. Andrew Veyette and Gonzalo Garcia had elevated jumps in which they spun tightly en air. These three leads, Mr. Veyette, Mr. Garcia, and Mr. Ulbricht, led the first Episode. The second Episode was danced by five male Soloists/Corps, Daniel Applebaum, Preston Chamblee, Devin Alberda, Andrew Scordato, and Taylor Stanley. It was Mr. Stanley who mostly caught my eye, with his piercing gaze and stylized poise. Yet, this dance for five men was imbued with casual charm and languid lyricism. The third Episode, a pas de deux for Ms. Pollack and Mr. Peck, is filmatic and enchanting, with a bit of understated drama, and the fourth Episode was danced ebulliently by the full company. Costumes, by Reid Bartelme, Mr. Peck, and Harriet Jung, were summer casual, for an outdoorsy aura.

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