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New York City Ballet: Chiaroscuro, Slice to Sharp, Stabat Mater, The Decalogue
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New York City Ballet: Chiaroscuro, Slice to Sharp, Stabat Mater, The Decalogue

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Slice to Sharp
Stabat Mater
The Decalogue

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 18, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Chiaroscuro "The Play of Light and Shadow" (1994): Music by Francesco Geminiani, Edited by Walter Kolneder, after Arcangelo Corelli's Op. 5, No. 12 (Concerto Grosso, La Follia), Choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Artwork by Michael Zansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Harrison Hollingsworth, Performed by Andrew Veyette, Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, Brittany Pollack, Justin Peck, and Giovanni Villalobos. Ms. Taylor-Corbett originally called this highly charged work a tribute to Jock Soto, who retired in 2005 in an impassioned Farewell. I could not help missing him, throughout this iconic work.

In tonight’s performance of Chiaroscuro, the 1994 Lynn Taylor-Corbett ballet, Andrew Veyette exuded style, presence, and mastery. He was truly in top form. In addition to Mr. Veyette’s superior lead, Giovanni Villalobos, a Corps dancer, was skillfully gripping, spinning with his legs on the stage, sliding, and dashing about. The ballet is a play on light and shadow, plus fast/slow movements between Mr. Veyette, three women, and two men, Mr. Villalobos and Justin Peck. Geminiani was known for his contrapuntal technique and virtuosic compositions; as a result, this score propels the dancers, in defiance of gravity. Mr. Peck, Mr. Villalobos, and Mr. Veyette form figures that shift weight and balance, with Mr. Villalobos even leaping into Mr. Peck’s arms. A series of interlocking and inter-connecting figures emerge with tension and technicality. Michael Zansky’s artwork glows, thanks to Mark Stanley’s focused lighting design, and the dancers glow, as well. Of the three female dancers, Lauren King, Brittany Pollack, and Ashley Laracey, Ms. Pollack was the most mesmerizing, as she has the intensity to draw the audience’s eye. Holly Hynes’ grey-black jersey leotards do not distract from the powerful momentum of Ms. Taylor-Corbett’s choreography.

Slice to Sharp (2006): Music by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by Jorma Elo, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Harrison Hollingsworth, 1st Violin Soloist: Arturo Delmoni, 2nd Violin Soloist: Nicolas Danielson, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Rebecca Krohn, Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, Joaquin De Luz, Russell Janzen, Gonzalo Garcia, and Taylor Stanley. Jorma Elo was born in Finland, and, in addition to choreography, he designs costumes, lighting, and video effects for ballets. Von Biber is known for virtuoso violin works, with special tunings to create chordal effects. (NYCB Notes).

Jorma Elo's 2006 ballet, Slice to Sharp, has long been one of my favorites in City Ballet repertory. Arturo Delmoni and Nicolas Danielson shared the duo violin spotlight, generating some very exuberant sound, under Guest Conductor, Harrison Hollingsworth’s baton. With Joaquin De Luz and Gonzalo Garcia in tornado motion, with the ensemble in windmill-like arm circles, and with Ashley Bouder, Rebecca Krohn, Maria Kowroski, and Teresa Reichlen being lifted and carried about by four muscular dynamos - Mr. De Luz, Mr. Garcia, Russell Janzen, and Taylor Stanley, Slice to Sharp was exuberant and thrilling. The von Biber and Vivaldi score added a refined classicism to this very contemporary creation.

Stabat Mater (1998): Music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Soprano: Mary Wilson, Mezzo Soprano: Meg Bragle, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Jared Angle, Ashly Isaacs, Joseph Gordon, Lauren Lovette, and Chase Finlay. The Latin hymn, Stabat Mater (the mother was standing) was created in the 13th Century to tell the story of the Virgin Mary at the cross. This hymn inspired composers to create choral works. This ballet is not about religion, but about images of a journey from sorrow to comfort. Pergolesi wrote Stabat Mater just before his death at age 26. (Program Notes).

This work, with its mournful and solemn Pergolesi score brilliantly conducted by Andrews Sill, was choreographed in 1998 by Peter Martins. Three lovely couples are cast for physicality and chemistry, Sterling Hyltin and Jared Angle, Ashly Isaacs and Joseph Gordon, and Lauren Lovette and Chase Finlay. The couples casually dance among the columns and baroque décor, and, at one point, Mr. Gordon dances with Ms. Lovette and Ms. Isaacs, together as a trio. The choreographic repetitions are evocative of Balanchine’s elegant parlor ballet, Liebeslieder Walzer. Mary Wilson, soprano, and Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano, sang the Latin text of the 1749 Stabat Mater gorgeously. Alain Vaes’ exquisite silky costumes for the women glowed luminously in Mark Stanley’s lighting design.

Decalogue (May 12, 2017): Music by Sufjan Stevens (Commissioned by NYC Ballet), Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Justin Peck, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Susan Walters, Performed by Rachel Hutsell, Claire Kretzschmar, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, Kristen Segin, Jared Angle, Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Coll, Gonzalo Garcia, and Aaron Sanz.
Decalogue is Resident Choreographer, Justin Peck’s newest work, and he designed the simple leotard/tight dancewear as well. Mr. Peck’s frequent collaborator for musical scores, Sufjan Stevens, composed the solo piano score, which seemed like stream of consciousness monotones. Susan Walters played the ten-part piano composition, which took on the aura of a dance studio lesson, like a series of exercises.

Rachel Hutsell, Claire Kretzschmar, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, Kristen Segin, Jared Angle, Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Coll, Gonzalo Garcia, and Aaron Sanz danced in duos, quartet, quintets, and full ensemble. This seemed like a pedantic, pedestrian (literally) ballet, with solo walking, partnering, shifting of partners, and occasional subdued dramatics. It was like the choreographic memory of a day of ballet school workshops and practice, with the nondescript dancewear in understated fashion. Perhaps on second viewing more choreographic nuance will be revealed. Noteworthy were Harrison Coll and Gonzalo Garcia in the second part, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, and ensemble in the fourth part, and the full Company in the tenth and final part.

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