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New York City Ballet: The Chairman Dances, The Wind Still Brings, Composer’s Holiday, Not Our Fate, Pulcinella Variations
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New York City Ballet: The Chairman Dances, The Wind Still Brings, Composer’s Holiday, Not Our Fate, Pulcinella Variations

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

The Chairman Dances
The Wind Still Brings
Composer’s Holiday
Not Our Fate
Pulcinella Variations

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
October 4, 2017

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

The Chairman Dances (1988): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Megan LeCrone and the Company. Peter Martins created The Chairman Dances in 1988, with its traditional motifs of Chinese pageantry. Performing to a passage from John Adams’ opera, Nixon in China, one solo dancer, Megan LeCrone, in a gorgeous, silky white-turquoise pajama costume, dances in front of long red backdrop streamers and a female Corps ensemble of sixteen, in silky red-purple pajama costumes. The pulsating score builds in intensity and rhythmic tempo. Culturally Chinese gestures abound in gorgeous enhancement of the stunning, uncluttered choreography. Both the scenery and costumes are by the great Rouben Ter-Arutunian. Daniel Capps conducted this fascinating orchestral score. I would love to see this ballet again soon.

The Wind Still Brings (September 28, 2017): Music by William Walton, Music arranged by Robert Miller, Choreography by Troy Schumacher, Costumes by Jonathan Saunders, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Piano: Alan Moverman, Performed by Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Eliza Blutt, Likolani Brown, Silas Farley, Ashley Hod, Spartak Hoxha, Emily Kikta, Claire Kretzschmar, Meagan Mann, Aaron Sanz, Kristen Segin, Mimi Staker, Peter Walker.

This and the following three ballets were recently premiered at the Fall 2017 Gala. Troy Schumacher’s The Wind Still Brings seemed not ready for prime time. The costumes, by Jonathan Saunders, were the most visually interesting element, but only as gym-wear or party-wear, with each flesh-blue costume color-coordinated, but different in style and length. Men wore shorts or skirts, women wore leotards or culottes, in stripes and solids, leaning on each other, frequently, like a human train, rolling into the station. Arms move back and forth, like a seesaw, then dancers are back en pointe. But, the worst element was the William Walton score, symphonic, uninteresting, bland, esoteric, unmelodic. Alan Moverman at the piano and Andrew Litton in the pit could not make this music danceable.

Composer’s Holiday (September 28, 2017): Music by Lukas Foss, Choreography by Gianna Reisen, Costumes by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Christina Clark, Gilbert Bolden III, Emma Von Enck, Roman Mejia, and a Corps ensemble of eight.

Gianna Reisen, a young alumna of City Ballet’s choreographic institute and the School of American Ballet, is the Company’s youngest, ever, choreographer. I was glued to the stage in this gorgeous work, Composer’s Holiday, a testament to Peter Martins’ good judgment in hiring from within. I took few notes, but found the work rambunctious and vibrant. Two Corps females, Emma Von Enck and Christina Clark, are featured with two male apprentices, Gilbert Bolden III and Roman Mejia. An ensemble of eight, divided into male and female, joins the ballet as elegant, visual support. At one point women, in Virgil Abloh of Off-White costumes, which have a white lingerie and practice tutu motif, point into left stage space, while relaxed on the stage. The orchestra is off for this work, which is musically accompanied by piano (Susan Walters) and violin (Arturo Delmoni).

Not Our Fate (September 28, 2017): Music by Michael Nyman, Choreography by Lauren Lovette, Costumes by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of MONSE and Oscar de la Renta, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Sara Adams, Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara, Laine Habony, Mary Elizabeth Sell, Sarah Villwock, Preston Chamblee, Christopher Grant, Ask la Cour, Lars Nelson, Taylor Stanley, and the Company.

The second female choreographer of the evening, Lauren Lovette, a Principal with the Company, introduced the third of tonight’s four recent premiere works, Not Our Fate. Unfortunately, this ballet did not seem to measure up to Ms. Lovette’s previous choreographies in visual musicality. The Michael Nyman score, conducted by Andrews Sill, was lacking in danceable rhythms and pleasant tonality, much like the Schumacher piece discussed above. The program notes that the music is from Concert Suite from Prospero’s Books, and a poem, so to speak, by Corps dancer Mary Elizabeth Sell, is added in the notes, “Connections lost, connections made…”.

The ballet, in three parts, features Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley in a pas de deux, that was the one highlight takeaway, with both dancers so intense, muscular, and dynamic. The ensemble of eight backed them up well. The second part was led by Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara and Ask la Cour, with a reconfigured ensemble of eight. The cast of ten was featured in the third and final part. Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim’s costumes included white t-shirts and dark pants for the men and white flowing skirts and dark shirts for the women. One image of a huddled ensemble of men, lifting one woman by her ankles, her back to the audience, was evocative of works by Robbins and Balanchine.

Pulcinella Variations (September 28, 2017): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Tsumori Chisato, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Brittany Pollack, Indiana Woodward, Jared Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Anthony Huxley, Andrew Scordato.

Justin Peck, the Company’s Resident Choreographer and a Soloist dancer, chose Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite as the score of his newest choreography, also a recent Gala premiere, Pulcinella Variations. This is a stunning ballet, with eye-gripping costumes by Tsumori Chisato. Each costume is a work of modern art, à la Picasso or Dali. Andrew Litton, the Company’s Music Director, conducted the ebullient orchestra from the pit with verve and mastery. Six of the nine member ensemble are Principals and the crème de la crème, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Jared Angle, Anthony Huxley, and Gonzalo Garcia. Filling out this ensemble were Brittany Pollack, Indiana Woodward, and Andrew Scordato.

The ballet is divided into eight parts, and I could not take notes, as I gazed on those museum-worthy costumes. Five of the eight parts are literally solos of virtuosity for Ms. Hyltin (“Scherzino”), Ms. Woodward (“Allegretto”), Ms. Pollack (“Andantino”), Mr. Huxley (“Tarantella”), and Mr. Scordato (“Toccata”). Ms. Mearns and Mr. Angle opened the second part in a duo (“Serenata”), following a vibrant, full ensemble opening (“Sinfonia”). Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia danced the next to final part, a duo (“Gavotta”, con due variazioni), and the full ensemble joined for the finale (“Minuetto and Finale”). I look forward to discovering the choreographic motifs in this ballet on future viewings.

The Cast of Schumacher's "The Wind Still Brings"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Emma Von Enck and Roman Mejia
in Reisen's "Composer's Holiday"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley
in Lovette's "Not Our Fate"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Scordato
in Peck's "Pulcinella Variations"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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