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New York City Ballet: Cortege Hongrois, La Valse, Square Dance, Duo Concertant
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New York City Ballet: Cortege Hongrois, La Valse, Square Dance, Duo Concertant

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Cortège Hongrois
La Valse
Square Dance
Duo Concertant

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 15, 2017 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Cortège Hongrois (1973): Music by Alexander Glazounov (from Raymonda), Choreography by George Balanchine, Décor and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Russell Janzen, Savannah Lowery, Sean Suozzi, and the Company. The ballet title derives from "corteggio", or Italian divertissements, with a Hungarian enhancement. There are references to Glazounov's score for Petipa's full-length Raymonda and also for Balanchine's Raymonda Variations. (Program Notes). Two distinct ensembles appear in this vivacious Balanchine ballet, one in formal white Hungarian costumes, capped with green, and one in white/green tutus and scintillating ornaments.

Savannah Lowery was aglow as the lead Czarda dancer, partnered by Sean Suozzi. Ms. Lowery’s performance was enhanced and expanded upon by Mr. Suozzi, with his vivacious charisma and attentive partnering. Together they were propulsive and persuasive. Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen were stunning and effervescent in the Pas de Deux, with Mr. Janzen turning multiple spins in bravura balance. The Company, in each unique Variation, was buoyant and beautiful. Lauren King, in the first Variation solo, was flawless and rambunctious. Claire Kretzschmar, in the second Variation solo, was enchanting and compelling. The ensemble, including apprentices, made me want to see the full Raymonda ballet again. Rouben Ter-Arutunian's costumes were characteristically embroidered, with gold, glitter, ribbons, and bows. "Corteggio" means courtly parade, and these two energetic ensembles received audience accolades for this powerful performance. Andrews Sill brought out the orchestra’s finest rendition of the shimmering Glazounov score.

La Valse (1951): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jean Rosenthal, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps. Performed by Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Kristen Segin, Devin Alberda, Brittany Pollack, Daniel Applebaum, Emile Gerrity, Andrew Scordato, Amar Ramasar, Ghaleb Kayali, and the Company. According to NYCB Notes, the Waltz was "...a dance craze (that) swept across Europe. Although first denounced as immoral, it soon became the most common social dance on the continent and has remained in the repertory of ballroom dancers to this day." Diaghilev originally asked Ravel to write "La Valse" for the Ballet Russes, but then he rejected the work. Balanchine used this work here, but added additional Valses from Ravel. (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s La Valse is uniquely surreal with its tragic heroine, tonight danced by Sara Mearns with captivating theatricality and warmth. Ms. Mearns brought sensational style and fascination to this heroine, in the tulle Karinska costume with jeweled neck and hair pieces. In Part II, when she puts on the long black gloves and black filmy cloak and dies in dance, Tyler Angle danced with convincing angst, as her lover. Amar Ramasar, as the imposing figure of death, added deep, dark shadings of devilish doom in his restrained motion. Among the ensemble, in the seventh of eight waltzes of Part I, Andrew Scordato, as the lone male with Marika Anderson, Megan Johnson, and Lydia Wellington, was magnetic and charged. Brittany Pollack and Daniel Applebaum, in the fourth Part I waltz, and in Part II, could have entertained all night. Devin Alberda, Ghaleb Kayali, and Emilie Gerrity also caught my eye. Daniel Capps and the orchestra brought out the swirling, imploding, filmatic elements of this ravishing, Ravel score.

Square Dance (1957): Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Taylor Stanley, and the Company. Balanchine wrote, "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." (NYCB Notes). Square Dance by Balanchine is a work with tremendous symmetry and an actual square dance motif toward the finale. It’s one of Balanchine’s early ballets, and the two leads must sparkle to make the Vivaldi scored choreography compelling.

Ashley Bouder and Taylor Stanley were a sprightly, sparkling, slightly witty duo, a fresh interpretation of this long-favored work. Ms. Bouder was lit from within like a Christmas tree, with punctuated, precise footwork and a bright, buoyant persona. Mr. Stanley, who puts every ounce of himself, in gesture and muscularity, into his dancing, as does Ms. Bouder, was stunning. The duo leaped into circles as turns ended, in impressive synchronization. The Corps ensemble was illuminated in the moment, and when the dancers make hand-held bridges and kick up some do-si-dos, the ensemble was animated and dashing. There’s even a moment of Balanchine quoting himself with wing-like arms, evocative of Mozartiana. Every time I see this ballet it opens new dimensions, new visual imageries. The structured lines and combinations of leads and Corps keep shifting, but remain vibrantly connected. Andrews Sill conducted with energized pulse.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Pianist: Susan Walters, Performed by Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

And here was the moment nobody wanted to arrive, as Robert Fairchild retired from the Company to move on, to Broadway and Off-Broadway, London, and other regional and international stages. Mr. Fairchild has been very favorably reviewed at City Ballet and in musical-dance stage productions, like An American in Paris, in which he also starred in London. He will soon appear in Brigadoon and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in New York this season. He will be sorely missed, however, at the ballet. This afternoon, Mr. Fairchild partnered Sterling Hyltin in the ballet for two dancers, with stage pianist and violinist, Balanchine’s Duo Concertant. Taking notes was impossible, as I was glued to the stage, but memories suffice.

After the pause between ballets, Mr. Fairchild was greeted onstage with endless, vocal accolades. This Balanchine-Stravinsky ballet brings the dancers into casual, dramatic proximity with the musicians, as they lean against the piano, stage left, and gesture entrances and exits to a warmly, spotlighted stage right. In the opening, Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Fairchild joined Arturo Delmoni, on violin, and Susan Walters, on piano. The dance duo lingered at the piano, then danced in a variety of moving spotlights, with a lit, then darkened stage. The most poignant moments occurred when Ms. Hyltin’s arm was uplifted, reaching, or grasping Mr. Fairchild’s hand, all as the light encircled and followed their limbs, hands, or gazing eyes. The lighting is exquisitely timed and centered to match the eloquently designed motion. Ms. Walters and Mr. Delmoni were stunning in their ethereal dissonance and echoing quietude.

Mr. Fairchild was awarded with gold confetti, a horseshoe bouquet, and the Company applauding him onstage, as the audience rose to its feet in a vibrant sendoff. Instead of the dancers bringing flowers to Mr. Fairchild, he gave each dancer a long-stemmed red or white rose, from a basket. His bows were heartfelt and gracious. I look forward to seeing Mr. Fairchild on other New York stages soon. Kudos to Robert Fairchild, and kudos to Peter Martins, who personally makes these Farewells so special and sensational.

Sara Mearns in Balanchine's "La Valse"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild
in Balanchine's "Duo Concertant"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Robert Fairchild at His Farewell Bows
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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